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Women of the Fäbod

The year was 1890 in the village of Sjöland, Ångermanland, Sweden. Thirteen year old Anna was standing on the threshold between girlhood and womanhood, and the time had come for her to follow with her mother to the fäbod for the first time. They left in the evening and the men went ahead to clear the path while the herdswomen followed behind them with the livestock. The sound of cow bells and herding songs could be heard far and wide as the procession of people and livestock headed up the mountains in the midsummer evening light. It was a long way to the fäbod, and once they arrived, the men stayed for a night or so to help the women settle in, but once the men headed back to the village, the women were left alone.  In the mountain regions of Sweden and Norway, the fäbod transhumance culture has existed since the medieval period. Herding was primarily women’s work in these areas and herdswomen went with the livestock to the fäbod dairy farm for the summer while winter crops were grown …

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