25th April 2015
IT’S SPRING!!!! And the mood on the farm is something similar to performers on stage before the curtain goes up: bubbling excitement held in check by a good dose of fear. The snow is rapidly receding, like that white foam you get after a wave breaks on the beach. All sorts of debris is emerging, bringing back memories of the busy and incredibly wet autumn. The days stretch on well into the night, and the sun rises earlier than really seems reasonable. The first flowers are flowering, and buds are budding, bumble bees bumbling, and the stream is gushing! Even my garden has graced us with it’s presence once again. Oh yes, I’ve been digging. As soon as the first bed was snow free I was out there, peeking under the mulch, greeting the worms. That’s what happens when you spend your life up a hill, with very little human contact. It’s a long time since my last post, and my initial instinct is to try and write about absolutely everything, in chronological order, but I know from previous experience, that I must fight it.
So apart from all the animals, and my cheese babies, I now have hundreds of seedlings to look after, which require even more positive regard than Hornfagr and cheese no.1 combined! I get rediculously excited when I see new onions looping their way out of the soil, and it’s like: “ooo, will they make it??” And i’m practically jumping up and down and biting my nails in anticipation. Who needs television eh?
I finally finished renovating the windows for the storehouse and the toilet, and I must say, I’m quite proud. Only about 30 to go!
I have brought the fruit trees out from the cellar where they spent the winter, and today I planted the pear, in a nice sunny spot near the house. If it survives the winter, we’ll get her a mate.
In my last post I wrote about how we were eating our own oat porridge. Well, we switched over to barley. Removing the husk of the oats was a huge job, and one that, with our small hand mill, turned out to be too time consuming, The barley is so much easier, and we can just winnow the husk away, by pouring it from one bucket to another, in a light breeze. We can prepare enough barley for a couple of weeks in one morning, whereas with the oats it took a whole day just for a week’s worth. It’s not the same as oat porridge, but i like it alot, and it’s AMAZING look out of the window as I eat my breakfast, and see the place where it grew! And all the good memories from harvesting… This year though we will grow naked oats! It is a variety of oats where the husk can be removed during threshing, so next year we hope to have oat porridge for breakfast again.
We have also made our first 100% self-sufficient flatbread, made from our own barley and potatoes, and it was VERY good. (If i may say so myself.) It’s a pity we didn’t make more during the winter, because now we are so busy, and we have no more flatbread to nibble on. We also tried our homemade fenalår, from our villsau. I’d never eaten salted lamb before, but it is excellent.
Of the animals: We still await our first lambs, which will hopefully be born in may, if Ramson the ram has done his job. I have my doubts because he’s soft as a marshmallow, and is very into cuddling. He has become incredibly tame: he follows us around, he loves to be scratched on his cheek, and waggles his tail when we do so. Hornfagr is growing laterally, and her udders are growing too. I am frequently inversely reminded of all the times I will sit and milk her in the coming years, and I am equally excited by the prospect of it and glad that for now, I am free from that duty. Audhumbla has a date shortly at another farm, with a fjordfe bull, and for her sake I hope she gets pregnant. We already tried inseminating her twice, so her future is not looking very bright as a dairy cow. The chickens have been separated into two groups, one containing those that we wish to breed on, and the other group which i call ‘the unchosen ones’, who provide us with our daily eggs. Dan only managed to find four hens that he deemed suitable for breeding, as all the others have signs of feathers on their legs, which he believes isn’t an original feature of the icelandic chickens. We have started incubating 38 of our own eggs, and 14 from another farm (in exchange for our old cockerel, so he is infact the father of those eggs.) So once again, the chicken populations are on the rise.
I have started hardening off some of my seedlings, and also the kale plants I kept to overwinter in a cellar. We tried leaving them in the ground the previous winter, but all that was left in the spring was some pathetic stalks. The mice had the lot. In the cellar though, they remain unharmed, and unpeturbed that they havent seen daylight for almost six months! The point of keeping them alive is so that they can flower this year- like many brassicas they are biennial. Hopefully I can save enough seed from them to last a few years.
Alot of peas arrived in the post today! Dan wants to try to grow old varieties, so now we have jærert, ringeriksert and a tiny amount of lomsert from the nordic gene bank. The peas are tiny compared to any i’ve ever seen, but that’s good considering that we dry most of our peas, as it means they will cook quicker.
At the bottom of the field, the deforestation continues, and planks are being made! I’m always quite critical when it comes to chopping down lots of trees, but I’ve been promised some nice deciduous trees will replace the nasty spruce. Besides, we really need panels to replace the old rotten ones on many of our buildings.
In the garden my garlic has come up, and so has my other garlic which i planted last spring! I thought it had died, but apparently it was just hibernating. The mint, thyme, oregano, chives and savoury all survived the winter, but the rosemary and sage didn’t make it. I have now sown parsnips, root parsley and some carrot seed that I saved last year, though i don’t have much hope for that, as it barely ripened due to the very wet autumn. I will try to save carrot seed again this year- we still have LOADS of carrots in the cellar, so I just need to choose the best ones and plant them out.
The snow is dissapearing fast now, and soon the farmer will start to spread manure and plough with Freyfaxi. And so it begins again…