1st September 2016
It’s been a long time since my last post, and much has changed. As we glide into autumn, we are met once again by the familiar sight of rowan trees laden with red berries, golden barley fields, swelling vegetables and ripening seeds. Nature offers her finest gifts to see us through the long, cold winter.
We’ve had a good season! We managed to finish haymaking earlier than the previous years, due to the good weather and also because we dried alot more on the ground than before. The grains are ready to be cut, and thanks to the warmer summer, we are harvesting one month earlier than last year! Thats how much weather matters.
The berries were alot earlier this year too, so we have already picked them all, and preserved them for the year ahead. I made alot of blueberry jam, since we still have tonnes of dried blueberries from last year, and from the redcurrants I made mainly juice, but we are also embarking on our first wine experiment!
In the garden the cabbages are growing to rediculous proportions, and I look forward to make crockfulls of sauerkraut, surkål and probably many fine heads for the cellar too. This year I’m seedsaving parsnip, carrot, chicory, parsley and an old norwegian pea called lomsert. The parsnip seed is almost ripe but the rest has a way to go. It’s enough for a whole field of parsnips!
The pumpkins are doing really well this year- I gave them some extra compost, mulched them, watered them, and also trimmed the vines. It worked! I found out that with our short growing season, there’s no point in letting them grow really big vines, because they will set more fruits than they can possibly ripen, so I just cut off the end of the vine once the first three fruits had set, and made sure to trim back any new growth after that. It also helps to hand-pollinate if the weather is bad, because often the pollinators dont come out if it’s raining, and if the flowers are not pollinated the little fruits just drop off.
The garlic is already harvested and hanging up on the wall of the house. It needs to cure for a few weeks before it is ready for storage. I think this year I have managed to grow a year’s supply, but only time will tell! I love growing garlic because it is so easy, and grows so well here! The first year i tried planting garlic from the supermarket, and when it didnt work, i thought i’d done something wrong . But then I realised that all the garlic in the supermarket is grown in China! There’s no wonder it didn’t want to grow here in Norway! After I got hold of a more local variety I saw a massive improvement. Hopefully we will never need to buy it again.
I have also harvested the first onions. I pull them up and cure them in the sun for a couple of days, and then bring them in to dry them. This year I made a makeshift bunkbed/drying rack in the woofer room. Fortunately our german woofer loves onions! They need a few weeks in a warm dry place, to dry up the leaves and the skins. Then can trim the leaves and the roots and store them in net bags in the store house.
The bad news is that our cow Hornfagr who was supposed to calve at the beginning of August, must have had a miscarriage because there was no calf, and thus no milk! I started to have my doubts a couple of weeks before, when I realised she was not really fat enough to be carrying a calf, and her udders failed to swell as they should. We are not really sure when it happened but I don’t think it was too long before I noticed, because she definately was pregnant during the summer. Now we just have to manage with the milk we get from Audhumbla, until she dries up in the winter. Then we won’t have any milk until she calves again in April. We are trying to save up butter and cheese for that gap, and I think we will manage to make enough.
5th September 2016
Today the vet was here to inseminate Hornfagr again. If all goes well she should calve in June, which would be a great time for us, when we have just finished with spring work and before the madness of haymaking! There will be plenty of lovely fresh grass too, so we can make lots of golden butter, hard cheese and brunost!
In other news, the new pasture is rapidly being fenced in, which is quite a miracle considering how unbelievably rocky it is. In fact it is just rock, with a layer of humus on top. But somehow they managed to ram in about 200 posts! Some places it was just impossible so we will make a barrier from felled trees and branches. We will also lime the area to bring down the pH, and help to get the grass growing. It can take a long time for freshly cleared spruce forest to become a good pasture. Most of the areas around here which have been cleared in the past few years still do not have much grass, as it is acid loving plants like blueberries that thrive. The lime will just speed things up a bit. It will also help to graze animals in there, as they help the right plants to grow.