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Hungary

The Little Dutch ‘Farmer’

Starting anew, not just passing through in the best season, but staying, growing and nurturing in ways new to me (us). How is it to learn that what our grandparents did on a daily basis?

My new experience of a winter in Hungary, for The ‘Farmer’ I feel, was challenging, to say the least. There was no soil to turn over (well… not that I knew of). There were no weeds to discover (well… not that I knew of). There was no comfort for a tour, not even a little one. I tried.

The winters in this part of Hungary, some call it ‘the end of the world’ (which shows something about them who say so. Because it’s far from the end of the world, as we have neighbors on one side). Those winters are dead quiet. The quietness is so harsh it is not really happening. The quietness is as if being locked up in a tomb.

On the other hand, the coming of spring is not quiet. A cacophony of crickets sounds like wishful music in my ears. Crickets are the sound of travel, for a Dutch Little ‘Farmer’. The mini tractors mowing grass, string cutters and all sort of machines are to be heard too and with these little annoying mechanical tools I could do without (I could live literally at the end of the world). Hunting rifles and it’s bullets splutter around me when I fall sleep. Equally happening are the barks of deer at the back of the plot. But since all is occuring while I am in a stone building, I can easily fall asleep, unlike would I be in a tent.

The photo below is made with the ingredient on the photo above, carob pods.

I prefer the crickets coming to the stage at this part of the forest (the longest continious in all of Hungary). The woodpeckers pecking wood are like the cellos and the barks of the deer are the sudden, slightly misfitting, a capella sounds. There was a hare tapping his elongated pawsteps on the single strip of tarmac in front of our home, adding a little oddness to the stage of this natural concerto.

I collect resin from pine trees and burn it as insence.

When the moon is full, the crickets stridulation sounds, the frogs are in unison and the mechanical grass cutters quiet, I feel the desired has arrived, a notion that I felt all along: a home. Though a home keeps me enslaved to the fields The Little Dutch ‘Farmer’ wants to cultivate. Was I before worried for my leather Brooks saddle when it rained, now I worry about the paprika’s receiving too much wind when it rains.

I am by far not a farmer. I know next to nothing. I have no experience and I dislike planning. I do not like to read about how-to-farm. I simply start doing what I think is logic and the mistakes I have to fix. I am mainly fixing mistakes as of today (I thought it be beautiful to leave strips of grass between squares of vegetables).

‘Why did we choose to live here?’ is a question we hear, also from fellow Germans living in the street we are in. I feel like the Turkish in the 1970’s who stayed mostly among Turkish themselves. It is something I always understood and if one thing: the Uralic language does not come easy to learn. Therefor it is almost an automatism that a German meets with a German: we understand each others behavior, and not the least, language (though I prefer English as a language).

We came here because that controling C-thing steered us in this direction, odd as it may seem. We both wanted to be a bit away from society, we wanted to live a little bit ‘off-grid’. Having traveled as I did makes a mind change and so I longed to be far away from activity that is found in bigger towns, where the energies mingle with what is decided by politicians, what is seen on social media, the news on television and the opinions of people who live life according the standards of a normal town in 2021.

We could have gone to Paraguay, Ecuador or Spain but for me it didn’t make much of a difference. I can be at home nearly everywhere and simply put; where ever we would go, something is always amiss, just as something is always better (weather in Spain is better but not the soil to cultivate. Ecuador is way more beautiful but an ocean seperates us from our families).

I could be a crab at the bottom of the ocean, concealed from people, opinions and decision making of politicians. I basically traveled where my husband went: a town far off (according to some) surrounded by woods and very much quietness. In the least populated province of the country. The more quiet one has become used to, the less one can handle. I have now reached a limit where neither I nor Geo can stand to be in the Tesco supermarket longer than 5 minutes. The several sorts of music in the English owned supermarket chain is unacceptably terrible.

Here, we are surrounded by hunters, wood loggers and unpretentious people who came back to the center or never left it. They tend their vegetable garden, many people gather weed along the road (for a reason I do not know yet) and folks sit on wooden benches, watching the ongoing of cars passing their homes. Germans, English, Dutch and city people from Budapest come to live in quiet little villages. Why? Well, the answer might be a bit salty, a bit raw.

Its not so much the same reason as foreign people I met along my travels in Yemen or Guinnea Bissau. Some stayed for loving the country, others as missionaries. A reason to some is to avoid the biggest nonsensical ongoing. Restrictions. Rules. Absurdities. The bigger the town the more regulations. Not the particular novel things happening today, but the general story line is what I talk about. The exact same things as certain people have said of all ages. That is why I went cycling, and in fact, I am still doing that, only without moving.

Hungarians like to share their produce, though we don’t eat pork, it’s always a nice surprise to see what’s left behind at the porch. Thank you to Judit and Gabor. The second photo deserves a thank you to Mela and Tom (or did the eggs come from Daniel and Catharine? Or perhaps from Judith and Gabor?). The third photo is a thank you for Sandra and Reinhart.

Yes to the to homegrown veggies and dandelion root tea. All I am after is honesty and clarity and simplicity. To be in touch with life itself. It’s a very hard task if you ask me. Because to go to the supermarket and mindlessly buy all the stuff in abundance on the shelves is not exactly normal. I rather dig, at times I feel I am digging more than I want. Remove the grassy earth, scraping past insects distinct in Europe because of over-cultivation and heavy use of pesticides. May bugs, fat rain worms, little writhing invertebrates, beetles and coccons are coming eye to eye with Leah or Judah.

Meet Judah, a cute cat, isn’t he?

Meet Leah, sister of Judah.

Geo and I went over to the mayor, I asked whether they could find us a cat. A few weeks later Gabor entered our front yard, there where potatoes adorn the entrance, and he delivered two kittens.

How fortunate we are. To be able to live the way we want. To be able to choose freely. But perhaps that is only the way I see it? In choosing this way, other normalities fall away, long ago they already started to become redundant. A daily shower or the latest fashion is something we smile about (though I do wear the second-last fashion but work in it). Village dwellers are dressed to work around the house, tend the soil and be busy one way or another with something farmer alike. Many villagers actually look greasy, a bit grubby, rather dirty and far from fashionable. Many villagers seem to be less concerned with where people from a city seem to deal with.

Not only that, we are really far off from where we originally come from. Social meetings are mostly gone. Being easily understood is gone. Finding what we need is gone. A network is gone. A little ‘Hello, how are you’ is available but when the answer is longer than one word, we are lost.

I am learning big time how to actually ‘do’ a vegetable garden. How to avoid weeds sprouting up more than the veggie I try to grow. The learning curve is rather steep as I am digging more than I would want to. Being in a former communist country means I opt for the local way, not the easier and more expensive fancy way (the ‘no dig’ technique, since materials are less easy to find where we are). I just started, as I just started to cycle to Africa, and afterward I evaluate the whole enterprise. It’s not that we are dependent on my skills, since the supermarket has plenty and that makes it at the same time a bit questionable.

So, The Little Dutch ‘Farmer’ that I feel enjoys plowing the soil. Someone opted: ‘There are machines to plow the soil for you,’ and my reply ‘that I rather do it myself to keep the body having exercise’ reminded me of a woman in the Gambia, but without the dependency of a successful crop to feed my family.

There is a certain magic, flair, charm to cultivating the soil. What it exactly is I can not say yet. But I find myself each morning checking the progress of a plant, be it potato, beans or garlic. When the first sapling popped its green crown above the soil, I was happy.

I mistake peas for beans. In my understanding all that grows in a pod is a bean. Yet the wonder of how a plant grips onto support lines does not go unseen by my unlearned eye. But see, my first paprika grows (it was a present from our fellow German street dwellers).

Geo is building a lot, his projects and repairs are never ending, his mind tramples like the cats trample and trip over the scarcely visible agricultural efforts of mine.

Potatoes seem to be a success under my supervision. Keeping rosehip marmelade mold-free less so.

I try to learn concerning that what a herbalist knows. I experiment with dyeing which is as exciting as growing vegetables. Sure, nothing is as exciting as cycling, the feeling of aliveness, time in slow motion and the notion of being disconnected with mundanity. But in the long run, that became weary too: I wanted more. Well… here we go!

Dandelion root coffee/herbal tea and carob powder for healthy snacks.

To move to another country is starting anew. To move to another point is returning to a place on the board-game one wants to be, with it’s challenges included. I do not look like a cyclist anymore, my clothes are cleaner, my skin appears washed and so, with the looks of a world cyclist gone, I am just another German. One who went back to the country where she as a migrant long ago moved away from, back to a land where still some old-fashioned morals and normality exist. To enjoy the simplicity, the silence and the sheep bleating: the Turk of the 1970’s has returned back home.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is done-dscf3183.jpg

Question: ‘Why I continue updates?’ Answer: I love making photographs and a blog is like a photo album. Also, there are some people who are interested how things are overhere and/or with us. So, this one is especially for them. Furthermore, particularly for them who like to know what I am doing, check out CINDYneedleart

And now I am off with my bicycle, around lake Balaton (I hope the cats will not challenge my farmers efforts).

By the way, tips are welcome!

By Cindy Servranckx

Years of traveling brought me many different insights, philosophies and countries I needed to be (over 90 in total). I lived in Pakistan, went over 15 times to India and when I stopped cycling the world, that was after 50.000 kilometer through 45 countries, I met Geo. Together we now try to be more self-sustainable, grow our own food and live off-grid. I now juggle with the logistics of being an old-fashioned housewife, cook and creative artist loving the outdoors. The pouches I create are for sale on www.cindyneedleart.com

11 replies on “The Little Dutch ‘Farmer’”

Hi Non-Cycling P,

Nothing is permanent, is it?

I would wish for you too that your wife knew how to do manual labor. Perhaps now you need to do it alone, work double hard, pfff….

Good luck! Greetings a non-cycling Cindy

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Thanks a lot for your blog and your beautiful photos. I really love to read about your experiences, about cycling but also about finding a home and discovering rural life. I loved to travel, mostly by bike and with my little tent, not around the world, like you, but I enjoyed so many weeks and months in the mountains of France for example. 5 years ago I was happy to find my love, since then we live at a farm in the Odenwald. I am so happy living a simple, down-to-earth life, trying to grow vegetables, with great success or also without success, digging in the earth, harvesting fruits, working with wood and creating beautiful things. I wish you and Geo all the best and a lot of joy with all your tasks and ideas. In my opinion it’s a great life, you never get bored and it’s great to have the place and freedom to try and realize new projects and ideas.
Caro

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Hi Caro,

Thank you for your beautiful comment and a little peek inside your own experience. It seems we are aligned : )

This lifestyle is certainly without getting bored, though I find it a bit ‘unfair’, that the summer months are so short and everything needs attention so much more than before and after that. But, and I guess so, I am the one not aligned yet. This is our first summer coming and I am absolutely not prepared.

But, it is all learning and the first own fruits and veggies are worth so much more than anything bought.

It is also a very interesting curve in life itself, to see what I am now longing for and missing out on or exactly not missing out on. It is interesting, to say the least. And, yes, I am enjoying it too.

Much greetings to you and your love,

Cindy and Geo

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Oh, and, Caro, I just wanted to add that I really like the idea that you read my stories and can so much identify with them. Its just nice to know that there are people out there who appreaciate the rural lifestyle ; )

Greetings Cindy

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Hi Cindy, thanks for your replies, was a joy for me. Yes, you wrote a lot of things in your blog that really struck a chord with me or sound very familiar with me. You’re right, summer could be a bit longer : ) I’ve never been to the Atacama, but was deeply impressed while traveling in the desert lands of southwest USA and also through the peninsula Sinaii.
Now living a life overhere, with a vegetable garden, fruit trees, woods and some animals I remember the 2 heat and drought summers in the last years almost as threatening, (well of course I also enjoyed it very much), you start to get a little little bit the feeling how important water is.
That`s what you said ,it’s interesting the curve in life. And always learning something new….
And, of course, I think there are a lot of people out there, who appreciate the rural lifestyle ; )
Good luck and joy, I will keep on reading your blog : ) , what wonderful photos, greetings Caro

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Hi Caro,

Did you go with the bicycle through southwest of USA and Sinaii desert? I am asking because an experience by bicycle is so different than with any other transport. This because before my husband was my husband (and how we actually met), he came by public transport to a very dry and harsh surrounding. He decided to cycle a part of it and did so. Later on we traveled together these dry, arid lands by motorbike. I had cycled them extensively and the difference is just huge. Water becomes then of such a high importance that nowadays I don’t use water to brush my teeth, for example. You learn things and uses so differently, that watering the vegeatble garden I see as a luxury too.

You are German living in France, if I understood correctly? Is your partner French? Perhaps France is a bit drier on average than Germany?

What are you making from wood, creatively seen? Are you a wood carver? And do you have enough time to be creative? I hope so.

I just made a little tour here in Hungary and am back at our home now, trying to get all that had grown so quickly in the greenhouse placing somewhere. Oh, so much to learn and find out. I really have to put a brake on myself!

Greetings Cindy, was nice to read your reply. Have a sunny beautiful day : )

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Yes, busy, busy and enjoying the summer. To answer your questions: No, unfortunately I was not with my bike in the soutwest USA and Sinaii. USA we traveled by car and tent, together with my 2 children who were 5 and 7 at that time. Totally absolutely different to a tour alone by bike, no question. Sinaii I traveled with a friend by public transport and by foot , also quite different to a bike trip. Around 5 times, I went alone by bike through the alps, between France and Italy. I loved it so much, without words. Being above the forest line in summertime, traveling paths and offroads along the crestline, you get a tiny little bit the feeling of bike traveling, having enough water and food, finding a good place for the tent etc. well, of course you as a world traveler will laugh about that…. ; )
Yes, I also see watering the vegetable garden with potable water as a luxury. We only use rain water what we collect in huge tanks in wintertime. And try to save not only water but resources and energy. We have the luxury, that we have woods what belong to the farm, where we do our firewood for the winter and solarpanels. Of course you can always do more and better, but how you said, learning constantly….
We live in southwest Germany, I just lived in rural France for a year, before living here. I planned to stay in France, but plans changed, I think it’s great, when you have so many possibilities in life and can choose, that’s not a given, for a lot of people in the world and I’m aware of that. The summer 2018 especially and also 2019 were for this region disastrous dry and hot, we are not used to that, nature is not used to that conditions over here.
Oh, I love working with wood, creating furniture and also little things, but I’m not a “professional” wood carver. I’s just for fun, for friends, sometimes to sell something and for us. Unfortunately I ‘m too chaotic to have a website, a blog or something where I show all the photos, maybe I should start that, but not in summertime : ) That’s why I like your blog, it’s a lot of work but so nice for all the people who can see and read it.
I`m happy, the first peas are ready to harvest and they are full.
I wish you a lot of joy and success and maybe great little tours in the region. It’s crazy, but I love it so much and have so much to do here, that I often rather stay here, than making a tour, couldn’t imagine that years ago.
Have a beautiful summer, you two
Best greetings Caro

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Hi Caro,

Talking about busy! Wow! It has been a crazy June month for someone who is not experienced in growing her own food. We had temperatures around 35 degrees for 3 weeks and I had to throw things out of the greenhouse. I transplanted a lot too. But also, I had to make room for more planting and sowing while I then discovered that peas and beans were ready to be harvested, as you mentioned too. In my romanticism I envisioned me picking peas and beans all summer long… I learned that next time I need to plant them with some pause in between, so they will not be ready to harvest all in one go.

I certainly do not laugh about any trip any one would make by her/him self on a bicycle or by foot! I had to learn it too and the way I did it was certainly not the best or only way. I met people who decided to cycle while they were on public transport, or who fixed empty containers to their bicycle to pack their gear in. I met all sort of cyclists and travelers, some extremely different. I think the brain decides what sort of a traveler one becomes, and than experience sets in, happenings that forms you, people you meet, one’s perceiving…

To travel with your children, I talked about it with Geo previous evening, while we were bush walking with the cats in tow (!) and I said that having children will make a woman never be able to experience the peace of mind, the lack of worries and the absence of thinking about her off-spring which she might have had before their birth. A travel in particular while she has children, will be a burden. Well, it would be for me. I would be always worried, and that is perhaps the reason I never felt the desire for having children. So, I think, to travel with a child or children is one of the better experiences a mom and dad can give to their childeren. It was for me at least….

I think rather different when it comes to having many possibilities in life that one can choose from. It might be the same burden as one who can not choose at all. It is a very difficult subject and would take a lot of studies and year long observations but from what I have seen (ranging from countries like Yemen, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, and in fact, it doesn’t matter as people all over are the same), almost everyone wants more and better and different and this eventually leads to the world we see right now. While it is a basic desire to have an easier life, to draw water from a well, to have electricity and warm food once a day, many people overdo it. Yet, in general, I think the poor get a better life situation overall quite quickly, while the middle class is overdoing it and the rich are… acting disgustingly. I found West Africa and rural India nice examples of basic life. But I bet that most of them would want to be middle class. The middle class people I met, who became so by working in the West, often wanted to return to their own standards. Anyway, let me stop here because it is a huge topic. All I wanted to say is that we (I) can make a choice by the efforts of our parents and because I have seen both sides, I can decide for myself. It all depends on mind, brain, experience, perceiving and acting. Yah, I am glad I am not the average Afghan woman married off to a 10 year older man whom my parents chose for me. But would I be that Afghan woman I might be feeling fortunate to have that kind, loving, caring man whom I learned to love and not to have to stay sexy through my older age…. hahahaha, I am straying from the subject! Sorry…

Anyway, yes, the blog is work but since I love photography I need an outlet for that, as well as for my thoughts (as you experience here right now). I always used to keep photo albums and a blog is than much easier, and less space consuming too. It’s part of my creativity that wants the blog. I just made a tour around the Balaton lake and guess what… I wanted to come home to work in the garden. I sometimes miss the moments and feelings that sparks off a long term travel, now and then I feel strong deja-vu’s. Being around the house, working in the garden, walking through the forest, strolling over the dried grass, seeing a train passing…. it are all great reminders of all abyss’ and nooks of the world. I am transported to those parts in a flash and it feels real and alive. So, like you, I do not want to make a tour in the summer anymore, there is too much to learn and do in the vegetable garden.

And, to eat your own products, that is pure bliss! I have started to incorporporate nettle and carob powder. To go out to the forest and pick weeds, to use what is available and to learn what other women in, many people’s eye, less fortunate, countries know, is amazing to figure out. What a tumbled situation: that I need to figure this out…

Indeed Caro, we are fortunate that we can choose to go a few steps back. I wish you much pleasure with wood carving and plenty of sun, some rain and much, much produce!

Many warm greetings Cindy (and Geo)

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