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!
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.
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!
More posts from living a self sustainable lifestyle in Hungary are post 4: Swimming against the current, post 3: Travel & food: a happy marriage (summer 2021). Post 2: The juggling housewife (summer 2021). Post 1: It’s all about food (early spring 2021). A short update from the here and now shows our coming to Hungary.