Monthly Archives: September 2008

WWOOF Switzerland, The Untold Story Contines Part 6

The days in Krinau were long and fast. Hardly any time was devoted to personal desires, like writing in my journal or trying to get online long enough to do any business at all. Most of the days are spent weeding and cooking.

The first Sunday we were told that they took basically off so we were both able to attend the tiny village church that I mentioned in a previous post. The service was, as you would expect, in German. However, the lady who spoke, a visiting pastor by the name of Elaine, introduced herself before the service and explained the basic message she was going to give.

The singing was also in German but I did recognize one of the tunes and tried to sing along with the parisheners. My German being what it was, I did my best to follow along and keep up.

After service we were invited to join a group for coffee and quickly accepted. This was our opportunity to meet and speak with some of the townsfolk. One particular gentleman, Robert, invited us to his holiday house, (this is what they call second homes and vacation homes). They not only, he and his wife Hannah, showed us their home, but we walked through the town and all the way to a Bio Farm. It was even more enjoyable than the hour trek the previous week with Lisbeth and the girls. That trek was breathtakingly beautiful, but the company was much more enjoyable.

Wooden Biohauf signThe Bio Farm URL – in German of course – http://www.biohof-krinau.ch/

Along the way we saw an interesting site. The hills were terraced. When we asked Robert about this he informed us that the cows created those terraces.

Also, the signs in the town and the biohauf were made of wood. These signs were intricately carved into works of art Krinau village signas well as being informational. In comparison, the welcome sign to Krinau was beautified with the addition of flowers. Neither of these special touches would you ever find in the states!

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WWOOF Switzerland, The Untold Story Part 5

The difference in cultures is very much apparent, as you have probably surmised from my previous recants. The food, people and the scenery are so much “more” in Switzerland. The words that come to mind are beautiful, friendly and CLEAN! Hardly ever did I see any trash on the ground, including in Zurich.

The weather was warm with frequent rain showers, one of which actually produced hail! It was neat to watch from our upstairs bedroom window, as the small hailstones hit the street. However, I was later to see the damage it did to the crops when I got to the last farm.

The weather is very important to farmers and it was apparent from the start that all news reports that offered information were given full attention.

Kitchen chores

Kitchen chores

When it rained we would spend the day in the house doing what we could to help out. I was usually to be found in the kitchen while Philip worked putting up shelving, or some other manly chore.

In the tiny village of Krinau I would work diligently in the kitchen making cherry jam, yogurt, roasting oats and spelt or making syrup. The latter I explained earlier so I won’t bother repeating myself here.

Cross beam fruit press

Cross beam fruit press

To make the syrup and jelly from the berries it was necessary to steam and then press them. The berries used for this purpose didn’t need sorting as the press would remove all the unwanted excess parts, like stems and skin. The first step was to put them in a metal colander and then sit that in a pan that would catch the juice as they softened and warmed. Then the whole kit was put in a moderate oven to steam for about twenty minutes or so. Once that was done the accumulated juice and berries were put together into the old-fashioned wooden press. (Remember these are all small, organic farms.) This picture is similar to the one Philip had to press with using brute force and wooden blocks.

Country accommodations

Country accommodations

When it rained it was cold, even in the house. It seemed they didn’t have good insulation back two hundred years ago. So after a hard days work on a cold and rainy day I was chilled to the bone and tired, which was the perfect combination for a good night’s rest.

Note the mattress is on the floor. It was usually very hard. One thing that was constant in all the beds on the farms was the covering. They didn’t use top sheets, only down or wool blankets that were encased in a removable fabric with button closure. It was hard getting in and out of bed for two old-teens like us, but once in and under those warm, heavy covers we were quite comfortable.

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Day Four WWOOF Switzerland the Untold Story

Last time I spoke about how I missed my diet coke, or as I found out later in the trip Coke Light. Coffee was a similar event. This was one area where most “farms” use the same type of coffee maker. No longer the electric, carafe coffee maker I was used to; they use what is called a French Coffee Press. Here’s a photo so you can understand what I am talking about.

French coffee press

French coffee press


As I am sure you have already suspected, grounds were left in the cup, so I had to leave the last drop. Ahh, good to the last drop… Not anymore. However, in Krinau I was blessed by a German Cappuccino/Espresso machine. Now THAT was COFFEE!

Getting away from the food side of things, another interesting difference was the church graveyard. In Switzerland what we think of as a graveyard is totally different. As we walked into the village we passed a little church that had one in the back of it. This church was a one-size fits all church. What I mean by that is that it didn’t matter which religion you prefer, they all met together here for services. One week it would be a morning service another a evening one. Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran it made no difference. The reason they met at different times each week was so the farmers who couldn’t come in the morning would have an opportunity to attend.

Typical Swiss church cemetary

Typical Swiss church cemetary


Anyway, here are a couple of photos of the Krinau church and cemetery. You will notice that the church has an interesting painting on the side of it. It is actually a sundial.
Krinau church

Krinau church


Also, the cemetery plots as you can see are all well tended gardens. Even in the bigger cities, the church graves all had this well kept, garden look. I don’t know if you can see the stones, but they were also quite different than the marble slabs we are used to seeing in America. Everything it seems has more character there. Even the food was tastier. I heard it said Americans will eat anything, whereas Europeans demand excellence. I can rightly believe it.

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Day Three WOOF Switzerland Adventure

OK, so yesterday I shared the first short hike in Krinau today I will tell you about the stay. We were met at the bus stop just down the hill from the farm by the lady of the house and her two little ones. After a short trip to the farm they showed us to our room.

We were upstairs in a house that had be partitioned for several families but had since been opened up by the family we were staying with. She is German and he is Swiss. In the German part of Switzerland that is often the case. The house itself was about 200 years old and the low ceilings proved it.With Philip being just over six feet tall this proved a challenge throughout the entire trip.

Red Currents

Red Currents

We adjusted to the time zone quickly and the next day began assisting in the small garden that they maintained. They had four chickens and three sheep that they kept on a nearby neighbor’s hill. In the mornings Philip would let the chickens out and in the evening he would pick up the eggs. Something interesting about fresh eggs that I learned was the color. It is an intense orangish yellow, not the mellow yellow of store bought eggs. Another interesting tidbit is that all eggs are shaped differently, at least the naturally raised, organically fed chickens produce eggs of varried shapes. When I told Philip, he didn’t believe me until I showed him the evidence, and he was the one who gathered them.

The first couple of days we both spent our time picking berries. They had several different varieties, red currents, black currents, red raspberries and blackberrys (which weren’t quite ripe). Each of the previous types were cleaned and sorted. Then I turned them into jelly and/or syrup.

The Farm

The Farm

Syrup is not what we Americans think of, it is a thick liquid that is the main beverage of Switzerland. You make it by boiling the berries with water and sugar. When it gets just the right consistency you bottle it and then when served you add a finger of syrup to a tall glass of water. It is a pretty good tasting beverage, but I did miss my diet coke.

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Day Two – The Untold Story, WWOOF Switzerland

I have been back in the states now for a thirteen days. Lucky thirteen! 😀 My body has readjusted and I am back to working with my design clients once again. To recap my Switzerland adventure I’d like to share some of the experiences I had.

My first stay, in Krinau, turned out to be a true test. I worked most of the time while I was there doing cooking, cleaning, weeding, or berry picking. Philip, my trusty companion and spouse, had the privilege to take care of the chickens, sheep, bug spraying and mowing as well as weeding (especially pulling nasty buggers called nettles) and berry picking.

As I mentioned previously, I learned how to make yogurt and have kept up that tradition since returning to the states. As a matter of fact, there is a batch forming as I type. It is really very easy and once I am through I can flavor it to my taste and not have to worry about preservatives and the like.

The long treck up the logging road

The long treck up the logging road

While in this place I had the opportunity to go on two hikes. One up a local hill, where I was able to see down into two valleys. On one side of the hill rested a whole line of towns towards Will (Veel) and the other Wattwill (Vatveel). Here are a couple of the photos from that hike.

As you can see from the first photo the family had children as well, two as a matter of fact. They took to us both and were mostly a delight as we taught each other language skills. The eldest, not pictured, was nicknamed Mouse, because she had been born pre-mature, and her little sister, pictured, was nicknamed Festie. It seems that when she was born Mouse couldn’t pronounce the German word for sister, Schwester (Schvester), and it came out Festie. So ever-after that was her name. She was a little spitfire and always, as any good little sister does, mimicked her big sister in every move and word.

Wil Valley

Will Valley

More on Krinau tomorrow…
Ginger

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I’m back!

WOOF Switzerland is over and I have finally managed to adjust my body back to the Eastern Time Zone. What an adventure! Soon I will be posting photos so you can experience second hand the beauty that I call, God’s Country.

Untervasser Valley
Small mountain range

WOOFing is an opportunity to tour a country at minimal cost while helping out on organic farms. I learned a lot about farming and even learned how to make yogurt. Cheesemaking was a different story; I got to watch parts but the entire process was kept from me. If you want to take the trip of a lifetime, learn what a country is really like, and save a bundle on room and board, consider helping out our organic farms in the country of your choice, check out http://www.WWOOF.org/.

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