After a 1.5 hour plane ride and a 3 hour bus ride we got to the region of Telemark in Southern Norway. The scenery here is absolutely gorgeous and in an entirely different way then Northern Norway. It seems like Canadian wilderness, lots of trees and similar vegetation to our boreal forests; the nature here reminds me of northern Ontario. Audun picked us up and we head over to an old wooden church. It was absolutely gorgeous. I dont remember the specifics but it was built around the viking times and is one of the oldest of its kind in all of Norway. After lunch and taking in some more scenery we drove to his farm near Seljord, Telemark.
I had never really spent time on a farm before aside from a few hours here and there picking fruit or veggies. I wasnt really sure what to expect but was pleasantly suprised. The farm itself is nestled in a valley and at the foot of a treed mountain. His parents spoke decent english that they had learned and not really used since they were in school so the communication was a bit rough at times but they were such wonderful proud people. We had told Audun that we wanted to be put to work on this farm to soak in a true Norsk farming experience. We ended up cleaning cow "drit" (shit), feeding cows hay, pellets and old bread loaves. We picked up eggs from the chickens, pet the horses and went on a tour of the farm and its equipment. He gave us some old farm clothes so we looked like true farm girls despite the three of us being from the city. Later that evening, we went for a walk around the property and ended up climbing a nice tall tree.
The weather in Telemark was so shocking compared to previously having been in Arctic Norway... the sun was shining bright and the weather was around +25 degrees out, in May! I didnt bring much summer clothes so I was very hot but it got me ready for the summer. The next morning we went for a nice hike up on their private mountain behind their house. The nature smelled and felt like I was back in Canada and the view was phenomenal. He told us how the used to heard goats and cows up the mountain which I had a hard time imagining because it was so steep. After lunch, we were put to work again. We had to cut down a bunch of bushes so that the cows had a place to graze we had axes, clippers, saws and an electric saw. It was lots of work and it was HOT but it felt nice to work hard. Dinner was pancakes with fried pork and jam, an interesting but tasty combination. Dinner is at 4 then later on at around 9 it is time for supper which is bread with almost any topping or spread imaginable, which is the same as for breakfast. I constantly felt hungry from all the work we were doing.
The cows had been in the stable all winter and were put out in the fields for the first time this year. I thought they would be happy but after about an hour they wanted to go back inside the stable. It takes a while to habituate them. The calves have to be taught about the electric fences so they were brought out into a small "practice" pen with a small shock to learn not to go near the fence. Then they are brought to a bigger "intermediate" course and finally they "graduate" to the big fields with the adults. It was a really neat process to be a part of. To ensure that they were herded to the proper place we stood along the path waving our hands if they go to close to us to encourage them to go the proper direction.
The next day we went into the town of Seljord for a hike. It was an 838m climb which I thought would be easy as pie but I guess we were all out of shape because it was more difficult then expected and the excruciating heat did not help. It was worth it when we got to the top and saw the view of other mountains, the town and the huge lake that is fabled to have a sea monster in it (only seen by tourists and old people); their own Lochness or Ogopogo! After this we treated ourselves to icecream and headed to the lake to see if we could spot the sea worm. Unfortunately, we could not spot it but we did find a geocache. We then went home and made dinner and cake for his family who had been such great hosts. I am so happy to have had the experience of being on this real Norwegian farm. I got sent off with a jar of home made "prim" which is a spead I fell in love with since I first got to Norway. It is made of their traditional Norsk brown cheese, "brunost" and has a bit of a caramelly taste, mmmm.