I’ve mentioned before that most houses in the more remote areas of Greenland are built on stilts and basically bolted into the rocks. Ours was no exception, as this photo also shows.
However, what it also shows is me preparing a rack for drying fish!
The fish factory in town had big, deep plastic bins full of fish heads and assorted gore, goop, blood, and slime. Lovely! But the fish heads – halibut – were usually the size of a football, or bigger. They could easily weigh four or five kilos, and feed a couple of dogs. The factory gave them away for free and Jane and I would carry them in backpacks up the hill – backbreaking – and then keep them in the shed over the winter.
Winter is quite simply the easiest month of the year in Greenland.
The short spring and long summer, however, are just hard work. While the fish heads were frozen in the shed all winter, they needed drying in the warmer months. I would knock the teeth out and hang the heads on the nails to dry. The heads I preferred were the size of a large hand and 4 or more made a good meal … for the dogs! They eat less in the summer as they are far less active.
The summer of 2007 was our first summer with dogs, and we would quickly get to know flies and ravens as they took their share of the dog food! The flies were a pain, but the ravens were crafty. They would steal a head from the rack, or distract the dogs, standing at limit of the dogs’ chains to be chased, while another raven swooped in for the head.
The dogs, Simba in particular, also had a habit of burying the heads in a cache. So I knew they had enough food when they were nibbling one head and burying the others.
It was the beginning of May and I was already looking forward to the winter!