Sheep and Trolls

I have been enjoying my first WorkAway for the past week on a farm about 30 minutes south of Oslo. Chewy and I are in a small cabin near the main house. There are other volunteers here, a couple from France and another couple from Germany (originally USA) and United Kingdom. Our hosts are such incredible, vibrant beings. I say that because this is the only way I can truly define Marianna and Raphael. They are in their 60s and have lived and continue living such an incredible life. It’s hard to know where to begin about my experiences. I’ll start by explaining my daily routine. I wake up around 7am and meditate for an hour or so then Chewy and I go on a walk to pick dandelion leaves for our morning smoothie. It takes quite a lot of dandelions to feed 7 people every morning 😉 By around 8:45am we all gather around the kitchen table and enjoy breakfast. First, we all hold hands and say “blessings on the meal” which is a perfect way to show gratitude minus religion IMO. By 10am I hurry down to the animals. I start with the chickens and the ducks. I provide new grain and gather eggs and change their water. Next I feed and water the bunnies. There is a very large rabbit, named Kalahari who just happened upon the farm a couple of years ago and now this is his home. He is so huge, like 4 times bigger than Chewy. He is extremely docile, so very, very soft and loves to be pet. There are 2 other rabbits here, Bambi and Chiquita who live in the large cages. Kalahari is too big for a cage so he gets to run free. I then open the big gate to allow him to graze in the bigger fenced area where the sheep reside. There are 3 ducks that also follow since there is a small pond they spend 90% of their day in and around. The ducks eat the snails which are so incredibly big here. Once I am in the bigger pen, by now the 5 sheep act like they are starving. A very audible BAAAAA comes from each of them. I grab a bucket with a small amount of alfalfa pellets and grain. When I shake this around them they come bounding up to me and would follow me to the ends of the earth. They each have names and different personalities. We walk up the road and up the mountain so they can graze. Occasionally, they will want to go run back to their pen. But when I shake the bucket they all just freeze, turn around and come galloping back to me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always this easy but after a few days I got the hang of it and will now practice my yoga while walking around watching the sheep graze for about an hour before putting them back in their home. 

After lunch the days are quite different. Sometimes I will help Raphael by looking up tree photos via the internet (not wifi). He uses these for his lectures that he gives all over the world. Raphael can speak eleven different languages and it is incredible to watch him smoothly switch between them in a heartbeat. I’ve learned a lot from Raphael and the importance of learning languages to communicate with people is definitely a big part of it. In addition to helping my hosts with their business, I also have performed multiple other tasks. After a powerful wind storm there was a fallen tree on the farm next to us. The neighbors and us volunteers all worked together to breakup the tree into firewood and sheep food. 🙂 Needless to say the sheep were very happy! In fact, the next day when I took them on a walk they didn’t want to graze, they just followed me hoping for some grain. Also, some days I work in the garden. There is a professional gardner here from Germany. Her and her partner, from the UK, hitchhiked all the way here from Southern Germany. I have been relying on the bus, train and taxis the entire time of my trip, so I can’t help but admire their aspirations to hitchhike and I enjoy hearing about their adventures along the way. In addition to the things I have mentioned so far, I have also cooked, cleaned, learned a bit of sewing and helped organize the flower essences that Raphael and Marianna have continued to sell for around 20 years. This has been my first long-term volunteering/woofing/work-away experience and I have learned so much. Probably the most valuable tool I’ve learned is to just dive in. At first, I didn’t want to get in the way when others were working hard on a task. I would mostly help out when I was directly given a project. However, the other work-awayers have taught me that I just need to jump in. If I see something that needs moved, cleaned, cooked, planted, fed or anything else, just to dive right in and do it without question. This makes for such an enjoyable community when everyone works together. We all work pretty hard. Often 8-9 hours a day. Except for Sunday 🙂 The delicious food and extraordinary conversations make it all worth it in the end. Then I have about an hour to read and relax a bit before I sleep. 

One evening Raphael gave us a lecture on his history of working with the mistletoe. This is their main flower essence they procure as each essence is different depending on which tree the mistletoe is attached to. The 90 minutes went by so quickly and I was captivated by his connection to the forest and the energy that resides there. Did you know that we can communicate with trees? It sounds strange, but just try it sometime. When you are in a forest again, just be very still and quiet and listen to what you are feeling. I can’t emphasize enough of how important it is to listen to our intuition. I will get into this more another day as there is so much to share. It makes me sad that we are never taught this knowledge. Towards the end of the talk we debated about trolls and why Norway has such a fascination with them. It has to do with the ice age since there were a myriad of glaciers for a very long time in Norway. The trolls have been around since then and have stayed apparently? This is also why the land is so fertile and why the fruits and vegetables have such a stronger taste than anything I have eaten in the US. I mean, I thought I didn’t like tomatoes until I came to Norway!! The same with carrots, I just had no idea how flavorful they could be. This is the main reason I would encourage people to come visit Norway at some point. It really is worth the trip. 

I couldn’t help but ask Raphael if he had seen a troll before. They are mostly seen as mystic creatures that are now part of fairy tales. Well, indeed he has seen many trolls during his frequent travels. Here is when he informed me that the local troll nearby loves to eat little dogs!! OMG!! I have no clue if this is true or not but it certainly makes me keep a close eye on Chewy at all times. Which by he way, Chewy seems to enjoy sleeping in the cabin and running around the garden during the day. In the main house however, there is a cat: City Cat, who always scares Chewy when she sees him. It’s so odd because, this cat is calm and sweet around humans but when she sees Chewy she immediately transforms into “Get the hell out of my HOUSE” cat. I try to keep him out of her way as much as possible. Poor Chewy! I really hope our next place in Spain won’t have a cat that terrorizes him. He really is a trooper!

Life Abroad

 

Velkommen!

I have been in Norway for 4 days now and I couldn’t be happier. Currently, I am dog/house sitting for a fabulous Latvian/Norwegian family in the Central part of Norway near a town called Jølster. The weather is absolutely beautiful! Most days have been in the lower 70s. The people here are nice despite the stereotypes that Norwegians are not very social. The scenery is truly wondrous. The Hucky/Malimute dog I am watching named Ceasar, is such a joy and he gets me outside everyday. Besides the landscape, the biggest things that have stood out so far are the following: everything is very clean, Norwegians follow all rules without hesitation, learning Norwegian is appreciated as citizens are very patriotic and proud of Norway, lastly, I am already addicted to the fantastic brown cheese – brunost.

Norway is the first stop on my journey. I will be here approximately 8 weeks total. Of course, this could always (and probably will) change. That’s the main tip I’ve learned so far about being an international nomad: trust that everything will work out. I’ve had a few bumps in the road already due to the misunderstanding of Norway’s dog policies. However, I think I am over the hump. What stood out to me most prominently, was a habit that I have been struggling with the past year. When something goes terribly wrong, my first reaction is to feel despair. I want to curl up in a ball and just cry. By the third time in one very long, exhausting day, I realized this is my go-to emotion. I crumble. I think of the worst case scenario and tend to go there immediately and play it out in my mind as if it’s reality. My life coach would probably tell me that I am addicted to this emotion. She is obviously right. Even though feeling despair is a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling, it sort of feels like home. I continue to come back to it again and again if only just because it’s my familiar habit. It’s as if somewhere, deep down I think this is my only choice. Well, one thing is for sure, I definitely need a different go-to emotion. The energy depletion that comes with despair alone is enough of a reason to reprogram something new. Not to mention the inefficency. Well, when I figure out how to do that I will let you know, for now – ha det.