Perhaps a little more about the farm is in order. Brakstad Gård [pronounce Brack-stah goar] belongs to Hilde and Peder, a couple in their thirties. They bought it from Hilde’s parents three years ago. The farm has been in the family since 1910 (when it was sold by the previous childless owner) and has been organic since 1980. Brakstad Farm lies 500 meters from the sea, with only one neighbor to disturb the peace of the surrounding fields, birch woods and mossy mountains.
In addition to the humans, Brakstad population counts 120 sheep and 160 lambs—meat being the main production—, three cows and two calves, two pigs, two horses, two sheepdogs, twenty-or-so hens and one solitary peacock.
The two calves are new arrivals since my last visit, as are the ponies, Jasmin and Jasper. The sheepdogs, both still in training, differ strongly in character. Jappi is crazy and excitable while Freia, bearing the burden of extra years and wisdom, is of a more serious, melancholy and yet stubborn disposition. As to the pigs, they have coarse, very curly hair—a far cry from the likes of Piglet. They’ve moved to a larger field since March, so that now, when I walk up bearing their breakfast, they come lolloping over the long grass, huge ears flopping and delicate legs tripping. They’re really quite the attraction for passersby. (Some have asked if they’re wild boars. I guess one doesn’t expect pigs to be any color other than pink!) The peacock is a vain thing. He keeps to himself, strutting about and lording it over the hens. He serves no particular purpose but just is.
(Click on each separate image to see it larger.)
Housing-wise, I sleep in the stabbur, a cabin with tree trunks for ceiling beams and more trunks for walls. Raised on stilts, it rocks deliciously in the wind. This cabin dates from the 1860s and was restored a few years ago. Of old, it served as a winter storehouse, hence the stilts, which kept the food safe from mice! Under my bedroom window lies a leafy rhubarb patch, some red flowers—tulips?—, a dandelion colony and a view on the hens, barn, fields, trees and hills.
It’s all very idyllic, though I do not want to idealize—farm life remains a tough commitment. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s much much more than just a job.