End of summer 2015

22 August 2015

Finally the summer came! We’ve had amazing weather the past week or so, nothing but clear skies- perfect for haymaking. (Yes we are STILL haymaking!) It was strange replay of last year, when we ended up with only one woofer and things slowed down considerably. And of corse the mower broke down. Everyday! Without fail. It’s amazing. So we also ended up scything quite alot, which was fun but not quite as productive. But in the last week something incredible happened- the sun came out, and the mower got fixed (twice). So Dan managed to cut almost all the grass that was left, and we are drying it on the ground, something that’s only possible in VERY good weather. We turn it a few times until it is quite dry, then rake it into windrows, and turn those with a rake a couple of times a day, until it’s completely dry. Then we haul it up the the barn. Or rather, we load it onto the wagon, and Freyfaxi hauls up. In perfect weather, this takes two to three days, depending on the type of grass, thickness etc… There is rain forecast for monday, so we are working frantically to get everything into the barn.

It’s been such a busy summer, especially now we are milking. We milk twice a day and get about 3.5 liters from each milking. This is enough to meet our needs for fresh milk, by far, and I have also started making a simple white cheese, made from sour milk. Its really practical because we are getting so little milk, that I can just sour all the excess milk from each milking, and then save up for a few days until i have enough to make cheese. I sour the cream too and make butter when i have about 4 liters. We are just about meeting our butter needs, with five people here. I have also started experimenting with another kind of norwegian cheese called pultost. It’s also made from sour milk, but is fermented for a few days during which time it takes on a very particular flavour, and smell. Needless to say, you either love it or you hate it. My first attempt was a complete failure, as it didn’t even ferment, it just went mouldy. The second attempt was also a complete failure, but it did ferment, and it stank like hell, but it didn’t taste good. The chickens love it though!! Coming soon..attempt three.

27th August

We have a new horse! His name is Haukjon and he’s a fjording, just like Freyfaxi. Infact, if you didn’t know, you would probably think it was the same horse. He’s also strangely similar in character- quite indifferent to people unless they have food, and may yet rival Freyfaxi in stubbornness. He’s younger by eight years, so hes experienced but not so old that we need to replace him soon. We are both looking forward to working with him soon, getting to know him and to enjoy having some youthful energy on the farm! Freyfaxi is not only stubborn but old, and it’s really starting to show. This summer he helped us bring in all the hay, but that is light work compared to what we need to do this autmun and winter.

12th September

The last month has flown by, and suddenly it’s Autumn again. I dont even know how to begin…

We finally finished haymaking around the end of august, so better than last year. We managed to cut the whole field in the end and only a little bit got ruined due to rain. I dont think we have as much as last year, but hopefully it’s enough to see us through.

Everything is late this year, we only started picking the currants in september, and some of them still aren’t ripe! We’ve managed to collect masses of wild blueberries though which is SO good, as last year we just didn’t have time. I’ve been sending the woofers out to scour the hill, and we are drying tonnes of berries in our drying room.

We slaughtered most of our roosters recently- we had far too many, as we hatched alot of chicks in the spring, now they are pretty much fully grown so it was time for the freezer! We are going to keep the hens for eggs. Unlike last year we skinned most of them, as it’s faster and less hassle than plucking them. I’ve become quite adept at gutting chickens, i think we did about 16 in one day!

28th September

Today Hornfagr was inseminated, so if it works she should calve at the end of June. Audhumbla will have her first calf in February, then we will have enough milk to make exciting things like hard cheese and brunost, as well as by-products like ricotta!

We are about midway through the grain harvest. The barley has all been cut and put up to dry. We did about half of the wheat field today, so we should finish that tomorrow, and then start on the oats-peas combo! I can’t believe how late it is this year! last year we started cutting at the end of August, and the barley was golden. Now the barley is still quite green, but we had to cut it- we are hoping there is still enough energy in the stems to ripen the grain. We’ve had such a cold and wet summer, and it’s really delayed our crops. But it’s most critical with the grains, because they also need to dry before we can bring them in, and they shouldn’t freeze. It’s already down to around five degrees celcius at night, so we are expecting our first frost very soon.

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Our old horse Freyfaxi has gone to a new home! We gave him away. The new owner will use him for some easy riding, and take good care of him. We are so glad that he can have a retirement, after all the hard work he’s done for us. I tried to thank him before he left, but i don’t think he understood. That’s the sad thing.

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We picked apples last week at a nearby farm. The owners let us pick as much as we want every year, which is wonderful! We have dried everything so far, and are hoping to pick more when the grain harvest is finished.

On the cheese front, I’ve succeeded in making pultost! Well it wasn’t exactly pultost, but it was much more like it than anything else i’ve made, and it got eaten so that’s always a good sign! It was a little dry because i squeezed it too much, but it tasted good. When i succeed properly I will explain how to make it. It’s good because it has a similar flavour to hard cheese, but is easier to make and only takes a few days to mature. So for now it’s a really good solution to not really having enough milk to make hard cheese and the problem of maturing time- i could make hard cheese, but then we would still have to wait 3 months before we could eat it! I also made quark successfully today! All i did it hang up some sour milk in a cheesecloth in the morning and it was ready for lunch. We have a perpetual sour milk culture, so it’s always slightly different, but today the sour milk was perfect for quark- it had already decided to become cheese- there were firm curds floating in the whey, and i just tasted it and thought- this wants to be quark. So it’s wonderful when the culture is good, but sometimes it goes extremely slimy and then it doesn’t want to be cheese at all. It’s all about the balance of bacteria in the milk.

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In other news, I grew romanesco!!! There weren’t very many, but they grew well, so ill try to scale it up next year..

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