This blog collects notes from Höfen, a small village in Southern
Germany, where Kathrin from public works was living and working for
Home slaughters are also referred to as "slaughetring fetes"
(Schlachtfest), and we just had one. Obvioulsy killing and
processing a whole pig is quite a big task, which is made easier by
plenty of people to help. And there is a lot to celebrate: the pig
finally hanging, the o.k. from the veterinary, the belly being
cooked, the stomage being filled, the sausages going into the
massive pot, the sausages coming out, the end of a long day ...
It's a very enjoyable day where the social takes place around
shared work. So here are images of those who helped and have been
involved. To be followed by photos of what the pig has turned
A different kind of friday session this one is. I's the long
awaited home slaughter of a pig, and it's taking place today on
Friday 25th Feb. The start depends on the schedule of the official
meat inspector, who has to check the dead pig before any of its
parts will be used. We are set for a 8.00 start. Photos and details
to follow soon.
An evening class run by the adult education centre in the
Communit Hall next door.
Gentle exercises and cheesy music from the 80ies (yes, we are in
12 women age range 25 to 75. I was the only one without proper
Price for 10 sessions is 24.00 Euros.
Definite, definite dates to clean your windows in the village
are the Village Fete, Christmas, Easter. And a few times in
between. Very clean households would clean their windows once a
month. But rules on properness and cleanliness seem to have relaxed
a bit, and cleaning your windows has become more of a voluntary
Windows here are actually quite easy to clean (you just open them
inwards and clean them from both sides) - nothing in comparison to
sash windows in the UK. And one of the funny rules in our house is:
the window in the garage gets cleaned whenever we slaugher a pig.
That's this week.
Rosa has been ringing the village chapel bells for the last 59
years - first of course with other members of her family, but now
it's just her. At 7 am, 12 noon and 6 pm - each time the lenght of
a certain prayer. And she rings the bells when someone in the
village has died. They're planning to install an electric bell for
the 60th anniversary of the chapel this year.
Self-build is deeply embedded in the local psyche, and most
houses are part- or fully self built. It's not about alternative
building techniques or life styles, but simply about getting an
affordable house. This efficiency contradicts the planning patterns
for the new residential developments. The inner villages have been
constructed as quite compact settlements, with plenty of shared
walls and short infrastructure routes. The new developments with
their detached houses behave a bit like pancakes and spread
slightly shapeless across former fields. The rural lacks any
over-all planning strategy. Guidelines that exist are mainly to
safe and secure an idea of what is a "Frankonian" look - which gets
translated into a certain angle of the roof and red coloured roof
tiles. I spoke to Mr Gunzelmann from the regional Conservation
Board, and he knew that only very recently rural municipalities
started to consider more compact developments, and look closer at
existing building stock. That's mainly for economical reasons
because the upkeep of compact structures is obviously cheaper. In
Höfen there are five empty buildings within the old village, and at
least eight large houses with only two residents each. It's not a
village of aging population, but many of the children decide to add
their own house.
The pig is sourced. The meat inspector found.
Erna still has the large metal bath tub and chains to scrub the
Lists are being made of who wants what: quite a few friends will
come for the
"Kesselfleisch", the first portion of freshly boiled meat late
Then the favorites are cuts for gulasch, roasts, roast on the bone,
spare ribs, schnitzels and of course ham.
Sausages are a longer list: Bratwurst, weisser and roter Pressack
(a kind of pate made from rough cuts) filled both in jars and
intestine, then cooked and some to be smoked, Göttinger, liver
sausage in intestines eaten freshly or smoked, and so on... I
mainly live of dry bread that day with a bit of schnaps once in a
while, and only later in the day some fresh liver sausage.
Germany is big on regional products at the moment. See the
recent reginonal products
map by Zeit Magazine. There are two brands called "von hier"
(from here) and they are involved in a court case to clarify who is
the real "from here".
Sounds like the village.
I would say that I'm from here, but this might be disputed locally.
With food - as in "grown here" - it is all a bit clearer. Food
simply needs to be grown here, processed here, and distributed
here. And then you can have huge debates over how local locally
grown sugar actually is - just as an example, since locally grown
sugar made from sugar beets is only a response to the shortage of
cane sugar from the colonies and some sugar wars. The live span of
food is faster than the one of a human being. So a local sugar beet
is a local sugar beet - never mind the roots. I'm a local but with
bohemian roots, which means my grandparents got settled here as
"Sudetendeutsche", those of German nationality who were expelled in
1945 from countries formerly incorporated by the Third Reich, and
my family history in the village is all post 2nd WW. Having grown
up in a village where the parents of my contemporaries would
considered myself as not "from here", my only argument for being
"from here", is the moment you declare it as a fact yourself.
This aplies to Höfen and to Hackney.
I love barns - those which are still unheated, unpaved and with
little lighting. Around here most of them have lost their initial
function - to keep the live stock and store hay/straw, wood and
grain. Of the top of my head I know of 22 such barns in the
village. A farmer friend recently called them "spaces for hot air",
and the amount of left over and empty built volume across the
countryside is astonishing. Nothing much happens in many of those
barns - only a few have been converted and the rest keeps providing
rather raw space - which is rather rare.
Ours is for cutting timber once in a while, storing planks and all
sorts of trolleys, being able to keep absolutely everything that
you actually don't need anymore but might need one day, and a
"village museum" by my father which consists of old farming
equipment and random objects. The barn smells of cold and dust, and
is one of the calmest spaces I know.