May 28, 2012

       "Au Revoir Notre Ami!"      

Anthony looking out over the interior of the barn at Lundgren's
 from the fika room/office in the loft above.

     Before Anthony left our farm, there were some other things
we wanted him to see.
     We arranged a visit to the dairy farm of Håkan and Monica Lundgren,
 dear friends  who lived in the small village of Långvattnet on the other side of Junsele, about a half hour away. 
     I met Monica when I first came to Sweden. 
 She had volunteered to teach a Swedish language course and I enrolled
 in company with a couple from the U.K. and a German girl. 

     "I was an innocent child in those days,"
  as my Auntie Ellice used to say.
I had no idea about the demands of daily farm life and it wasn't long until I had to relinguish my teaching sessions at Monica's kitchen table so that I could get up to speed with what was required of me
at home and in the barn.
But the friendship we forged at that time has remained strong.

                                                            When I called Monica she not only invited us to come, but she took the time to give Anthony the grand tour, explaining their "state of the art"  dairying equipment in detail. With the automatic feeding system, rotating brushes that cleaned the cows as they walked by, and even the "touchless" manure removal (no hand shoveling!), it was all a marvel!

Anthony surveyed their electrical and piping setup and was especially interested in the computerized system they had installed where each cow wore a transponder around her neck.  The wireless transponder would send such information as how much she was eating, what her volume of milk output was, etc., to the computer adjacent to the milking parlor.

This good young man who had been such a help to us was raised on a large commercial dairy farm in France.  His time with us gave him an entirely different perspective of a smaller and more intimate family farm where between 16 and 24 cows were milked.  Visiting the Lundgren's was a terrific mid-point experience for him with about 40 to 50 cows, but much more sophisticated equipment.   Also, Lundgren's sell their milk to a large commercial dairy, where we make cheeses on site with our milk.  And that difference alone affects so many aspects of how things are done on the respective farms. 

It was a wealth of information and a
 valuable experience for him.

Another great day was spent "on town" in Örnsköldsvik when Gustav,  his friend Erik, and Anthony took in their skateboards and "cruised Övik", then spent a few hours at the ever-popular Paradisbadet waterslide.

Here the three of them are looking dapper in a boy pose at the start of the day...

...and here they are again several hours later after all the hilarion was accomplished and they were ready for the ride home.

Anthony was with us for nearly a month. He came on an internship through his school in France.  It seemed like he had always been with us and then we turned around and it was time for him to go.   We felt so grateful for all he had done.  We loved his gentle nature with its unexpected spark of fun.  

Taking him to the bus station at Örnsköldsvik and sending him off was bitter sweet to say the least.
We hoped he had enjoyed his stay with us as much as we had enjoyed having him.

Only a few days later we received an e-mail from him.   
It said in part....

"It is realy strange because I miss you and your farm, and I realy will try to come again with you.
 I had a great training on your home,

 and that was maybe the greatest experience of my life!"

The feeling was mutual.