In the first week of 2019 we are confronted with a true winter climate. First snow was a fact last December, now it is a race to take down the Christmas Lights and bring the fairy lights dry inside. The amounts of snow are not the masses of > 50 cm per day as in Bavaria and Austria. But it is constantly snowing, sometimes more, sometimes less. Henk is, almost every morning, busy with the snowblower outside.

When it's dry for a few hours, we'll use that time to get “fresh” log/wood indoors, as the heating will burn day and night. The first storage place at the house is soon empty (7 thrown cubic metre) and we start emptying the next log-storage. Although winter seems to go on endlessly, we are not bored by the colour grey or white. We need a long time to bring the packed boxes with Christmas decorations up to the attic, it´s a lot of stairs to go up and down every time........

Sibylla’s bed is accessible again, without getting caught in any left decoration. During Advent we use her room as a stop-over for boxes and decorations.

We occupy ourselves in the hobby room with a diorama workshop and building a dolls house -Christmas house for next year.

We overhaul our website every winter. All the work for a fresh website takes much longer than usual. One of the reasons is Annette is not feeling well, but also because of security items: that turns out to be a big and complicated issue. In addition, website research runs differently whether it is in Dutch, German or English. It´s not just translating text, it needs to be embedded or related. Not everything is suitable or it needs many words. It is easier to explain something technical in different languages than a context or processes in the animal world.

Because of the snow layer I do not dare looking into the greenhouses. From time to time I brought some snow in, but now with these minus degrees it´s daring, hopefully the dirt and roots do not dry out completely.

Unfortunately, the winter service of the community let us down, they skip cleaning our part of the mountain road, thus forming a rink and ice layers where you could perform skating easily. One of the post delivery vans has already made a S-curve it had interpreted the snow layer as part of the road. Luckily 3 of its wheels drove on across the street and nothing happened.

The further the month progresses, the lower the temperature gets. At the beginning of January, the temperature was very low or even just crosses the freezing point during the day. From the 10th till today, winter is a real topic with all that goes with it. We are closing the stable doors every afternoon because of the heavy frost. Since that doors are closed at night, the donkeys and lamas are better protected against the cold. They do not have to go out to drink, because in the middle of the stable there is a warmed trough.

In the third weekend of the month there is great winter sports weather: the snow is high and the sun is bright. All mountain lifts are in operation and finally the sun was shining for 2 whole days, it is wonderful. But it is so cold that the sun cannot thaw the snow, it glistens, but it remains as hard as bones and crunches under our feet while walking the dog.

More pictures in the Pictures Galery


The white environment has hardly changed, although the snow layer has become thinner, it is far from gone. Close to our home, only in a few kilometres distance, there are 2 ski lifts in Masserberg and Heubach, a toboggan run and (Loipen)groomed trails. To us the winter fun is a “no go” option, it never was. Since mid-February, the road from the valley up to the cemetery is a real ice rink. Henk has spikes under his shoes, so he can get into the stable and fill the wheelbarrow. The hay and straw for the animals is stored at the attic and we can easily get there by using the stairs in the house ....... Of course, we also feel that the spring is in the air. Although the sun is already warming properly and the slope is in the fog in the morning, it is not spring yet. Until the meadows are accessible again our animals have to be very patient ......

During the winter period, we are mainly occupied indoors and tend to contact the world by using the internet. The website is completely redesigned, extensive work done, going far beyond new texts and pictures. The connection is more secure now, the pictures different because of hovering. The blogs from the past years can be found back in the archive (till 2015).

In the attic I found back a box with porcelain dolls, in more than 80 parts. So, I can make dolls of about 15 cm. by linking 6 parts with each other. If they already have a wig or hairs that is a relatively smooth going job. 2 dollhouses are finished with (puppet) staff and can be admired in the living room and the bathroom.

When we stored the Christmas decoration many things went through our hands. And we found a nice-looking wooden box with a window: this "watch winder" was from a friend. Unfortunately, the mechanical part (moving) was irreparable. Over the winter we have built a mini-car workshop in it, with working lighting, vehicle, tools and much more. Of the dollhouses we have a lot of small goodies, one or the other just fitted in. Now it is completed and is presented down in the hallway with the lid closed! If you come through the door in the hall you can see this showpiece.

In the plant containers with flower bulbs, there are already little green dots, but everything stays inside for the time being. The season´s begin of growing vegetables has started, there are already several bowls with plastic hood slipped over at warm places like a windowsill. Germination usually takes about 2 weeks, every time it is a surprise what comes out of the soil, what you sowed and like!

Birds are already very noticeable: they whiz back and forth in front of our windows, empty the feeders in the garden and announce a warmer time. We, too, yearn for the outside. We still have 4 water tanks to be filled soon, at the moment much water flows down the hill, because the thick snow layer is finally melting quickly, at least during the day. At night it still freezes some degrees. We want to store water right from the beginning, hoping that it will not be as dry during summer as in 2018. We are talking about collecting some 14,000 litres of water for plants and animals.


Water, all day long, from the sky and running down the mountain. All the way down into the “Biber”. Most of the time this is a flowing stream but sometimes a very wild stream. Now it is as if a torrent is flowing, the noise from the Biber reaches us up at the mountain. The ….. is twice as wide as usual and has split into 2 streams at our pasture. That will probably stay that way for a longer time, because when the snow was finally gone, the rain came!

We have a long to-do list which should have been done at the beginning of the gardening season. Of course, all the soil is fertilized, the high beds well filled with fresh soil and fruit trees planted at the right time. We started with the tomato seeds in February and at all the windows there are seedlings to get the first sunshine. We need the path for the wheelbarrow, so we have to repair these paths early in spring. We cut a couple of trees and there is still a lot of woodwork to be done before we can use this part of the garden. We are making our plans. Yes, we do, but the weather does not cooperate: at first the snow that didn´t go, then days of rain and just when the beginning of wood sawing is there, it starts to snow again ....... It is important to us to get the woodwork done. Otherwise, the wild blackberries will soon grow wildly and make our work more difficult. For the summer we want to split and store the available wood, so that it can be used as firewood. And we need the part of our grove to plant fruit trees.

Pots with flowers are already waiting in the greenhouse, they cannot get out that way. So there is enough time to read the newspaper. This month I found 2 highly interesting articles about plants. From the article on Targetes I learned a lot. Although this plant and its effect is not unknown to me. But “student flower” as a companion was new to me. So, an experiment starts: between and beside tomatoes the colorful little ones as society and defense against unwanted creatures. Will it be enough? Hard to say because we are only in the growing phase.
And then, the first little trees are there and were planted, we did not even need to water, because there is still a lot of moisture coming from the sky. Snow and rain alternate until everything is completely softened.

Several projects are already done: the water supply, a fence made of branches, the sunscreen on the stable roof. All finished thanks to the help of a Wwoofer, that was really hard work, even our car has been able to participate. (towing the heavy branches uphill) We have also set up the scaffolding "Cooling with climbing plants". Good timing, before the sun pops all day. I had ordered the plants in February and it took a long time till planting was possible, due to weather conditions. Everything should get leaves and turn green. We will soon be able to feel if our work will have the result we wanted.


Time for a little puzzle. Which bird is there in the tree?
1 a stork
2 A heron
3 An owl
The solution? In the April blog


Solution of the March Quest: A Heron! In Thuringia they are sitting in a tree. For a better overview?

April starts with mild signs of spring: tendrils like from Clematis develop, all berry bushes are fertilized, perennials are divided and planted in new places.

Every day the remaining branches remind us of the firewood supply for the coming winter. We are very happy when a firewood storage is filled and can be covered. Bulky branches are stored under the fence and at a certain moment a part of the ground near the carport is EMPTY!

On youtube Henk has seen an idea to store wood in a circular shape. We like good ideas, implement them if possible, so we created a woodpile in a circle.

The snow and night frost did not stop us to start building that circle. Now we can easily store our logged wood step by step. After that job we went into the forest, since the forester had permitted us to cut some trees. Henk is allowed to saw a few trees with a brown top (drought). We are working in turns: one day we go into the forest to get the trees down, the other day the chopped wood is transported home and cut into pieces of 50 cm, to fit in our stove. It all lands near the carport, where we keep the wood logging machine and ourselves dry. This should be ready before the end of April, after that it will be too hot to work in the woods.

The last stage is splitting and storing.

Meanwhile, gardening also asks a lot of time for seedlings. Now they can grow in larger pots, until they are strong enough to survive outside. We also planted the first vegetables like Cabot. Besides the planning, there is something like the “ice saint”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_Saints (the latest time in year we have freezing temperatures) Of course, we keep a very close eye on this phenomenon, as well as the water supply from the sky. All freshly planted trees need more water to grow than the ones that have been there for decades. About 20 trees have been newly planted, even more shrubs and perennials. The first potatoes are in the soil, but under a protective cover, against frost. Although the temperatures were already well over 20 degrees Celsius, summer is not yet here. Pictures APRIL HERE

This month Quest!! What is in the box?

1 :A bear, 2: a cat, or 3. a part of an old coat? In May the answer!!


Blog May 2019
The ice saints are making our lives considerably hard until May 16, by their cold and prolonged frost. Gardening, which we otherwise did in a sheltered position early in the month, is waiting for a long time this year. Only logging firewood, clean up or tow is more or less possible every day. The effects of frost damage we still see in several trees and shrubs. If - and this is not even sure - all leaves are replaced and the green life is visible everywhere again, for now a lot of plants still looks half-dead. The list of those affected is long, even big trees are affected.

Fortunately, it has been raining quite often, so the stable could be cleaned well with water and the wastewater system was serviced for the first time this year. The water containers are filled with thousands of liters of water, because the plants need a lot when growing.

Gradually, the seedlings come out of the greenhouse, harden in the fresh air and should then be planted. Of course, peas and beans are sown immediately at the spot. The tomatoes have spent so much time in the sheltered place, will they still grow on their location in the open air?

This month there was very little sunshine and it is good that there was enough protection inside the greenhouse, otherwise many plants would have died. Will we have a good harvest this year? It is certain that we will need a lot of patience, because everything is late.

Even from the berries, much starting fruit has fallen off and the leaves of the shrubs are not as well developed as other years, or red instead of green. In the raised beds, the cultivation is quite good, but how it develops in the next weeks ... .. We will see.
Solution April Riddle
Our cat, called Kedi.


Summer is here, luckily it does not immediately start with tropical temperatures. Although temperatures climb from 10 to 22 degrees within a few hours, at first it remains moderate. In the morning, the slopes are quite humid and we are happy that it is not just bone dry. Although showers often bring no more than 0.7 mm of rain, every drop is counting.

We were finally allowed to pick up wood that had been cleared with the forester on the 12th of June, which we have been looking forward to for months. In 3 days, we drove 10 times to Schnett, where the wood was cut into pieces (50 Cm or one metre) for transport. All the wood is under the carport, because that is the place we put up the wood splitter this year. The available storage underneath the carport is filled up and our car has to be parked outside. And as expected, the message from the farmer came: the hay is pressed and it is ready for pick up. So, we are driving to Hildburghausen a lot of times and come back with a trailer filled with 45 bales of hay. These weeks the work with the wood and the hay alternate for the rest of June. On June 29, the remaining bales of hay have been brought up to the loft and our winter supply is complete.

All these tasks are not as simple as they seem to be, because the outside temperatures range is between 28 and 33 degrees (which is not normal for our region). The garden needs water urgently and it does not rain at all. We start working at 6 o'clock in the morning, because then you can get some work done. After 11 AM till at least 4 PM, we cannot work outside. We think we have to get used to these working conditions in summer. Because of the melting Ice on the North and South pole the Jetstream is changing too. That means the weather conditions will be changing too and will not get “back to normal” again for many years to come. If you think otherwise, or have ideas to handle this situation? Please contact us. I will setup a contactform within a few weeks.

In the beginning of 2019 I promised you a puzzle or quiz every month. In May you didn´t get one!! Funny, nobody made a complaint! Are you to shy(,or afraid) to ask us a question? Well, I will skip May and have the june puzzle for you. What animal is in the picture. A. a Bear! B. A Squirl C. a Fox


This month theme is Animals. In the first week of July we are busy building a corridor for our lamas. After much deliberation and thoughts, we decided to look for a good home for our 3 lamas.

We think we don´t have enough energy and possibilities to be able to take care of them. For example: we did not manage to find someone who could score the 3. In addition, unfortunately, we are not getting any younger and work is not always easy for us. We think we have made the right decision and found the right address, because the contact to our three friends continues, which is very important to us. It is like acknowledging the failing forces, not as failures, yet they will be missed very much. The donkeys searched for the llamas for 2 days, all the sites in the pasture were inspected and the spot where they left the meadow got much attention. When it became clear to them that the stable was now only there for them, it was accepted as a fact. For us? It is more difficult. We spent more than 14 years together!

The hoof care worker was there for the donkeys, so going to the lower pasture with cut hooves is easy again. We think both are a bit lazy and prefer the stable and hay, but also many mosquitos and (sting) flies keep them away from there. Despite the very good quality of the grass.

We could not use our front door for a few weeks, because a bird has built its nest in our mailbox. Every time she noticed us, she flew away, so we chose the door in the boiler room as a good alternative until the 2 boys flew out. There are more young lives in the barn: 5 young swallows open the beak as far as possible on every occasion and would like something to eat, a shadow somewhere in the barn is enough for the 5 twittering their birdsong.

And then on July 18th, Harper gets her first cub. We have looked at her belly for a long time and really waited until it was finally time. We did not let her go out the previous days, also because she should leave the swallows in the stable in peace. When the kid was there, she was a natural mother and hopped with each peep in the basket to the cub.

And then the heat was there ...... ..we are glad we started transferring the lamas at the beginning of the month. We are sure they have a better place and their hair is cut.
Solution Picture puzzle June.
There are no bears over here, the squirrels are much smaller, so it's a fox!! He (or she) has, with both front paws, clamped into the bird feeder to take the food balls for BIRDS!! Yes, when you are hungry, you get smart.

This time a hidden object. There is an animal in the picture (below) Where is it and what is it?


Blog August 2019

This month blog is not the usual kind of blog we are writing most of the time. Nothing about animals, crops or the wonderful things of life. This time it is about real people, Wwoofer. About human behaviour, decency. About communication, preparation for a trip.

August is the top month of the year for crops and Wwoof helpers, we planned a stay for a young man from Brazil and at the end of the month a student from Poland who studies agriculture. The difference in attitude cannot be bigger. Of course, people differ, some are experienced, where others are not. The keyword is interest and problem solving, or a creative way, of easy going.

Our story starts in mid-August, after the Brazilian Wwoofer went home and summer returned. Temperatures are rising very fast. So, it is awesome being outside, whether working or relaxing it is a nice place to be.

And working is what we do, most of the time there is plenty to do in the gardens. To be exact, every day it takes hours to water all the plants.

The Polish student, with the wonderful name Magdalena, writes she will be in Coburg- a great historic town with many international students- about 15.30 hour. That sounds good, we plan a meal, because Coburg isn´t that far and there are a lot of regional busses coming our way. We already gave her the info about that by mail- where others- even from Japan look into that for themselves. But when you can give a helping hand- why not?

Time flies, late afternoon at 17.00 hours we thought it would not take long before someone calls at the doorstep. We looked at our E-mailbox (normaly we do that late at night) and found a disturbing post: she cannot find the bus and missed the connecting at 16.00 hours! Well, there´s a lot of busses at the station and a large digital screen hardly to miss. We already gave her some information, but because we never go by bus, we might not be of much help. At last she found a connection to the town of Eisfeld. A little town at less than 7 miles from here.

We waited, waited even longer and after that we went to bed, concerned why she didn´t show up, send a message or called. Did she walk from another town during the night? Hopefully no accident happened, because the mountain roads are steep and dangerous even by moonlight.

Next morning, as usual, we started watering the crop very early. Wondering why we still didn´t get a call or E-mail message. Should we contact the police for a missing person?

She could have walked from Eisfeld to our place within an hour or so, obviously that didn´t work. We send her a couple of E-mails, asking where she was. What for heaven’s sake happened- We got more and more worried.

Just a few minutes before we decidid to contact the police, a very short email dropped in the inbox. No "real" explanation, just one sentence: Her Cell phone dyed, she went to a hotel in Coburg and went to bed! Called her family and rebooked her ticket to go back home.

No apology, no explanation why! Just the sentence I had a bad experience and go home!

For a moment we were speechless, relieved nothing bad happened, because a lot of terrible thoughts crossed our minds during the night!

Then baffled: how stupid can you be? Almost at your goal and then? Skip all the plans at once out of frustration not being able to go through for another 7 miles? No communication at all, just after we contacted her, we got a little information in a few words? Instead of that she called her family in Poland! Never thinking about the worrying family waiting for her to arrive.

More questions crossed our minds, not only what had happened, or what could have happened!!.

What about her problem-solving skills? Travel preparations? Thinking outside the box, Creativity. Is she a theoretical student on a first trip on her own? (un)Fit for the real world without Internet and family? All kinds of characteristic factors that could be part of the “fight- or fly” reflex......or just the easiest solution: go back home.

Just some advice for people who want to go Wwoofing.

Before you get your membership of whatever (Wwoof)country, read about it, watch YouTube vids about it. There are a lot of positive and negative stories you can easily find.

Still interested? Decide what country you want to visit.

PREPARE your trip after a host accepted your stay.

A few TIPS

Don´t think your phone has an endless battery, take a spare one with you. Or in case you cannot take that, ask in a bar or gas station to charge for a while.

Take with you a list with the places you have to go, bus /railway stations. Departure and arrival times. The name and phone number of your host.

Pen and paper are always good to have.

Always call the host if you cannot make it at the time you promised. They are getting worried if you don´t show up and, if possible, they will help you with a solution.

Well, we could ad more, but that is up to you, the prepared Wwoofer, to think about. Just one more thing, take water with you and never loose hope you will reach your goal. THAT IS THE LAST WE WILL SAY ABOUT THIS SITUATION.

Still there is our hidden object (Blog Juli) to be solved. AND the quiz for August!! Solution Juli!!! It is a swallow, she made her nest in our stable.

This time a short question!

You are in the formula 1 race in Monaco. 752 meters before the finish line you overtake the fourth-placed. Which place do you have now? By the way, you are the driver in the green car. Of course we will tell you where you ended in our septembre blog :) It is obvious, you ended on the ....... place. You lucky bastard!!