Siblings Oddny (left) and Magnar (right) Klieva feed some cattle at their small farm near Naustdal, Norway. Oddny and Magnar had never been beyond a 30-mile radius of their farm when this photo was taken. This summer, both traveled with a group of Norwegians to Terrace, Minn., to visit relatives. Photo courtesy of Forde Fimland and Oystein Fimland
Norwegian farmers take dream trip to America. Both in their 70s, neither had previously traveled farther than 30-mile radius from their farm
The green leaves of the old oak tree on the lawn of Carolyn and Harvey Rust (near Terrace, Minn.) are turning orange and gold, red and brown. The colors remind us that autumn is upon us. The oak tree reminds us of longevity, and stands for strength and long-lasting endurance…with very deep roots.
An old oak tree on the small family farm of Magnar and Oddny Klieva in Naustdal, Norway, stands just as tall, with roots just as deep. It stands for strength and long-lasting endurance, a symbol for the deep family ties that became ever-so-more deep during the summer of 2015.
In August, Carolyn and Harvey hosted a family gathering to celebrate family, especially honoring Magnar and Oddny, who yearned to visit America, especially central Minnesota, where ancestors settled upon leaving Norway.
Magnar and Oddny are a brother-sister couple who operate their family farm in Norway in about the same way as their ancestors several generations before them. In fact, it’s as if time has stood still in their world, on their farm in Norway. They are content with seven cows and natural surroundings on the mountainside, in the barn and inside their home. They are both in their 70s and have never, before their trip to America this summer, traveled beyond a 30-mile radius from their small dairy farm in Naustdal, a few miles from a neighbor, Forde Fimland, in Sogn og Fjordane County. Their hard-working years are evident in their stooped, yet proud, stature.
Forde Fimland is a filmmaker, who, growing up near Magnar and Oddny, was fascinated with their story of humble simplicity…and he wanted to share it with the world. He has told their story in a Fimland Film documentary, Siblings are Forever. He has won several awards for this film, and when he met Carolyn and Harvey during one of their visits to Norway, he was intrigued with the idea of taking Magnar and Oddny to America…and film a sequel, Meeting the World. After several international calls, the trip was set for August 2015.
Carolyn Rust’s love of family, and the deep roots of family history, brought her to Magnar and Oddny. Carolyn’s mother, Virgy Schey Eskelson Rinken, is a cousin to them, the reason Carolyn and Harvey traveled to Norway…to meet Magnar and Oddny. Don’t get Carolyn started on genealogy unless you have a week’s worth of time to get it all straight, but keep in mind, by digging deep into the family history, Carolyn unmasked an amazing wealth of information and memories, and discovered several other family members living in nearby Naustdal.
In all, 15 family members from Naustdal and Fjorde, Norway (all who live within a 25–mile radius from each other, some who have visited America before), three Fimland crew members, and one family friend, descended upon the Rust family farm for first-time experiences in the middle of Minnesota…all of it documented by the film crew.
The entire group came to Minnesota after a few nights in New York City, including a visit to Ellis Island, where Magnar and Oddny’s Norwegian ancestors, Hilda and Ole Schey, arrived in America. They visited Times Square and were amazed by the tall buildings. Upon arriving in central Minnesota, headquarters for the family gathering was the Rust family farm, around the old oak tree. Overnight accommodations, providing a comfortable family setting, were at Peters Resort on beautiful Lake Minnewaska in Glenwood. “Once the group arrived in Glenwood, things we all take for granted were soon to become first-time experiences for Magnar and Oddny, and several in the Norwegian group,” Carolyn said.
Magnar and Oddny (front) share some “thumbs up” with Carolyn and Harvey Rust during their visit in August. The Norwegians learned a lot about modern farming, tried corn on the cob, and took a swim in Lake Minnewaska, among other things. They also got souvenir cowboy hats during their stay. Contributed photo
Of course a high priority for Magnar and Oddny’s visit was to experience modern farming practices. They traveled to Barnesville where custom-combiner Mark West was harvesting a field of grain. Magnar had the opportunity to ride in Mark’s combine as it dumped grain into the truck that was driven alongside of it. Magnar also rode in a semi-truck owned by CullBarr Farms, of Lowry, as Cody Rust, grandson of Carolyn and Harvey, hauled a load of straw for CullBarr.
The group never, ever tasted corn on the cob, a late summer delicacy. Carolyn Rust turned that into an event, taking the group out to the field, showing them how to pick the corn, husk the cobs, cook the corn…and eat it…with lots and lots of butter, and a bit of salt and pepper. They were amazed, and by the way, had “never tasted anything better in their entire lives. Everything we did was interesting and amazing to them,” Carolyn explained.
“We always had the coffee on, and everyone eats cake. They were intrigued with our garden, especially the cucumbers. On their farm, Magnar and Oddny grow potatoes, and some carrots.” she added. “They couldn’t get over the pumpkins, saying, ‘you grow these in your garden?’” Carolyn laughed. “Things we take for granted, they were amazed by it all.”
Magnar and Oddny were the oldest in the group, the youngest was Martha, 10 years old.
Swimming in Lake Minnewaska was the first thing Martha wanted to do, and Magnar and Oddny were right behind her. Swimming in their homeland of Norway isn’t as accessible to them as it is to Americans. The fresh water was cold, yet invigorating, they said.
“We had a barbecue one of the first nights, and they all agreed that we eat, and live, very well here in America,” Carolyn said. Most of the communication throughout the visit was through Marianne, serving as translator, although some Norwegian family members can speak English.
The group ate at a restaurant in Glenwood, and the ladies went shopping in Alexandria.
“We visited the old homestead house of Ole and Hilda, the couple that ‘started it all in America’ after emigrating from Norway in 1890 on the SS Majestic…from Norway to Liverpool to New York, on a 998-passenger vessel.” The group visited the cemetery in Brooten, and the gravesite of Hilda and Ole Schey. They went to church at Chippewa Lutheran in Terrace and honored the congregation with a Norwegian song.
They traveled to Bob Lange’s farm, experiencing a wild-game museum, and visited Paul and Mary Anderson’s home near Alexandria, where Magnar and Oddny saw the many classic tractors and cars in Paul’s collection. Magnar drove one of Paul’s John-Deere tractors and sat behind the wheel of a classic convertible. Magnar, who has never driven an automobile, wished he could take that classic car home with him. The group went to a barn dance hosted by David and Angie Henke on their farm near Glenwood. Magnar and Oddny even danced!
Magnar and Oddny yearned for one souvenir during their trip, a cowboy hat for each, so Carolyn and Harvey bought cowboy hats as the group shopped at the Blairview Saddle Shop. The Norwegians took turns riding on Carolyn’s Honda Trike.
And with all of that, Carolyn said Magnar and Oddny seemed happiest in the barn as they visited the Dorrich Dairy Farm of rural Glenwood. You see, Magnar and Oddny have seven cows back home on their farm in Norway. They missed their cows. In fact, the only transcontinental conversation the brother-sister couple had with anyone back in Norway during their stay in Minnesota, was made in order to check on their beloved cows. Although the cows were grazing happily in the mountains while their owners experienced America, (“the grass has more nutrition in the mountains, and the cows give no milk in the summer,” Magnar explained), there was that sense of lonesomeness. “The cows will be ready to give more milk starting again in the fall,” Magnar said, so in a way, they too, were getting a holiday of sorts.
Every day and evening included relaxation time, sitting on the shores of Lake Minnewaska, and of course, under the oak tree. “They all loved to visit. And of course, we talked about family roots and shared pictures,” smiled Carolyn. “We measured the trunk of our oak tree too, because we do have a bit of a competition about who has the biggest and oldest oak,” she said. (Magnar and Oddny’s oak back in Norway claims victory). She sent a few Minnesota acorns back to Norway, with hopes that new roots will keep connections fresh.
Magnar rests on a hillside on his Norwegian farm and has a visitor during the filming of Siblings Are Forever. Photo courtesy of Forde Fimland and Oystein Fimland
Before Magnar, Oddny, and the rest of the Norwegian family members and film crew left the Rust farm, Magnar gazed at his surroundings, saying, “It is very nice to come here. It is such a nice place. There is so much distance, it is so flat, amazing,” He added, “The sky is lower here than in Norway. Why? Because in Norway we have mountains.”
When Magnar and Oddny return to their farm and their oak tree, the cows will be ready to come off of their holiday on the mountainside and produce milk again. The oak tree will speak…reminding them of the seasonal tasks ahead.
Back in America, near Terrace, Carolyn Rust will have time to reflect as she watches her oak leaves turn color. The old family roots run deep, and yet, she can be assured that new acorns, along with brand new memories, have been taken back to the old country. The old and new oak trees will symbolize strength, longevity and perseverance.
About the documentary…Siblings are Forever, written and filmed by Forde Fimland:
Siblings are Forever is a warm and poetic documentary about a brother-and-sister couple, Magnar and Oddny. Both are about 70 years old. They live on the family farm near Naustdal, a few miles from Førde in Sogn og Fjordane County in Norway. From all appearances, it seems that time has stood still for them, without their noticing that time, nevertheless, is running out. A few innovations have been adopted, however. The farm’s workhorse was replaced by a tractor during the 1960s. Electricity and a telephone were installed during the 1970s. In the 1980s, they acquired a combination radio-and-cassette player, a luxury that was highly prized and often used. Unfortunately it broke down a few years ago, and now they are left with a box full of audio cassettes with music they can no longer listen to. Magnar is satisfied with his life. He avoided putting himself in debt, and he sleeps well at night. Still, a new radio and cassette player would have been nice to have. He wants to buy one as a Christmas present for Oddny. And he has been looking at a telephone. It might be useful to have one of those when he is in the forest, he thinks. One never knows what might happen to a fellow wandering alone out there.
Siblings are Forever is about people who live the way many Norwegians lived before petroleum-driven wealth changed almost everything. Closely entwined with the grandiose natural surroundings, while at the same time impoverished in terms of financial wealth, this is a film about people who allowed time to lapse at a slow rate, despite the fact that time in the modern age raced beyond them.
The documentary sequel, Meeting the World written and filmed by Forde Fimland and his son, Oystein Fimland:
Magnar and Oddny received a letter from America. Magnar had to take it to Førde to have it translated. The writer was a distant relative. Magnar and Oddny’s grandfather had several siblings who immigrated to the United States. At that time, prospects for the future were much darker (in Norway) than now. Still, the farm today has no prospective heirs. In 2013, the “emigrants” treated themselves to a visit to the old country. Now, in 2015, Magnar and Oddny have visited the new country, and the documentary will include their travel and experiences while in America, especially their time in Minnesota, including Terrace and Glenwood.
Forde Fimland, director, producer, scriptwriter and photographer, has worked in filmmaking and television since graduating from the media program in Volda in 1986. He has been the photographer and producer for many Norge Rundt broadcasts as well as series such as Norskekysten, Kulejenter and Salt & Pepper.
A resident of Bergen during the past 25 years, he has completed assignments in many places around the globe. Siblings Are Forever, however, is the story of two siblings living on the neighboring farm where he grew up in Naustdal in Sogn og Fjordane County. Magnar made his living as an itinerant rural butcher during Forde’s childhood. The story is one that increasingly fascinated Forde as he grew into adulthood. Only now has he been given the opportunity to tell this story through film. His lifelong relationship with the main character in the film is an important prerequisite for the film’s quality and its very existence. He has worked as a one-man film team throughout the entire production. Fimland runs FIM Film AS, a production company based in Askøy outside the city of Bergen. Forde has won many awards in his filming career, including awards in Italy, Norway, and Greece and in America. In Montana, Forde won the Best Documentary Award during the Big Sky Film Festival. His work can be found at www.fimfilm.no or by contacting him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Siblings are Forever is distributed by Tour de Force AS, a Bergen-based company with TOR FOSSE as its managing director. Fosse is also director of Bergen International Film Festival. He has previously been employed in the same role for the Tromsø International Film Festival.
Oystein Fimland, son of Forde, has begun work with his father. He lives in Oslo, Norway, and encourages people to visit www.fimfilm.no and the Facebook page of Magnar and Oddny’s story Soskeen Til Evig Tid (Siblings are Forever). The page has more than 42,000 “likes.”
The public is invited to view Forde’s film, Siblings are Forever at the Glenwood Retirement Village on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. The event is free. Norwegian treats will be provided.