Homestead | bringing home the winter hay | Norway

On the historical Norwegian farm, winter feed for the domesticated animals was a precious resource. Sometimes it was harvested and temporarily stored far away from the farm.
LA Dahlmann | talk NORWAY
Bringing home the winter hay. | Photo: Anno Domkirkeodden cc pdm.
Bringing home the winter hay. | Photo: Unknown - Domkirkeodden cc pdm.

In some parts of Norway, you find relatively flat landscapes. Here, the historical farmland was easier to clear and cultivate. The climate was well-suited for crops meant for both human and animal consumption.

However, in the larger portion of the country, the reality was and is far more complex. There were often small farm units scattered across mountainous regions, and along steep fjord edges. In many places, with a climate significantly more demanding.

Throughout the centuries, women and men cleared new land and settled in these less hospitable locations. With boundless energy, they cut down trees, built their houses, removed tons of stone, and otherwise improved the soil quality.

Read also: Norwegian food history | milk from the domesticated animals

The livestock

The earliest livestock fended for themselves outdoors – both summer and winter – finding their food like any wild animal. However, as the millennia passed, they became more and more dependent on their human masters.

The Norwegian winter is usually long, cold, and dark. At some point, the farmers started building animal sheds as protection against both frost and predators.

In parts of the country, the indoor season lasted from late September until late May. Sometimes even longer.

Bringing the hay home

The farmer had to secure enough animal fodder for the winter – by utilising all available resources.

Dried grass – or hay – was the main feed – gathered from natural and man-made meadows in the surrounding landscape. It was cut and dried during the summer – and usually stored temporarily on location – in small and simple outbuildings or in haystacks.

The reason for this temporary storage could be the distance back to the home farm – and difficult terrain in between.

There were hardly any roads to speak of, and it was easier to transport the hay using a horse and a sleigh on the snow.

In the main photo above, we see a moment of everyday history, where four life-giving loads of hay have been brought safely back home, from the outfields to the home barn. The photo is taken at the Skaug farm, in Brøttum, Ringsaker, Hedmark.

Bringing home the winter hay. Taken at the summer pasture location of the Freng farm - at Sjusjøen, Ringsaker, Hedmark, Norway. | Photo: Unknown domkirkeodden - digitaltmuseum.no 0412-02327 - public domain.
Bringing home the winter hay. Taken at the summer pasture location of the Freng farm – at Sjusjøen, Ringsaker, Hedmark, Norway. | Photo: Unknown – Domkirkeodden cc pdm.

Read also: Norwegian railway history | the pioneer era 1851-1868 | Norway

Our most recent posts

My Norwegian heritage

The Black Death – mother of all plagues - ravaged humankind in the mid-1300s. A Norwegian scholar takes us through the lead up to the disaster.
For thousands of years, milk from the domesticated animals has had a dominant position in the Norwegian diet. People used milk from the cow, the reindeer, the sheep and the goat.
The first half of the 1900s was a time of enormous change in Norwegian society. It was then that a young boy experienced a peculiar family custom.
Per O. Rød wrote the history of the Stornæve farm and its inhabitants back in 1968. Decades earlier, several children of Stornæve had emigrated to the US.
For more than a thousand years, Norwegian farmers sent their livestock to feed in the forests and the mountains. Today, this way of life has almost disappeared.
Ljå is a Norwegian noun that means a scythe - an old agricultural cutting-tool used when mowing the grass to make hay, or when harvesting the grain crops.
Some of the beautiful Norwegian wooden stave churches are almost 1000 years old. Today, there are 28 of them left.
Bondegård is a Norwegian noun that means farm. In informal speech and in many dialects, people only use the single word gård or gard.
The first half of the 1900s came with a momentous change to Norwegian society. The old ways of the ancient hunting and farming culture were rapidly dying.
At Easter in 1906, renowned Norwegian photographer Anders Beer Wilse took this series of photos on a trip with a group of friends.
Some vintage photos - and more to come.
The Norwegians rarely allow alien species into their fauna. With one notable exception, the muskox - first welcomed in from Greenland in 1924.
Oslo is the capital city of Norway. It was founded in AD 1048 by the Viking king Harald Hardråde. Historically, the city is also known as Christiania or Kristiania.
In the year AD 1537, King Christian 3 of Denmark-Norway embraced the Lutheran Reformation, and the Norwegians went from being Catholics to Protestants. The king confiscated the Catholic Church’s considerable wealth, a welcomed addition to the royal coffers. Norway more or less ceased to exist as a sovereign state and became a province under Denmark.
The Norwegian landscape is wild and beautiful. And it is a lot more than just fjords and mountains.
As a first such an event in modern times: the Norwegian counties Sør-Trøndelag and Nord-Trøndelag have now merged.
During the AD 1970s, both an increased female participation in the labour market, and the green movement, were causes firmly added to the agenda. There was a heightened focus on maternity leave, access to kindergarten, and maternity benefits.
Langfjordbotn - in Norway’s northernmost region Finnmark - was the birthplace of Oluf Røde, born in 1889.
It is said that all people are equal in Heaven. But the historical churchyard shows us that no such equality applied here on Earth.
The spinning wheel was a lifelong companion for most women in the old Norwegian farming society. Enjoy this video-collection of wonderful vintage photographs.
On 18 November 1905, after a supportive referendum, the Norwegian parliament unanimously elected the Danish Prince Carl as the country’s new king.

Follow us on social media

Norwegian history