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Southern Gardening, lesson 1,,,Controlling ones temper
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Just One Day
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The Blueberry Blast
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How many ways are there to cook sheep?
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Biita's Blog

Slow Down, Just Slow Down Now

Category: Artic Living | Posted: Mon May 26, 2008 5:05 pm

The phrase running around like a chicken with your head cut off, is an understatement. They at least stop!

I like to think I'm fortunate that I don't have to leave home to go to work. My work is right here, on the farm. Ofcourse we have all the farming that goes on once the weather lets us think about farming, but I also run a camp ground. I deal with tourists from all over the world. Some speak english or norwegian. Most don't. That being said, since Joshua has left back to Iraq, life has not stopped long enough for me to notice it snowed in the mountains...

Balder pointed that out to me.

Spring is definately here! Yah! Hip-hip-hoo-rah!

Can I sleep now.

Everything has gotten underway. The ground has been tilled. The unediable weeds gone. Manure worked in. Seaweed added. Compost added. Rows made. Some of the plants have already reached their new homes, and I also made a new bed on the southside of the house as a salad garden. Now this isn't just here at Stranden, but also at Selnes and Huaun. The other 2 farms. Not to mention I been picking dandelion greens like crazy for winter use in cooking and also for teas. The flowers are just starting to blossom, so the wine containers are out and ready to go. The birch trees are finally in bloom all the way, so that lead to a couple days picking leaves, and making saft and drying leaves for teas. I only like the young tender leaves for all this. The older ones tend to be bitter. Even when dried.

The rhubarb is ready for the first shoots to be picked. You know the new thin stalks. I make an apple/rhubarb compote that can be used as a jam or topping. I've got about 10 jars so far made. 5 large bottles of saft made. The siersløk is up and growing so fast, I've got 10 jars of pesto made from that. The nettles are soon up, and the angelica is almost ready to cut to make candy soon.

Remember the tourists? We had 3 men from Italy here, who thought they could go swimming in the sea,,,(snickering here) so I let them. They shed their cloths, down to the undies, and all 3 just made a mad dash out and dove in. Now they all had tans. When they came up, they screamed, squealed, and used some words I think were not very nice, but I don't know I don't speak Italian. It was just a feeling I had. Their tans turned a lovely shade of pink, then blue and finally they looked kind of a dusky shade of purple after about 30 seconds in the water. What can I say I waved, and smiled. I seriously think they might have tried to smile back,, but not sure. Then we had older couple from Germany and all they wanted to do was sit and drink. Well. No problem here but its spring and mother nature doesn't wait on me. So everytime I passed them by, they made me drink a shot of schnapps with them. If I said no thank you, they chased me with the bottle and a shot glass. Seriously. By the time I got done with my picking and planting, all I could do was look at a birch and wonder why it has 3 leaves all together like that. This was homemade schnapps. Potent. The next day I actually checked to make sure this didn't put hair on my chest. My husband loved it. Wanted the recipe, but we couldn't figure out how to pantomine that until the next day, but they was gone by then when the wits started to kick in again.

So its going to be a busy spring, with the natures harvest, planting of crops, tourists, not to mention my herbs and flowers. To top it all off, all the work that I have already done so far as canning and bottling is not for me! Its for the family who are all comming up in a few days for Uncle Tobias' 90th bithday celebration, and staying for a week. They have all made their requests.

So now that the tourists have gone for a few days, and I have caught up on my harvesting and planting. Maybe I can sit down.

***phone ringing***

Hi Henna, Its me Inger. Are you busy? Remember I said I wasn't going to have crops this year? Well Kjerste has talked me into it and we want you to go into business with us. The man is here now tilling the soil, can you come over and help? I made a chicken salad, with regular salad, and Kjerste brought over some wine, so we thought we would have tomorrow a garden tilling party with lunch and,,,,,

I go tomorrow for the garden party.

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A Blast into the Norwegian Past

Category: Artic Living | Posted: Sun May 18, 2008 7:04 am

As you all know I live on the island of Vestvågøy, that sits out in the North Sea. We are a series of islands, with a series of smaller islands all around us. One island I am going to take you to, is on private property. No one is allowed down there unless you live on the islands or are a friend of the family that owns this one island. Holsøya. Thats where we are going. This is a dialect of the Nordland language that has been forgotten for hundreds of years. No one really remembers what the word Hols means now. Øya means island, that much is clear. So maybe by the end of this blog we can figure out what it means.

So lets start our journey into the past, the Norwegian past. Way before the Viking era. Way before the Iron Age era. We are going to the Bronze Age. An age that linked the Stone Age to the Iron Age. We are going back in time over 2,500 years, to a time when mankind was on the brink of becoming the modern people we are today. But its also a time I truly believe when the last of the truly spiritual people existed all over the world. The people who connected with their enviroment. Listened, smelled and tasted the wind and sea. Felt the ground beneath them and appriciated what was there for their taking. And gave back with most exuberant feasts and festivals. Who prayed and talked with nature, and nature talked back. The people who walked with the earth.

So close your eyes for just a second, but not to long or you will miss this time travel trip back to the Norwegian past of the vibrant people of the time.

Here we are, on the sands that link the islands together when the tide is low for the summer months. This is the only time of year when you can go there without the aid of a boat. This is not going to be an easy trip, the terrain is rugged, over grown, and rocks everywhere. Watch your step! If you do step on a rock and it moves under your feet, stop, step back and retrace your steps until you reach solid earth again. You'll see why in a minute. So come on lets go meet these people.

Thats one of our goals ahead.


This is the islands altar. Upon closer inspection you can still see the moss covered steps that leads up to the center. There is 5 steps, that goes in a circle all the around the stone structure. Over the years and centuries it has since collapse, and is believed to hold a very important person underneath its stones.

Again be careful, you never know where you are stepping here, this whole island is one big underground moseleum. Some are very obvious and stand right out, others are moss covered and look like clumps of earth and stone.

Remember ths is not a blog about death, but the life and progression of a culture of people who lead up to the people we are today. Who built the Norwegian people into a strong willed, strong minded, vibrant and full of life people who in their own way still carry on the ways of the past. These people who are buried here are still alive. They still speak to us thru their stone alters, their bronze age technology, the experience that has been handed down since who knows when. They still breath thru all of us, in any culture, as long as we look thru their eyes at the way nature is guarding us. Teaching us to work with her, and remember the ways of the past. To carry on the traditions that are passed down to us, and this makes all them very much alive. There is still one last place I want to show you, that will amaze you at just how advanced these people were. Look here!

This is one of the rock covers that you can actually see into.

See here, an underground burial place. There are over 80 of these on this island. Many are so hiden you walk right over and have no clue. Some you stand on the brink of falling into when you step on the wobbly stones. Others are open like this one.

That is the resting place of a person I think I would of loved to have sat with, and listened, learned and shared a meal with. And in a way I do everyday. Because I will not let the past die, unlearned, unloved and disregarded as just people here and now gone. Nope. They are my teachers, so I can pass down to my children the basics that make mankind so special. Reconnecting to the past. We can all do that. Yesterday here in Norway we did just that, at summer solstice we do it again. At Jule we celebrate again the past. And when we dig our fingers into the earth, and plant that first plant of the season, we have done it again. We have connected to our ancestors of ever nation, no matter what culture, we keep them alive as long as we live, and believe in our own magic, and relive the tales.

They breath.

So have we figured out what Hols means. I'm not sure I have. But if I have to give it a meaning I would say Life. Life full of wonderment on our little magical, robust, fairytale island out in the North Sea.

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Lofotr - King of the Nordic Sea

Category: Artic Living | Posted: Fri May 09, 2008 8:22 am

Yesterday was a very special day around the museum. This is the day the Lofotr comes out of a long winters sleep, to rule the sea again. I'm not going to go into alot of long winded writing about the area, the museum or the people who take care of her. I think the pictures will speak very clearly themselves.

The facts that you should know just to get an idea of just how big this ship is, is she is 11,000 kilos in weight. Or over 22,000 Lbs. Or over 11 tons. 66 men can row her comfortably with out knocking elbows. She is made of all wood, and is the second largest Viking ship in Norway. Replica's that is, made after real finds of these ships. So here we go, lets take the ship out of hiding and let her have her way with the sea!

First the top of the boathouse has to be dismantled.

Then the tug of war starts. A tractor is used now instead of hundreds of men to make her way to the sea.

By the time they made it this far, the bull rope had broke 3 times. But ofcourse their Norwegian, bull headed just like the rope, and giving up is not an option.

She's almost there!

A look down the very long boat house. Lofotr is almost in the water. The tractor will now push her the rest of the way, instead of pulling her out.

Here is the top of the ship. This is exactly the way the Vikings ships looked according to discoveries made, expecially this one. Here is just a small section of the top.

And finally after all the tugging, and pushing, the Lofotr has made it back to her sea home for the summer. Her dragon head will be attached now so she can see where she goes.

The Lofotr will give many thrills to children, and adults all summer long as they get to experience the thrill of sailing the sea in a Viking ship. One none the less as magnificent as the Lofotr, a replica of a real Viking war ship. Their imaginations will run wild and for a short time they can almost hear the wild calls and the beat of the drum that kept the Vikings working as one. The clash of the swords, the flapping of the mighty sail. The bartering from exotic lands and their rich merchandise. For a short time if their imaginations are open enough, they will become a Viking and rule the oceans seas for a few minutes out of history.

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Bottoms Up!

Category: Artic Living | Posted: Tue May 06, 2008 10:55 am

Living in the Artic is something that requires alot of imagination not to mention endurance. I got the imagination, thats for sure but the endurance,, wellll,, I'm getting older, and I hope a little wiser anyways. I now relize its time to go about things just a little slower, easier and carefully. But!!! I just can't. The aches and pains are creeping their way into the old bones. I'll be 47 next month. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, I know. I'm not that old. But I do feel the weather more than I used to. I try not to let it bother me at all. But!! Sometimes you just can't help it.

So that being said and as I'm sure most you have come to relize I love the outdoors. I'm not going to let a few aches and pains stop me.. No Sir-ee!! So I look to nature for remedy. I have learned alot from the states when I lived there, but here in the artic who do I look to now. Well, its only natural to ask the "old timers". The very people who have lived here all their lives. But where did they get the rememdies from... Obviously passed down for generations. Thats why I am writing this blog.

The Vikings! Oh the super farmers from the north. Bless their huge beserker hearts. They were a people who adapted to what was around them and used it.. just as I do now. I have listened and adapted my ways to theirs. Lets take the berries of the land. As everyone now knows they are full of anti-oxidents. Blueberries, Cloudberries, Tyttebær (simular to a cranberry) Krekkling ( a very dark berry with no taste at all but packs a whollop) and there is others. All these little powerhouses are full of vitamin C, the B's and full of cleansing powers. They helped the Vikings to stave off flu's, colds, fevers and all those other goodies that the cold has to offer. Then there is the Siersløk. This is a plant that is a combination of garlic and onion. Long fat leaves, comes very early in the spring and dies back just before fall comes. This ofcourse has all the nutrition that garlic and onions has to offer a person for their health. Then there is the leaves of the different trees and berries. The birch leaves are so good for you, for your joints, aches and pains, good for the blood, it has natural asprin in it. The leaves of the black current are packed with more vitamin C.

After learning all this I have taken to waiting for spring with barely contained excitement. I use the leaves and berries and make a saft, or concentrated juice, I like to call Norwegian Kool-aid. When those old bones start to bother me, i make a drink using just a little of the concentrate and add water, or make a tea. Within minutes, I can run around like a kid again,, well okay, almost. I stay healthy now buy making my own jams, safts, chutneys, pesto's. All the good things that you just add to other foods, as toppings are the very things that are keeping me running around.

I started this blog because I will be posting different, very different recipes as each thing comes into season. Just so as not to scare you, or think I have jumped into the North Sea and my mind is still frozen. We can thank those loveable Berserkers and their very skilled wifes and also those from even before them, on how to stay healthy in the Artic.

So each day I go out and I look around, take note what is almost ready, what will be awhile. When I give the recipe I will also give the benifits of the herb, flower, leaf, berry or root. But I'm ready, and waiting,,,,,,,, very impatiently I might add.

Did I mention about angelica, or, or, nettles, then there is seaweed, ohh wow, we can not forget seaweed, then there is the purple clover, and the wild cheval,,,wait, wait I almost forgot the chickweed and the lambsear,,,,,,,, ohh yeah,,,then there is the ,,,,,,,,,,,

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An Artic May

Category: Artic Living | Posted: Thu May 01, 2008 3:57 pm

Today is the first day of May for 2008. All over the world its a special day for alot of people. In the olden days it was the day when life of the land is concieved. The journey I want to take you on is one of nature here in Lofoten. The beginnings of the summer to come. The conception of spring. A wonderful celebration of life in the Artic. The people, the land, the sea and the animals. All are bursting with life and ready to start the new summer with all the vitality that one persons life can give.

Today is very special because it is the day the boats come out of hiding. The sea is free flowing now, the fjord is open, and just begging for the open crafts to ride her waves. So Kolbjørn and Uncle Tobias (who will be 90 next month) launch the first of our 3 boats.

For me thats my que to take a hike. Yeah I'm smiling too! So after helping out by taking the required pictures that I need, I take Balder and head for the marsh. This is the place I come to when I need to relax, think or just be alone with nature herself. The beauty of this place just makes my eyes tear up with the untouched virgin beauty. The serenity that can only come with age is abundant here. But the maturity of motherhood that is evident in the controlled wilderness.

The youth of the juniper, with no berries yet becuase it is learning the ways of the wild artic. Learning how to survive and prosper.

The maturity of nature.

New smells for Balder to store away for his dreams.

The serenity of the land here on the marsh is a pleasant present that only comes if you really want to see and accept it.

And the constant ever flowing of the sea to bring new life to the Artic.

So today is a day that will be celebrated, in a quiet way, a thoughtful way. A reflection of all the past ancestors who celebrated maybe in the same way or with the wild bonfires and feast. The ones who launched their first boats or ships of the season, or shared their day with friends and neighbors. We have our first campers of the season, they have been here for 3 days now, and only wanted to stay 1. They are from Germany, so today I will share my special May day with some new friends, and toast in the beginnings of a beautiful summer in the wild Artic in May.

Welcome to my summer, my enchanted part of the world, where life comes slow, but it does show her beautiful face, where the sun always shines day and night, then hides to regenerate himself, only to show his face to the one woman he loves more than ever, the earth. Welcome to life!

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