Tuesday, 29 July 2014

a serpent and some vertical farming

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We hopped another small boat along the Geraingerfjord. We'd just seen the scar in the face of Valldalfjord from the battle between Saint Olav and the serpent around one thousand years ago.
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The boat had its own commentary and did mention (King) Saint Olav, but the main emphasis was on farming.

The old fjord farms are a cultural monuments in Norway and some are now preserved with UNESCO world heritage status. They are located in really out of the way places down by the fjord, or high up on rock shelves. These farms would be a small patch of ground, some goats and perhaps a cow providing subsistence living. Beautiful settings but a tough lifestyle.
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Farming as an industry has declined in Norway, despite the area we were in being famous for strawberries and other fruit. I looked at the sheer sides of the fjord and mused. I'm no farmer, but I thought the idea would be to get flat ground so that the livestock could stay attached? Just looking at the waterside landings, the access would then be hundreds of feet of sheer climb. Not exactly 'can you help me bring the shopping in?'

The stories told included farms requiring access by ladders with a side benefit that the ladders could be withdrawn when the tax collector paid a visit. In one case a big boulder overlooking the farm was so unstable that the farm was declared too dangerous. In another area the ground was so steep and treacherous that the children were tethered to prevent them from straying or falling. We didn't see any tethered children, although we did see tethered cattle grazing in another field.
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