Monthly Archives: January 2011


Posted on by kathrin

The costs for utilities in the UK are low, and by comparison they seem quite high here. Talking countryside, where ordering/making/storing/firing wood is not a problem, the wood fuelled heating concept has had a massive revival in recent years – also thanks to raising oil prices. To keep our monthly bill down we are also almost exlusively using wood to heat our place. It’s delivered in fireable chunks by a local farmer. Others around here still have their own woods, or commoner’s righst which allow them a certain amount of free timber per year from the national forest. The forester marks the trees which can be cut by the “commoners”, and they have to negotiate amongst themselves who gets to cut what and when; and because it’s such an ancient give-and-take system it seems to work pretty well. The Forestry Commission gets lots of medium size trees cleared out for free, which are in the way for the really big ones to grow even bigger. This time for commercial use.

what an assemblage!

Posted on by kathrin

Assemblage. Slightly posh sounding word which only to art students might be very familiar. When we brainstorm new ideas here for the “Höfer Goods“, we often use material collage to simply get ideas going. And because the concept of the “Wolpertinger” is common knowledge around here, it’s easy to explain: stick unrelated things together and see what happens. I found a very good example in the Forestry Museum nearby.


Posted on by kathrin

A stammtisch can exist as a group of people who meet for a drink on a regular basis, but it is also a particular table in every local pub – the one for the regulars. The word “Stammtischpolitik”has entered German as a description for narrow minded, male dominated opinions. I find the “Stammtisch”table intriguing for its firm but informal sociability – and it is actually an open space. If you come to a pub on your own, and you want some company and a chat – the Stammtisch is the place to go. Some would never ever as a stanger sit at the regular’s table, but I know from regular users that they quite appreciate new people and stories coming in. And then there is of course the “Stammkrug” – the special beer jug for those who come often, and get beer served in their very own private mug.

flood indicator

Posted on by kathrin

Gregor who lives in Freudeneck* on a farm much closer to the meadows which get regularly flooded, has a small wooden stick on the fields just behind his barn. When flood water starts to reach that stick, he knows that the road between Höfen and Rattelsdorf is fully flooded, and he has to take a different route to work.

* The next village up the valley, transleted the “Corner of Joy”.

living next to a lake

Posted on by kathrin

… for a few days. None of this is threatening, with serious live threatening floods going on elsewhere, but it’s still rather spectacular and fortunately more exiting than worrying.

village shop

Posted on by kathrin

The village shop went in 1974. It didn’t have a name as such. It was simply called the shop and remembered as a true “Tante Emma Laden” (Ant Emma’s Shop). My grandparents ran it from the ground floor corner room in their house. It was one of those amazing shops with dark wooden shelves up to the ceiling, where most goods were kept in drawers, and you could get everything from pickled herrings to a zipper. They had to close it because their weekly orders were below the minimum set by the distributor. And without a car it was simply not possible to get the goods in. By then the shop was mainly used by the villagers outside of “opening hours”, to quickly get those things they had forgotten to buy at the supermarket.

There are still plenty of things to buy in the village – or to swap for other things – depending on whom you know. You can buy apples, eggs, beer, soft drinks and honey. Timber, game, pork sausages and meet, milk,
seasonal fruit, craft, liquor and conserve of course. You can borrow most tools from a sauerkraut grater to pig tab, … and you can get cloths fixed, curtains made and your pets looked after.

Talking to agrosociologists a few weeks ago at a conference, I found out that “Village Shops” are the new hot topic for rural regeneration – and there is a whole wave of research and initiatives going on. Most new shops are run as co-operatives and are trying to establish their status as non-for-profit commercial and social entities.

And there is of course the annual International Village Shop happening here!

island status

Posted on by kathrin

Höfen (which literally means hamlets) lies on a hill juts above the plains of the river Itz. The plains flood a few times a year, mostly after the big snowmelt further North. Temperatures went from -13 to +8 a few days ago and made the vast amounts of snow disappear in no time, and now everyone is watching the road slowly disappear below the floods. This normally means excitement amongst the kids because there is no way to go to school, and the adult population either still tries to drive through the floods/finds the nearest crossing to the other side/philosophises about floods. Visitors to the village are often surprised that the life stock/cows are kept inside and not on the lovely meadows in the valley – which as it’s obvious now – have this sponge function. The farms around here were all too small (mainly small holdings with less the 20 ha) to use flood free fields for grazing.