Winter season is very quiet up here. Only at New Years day a lot is going on. This year the welcoming of that festivities causes awkward feelings about Australia and the impact of the bush fires. With fear for existence and glowing fires at the back, have a party on the beach? We don´t understand. Because of that event, at more places in Europe discussion is growing to ban fireworks. In some cities they already started with firework free zones! How long will the news about Australia be in our focus? Long enough to alter something? At the moment Australia is the place for the Australian-open-tennis and of course that will be on TV and newspapers in most of the countries.....

January is still a normal month as usual, only higher Temperatures and not as much snow as other years. The bare frost did not go lower than minus 9 degrees Celsius, while we experienced minus 20 degrees in other years. At a nice morning without fog the view of the mountain still can be like living in a winter wonderland for ice crystals shine even without a snowy surface. Just check out our winter pics.

We use this time of year for jobs inside. Our website gets a polish and is refreshed, Henk´s ship (an on-scale wooden ship), the “San Juan Nepomuceno” is no longer a frame, but turns into a 3-master sailing vessel. And I´m happy with silk painting. Meanwhile our mind is filled with garden stuff. Last year drought asked much of the plants staying alive and prosper. So, having better chances of crops, they need more water and our water supply has to be enlarged. Even when we get more containers. The question is: can we save enough water and when to start with the process of storing? What is the last day that handles could freeze?

Towards the end of the month we checked our stock for English products. For a long time, we bought international all the time, not even always sure about the origin. That changed a lot because of the Brexit. Will it be as easy as it was, buying quality shoes or tools, in the UK without import taxes? I´m sure the bio-seeds will pass all boundaries, maybe postage will get higher. I´m a customer in the UK for a long time and have no plans changing that. The seeds for the coming season are already pocketed.

Inside we got plenty of time to be informed about what is going on in the world. We are very happy with all the free pages the international newspapers offer on internet. We are following the news, about Brexit, impeachment and the outbreak of the Corona virus (2019 –nCoV) in China.


This winter month has it all, storm, fog, a tiny bit of winter sun and 3 days where there was a real thick snow cover. All Rennsteig area was covered in a white layer of snow, not just a very thin one all over. From our home we can see Masserberg, Heubach and Schnett. Some of those places are winter sports centre with a Ski lift. We - Tammy in the first place - were really happy, because there was not much real winter snow this period and Tammy loves ice (snow to eat) above everything. Henk was able to leave his snow blower in the winter shed and didn´t need it at all.

In the middle of the month we started gardening, due to the weather conditions, only for a few hours daily. The greenhouse was - like some trees - freed from winter protection. The witch hazel had already bloomed under the hood and buds can be seen everywhere. Of course, the snowdrops are the first signs of spring, but the temperatures are still within limits for the time being, hopefully it will remain so for the time being.

We started the growing season by putting all the water tanks in position and filling them up, because without water nothing will happen in the garden, or cultivating any crops. There are already several seed trays with seedlings in the window sill, plant cultivation begins on the first floor, indoors. It is only “released into the greenhouse” when the little plants are large and strong enough, and this will take several weeks from now.

We really want to work outside, unfortunately we can't do that often; the winter is moody and the hill is slippery. The manure from the barn is still not completely buried in the upper vegetable garden and we want to finish that soon.Untill then, the silk painting and the knots of the San Juan Nepomuceno are getting our attention.

The dry periods last just long enough to bring in firewood, because the central heating needs a load of firewood twice a day, to keep the house warm and cosy. Although we are not the kind of people that need a temperature of 70°F (21°C), it is necessary to heat.

That is it for this month in Thuringia. Want a great story to read? Follow this URL!

Nagano lake Suwa


Covid-19 Month, 2020

Most of the time we write about our environment, wildlife and experiences in our blog. At the moment, everything is different for most of the population all over the world and rapid changes come, day after day.
Corona virus, for scientist the focus is upon researching medication, immunisation. And of course, all over the world the research is what caused this. We have found background information in German ZDF tv, Dutch papers, BBC-UK and CNN.

Corona is just one of many pathogens that have been transmitted from animals to humans. These pathogens are called zoonoses. Researchers believe the danger is increasing. One reason for this is the extinction of species.

A surprising finding: Obviously, humans are partly to blame for the fact that zoonoses are increasing - not only because they are getting closer to the habitats of many animals. It disrupts intact ecosystems and ensures that biodiversity continues to decline. And that also has consequences for the transmission of viruses.

Research at the University of Ulm (Germany)has shown that animals and animal species distribute and mix well in the undisturbed rainforest. Viruses find matching hosts much more difficult this way. Sooner or later this will stop the spread. A large number of different species also reduces the risk that the disease will ultimately spread to humans, explains Professor Sommer. It is different in human-disturbed habitats. If there are fewer species, it is easier for the virus to spread and it takes less time. In addition, animal species are often in contact that would never meet in intact ecosystems. It is also quite possible that the new corona virus will not remain in the future. "We know that wild animals carry a great diversity of viruses," said Professor Eckerle. "We don't know many of them yet." For this reason, zoonoses constantly pose new challenges for scientists.

The university of Wageningen (Netherlands) writes in a report: “There are 150 diseases transmitted this way” Just 13 of them are responsible for 2.2 million deaths.

It is advocated for other behaviour in business and tourism. Humans should become aware of the role they play in their ecosystem and not act as a hub or game ball between all regions of the world. There are a lot of risks and if you are aware of that, who cares? Can we rethink sport, events, travel, consumption and change something?

Not only the world population of mankind is growing very fast, poultry has quintupled over the past 50 years, and so has avian flu, which is always around somewhere. Pox - also a viral disease - has not been around since 1977; anyone over the age of 45 is still vaccinated, but younger people are not.

Changes in behaviour towards others should be changed by citizens. Politicians are now ordering barriers or delimiting their countries. Nevertheless, they are always running behind the facts and citizens go up front.

There was a scientific warning back in 1968, -Limits to the growth-, by the Club of Rome. Citizens all over the world need access to clean water, enough food and education so that their children and grandchildren don´t have to grow up from a “stolen earth” in constant fear of crises. Sure, there is the UN and human rights, unfortunately the interests are socially justified, but still not the same if one takes into account poor or rich.

Maybe our way of life at the Baerenhof is not as crazy as some think, because we live and reflect sustainably. The Anthropogenic in which we humans live will that be decisive for mankind? Could we humans perhaps think about this global crisis with restrictions in social behaviour and bring about change? It would be foolish to just sit out this time and then crank up the economy as usual. And to continue the same way, not changing our consumption and treat ourselves with something like a cruise?

The Wwoof- thought of getting involved in a sustainable lifestyle, hopefully hits a nerve. Who knows, more hearts will open for species protection, nature conservation and active transformation of our living space earth.

Very interesting article in the Guardian: Tip of the Iceberg