Saturday, September 18, 2010
After a few misfires we met our distant norwegian relatives yesterday Doris and Anders Hagen. Anders and I are related via our mutual great great grandfather: while my great grandfather left for the US as a small boy in the 1890's, most of his family stayed in Norway. They live on the same piece of property as our great grandparents did, which is located on a hillside above Tretten. Before visiting the old family farm, they fed us a stack of waffles accompanied by delicious homemade cloudberry and strawberry jam and sour cream. Cloudberry is highly prized by the norwegians and can only be collected during years with warm dry summers, which is not what we are experiencing this summer. Their farm has an amazing view of the River Laag and its lovely valley. While they are thoroughly modern (internet, new Subaru, newer house and barn) they are restoring the old homestead (Strangstadhågån)to its original state with help from a Norwegian historical society. Anders is painstakingly fixing the old house and barn, using the same methods used by our ancestors. He uses his grandfathers' tools to cut down trees from his property, then shape them into wood beams, mud as mortar and stones also collected from the property to make a chimney and lichen as insulation. For the roof, he is shaping slate shingles originally hauled up BY HAND over 1000 ft by the original owner in the 1850s. The roof of the cow barn, which has these slates, is the original one, so these slate shingles really last! Anders really knows his stuff and teaches others the building techniques used by their ancestors. He thinks he will be finished restoring the house in a few years, then rent it out for tourists in the summer (as good as lichen is at insulation, its still chilly in - 30 degree temperatures!). Their 27 year old daughter (Ida) and her husband (Knut Erik Fryjordet) now run the farm- they have jersey cows and a flock of amazing ancient special sheep - yes that is the translated name. (Gamle spesielle sauer). This breed of sheep has been around since the age of the vikings and seem like a goat-sheep cross. They have multicolor wool, both sexes have horns and they browse instead of graze- meaning they can eat just about anything. Anders says they better suited to the cold winters and less prone to predation than modern sheep.