"Farm Life Stories from Iceland" were written as emails for some friends. Now the story continues here. If you know me in real please dont let that show in your comments.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Mount of Glorification


   After summer away I returned to Iceland and I had a friend with me from Finland and we had some holiday days traveling around a bit before she returned to Finland and I started work again at Muck Site.
  On one of these holiday days we drove round peninsula called Snæfellsnes.
 (snæ=snow, fell=fell or mountain, nes=peninsula)
  On our tour there we saw mountains, waterfalls, caves, little seaside villages, lava fields, rocky beaches, dramatic cliffs dropping down to the ocean, a dead wale, and glacier Snæfellsjökull (jökull = glacier) shining in sun on top of the Snæfell itself before a thick cloud covered it. And we saw Kirkjufell
 (= Church Fell).
    Around Iceland there is who knows how many Kirkjufells as Icelanders have called many places the same. Would think in such a small island there would be enough names for things to give each different one but there is many Kirkjufells and many Geldingafells (Gelding= lambless sheep) and many Hrútureys (Hrútur= ram, ey= island) and so on. Sometimes close to each other too and popular name for rivers is Laxaá= Salmon River. And also some mountain tops are called different than the rest of the mountain.
  But this Kirkjufell in Snæfellsnes is the one that comes up if you google "Kirkjufell". It has been printed on many postcards and leaflets and guide books. It is not high mountain, just some 400 meters and the mountains around are clearly higher but it rises steep up and is nearly all around surrounded by sea and is easy to recognize by shape.  I red about photographer who has this Kirkjufell as her main object and they were great photos too. I was looking forwards to see the mountain in real and also I knew there was a geobox hidden somewhere at the top. I had asked Fjóla how would I find Kirkjufell and she said I would see it and know it for sure when passing it.
  And I did and I was impressed by it. I thought it was great little mountain and looked like a fun challenge to climb. As we drove on I thought this must go on to my to do list. On some dry and still day off I would return and climb it.

Washing Walls

My biggest struggle over last winter was this wall washing business.
Fjóla liked I should wash the walls inside cow hall. And when the cows made mess with them again, which they will do straight away, I should wash them again. And I should wash them with hand brush. Not with pressure washer.

I had many problems with this.
Firstly, I dont like washing walls. I dont like washing with hand brush, whilst washing with pressure washer I do quite like. Fjóla says pressure washer is no good for paint. I say paint is no good if it can not be washed with pressure.
     Then, I dont see wall washing important at all. I dont even see the walls or the muck on them. I see about any job more important.  Like clean calf boxes and clean milk buckets and clean cow beds. So Im not totally against cleaning even I know Im not the tidiest person ever lived.
  Washing walls is extremely boring and washing walls feels stupid. In my thinking as long as there is cows in a hall there is and will always be cow muck on the walls.
    And I felt I was forced to it. And feeling being forced to something does not make anyone willing. I felt Fjóla was making me wash because she wanted to show that she could. I accept orders from her as from queen of the farm but not everything and anything.  

Now I need to hurry to say that I like and respect both Fjóla and Bergur very much. I would not be back with them now for second winter if they were horrible. Thinking that the 3 of us lived and worked together over long dark winter without seeing much other people we got on well. We became a farmily team. We didnt argue much but we did argue about wall washing. And I did lot of thinking with my self about just putting on with it and washing or not washing.

And now this September day new winter was ahead and the old struggle arose.
Bergur was emptying huge slurry tank under calf barn. The barn building sits on the tank and all muck gets trough the grids down in to the tank. Bergur needed to mix water in with the muck to get it loose enough to drive out with slurry wagon and Fjóla thought it was good idea to wash walls at the same time as that water used also would get down and help with mixing the slurry. And I thought washing walls was never good idea. Especially bad idea it was to wash walls in calf barn which together with bull barn is the old part of the whole barn. At least cow hall is new and there is no holes on the walls but in calf barn there is and some ceiling panels are coming down too. In my opinion in a space like that if there is muck on the walls it can stay there till the last day.
  But I started washing.
  I dont know if and how much Bergur knew about me and Fjóla arguing about wall washing last winter. I never said anything. Didnt want him involved.
     He popped in the calf barn while the wagon was vacuuming its next load and now it poured out of me.

Me      -  This wall washing is most stupid thing I have to do here! I dont
              understand it! Really! I hate it!

He      -  But look how good the wall you have washed now looks. You should not

Me      - But I do! With all my heart! Its horrible to be in washing walls on a
             beautiful day like this. I would much rather make fence for
             example. I have got enough! Im not washing anymore walls today!

He looked at me in surprise. Then turned and walked away without a word. I huffed after him and jumped in to MF (tractor Massey Ferguson) and started pushing hay to cows. Soon Bergur returned and handed piece of chocolate to me from tractors door opening. That made me want to laugh. Did he think I would wash walls if I got chocolate!
Me      - Thanks.
He      -  Get ready. In ten minutes we will go and get home Sunna (their
              daughter) and some sheep of ours from neighbor and then I will show
              you where you can fix fence.
   I went in to change clean overall and Fjóla asked if I was ok,  that Bergur had come in and asked her : " Can we not give her anything else to do than washing walls? "
    I told her what I had said to Bergur, that I hated washing walls with all my heart and that he had brought me piece of chocolate for that. We both laughed at the simple male style thinking.

As we were driving back home with the sheep in horse box the sunny mountains around were looking so tempting.  It was mid week and I knew there was lot to do at the farm but I was in need of some compensation for wall washing.

Me          - It is so very beautiful day. Do you know what has been promised for

Bergur    - Should be like this still tomorrow. Then will be rain.

Me           - What have you planed for tomorrow?

He           - Im going to drive shit as much as I can.

Me           - For me?

He            - You should take care of everything else so I can drive shit.

Me           - Could I maybe... could I... could I go tomorrow? Is it possible?

He            - For all day?

Me            - I would give milk to calves in the morning and come back for
                   their evening milk if Sunna maybe would give them day time milk.

Sunna      - Yes, no problem.

They were speaking Icelandic but I understood Bergur asked Sunna would she also help forking hay to cows if I went and she said "já" (=yes) (sounds like "yo")

Bergur to me
                - Its possible.

At home I asked Fjóla
                - I have already asked Bergur if I could go tomorrow and he said its
                  possible but what do you say?

She          - Yes, you can go. Where are you going?

Me           - Im thinking about Kirkjufell in Snæfellsnes. But Im not going if its
                  windy or rainy.

She          - Wow, thats nice!

At evening barn me and Fjóla had another disagreement. There was a pile of hay on feeding table of cows and she wanted it moved and I would have pushed it with tractor but she wanted me to fork it.
She          - Its not so much. We can do it by hand.
Me           - Of course we can but we have tractor here standing right next to.
She          - We can do this by hand.
Me           - Yes we can but its not clever when we can do it with tractor. We can
                  start forking it all by hand and we can sell the tractor!
She          - Moona!

When she says "we" she actually means just me cos she didnt have a fork for herself. And there is enough forking anyway during the day and what is needed to fork I fork but needles forking is needles.
  I went mad with the fork. " Moona, its enough. Its good now ", said Fjóla but I wouldnt stop cos now I had my anger also to fork away.
  But Fjóla was not angry back. I can not always agree with her but I admire her for her will and ability for quick peace making and for getting not bitter. And I am ashamed how I get so angry over so little.
 As we walk in she says
                  - When you go tomorrow, take your phone, take enough food with you
                    and take my petrol card and enjoy your trip!
   Me          - Oh, thank you.


I sit up and look around. I dont know how long I have been sleeping but what a wonderful place to wake! I can hear the sound of waves meeting the shores 400 meters below. Far away born waves of Atlantic Ocean. Here up where I sit the air is still and warm with sun even the shadowed side of the mountain stays frosty and when I look down the ground the frosty side I see the pretty little frost edged leaves and when I look up I see the lines of higher mountains with snow on their tops and above and around all the sky and the ocean so blue, so bright blue.
    Waking up to so much beauty and brightness takes a bit of taking in for a not always so bright human being.  Alone beside mountains great and ocean wide a human is small. A mote. But close to the one who made it all.  From psalm or a song I remember words something like this: " What is human that You remember him? What is human child that You care about him?"  What am I that Im given this beautiful moment and this day? And whole life to live!
      As I sit there on grass at the top of Kirkjufell I dont feel being called for some big duty or hear a voice telling me direction to take, but something in me goes right. Something goes smoothly on its place.
     This is not going to solve all my struggles for ever but with one very practical and concrete thing this is going to be turning point. Like time before and time after Kirkjufell. I dont know if it is going to shine from my face when I get down my mount of glorification but it is going to shine from the walls in the barn at Muck Site. Im so graceful for this mountain moment. Graceful to Lord God himself and for his good will towards the small mote of his and graceful to Fjóla and Bergur and graceful for having them. Washing walls is no longer a problem.
     They got me a car, a red Micra, because they knew I would like Micra. They got it waiting for me at airport when I returned from Finland so I and my friend could have it for our holiday travels. They nor me know how long it takes before I can pay the car back to them. Now I have this car to get to this mountain. They allow me this sudden day off and send me of with good wishes. The least I can do is to wash walls if thats what they want. I'll reserve myself right to choose the right weather for it though and right to say "I'll do it later" if I know something else needs doing first. But I will wash and no more hate with it.
    And about being forced to? Earlier Fjóla had phoned me. And her words made me feel warm and wanted, wanted back when I wanted to come. She, forcing me? I must have got something wrong there with my thinking. Anyway there is no need, no longer need to force me.

She    - Hi, where are you now?

Me     - Just left from the car and started climbing up Kirkjufell.

She    - Thank you for driving the rulla (hay bale) this morning. That was so
            good, I had something to give the cows. It took so long before Bergur
            had time to drive more. Im calling you to say that you dont have to hurry
            back, we will take care of the calves. You can drive somewhere else
            after the mountain if you like.

Me     -  Are you sure? I think Im coming home for evening barn but thank you.

She    - We are waiting you back when you come and we want you in one piece.
            So take your time and take care. Enjoy your day!

Me     - Thank you, I will.

I had got up very early. Very early or night still. It was below zero outside and in moonlight I aimed MF (tractor Massey Ferguson) at the rulla. It was challenging as no lights on old MF pointing behind and the rulla had lost its shape so certain tricks were needed to get it on and it was so heavy that once aboard behind the tractor its weight lifted front wheels up in the air. Well, tractors have brake pedals separately for both back wheels and that makes it possible to turn the thing even front wheels in the air. Got the rulla in for cows, gave calves their milk and forked hay so all in the barn got something to munch away before Fjóla and Bergur and Sunna would give them more. Then I had shower and packed food to take with me. Others were still in their beds when I set off by Micra. Still frosty. Hawk Dale in morning sun. Could not drive past by Hawk Dales Water without stopping, so beautiful light in the air. Wonderful day ahead.
    Took two hours drive including stops to get to Kirkjufell. Climbing was fun challenge as I had thought. Vertiginous cliffs and yummy blueberries. Someone thoughtful had put ropes on most difficult spots and with them it was fun. Without them it would have been very difficult and very scary. I dont know how long it took to climb up as when I got to the lovely green grassy top I sat down to eat and having got up so early and the sun being so warm I got sleepy and curled on the grass and slept. To wake up to glorification!

More Icelandic Goodies

Getting down without the ropes would have been even more scary and difficult. Even tiny bit scary with them. 
On the way down there was happy surprise for me. Busy little figure with dark gray coat. A fox! Up here! At the top I had seen poops I thought looked like they could belong to a fox and now I could believe they did. This one was so busy with his business sniffing around in grass that he did not see me even I was not far. This animal is arctic fox (naali in Finnish). It is only original mammal living in Iceland which has not been imported by humans. The fox has name as lamb killer and after caring for lambs myself I hate the thought of them being killed by fox but even so I cant help being fascinated about this creature. This one according to his poops had been eating berries. I tried to take photo and then the fox did see me and was gone. I saw him again further down and he was busy again sniffing. Carefully I followed him and got down wards much easier route I had come up. The fox clearly knew the mountain. Not that he needed easier route. He had got to the top too and Im guessing he didnt use the ropes. 
    Glad as ever I got to the car. It was 5.30pm. I would still make it to evening barn I thought as I started home wards. Fjóla had phoned me about 11am as I had just left the car. So getting up, having sleep and glorification and getting down Kirkjufell had taken 6 and half hours. And I had seen fox. Now I wanted to get home. But there was more to come.
    I had driven this road already twice before but had not seen what I saw now. Some few hundred meters away from the road near the sea there was steam coming up from the ground. In Iceland steaming ground is not that unusual but for me it is. I thought I would still make it to evening barn if I had a quick look. It was hot spring. Boiling water running in little streams to the sea. Now I wanted to swim! As it was I didnt have to be back for evening barn. So, in to the sea first for swim. Then splashing were the hot and cold water mixed. It was too shallow for swimming but for splashing enough. Sun went down. I was still splashing. Aah and ooh how lovely hot splash! 
    Driving again when Fjóla rang again.

She   - How good to hear your voice! I was worried, its so dark. Where are you?

Me    - All well. Im coming in one hour I think. I think I can see lights from 
           One-Shop-Town over the bay.

She   - Ok, that should be not far then. Food is waiting for you but if you want to
           you can still travel. You dont have to be back tonight.

Me    - Im coming home, but thank you.

She   - Ok, so see you soon.

Not all have employers like that! "Come to work when you feel like it, we are waiting!" But Fjóla and Bergur are not employers only. I live with them. It is home. They make me feel home.

But there was still more to come. I had got to the home valley and driven past Muck Site lights other side the river and was near the bridge to get over the river and back towards Muck Site when on the clear starry sky the northern light show began. I stopped the car and watched. For first time managed some photos also of the sky fires. Had to call Fjóla and let them know about the latest delay. 

Maybe one more hour later I finally arrived home. Fjóla meant that I was not to fall from cliffs when she said they wanted me back in one piece but I was in one piece some more than just that.


Two days later it rained. I took water pipe and hand brush and washed a good way of the walls in calf barn. No one told me to. Bergur popped in. I smiled and wished him happy slurry driving. Poor man must think "its not possible to understand them". 
  To Fjóla I told that the day on Kirkjufell was so good that I can even wash walls now. Only the weather needs to be bad enough. She laughed.
   With hay I have been asking her where she wants it and how much and she has been letting me to move it there with fork or with tractor as I choose.

It is not possible to agree always about everything.
Im not always right but Im not always wrong either and sometimes it does not matter 
but it matters to disagree right way. It is needed to listen and it is needed to speak up.
Slowly trying to learn.

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