Sunrise/sunset: 09:08/14:56 Daylength: 5hr48min
I’ve seen the sun! I wasn’t even looking for it, but went outside at work on Monday just after ten o’clock and, to my amazement, there it was!
I don’t think the feeling of joy this gives can be understood until you’ve lived somewhere where there is a significant period when the sun doesn’t come over the horizon at all. Long cloudy spells, even in the south of Norway, were not the same. I had a visceral feeling of joy at this moment. When the sun isn’t out, the light here is still super blue. I will add some other photos later, taken on a couple of different days this week, and you will see what I mean.
This winter has been hard. The snow came early and there has been a lot of it and on top of that, the temperature changes have been crazy. One day it’s minus twenty, the next it can be above zero. We badly needed the wood that Ann brought because this year has demonstrated that our house is not really insulated well enough. At super-cold temperatures, even the lovely new, powerful heat exchanger I bought doesn’t really cut it and the electricity bill last month was heinous. On the coldest days, when we come home, it can be thirteen or fourteen degrees in the house, which isn’t super-freezing, but isn’t comfortable to sit in. The wood stove solves the problem, but it takes a couple of hours to really start warming the place up. Before next winter, I will be getting new insulation in the loft and I hope that will make a significant difference.
As regular readers will know, I am in the process of moving jobs at the moment, though still within the Norwegian Food Safety Authority: Mattilsynet. I have spent most of this week working in the abattoir, where I am rapidly learning how to do new tasks, in particular to do with administration. The two main aims are to ensure that the food produced is safe and to ensure that animal welfare is high and though the first is very important, it is the second that interests me more.
For the first time this week, I have come across a situation where I am going to have to issue a fine. In Norway, it is illegal to send cows to the abattoir within the last month before they are due to calve. As their pregnancy progresses, the ligaments around the pelvis begin to loosen, and obviously as the calf gets bigger, it’s more likely that loading and unloading and travelling in general can result in pain or injury. In an odd coincidence, having not come across a case before, this week there were two.
In one of these, in my opinion, the farmer seems not to have been careful enough, though I believe he does still care about his animals. It’s not entirely up to me and Thomas explained that I will need to involve the animal welfare advisor before I make the decision, but it seems likely he will be fined. The other case was even sadder to deal with. I called the farmer and he told me that he’d had a vet out to check the cow for pregnancy and that the vet had got it wrong. It happens, of course. Mistakes do occur, but for the farmer it was a significant blow. He won’t be charged a fine as he sent me evidence, but his cow was pregnant with twins and he sounded very upset as he told me she was a good cow. Farming has to be one of the toughest professions there is.
Andrew is in his last year at school. He has known for a while that he wanted to go to folk high school for a year (before probably going on to university), but this was the week when many of them started accepting applications for next year, and to his enormous delight, he got into his first choice of school to study film. We had previously looked at ones closer to home, but the courses local t ous didn’t seem as well suited to what he wanted, and so he is going to move back to southwest Norway for a year. It will be strange without him, but I am delighted with how excited he seems. Anna spent a year studying computer game coding near Trondheim and I think she would agree it was one of the best years of her life so far – an uncomplicatedly happy time. As well as studying computing, there was an unexpected sideline at Torshus where they sang sea shanties and the culmination of the year was to sail a tall ship from Bergen to Shetland and back. It will be very interesting to see how Andrew’s school compares.
Last but not least, my mum is eighty years old today. I hope you have something lovely planned and I’m looking forward to celebrating with you in March when we come over. Happy birthday Mum!