Relief

Summers on the Seter

 

Søndre Synnseter in Nord-Torpa.  The grazing animals were driven to the summer
farms (seter) which were up in the hills.  The pastures were excellent and both animals
and those looking after them enjoyed the summer months.

 


An account from another part of Norway:

Then we neared the big day! There was a lot of activity. First we hayed at the seter and stored the hay in a hay barn. On the day itself, down to the barn to milk and clean out. Then out with the pack saddles and baskets. The women brought out all that was needed of dishes, equipment and food and that was packed carefully in the baskets.

The horses were then harnessed and the baskets carefully placed and properly secured. Both the horse and the older cattle knew the way, so they didn't have to be guided. The seter girl had already gone up and cleaned the cottage and sheds, and put on the coffee pot! The horse came first and was unloaded. The cattle came slowly next and were turned out to graze. The seter girl then invited everybody for coffee and food - the first time at the seter.

Then all the supplies, dishes and kettles were set in place. The cow stalls were set up as well as the sheepfolds. Then came evening and the cattle came in as at home - the old ones knew their stalls from the previous year.

Then life took its usual course, the seter girl milked every morning and evening, herded all day and made cheese when necessary and kept the cottage clean and tidy. Every Saturday and Sunday and the last 3-4 days of her seter months, she got herder visitors from home.

So the days went - sunny days and rainy days. It was heavenly to herd the animals on a clear sunny day, but when days came with wind and rain and yes, sometimes sleet, then it was something else. It could happen that they would trudge all day, soaked to the skin - then it was not so great. It was impossible at the seter to dry clothes in one night, the morning after one had to put on the clothing that was still wet and cold - Huff! Some old women tell that they went barefoot until the first snow skiffs came in the fall. They warmed their feet when a cow urinated.

In the hottest time of summer, when the horseflies came, the cows were allowed to stay in during the day and were turned out about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. We called it night herding. About midnight they would lie down - cows and sheep - and rested until about 3 o'clock in the morning. They grazed peacefully and then ran home about 8-9 in the morning to escape the horseflies.

When it was time to return home farm, there was great activity again. The men came with the pack horses and most of the night was spent loading the horses. When all was finished the horses set off as surely as ever, followed by the men. Then came the seter girl and closely behind her the cattle and then the sheep. Finally came the herd boys and they shouted and blew their lurs as they neared home.

The cattle were let in when they got home. The house was scrubbed and decorated like a bride. The floor was strewn with fine-cut juniper branches. The coffee pot stood ready, as finely polished as an officer. The table was decked with the best foods the house could offer. Everyone sat to the table and had an excellent meal after all the work. Afterwards, those who were home went to the barn to milk the cows - the seter girl was free now."

Malvik Bygdebok, Vol. I, pages 105-6

 

 

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