Yesterday our very first lamb was born! He was found by our wwoofer, who was feeding the sheep in the morning. The tiny thing was already on it’s feet, and aquainted with all his family. The mother watched us suspiciously, as we peered at it, as amazed as we were relieved at this new arrival. Now we eagerly await four more- one from each of our ewes.
Ramson- the proud father
The fifth lamb arrived today! I walked into the the sheep shack just as the mother was licking it clean, and it stood up for the first time, staggering a little from the force of its mothers love. All the lambs are black! Except the first who is mainly black with some striking facial markings, a bit like a batman mask. He has just started jumping around alot in the frivolous way that lambs do, though a little more generous with the distance from the ground than most lambs i have seen thanks to his wild sheep heritage.
We recently ate my first hard cheese! It was matured for three months, just about as long as i could bear to wait, without bursting with excitement. It was successful!!! It tasted a bit like a blend of dutch cheese and mild cheddar. But much harder than both, as it was a very small cheese, and unwaxed, so it had dried out a lot. In the future I will make bigger cheeses so hopefully they wont be so dry.
Now we are half-way through våronn, and in general it’s going very smoothly! In the garden most of the beds have been dug raked and sown, and I’ve planted out my early cabbages, lettuce and romanesco- an amazing vegetable that I couldn’t resist trying to grow, even though i have my doubts that it will mature in our short growing season. But thats the fun of gardening! (In the North). I’vs sown parsnips, carrots, snow peas, lettuce, rocket, chard, parsley root, coriander, beetroot, kale and I’ve planted out the carrots, chard and kale for seedsaving. I have also started drying nettles for tea- the young ones are the best! And we recently had our first salad, of yarrow, sorrel, dandelion, and the first few lettuce leaves. The fields have been ploughed, entirely by horse power. It is the first year we have ploughed so much with the horse, and it has gone really well. There is still big lumps of rotting turf which makes things a little awkward, but luckily we have enough woofers to help even things out. Also, large rocks are a constant problem. After ploughing the field is flattened out with a slådd, then sown, then harrowed. Wheat and barley has been sown, and naked oats along with peas! Peas and oats are companion plants- and were often grown together in pre-industrial Norway. So we have sown one section of oats and ringerriksert, one just oats, and one with oats and jærert. We hope to be able to harvest the peas with the grains and thresh them together. We also got another variety of wheat “snøgg” from the genebank, which I have sown in the garden, and has just come up. We will save the grain that we get from it to sow again next year, thereby slowly increasing the amount we are growing, until we have a crop!
Our chicks hatched just over a week ago now, and have already doubled in size. The incubation was very successful, there were only about two that didn’t hatch which is much better than any of our attempts last year. We have also put some fertilised eggs under two broody hens, so hopefully they will hatch soon too! I don’t have such high hopes though as there were a few communication problems at the start which resulted in the hatching eggs being removed from the nest.
The rabbits have FINALLY been moved into the chicken enclosure, where they are free to hop about in the sunshine! (and breed). We have only had one escapee so far, and we think he got through the gate, so it’s no big deal. We are hoping that the ground is too rocky for them to do much digging. The only problem is we still have to feed them as the chickens have a “no greenery” policy in their coop. We also have a clever door where the chickens can get out and roam around to their hearts content but the rabbits can’t.
The cows and the sheep are now grazing down on the field, though we still give them a little hay. The lambs are growing up fast and have started playing together, which is usually some variation of “I’m the king of the castle” and involves jumping onto large rocks. Soon we will release the sheep into the utmark, to fend for themselves. Hopefully they will come back in the autumn!! (Just the lambs and ewes of corse, Ramson must stay here with the cows) But first we must shear them and put bells on them. The sheep have started losing their wool, which is a common feature of the ‘vilsau’. The wool loosens and you can just pull it off, leaving only the long straight cover hairs, which help the sheep against rain. Im hoping we can pull most of it off rather than shearing them, which is easier said than done, as Ramson is the only one tame enough to do so!
Audhumbla went on a date recently! We took her to a nearby farm who have a vestlandsk fjordfe bull, and it seems they had a good time together. If she is pregnant now then she will calve in february, which is not the best time of year to say the least, but we can’t wait any longer. We need to find out if she is fertile or not, because if she isn’t then we can’t keep her, which sadly means that she will become meat. It’s a horrifying thought.