Homestead | cutting marsh grass on the frozen lake | Norway

To make sure he could tide the animals over the long and cold winter, the historical Norwegian farmer utilised all available resources.
LA Dahlmann | talk NORWAY
Photo: Haakon Garaasen - Trysil Engerdal museum cc pdm.
Photo: Haakon Garaasen - Trysil Engerdal museum cc pdm.

Haakon Garaasen (1887-1957) was a local historian from Trysil in the region of Hedmark, Norway. He took this photo in November 1920. The man working the scythe is Karl Galaasen (1874-1962), and the location is Frosktjønna, Jons, Galåsen, Trysil, Hedmark.

Historical evidence

The photo is important historical evidence, showing how the old Norwegians utilised all available resources.

The historical farm had horses, cows, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens and more.

In the coldest sections of the country, the winter-season started as early as in late September, and lasted as long as until late May, or even early June. During the many months in between, the domestic animals relied 100% on the food they got from their masters.

A farm’s size was often measured by how many animals it could feed over the winter.

Utilising the outfields

Today, we often think of hay – dried grass – as the main food for the domestic animals on the old farm. But up and down the country, people utilised whatever fodder they could gather during a short and hectic summer.

The cultivated infields surrounding the farm, had to be prioritised for food meant for human consumption. Thus, a large portion of the animal feed had to come from the surrounding forests and mountain areas – the outfields.

In addition to hay, the farmer gave the animals straw from the grain crops, moss, dried leaves, bark, seaweed – and as we can see here, also marsh grass. It all depended on what the surrounding landscape had on offer.

Some people cut marsh grass during the summer or autumn – and dried it as they would do hay. Others cut it like this, after the lake had frozen over.

People also used dried straw and grass as insulation inside their shoes and boots – and when creating mattresses for their beds.

Karl Galaasen (1874-1962) cutting marsh grass on the ice - in November 1920. Frosktjønna, Galåsen, Trysil, Hedmark, Norway. | Photo: Haakon Garaasen - Trysil Engerdal museum - digitaltmuseum.no 0428-0000-00726 - public domain.
Karl Galaasen (1874-1962) | Photo: Haakon Garaasen – Trysil Engerdal museum cc pdm.
Marsh grass cut on the ice - in November 1920. Frosktjønna, Jons, Galåsen, Trysil, Hedmark, Norway. | Photo: Haakon Garaasen - Trysil Engerdal museum - digitaltmuseum.no 0428-0000-00525 - public domain.
Marsh grass cut on the ice – in November 1920. Frosktjønna, Jons, Galåsen, Trysil, Hedmark, Norway. | Photo: Haakon Garaasen – Trysil Engerdal museum cc pdm.

>> Recommended read: Norwegian history photos | the domestic animals

Our most recent posts

My Norwegian heritage

In 1836, milkmaid Kari Moen from the community of Sauherad in Telemark, Norway, was attacked by a bear. She almost lost her life that day.
In this post, we take a look at the layout of the Norwegian farm and its surroundings - and how the land and its resources were utilised.
With the High middle ages came expansion and progress. But everything was about to change, in the most brutal way imaginable.
The old Norwegian farming society was a self-sufficient and balanced world. Coins and notes were all but an alien concept.
When the ice melted after the last ice age, herds of reindeer followed in its wake. And with the animals came their main predator: the humans.
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.
The most significant sections of Norwegian productive soil can be found in the counties of Trøndelag, Hedmark, Oppland and Rogaland.
Queen Maud of Norway was born in London in 1869, as Princess Maud of Wales. Her grandmother was none other than the formidable Queen Victoria.
In this post you will find a list of Norway’s 15 main historical eras - from the ice age to our modern day.
With Christmas comes the turning of the sun, and the promise of a new year. Enjoy these traditional and vintage Norwegian Christmas cards - 24 in all.
Skårfast is a Norwegian adjective that means that a person or an animal is stuck on a steep mountain- or cliff-side shelf, and in need of being rescued.
Lystring is a Norwegian verb that means catching fish or other water creatures in the dark, using a fire torch to attract the fish and a multi-pronged spear.
The land that we call Norway was once covered by a massive sheet of ice. In places, the glaciers were as much as 3,000 metres thick.
It is said that all people are equal in Heaven. But the historical churchyard shows us that no such equality applied here on Earth.
With this old photograph in my hand I have set myself a task: how much information can I find in Norwegian online archives based on what the photo tells me?
On 18 November 1905, after a supportive referendum, the Norwegian parliament unanimously elected the Danish Prince Carl as the country’s new king.
When there were no makeshift or permanent dwellings nearby, the Sami hunters and herders sometimes slept under the open sky.
Do you have trouble sleeping? Here are some examples of how the old Norwegians used Mother Nature’s very own remedies to cure their ailments.
As a first such an event in modern times: the Norwegian counties Sør-Trøndelag and Nord-Trøndelag have now merged.
The oldest wooden buildings in Norway are almost 1000 years old - like Urnes stave church in Luster. How come these buildings do not rot away and disappear?
10 July is the feast day of Saint Knut - Knutsok - and marks the beginning of the haymaking season - høyonna - in the old Norwegian farming calendar.

Follow us on social media

Norwegian history