Winter reflections

10th January 2015!

With another orbit of the sun complete, I come to the realisation that every day I wake up in a different place in the solar system. And my spaceship called Nordre Stuksrud is ever changing, yet unchanged as we fly through the seasons. We had a magical new years eve, from up here we could see all the fireworks up and down the valley, those at the top of the next ridge, and those in Lillehammer and beyond. Never have I seen so many at once, I was at a loss as to which one to look at, and eventually gave in to giggling in confusion and joy. I felt honoured to be given this perspective, and it all seemed rather odd, from above. December was crystal clear and sparkling, with frost and stars and moonlight, and crunchy underfoot. Everyday a different dawn, far away in the south. The sun just crested the hills, to enlighten our lives, and to turn the snow into gold. Some days the mist flows up the valley in a great swathe, engulfing all below. It reaches up into peaks as if to transcend itself, into shape and form, here a lion, there a swan, only to fall back into the void. As we bounce back from the shortest day, the lengthening hours of light call us outdoors, as ever, there is work to be done!

But before I talk about that, I wanted to take a look at last year. What have we done? What have we produced? How far have we come? So here goes…

Started clearing land for pasture, and made over a years worth of firewood!

Brought 3000 square metres of land under cultivation, (with the help of a certain farmer and his tractor). Sown grains for the first time on this land in over 40 years (and the first time in our lives!)

Hatched around 30 chicks in our incubator. (All now fully grown, some already in the freezer). Also learnt never to open the incubator in the last few days! EVER.. we lost so many chicks  by doing this…i think we tried to hatch over 100 in total.

Grown a whole load of vegetables- kale, swede, turnip, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, beetroot, beans, peas, brussel sprouts, salads, courgettes, spinach. And some which we tried to grow…parsnip- i sowed them too deep i think so we got very few, but oh-my-god they are so good! leeks(i planted them in a freshly ploughed field with no manure and didn’t weed them ahem.) Winter radishes- well they did very well it’s just that they were SO strong that no-one would eat them- not me, not the animals, no-one. Jerusalem artichokes (they didnt grow very big tubers this year) and I got two whole pumpkins from 7 plants! and around 30 indoor cherry tomatoes from one plant. Also.. lost around 695 out of 700 onion seedlings to wireworms r.i.p. In short- learnt ALOT about growing vegetables.

Saved our own seed from turnip, spinach, snow peas, peas and carrot. Completely failed with the swedes, as i was convinced they could cross pollinate with turnips. So I said “off with their heads!”. Turns out, they are in a different subspecies of brassica. Thus we lost a whole crop of  swede seed. Lesson? Research FIRST!! (Not after you chop off their beautiful flowers.)

Made literally tonnes of hay, in the traditional norwegian way, with the help of woofers and an old slåmaskin. It filled our hayloft and another small haybarn. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to cut the whole field, due to too few hands, but we think that it’s still enough for the winter.

Dried alot of fruit- red currants, apples and plums, and also dried kale, in our self-made drying room. Also dried herbs for cooking, and other plants for tea.

Made jams and preserves, and sauerkraut! Canned peas in the pressure canner for the first time- one of the most terrifying experiences of the year!

Grown, harvested and threshed entirely by hand (and with the help of good old Freyfaxi), over 800 kilos of grain (barley and oats), and produced straw along with it.  Thanks to Signe for the machines, and to Janek, Bart and Viera for their hard work with the threshing!

Made several new fences, and built a new chicken and rabbit enclosure for next year.

Raised and butchered around 15 rabbits, and 10 cockerels.

Bought seven ewes and a ram, sorted out the sheep shack, and butchered 2 sheep. The remaining 5 ewes are now with the ram, so we are expecting lambs in the spring!

Made a new floor in the washing cellar, and replaced the floor in our cool room.

Removed, restored and replaced a set of windows in the house.

Lost and found and lost and found and finally inseminated our two heifers. One of them we believe is still pregnant. The other has now been inseminated twice and is not pregnant. We are thinking of finding a bull for her in the spring…perhaps she’s the  romantic type.

Got a new well dug and new pipes laid to the house and to the washing cellar,  meaning we no longer have to carry water from the stream! Thankyou diggerman.

Ripped out the extremely old electrical wiring in the house, and got it replaced.

Did our first cheesemaking experiments–all of which failed actually, except the fresh cheese, and the brunost, they were good. Oh and if you count the surprim- that was technically successful, but in practice…well we haven’t eaten it. It’s so bloody SOUR!

Used horse snow shoes! A successful but ultimately dangerous experiment. (Dangerous for us- he was furious)

Made a new bridge to the hayloft!

I think that right now, about one third of the food we eat is home produced. When we sort out how to consume this crazy abundance of grain…it will be at least two thirds. And who knows…maybe in 2016 we will reach 100%! No just kidding, but I would say we are doing quite well. ;P

I think those are all the big things…I also wanted to thank all our woofers! In order of appearance….Fay, Emiel, Paul, Quinn, Sean, Kim, Louise, Camille, Jamie, Eliza and Philip, Juli and Lizzie, Janek, Cody and Trevor, Anais, Sigurd, Viera, Bart and thankyou to others who have helped out, the Barlev family, Yorick, Ella, Ole and Ole Martin, my mother and Torgeir! Thankyou also to Berit for her love and support and always knowing what we need! And to Sissel and Simen for being there for us.

IF you are sick of me bragging about all the amazing things we’ve done and want to hear about whats happening NOW then you can read my next post…

solstice sunrise 2014

Solstice sunrise









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