Jan 19, 2012

"War and Peace"
(with apologies to Mr. Tolstoy)

(Goofing on the kitchen sofa with Gustav)

The time that Lauren was with us was the shortest of any of the wwoofers we have ever had....just two weeks.
But eleven of those fourteen days were the vital period between the blooming of the hägg tree and the blooming of the lilac (syren) bushes.
In northern Sweden everyone understands the incredible pressure that exists "Between the Hägg and the Syren".

The earth is awakening for another season of growing, the lambs and the calves are being born, preparations for the the critical haying time are being made, gardens must be tilled and fields readied for plowing.

No battle field could compare to it for sheer chaos if you aren't focused and efficient.


It was Gustav (arguably the most experienced),
 Lauren (ready, willing and able),
 and Me.
   As soon as the cows were milked in the main barn, there were bottles to fill and carry to the small animal barn for the morning and evening feeding of the calves...

and here she was with "the savages" as they were called because they
up to the bars every time,
slurping up the warm milk, pushing and shoving and butting each other out of the way.
For the couldn't do this job without simultaneously laughing and gently scolding the calves during each and every session.  It was such a zoo.

In the grain room between the large and small animal barn, in an area called the höladsporten,
 the barley had to be crushed and bucketed out to all the animals.  While I was milking and tending to the new mothers, Lauren was holding the fort in the "kornkammare" and doing a terrific job of both crushing and cleaning up.
                                                                                                                                                                        And as if there wasn't enough going on......the trucker with an entire year's worth of  chopped wood, arrived and had to have help with the unloading from the main road. So Lauren hitched a ride on the tractor and if you look very closely you can see her out there helping with the transport back and forth.

Did we mention the indoor duties?  It just never ends!

Feeling tired yet?  
Take heart.
One of the most unexpected things about life on the farm is that there are moments of deep peace that come even during the most demanding of times.
It is a peace that seems to instantly satisfy every need or longing in your soul and it appears just when you think there could not BE any peace with all that is required of you.

These four pictures (two above and two below) are an example of that experience.

I asked Lauren one day if she could get us some flowers for the kitchen table and she went out to the hägg tree, cut an armfull and brought them in the house. It was still quite cold and the air was really nippy.  When she came in with them their scent filled every corner of the kitchen and drifted through the entire home.  Later there was a quiet tranquility as she worked with and cuddled the animals in the barn.

 Gustav says that there are times when he just dreads going to the barn, but once he gets there he always feels good.  It is so true, because that same peace seems to come as you enter the barn even when there is a lot to do. 
Maybe it's because you are working with the animals and that in and of itself has a very calming effect. 
 I'm not sure what it is in total, but I do know  how it feels. 

The great Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, is described not as one who wrote
 "a novel"
 but, more importantly, as one who wrote
"a piece of life".

The day Lauren left we talked about how much she had affected our family in such a short space of time.
She worked hard, she participated with us in every kind of dinner table discussion, she had a great sense of humor and a loving heart.

In just fourteen days, she became a very real
 piece of our lives.

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