Archive for May, 2009

La Varache

May 30, 2009
Limousin beef cows.  Kurt raised several as a child at his farm.

Limousin beef cows. Kurt raised several as a child at his farm.

Early Sunday morning, 17 May, we drove to Oslo and took an 8:10 am plane to France.  After successfully navigating the Charles De Gaulle airport we picked up our Citroën rental car and drove the 5 hours south (not without its trials, signage in France is tricky) towards the Limousin area of France.  This area is know for its beef and the fields are dotted with the reddish brown cow.  The only other type of cow we saw were Holstiens.  And the taste of this famous cow?  Lily sampled it one night instead of grilled shrimp and said it was “okay.”

La Varache is located 45 minutes east of Limoges near a little village called Veytisou.  Once you leave Limoge you leave behind the super highway and travel on smaller roads.  All the roads are paved, even those that are so skinny you have to pull over to let oncoming traffic pass you.  You travel down into the rich green valleys which reminded us of southern Minnesota where Kurt grew up.

 

8 % grade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

farm from above

 

Several countryside pictures on our way to and from La Varache.

Several countryside pictures on our way to and from La Varache.

 

Through Facebook, Kurt recently connected with an Plainview High School friend, Lori, who with her husband Chris, own and run La Varache.  Sadly, we never had the chance to meet Chris as he was recovering from some major health issues.  Too bad, because as we got to know him through Lori’s stories, it became clear that we would have enjoyed his company as much as we enjoyed Lori’s.  As it was, we spent many happy hours hanging out with Lori, over dinners and wine.  Lori was an excellent hostess, despite a husband in the hospital, mowing lawns, taking care of all the critters, and preparing gourmet meals for the donkey trecker couple who came on foot with the donkey bearing their packs.  The donkey spent the night in the field and they spent the night in the bed and breakfast that Lori runs from her house.

 

LaVarach sign

 

Loris house

 

This is Lori’s house.  It was built in the 1920’s while the gites, where we stayed were built in the 1400’s.  The building the gites are located in was used by the French Resistance during the German occupation of World War II.  When she and Chris bought the buildings and land, everything was overgrown and neglected not having been lived in for years.  The amount of energy and work it must have taken is awe inspiring.  Behind the house is a lovely garden. 

This bridge is part of the single track railroad that runs daily, 10 time or so, between Limoge and Ussell.  In the summer a steam train runs as well.  The French resistance blew up part of this bridge during the war, hoping to stop a nazi supply line.

This bridge is part of the single track railroad that runs daily, 10 times or so, between Limoge and Ussell. In the summer a steam train runs as well. The French resistance blew up part of this bridge during the war, hoping to stop a nazi supply line.

Lori and Kurt.  A 1995 Plainview High school class reunion but only two people came!

Lori and Kurt. A 1985 Plainview High school class reunion but only two people came!

 

We shared several meals with Lori.  A good bottle of wine (well, we thought it was good) can cost 1.5 Euros, or about $2.

We shared several meals with Lori. A good bottle of wine (well, we thought it was good) can cost 1.5 Euros, or about $2.

 

We spent some time sightseeing and some time hanging out at the gite.  Kurt dragonflied a bit, Yarrow and Lily read and played with the animals.

We spent some time sightseeing and some time hanging out at the gite. Kurt dragonflied a bit, Yarrow and Lily read and played with the animals.

 

A Lily Special, Black current juice with a strawberry accent.

A Lily Special, Black current juice with a strawberry accent.

Two dogs, three horses, 2 sheep, 2 cats, 2 rabbits, 1 duck named Harriet, two white geese, two white ducks, numerous guinea fowl and chickens.  And you thought we had critters?

Two dogs, three horses, 2 sheep, 2 cats, 2 rabbits, 1 duck named Harriet, two white geese, two white ducks, numerous guinea fowl and chickens. And you thought we had critters?

 

Our patio, in use for breakfast, reading, sleeping, eating, and playing Rummy Kube.

Our patio, in use for breakfast, reading, sleeping, eating, and playing Rummy Kube.

  The richness of the scenery, the beautiful accommodations, the sound of the birds, meeting Lori and relaxing made for a week we will never forget.  Even Kurt, who rarely REALLY relaxes, relaxed.

The richness of the scenery, the beautiful accommodations, the sound of the birds, meeting Lori and relaxing made for a week we will never forget. Even Kurt, who rarely REALLY relaxes, relaxed.

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Fjällsäter

May 9, 2009

 

WelcomeBack in October I met a woman at the Brunskog market who was selling her luffarslöjd, wire baskets and art.  I asked if she would be interested in teaching me how to do it, and she agreed.  Today, I spent a wonderful day at their farm in the forest, Fjallsäter.  It is thought that the farm was built in 1880 and was a working farm, complete with separate buildings, each for a special job: weaving,  blacksmith, stable,  and carpenter.  It was an active farm until the 1960’s when it became a summer cabin, ultimately deserted.  Sofia, my teacher and her husband, Jacob moved into the farm in 2003.  They have amazing plans for restoration, including a guest house and the opportunity to reconnect with nature.  Jacob, originally from Denmark, is a restorer of old log buildings.  

 

The view into the farm.

The view into the farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sofia, their daughter Lovissa and their home.

Sofia, their daughter Lovissa and their home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacob letting the Värmlands forest sheep, a heritage breed, out into the field for the first time this spring.

Jacob letting the Värmlands forest sheep, a heritage breed, out into the field for the first time this spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are raising a type of nordic bee that does well during the cold winters.  They also have heritage breed goat, that several years ago was down to 40 individuals.

They are raising a type of nordic bee that does well during the cold winters. They also have heritage breed goats. Several years ago the entire population in Sweden was down to 40 individuals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her gardens are circular and flow..

Her gardens are circular and flow..

 

The building in the background will be the guest cabin.

The building in the background will be the guest cabin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ate homemade bread and nettle soup.

We ate homemade bread and nettle soup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sofia was a patient teacher and I greatly enjoyed spending the day with them and learning about luffarslöd (the wire art) and their life.  Their goal is for sustainability in all areas.  Their community is rich with like minded folks and when they advertised and had an open meeting this winter they had a large group of new people show up.

Sofia and her work.

Sofia and her work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luffarslöjd traces its roots back to hobos who would make household goods for barter or trade.  Items such as trivits, whisps, bowls, candle holders.  Sofia also makes pictures on wood.  

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This old trivit was found on their farm.

This old trivit was found on their farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hand closeup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My finished luffarslöjd bowl.

My finished luffarslöjd bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My work in progress

My work in progress