The house that was left behind

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Some years ago we drove past a sorry house. It had obviously been abandoned and was in a very bad shape. It looked to us as if the inhabitants had just upped and left. It is always sad to see a house in this state. Who were the people who had lived here? Why had they suddenly left?

Last summer we drove past the house again. Now it was boarded up and looked even sadder. I presume that it will be torn down in the not so distant future. I am sure it has lots of stories to tell if it could speak …..

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Early morning light

There are times I look out the window and just know that I will be able to get a good picture if I just hurry up and get out there. Last Sunday morning was one of those mornings. It was cold and windy, but the early morning light was gorgeous. We were spending the weekend at Blixland Riding Centre where the Norwegian Alpaca Society was holding an alpaca show. Two of our alpacas were in the show and we were pleased with their results.

We were put up in a summer cabin, which wasn’t insulated at all, and with a duvet which was only meant for summer, the first night was spent shivering in bed with all our clothes on. Fortunately we were given better duvets and more heating the night after. We woke up to this lovely morning:

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The clear blue sky and the sun rising slowly over the horizon created a lovely atmosphere. There was not a single soul up and about, except for these two horses:

DSC07875I love how the light illuminated the hay wagon and

Høyvogn i morgenlys - KAT Pausthow it made the red paint on the barn glow.

DSC07870Can you sense the atmosphere?

What an incredible year this has been!

Round about this time last year I moved to the farm, whilst Christian held the fort in Oslo. Officially the move wasn’t done before July 15, but I needed to be there to keep an eye on the work that had to be done; carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc. There was a lot that needed doing and things were happening fast. It was impossible to follow up by phone. We were lucky, spring came early and we could start work much faster than we had expected.

For some time now I have felt the need to recap the events of this past year, to get them down in writing so that we can remember how eventful it has been.

Skimming through the photographs from this past year there are so many I want to share with you. I’ve chosen to present them in a gallery – a faster way for you to look through them. I could have posted many more, but for fear of being boring I have tried to be selective.

Apart from moving to Bjørnerud, the main events have been:
April – selling my parents place in the mountains,  breaking my wrist and deciding to buy alpacas.
May – starting work on the conservatory and finally moving into the new sunny kitchen. The local Lions Club fencing in the fields for the alpacas.
June – the death of my mother, the birth of our first cria (baby alpaca) and the total renewal of 300 meters of road. A messy business due to the clay ground.
July – the final move to the farm which my fantastic husband did practically on his own. I was handicapped by my arm.
August – The handover of our house in Oslo to the new owners and the arrival of our alpacas. More pictures «of the garden we left behind» can be seen here.
September/October – We had a gorgeous autumn with the red and gold leaves hanging on to the trees for ages and ages. There were also quite a bit of wild mushrooms. I spent some time canning different jams and marmalades in our lovely new kitchen and learning how to bake sour dough bread. I’ve also learnt to make Norwegian flat bread!
At work we celebrated 50 years of UWC’s existence with a grand event at the Oslo City Hall and a photo exhibition in front of the City Hall. The exhibition was the result of a world wide photo competition amongst UWC alumni and staff. The event had been planned for two years and involved many who worked hard for a fantastic result.
November – The cold came early and we have had a long, cold winter with temperatures down to -25ºC for several weeks. But the sun was generally out and there hasn’t really been that much snow, at least not in our area.
December – Christmas was spent at the cottage with our grown up kids. We had a week of peaceful days, but it snowed and snowed and it was difficult to get outside. Even the boys struggled to get through 50cm of loose powdery snow on cross country skis. New Year’s Eve was celebrated quietly at the farm with friends.
January through to March – We have gradually adjusted to our new lives and not for a single day have we regretted making the move and changing our life style. The winter has been much colder than we had expected, but it is a dry cold which doesn’t penetrate like a damp one does.

This past year has also brought a lot of knowledge;
– about alpacas
– about running a farm
– about forestry
– about photography
and much, much more.

Although it has been a demanding year I wouldn’t for the world have been without this time. I am truly grateful for all the support we have been given by old and new friends. We can never thank you enough!

There is so much more  I could have written about – but it would have made this post too long. Hopefully you will have found something that interests you and perhaps you will take the time to flip through the gallery to see some of what we have experienced this past year. We are now looking forward to a another year, with new challenges, new friends and new knowledge! Hopefully the challenges will not come at such a fast rate as the previous year…

The nicest things about the farm is the peace that surrounds it, the beautiful views from every window and spot on the property and the energy that it gives us.

This place truly feels like home.

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Other posts about what we found here on the farm:

Snooping around on the hayloft
Helter skelter in the “stabbur”
The untouched cellar

The garden we left behind …

Slowly but surely we are beginning to see the early signs of spring in spite of -7ºC most of today – apparently it is going to stay quite cold for most of this week. There are bare patches around the trees on the slopes facing south and here and there the road down to the mail box shows gravel. Our thoughts are turning towards planning the garden on the farm and to the amount of work which we are facing in order to get it anything like the one we left behind. The area around the farm is huge compared to the little one we had before and the soil here needs a lot of attention. It is mostly very dense clay, with very little drainage, so it’s seems we must buy some compost soil and make raised beds.

The garden we left behind was lovely after years of good care, and we are really hoping that we will be able to create a similar atmosphere here. Can you see how intimate it was?

SONY DSCAnd how the plants seemed to thrive and be so happy?

SONY DSCWe really enjoyed this little garden with its many nooks and crannies.

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In early spring the forget-me-nots blossomed wherever its seeds had landed the previous year.

SONY DSC Later in the year we could pick chives and black currants.

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I can’t remember what these are called, but I did take some with me when we moved.

SONY DSCApart from these we didn’t take any plants with us as we were scared to contaminate this area with the dreadful brown slugs which are everywhere in Oslo. We managed to keep them at bay in our garden, but one or two did manage to get in now and then and their eggs are impossible to find.

Here on the farm we are hoping to have a kitchen garden and some fruit trees, but it will definitely be some time before we can harvest! I really enjoy making jams and jellies, especially when I know there hasn’t been any pesticides around.

And … there is nothing better than to go out into the garden and pick lots of fresh vegetables for a delicious lunch or dinner and to know the we have grown them ourselves!

Not any old brook …

Winter brookThis is a snow covered brook – but it is not any old brook. It is the brook that runs along the border of the farm on one side. It is lying there now quietly, preparing itself for the spring rush of water which is still some time off.

In spring it is all mossy and green – the ferns glistening in the damp spray of rain and humid air.

SONY DSCDown in the grooves of stone and moss is a fascinating world of colors and smells, the strong smell of disintegrating wood and earth will swirl around your nose. I like this smell, it is the smell of the earth and helps me to keep in touch with it.

SONY DSCIn autumn the the brook runs cheekily down its course, singing its merry song to all who take the time to listen and wonder. Sitting on a stone by its course it is easy to let the world stand still and to be present in the here and now. All worries are washed away and I am just where I am supposed to be.

SONY DSCAlthough the brook is beautiful in winter, I am longing for the time when it will wake up from its winter sleep, to let me once again listen to its merry song.

A symphony in ice

A short while before Christmas I went for a long walk in the area behind the farm. It was a freezing cold day (-20ºC) but clear and beautiful. The snow was sparkling and although it was cold it was great to be outside. I had brought my camera with me, but didn’t think to put the batteries somewhere warm to keep them charged.

In the corner of my eye, I suddenly saw some truly beautiful colors. The sun shone through the trees down on a frozen brook, and it glowed in a myriad of blues, brown, gold and beige. I had to clamber down through some trees in deep snow in order to find the right spot to take some pictures. I managed to get one before the battery was empty, and the second was no better!

But isn’t this a beautiful symphony in ice?

A symphony in iceAnd I’ve learnt to keep my batteries from the cold!

She drank deeply…

Something had woken her up. She lay there listening carefully, but no other sound than the deep, slow breathing of her husband beside her could be heard. Her hand stretched out, the fingers curled carefully around the glass, cold from the night air which had slipped into the room since they went to bed. Slowly the glass was raised to her lips. She drank deeply…

Her thoughts wandered to all the memories which had entered her life the past year. The gradual move to the farm, to all the kind souls who had helped in one way or another. The talking, the decisions, the waiting, the driving, the carrying.

She had broken her arm, the arm she uses most, trying to move some fallen trees. Six weeks the arm had been in a cast, six valuable weeks when she should have been able to help out with the move.

Her thoughts moved on to the death of her mother in June. Sitting at the bedside waiting for her last tortuous breath to be drawn. An experience she never had had before. She saw the coffin in her mind’s eye, covered in beautiful wild flowers. The simplicity of the funeral, just as her mother had wanted it. Warm voices filling the little church with the melody of childhood psalms.

Just a year before, the death of her father.

Then there was the final move. The sale of the house in town, the packing and the unpacking. The hour long drives back and forth, back and forth. Time to think, time to plan, time to make sure that the decisions they had made were right.

The arrival of their lovely animals. Another memorable moment, another momentous decision. The responsibility they had taken on was not to be taken lightly. When one of them miscarried, sadness enveloped their hearts and underlined the responsibility they had taken on. The little heart shaped stone covering the grave a silent reminder.

Through all this, her work ran on, demanding attention no matter what. The days were filled to the brim, with no time left over for creativity other than that which was needed for the project they had taken on.

There had never been a moment of doubt that they should make this move, and yet at times the words had been spoken «have we done the right thing?» Yes, they were sure. Over dinner last night they had talked about it again and both had expressed how comfortable they were with the decision. The words entered her heart and she felt settled. Yes, this was their home now, this is where they would stay. Hopefully for the rest of their lives.

She wondered if her readers would understand, if they could sense all that had happened in the months gone by and if they would come back to her once she had started to write again.

She now knew what had woken her up. The words were finally back and she had to get them down on paper before they were lost again. She carefully slipped out of bed, her feet touched the cold floor. Picking up her night gown, pad and pen she went downstairs to the kitchen and sat down to write.

The road forward