Feb 5, 2012

(and now back to last summer...)

"Perfect Timing"

With the baby calves safely into their training pen, Pappa, Gustav and Anthony started in on the pressing tasks at hand.
There was plenty to do in that precious ten day period of time. 
One part of the threshing barn that had been moved the previous September still had to be dismantled and taken back to our farm.

We had experimented last Fall with dunging the kitchen garden and plowing it in at the end of the season instead of at the beginning. 
 So this Spring it only had to be harrowed before planting. 
 Gustav did the honors with some pointers from Pappa.

We saw right away that Anthony was very quick to learn so he was trained by Gustav and took on washing the cheeses in the cooling rooms without a break in the schedule.

Spring is also when the Advent tree has to be stripped of it's lights and taken down, cut up, and hauled off into the forest.
Raising up the bucket on the tractor is the best method for doing that so the men had it down in a flash.

The three of them picked a bright, crisp day when the ground had warmed just enough and went out to plant the seed potatoes.
  Pappa drove the tractor and the two boys rode in the back,
row after row, dropping the potatoes through the slots
 of the rotating seeder to be deposited deep in the soft earth.

Gustav provided the tutorial and Anthony followed suit,
 shearing up all the sheep, ready to be moved out to the fields for the season.

But perhaps the greatest moment of all came very unexpectedly. 
I don't know why it hadn't occurred to us before since we knew 
Anthony had been raised on a very large dairy farm in France. 

 Maybe it was the stress of having so much to do in a short space of time, worrying that we would fall behind, or that Pappa and Gustav would be stretched too thin with all they had on their plates already.

Early one morning, as Pappa was ready to go out
 and start the Spring plowing,
(possibly the most demanding of all the Spring responsibilities),
Anthony appeared in his calm and quiet way and said simply, 

"I can do thees".

We stared at each other...

 He knew how to plow!

And could he really do it? 
You bet!

Look at that field.
Day after day, up and down, up and down,
until it was finished.

This was a gift from Heaven that made all the difference to us. 
With Anthony on board there were four of us and we were able
to finish up not only every bit of the plowing,
but eventually ALL the Spring work. 

 As the days passed we realized we were even a little ahead of schedule. 

Mucking out.
Feeding hay.
   As if  the added momentum wasn't enough of a blessing,  Anthony was also right at home with a shovel, pitchfork and  squeegee so the barn work was second nature to him as well.

Squeegee-ing the milk room floor.
It could not have been more perfect.
We were beginning to get the vision of what this could mean to us
 for the coming season.  
With Manny away we had worried about being able to keep up. 
 That worry was fading fast. 

With his shy smile and a hat he had fashioned from an old t-shirt,
to shade him from the sun,

Anthony was:

The right man,
 in the right place,
at the right time!


(Look closely, it's a little blurry...)

That would be a description of me and Gustav running to the barn early this morning.

(And you thought it was only about vegetables!) 

*Individually Quick Frozen

Feb 3, 2012

"Dear Phil..."

We heard that you peeked out of your Punxatawny groundhog hole yesterday, sniffed the air, looked around, and announced:

"There will be six more weeks of winter!"
That was very kind of you.


when Gustav and I got up this morning it was
-30 degrees Celsius.

We quickly lit the fire in the woodstove in the kitchen,
waited to make sure it was really going strong,

  put on the pot  of hot water to boil,  set the kettles to heat,

and headed outside.

*We each had on:
 two pairs of long underwear,
 thick woollen socks,
wool lined boots with wool insoles,
heavy winter jackets,
thick wool gloves,
 and wool hats.

First it was "Big Red", the furnace out in the pannrum that fires the hot water system throughout the farm.  Gustav built the fire in there.

Good, good.

 Next to the icicle-laden pump house where the barn clothes are kept.  Even with the floor heat on it barely
took the chill off!

  Finally, winter coveralls fastened over the above-mentioned clothing items*,
 we rushed to the barn where we hoped that 
the body heat from all the cows would make it toasty warm in there.

No chance.

This was the INSIDE of the barn door covered with ice.
This was the INSIDE of the milk room window covered with ice.

And this was the INSIDE of the entry door covered with ice.

It was FREEZING in there for everyone but the cows.
They had their wonderful, warm,  furry, skins to protect them and  mountains of fresh, crunchy, hay to feed their internal heating systems while we flew through our barn chores as fast as we could.

(Lucky bugs!)

So Phil...

now that we're safely back in the storstuga,
huddled by the warmth of the woodstove, 
we wanted to say,
 "Thanks a lot for telling us 
that we still have a fair amount of winter left to face this year".

But it's official...

here on the farm in northern Sweden...

...we already knew.