Green Mountains from Jay Peak

Green Mountains from Jay Peak
Green Mountains from Jay Peak, image c/o Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How Did One Farm in Norway?

Image reprinted with permission, courtesy of a newly discovered relative, Diane Piper, whose family was blessed with visiting the 'home' country of Norway this July.  :)

... the turn of the century, just...
How Did One Farm in Norway?

I often wonder how our ancestors survived.  My great-grandparents were Carl Oscar & Emma Caroline Anderson, and Carl, whose parents emigrated, immigrated here from Norway, settling at (i think) first in the Dakotas to farm in a harsh climate and new land.  Now, knowing that farming must have been a very hard living, back then.  The gardening, raising so many children, the animal husbandry alone, then working the soil in the fields, and praying for weather.  Perhaps hauling water, no electricity, of course.  i can barely wrap my head around just that alone for them.  Add in that Dakotas rugged climate, back then, and I wonder, did this breathtaking/vicious occupied land seem tame to the Andersons compared to the 'old country, where Aurora Borealis may dance among the long bitter winter endless night?   Maybe six of one...

How did they survive?  Why did they leave Norway?  Did they have to endure leaving loved ones at 'home'?  How did they get through those brutal cold winters?

Emma's daughter Olive, (my grandmother) told us how they had no heat upstairs away from the hearth in the kitchen.  And they used to warm smooth brook, or river stones by the hearth to heat their freezing cold beds so they could try to sleep in winter.

But what was it like for her parents in Norway, before?  And just how does one farm in a place like Norway?  Middle aged now, and extraordinarily blessed to have recently settled in as a Vermont citizen, (once a flatlander...) i feel somehow closer to my great grandparents by latitude and lifestyle.  How?  I have the opportunity to assist in raising poultry, and gardening, in yet another sometimes brutal yet incredibly beautiful micro-climate in this still yet, occupied land.  As i age i enjoy the cooler air, which was dreaded as a child.  But last year our area had a 5 foot deep frost: much more than usual as Vermonters struggled with keeping our plumbing from freezing, hell, our waterlines from freezing for the duration of that winter.  Hear say that the timber rattlesnakes in this area would not thrive as well this season after that frost.

So...curious, did a little online research and found some links to ponder*...and about what farming in Norway might have been like back then.  (Grandmother) Olive wrote a memoir around 1990, relating that her father Carl had opportunity to commune with some of the Sioux Native folk.  He has learned some indigenous medicinal herbs and farming techniques.  He must have been a good man for a white, to have deserved the sharing of some of their traditional knowledge.

It's one thing to 'step in to it', (try something new) without knowing what risk to expect in-country, but to move to an entirely new country, climate when one lives close to the land is quite another.  I remain, grateful to them for giving (us) life, their mysteries, but also to the spirit of their strong will to survive the impossible, and for an innate heritage that I may continue to enjoy learning more of, consciously.

*   further reading

Popular Tales From the Norse translated by George Webbe Dasent Third Edition, 1888

Popular Tales From the Norseby George Webbe Dasent[1904]

Norwegian Folktales


Culture of Norway (Wiki read between the lines pedia)

Emma Caroline and Carl Oscar Anderson,
my great-grandparents whose parents came here from Norway

a little :) commentary: 

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