Oksanen, Reijo

Deep In Self-Sufficiency

Mrs. Nott 1973

In the early seventies Mrs. Rose Mary Nott made a 'pilgrimage' to St. Petersburg with her long-time Work friend. The old ladies travelled by boat and stopped in Finland on their way and stayed with us.

I was born in Helsinki and had only some experience in working the land. Relying on my wife Ulla to get me out of small and big trouble, like she had done before, I gallantly developed my ability to 'help nature'.

We lived on the grounds of Ulla's childhood home, which was a farm with just under 1000 acres of arable land and forest. When we moved back from London in 1971 I had been inspired to start a smallholding with the aim of becoming self-sufficient. I enjoyed reading "Mother Earth News" and had some friends in England, who had just started a magazine on the same lines.

To achieve our self-sufficiency we had a fair amount of smallstock and took care of chicken, rabbits, duck, geese and quails. I even managed to get some of the quails eggs hatched, which for a town boy was in my view quite an achievement. We had two small greenhouses, a large vegetable garden and one acre where we grew wheat. By the nearby stream we had two fish ponds dug out; both with 100 rainbow trouts. Further fish, bream, pike and pike-birch we fished in the nearby lake. For income we had a 200 acre pine forest. The whole thing was idyllic - much like in the picture of another friend, who visited us at the time we also had a pony (but that is another story).

On her arrival I took Mrs. Nott round the grounds and showed her what I had been doing explaining my aim to become self-sufficient.

Mrs. Nott looked at it all and when we came back to the house she looked at me and said: "I think you should really be ashamed of yourself. Your wife's family has been growing food here for centuries for hundreds of people. And you think this is something!"