Week 6: Leaving Aalan Gard

I have settled into a comfortable routine, working, walking, hitchhiking wherever I want to go. Life on the farm is easy. I work from 9 till 3 with an hours break at 12. Everyone sits around the dinner table at 3pm for the main meal of the day chatting together. The goats wonder on the mountainside coming back each evening to be milked. The weather changes constantly, one-day brilliant sun, the next howling wind and freezing rain. It’s perfect.

I’ve enjoyed my work, being outside every day feels so good. I’ve mainly been working in the garden. It’s not something I would normally do at home but I’ve enjoyed it. When I first arrived in May the beds were covered in grass and the summer plants living in the greenhouse. Now the garden is full of new life. I dug up and re-planted a huge bed of peppermint plants single-handedly and I know I leave behind a much nicer space.

I’ve spent days picking birch leaves in the wood. It’s been one of my favorite jobs despite the bitter rain on the first day I did it. Being out there filling an old fashioned basket with leaves for tea was immensely satisfying and relaxing. On the last day, I was out in shorts and a t-shirt, the sun beating down on me, my hands covered in sticky sap and a smile on my face.

On rainy days when the wind has been blowing fiercely, I’ve worked inside packaging herbs and tea mixing. Everything is done by hand, from drawing flowers on the bags to pulling apart the paper ribbons to make them look more attractive. It’s not hard work but it’s so time-consuming it’s easy to understand why they have been having volunteers on the farm since the late ’80s.

I lived in an old, small house, built to accommodate the many children Knut’s (the guy who owns the farm) parents had. There is nothing modern about it at all but despite the flooding on rainy days, and spiders in every corner I like it.

If I’m honest there is little about life here that I don’t like, chasing Klara the pet pig, out of the garden is I think the most stressful thing I have had to do. The price of food is crazy but I haven’t had to buy much and it has reminded me how much I take for granted.

London has everything near at hand, you want chocolate you go out a buy it, run out of milk? no problem there’s a shop open till 11 round the corner. Here you see how simple life can be. It’s 8km to the shop too far to walk for me after work, to get there I have to get a ride with visitors to the farm. Vegetables are few and far between and my main foods become eggs from the chickens and goats cheese.

When I leave the valley to see a different part of the islands I’ve been hitchhiking. And I’ve often been asked why I choose to come to work on a farm here. My initial reasons were to do with how expensive Norway is and that it was the only way I could get to spend some proper time in Lofoten but it’s become more than that.

My hosts live in quite a traditional way, it’s a small farm and all of the family are involved with running it, even the young grandchildren show people around and work in the shop. I’ve tasted food that I would never have chosen if given the choice and enjoyed most of it.

The goat meat was from young goats slaughtered by Knut on the farm. The dried fish was difficult to eat but tasty (you have to de-bone it yourself, the family are all experts and after the 10mins of work ate without coming across a single bone, I had one every mouthful despite taking twice as long trying to get them out). The moose mince was nice and fish tounges a little gooey but tasty. I wasn’t a fan of milk dinner, which we had every Saturday, a tradition in the north of Norway. And whale meat was hard on my conscience but it was already cooked by this point so there is no point letting it go to waste.

I’ve spent 6 weeks submerged in Norwegian farm life and I loved it. In some ways, it’s hard to say goodbye to Aalan Gard, but I know in many ways the adventure is only just beginning.

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I hope you have enjoyed this weeks post, next week everything will have changed!

Love,

The girl with the braid in her hair xxx

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