The farm is a seductively intelligent creature, a living and breathing entity that draws you in each day. First impressions were shock, awe, isolation, and later independence. Then as each sun sets, and each morning awakens, you find yourself drawn ever more deeper to the earth, the endless sky, and that crisp mountain wind. It sinks into your dreams and eventually you forget the outside world, the Calypso effect. This is until you have a dizzying moment of clarity and realize that you are in fact farming in fabled Norway.
That has been my life for the past ten days. I have only been in Norway for ten days, and yet I feel like it has been so much longer. The daily routine is typically wake up, care for the animals which include a motley assortment of piglets (norwegian and hampshire breeds), norwegian rabbits (adorable until you pick them up, they’re strength is incredible), and chickens.
The chickens are perhaps my least favorite, and the one animal that admittedly I need the most practice on. Their Alpha is a large, pompous Icelandic rooster, full of furious testosterone that is ever engaged in attack mode while I am feeding. Just yesterday, as I left them a loaf of bread and apples to munch on, he sprung at me as I turned my back, pecking furiously at my ankles. With a yelp, I jumped out of the coop and slammed the door. Rooster 1: Sean 0.
I was a little annoyed that he got the better of me, but it is in his nature and truth be told perhaps he is just trying to play. He is after all the only male in the coop, and I can’t imagine chicken conversation is very riveting. It was a good lesson learned, perhaps tonight I will begin a manly conversation about wood splitting, grilling, or beer with him – see how he reacts – Cock-a-doodle-doooo!!!
From the farm, one can see the town of Lillehammer and I am often struck by the temptation to just go back to civilization, to society and cleanliness. And then I look back at what I am doing and realize with a sense of pure satisfaction that I am really making a difference with my actions. I make something every day, whether it is thinning vegetables in the field, or making wooden shingles to shelter the silo from moisture, or tending to the animals. It is the small things that make my time worth it these days.
Observations and impressions from the farm and Norway thus far:
– My sister was right, I should have brought a smaller pair of pants with me because both pairs are falling off me and I am eating so much!
– Bathing is tough, the water is fit for a polar bear and I feel like an ice cube when I emerge from it, although on a hot day it is the most refreshing experience around.
– The days pass quickly, as the schedule at the farm is so structured. The work is honest and worthwhile, the food is plentiful and healthy, and the company is great – my hosts are awesome and the new volunteer, Kim from the Netherlands, is a refreshingly pure spirit and a great exploration partner.
– The price for alcohol, along with coffee is exorbitant, so its been a rather dry ten days but my body is thanking me constantly with new springy energy.
– Norwegian folk are best described in the words of my friend Quinn from the farm, shy at first but once you engage them they are curious and always interested in what you have to say. Also, they look you in the eye when they speak to you, a trait I hope to adopt.
– Nutella is expensive, Nugatti (its knock-off) is not. It has since become an addiction on bread for all meals of day.
– Lamb ribs are delicious, Kaviar in a toothpaste tube is not.
– Reading and writing by candlelight is a guilty pleasure, the flame emits a warm glow to the log-built walls of my lodgings – a 200 year old farmhouse.
– The farm is so isolated, and I admit that I feel a bit stir-crazy but this is only a month of my life and I plan on wandering afterwards.
– The sun never actually sets. I took at walk in the morning stillness at 0300. The clouds were intermingled with the tall spruces and it looked like a magical forest.
Life is good, working in the soil and standing among old stones. For now, I think I’ll have a beer to celebrate my remaining hours in civilization but look forward to my return to the wilderness and the tantalizing dreams that come with it.