Sep 5, 2012

(Summer 2011 - Part I)
"The 'FAB FOUR' and a few more!" 
From front left clockwise around the table:
Maxie, Marien, Romain, Blanca, Gustav
We could never have known what lay in store for us last summer when we got these four to help us. 
Gustav was the in-house  leader for the farm work
and the others  pulled their weight above and beyond the call of duty. 
They brought with them such a happy  and cooperative spirit that
every day was fun, even though the work load was great.
Maxie was back for another summer and we were so happy to have this boy that we have come to love like he was our own son.  Each year he  learned more and more about farm life and each year it seemed like when he was with us he had always been here.   He had to leave a little early to meet with some of his relatives from Eastern Europe who had come to visit but while he was on the farm he was one busy guy! He and Blanca were always together, working on one assignment after another, and talking and laughing it up the whole time.

The day Marien arrived we were not home.  We drove in and all we saw was a huge motocycle with various pieces of clothing, boots, a helmet and other paraphernalia attached.  He had driven it all the way from his home in France.  When we found him down by the barn it only took a few minutes and we felt that this young man, with his quiet but incredibly self-assured manner, was going to make a huge difference in what we got accomplished during the summer.  We were right. 

If energy and enthusiasm could be bottled and sold Romain would be a billionaire.  An elementary school teacher originally from Corsica, he was ready and willing to try anything. We joked that if Napoleon could have had Romain with him there  would have been a vastly different outcome at  Waterloo.  Before he left the farm he had made no end of wood projects in his spare time, (even with all the work that was done in the regular farm schedule), not the least of which was a hanging mobile that included various Christmas  motifs and small moose heads. And he LOVED making "buttoor spuns" (butter spoons).  He was a ton of fun from start to finish.

Blanca was and always will be " Our Ray of Spanish Sunshine".  Everyone's unqualified favorite with a happy disposition and an unflagging work ethic.  She told us that the day she was born in Madrid  it snowed.  It was so unusual to have that happen that her parents named her Blanca (Spanish for 'white') in honor of the event.  She was studying to be an ornothologist and  memorized 273 "beard" (bird) calls during the time she was with us in preparation for the exam she would take when she went home to Spain. She wrote later to tell us she had passed with flying colors.  Not a surprise.

We loved them all!
Maxie and Blanca were seldom apart:

On the day the two little piglets were due to arrive,  M & B headed on down the road that leads to the grassy field where the porkers stay for the summer.   

But first they filled a galvanized bucket with a warm, soapy, water solution and grabbed their brushes so they could scrub out the stone feeder and have everything in order for  "Henry and Wilbur"

These two were really into it, upending the trough that would hold the vasle (whey left over from the cheesemaking that the pigs absolutely love to slurp up), and sparkling it to the moon and back!
No piggies ever had it any better.
And were Henry and Wilbur appreciative as well as  cute? 
They sure were!!

While Blanca mucked out in the barn here at home, Maxie's new-found skills were plied turning hay with the tractor at Östansjö, a small village nearby where the mellankalvar (young heifers who graze with the young bull and will get pregnant for the first time during the summer) are kept for the season.

Each morning they manned the water wagon together, traversing the farm and watering all the flowering window boxes and planters,

and twice a day they took turns feeding "Independence" a little heifer calf that was born on the 4th of July and whose mother died shortly afterward.  This baby calf had to be bottle fed for two full months and needed the rich milk a mother gives immediately after birth.  Fortunately, we had saved some from the other milk cows who had given birth earlier and we had it in the freezer for an emergency.  It was only to thaw it and heat it to the right temperature slowly and then Blanca and Maxie would take it out to her.  One little sidenote that gave us so much pleasure throughout the summer was that we only had to go to the fence and call, ",", and no matter where Independence was, she would come running from the farthest corner of the field for her bottle.  You can see her in the above picture in the field following Maxie, looking for a little playtime after she had drained her two liter meal.

They took out the cows after milking....

they picked strawberries together at the village of Åsmon,

they threw up their hands with joy after weeding the ENTIRE potato field,

and they scrubbed and painted the cooling rooms in the dairy in preparation for the cheesemaking.

 Both were interested in history so we took them  on an afternoon trip to the ancient stone carvings in Näsåker, a half hour away, where our Belfast-born Irish/Swedish guide regaled us in English with all the facts about the past inhabitants of that area and their hunting practices. 
It was so fascinating.
And rain or no rain, Maxie and Blanca went with Gustav for a fun day at the Junsele Market, complete with all it's outdoor booths and displays. 
Maxie loved to  cuddle and pet the new kittens from Strima, the black cat -
she had TEN!! 
 (Remember the former post where she was laying in the main aisle of the barn so hugely pregnant in the Spring?)

And Blanca was incredible one day
on the narrow stairway of the källarboden (root cellar building)
 where there was a frightened bird trapped. 
She caught it barehanded in flight and was able to gently take it out to safety unharmed.

While Maxie was tractoring it up in the fields, Blanca was helping Gustav with the rototilling in the kitchen garden,
or making cheeses with Pappa in the dairy.

Whether they were working together or playing together, they were a... 

"Terrific  Twosome" 
in every respect,  
 and we loved them! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Lorayne & family,

I lost your e-mail address and Jim just found you again. We looked at your family web page and you are still busy, busy. You look happy and healthy. the years seem to fly by, I have just completed 4 years of teaching seminary and missing it already, then thought no more 6.00 a.m. starts to the day, whew, relief.......
everyone is well here, wishing same for you. Love Doreen