It really is a wonderful time of year, and I must say the whole experience of it is a lot stronger and more tangible after moving to the farm. I feel we are generally closer to the seasons, and they contain more, they have even more of an identity now. Spring has been very busy, even though we have a small farm with not a lot of animals. Lambing was hectic because we had four orphans and weren't really prepared for that (funnily enough), and Mr. Payne had to organize the sheep a little bit through trial and error while the lambing days went on. All in all we are happy with the result, for first-timers anyway. All of our ewes had twins, so we had twelve lambs born, but sadly one mysteriously died after a week. We think she might have been bitten by an adder, because we found two big ones lurking around our house and in the orchard were the sheep were kept.
With our farm having been desolate and unloved for many years, there are hundreds of jobs to be done to get it into shape and the way we want it. Little by little, we are doing it, but it's taking time and we have to allow it to take time.
The first summer after we bought this place, we took a lot of timber out of our forest (to use for building our house with!). And today, Mr. Payne planted hundreds of new trees up there. Trees that won't be ready for harvesting before we are old and grey and our grandchildren are running the farm (hopefully). The girls planted one each, and those birches will be "their trees". There is something wonderfully patient and loving about planting trees. Something that speaks of sustainability and responsibility. I was extra proud of my man today.
Other things lately: Mr. Payne had his birthday! I think it was more special for the girls than for him, they made him presents and we celebrated with ice cream. Oh, and my birthday present for him was tickets to the Patti Smith-gig in Oslo in a couple of weeks, weeeeee!
Apart from this, life goes as normal, we play, make a mess, faff about, work, sleep a little and all the rest of it. The grand life, so to speak.
I'm priviliged to do a little guest blogging over at one of my favourite spaces today: the lovely Hei Astrid!
(If you don't know her from before, you definitely should now: it's packed with stylish images and heartwarming text from their life as a little family in a beautiful flat in Bergen. And she knows about so many cool things!)
In our back garden, there is a little birch tree growing beside the old outhouse. The other day, Freja and I were out there playing, and suddenly she said: Let's hang my woobie in the tree! (Woobie is what we call the dummy/ pacifier.) I figured it was a great chance to start the process of liberating us from it, so I ran in and fetched string, and hung it in the tree. And the rest of them, she said. I felt anxious. Were we ready for this? Did she know what the consequence was? Hanging it in a tree is a great method of woobie-weaning, and I learned it from a good friend of mine who had done it with both her boys (Hei Marie!) with great success. I have told several people about this method, with Freja present, so she has heard it and that's where she got the idea from in the first place. You hang the woobie in the tree, the kid gets to suck on it when he/she wants to, but it stays in the tree. And whoops, one day it has been captured by a squirrel, or a bird, or even a baby fox! Hopefully by then the child is fed up with going all the way over to the tree to be woobified (our term), so it's all safe and over with. (It strikes me that this method must be even more effective at wintertime in Norway, with 20 degrees below outside and a meter of snow.)
So yes, at first I felt a little bit scared of doing it, because this isn't something you want to fail at and have to give in to, you can't give the woobies back once you've taken that step. And then, on second thought, I was like let's go for it and ran in for the rest of the woobies and more string. Up they went, she sucked on one a little, and then forgot about it. For a long time, actually until the afternoon the next day! Which to us was crazy, given how dependent she has been on it.
They have been there for three days now, and I think she has been there twice. I am amazed of how hassle free and just smooth the whole thing is going. Yes, she has moments where she asks for it, and then I suggest we go out to the tree, but she can't really be bothered to. So there you go. The child's independence surprises us again.
Kind of strange though, isn't it: When she was a baby, she wouldn't take it, she just spat it out, and I tried and tried for six months before she accepted it. (She used me as one instead.) And when she was using it, the thing I introduced to her, I wanted her to stop it.
The world of grown-ups is paradoxical.
Anyway: Bye bye woobingtons, and thanks for your help!
My parents have a cabin way up in the north of Norway, in a beautiful bay, the sea comes right up to the edge of the garden and the view there is wonderful. They go every summer (and more). I have been there a few times, but it's difficult to make it all happen within a summer and with limited financial means. But Ronja has been there a lot, she goes every summer for a week or so, with my folks, and she loves it. It's a paradise for a child (and any human, really): nothing else but nature, nothing else to do but to be in it. She'll be out for hours, getting lost in the wonders of the shore, the pretty shells and stones, the tiny baby fish, the crabs and starfish, the tide washing in and then slowly disappearing again. I am so grateful of this place, and in my heart I promise to go there more often, and to let Falk and Freja experience the same.
In 2008, when Ronja was three and a half years old, I made this little film from up there.
Another one of those sunny weekends, where the days just float by in a lovely stream, and the word that sticks to my mind is freedom. I have to pinch my arm sometimes. I feel so privileged, so in the right place. And no: We don't always have happiness and contentment and harmony in this family, we're normal, we argue and make a mess and get confused about things and miscommunicate, just like the rest of you. But on days like these, all that seems so far away, and what is left is freedom. Just openness, the day is there, in all its simplicity, and all we have to do is to live it, without stress or hurry. So that's what we did!
On a farm, there's always things to be done, and especially on a farm that has been desolate for so long, like ours. So having time off does not mean sitting on our behinds and enjoying the view (we do some of that, too, of course). Saturday morning started with the sheep mummies being sheared, so they now walk around looking embarassingly naked and very humiliated. Although I think it felt wonderful for them, really, to get that thick coat of wool off in this heat. When they were done, Mr. Payne sent them up into the forest with the rest of the animals. So now, if you sit in our garden and look up towards the forest, you might catch a glimpse of a lovely cow or two, or some sheep, or a beautiful brown horse munching away up there. Quite a cool sight if you ask me.
After that we had a visit from two friends of mine from the olden days and their kiddos, we had pancakes and ice cream and strawberries and coffee and spent the afternoon indulging ourselves while catching up. Such a healthy way to spend a Saturday!
My Dad, whose name is now The Amazing Carpenter, came to continue on the deck, and all I can say is IT'S GOING TO BE GREAT.
And then there were all those other important things: planting seeds and seedlings, tidying up here and there, dressing Daddy up as an old lady, catching a big adder in our orchard, collecting eggs, feeding and super-cuddling the orphan lambs, eating more ice cream and pancakes and strawberries, cutting the "lawn", cycling a hundred times back and forth on our little road while singing, and ending the day in the evening sun on the front porch.
I don't ask for anything more, just let this last a little longer.
When the days are like this weekend, long and sunny and with that warm breeze, when you can literally see the leaves shooting out of their branches, the birds in the forest are going nuts with excitement and we just bimble around on our farm, working a little, playing a little, well then life is really good. This weekend was one of those.
And look! My Dad The Amazing Carpenter is building a deck in our back garden! How cool is that!
Zoo Payne is Mr. & Mrs. Payne and our three sugarplums Ronja (8), Freja (3) and Falk (0). With Billie the Wolfhound, cats Boo and Sioux, Marius the horse, a pair of cows, a band of sheep and a bunch of chickens, the Paynes live the dream on a farm in Norway.