In the old days, that is untill 1950 or so, the Norwegian farmers were dependent on their summer mountain farms. In a country with so little land suitable for farming, every farmer had to send the livestock to the woods or the mountains during summer. All the grass near home had to be harvested to winter feed. Then came fertilizers, pesticides and modern remedies. The small farmhouses in the mountains were not needed anymore. Some of them just vanished, some are made into holiday cabins, and a few are still used in the old way. Some weeks ago I went to visit a milkmaid who really loves the old traditions: animals eating healthy grass and herbs, and processing by hand the milk into cheese, butter and sour cream.
This was in the western part of the country, and the road up the steep mountains was long and winding. Even going through a farmyard, but then it was only nature for miles and miles. Since Torbuvollen summer mountain farm is just next to Dovre-Sunndalsfjella National Park.
The milkmaid was in this case 60 year old Stein Brubæk. He used to work as an executive for years, but got tired of paperwork and office life and started as a farmer. Luckily his parents had a farm, included 15-20 old houses, the barn from 1765. They are now repaired and prepared for what he sees as modern, smallscale farming. And that includes a summer mountain farm. Since the summer is short 850 metres above sea level he stays there only about two months. But this is his pride: to practise the old traditions for food production that he has learned from the old milkmaids.
Sara Draxl is a helping hand from Tyrol. Every summer Brubæk get an intern from Austria, a country he admire from its success with mountain farming and its investment in agricultural education. So he gets students who knows the crafts.
Our government tells the farmers to get more animals, to get bigger farms. Brubæk do the opposite. He has only 8 cows and 25 goats. And his farming business is doing fine. That is processing every drop of milk himself (with some help), and selling everything at farmers markets. His cows are not only few. They are also of rare and endangered Norwegian breeds, milking less than the ordinary cow. Above he is with Brunett (vestlandsk fjordfe) and Blidros (sidet trønderfe). There are more photos from Brubekken Gårdsmeieri in my photo gallery.