Monthly Archives: December 2010
December 30, 2010
The plan to slaughter a pig at home continues, and is scheduled for early February. This kind of home slaughter made a lot of sense even 20 years ago, when pigs were actually fed and available in the village, when the communal animal scale was still in place, before the local meat inspector had retired, and when people still ate all sorts of pork meat and pork sausages. Everyone who is involved in this plan agrees that it’s partly for nostalgic reasons, but that it is also an opportunity to do it once more – and to document it – before it’ll never be done again. Luckily Andi, who has the skills to slaughter and to process the pig, is up for it. So, we now have to find a pig, someone who can weight it, then tranpsort it, and someone who can inspect the meat. None of this is easy or economical anymore. We than have to decide what to do with the pig – what kind of cuts and sausages to make, which raises the whole issue of contemporary diets. Who will actually eat the whole pig? This being a really important aspect of slaughtering one – that everything but the bones gets used somehow – also means that the fat, the skin, the off-cuts, etc. will need to get used somehow. Traditionally this was done by making sausages and conserve, but today no one fancies 30 jars of home made sausage in the larder. The solution for February is that we will share the pig with Andi and his family – so the enthusiasm for a home slaughter will not get jeopardised by the prospect of having to eat “Pressack” twice a week for the next six months.
December 21, 2010
One million small bells a year – for export, but this time exported from here (the next village Rattelsdorf) mainly to Asia – I was surprised to hear that. The bells are quite special. They’re made for baby toys for a well known toy manufacturer in Nuremberg, then powder-coated with child friendly pigment (that’s what the company here does) and then assembled in home work. You could see that everyone in the powder coating company was very proud of this export story. It’s obviously a niche market, but I heard a radio report today about a national competition called “Our village has a future”, which looked at how to sustain rural local economies, and obviously it’s about getting money in and keeping it there. Like the famous NEF (New Economics Foundation) story in Marsh Farm near Luton, where they found out that the locals ordered pizza in from outside worth 1 Million £ per year. What was the obvious action? Opening a local pizza delivery service.
December 20, 2010
The main indicator is the tree in front of the chapel. The snow is arbitrary, even though quite heavy this year.
Windows might get cleaned – but probably not in this weather. The pub is less busy than usual. Christmas starts after lunch on Christmas eve, and presents will be done with by 6pm – before people have, well had in the past, to go to milk their cows. Sauerkraut is in jars by now.
December 19, 2010
No, it’s not snow, but home made potatoe dumplings – a farely rare species even in what could be called dumpling country. There are very many types of dumplings and everyone is keen on them – there is even an official dish called “Kloss mit Soss” (dumpling with gravy – the german equivalent of chips with gravy) which you can order for around Eur 2.50 in most countryside pubs. They’re all made from factory dumpling mixtures, which is fair enough and a great time safer for all those women in charge of Sunday roast (yes, there is a clearer gender divison going on), but nothing beats the ones made from freshly boiled and mashed potatoes, with two gently fried pieces of bread in the middle.
December 15, 2010
Pigs and art seem to like each other. Remember the “house for pigs and people” by Rosemarie Trockel and Karsten Höller for documenta X. Or Atelier van Lieshouts photo series of slaughtering a pig in their 1997 manual, or their version of a pig toilet. Not to mention the painful “Orgien und Mysterien Theater” von Hermann Nitsch.
Last week I walked into a film screening (“Luna Park”) by Heather&Ivan Morison at firstsite in Colchester, where the butchering of a pig is part of the documentary of the making of a dinosaur in Serbia. Grizedale Arts let us know about their pigs on the Lawson Park blog, and last not least, we’re planning a home slaughter here for January – not so much for art reasons, but to remember how it’s actually done.
December 13, 2010
We had our slot for distilling today, and came proudly back with 20l of schnaps. Mr Leicht who runs and owns the destillery was rather chatty, and told us that his greatgreat….father saw a distillery in France during the French-german war in 1872 (!), and brought the idea back home. The handles of the current destillery are from back them, all other parts have been replaced many times over. It is set up as a “public private distillery”* where fruit tree owners pay for getting their schnaps made. Until the 1950ies it was predominantely used for distilling potatos and grain – only with the introduction of export fruit people could afford to turn their cherries and apples and plums into schnaps.
* this is the closests translation we can find for what is called a “Lohnbrennerei” in German.
December 7, 2010
… playmobil style. The skeleton pirate figure in the middle is Baby Jesus. So they say.
December 6, 2010
The chapel has been built 59 years ago by the villagers on public land, with donated work and material and no external support. It needs some renovation work soon, but of course 60 years later the municipality has changed and informal money and work flow seems less possible. So it’s probably going to be a standoff between villagers who want the mayor to pay for the work, and the municipality who wants the villagers to start an association to raise funds for the renovation. The official church interestingly doesn’t get involved. This is not the only building with ownership issues. There are three more road side crosses and another small chapel which require some renovation. They’ve all been “donated” by individuals and families at the time and are now practically ownerless. It is felt that they belong to the village and people like Rosa remember who built it and why, and it’ ll have to become a public issue for them to remain.
December 5, 2010
I’m sure that everyone has plenty of snow stories at the moment, but I thought this one is quite good.
I got stuck on a high speed train from Berlin back home to Höfen – due to severe weather conditions in the Frankonian Forest. Four hours travel time turned into eighteen, and I spent eight hours on a platform (well, in the train) in snowy Saalfeld without any useful announcement of what was going on. Positive side effects were that the local Kiosk had sales records, that I spoke to people I normally don’t meet and that whole books could be read. Today I found out that my brother – who I don’t see very much – was on the same train, and we didn’t bump into each other. He travels first class, is well equipped mobile phone and internet wise (unlike me who lives with a british pay-as-you go mobile here) and decided to book into a local hotel. I stayed on the train, kind of believing in what I remember as a functioning train system (big mistake!). We both arrived in Southern Germany at roughly the same time the next day.