We’re organised. We know where everything is. No, really…

Something to bring joy to a cyclists heart: on a very narrow residential street on the route to work there’s a diversion while the water company makes a big hole along one side. There’s enough space to ride a bike through, so I do: I find it much safer to deal with a hole in the road than frustrated drivers trying to make up the lost seconds on winding residential streets.

After passing the barrier yesterday I was in turn passed by three speeding cars, all -judging by the 3 cm of space they left me- oblivious to mere cyclists or pedestrians. Instead, all three drivers were looking with rapt concentration on the glowing screen of their navigator, trusting that the little black box would find a way through. A few seconds later the road was lit by three sets of brake lights as they realised that you really can’t get a car through a one metre gap between a digger and a concrete wall, and that all the driveways were on the other side of the hole, so there really was nowhere to turn around. As I left them they were jockeying for position to be first to get back out again.

This was tempered by the news brought home by Eldest Son last night, that a friend is in hospital after having his foot run over by a car. Here’s hoping there won’t be any permanent damage.

Suddenly, wearing steel toe capped boots on the morning commute seems less eccentric than I thought…

This week it rained. And rained. And rained. Working in a place where many activities are outside, this can get a little trying. The horses were looking dejected as only a soggy horse can, and the fire pit became a new pond for the geese. We tried all kinds of things to dry the fire pit -even delivering wheelbarrows full of sawdust to try and soak up the water, but the sawdust just floated on the top looking like the largest and least appetising bowl of porridge in the world.

This morning I woke up and found that the weather was raising the stakes, just dropping a small reminder that it is November, and we’re 312m (1023 ft) above sea level.


About this time of year I look up snow tyres or similar and decide I’m not riding enough/it won’t snow much more/its nearly spring anyway, and spend the rest of the winter skittering about.


Frieda the sheep is not a Morning Person.

I’ve been asked by some readers to put up more pictures of the tractor I’ve been driving around at the farm. The rest of you probably will want to look away now:


Thanks to some very obscure German-language websites and a lack of a social life I now know that this is a Fendt Farmer 200s, built around 1983 and apparently revolutionary for its time. To quote one website, the 200s “Brought the luxury of large tractors to their smaller cousins”.

These luxuries include a padded seat and what we euphemistically call ‘air conditioning’*. It was also one of the first small tractors in Germany to come with four gears.

They are labelled “One, Two, Three, Fast”…



It also has a lockable glove compartment, and that indispensible accessory for the modern farmer, a cup holder:


Since I reattached the lever to the steering column using several washers and a lot of swearing we even have indicators. Not sure what even the most enthusiastic salesman made of those gaps in the floor though: “Integral Drainage Holes” perhaps:


In common with a lot of German tractors there is passenger seating on each side of the driver, much loved by the children at the farm (seatbelts? who needs seatbelts?);


It also has a speedometer. Possibly the most complex speedometer ever made, in fact. To read it I’d have to remember which gear ratio we are using: ‘low’ (red numbers) or ‘high’ (Black numbers**), and which gear I’m in and read off the table at the bottom:


As the speedometer is broken and shows this reading if the engine is on or off, and the brakes are largely advisory, it is probably just as well that the top speed is 23 Km/h or 14 mph, downhill, with a tailwind.

*Better known as ‘leaving the windscreen up’: ‘luxury’ at the time was having a windscreen at all…
**Or possibly the other way round.


View from the kitchen window after the morning rounds, with Sarah the pony in the foreground. She may look like a cute little pony but she has an attitude.


We have an infestation of wheelbarrows on the farm. I’ve started checking these every week to keep the tyres inflated because otherwise moving a wheelbarrow full of horse poo involves much swearing.

So I woke up this morning with one ear thoroughly bunged up with wax, a family curse made occasionally worse by having to use earplugs at work. If someone on my left is speaking to me it sounds like “glong, glong chumble mumf wumble …half past two” as I turn my head. Then they go away before I can ask what the heck they were talking about and what is happening at half past two.

I took a couple of days holiday this week do I’m not besieged by children. Although in that case being unable to hear them may be a good thing.

Thankfully our village still has a chemist in walking distance, so I wandered over and had a conversation which went like this:

Me: I’d like something to get rid of ear wax please.

Chemist: Chomble mumpf syringe?

Me: Pardon?

Chemist: (Trying not to laugh) Ears humflug solution and syringe?

Me: Er… yes?

Anyway, I now have a bottle of solution to pour into my ear and a syringe to squirt hot water down there when that doesn’t help.

Here’s hoping that I’ll get that sorted fairly quickly before I have to do much cycling or have important conversations in German, and that I’ll find out what I’m missing at half past two.


Continuing our tour around the farm, this is ‘Stovehenge’, a collection of ancient wood burning stoves used for cooking projects, experiments,* and occasional knife making on the portable forge.

One day this will really confuse an archaeologist…

*Like “What happens when we throw shovelfuls of sawdust onto the fire?”

Last week we all went on the annual farm outing, which meant we came to work early and rushed about feeding the animals in the morning so we could drive about an hour to go and look at someone else’s animals.



Admittedly they were a bit different to ours.

Unfortunately to begin with we were accompanied by a ‘Wilderness Guide’ whose main goal seemed to be to make us play silly games instead of showing us around: seriously, what is the point of ‘team building games’? I’ve worked with several teams, good and bad, and I doubt any of the rubbish ones would have improved by making us stand on a piece of wood in a field for half an hour pretending to cross a ‘river’.

I long ago realised all games work on the assumption that you want to win, so if possible I ‘fall’ into the ‘river’ or allow myself to be ‘caught’ by the ‘lion’ as quickly as I can so I can sit the rest of the game out*.

Finally our ‘guide’ finally shoved off disappeared mysteriously into the wilderness in his 4×4, and we got on with watching animals.



Sure, Mr. Bear looks cute, but the bars around his enclosure were massive.


Watching these animals being fed was interesting and informative in all the ways our ‘guide’ wasn’t, and we learned, amongst other things, that there is a male lynx not far from Stuttgart looking for love, but he’ll have to look pretty hard as the nearest female lynx is in Switzerland, that the fences on the wolves enclosure are not really needed because they don’t attack humans, and that the first confirmed sighting of a wolf in the region was made a few months ago. Unfortunately the wolf in question had been killed by a car on the main Autobahn from Basel to Karlsruhe, but we know they are on their way, and once here they’re protected by law** and should thrive.

While we were looking the other way, someone else was getting a meal too.


We finished the day watching the birds of prey.


Several of the team now favour vultures as the next animal for the farm.

*In this case not even pretending to run away was perhaps a bit too obvious.

**Except from bad drivers…

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