A long and rich history
Leksvik has a long and rich history of mountain farming to tell.
The way the mountain farms have been used and run have changed though time. These changes are strongly linked to the changes in the local community.
A 1520 census suggests there were 19 habited properties in Leksvik, whilst in 1723 a total of 90 farms were registered. Fifty of these had mountain farms.
Remains from 200 mountain farms
Remains from about 200 mountain farms have been located in Leksvik so far. These mountain farms have not been run at the same time, but it shows a massive increase in the number of farms during the 1700s. When the mountain farm life was most common, there were many people living on the mountain farms. The mountain farms often had visitors from neighbouring farms, family, village people and from city folk.
Cotters settle at mountain farms
Gradually, all available property had been developed, and it became common practice to buy and sell the rights to the mountain farm. During the 1800s, a growing number of cotters were able to settle in a mountain farm on the farm property till emigration to America seemed the preferred option. During the mid-1800s agriculture, and therefore mountain farming, saw major recessions. The American refusing immigrants in the 20s and facing economic decline in the 30s in turn led to renewed productivity in agriculture locally.
Large herds of goats
In this period large herds of goats were kept in a growing number of mountain farms, and goats cheese sales to Trondheim increased. However, the second world war put and end to production as a large number of inhabitants from the city was housed in the mountain farms during the war. It was not untill the 50s that Leksvik was the third largest area of goat farmers in Norway.
In 1957, Leksvik got electrical power and with it, industry. Agriculture struggeled to get labourers and mountain farming without electricity did not pay off. During the 1970s, milk was to be delivered to and by tank lorries, and mountain farming largely came to a halt.
Mountain farming increasing in popularity
During these last ten years, mountain farming is becoming increasingly popular due to national measures taken to preserve the natural habitats and landscapes, the remaining buildings that are the mountain farms, the culture and traditions closely tied to the early mountain farming days.
Life on the mountain farm
In the 1800s herdsmen were often young boys starting at the age of 7 or 8. They were assigned to keep the animals on the property, and keeping them away from neighbouring pastures and properties. Also they would keep the stock safe from bear, lynx or wolves. Clothing, shoes and food was scarce. They would bring a few spoonfulls of porridge and salt herring for their lunch. After the potatoe became known, this was often paired with a ‘potetkak’ – a pancake made from potatoe and flour.
Involving several generations
A national grant was given in the early 1900s to improve road access. Hay was stored on the premises and, if weather permitted, was transported home during winter. At its peak, mountain farms were crowded. Often, several generations would be involved in running the farm; the oldest in charge of dairy and cooking, the strongest to do the hay and hard work both at home and on the mountain farm, and the youngest to keep the stock and farm. Social activities and fun was kept for weekends and always included visitors.
Before, during and after the second world war, it was largely people from Trondheim who inhabited these farms from Easter and all through summer. They would rent, work or visit depending on their situation.
Source: Karlstad, Bjørn “Seterplasser i Leksivk bydgdeallmenning” to be found in the local library.