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

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.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


We already had two young white shorthaired slovakian goats but still needed a progenitor. Today we have bought Smurdy (smriet' = to stink, smrdi = it stinks!), a beautiful young billy goat of the same breed.

Very very lucky people

last excavation we found four horseshoes

or: Winter preparations part two:
It is still Autumn and we managed to:

- saw up enough wood for the whole Winter
- buy fire-wood for next year
- get skid chains and winter tires for our car
- make the horse stable into a goat & horse stable
- buy a billy goat
- get a wonderful babygirl!

We still need to get winter feed for our livestock however we have been garanteed that we are on top of the list of the local hay seller.

So far our worries about an early Winter with a few meters of snow have been for nothing....

Oké we are still waiting for the electrician to return and finish the new installation. He said work would be finished within one week, or did he say could? Haven't seen or heard from him for almost two months. The septic tank we have ordered for our camp site is supposed to be ready (finally) but now the emission inspection papers of the delivery truck are expired, they have promised delivery next week......

Monday, November 2, 2009


Our lovely daughter wanted to see the Autumn instead of arriving in the Winter.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Paradise depreceated

by Christopher Morley

WHEN the faucets all stop dripping
And the bathtub never leaks;
When the house has weatherstripping
Against the blizzard weeks;
When the piping never freezes
And plumbers cease to plumb,
When every prospect pleases
And we clean by vacuum--

When wallpaper never blisters
And plaster does not fall,
When larcenous laundry sisters
Plunder us not at all;
When kitchen maids don't mutter
And tablecloths show no stain,
And husbands never utter
A single word profane--

When the rugs are never faded
And eggs go down in price;
When pantries are not raided
By children or by mice--
Then wives will never be weary,
Commuters will all grow fat:
But heavens! it would be dreary
To live in a house like that!