ElkFarm Stories

A Daily Dose of Writing

Category: Norway

Strawberries (jordbaer) and Fresh Produce

Just today my cousin Unni from Norway posted this photo, one of several picnic pics. These are wild strawberries, about the size of marbles. The jordbaer pictured here only understand Norwegian. Though I never had the patience to gather a mess of them in a container, friend and neighbor Willis and I picked them in the ditches in our neighborhood east of Amery, WI. Eating each one was like taking a bite of strawberry sugar. Intense, natural.

Today for the first time this season I stopped at our local farm market downtown Wisconsin Rapids by City Hall. What a sight, and what tremendous amounts of produce available. Tomatoes galore, beautiful red beauties along with so many other garden vegetables. The Amish sold bread, pickles, and jam along with their produce, plus fresh eggs, in the same location as last summer. The Hmong stands sold a variety of noodles, egg rolls, rice, and other specialties. Photos to come in August.


Hunger and Desperation

While touring Oslo, I visited Norway’s National Museum of Art several times. “The Scream” and other paintings by Edvard Munch have their own room on the 2nd floor.

The first time at the gallery the above painting grabbed my attention and my imagination. Not sure which artist painted this nor do I know the time period it depicts or its title. What I do know is that it’s not a settling, calming painting. The artist projects the city, hunger, cold, and uncertainty. There’s a section of Oslo’s main street, Karl Johan’s Gate,  that looks like this area. Also, in looking at it again I  notice that it’s women/ housewives competing for an allotment of milk. If you had asked me about it away from the painting, I recall a number of young people vying for a spot in line. It appears the young here are marginal and frustrated in this hectic scene.


Contented Cows that Understand Norwegian


Norwegian reds on the farm of our cousins on Fjelberg Island on the west coast of Norway. The law requires that cattle are outside at least 50 days in the summer, no kidding. Feed comes in on a ferry, and soon they’ll begin chopping grass/hay and shooting it into their 2 silos. The Nordhus Farm.

Them there’s mountains in the background on a neighboring island,  a beeeyoutiful setting.

Our Tuesday Morning

This painting hangs in the Norwegian Naitonal Gallery in Oslo. The somber tone struck me from the first time I saw it.

So, after reading Revelations once again, I asked wife Bente what she wanted to do.

She said, “Well, it is Tuesday, you know.”

“Oh, yeah. Taco Tuesday. Should we go together or do you want me to pick up a few and bring them home?”

“Let’s read Leviticus and then I’ll decide, depends on how I feel.”

“It can’t get any better than this. can it.”

Letter from Norway: August 1895

Mountainside of my Grandpa Ole Larson south of Olen on the west coast of Norway. Note red barn in the distance; my grandpa lived just this side of it, the white building in this photo taken in 2014.

This letter was sent to my Grandpa Ole Larson from his father in August of 1895. Ole and Julia Larson farmed north of Amery, WI. Often weather and general greetings took up in the first paragraph, but it gets a little tawdry later in the letter. This is the 3rd letter I’ve posted, but that’ll be it for awhile. I hope you get a sense of what is important to those Norwegians and a little about their daily lives.

Dear son Ole,
We have received two welcome letters from you and it is to our happiness that we can receive these letters from you, and I greet you with thanks for both letters. We are glad that you have your health and that makes for great goodness. We live basically the same as before. I have been a bit better than last summer so I have traveled with salmon fishermen but have been on my own for about every third week. But the fishing is not worth while now.
Father and mother are pretty well. Mother is not as quick as she would like to be but she knits and usually works more than she should, and since Petra left she has many large and small tasks.
(He describes the haying season as rainy, poor for drying hay)
We had a letter about four weeks ago from Helene and they are well. During Pentecost Kristian and Petra visited us for eight days. This spring Borgella Stumaa died and Father and Mother went to the funeral. Lakareas Viland was very unlucky in that he fell down from a cherry tree at Lobaken and broke his collarbone and hit himself so bad that he had to be carried in, so people had to help him. It was at a very inconvenient time for him as it is haying time.

Next section is mildly R rated; proceed cautiously.

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Letter from Norway–1911

View of the fjord from the farm of relatives of Ole Larson. Fishing was allowed at times, but they needed some kind of license. This is a fjord because it is salt water; that is the standard for designating a fjord.

(This letter to my Grandpa Ole Larson was written by Thomas, a neighbor or relative. Grandpa’s mother is alone now and suffers depression and loneliness because her husband, my Great Grandpa Lars Peder Aarak, died recently. Sent mid-January, a time when there was not as much work on farms in Norway and in Wisconsin.)

Mr Ole Larsen

I want to send a few words, first to let you know that we all around this place live well to this date.
Your mother is as she had been , sometimes she has bad thoughts , and at times hours feels very long ,and depression sneeks in on her when she think that both husband and children are another place, ”now I am all alone,” she tells me, and it is true as she says,
It is not easy to be alone, but it has to, and time go on every day and soon it is time for the graveyard, and our time ends here.
So I will let you know, that I have sent 200 kr from your mother, they are sent to the postoffice in Stavanger, so I can not tell you if they send them as Postremisse or as a Bank check, they were sent on the 14 of januar.
Your mother told me to say to you that these 200 kr is not to be a loan, and is not to go on your inheritance, if there is something after her.. This is a gift from her to you.

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The Ole Larson Farm

The farm of Ole Larson in the letter below was located 10 miles northeast of Amery, WI. This photo shows either Grandpa Ole or Uncle Lawrence taking a break from plowing. Notice the chickens scrounging for worms in the newly turned soil, and in the background, the house that sheltered the 10 Larson family members. And if you look closely, look high and there is the light image of their windmill.

This photograph is one of my favorites, so much in one image. Taken probably about 1925.


Letter from Norway–1895

Western Norway. Original Larson farm left of center, near the red building. The area on a fjord is between Bergen and Stavanger, near Olen. The farm setting looks like a gentle slope, but when a person is on it the angle is significant. The area is called Aarak, and if you’ll notice that is part of his name, his signature, at the bottom of the letter– Lars Peder Aarak.

Aarak the 4 of November 1895
My son Ole !

We have had your welcome letter of 16 September, where by we greet you with our loving thanks.
We saw to our joy that you had your health and that you lived well and had got in the corn, Wheat and Oats.
Our health are by the same as before. we have harvested this year, but it was difficult this autumn because of the ongoing rain that made our potatoes bad.
Here has already fallen shoe snow, but it seems to go off again
The crops were medium this year, except for the potatoes and some of the hay less saved.
We appreciate you for your persistent writing , that is of great joy to us.

You father has the pocket watch he got from you, it works still good, it is his comrade when he is out to sell sheep in the summer, he is so fond of it, since he got it from you.

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