I've been away in Norway for the past month. It was a great big last minute decision to take off on an adventure there. My friend Brenda had smoked out a great place in the south-central mountains where we could volunteer on an organic farm.
The organisation we used is known as WWOOFing. A ridiculous acronym if ever there was one, and tricky too when you encounter someone who hasn't heard of it. Roaring, "I'm a wwOOfer here!", over acres of chickens sqwaking wildly behind me wasn't too easily patched up.
What WWOOF actually means is Willing Workers on Organic Farms. You can contact listed farms on the wwoofing website to offer to volunteer for a few weeks or months, in exchange for food and board. It's a wonderful idea and makes loads of sense because organic farming would break the heart of any hairy-cheeked enthusiast. Have a look at wwoofing here.
It was a proper adventure too, all tumbling mountains, pearly clouds and glassy fjords. We'd our noses pressed to the windows on the drive from Oslo, scouting for lynx and elks and bears and wolverines!
I learned how to milk a cow, polish white eggs to a startling brightness (without them exploding in my hands), how to extract honey, what to do in the event of a calf breaking loose, where to scavenge for wild blueberries, but most of all, oh God, most of all...how to weed. If only I'd had the presense of mind to smuggle a box of pesticide through Norwegian customs. There was nothing left unwed: Kolraibi, carrots, onions, lettuces, cabbages, tomatoes, courgettes, maize.
For some welcome respite I would help my friend Maja with the cows. There were 20 milking cows and 8 calves. We'd open the gate to their pasture and bellow "Kom Igjen", which in Norwegian means, "Come on ladies, let's see some of that creamy goodness".
It would take a while, but then, like magic, they'd all lurch forward together, jolting their knees out from under them. They'd stumble their hind legs into half a stand and then slowly, and god love them, ungracefully they'd rise to their feet, all knuckles and hooves. Their cow bellings clanging, they'd start the long, amble down the hill like old relics from the past. Such lovely creatures. I think I loved them because they were so warm and slow and docile. Everthing you'd love in a big, wheezy dog.
The farm was host to so many great people. Wonderful storytellers and hunters who told stories about wild elk and badgers, how to gut a fish and smoke an elk's heart.
Lovely to be back to put some order on the tales. Expect more nature table updates soon.