Gut Ostler

1 April 2000

Ok. Where am i?

First of all i would like to address the rumor i have heard that i am back in Seattle.

Nope. We are in Messdorf (dorf means village, by the way) just outside of Bonn, but more on that later.

So today i sit in Der Buro im das baurnhaus aus Gut Ostler Biological baurnhof (the office of the farm house of Gut Ostler organic farm). Gut means something like Manor or Estate - kind of like from feudal times. So the name is kind of romantic. It is an organic farm barely in the city limits of Bonn. We are surrounded by fields and forest, with small villages here and there, but by bike i can be in the very center of downtown the kind of former kind of current capitol of Germany in 15 minutes. And since this is Germany i can also take a suburban train, tram or bus from the farm to town!

Every morning we wake up at 6:30 and make a hot breakfast and start work at 8am. We work HARD. We are really starting to get in good condition. Actually we are pretty proud of the fact that we only have to sleep 7 hours a night now (the first week we could barely get by with 10!) We work until 1pm, have a hot lunch made for us and then work until 6pm (or, more often, 7pm). That gives us time to shower, cook a hot meal, eat and realax for an hour and crash. On Saturdays we get to quit after lunch!!!

Since this farm is uses organic agriculture we are working only with clean dirt and plants - no chemicals, but lots of hoeing and weeding and so forth. We harvest leeks, plant onions, pull weeds, hoe, dig, build, fix, stack vegetables, count and weigh seeds, fruits and vegitables, water plants, maintain equimptment and buildings, lift, move crates, feed animals, and many other things. Friday morning we spread a 4 acre piece of plastic on a field of potatos, in a light wind. We feel very accomplished and feel good about working hard.

I would like to talk for a moment about rain . I live in Seattle - i have a RELATIONSHIP with rain. I hike in the rain, bike in the rain, walk in the rain and watch the rain. It rains while i sleep, work and play. I have grown to know the different names for the different kinds of rain and to be able to distinguish the different sounds of rain. I adore the rivers streams and rainforests. I live in the rain and thrive. I love the rain. I love watching it, hearing it and feeling it. I honestly believed that i had experinced all aspects of rain - but working on a farm is has opened me up to entirely new viewpoints on the rain. Sitting in the middle of a muddy field planting onions in the rain makes me think about how much they NEED the rain, but only at the right time. The farmer is never happy about the weather. If it is raining a lot, we can't do farm work - but if it doesn't rain, the plants die. If it rains at the wrong time, the plants will have problems. It is spring so it rains in hard short spurts 2 to 10 times a day - often with small hail included. The clouds and rainbows are amazing. It is wonderful.

There are many things on this farm that have been new for me - i thought i was fimilar with farms, but i had never stared down a goose, watched goats feed or pet a pig. Strangely enough even me, the biggest dog hater (and hated by dogs!) has made friends with the big German Sheppard - he sometimes bites people in the village, but he snuggles up to my leg and purrs when i pet him.

We are living in a small cabin, actually it is an old circus trailer, behind the farm house. We have lights, but we shower and cook in the downstairs of the farmhouse. It is small and cozy, and after a lot of time cleaning it up, it has become very comfortable. We are extremely happy to be able to spend a bit of time in one place - this two weeks is the longest we have been in one place since July!! The past three days we have worked especially hard, because the farmer asked us to fix the foundation, such as it is, of our little house. We all figured this would take 2 to 4 hours, but it took about 28 hours! However we finally have it up on blocks, fully supported, level and stable!! Martin, the farmer, joked that it was a perfect job for us since so many Americans live in trailers!!!

Our kitchen is the storeroom for an organic market! REALLY! We have free reign in the farm's market, as well as pulling whatever fresh organic fruits and vegitables out of the cold room that we want. It is extremely good, We eat well!! Cheryln's banana bread was fantastic, and today Cheryln and i made Palak Panier, a favorite Indian spinach dish, using organic tomato sauce, cream, herbs, youghert and organic onions and spinach PICKED YESTERDAY!! Every morning i get to have my hot chocolate with organic full cream milk (none of this silly unhealtly low fat crap!). I love it, i bought a half liter mug for the purpose! So far the only food complaint, strangely enough, is bread. Germany has the most fantastic bread, and every street cornor has a bakery with hearty, wonderful dark bread in many varieties - but we have had trouble getting bread here because there is none on the farm. We have made it from the fresh organic grain milled here, but we usually don't have the time.

We don't really have time to get in to town, be tourists or even go shopping, because of work, but that is fine with us. This time is a happy break. We expect to be here for 5 to 9 weeks, resting from travelling and working hard. Bonn is a very interesting place. It has all the advantages of a small town and a big city. It really is a small, ancient village, now a university town, but, due to proximity to 3 of the 4 major metropolitan areas of the former West Germany, it was the capitol (Hauptstadt) of a major nation for 50 years. The other parts of Germany derided it as the "Hauptdorf" - and now that the government is in the process of moving to the shiny new sterile Berlin, everyone jokes that Bonn will dry up and blow away. However, Bonn is also doing a lot of building!! Because you see, with all that empty office space, many WORLD organizations are moving in, UN, EU, NGO... many agencies. In fact, the joke here is that Bonn is now styling itself as the "WeltHauptDorf" -- the World's capitol village! The city has a very comfortable feel. I like it.

We are working on some good prospects for the couple of months after we leave the farm, going south and east again, and then perhaps north. We are crossing our fingers as the money gets very tight, but we might just make it to the one year mark (August 8) and the expiration of our airplane ticket! We hope so, at least -- we have found no swiss bank account i'm afraid.

© Copyright Mark Canizaro 2000



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