Thursday, March 11, 2010

Playing catch up

It has been a little over a week since my last post but things have been pretty busy around here. I finish work exhausted. The weather is getting better and spring is on its way. I am just going to post a few things that I did last week.

First of all, there was another donkey walk. This time almost all of the students came with us. To help keep the donkeys fit, Brigitte and Jane try to take them out at least once a week for a long walk. This walk happened on the 7th, and it was up to Longfall's guest house. The first part of the trail was also a "work out" trail with different bars and post that you can do different exercises on, such as push-ups or pull-ups. We left around 10:30 and made it to the guesthouse around 12:30, donkey speed. We all fit into the guesthouse and began ordering are meals. It was to my knowledge that there was a simple kitchen in the back so we ended up staying at Longfalls for a while but it was well worth the wait. They severed various traditional Tirolian foods, such as Schweinernes, Schweinwurst and Sauerkraut. I ended up eating half of the Schweinernes and half of the Schweinwurst, both were delicious. The overall trip was fun and the food even better. I look forward to going up to Longfalls again but would like to keep hiking.

Trail Sign
Students and donkeys
Fresh mountain water
Lilas race stripe
Scenic view
The menu
My finished plate
Inside the guest house
A picture from are way down
Tuesday came around and another workday was about to start. I went outside to feel the bitter cold against my face and I knew that it was going to be a long day. I was ready at 8 for Nik to show me my task for the day and what had to be done. One group was to rake rocks down a slope where the sheep and donkeys sometimes stay. The pigs were in this area earlier and dug it all up. This area will be reseeded later, but for now the rocks had to go. This took the whole day but the much-needed work got done.

The other project that I focused more of my attention on was the cutting of the willow trees on the farm. These willows, which Nik called Binding Willows, are cut back each year and are allowed to re-grow. The trees growth is stunted and the trunks only get about 3 feet tall. They shoot out these gold colored branches that are flexible. There were about 20 of these small trees scattered around in one area. The job was to cut all of the branches off and to collect them. They were more widely used to bind the vines until other material became available. This practice of using the willows is not used as much today because farmers use plastic. However, Brunnenburg keeps the practice alive, if only on small scale. The branches were cut, bunched together and tied for storage.

The base of the willow branches
The cut
The bare tree
Bunches of branches
The first knot
Finished product

For the rest of the week I worked on two projects, digging a trench and putting up a fence. Before I came here one of donkeys killed a small lamb simply by picking it up and thrashing it around. This little incident meant that the donkeys and sheep could no longer graze together. There are a few parts in the vineyard where the sheep can get to the donkeys. It was my task to set up a fence to stop this. It was a simple fence, I dug in a few posts and then attached wood to them. The wood overlapped and I bent it to go with the curve. Hopefully the fence will do the job and keep the sheep away from the donkeys.

Fence posts
Constructed fence
The trench was similar to the trench the students dug on their first work day. These green roofs sometimes leak water down to the structure below, and in this case Mira's pig stall. Eventually this water would erode/rot away the structure and make it unsafe for the pigs and unusable for many other things. I was told to dig down until I hit something solid, which ended up being about 4 feet down. I also gave the trench a bit of a slant to allow water to move in a more natural direction. Eventually a pipe will be put into the trench and it will be filled back up, saving the pig pen.

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