May 14, 2012

The Final Transit

The week ahead is set to be the last split between worlds – the old world of the town with its nearby shops and bakery at the end of the street; the school bus five minutes walk from the door; the loud clanging of the old Nikolaiturm, our time keeper and alarm clock; the horizon of quirky rooftops and steeple towers of the majestic Görlitzer Peterskirche; the cobbled streets that hinder cycling and high heels yet carry a charm that ensures you take your time to observe the life of the street and the old buildings painted like dolls house relics, interspersed with derelict others, dusty and crumbling...

...and the brave new world of our farm in the middle of a village on the edge of a hill in the borderlands where three countries meet. The middle of nowhere, the middle of everywhere, the middle of Europe.

The flat in the main farmhouse is brushing up well. The end room is now a beaming yellow with white borders typical of the east (looks like Berlin I'm told!) and only awaits sanded and oiled floorboards and skirting. Plastering the kids rooms is on course, following the tedious job of wire brushing the old paintwork to allow the plaster to grip.

The middle room is our all-in-one camp site with a dining table, a few mismatched chairs and our bed, tubs of paint and a box of tools and heaps of blankets and clothes in the corners.

It is not easy living in a building site, but by the end of this week we aim to have the sleeping quarters finished. Cooking and eating outside whenever possible makes the whole experience into more of a holiday reminiscent of our time last summer, on the road with our caravan, parking up in beautiful places, following our noses and intuition until the final destination revealed itself.

Whilst I and our dear friend Patrick (who has now decided to stay for good, finding this life of work that he enjoys with a roof over his head and food cooked for him far more attractive than the prospects of a job in the crowded west with a boss he dislikes and no particular aim to save for) focus our attention on the house, my husband disappears outdoors to commune with the plants, returning when hunger calls and to evaluate the next stages of work.

Beside the greenhouse is now mown and spread with compost ready for pumpkins, courgettes and squashes. When they have established themselves the grass and weeds can freely grow back around them as gourds love growing wild, sheltered from winds by other plants whilst basking in the full sun.

In a shack at the corner of the barn is the remnants of a dry compost toilet. After cleaning up the space and finding a suitable bucket it works brilliantly, with an inbuilt urine separator to ensure an odourless experience! We will allow the solids to decompose in a heap away from the house before using the resulting compost to assist our hedge plants later in the year. The pure urine fertiliser can be used as it is.

Encouraged by the progress of the main farm house, we have now decided to focus all of our attention on it (in tandem with the gardens), leaving the small house for when time and money permits. The downstairs structure with its arches and raw, thick walls can be renovated from scratch with natural materials and will house our commercial kitchen. It only makes sense that our family gets to benefit from the ultimate cooking and dining space, allowing for a clear distinction between our daily life and the lives of others, who would then be enabled to find solace in the small house as a holiday refuge on the land.

Weekly column 'A Taste of Earth' published @

1 comment:

  1. Makes for evocative cheering from afar. LO