Not far from the edge of the mountain, in Jämtland Sweden, lies Talasbuan fäbod. It stood empty for 80 years before Tova and Mathias decided to give new life to the old place.
There is no easy way to translate the Swedish word fäbod into English. It is a summer pasture for one or several homesteads’ livestock. A fäbod consisted of several simple buildings such as a dwelling-house, cattle shed, storage cabins, and a cooking cabin. Each building had a specific purpose. These buildings are simple log cabins for summer use only.
The use of a summer pasture is ancient; The practice goes back over one thousand years. In this part of Sweden, the hay meadows were small. The amount of hay produced by the homesteads in these areas was barely enough to keep the livestock alive during winter. The fields were for winter fodder only. The cattle could not be allowed to graze in the homestead’s meadows. If they did, there would be no winter fodder. The farmers in these areas used summer pastures on common land in the forests and hills to survive.
In 2012, Tova and Mathias moved into a small cottage at an old fäbod. On their blog, Talasbuan Off the Grid, Tova states, “I have always, or for as long as I remember, wanted to have a fäbod. Live there at summertime with my animals and make cheese and butter. Then I met Mathias and after a while we thought, why not live like this year around? To come closer to nature and feel the shifts in the seasons in a deeper way. Feel the calm and be away from all the things that beeps and make a sound in an ordinary home. We have surely made it harder for ourselves, we could probably have bought a place with electricity and so on. But keeping this fäbod tradition, and guarding traditional skills is important to us, and so is the satisfying feeling of living a very resilient life.”
She goes on to say, “The to-do list is long, build the new log house, because currently we live in 15 square meters, a cheese cellar and a root cellar, the creamery, the kitchen garden and so on. We have sheep, chickens, pigs, rabbits, cats and dogs, In time cows and maybe goats. We are harvesting, making hay for the animals and going for the self-sufficient life.”
In February 2017, Tova and Mathias published their first vlog and have been making them ever since. I recently discovered their YouTube channel and have been fascinated by their videos. The forests of Sweden are beautiful and peaceful. Watching these two young people learning to live off of the land gives me a new appreciation for the hard work that goes into such a life. Seeing the love that they have for their animals, their land, and their life together is heartwarming. The simplicity of the life they have chosen, juxtaposed with the required hard work, fascinates me.
As much as I enjoy watching about life at Talasbuan Fäbod, I can’t imagine living off the grid. I can’t imagine living with the cold, the snow, the dark winter. I’m not ready to give up all of the comforts of electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing.
There are not many people in the western world who are living their lives off the grid. Electrical power is one of those things that we don’t think about very often. We usually only think about electrical power when it isn’t there. When we flip the switch, we expect the lights to go on. When we come home from work, we expect the house to be comfortable. When we open the refrigerator, we expect the milk to be cold.
When the power isn’t working, it suddenly becomes crucial. Anyone who was living in Polk County during December 2000 remembers being without power. A significant ice storm developed on Christmas Day and continued through the early morning hours of December 27th. A layer of ice up to 3 inches thick covered everything. 300,000 Arkansans were without power for many days. The 2000 ice storm may be the worst natural disaster in Arkansas history. We were without power for six days and had friends in South Polk County without power for 23 days.
Even though our house still had all of its electrical wiring, outlets, and switches, nothing worked. Habits are hard to break, and even after days without power, I still found myself trying to turn on the lights.
Even though everything looked fine, there was no power. The experience gave me a taste of what it would be like to live off the grid.
Many people in our culture, in our society, live their lives apart from God. Spiritually, they have chosen to live their lives off the grid. Just like a house without electricity, we have no power in ourselves. We need to plug into the grid of God’s power. There are even Christians who seem reluctant to plug into God’s power. They feel that they have enough strength of their own to overcome sin. But we cannot change ourselves. I’m sure that your experience verifies the fact that sheer willpower cannot conquer sin. On our own, living like Christ is not difficult; it’s impossible. In John 15:5 (NLT), Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
Gentle Reader, just like we take our electrical power for granted, we also often take God’s power for granted. We expect Him to love us. We expect Him to be there for us, but how often do we think about His power? I don’t want to live off the grid. I want to say with King David, “I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” Psalms 59:16 (NLT)