066 Early signs of spring

066 Early signs of spring

I am excited to clean up this mess. Seriously, I’m looking forward to carrying trash around. The end of winter is coming closer. I can hardly wait.

The last storm took down a jar I’d forgotten even existed. I spotted it when Pepper and I went to check on the garden after another really bad storm. The jar had been there all through fall and winter. Now, a storm took it down.

The wind was still pretty strong but I didn’t want to leave the shards. After sending Pepper to a safe spot, I used this dustpan to clean it up. It was trash left behind. I knew I’d need it for something at some point. Ha.

Pepper watched over the garden while I cleaned up as many of the shards as possible. I won’t get them all. But I got all the larger pieces, so chances of someone getting hurt badly are tiny.

I’ll have to be careful in this area barefoot for a while. But that’s fine. That’s most of the food forest for now. And, at some point soon, I’ll have to deal with what to do about the terrace anyway.

I’ve been struggling with my shoulders since work started to slow in the garden. My entire body feels the lack of time in the garden over the darkest days.

So, I took the opportunity for some time to… um… hang out? Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

I have by now decided to keep this piece of trash. It’s been serving me well for balancing and hanging. It is just barely high enough for a dead hang with bent knees but it works. Okay, enough relaxation for my spine. Let’s get home.

I still don’t have a proper gate here. And the growing plot isn’t fenced in properly. Ah, well. It is what it is.

But now that this piece of land is “mine,” we can figure out how to deal with all of that. Pepper jumped into the car, ready to go home, but I got sidetracked by the chickens.


I haven’t been spending a lot of time in the garden, and when I came here to check, I rarely saw the chickens out. This one was just as curious to see me, as I was to watch her. Isn’t she pretty? I love just spending time with these pretty animals. But Pepper was waiting, so it was time to leave the stormy garden.

The wind was still strong but had calmed enough that we never made it all the way home. Instead, we went for a walk.

It’s still behind the clouds but sometimes, there is a little bit of sunshine on my face! I’m happy!

We stayed on the main paths and watched the trees. There were constant reminders how strong the storms get here.

One of the things I miss most here (other than daylight) in Northern Germany is hills.

Hold on, let me pick you up.

Everything here is flat. And most places here, even this semi-protected forest, are young. Humans dug the ditches, deforested most of these lands, then planted what they thought was the right choice. There are no hills, no valleys, no mountains. To me, almost all of it looks the same.

The wind is picking up, so we are going to go home. But this is beautiful!

“Come on. Let’s go home.”

On the way home, I stopped a few times to soak up as much sunlight as I could.

There wouldn’t be any mushrooms for dinner but none of it mattered. I had sunshine on my face!

I know I’ll be here for another few years, but I am excited to move somewhere with more daylight.

The difference a little bit of sunshine can make. I mean, objectively, the forest is pretty ugly right now. It’s all mud and gray and brown and–yeah. It’s still so beautiful as soon as the sun comes out.

There were also the first signs of spring approaching: the hazelnut trees were budding.

I’ve been watching the birds on the balcony eat a lot of buds from local trees. I recently learned that the bud of the common hazelnut here are edible, so I had to give it a try. The first impression was somewhere in the florally bitter range, so I went for a second one.

As always in foraging: spread out your harvest, don’t take too much, and do your own darn research.

“Yeah, if I had to survive, I could eat that. It’s okay.”

When we finally got home, the bread dough had risen enough to separate it into rolls.

Next time we’re in the forest, I’ll be collecting some catkins to try some of the weird recipes I’ve seen. Caramelized with onions? As flour in bread? Apparently, there are options here.

Bread rolls are a lot easier now that I have figured out how to make Marvin do some of the work. Bread was half the reason to ask my mom for the food processor, after all. I am finally getting reliable results with the bread. Except for the crust–no way to improve that in the air fryer.

That night, while the bread baked, I decided to get over myself and ferment some milk products.

I’d figured out the milk kefir starter over the previous few days, and I was ready for the next step. I was highly skeptical. It couldn’t be that easy. Cream and some milk kefir grains, and I’d have sour cream?

But everything else from the cheese-making book had worked, so I decided to try. I also decided to try that simple cheese again. Milk. Just milk. No kefir. No culture.

The Schmalz I made in the last episode was the perfect topping for my bread roll. It’s not easy to spread but very delicious. Definitely worth making myself. When I have proper knives again, I’ll chop the crackling into smaller bits for this.

Yogurt is on my list to learn soon–or rather try again the natural way. Step by step, I’m learning how to live with nature instead of exploiting it blindly. Slowly.

So long, and thanks for being here.