Home sweet home. The place where we have hung up our coats and kicked off our boots. Many of the stories and recipes shared here focus on this area. So, here’s a little introduction, in case you haven’t already had the pleasure…
Within the belly of Norway, in the stillness, where rivers flow and mountains dwell, lies our small farm. The farm is first mentioned in writing in 1651 and it bears the name Koto, which is believed to mean a ‘cabin’ or ‘small house’. You see, the thing about small places is they immediately create a sense of intimacy. With little effort, they can be cozy and warm and inviting. And that’s what we desire for our Koto and for all who come our way. A place of comfort. A sense of home. Where putting one’s feet up, rolling around in the lush fields, daydreaming away by the bank of the stream & getting lost in the slow moments make up the days.
We have four outbuildings spaced around the main house. A barn, whose wear and tear tell the stories of hooves & plows, hard work and dedication. A stabbur, where food was once stored as the winter months cast their shadow over the fields. A summer barn still basking in the perfume of its previous tenants. And a smithy, where the blacksmith’s hammer once clanked and the bellows made the fire dance.
As we delved deeper into the stories and people who came before
us, we discovered a deep connection between Koto and America. Several generations of families left. Sometimes whole families, sometimes only brothers or sisters or aunts or uncles. They left Koto for the promise of an easier life. A better life. As famine and poverty and disease encompassed the area, many sought hope across the waters. And so they journeyed to a new adventure. And centuries later, in a twist of fate, an American and her family would arrive at the doorstep of Koto in search of a better life – perhaps one that was a little easier than what the city could offer.
Numedal is the westernmost valley of the large valleys making up southern Norway. Extending from the Hardanger plateau to Kongsberg, the valley encompasses the three municipalities of Flesberg, Rollag and Nore og Uvdal. Steep mountainous regions make up the northern part of the valley, while the more forested southern part gently slopes. And winding its way through the valley is one of Norway’s largest rivers, Numedalslågen. Known for its salmon downstream, it is one of Norway’s top salmon fishing rivers. Trout and pike are also common.
The old road, well travelled, is known as Nordsmannsleppa. It reaches over the Hardangervidda, the largest mountain plateau in Europe, right between the western and eastern parts of the country. This road was once an important communication and merchant route for thousands of years. Along the plateau, there are over 250 registered Stone Age settlements and the oldest one, dating back to 6300 BC, can be found at Sumtangen.
Today, Numedal has named itself the Medieval Valley of Norway (Middelalderdalen). Today, Numedal has named itself the Medieval
Valley of Norway (Middelalderdalen). They can safely make such a proclamation because within the valley lies the largest remaining collection of houses and buildings older than 1537 AD. In Rollag, Nore og Uvdal municipalities, there are between 50-60 buildings including 4 stave churches. The predominance of so many medieval buildings still intact may be due, in part, to the wealth local people gained from the extraction of iron. They could then afford such high quality materials and craftsmen to build enduring structures.
For being an area of such importance and influence in the past, it is interesting that its prominence was since forgotten until only recently. Being here does bring a sense of contentment and mystery. It’s as is if you have been included in on some big secret that only a few people are a part of. A place deeply rooted in history with clues of prehistoric civilizations scattered about; a luscious and varied landscape to appease any lover of nature; a peacefulness and sense of calm; and wild produce to entice any foodie.
nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.