3 months in Norway/Sweden

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Dreadhead

Bushcrafter through and through
Wow how time flies!

Fionn (Water gypsy) and I just returned from Scandinavia after three months spent working on farms and getting to know the place. We are having a brief rest to recharge our batteries, see friends and family over the holidays, then will be heading back out to Norway in January for a further 6 months.

There is so much we have experienced so far and not all of it will translate to words, but this trip report should hopefully share with you some of the things we have been doing and learning in the pursuit of our dream to have our own smallholding.

Our trip was planned using WWOOF, the ‘World Wide Organisation of Organic Farming’. It’s a system where farms take on help or ‘Wwoofers’ and provide food and shelter in return for work. Each country has its own, so I signed up with Wwoof Norway and Wwoof Sweden, and arranged a months’ stay with various different farms across the country so that we could travel from farm to farm and learn something different from each one.


OSLO
September 11[SUP]th[/SUP]. As ominous as it has become, it actually turned out to be great day to fly as the airports were practically empty. Sailed right through to Oslo airport at Gardermoen, all pent up with excitement.

Oslo 1 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Flying over Southern Norway.

As we hadn’t planned on coming home for Christmas and were prepared for a longer trip we decided to spend a few days in Oslo being proper tourists. We got a two day Oslo pass (highly recommend) and managed to cram in as many museums as possible and made the mistake of eating out in the city on Norwegian prices. Our most commonly used phrase being “HOW MUCH?!?!” J What a great atmosphere though, nice people, good food, and great museums. I can’t get enough of the barns and storehouses on all the farms and the old ones at the folk museum were so beautifully crafted, spent the whole day gawping at joints and beams. Here is some cabin porn ;)


Oslo 2 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Viking stave church, folk museum, Oslo.

Oslo 4 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Oslo 5 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Oslo 6 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Oslo 7 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Oslo 8 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Oslo 9 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Oslo 10 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Oslo 11 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Oslo 12 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Our photos will never do them any justice, but couldn’t get enough of the Viking ships. I’ve seen so many pictures of these online but nothing prepared me for how big they were up close and to think they are considered small!


Oslo 13 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Oslo 14 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr


Oslo 15 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Sculpture park, Oslo.

Oslo 16 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Our wee 3-day holiday over, we went to meet up with one of BCUK’s own, Odd (Skaukraft). Odd had messaged me some weeks earlier and had very kindly offered to put us up and introduce us to Norway. We spent a great evening with his lovely family, and were stuffed to the brim with all kinds of Norwegian foods and drinks ;) Odds tremendous generosity made us feel right at home and Fionn found a friend for life in his lovely daughter Ida who wanted to play all night and day bless her!
After a superb breakfast of all kinds of tasty and interesting new foods, Odd kindly took us to the train station where we said our goodbyes. What a great way to start our trip and be introduced to Norway.

We headed out for our first farm near Drammen, South-West of Oslo. We didn’t know what to expect but were optimistic and excited to get started on some work. Little did we know what a disaster it would be! It is a long story and not fit for the forum, but in short we decided not to stay on that farm for fear of some serious health and hygiene risks and the behaviour of the host. It just wasn’t worth it, so we decided to spend a day or two in Drammen.

It turns out there is only one good thing about Drammen and that is the Spirallen. A tunnel dug into the mountain, it spirals up for 1.6km to the top. You’re technically only supposed to drive in this tunnel, but having no car, we decided to walk!! Here be Trolls!

Drammen 1 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Drammen 2 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Drammen 3 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
A gloomy troll carved from wood halfway up the mountain


Drammen 4 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
View over Drammen

Drammen 5 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Cannon left from the war

Drammen 6 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
A lovely wild cat that came for a cuddle as we walked around the mountain.

Onwards and Upwards
Undeterred by our bad start, we headed North-East of Oslo to Kongsvinger, near to our 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] host, to enjoy ourselves. As we left the first host so early, we still had to spend some time sorting ourselves out with a new farm, so we headed down to Sigelrnessjøen camp site. We spent a few nights in the tent until we realised we would be staying much longer, so got ourselves a cheap cabin to relax in and use as a base for exploring a little. We spent around a week waiting to hear from a host, so we headed out on day trips down the lake, around the hills to pick berries and over the border to Sweden to buy booze J We certainly made good use of the glorious weather while it lasted!


sigernessjøen 1 (800x600) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

sigernessjøen 2 (800x600) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

sigernessjøen 3 (800x600) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

sigernessjøen 4 (800x600) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

sigernessjøen 5 (800x600) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

sigernessjøen 6 (800x600) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

sigernessjøen 7 (800x600) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Picking blueberries

sigernessjøen 8 (800x600) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

sigernessjøen 9 (800x600) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Troll Tree. Amazing sap mixed with red marker paint looks like Troll Spoor

After our unexpectedly extended holiday we finally managed to arrange an early arrival with our planned 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] host, so we packed up and set off with fresh perspective.



Åklangenga

We spent the next four weeks at Åklangenga farm and enjoyed every minute! Our hosts, Toni & Victoria were so warm and welcoming and willing to share their lives with us. Both Biologists, they shared their knowledge and experience with us on a daily basis and we spent many long evenings in discussion and debate. Toni is also an experienced hunter, and took us under his wing with the moose hunting team allowing us to get involved. They had two Flat Coated Retrievers, called Balder and Buster, brilliant dogs who kept Fionn company every day.

Over four weeks I managed to get in plenty of practice with the chainsaw felling trees, sectioning them up and we hauled them all out of the forest by hand. We removed hundreds of metres of old rusted fence wire and barbed wire from the forest and then built five hundred metres of fence through the forest for the sheep. We built various other things, looked after the animals and had plenty of time left over to go canoeing or rowing down the lake or off for a ramble.


Åklangenga 1 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
The barn/office/library/lab


Åklangenga 2 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Åklangenga farm.


Åklangenga 3 (720x540) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Balder og Buster


Åklangenga 4 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Stabburen. The old storehouse converted into a Wwoof cabin. Our home for the four weeks we spent on the farm.


Åklangenga 5 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Åklangenga 6 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Åklangenga 7 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Åklangenga 8 (960x575) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Rusted wire we removed from the forest


Åklangenga 9 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
The three new lambs we got to tame J


Åklangenga 10 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Collecting birch bark with Balder and Buster


My hair was really getting in the way working, especially with the chainsaw. So I cut my dreads down a bit and created the dread tree. In the middle of the forest I found a nice wee waterfall, with a tree that was bent down to the ground in a big arch. I tied all the off-cut dreads to it, to swing in the wind. Should give people a moment’s pause when out in the forest :p

Åklangenga 11 (430x720) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Åklangenga 12 (720x431) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Every night at Åklangenga there was a feast. There was never a shortage of meat as Toni hunted to provide enough meat for the whole year. We ate a lot of Moose, we had Whale, Reindeer, Ptarmigan, all manner of hearts and fresh fish. Toni’s favourite was his Ptarmigan dish which came with the heart on a feather from the bird over your wineglass. Their tradition is to eat the heart before the meal and every time you find a pellet in the meat ,you shout out and everyone takes a drink, great fun!

Åklangenga 13 (720x431) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr



Åklangenga 14 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Lunch down by the lake


Åklangenga 15 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Lunch down by the lake


Åklangenga 16 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Rowing the lake with the dogs


Åklangenga 17 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Several times Toni took us out to the forest to shoot some clays with the shotguns. Had such a great time as I have never been keen on guns, but Toni’s approach to hunting had really inspired me to give it a try with the clays. He is the kind of hunter who would rather not shoot if it meant an imperfect kill, he always had the greatest respect for the animal as opposed to some other hunters we met, who were very trigger happy and earned the disapproval of those in the area for poor hunters. They enjoyed hunting, but it was not a sport to them, it was a way of life, part of their culture and a means to support their families.

It was also at Åklangenga that I learned a skill I have always admired, Blacksmithing J When they bought the farm, there was a forge all set up and they were very interested in it for their son Erik who came to the farm for a few days and spent some time with us. He showed me how to light the forge and spent an hour showing me how to make a basic wall hook. Before he left, he said I was free to make the most of the forge and left some material out for me to use. After that, I spent all my free time in the forge bashing away and have really come to love it as much as I love leatherwork!

Åklangenga 18 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Pounding away


Åklangenga 19 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Everything I forged on the farm including my first blade!

We also spent some time salting and drying meat over the stove

Åklangenga 20 (430x720) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr



And finally we come to the moose hunting which we were so lucky to be a part of! We weren’t able to go out hunting with Toni as there was too much to be done on the farm, but when we got the call that there had been a kill we all rushed to the car and headed over to help. All together we helped to skin and butcher four moose. The skins we prepped and salted for tanning. The good cuts of meat we froze or ate. The rest was minced and frozen. The offal was all bagged up for the dogs. The skeletons were collected, the marrow removed, and Fionn spent 24 hours making stock from two full skeletons which we then froze. It was such a great experience to be involved with, using as much of the animals as possible.

I have left out the worst pictures but would like to share some less graphic ones if it is allowed. If these pictures are in any way too graphic for a family friendly forum then Mods please remove them by all means.


Moose 1 (540x720) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Moose 2 (720x960) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Moose 3 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Moose 4 (430x720) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Moose 5 (960x575) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Moose 6 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Moose 7 (431x720) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

The moose team was mostly made up of men who had been on the team doing the same thing for 40+ years. They were fairly set in their ways, and usually threw the offal, bones, and skins away in the forest. It was Toni that had persuaded them to let us use all these bits and they were open to newcomers and were surprisingly very welcoming. They allowed us to step right in to skin and butcher and once they found out I was a leather smith I was asked if I could repair a sheath. It was a lot of fun being able to repay their kindness and it struck a good bond with them who appreciated the work. We developed a great deal of respect for that particular hunting team and were very proud and honoured to be a part of it.


Our time with Toni and Victoria showed us that what we were doing was right for us. We learned something new every day, shared views and hopes, ate great food, and were part of something larger than ourselves that was incredibly rewarding. This was not the last we would see of Toni and Victoria J
For anyone interested Toni and Victoria have a Facebook group so that people can follow and get involved with their life on the farm here https://www.facebook.com/groups/182312181924577/
 

Dreadhead

Bushcrafter through and through
Onwards to Sweden

We decided to do a stint in Sweden and chose Skönvik farm, in southern Värmland. Our new hosts were Tommy and Tine. They had inherited the farm in April from Tommie’s uncle, so were very new to farming and were very glad to have us on the farm. Tommy worked in Arvika, 5km away so left the farm every morning before 6am and was home at 5pm, ate dinner, then was back out working around the farm until late evening. His hard work ethic and his passion for the farm were very inspiring. Tine was Danish and spent all her time on the farm looking after the animals. They had 14 Gute sheep, which are an ancient Swedish breed and absolutely beautiful! They had several families of chickens which were a joy to watch every day and three friendly cats.


Skönvik 1 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Skönvik 2 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Skönvik 3 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Skönvik 4 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Mimer the cat gets to know our surrogate Maggie


Skönvik 5 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Skönvik 6 (430x720) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Hylding the Ram


Skönvik 7 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr


On our first day Tine had to slaughter three lambs. She used the services of a man called Anders who had a farm close by. He was a young hunter and extremely proficient at slaughtering. Straight away he took me under his wing and showed me how to skin the sheep and we talked about knife making and skinning. I asked Tine if she would like us to tan the sheepskins for her and she was delighted at the prospect, as she had always wanted to do that but didn’t know how. So we spent the evening prepping the skins and getting them salted amongst the chit-chat of getting to know each other. Tine was very motherly and warm and we instantly felt at home.


Skönvik 8 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
The three lambskins salted and stretched over frames


Skönvik 9 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

We spent our time at Skönvik mostly helping with the animals. We built steps down to a cold cellar and put a new roof on it, re-designed feeding troughs for the sheep, made several hundred metres of fencing, dug up very clay heavy veg patches ready for next year, fixed old tools and axes, and various other things that needed doing. The old workshop on the farm was a bushcrafters dream, I think I lost count at around 23 axe heads…all handmade Swedish ones ;) also kept finding old Mora knives which I spent a morning sharpening and cleaning them all up for Tommy.

We also spent time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. On a Friday night we would all cycle through the forest into Arvika, to the pub for a drink and a meal. Some evenings there would be music, beer, and games and we even managed to have some time off in the day to go exploring and trying to find treasures in the second hand stores. We also found time to visit the open air museum in Arvika, which had lovely old buildings, including an awesome windmill.


Skönvik 10 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Fixing my boots with gaffer tape


Skönvik 11 (540x720) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
monkeying around after work


Skönvik 12 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Beautiful windmill at the open air museum


Skönvik 13 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Fionn playing on the obstacle course for the kiddies

One night whilst putting in fence posts down the forest we saw the most spectacular moonrise it was HUGE! Pictures will never do it justice. We sat there for ages enjoying the spectacle it was superb

Skönvik 14 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr


Skönvik 15 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Relaxing down the forest watching the moon

Tommy let me use his bench grinder to sharpen his knives, and while I was at it I tidied up the knife blade I forged at Åklangenga

Skönvik 16 (720x540) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

During our stay, Tine expressed her wish to have rabbits on the farm for meat. We knew Toni and Victoria were looking to reduce their rabbits, so we called them up and asked if they would consider keeping some aside for Tine. They were really happy to do so as it meant they wouldn’t have to kill the rabbits. So, we all drove back to Norway to Åklangenga to catch some rabbits! It was lovely to see Toni and Victoria again and bring two Wwoof farms together. We came away with everyone happy and the rabbits went into the rabbit pen we had built the day before.

1441420_10150339812384955_1879299181_n by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

We enjoyed every day with Tommy and Tine and were sad to leave, missing the game nights and cycling with them. They were a real inspiration to us, proving that you are never too old to live your dream 

North

Our next farm was an hour’s drive north, called Jonsarna, in the village of Ransbysätter. Our hosts were an English couple, Debby and Alexis. They had bought the farm four years before when they came across it cycling around Scandinavia. It was great to learn from their experience as English immigrants and the issues they faced upon moving to Sweden. Alexis worked in IT so was mostly absent from the farm or inside working on the computer so we spent all our time with Debby who looked after the animals (8 sheep and 46 chickens) and grew all their own veg, as well as doing all the building and maintenance work herself. We fast became acquainted with Fenris, their beautiful dog who wanted nothing more than to be cuddled and played with which suited us just fine!

Our first day at Jonsarna, the temperatures really started to drop. We experienced our first snow in Scandinavia and it was glorious! Nice thick, dry snow. Coupled with the beautiful sunsets it was great to be out!


Jonsarna 1 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Jonsarna farm


Jonsarna 2 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 3 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 4 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 5 (720x540) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr


Jonsarna 7 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr


Jonsarna 13 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr


Jonsarna 11 (430x720) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

We had plenty of time for exploring the Swedish forest, on foot when possible, or on skis when we had enough snow. Fenris lived for these adventures 

Jonsarna 10 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Fenris on the harness with Fionn


Jonsarna 9 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr


Jonsarna 8 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
A beautiful abandoned cabin. It sometimes gets used by hunters or loggers but is empty most of the year. Was nice to sit inside and have a spot of lunch


1461410_10150343408614955_1676739767_n by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
lunch in the cabin


Jonsarna 12 (430x720) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Fell asleep reading with Fenris

There was plenty more work down the forest for us. I got to play with chainsaws again but we also used a lot of hand tools and hauled all the wood by hand into piles or used sleds around the house to haul it around. The coldest temps we had were around -15 but as we were working in the forest we soon warmed up.


Jonsarna 14 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
The old sleds we used to move firewood


Jonsarna 15 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr


Jonsarna 16 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Having lunch in the forest


Jonsarna 17 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 18 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 19 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Our host Debby and Fenris


Jonsarna 20 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Sir Fionnothy the bearded


Jonsarna 21 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Fionn and Debby hauling back the xmas trees we cut from the forest.


Jonsarna 22 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 23 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Snowing over our weeks work


Jonsarna 24 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

During our stay we helped to finish building the sauna down by the river. We built the veranda with planks recycled from an old bridge, we finished the roof, fitted the stove, and built the benches inside. We just had time to use it once before we left, but it was worth it! The sauna is tucked down by the river in the perfect spot, bliss.

Jonsarna 25 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
The partly finished sauna


Jonsarna 26 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
View from the sauna veranda


Jonsarna 27 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr


Jonsarna 28 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
The composting toilet down by the sauna. Bloomin love this!

Making bacon with Debby was so much fun. We salted the meat and added various spices letting it sit in a box in a cool place for three days, draining off the water each morning. We then hung it up over the stove to dry. Then it was just a case of slicing it up, cooking it and eating it, yum!

Jonsarna 29 (430x720) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Salted bacon


Jonsarna 30 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 31 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
slicing bacon

Jonsarna 32 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 33 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Bacon?!?!

Beer! We learned how to brew beer, which is vital for any farmer! We brewed and bottled five crates of a kit beer, and made three different ginger beers. We also bottled a fair amount of wine and re-bottled some mead. What a good day of beer and wine syphoning/sampling 

Jonsarna 35 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 36 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 37 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

When the snow was deep enough I went out on the skis with Debby to get acquainted with cross country skiing, soooo different to downhill which I’m more used to. It was beautiful skiing through the forest in silence on the lookout for burls ;)

Jonsarna 38 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 39 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 40 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 41 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 42 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Burl score!


Jonsarna 43 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Old cabin in the forest


Jonsarna 44 (768x1024) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 45 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

My birch and alder burl haul. Managed to get it all back except the huge alder burl which was too big and heavy

Jonsarna 46 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

We had temperature rise and the snow melted into ice so we got the old sparks out from the barn, like Zimmer frames on ice they are great fun!

Jonsarna 47 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

One morning we had a frantic call from Nico in the village. The lake was singing and we had to go and listen! So we headed up to the lake and true enough, it was singing a merry song! The ice was contracting and making these amazing sounds, it sounded to me like two trolls fighting on the far bank. We drove up the hill that overlooked the lake and could still hear it echoing through the valley, truly magical!

Jonsarna 49 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

As requested, here are some up-close pictures of the sparks Sam ;)

Spark 1 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Spark 2 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Spark 3 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Spark 4 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Spark 5 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr


Getting into the festive spirit…

Jonsarna 48 (430x720) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

A little exclusion to guess where…..

Jonsarna 50 (720x430) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr
Not really! We went to the second hand store above the tentipi office. It was nice to see them all tinkering away with tipis spread all over the place though! :p

I don’t exactly know why, but we both took our Viking kit with us on our trip. So when we had a nice white day, our host Debby suggested we go out and take some pictures in kit. It was a good laugh and it was nice to test my turnshoes in the snow. A bit slippy, but my feet were bone dry thanks to the cold dry snow 

Jonsarna 51 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 52 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 53 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

Jonsarna 54 (1024x768) by HamishOdinson, on Flickr

So that was our stay with Jonsarna  After four weeks we said our goodbyes and made our way back to the airport. One bus and four trains later we were on the plane home. It has all gone so fast I am still processing everything we learnt and experienced. There is so much I have left out deliberately and no doubt plenty accidentally. But it will all come out in time, and we still have another 6 months in Norway to go!

Summary
So far the trip has been great, It’s had with its ups and downs just like anything. Each farm has had good and bad points and this trip is about learning from the bad and taking all the good parts from each and building it all towards our dream of our own smallholding. We never thought it would be possible, it was always a pipedream that this trip would let us experience a little. But we have had our eyes opened to how possible this life is for us, even more so in Norway! It has brought us both together and we are constantly discussing plans, our own personal do’s and don’ts and trying to keep the things we have learned in mind to change our life slowly for the better. We have learned a lot more about food, growing it, canning it, and cooking it and just how to live a healthier life in general. This trip has really inspired us to change the way we currently live and build towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

This trip was also huge for me personally as I have been recovering from surgery for years and wasn’t sure if I could handle the physical work but I took to it like a duck to water and thankfully had no problems. Each day I build my strength back up and feel more like a young man again!

Kit
For those who may be interested in some of the kit aspect there were some things that worked and others that didn’t. Of course our kit wasn’t geared around a proper expedition because we knew we would have the security of a farm most of the time and be working every day, so that was taken into account. But some basics are the same all round.

What worked well for me:
Merino base layers were a godsend for the climate, I practically lived in mine and they rarely smelled.
Bison Bushcraft shirt & Swedish snow smock combo was absolutely superb.
Wool army buff
Merino and army arctic socks
Thin wool hat with fur ruff
1953 army wool boxers. Thick and toasty!
Silk boxers on cold days, comfy and warm.
Laplander saw
Knife – I made a scandi styled knife with a Kankapaana blade before we left and it has been used every day for all manner of things with little wear
Kukri – again used almost every day for work in the forest
Snugpak tactical 3 bag – it certainly wasn’t tested to the limits, only went down to around -5 in it but was nice and warm and comfortable without needing extra layers
Kindle – invaluable for quiet nights on the farm, or when needed books for blacksmithing etc
Kupilka kuksa and bowl – used almost every day great bits of kit
Turnshoes – great for evenings
Leatherworking kit – I was always sewing up holes in my clothing and was handy to do repairs for other people we met.

What didn’t work so well for me:
Boots. I only took my leather boots with me which took a fair amount of wear and started getting tendon pain and constantly wet feet so went out and bought some wellies. (getting proper -40 winter boots for January!)
Gloves – I took my lined leather gloves I have used as work gloves for years. They eventually just perished. I should have bought new gloves for the trip.
Rucksack – I took an old army rucksack Fionn had, as the one I ordered for myself didn’t turn up on time! I had never worn it before and found it an absolute pain. Luckily I only ever had to carry it in between trains or for short durations. I

We also took a bunch of things that never got used, so will be completely overhauling our kit for January.

Well, I think that’s it for now, I’m sure I’ve missed out loads!
Thank you for taking the time to read our report and we hope you enjoyed it.... stay tuned for part 2!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Hamish & Fionn.
 

ammo

Settler
Sep 7, 2013
827
7
by the beach
What a great post. It looks like you had a great time, the pics are fantastic. Thanks for posting this Dread, really enjoyed reading it. Oh and welcome home.
 

RonW

Native
Nov 29, 2010
1,575
120
Dalarna Sweden
The experience of a lifetime, a lifechanging experience if I understood correctly!
Learning to live like that is very rewarding, but by no means easy.
I understand you are back the first half of next year? Sorry I couldn't make it to Värmland. There was just no way....
 

R.Lewis

Full Member
Aug 23, 2009
1,098
20
Cambs
Hamish, that looks epic! I see what you mean about the write up now. Its a lot of typing!

Nice pics, thank you so much for sharing.
 
Dec 5, 2011
4,461
2
United Kingdom
Superb write up Hamish and Fionn. Ive really enjoyed following your escapades so far. You both look very comfortable in the environment and such a wealth of new experiences had. Bravo and i look forward to more when you return.

Merry Christmas to you both
 

TurboGirl

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 8, 2011
2,326
1
Leicestershire
www.king4wd.co.uk
I have soooo much admiration for you two, getting out there and doing this at this stage of your lives as a launch pad to focus your direction :) And following your journey is a priviledge, those photos are amazing. Just so delighted that the first place was only a glitch... what a shame they're like that when theres such wonderful experiences, workparties and opportunities to learn and enjoy proper community.

Have a good karma Christmas and repacking for stage 2.... can't wait to follow your next part!! xxxx
 

Skaukraft

Settler
Apr 8, 2012
539
4
Norway
Glad to see taht you have had a great time.
Ida is still asking for "those who speak english", and I have shown the pictures you have posted.

We wish you a merry christmass and a happy new year, and hopfully we will maybe see you again some time next year.
 

Russell96

Forager
Jul 19, 2005
237
12
48
Surrey
Absolutely incredible trip and wonderful write up! Thank you for taking the time to share all your travels. Looks like you have been having a real experience of a life time.
Have a great break in the UK and looking forward to part 2!
Russ
 

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