Samtale 12. februar 2001 med Hanna og Hilda om třrveskćring og andet arbejde pĺ Mykines.

Oversat fra skrift af © Steingrímur Abrahamsen og tilladt gengivet af forfatteren.
Det skal bemćrkes, at teksten er en ordret afskrift af den fřrte samtale.

Nedenstĺende er gengivelse af samtale med sřstrerne Hanna Joensen (f. 1915) og Hilda Abrahamsen (f. 1917 - 2003). Begge er opvoksede pĺ Mykines i 20'erne og 30'erne. Dengang var Mykines en stor bygd, hvor der boede nćsten 180 mennesker. I skolen var der 30 břrn. I samtalen redegřr de for třrveskćring, om at gĺ i Haugen (udmarken) for at malke, om malkepigegilde, da fiskerne skulle tage afsted samt om madlavning.

Peat cutting

Steingrim:  When started the peat cutting?
Hanna:  In May. For a fortnight the men were at home. Around Whitsun we went up in the outfield, the Hauge.

Steingrim:  Where were the places where you cut the peat?
Hanna:  At i Heyggj, on Grřnu Flřtu, above Ovaru Heyggj we had a peat cover, we also cut peat on Vátafřllum. It was hard work. There was plenty to cut from. The peat was heavy. The men stood in the deep pit and handed up the peat, it was upon á Oyggj. We called it "torveyga".

Steingrim:  Who cut peat on Vátafřllum?
Hanna:  Our father and Ísak. There was plenty of sulphur in that peat. But it was a delight to be up there and to look down over the village. The peat was heavy and burned well. At á Oyggj there was the best of the peat we owned. Here had Karl and Jógvan huskarl also a house. . Here a great flat area was covered with peat. We transported the peat by wheelbarrow. We were well dressed, when we were in the Hauge to move the peat. We had to wear gloves as it was dirty work. When the peat was dry, we arranged it in stacks. Uppi í Heyggj we had to turn the peat. So one were in a hurry, if it was stable fine weather. If we didn't managed to get it under cover, when it was dry and it then began to rain then it all was spoiled and became humus. Everybody carried on their head. It was heavy work. The scalp was just as sleeping, it became quite numb. But everybody were in good mood. We lit a fire and went for water. Dried fish, speak and "skćrpekřd", dried lamb meat. Bread and sausage made of rolled and pressed meat. Then we boiled water for tee. It tasted so nice outdoor. It was so nice to eat outdoor. Once our had made a steak of lambs leg and it was carried upon á Oyggj. It was had such a fine flavour. At that time Aleksandra hjá Lisa helped us. We were all four up there. At that time all the men had left for fishing under Iceland. They just managed to cut the peat, then they had to leave again.

Steingrim:  You had a peat cover á Vátafřllum, another one Uppi í Heyggj and one á Grřnu Flřtu, one on Ovaru Heyggj and at Uppi á Oyggj even one more. So You had peat for a whole year.
Hilda and Hanna:  Father always ordered coal. It was so odd in former times. It was difficult to get an orderly fire, because we haven't so much of good peat and the peat was often difficult to lit, as we hadn't so good peat. Then we took some blubber, everything was put away. The blubber which wasn't salted and not feasibly to eat, was laid on the fire. It burned very well and then the bread were baked by that. We always use the fireplace, when we baked bread, just as we the used the fireplace if we had something to iron, then the irons were placed in the fire. We had three irons, one number 7 and 2 number 5. And we also had a press iron. As I was annoyed, when it was spoiled. It was standing in the drying house and became rusty, so it was thrown in to Viđarhelliđ. We were asked to press for the young ones, it was quite heavy work.

Steingrim:  For how long did You cut peat?.
Hilda:  Usually we were finished with the peat work, when the harvest began, but it was just barely so. Usually we were carrying the peat under cover at Uppi á Oyggj, when they began harvesting. It had been poor drying conditions that year.
Hilda:  Yes, that year the weather was very humid that year, because that year we was harvesting on Grótválla, when they were gathering the sheep Borgardal. All the sheep came home as they should, as they succeeded fine. And then I remember, when we went for the Christmas peat. They used sledge. They joined, father and Jógvan huskarl and Karl used to upon á Oyggj for peat. Then they carried brandy with them, to keep worm.

Steingrim:  Why didn't they use funicular?
Hanna:  The men of Mykines wouldn't.
Hilda:  Now and then the peat became frozen. That was annoying. Because then the peat was spoiled, it wouldn't catch fire, it became so light. Then all the work was for nothing. The peat cover took three layers of peat. The aisle just inside the door was called "klovin". In that we walked to place the peat up under the roof. Jógvan huskarl's peat cover was in the middle, Karl had the most northernly and Santus the southernly. Stóri Ísak, Hans í Gili and Ívar also had peat houses upon á Oyggj. Jákup í Lřđu had a peat house, which was very close to the place where they cut the peat. That house had a flat roof of zinc. They got peat from Sundadali and Hvannabrekkuni. Lisa had peat upon á Ovaru Regn. Here the people from Lřđu house also had peat.

Steingrim:  Where was the best peat?
Hilda and Hanna:  Northernly, where the farmers cut, there Lisa also had peat. It was Norđi á Gjónni, Norđi á Eggini. Them from Handanástovan had peat up there and at á Leiti. Karansvía had peat upon á Flřtuni, which is the upper part of Heyggj. Magda and I (Hilda) once went to get peat in frosty weather. We didn't dare to jump over the stream with the "leyp", (a kind of wooden basket), instead we placed it on the ice and we pushed over to the other bank. Úti á Skor there also was an area with fine peat, but we didn't own anything there. Lisa owned some at Grótválahornet. It was funny to be in the Hauge in fine weather, to sit outdoor to eat, that was heavenly. It was so wonderful to lay down on the fine turf, relax and hear the singing of the birds, everything was so peaceful, it was glorious. Everybody were in the Hauge. Karl used to catch an eye with everything through his binocular. All around there were small fires, everybody were happy, it was healthy to be outdoor in the summer, everybody were suntanned. We used to load the leyp to the top, when the peat was ready for storing. We was so strong. If we hadn't something to place the leyp upon, to come in under it, then it was just to get it on You head, we used to be kneeling and support us by the hands, then raise oneself and of we went. The turf from Norđi á Gjónni was very heavy, but it was good to burn. upon ĺ Heyggj the peat was very crumbling, so is was unusable for baking, so instead it was used for cooking. It was bad peat. The lower most part of the peat was a little more black than the upper part. It was carried away and then we then cut 4 layers of peat or there about and placed them on the turf. It was then lying there for 3 to 4 days. Then they were stacked two by two. Now and then were turned the peat upside down. It looked so nice, when it all was raised in that way. When it was dry, we began to carry into the peat houses. It was so nice to eat outdoor. Dinner was brought to us in the Hauge, everything good, filled puffins, dried fish and fish "knetter" balls. Once we got sauce of eggs, which our mother had prepared with a little of tallow, a fine dough and home produced potatoes. Our mother was so very clever, she was so hard-working.

Steingrim:  Did they throw a party, when the work with the peat was finished?
Hanna:  No, but we had a Milking girl feast. It was when Niels Juel Arge lived out here. It took place in Gomlu Lřđu. Heini used to throw a feast for the temperance movement in Handanástovun and he used to have a Christmas tree, before they put a ceiling on in the kitchen. When they did so, Heine also got a knitting machine which was put in the attic. There he sat and knitted for the fishermen, underwear, pants, sweaters, vests, al made in Faroese yarn. He also sew hoods for the brothers, before they went to Iceland to fish. Dánjal Jákup, Jesar, Jákup and Ísak. They were 8 siblings, 5 brothers and 3 sisters, our mother, Magdalena and Bette. Grand mother was so clever, she was able to do almost everything. She used to be sitting weaving. She used to to the Tuala farm to do something for the loom. I think that it was some part of the loom, it was a large piece of wood, which they prepared, then she fixed the bundles of thread for the loom. I remember that she said that Ísak's grandfather,who was named Kristian Ludvíg, made the crochet hooks for her. The evening before he drowned at the sea, he came to her with a crochet hook. He leaned forward over the loom and spoke to her. That was the last time. There came a terrible snow storm and they shipwrecked. Onnusofíu í Skemmuni's husband also drowned. Mother didn't tell so much about it, she just remembered how sorry she felt for them. The relatives went into Kumla to see them. Their clothing was completely frozen op to the waist. I thing it must have been Dánjal Klett's mother. It was a sad day. And then there was Lisa's husband, who had cut himself during fishing. He was sent to Sřrvág, because the wound became infected and he became blood poisoned. He died, but Lisa didn't get the message about that before ten days afterwards.

Top of page

Milking in the Outfield on Mykines.

Steingrim:  Who were the milking girls on the Handanágarđ?.
Hanna:  It was me, Aleksandra, Herdis, Antina, Elsa, Dagmar. Then there was Břgarđin, there it was Fia, Julia, Hanna Ellingsgaard, Hilda, Olivia hjá Jóan Heina, Jona, Henrikka, Annasofia, Stóra Aleksandra, Astrid, Esther participated now and then and Borgny. We were 15 milking girls.

Steingrim:  When did You start to go to the Hauge for milking?
Hilda:  We started, when the cows were admitted to the Hauge, usually in June. If it was fine weather, we could begin in the middle of May. Aleksandra informed us.
Hanna:  I went into Stállhús to announce, then into Abrahamsstovu and to Henrikku. Aleksandra went outwards. She came to us, Annasofíu, Hildu and up to Aleksandra. We were two who announced, we began at 8 o'clock and when we came to Grótvála, we waited for the latest. When all had arrived we continued. We wore warm clothes, when it rained.

Steingrim:  How many milk pails brought You with You?
Hilda:  I had to milk four cows. I carried with me a little for 5 pots on the arm. The one for the milk for Handanástovuna, was bigger and could take15 liters. The strap was knitted and double. It was heavy work to carry. We had knitting needles with us. The most of us were young. Henrikka and Annasofia though over 70 years of age and it was their last year as milking girls. I do remember how slowly the walked. But I only managed to milk one cow, before they arrived, so that slow it wasn't. Slow and steady wins the race, they used to say.

Steingrim:  Where used the cows to lie?
Hilda:  It varied a lot. Sometimes they were out at Skor, that was close and convenient. When it was foggy, it could be difficult to fins them. We walked to the place we had milked them the evening before. When we found a cowpat, we put a finger into it to feel weather it was warm, and continued in that direction if so. Usually we found them. But now and then we couldn't find them and had to return without having achieved anything. That we called to "grísa". At that time the cows had been all the way upon Knukur. Some fishermen had seen them up there.
When we walked home, we always sang "Nú dagurin at enda er" (The day has come to the end of the road). It was nice to sit in the outfield, the Hauge, á Oyggj and see how beautiful everything was. We used to 18 to 19 liters of milk with us back home. But it was very variated, how much the cows yielded. When the weather was fine the yield was bigger. We came back home around 11 - 11.30 o'clock. When we came home we boiled the milk, because otherwise it turn sour instantly. The part of the milk which was for "rómastamp", junket, was strained and sat aside. We also made cheese. We used new milked milk, put upon the fire in a pot. The stomach of either a heifer or a calf was put in the pot and the milk curdled. The whey was stained apart. It was a little yellow. It was soft to eat. After that the cheese was laid into a cheese form with holes in the bottom. A thin cloth was put into the form in the first hand, after that the cheese. We used to mix caraway seeds into it. The lid, which was beautifully carved, was put in place. The cheese prese with a stone upon. It went into a soft cheese, which tasted delicious. We also made dumpling and milk.
When the cow had calved, we took care of the raw milk, which was the first milk the cow milked after it had calved. It was mixed into the ordinary milk to make "ketilsost". We got the ketilsost from Handanastovun, from Norđuri á Lonini, from Atu, from faster Annu. It was delicious to get in the winter. The milk must not be to warm, because if ti was that, the cheese became too hard. The row cheese ran together. The whey was used for supper. It was well to get Faroese cheese.
We also churned butter. When we had boiled the milk, it was put upon the loft. The cream floated upon. It was skimmed with a spoon. The skimmed cream was put into a jar and then it was chumed to butter. The butter was taken up. The buttermilk was drunk. It was unusual tasteful. The butter was kneaded and added a little of water. Also salt was added. It was then put into jars and could be kept for a long time. When one came back from harvesting for the Handanástovan, we used to get "rómastamp", junket of cream. It was in a wooden jar. 4 persons could sit around the jar and eat from it,

Top of page

Milking girl feast.

Hanna and Hilda:  There have always been milking girls on Mykines. When the walking into the outfield to milk ceased, a Milking girl feast was held. The cooks used to be Annkatrina hjá Jóhannusi, Marin í Handanástovuna, Holdanslisa, Ragnhild. "Oh, all that blessed food", the painter (S. J. Mikines) used to say. We got open sandwiches at the Milking girl feast. There was singing and dancing in the Dancehouse.
Often it was troublesome to go out milking. Some times the cow had gone in to the Skorar, they had gone on the inner side of Fulltúgvun, to seek shelter, if the wind came from northern directions. Women were not able to go there. The Hanna had to go home, and ask the men for help. Jákup hjá Heina and Jógvan í Ábrahamsstovu came up and drifted the cows out again. Tiresome it often was. After milking, we went to cut peat. Yes, quite a lot work had to be done in the summer.

Top of page

When the fishermen left

Steingrim:  When did the fishermen leave?
Hanna:  In the beginning of Marts. They sailed to "Suđurlandiđ", the southwestern part of Iceland. They the returned in May. Then they cut peat. They were at home at Whitsun. They were home for a fortnight. It was a busy time. We had a lot to do. We had to manage the peat and to carry it indoor. We usually finished with that, before the harvesting began. Then we harvested and if the weather was dry, we could finish quickly, because the hay is drying quickly out here westward.

Steingrim:  Was there any preparations in connection with the return of the fishermen in May?
Hilda:  The they to "Eysturlandiđ", the eastern part of Iceland. Yes, You understand. Her west there were 20 men, who went fishing. When they left everything was in order. They had 4 pairs of mitten and 6-7 pairs of socks, 5 pair underwear, both vest and pants. Our mother wove homespun, which should be colored. Hoods, both knitted and sewn. The rainwear was sewn from stout. It was a yellow, strong fabrics. It was vanished 3 times. Mattress they also carried with them. There was sewn a warm woolen blanket upon the mattress. The last think which was packed, was the Holy Bible. our father had a coffin. Other had a seaman's sack. They often telegraphed. Father sailed with Petra, which Christian Emil owned. Other men from Mykines also sailed with her, ad for example Jesar, father to Aage.
If the fishery was successful, they sailed to a harbour to unload and then we got a cable. Farther also wrote letters. When they returned back home, they carried delicious and fine food with them. They had "lippir" (lips), "kjálkar" (jaws), redfish, it was nice to get. The bones of the redfish were so very sharp and stung.

Top of page

The daily food on Mykines

Steingrim:  What do You get to eat at home?
Hanna and Hilda:  Mother plucked puffins, they were salted. We got "grind" (pilotwhales) and fish. Gannets we also got and fulmars. Those we got from Niclas. They were plucked and burned to take away the last of dun. It was delicious. They were salted for two day and then boiled. They were boiled for two hours. The potatoes should be washed very carefully. We cut a little piece of the potato, so the gravy soaked through. It tasted very nice. When the fulmars were skinned, a sauce was made. They were roasted together with the thigh. We also boiled them and cooked soup together with macaroon, prune and rice. We used to make balls of boiled potatoes, which were mast and and added a little of margarine, a little sucker and 2 eggs. I addition a little flour, to stick it all together, no milk.
We also made meat cakes from the fulmars and fried it just as fish cakes. It tasted better that the bought sausage meat. Mother said, the the fulmar meat tasted better than the puffin meat.

Steingrim;  How did You cook the fulmar meat cakes.
Hilda:  We cut away most of the fat. Then we cut the breast and the thighs and minced it twice, then it was kneaded. We added a little of flour, two eggs, salt and pepper, so it tasted well. They were fried. We always looked forward to this dinner.
And then we got puffins. We could skin them. And then roast them as game. Meaning, that in the forehand we made the sauce. Then we browned the breast and the thighs and afterword mixed it with the sauce and let it boil. We also filled the puffins with pastry. We also roasted the puffins with the skin upon. We could also dry roast the puffins. It was delicious. Fro that we used the "primus" oven. The best of the puffins were boiled. We also sprinkled the puffins and that tasted unique They had to lye in the pickle for 3 days.
And we got the heads of puffins for dinner. That was not a good dinner, we eat the tung and the brain. We also made soup of puffins, where we added ginger. For hat the puffins had to be washed and fresh. We also added rice and other different things. All that is now just history, as Marin used to say, Mykines was just one big larder. If the legs of the puffins had turned green, we used to make puffins meat balls. That often was the case, if they had been at Nesinum to fleyge and the puffins had bee lying for too long in fine weather. The pluck women sorted them, and then they were skinned. When they plucked puffins, we were the ones who had to "kvista", cut of the wings and legs. Even in finest weather. Then we were sitting in a dark room and "kvistede". Then the plucking women and took away. It was straining for the hands. There almost always sat 3 plucking women in Handanástovun and plucked. You could not wear gloves. They were mother, Sjúrđaelspa and Julia and Annkatrina.

Steingrim:  How many puffins used they to pluck in one day?
Hilda:  One hundred. Mother used to pluck 25 an hour, when it went well. With the handle of the knife the dun were removed. They plucked all the way up to the nape, because the dun had a good price. When the mail boat arrived, they used to carry the puffins in a "leyp" down to it, to sell them in Sřrvág and everything was sold.
In the summer we got fresh fish. We bought the fish. We made "knetter" (great balls of creamed fish mixed with lambs tallow) and fish cakes and boiled fish heads.
When our mother had been at the landing place with something for the people there to drink, she returned with fish. She sorted some of them and mince them for fish cakes. If she made soup, she also put a bone into it. Ther were many rowing boats and motor driven boats out here at that time. Much is changed, it's unbelievable. When the cows had calved, we often got rice gruel.
We had a great field with potatoes at Hanusarmřrk. The seed potatoes were lying at the loft below the bed. In the first hand a sheet of paper was laid underneath and one sheet sheet upon. We lay then there in January / February. We planted the potatoes in May. We also had a little field at Systrannamřrk. We used to plant around 800 potatoes. Mother used to change puffins for potatoes. She used to get the potatoes from Oyruni at Sřrvágur from Marionnu í Stórustovu or Keldi Jákup.

Top of page