Photo: Haakon Garaasen - Trysil Engerdal museum - digitaltmuseum.no 0428-0000-00532 - public domain.
Photo: Haakon Garaasen - Trysil Engerdal museum - digitaltmuseum.no 0428-0000-00532 - public domain.

Haakon Garaasen (1887-1957) was a local historian from Trysil in the region of Hedmark. He took this photo in November 1920. The man working the scythe is Karl Galaasen (1874-1962), and the location is Frosktjønna, Jons, Galåsen, Trysil, Hedmark.

Historical evidence

The photo is important evidence, showing how the old Norwegians utilised all available resources.

The historical farm had horses, cows, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens and more.

In the coldest sections of the country, the winter started as early as in October, and lasted as long as until late May, or even early June. During the many months in between, the domestic animals relied 100% on the food they got from their masters.

A farm’s size was often measured by how many animals it could feed over the winter.

Utilising the outfields

Karl Galaasen (1874-1962) cutting marsh grass on the ice - in November 1920. Frosktjønna, Galåsen, Trysil, Hedmark, Norway. | Photo: Haakon Garaasen - Trysil Engerdal museum - digitaltmuseum.no 0428-0000-00726 - public domain.
Karl Galaasen (1874-1962) | Photo: Haakon Garaasen – Trysil Engerdal museum – digitaltmuseum.no 0428-0000-00726 – public domain.

Today, we often think of hay – dried grass – as the main food for the domestic animals on the old farm. But up and down the country, people utilised whatever fodder they could gather during a short and hectic summer.

The infields around the farm had to be prioritised for food meant for human consumption. Thus, a large portion of the animal feed had to come from the surrounding forests and mountain areas – the outfields.

In addition to hay, the farmer gave the animals straw from the grain crops, moss, dried leaves, seaweed – and as we can see here, also marsh grass. It all depended on what the surrounding landscape had on offer.

Some people cut marsh grass during the summer or autumn – and dried it as they would do hay. Others cut it like this, after the lake had frozen over.

People also used dried straw and grass as insulation inside their shoes and boots – besides using it to create mattresses for their beds.

Marsh grass cut on the ice - in November 1920. Frosktjønna, Jons, Galåsen, Trysil, Hedmark, Norway. | Photo: Haakon Garaasen - Trysil Engerdal museum - digitaltmuseum.no 0428-0000-00525 - public domain.
Marsh grass cut on the ice – in November 1920. Frosktjønna, Jons, Galåsen, Trysil, Hedmark, Norway. | Photo: Haakon Garaasen – Trysil Engerdal museum – digitaltmuseum.no 0428-0000-00525 – public domain.

Read more about Norwegian history in Norwegian history photos | the domestic animals