Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Welcome new citizens

We got an invitation for Katinka to come to the town hall - all new borns of 2009, four boys and one girl, were officially welcomed by our village's Mayor.
The Mayor reading a welcoming poem.

Katinka in the town hall's cradle.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Last night we got more snow .....

Feet up

Slovakian goats don't seem to be bothered much by rain but really dislike snow!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snow white

Blood red

September camping

Our first camping guest! Picture made by Johan and Eveline in September 2009. Click on it to enlarge.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Plastic is not fantastic in a christmas tree

From Get farming - Australia.
pictures: our trees 11-'09

Buying a plastic Christmas tree leads to the emission of more than double the greenhouse gases than getting a natural Christmas tree, new analysis by sustainability experts has revealed.
New analysis has found that the greenhouse gas emissions generated from a plastic tree are in fact up to more than 2.5 times more than of a cut tree. The majority of emissions from a plastic Christmas tree – around 85 per cent – come from the manufacturing process and materials, which include PVC, steel and in some cases, lead.On the other hand, you have a real tree that requires a plastic stand, has used some water in the process of growing and has been transported over a shorter distance than a plastic tree; countered by the fact the tree has also sequestered carbon during its four years of growth.

The CO2 emitted from a natural tree is calculated at around 3.1 kilograms per year. In comparison, an artificial tree will emit 8.1 kilograms per year or 48.3kg over the entire life span. A household would need to keep their plastic tree for at least 20 years just to balance out the effect of green house gas emissions!

One of our Nordman trees - December 2009

Warm feet

Cold feet

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wonders never cease

Today we were surprised by two very nice men from the electricity company - they did some work for our new electricity installation. Hopefully the electrician will also show up again....


The window of our office provides a wonderful view over our own land. Deer are runnig on the snow-coverd fields. Our goats and geese are browsing in the front garden. The woodstoves are burning, the coffee-maker is perking, Katinka is sleeping on my lap. However according to our neighbour the biggest advantage of being a homeworker is that you can unashamed let of during lunch.
We have a job on the side as data-stewards, this is what helps us to pay our grocery bill. And it is the answer on the often asked or wondered question "how do they do it". We do it without social security (-fraud), we haven't won the lottery (-yet) and our christmas trees are so far too small to be sold, therefore we are more then happy to have this job.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gorgeous Gijs

Producing your own meat also implies that you have to kill your own animals. A job that has never been my favorite one. It helps to keep some emotional distance from the future meatballs, steaks and chops; when you give an animal a name you don’t have a roaster on your plate but ‘Daisy’or ‘Donald’.
Soon our last geese will go to geese heaven since grass gets scarcer and to feed a goose you need a lot of food. Only my pet goose Gijs and two of his darling wifes (Guusje and Grietje) will be spared, the eight other nameless geese will end up in our and other’s freezers.

Dark days

It's night at 4 p.m. but still no Winter weather.

Cauliflower and Celeriac

Two important ingredients of traditional Dutch kitchen and I failed growing it.

The celeriacs had no tubers and the cauliflowers were either too small, eaten by caterpillars or yellowish… The only decent looking one was served last week, I have to check the seed-package, maybe it were winter-cauliflowers I tried to grow in the summer.

Given in marriage?

Oumar’s father has asked for Katinka’s hand in marriage for his son. Since his father is making career at an international bank paying a substantial dowry for our daughter shouldn’t be a problem. Maybe some nice goats and a few cows for our farm in addition to the traditional ten cola-nuts? Since we are against marriage before the age of ten, we still have plenty of time to think about it.

Good-looking Oumar - - - - Katinka has other things on her mind...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Below zero

Temperatures are dropping and we still have a lot of work to do before the Winter. Yesterday and this morning Arnold dug out he last 50 cm of the gap for our highly sophisticated -camp site - septic tank. A rather cold and muddy job.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Autumn or global warming?

November garden

Still enough vegetables: tons of kale, Brussels sprouts, some carrots, beetroots, lettuce, spinach, lambs lettuce, scorzonera and cabbage. Hereby some close-up pictures, to avoid publishing images from our weed covered vegetable plot...

Do you have a horse?

Our Slovak language skills are still very rudimentary. So far we were specialized in building terms, vegetables and livestock vocabulary. When Katinka was hospitalized we quickly became familiar with a whole bunch of new words; Sucking reflex, diapers, mother’s milk etc.
We managed the daily conversation with the nurses of “how is she, did she drink by herself, do you need more milk / diapers / wet wipes?” and the matching answers… However when the nurse asked “Do you have a horse?” we didn‘t understand her, it is a simple question, one we should understand after a year of struggling with the language but it did not fit into the normal conversation we used to have with her.
It happened to be that she had read the women’s magazine Slovenka which just had published an article about Dutch living in Southern Slovakia with some nice pictures …. also of Arnold with our horse.
the article in Slovenka n.44

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Home sweet home!

Wood stock

10 Vegetable gardening tips for starters

Adjusted from www.realseeds.co.uk

Tip 1: Start small and don’t grow too many different vegetables

It is really easy to get overenthusiastic and carried away reading seed catalogues. If you try to grow loads of different things, and try to learn how to garden at the same time, you won't be able to look after them all properly, and you may end up discouraged. Maintaining a big vegetable garden is a lot of work; you can better start with a small plot, maybe just a few easy to maintain raised beds, instead of having a big overgrown low productive garden.

Tip 2: Get a really clear gardening book.

You really can't garden without a book – I am constantly checking things in it - so you just need a copy of one simple and good book. There are lots of trendy books that promise you all sorts of things, but what you really need is an ordinary, utterly reliable gardening guide.
A highly recommended book in English is: Grow Your Own Vegetables by Joy Larcom.
My own ultimate garden book in Dutch is: Groenten en fruit kweken by Julia Voskuil, 1980 – Moderne huis bibliotheek.

Tip 3: Care for your soil

Plants feed from the soil; so poor soil = poor plants. Improve your soil with lots of organic matter including manure if your soil is poor and sandy. Add tons of composted material if it is compact and clayey. Don’t just add organic matter without nutrients. And don’t forget that heavy ploughing machinery might loosen the upper part of your soil but will compact the underlying layers even more, hand digging is the secret. And finally don’t compact your soil again by constantly walking over it, layout some paths between your vegetable beds.

Tip 4: Plants run off direct sunlight.

Now this might seem obvious, but many people are just vastly overly optimistic. Vegetables WILL NOT GROW in the shade.

Tip 5: Cold spells will prevent seeds germinating.

Seeds need to measure a certain time of warmth to germinate. And cold temperatures reset their 'clock' back to the start again. So your seeds may not germinate on a windowsill or greenhouse even when they days are warm - because they are getting too cold at night. It doesn't need such high or constantly high temperatures once it has germinated - but it does need light once it has broken the surface of the soil.

Tip 6: Reed the back of the seed package

This tip comes from my sister. And she right, you can avoid major mistakes by just reading the sowing and growing instructions on the back of a seed package!

Tip 7: Practise crop rotation especially when growing nightshades

Tip 8: Befriend other gardeners

You can learn a lot from other experienced gardeners. They will have seen it all, and they will know what you can and can't get away with in your particular local climate and soil. Of course, if they use lots of chemicals and pesticides, then this doesn't count.

Tip 9: Don’t over-focus on growing ORGANIC vegetables

If in daily life you’re not a religious fanatic don’t become one when gardening.

Just you grow your vegetables without using chemical fertilizers or chemical crop protection products, this will make them organic enough for home consumption. And when you do not use chemical crop protection accept some losses due to insect attacks and diseases.

F1 or hybrid seeds are just crosses between two different varieties, this has nothing to do with GMO’s, you can use them safely as long as you are not interested into saving their seeds for next year production. Often they are more productive than pure varieties.

Tip 10: Enjoy

But most of all, enjoy growing your food, and pay attention to what is happening to the plants as they grow.