Life in Alta is quite different from the rest of the country, even farm-life. So, we thought we’d introduce you to our new inspiration and take you on a grand tour of the farm. As we walked clockwise around the farm to take pictures today, I was ever so amazed at the diversity of the landscape. We have many unique environments living side-by-side which makes the farm a truly special place.
The drive above is always beautiful in all the seasons. It takes you past the house and up to the barn. On the way is the duck pond. We have a couple of families of ducks hiding amongst the green. We can see the pond from our bedroom window and often watch the ducklings swim after their mothers. There is a log cabin waiting to be completed – a gentle reminder that farms have a habit of collecting unfinished projects.
To the far west of the farm is a forested area. Well, actually, it is a swamp. It used to be a little dry but it recently has had some bulls to churn up the soil. We are now left with a lovely wet and muddy swamp. (No, I am certainly not being sarcastic!)
The water attracts a lot of mosquitoes. We have to wear hat nets in this area otherwise we would get eaten alive. Mosquitoes in Alta are big and hungry. They follow you in swarms. Lil’ Red is certainly protected. He wears the hat-net down to his belly-button and the rest of his body is covered with thick clothing.
But the wet, mud and mosquitoes are certainly wanted! Because of this environment we have one of the most valuable wild berry fields around – cloudberries. These little guys grow in swamps in the Nordic regions. As yet they haven’t been successfully farmed but there is always a first and we have a running head-start. We will certainly be nurturing this area and will need to clear some trees to help the cloudberries thrive.
Also, above swamps on hills are the perfect spots for Nordic blue berries. Walking up to the paddocks we noticed some clusters on the way.
The farm has a handful of small paddocks. As it used to be a sheep farm, the paddocks were mainly used for growing winter feed. The sheep would spend the Summers up in the mountains and the Winters in the barn, so the farm didn’t need to be really big to keep a lot of sheep. Around the paddocks are lovely trees that beautify the place and serve as shade for lambing sheep (sheep that have just had Spring lambs) and also as wind breakers.
On the farm it is a lot easier to jump the fence than to open and close it, especially if you have animals. (It just so happens that the only time I didn’t hold the camera was the time that Moose took my picture.) In this paddock there are two young Nordland horses. These come from Nordland, the middle of Norway and are very suited to an Arctic climate. The horses are very small and are just like giant ponies.
There is another larger pond separating a paddock from woodlands on the plateau. There are no ducks in this one yet but it certainly has potential. As you can see the vegetation is very different from the forest swamp.
At the top of the farm you can look out over the Alta fjord. This area is used for camping and camp-fire activities. It leads into a fairy-tale forrest. Little winding tracks through shrubs and trees take you along the ridge to a lower paddock, a small wild cotton field and smaller swamp area.
Down in the east corner of the farm is the fir forrest that covers WWII ruins. The forest started out as Christmas tree supplies but they just kept on growing. Even though fir trees aren’t native to Alta they grow very well. The place certainly adds a different texture to the farm.
Across the road is a very long field with wonderful swishy grass that goes right down to the river’s edge. It even has an old relic by the gate.
Syregress, (Sorrel or Spinach Dock in English) is a herb grass. It is a medicinal plant that can be eaten fresh for salads or used in soups. Moose just picks them up by the handful for a snack along the way to the river.
The Tverrelva is a salmon river. It borders the farm. A little way along is a waterfall which takes the river out to the Alta fjord. Moose has caught many-a-fish in this river. There are no fishing permits required for this river but it does have certain areas banned (like the salmon steps) to give the fish a flying chance.
Every time I look around Moose is having a feast at the salad bar. He really knows how to live off the land. I think it will take me a little time before I ‘dig in’ to everything but the farm sure is a smorgasbord waiting to happen.