Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class wpdb in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 49

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/cache.php on line 35

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Object_Cache in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/cache.php on line 400

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl($output) in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/classes.php on line 534

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl($output) in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/classes.php on line 534

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/classes.php on line 534

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el($output) in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/classes.php on line 534

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_PageDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/classes.php on line 553

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl($output) in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/classes.php on line 649

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl($output) in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/classes.php on line 649

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/classes.php on line 649

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el($output) in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/classes.php on line 649

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_CategoryDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el($output) in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/classes.php on line 674

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/query.php on line 15

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/theme.php on line 505
Finnmark 2007 Diary » Blog Archive » With the herds…

With the herds…


Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/2/d178358563/htdocs/finnmark/diary/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 76

The Vidda: We’ have now spent two days out on the Vidda, in the field with the reindeer herders. Still on the winter pastures, the reindeer are now preparing to move in the beginning of April to the spring calving grounds where they calves will be born in the end of May. For the moment, though, they’re still spread widely over the fjälls, running in small herds, and keeping alive on a bare subsistence diet unless helped out with winter forage by their owners. It’s true that the reindeers’ feeding habits change, as does their metabolism, reducing their appetites in winter when they will have to live off their own fat, gained through summer and autumn feeding in the fjälls or close to the sea, or even on the islands to which they swim.

The Herders: Knut Magge and Jon Arne Nessan have much in common as Sami reindeer herders, working harder than you or I would believe possible in harsh conditions at all times of the year, and with the same problems of increasing predation from wild animals, as well as from the two-legged variety invading their traditional territories for energy, tourist, and other economic interests which reduce reindeer pastures, harass the herds, disrupt their livelihood. These two men are also both proud to be called Flyt Sámi or Nomadic (i.e. reindeer-herding) Sámi, carrying on the traditions of their elders and ancestors stretching back for 10,000 years. They both consider that Sámi culture rests entirely in their hands, for without the reindeer, and the seasonal migrations, the yoiking (song-singing) in the wild, the Duodji (handicraft industry based on the reindeer’s parts!) what is left? The Sea Sámi have nearly disappeared as the Russian fleets take over the fishing, and those left behind are old. As for the Fastboende Sámi (Settled Sami) who live like the Norwegians in houses and villages - what can they give to Sapmi ( the area in the four Nordic countries where Sámi people are to be found)…? Thus tends to be the thinking, –arrogant you might say, of the Flyt (nomadic) or Reindeer Herding Sámi people.

Differences: But these two remarkable men also differ in crucial respects. The first and most obvious difference regards herd feeding. Knut Magge provides winter fodder for his herds, thereby taming them to a remarkable degree (which is why we can get so close to the animals, as you’ll see from the pictures). He does this, whatever the weather or natural food supply, in order to be able to provide for the herds in harder times… with climate change for example. Jon Arne Nessan consider such an attitude is likely to reduce the animals’ capacity to adapt. Besides some supplements given out at the autumn/winter corral when the reindeer are marked, and selected for slaughter, there is no feeding with Jon Arne’s herds. They also differ in their attitude to climate change, where Knut speaks of seeing, experiencing rapid change not comparable to anything he’’s known or read about. He told us that over the last five years he’s had to start migration to the island calving grounds a week earlier each year for example. This is due to wet snow, too much rain, and muddy conditions rendering it difficult to move. Jon Arne, on the other hand, while he has been keeping records of temperature, snow condition, rainfall, wind direction and force since 1987, is more circumspect. He reminded us of his father-in-law’s insistence that during the 1930s conditions had been very similar to now, with warm winters, less snow cover, and lots of rain. He said,” it’s day to day, and maybe this change starts like in the 1930s but is growing more and more. Everything changes, everything is a risk, and the landscape decides how you work and live with the reindeer in the end!”

The Reindeer: We stopped half a dozen times with Knut’s herds to feed them the hay and food supplements he provides off his sledge and snow mobile. The herds in each case numbered between 60 and 200 animals. Although timid, and skittish at the first hasty movement from us strangers, they drew closer and closer to the sledges to feed. A young white yearling circled warily before returning again and again to eat. Its huge soft eyes, glistening luxurious pelt, and apparent sympathy with us was eerie and a delight. I saw at once why the white reindeer are considered to have magical powers, and managed to stroke its back as it passed. The beasts churned round us, a buck sometimes shunting its neighbours out of the way with a vivid twist of his antlers… So from the Tundra, or the Vidda as the Sámi call it themselves, we leave you today… with the hope that this sketch on the reality of Sámi life in harsh, daunting, extraordinary conditions can touch something in each of you… of us… and the photos will tell you more!

Leave a Reply