We are back on the bus. Remember we arrived in Geirangfjord by ship, then took the Eagles Pass across the mountain plateau to the villages of Eidsdal and Norddal. Along Eidsvatn Lake, with the old farmhouses scattered along one side of the lake we followed, believe it or not, the toll road, single lane and narrow (you have to pay tolls to use the roads here) on to our next spot……….We passed by several creeks rumbling down the mountain…………
and we were back to the rocky mountain terrain…………
and the road is getting extremely narrow too……….we have to stop for the cows on the road…….
and then the wild horses……..and we must pay another fee to enter the farm road………..
and just like magic, once the fee is paid with the bus driver’s pass card, the horses move off to the side……..they are trained very well, aren’t they?
We got our first glimpse of this very remote goat farm! Herdalsetra, is the largest mountain farm still in use in Norway….and is now a National Heritage Site. It is situated on a plateau 1,650 feet above sea level and has been in continuous use for over 300 years. The summer farm operates from early June until the end of August. The farm includes 30 farm buildings and had no road connecting to it, until 1960. The main product from the farm is brown and white cheese and genuine goat caramels made from goat’s milk. There are more than 400 goats, as well as cows, sheep and Norwegian ponies.
Do not go any further! Get out and walk!
My what a place! There are very big pieces of stone here!
and the little gravel track goes on and on…….
On one side there is a row of shelters……..
along the creek…….
and the landscape! Oh my!
Different sizes of shelters can be found…….
Who lived in them? Well, I asked………50 to 300 years ago in the summer months, the girls from the villages we passed, had the job of taking the goats up to the mountain pastures, where the goats could eat all the grass they wanted and the girls made goat cheese and tended the goats all summer………the boys stayed back and farmed or fished. At the end of the summer, the girls took baths in the cold mountain streams and the boys took theirs in the lake, in preparation to see each other again in the Fall! Can you imagine? It sure is tranquil, quiet and beautiful out here! And dark! This is one of the few original mountain goat farms still in existence in Norway today.
So let’s walk around and see some of the little shelters…..
and the goat pen…….some goats were in and some were out of the pen……….
Here is one of the milking sheds………
and you had to be careful where you walked, because there was lots of this………
Then we got to meet the goat farmer and cheese maker……..she and her husband came from Poland to tend the goats this year. I got the feeling that the young people in the village move on to bigger dreams now, rather than goat tending on their farm…….so the owners advertise for people, who want a very different summer job…..and this Polish couple fit the bill. I asker her where they stay at night, because I could not imagine them sleeping this rough. She said they have a room in the little village and they ride their bikes out or get dropped off here every day! It is a hike from the village up here. I thought of that, as I wondered in the old days if any of the boys tried to sneak up to see the girls in the summer. But really, by the time they got here it would be time to turn around and go back……it is just………the right distance from the village, not too close and not too far.
So this little hut is where the cheese is made…….
You do a lot of stirring……….it looks like caramel…….
The brown cheese gets packed into these little boxwood, round containers, which says where the cheese is made and that it is authentic to this farm…….
Here is the other half of the Polish goat farmers……….
He tells us what we are looking at! Very primitive utensils!
They sell books about their goats too!
And, here is the finished product…..we got to taste thin slices of the cheese ……in a little cafe known as the Kaffistove and the milkmaids served us traditional seter (traditional mountain farm food)
and we got to try the caramel……with thin, crisp crackers………..
and the goat sausage too…………..
My what a place! Here on the old farm we participated in a time warp of smells and tastes and heard the history of many of the old house foundations, farm houses and barns and the making and tasting of the cheese! It was one of our favorite remembrances of Norway! I’ll be back tomorrow with more photos from the Herdalestra Farm! I loved it here!