The Stead Year
A Far Place Calendar
This article was first published in Questlines.
The table below provides representative dates for important herding, farming and hunting events in the Far Point year from the perspective of an upland stead. Many activities continue over several weeks: the dates represent the beginnings of such activity. Obviously, actual dates will vary from year to year according to a variety of climatic, ritual and economic factors. Dates in Storm Season are particularly unreliable, and depend on the progress of the annual battle between Light and Darkness, Storm and Ice.
Regular activities such as hare and bird hunting, small game trapping, weaving and charcoal-burning are not included below.
As well as the runic system of days and weeks, the Far Walkers organise their year into a series of ‘Movements’ or ‘Times’ (Tames).
The uplands of Far Point are for the most part colder and wetter than neighbouring Sartar and Tarsh. Therefore, events in those lands may vary by a week or two from the times given here.
The time of new life and new beginnings, of romance and marriage-negotiations.
‘Narmen Tame’ (Naming Time)
Disorder Week: Planting of potherbs and vegetable gardens. Walking of the Boundaries. Hare Day — all hares change sex on this day. Prime season for hare hunting begins. First elk calves.
Harmony Week: Major sowing; tending of vineyards (Sharl Plain & Sartar only). Snaring of Goddess Birds for magic and for luck.
Death Week: Draining, ditching and clodding; last frosts. Hind and wolf hunting ends, otter hunting begins.
‘OpenTame’ or ‘FlamalTame’
Fertility Week: Release of domestic stock from byrnes to forage in forest and pasture; first ploughing of fallow fields; fowling and egging in bird nesting grounds. Flamal Festival – stickdancing! bad poetry! gowkhunting! Roo (female roe deer) and badger hunting begins.
Stasis Week: Lambing; harvest of winter crops; Ponydrift (annual roundup, branding and tail cutting of semi-wild forest ponies); Kukfighting season begins.
‘SalmonTame’ or ‘TrimilTame’ (Time of three milkings per day)
Movement Week: Egg collecting from marshlands; cows pastured or driven into upland grasslands; cheesemaking begins; wagon and sled repairs, timber cutting; salmon runs, smoking and drying of catch. Prime season for hare hunting ends. First alynx litters.
Illusion Week: Silage; perfume making; culling of excess stead trollkin; first batching of year’s sticklepick. Bear hunting begins. First red deer calving. First wolf litters.
Truth Week: Farm repairs; collective water-bird hunting in marshes with nets and bird-lime; first inter-stead cattle raiding.
The prime season for both war and cattle raiding.
‘ElmalCalm’ or ‘YelmaTame’
Disorder Week: Haymaking — cutting, tossing and cocking; stead and clan beast-takes. First roe deer calving.
Harmony Week: Sheep shearing. Badger hunting ends, hart hunting begins.
Death Week: Hay carting and tossing; berry harvest, slaughter of excess birds (geese, teal). Clan moots and law moots. Buck (fallow deer) hunting begins.
‘Weyden Tame’ (Time of Much Weeding)
Fertility Week: Weeding; second ploughing of fallow land. First fallow deer calving.
Stasis Week: Wool-spinning; early harvests; first droving. Prime hart hunting.
‘MeadoTame’ or ‘Harvest Tame’
Movement Week: Sheep and cattle markets. Tribal moots. Roe deer rutting begins. Stone Planting ceremonies.
Illusion Week: Main harvest begins; cattle breeding.
Truth Week: Elmali Harvest Rite (Fireday). AldaThingi. Elk rutting season begins.
Harvest time, herd culling and hunting to prepare for the coming Dark. A time to end feuds and look to the future.
‘GorsTame’ (Forest i.e. Hunting Time) or ‘Goddess Tame’
Disorder Week: Wheat sowing; hemp-making.
Harmony Week: End of harvest season; ‘stickpicking’ — collection of wood, rush, & thatch from gors; stead repairs; cider making and ale brewing! First frosts. Hart and buck hunting ends; hind and boar hunting begins. Red deer rutting season.
Death Week: Twins Day — The Good Hunt (ceremonies for Animal Twins or Stead Founders); Odayla High Holy Day (Godday); fruit picking; nut gathering; first slaughter of excess animals or cattle-drive to Alda Chur Great Market. Otter hunting ends, wolf hunting begins as winter wolf packs form. End of kukfighting season.
Fertility Week: Alda Chur Fertility Flame Festival (HarvestHome). Roe deer form herds to move from uplands to winter pastures.
Stasis Week: Honey gathered; fruit trees set; rye sowing; Cider Sup; charcoal burning; ‘Dark Slaughter’ and salting of excess animals begins. Sheep and cattle should not be milked after this date. Cattle raiding ends. Fallow deer rutting season begins.
Movement Week: Muck spreading; final ploughing of fallow fields; ploughing; sowing of winter crops (wheat or rye); apple harvest.
Illusion Week: Turf, heather and peat gathering; candle and torch making. Cattle Gifting and clan gift exchanges. First snows and winter storms.
Truth Week: Indoor threshing of grain (not oats); hedge-trimming, bonfires. Elk gather in herds and move to winter pastures.
The bitter season of snow and darkness. In Dark Season, most animals must be kept in byrnes and hand-fed.
Disorder Week: Corn grinding. Bear hunting ends.
Harmony Week: Carting (or sledging) of wood and peat stockpiles to steads. Bears begin winter sleep; cubs born soon after.
Death Week: Persistent heavy snow — all animals stabled; final slaughter and salting of winter meat; final sale or gifting of excess animals. Fur trapping of minx, marmot, ermine and sable begins.
‘LongDark’ or ‘Canis Tame’ (Frigid Time)
Good Hope Festival (Windsday); darkblooms appear; the Dark Hunt. Blue or even black snow may fall.
Stasis Week: Threshing of oats (indoors); repair, carving and building of farm and domestic implements.
‘Wolfun Tame’ (Wolf Time)
Movement Week: Uz trading, The Wild Market.
Illusion Week: Skald making; branding of trollkin values.
Truth Week: First ploughing (if possible).
Life and Darkness battle throughout the wilderness. Incredibly violent storms wrack the land. Many spirits are abroad.
Disorder Week: Stormbloom of first hardy sun-plants with ‘armoured’ shoots.
Harmony Week: Food shortages become increasingly common. Roe doe (roo) hunting ends.
Death Week: Snow Melt; fencing and hedging of ploughed fields against grazing animals.
Fertility Week: First major ploughing; earliest date for release of stock from byrnes.
Stasis Week: Composting of fields. Boar hunting ends.
‘Cole Tame’ (Cabbage (soup) Time)
Movement Week: Orlanth High Holy Day – Dominion Rites (festive food kept especially); sowing of early crops – barley, oats, peas, beans, vetches; harrowing of fields. First bears awaken.
Illusion Week: Pruning of fruit trees.
Truth Week: First Sowing.
The Eternal Hunt, The Welcoming, The Lightbringer’s Rite. Rejoice, and sow the mythic seeds for another year. Turn back the Dark!
Hunting: The hunting seasons given in this table are accepted and observed by most of the upland population of Far Point. However, foes such as the wolf tribe may be hunted whenever an opportunity arises, regardless of season. Odaylan hunters and trappers work to a more complicated system involving an intimate knowledge of local conditions, omens in the landscape, divination ceremonies and occasional direct negotiation with the Animal Ancestors.
A hart is a male red deer at least four years old. A hind is a female red deer at least three years old. A buck is an adult male fallow deer. A doe an adult female fallow deer. A roebuck is a male roe deer at least five years old. A roo is an adult female roe deer.
Followers of the Animal Twins assert that there is a correct season for all creatures to hunt and to be hunted. The season for hunting humans runs from Death Week, Earth Season to Harmony Week, Storm Season. This does not mean that humans cannot defend themselves against animal attacks during this ‘Two Leg Season’, but rather that the killing of a human by an animal predator must be accepted without reprisal against other beasts of the killer’s tribe. [Return].
Gowks: A gowk is a cuckoo. To ‘hunt a gowk’ is to be a fool, or in this context, an ‘April Fool’. [Return].
Sticklepick is an infamous Far Point dish much loved by the upland tribesfolk. It consists of chunks of fermented fish and other meats in a rancid fish sauce. It is prepared in large clay pots, which are sealed and allowed to ferment for at least six months before opening. Sticklepick is often served with gimli, a fermented vegetable dish of cabbage, turnips, garlic and spicy herbs, prepared in a similar manner. [Return].
The AldaThingi (pr. Alda Ting-ee) is the annual gathering of the Alda-Churi and Alone tribes to make law and inter-tribal pacts, to judge important law suits, and when necessary to elect a Prince and War Lord of the Far Place. In recent years, the AldaThingi has become a passive instrument of Harvar Ironfist’s ambition. [Return].
Snow: Far Point is subject to a wide variety of unusual meteorological phenomena, including different coloured snows. After a period of white snow (water snow) there may fall blue snow (ice snow) and even black snow (darkness snow), which are both much colder. Falls of red and yellow snow have also been recorded: these seem to be less cold than water snow. Close to Skyfall Lake, almost anything can fall from the sky. [Return].