Sunrise/sunset: 02:22/ 23:20. Daylength: 20hr58min
And so the months of perpetual daylight have passed again for this year. There’s a feeling of change in the air as we move towards the autumn. There’s change coming up for me too. On Monday I should get the keys to my new house. I am feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness. The mortgage payment went out of my bank a couple of days back, and my account, which was replete with the deposit, suddenly looks very much emptier, and the limitations on what I will be able to buy and do with it came into focus. There are a few things I urgently need to fix. There was snow in the loft last winter, so the hole that let it in needs to be fixed. Also the heat exchanger (which most Norwegian houses use as a significant part of their heating in winter) needs fixing or (more likely) replacing. On top of that, we need, as an absolute minimum, beds to sleep in. My kind colleague, Øivind, has offered us some furniture, including sofas, so at least we will have something to sit on.
In addition to the furniture, there are various other things I had to do, including arranging contents and building insurance, and letting the post office and National Population Register know I will be moving. There was a close call yesterday when the estate agent rang me up in the afternoon to say that the insurance for legal problems with the exchange hadn’t been paid, by my bank, with the mortgage. This was apparently serious enough for her to suggest that the exchange might not go ahead on Monday. I presume that might have set me in breach of contract, but fortunately they allowed me to make the payment and send evidence I had done so. Everything to do with the bank is done online here, so barring further problems, hopefully everything will go ahead as planned.
It’s been a mixed week at work. The first half was spent out on the road with Gry. Always a good thing! As usual, she had some very interesting snippets on sheep farming. The most interesting, from my point of view, was that in the past couple of years, she has started breeding her first time ewes with Norwegian Villsau rams. This means that the first time they give birth, they will have relatively small but hardy lambs, which are more likely to thrive with a first time mother. She and her sons are so engaged in making improvements to the farm that it’s inspiring to hear, as well as fascinating.
The downside of going out with Gry is that it means that once the visits are finished, there are reports to write. These are relatively straightforward in uncomplicated cases, but this week, for example, I went to a farm where there were some animals with no eartags. Norwegian law is very strict on traceability, and an animal without tags is much more difficult to track. They can’t go into the food chain, and of course, if there’s an outbreak of infectious disease, it potentially makes tracing which animals were in the area at the time much more difficult.
So if there are animals without tags, and especially if there are other traceability problems, such as not updating the Livestock Register regularly enough, I have to serve notice that those animals that can’t be traced must not be moved off the farm. In addition, I have to set deadlines for the farmer to have the animals properly tagged again, and explain which laws cover the problems I found, and what they mean on the ground.
In addition to the report writing, Line sent me notice that next week, I have to go out and certify a horse which will be travelling to Sweden. I’ve inspected many horses in the past that were travelling from Scotland to Ireland. The inspection itself isn’t complicated. But back then, the paperwork was just that: paperwork. Standard forms would be printed out and filled in. Now all the paperwork has to be produced through a Europe wide system called Traces. Not only is the system itself quite impenetrable, but everything has to be registered and double checked. The importer (who in this case was a private individual) has to be put in the system at both ends, so as the person sending the horse from Norway, and the person receiving it in Sweden. Putting someone in the system in Sweden has to be done by an official vet in Sweden. We can’t do it here.
Because I have barely used Traces, Line had kindly set up a meeting at twelve on Friday to walk me through it. After a long week at work, I had been hoping to get away early to go swimming with John and Andrew. I thought the meeting would take perhaps an hour and hopefully less, but it turned out to be much more complicated than I had realised. Not only did everything have to be put in place in Traces, but there was also information that had to be added in Mattilsynet’s own system MATS. I think Line had not realised just how unfamiliar I am with the sections of MATS that I don’t regularly use, and also perhaps hadn’t realised how difficult it still is for me to work in Norwegian, in any circumstance where the language is complex or unfamiliar. She was very patient, but by the time two hours had gone by, I think we were both pretty tired of the situation. I rushed away at the end of the meeting, hoping we would still be in time for an hour of swimming, but it was at that point I found out that there was a risk of the house sale not going through, which had to be sorted immediately, and by the time that was finished, there was no time left because the pool was shutting.
Still, every cloud, as they say. Having missed the pool, we decided to go out and see if we could swim in a lake instead, so this was where we ended up.
We took some wood and had burgers and hotdogs afterwards. Obviously that doesn’t quite fit in with the low fat eating I’ve been doing for the past month or so, and I’m suffering somewhat in the aftermath, but by the end of the evening, I had certainly put the past two days at work firmly behind me.
A couple of pictures to finish up, from a walk last weekend, arranged by Ann. By next week, I should have a new house not too far from here. See you there!