Grey Skies and Falling Leaves

Sunrise/sunset: 06:09/19:13 Daylength: 13hr04min

Autumn is progressing fast, and earlier this week, I saw some early snow dusting the top of the mountains. It was only on the highest peaks, so the (now disappeared again) snow line was probably about a thousand metres above sea level, but it will return and gradually descend. I think there are many areas in the UK where there is no snow from one year to the next. It suddenly struck me as odd to live somewhere where it was inevitable that there will be many months of snow on the ground. It never really crossed my mind, growing up, that I would ever live anywhere other than the UK. I never had a burning desire to do so, yet here I am.

John bought a new car this week. He’s been driving an old banger since he passed his test, but the clutch has been slipping towards oblivion ever since he got it. He’s bought a five year old Ford Mondeo, which will hopefully be more reliable. They don’t use salt on the roads here, so there’s less of a problem with rust. The stunning autumn colours and the new car prompted me to suggest a road trip this weekend. Campsites in Norway often have cabins to rent at very reasonable prices, so I had booked one in Alta, but John called me at work yesterday to say he thought he was coming down with a cold, so we cancelled. Alta is a six hour drive, so doing it after work on a Friday night would ideally only be done with both of us fit and well. We’ll probably go somewhere next weekend instead – perhaps somewhere in Sweden – though as Triar doesn’t have a doggy passport, he’ll probably have to sit that one out.

Projects with the house are ongoing. I’m still waiting for quotations for work to be done by the builder. In the meantime, we are still putting stuff away after the move and trying to get some smaller tasks done. For example, the living room is quite large and only has one overhead light and two small wall lamps. If it was only for use in the evenings, we could probably get away with a standard lamp or a couple of table lamps, but as there are months in the winter when it’s dark almost all day, it’s necessary to provide enough light to mimic daylight, otherwise it is all too easy to go into hibernation mode. We’ve invested in some smart bulbs from Philips. Some provide different shades of white (bright and warm) while others also can be coloured. We finally got internet earlier this week, so we will be able to get Alexa up and running so she can turn the lights on for us. We’ve also found a stand to put firewood into, so hopefully we will be able to get the living room into better shape this week.

I’ve been at the abattoir most of this week. We are already short staffed, but when the call came in from the reindeer abattoir that they wanted to open for a day or two, we realised that we were going have to manage with one person less. Konstantin said he was happy to go, so though it was somewhat chaotic on Thursday and Friday, we managed to get through it. The reindeer abattoir is small and run by a Sami family. I’ve written about it before, but it’s difficult to plan around as the reindeer are often herded there on foot, rather than being transported in lorries.

Something of a hammer blow fell on Thursday afternoon. We were sent an e-mail to say that there was a suspected case of CWD in a reindeer that was slaughtered in Bjørgefjell in Helgeland. CWD (chronic wasting disease) is a prion disease, somewhat similar to Scrapie in sheep and BSE in cattle. There are two possible forms, one of which crops up occasionally in individuals. The other form is infectious and could potentially lead to huge problems and a great deal of suffering, if allowed to spread.

So for now, there are preparatory actions being set in motion. It’s likely that all the meat produce from that herd will have to be traced, but that is minor in comparison to working out all the reindeer that might potentially have been in contact with the affected one. Reindeer are not fenced in, but herded loose on pastures that are traditionally used by various Sami families. In wild reindeer, the infection can be passed on through infected saliva, and prions are very difficult to remove from the environment.

Norway is incredibly strict about disease outbreaks in animals, the consideration being that if a disease becomes endemic, the suffering over time will be worse than that caused by a cull. Back in 2016, infectious CWD was found for the first time in Europe in wild reindeer in Norway. The entire herd of over 2000 reindeer was culled in an attempt to stop it spreading. The devastation that will occur if there is an outbreak in domesticated reindeer will be cataclysmic. Relations between the Sami and the powers that be in Norway are already strained. And so, we wait for answers. Hopefully the wait will not be too long.

Autumn scene with trees and mountain

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