Rain delays arrival of fresh lamb

Bookmark and Share

There’s been an unusual shortage of fresh lamb in Norwegian grocery stories lately. Meat producers blame a wet and muddy summer. Meanwhile, better weather was in store for the weekend.

The days are numbered for these critters out grazing in the forest known as Nordmarka, around Oslo. PHOTO: Views and News

As soon as the temperature starts falling in September, most Norwegians start yearning for what’s popularly known as the country’s national dish, fårikål : Lamb (mutton in earlier times) simmered for hours in salted water with peppercorns and lots of cabbage. Fårikål is served with boiled potatoes, sometimes carrots as well, and often with beer and aquavit , the strong Norwegian schnapps.
It’s a wildly popular autumn meal, also among many immigrant groups who eat a lot of lamb. But this year, it hasn’t been easy to find much fresh lamb in local stores, forcing many to delay the season’s first taste of fårikål.

Blame it on the rain and bad weather that plagued most of southern Norway since early July, along with restrictions on imported meat. Ranchers who traditionally release their sheep and lambs for free grazing have had to deal with unusually wet and muddy wool on their animals, and the bad weather has slowed down the annual round-up itself.

Nortura, Norway’s dominant meat producer, told news bureau NTB that it was difficult for ranchers to track down and find their animals in wet and muddy fields and forests. Now they need to slaughter around 800,000 sheep and lamb during the next few weeks, but Nortura hopes there will be enough lamb in the stores to enable celebration of the annual “Fårikål Day” on September 24.

Weeks of rain, meanwhile, finally gave way to sunnier skies over southeastern Norway this week, and temperatures even rose to summer-like levels. State meteorologists said the good weather should extend into next week.

Rain was still expected further north, both in Trøndelag and Møre og Romsdal, and temperatures at higher elevations are approaching the freezing point at night. Rain was also forecast for northern Norway, which along with much of the country was hit by strong winds earlier this week, approaching hurricane force at the Western Cape of Stadt.