Harvesting Hay on a Traditional Norwegian Farm

The local valley is busy with activity as everyone is gathering and harvesting hay for the winter. Winters can be long and hard here, so we all try to squeeze everything we can out of the growing season.

On our farm, it is very steep and not a lot of land compared to the other farms in the area, so we only grow grazing grass for the summer and fall. We must buy food from neighbours for winter and this year has been an incredible amount of grass!

Storage of hay for the winter is something to put a little time and thought into. We don’t have so many options as this is our 3rd year on the farm and we have only one building for the animals (and now hay).

The last 2 years the animals have had the run of the old house where they live, an old 4 room farmhouse we converted to the barn. 3 rooms of this house now are packed full with hay and the sheep are forced to live outside, which they hate. Haha. We might have the most spoiled and pampered sheep in the valley.

So last weeks have been a lot of physical labor, mostly by Birger, to get everything picked up from the supplier farm and into our animal house.

Lifting the bales of hay up to the 2nd floor.

But what was so fun was at the supplier farm, they do everything traditionally, by cutting a lot by hand with a scythe and collecting with rakes and making a fun day for the whole family. It just warmed my heart to see 4 generations of family having fun working in the sun collecting all this hay for us. That is real Norwegian traditional farming.

This is how our neighbours at Rortveit Farm do it.

The traditional way to harvest hay, called hesje, is to cut the hay, leave it out for a day on the ground to dry or put up on a fence or some wires to dry. Once it is dried it is collected into the barn loose, or made into bales. But it isn’t all about the work. It is about the community working together to help each other. Whenever I have been with people hjeshing it is actually a lot of fun.

The grass is so high this year we can’t see the sheep!

One of the things we really believe in is making sure our fields are not pristine grass. We want to have lots of other plants for the sheep to munch on too. Grass, flowers, ferns, low shrubs, and tall trees all make our animals’ diets. Eating a variety of plants keeps a balance of nutrients in the body and helps keep parasites away with a variety of plant chemicals. A variety of plants also makes a nice home for the wild animals and bugs so we keep the bio-diversity of the land.

We have had so much grass this year, our Zoo Crew hasn’t been able to keep up so we have had to call in help. The riding horses from the local riding centre have come to our house for 3 weeks vacation to do nothing but eat our grass and add fertiliser to our soil. They will do a good job.

Well that is enough about hay and grass. Thanks for being here with us!

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