I live on a norwegian island
Malachi invited us up to his little cabin on an island in Norway that he had just bought with his girl. We knew it would be worth the effort to get up there so we shuffled our plans to make it work. After the third ferry ride to get to the cabin, I forgot where the mainland started and finished. The few hundred year old log cabin sat humbly and peacefully in the middle of a pine forest clearing with its back to the mountains and its face towards the sea. It felt like a Norwegian version of the 70’s Australian surf film ‘Morning of the Earth’. We spent our days clearing fallen trees and rowing a dingy out to catch fish for lunch. Ending the days with a swim to clean off, before heading out to forage for berries for dessertlater on. The nights were spent taking turns at choosing records, playing backgammon, reading, drinking home brewed wine and sitting around the pot belly fireplace to stay warm. When the night was done we would walk out to the half converted barn to hit the hay. This was life with Malachi.
How did a kiwi boy end up living in a cabin built in the 1800’s on a island in Norway?
Good question. The initial pull to Norway was the mountains. At the time I was really into my base jumping, then as every good Kiwi/Aussie boy does, I met a Norwegian girl. I fell in love with Norway, its rich history, traditions and authenticity. Together we bought a small farm on an island. I’m a little bit of a romantic dreamer, so the fact that the house was older than nearly every house in New Zealand made it all the better.
We wanted to see how self sustained we could become and this was the perfect location. We both loved the mountains and the ocean, so to live between the two was a dream.
What was the best aspect about waking up there everyday?
Waking up with your little shack surrounded by the ocean and big mountains was perhaps the most perfect setting. Possibilities were endless. A morning routine of Neil Young on the record player and a coffee, drunk outside while assessing the day’s weather and options. It was perfect.
How did you fill your days?
We had 25 acres so there was always a lot to do about the place, clearing fallen trees, fishing, actually alot of fishing, looking after the animals, sheep, hens and a pig, slaughtering and butchering, and of course the odd trip into the mountains or to the neighbours for a coffee.
Our seasons were extreme also with 24 hours of daylight in the summer and never seeing the sun for four months of winter. So in the summer days you could still be working outside untill 12pm. Whereas, in winter it’s hibernation. But there’s never a dull moment in lifestyle farming. It takes up a lot of time and energy.
Did your time there change your outlook on life, how or why?
Yeah definitely, I think that every experience changes your outlook a little, if not a lot. The time on the island made me realise how important a community of like-minded people is for me. Every situation has its hard points as well and the isolation got to me from time to time. I realised that people are super important to me. I think I grew a lot in that time.
How is working on your own property different to working a nine to five job?
There is ALWAYS something to do. And being the dreamer that I am, I had 100 things on the go and 237 more that I was going to do in one day. I never had enough time.
But in the same way it’s super rewarding. It’s amazing when you stand back and look at what you have done in that day. And not moving work places like I usually do; always knowing the right tide to just jump in the row boat to catch some fish for lunch is good too.
In a sense, farm life seems busier, but how does it make you slow down?
Good question. It helped me slow down for sure. When friends came to stay, I could shuffle jobs about and actually spend time with them, or better yet get them involved. And the lack of people on the island meant no meaningless, polite conversations; really getting to know people makes you slow down on the inside.
What did you do for money there?
In the summer I would do tandem skydiving, and in between I did a little bit of work on a salmon farm.
What’s some advice you might give someone wanting to go and live in another country?
Do it! It’s as simple as that. Meet the people, love the people and learn the language. It’s hard for sure but the culture and place will open to you as you open towards it.