Winter is here! I have been looking forward to winter for a little while know. Yesterday we still had green fields; today they are white, laden with a foot of fluffy snow.
Winter is a festive season in Norway and every in month there is something special to look forward to and celebrate. In November we see the sun for the last time this year. In December we celebrate advent – the count down to Christmas. Late December we celebrate juletid with Christmas eve, julebuk and New Years. Christmas continues in January and later in the month is the return for the sun. In the spring months we have many holidays for skiing and trips to the cabin.
The first snowfall tells the Norwegian animals that they better hurry up to get their last fill before the long winter. We are always graced with swarms for sparrows at this time. They pluck off the rest of the rowan berries on the tall tree tops. Norwegian folklore tells us that if there are a lot of berries on the rowan trees then the winter will be hard. It is thought nature gives extra to the birds to survive the harder winter. So far I haven’t seen any year that contradicts this tale.
Rowan berries grow in clusters and can catch a good amount of snow. When I see these bells of nature I’m reminded of how beautiful a Norwegian Christmas is and get all giddy inside.
The first snow also means we have to work a little harder on the farm. We have been preparing all summer for winter. Now that it is here we need to open our winter food stocks.
The sheep have a hard time finding food with the snow. They naturally have the ability to scratch down underneath the snow to get to the roots and old leaves below but they much prefer the easier option of fresh silage. When they see me they are always smiling.
Our Viking sheep are particularly suited to the Norwegian winter. Their wool collects the snow and provides extra insulation.
The geese are very good animals for a farm. They are low maintenance, finding their own food, but during a Norwegian winter we provide them with silage and grains for treats.
The geese and sheep can eat the snow but they also need water to prevent dehydration. We often heat up the water in a kettle so the geese can have a ‘spa’ bath. They love it.
All the animals get very excited when they see us in winter. (In the picture above; when I don’t bring bread I have to let the geese nibble on my hand to prove it them – they never just believe me!)
Us humans mean ‘food’ to animals and just like humans, animals can get a little down in the cold. Seeing white all the time gets a little monotonous. Winter is the time where we play with the animals a little more. We take the rabbits for walks on leashes, the geese have their spas, the sheep are taken for walks in the forests so they can munch on different bark and the horses like to meet new people.
This year winter has come so suddenly that buds haven’t had time to bloom. This bud will certainly not go to waste. I’m sure one of the sheep will find it and get a little burst of energy.
Quite often the first snowfall is a false alarm. It melts away quickly and we are back to autumn again. I think this year the first snow will stay and won’t melt away until summer. But we shall see.
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