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Archive for October, 2012


For those of you who are of a Halloween disposition, I bring you the scariest pictures from my image library…

We start off with some rather capricious spirit guides, the tupilaqs I bought in Greenland back in 2008 when I went hiking around Nuuk for two weeks. (An outdoorsy take on being a flâneur, I guess, meandering about in solitude on the fells around Nuuk…)

Tupilaq

Wikipedia calls tupilaqs “avenging monsters”, but my tupilaqs are definitely just examples of folk art, created as souvenirs for tourists. I love the one above, though; she’s clearly connected with abundance; fertility, good hunting of both seals and birds, and in that respect I think she translates easily into a gardening context.

The next one is more decidedly moster-ish; a lizard-like diamond-patterned skin, large claws and an open mouth. The impression, though, is softened by the soft tones of pink and green that comes out of this reindeer antler having been left to rot somewhat. The rot produces this lovely pastel colour spectrum in the bone, and the contrast between the sharpness of the diamond pattern and the polished surfaces makes this an absolute treat to handle.

Tupilaq
And now… Now comes the scary part… Mommy dearest!

My Mum the witch

I love this picture of my Mum as a witch… It goes a long way in showing her personality. She works in a kindergarten, and the picture was taken an early morning when she had gotten dressed for work, complete with blackened teeth and my Dad’s walking stick (which he made himself).

She had dressed up for Fastelavn celebrations in the kindergarten, in Denmark this is the dress-up holiday of the year for kids, rather like Halloween in the North Americas, and my Mum loves to dress up… She doesn’t do stereotypes, though, so rather than going with the pointy hat and the broom-stick she obviously dressed as a witch from the folk tales.

The picture was taken quite a few years ago, but I still use it as an example of what kind of upbringing I had. Whenever people think I’m a bit strange or odd I can just show them this photo of my Mum and they will go “Ahh… I see…”!

However, to finish off on a more traditional Halloween note, have some (store-bought) pumpkins!

Hokkaido

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So the freezing nights over the weekend did their thing, and the dahlias responded as predicted:

Dead dahlias

No more dahlia flowers for me this year, but considering that they bloomed consistently from the end of June on to now, I think they’ve proven themselves worthy.

And to imagine that all this came out of a few packets of seeds – that weren’t even all used! (Remember, I sent half to my Mum, and I actually didn’t even use my own half completely because I just didn’t have room in the windows in the apartment…)

I think I will leave them where they are today and just enjoy a lazy afternoon, having finished painting the rear of the annex today. I’ve had a nasty cough for the last few days, so I’m planning on spoiling myself with a woolly blanket over my feet, a novel in my hand and perhaps the odd swig of red wine in my mouth. (Ooh, perhaps I should mull some wine? I know it isn’t Christmas yet, but mulled wine is excellent for a sore throat…)

Allright, so here’s the recipe:

First you take 5 sticks of cinnamon, 20 cloves and – if you are so inclined – the rind of an orange. Stick it all in a jar, cover it with snaps, vodka or similarly strong spirits (Rhum would work very well, as would brandy or cognac.) and leave it for roughly 12-48 months.

Mulled wine extract

Okay, so that might be an exageration…What I mean to say is that each year at the end of December I prepare a jar like this and then I leave it until Christmas comes rolling round again.

Depending on how much mulled wine you make during the holiday season, normally a small jar will be plenty. I’ve used this 300cl jar for years and it has never come up empty… Perhaps because I don’t know many who like mulled wine, but never mind.

To make the perfect mulled wine you need a quarter of a jar of this extract, two bottles of wine, a cup of sugar and as much additional alcohol as you’d like. When I was an au pair in France I was taught in the Danish Church in Paris that you should add one bottle of snaps for every four bottles of wine – adding the snaps AFTER you’d taken the mulled wine off the heat, but this is not a recipe I can recommend. You’d get drunk just standing next to the punch bowl…

Mulled wine

A mug of wine, mulled and ready to drink. Except that in Denmark mulled wine is normally served with raisins and almond chips.

I love the taste of the warm wine with the spices; it’s perfect on cold evenings, especially when you have a cold or a sore throat. (I currently have both, so that’s my excuse…)

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I have a tit problem. Or rather, the tits in the garden have a problem. They seem to be rather confused as to what consists bird food and what doesn’t.

We have had three large candles standing on the table on the covered terrace, and it seems the tits have mistaken these for food. Now, had it been late in winter with little food around, perhaps it would have made some sense, but considering that we’re still just in mid-autumn I really don’t understand why candle wax seems such an appealing dish.

In this picture you can see the marks of the tits in action along the left rim of the candle. (Obviously it wasn’t light while they munched on it.)

Candle or dinner?

Now, clearly I can’t have the birds eating my candles, but since they clearly like to snack on stuff around the terrace I figured I’d find them something more suitable. I’ve now hung four bird feed balls on the terrace, and just in case this doesn’t catch the fancy of the tits I have also placed one in a candle holder so it can remind them of the candle wax they seem to enjoy.

This is undeniably bird food

Meanwhile, the candles have been moved inside and out of reach of the tits. I do hope they will continue to come play on the covered terrace, even though I’ve removed the candles…

(Oh, and the terrace is also a popular playground for a small wren that likes to jump around on the furniture and climb in the clematis vines…)

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They survived the whims of a hap-hazard gardener, they survived a two-hour ride on public transport, they even survived a sustained slug attack for months (okay, the entire summer), but will our heroes be able to survive THIS?

Frosty dahlias

I had hoped our area would stay just clear of the predicted frost so I could see the very promising purple dahlia buds turn into flowers, but I guess that’s unlikely to happen, considering that it will be even colder tonight. Still, they put on a great show, all together, and I think that growing these from seed is probably the most satisfying garden activity of the year.

For now, though, there is nothing to do. I’m off to the city for the weekend, so I can’t cut them down and lift the tubers until next week. The frost is only on the surface, though, so it will just kill the flowers and leave the tubers unscathed – and the freezing has been so light that there is actually a small – very small – chance that the flowers will have survived well enough to be left standing for another week, considering that temperatures aren’t likely to dip below freezing again during the week from Sunday onwards, but you just never know.

Also, a few words of wisdom… When you wake up in the morning and see frost on the lawn it is NOT recommended to rush out to take pictures of your dahlias in your bathrobe; put on some trousers, or it will not just be the dahlias that feel a touch of frost…

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Why, pot up cuttings, of course!

A month or so ago I cut the flowering stems of some sedums and put them in water, hoping they would root. Well, four out of 8 did, which is less than my normal success rate with sedum cuttings, but never the less it’s something, especially since I also have three sedum cuttings potted up in one of the windows of our city apartment.

The ones in the city apartment were potted up in their entirety, including the flowers, but I decided to use a different tactic on these. The rooting stalks of sedums normally also produce new leaves, so I cut away everything but the roots and the new leaves.

Sedum cuttings

I potted them up individually in a rich potting soil (intended for growing tomatoes and other such hungry plants), so they should have enough nourishment until spring when I intend to plant them out.

Sedum cuttings

Each pot has a set of roots and a small set of new leaves, and I’ve put them all in a tub of water overnight so they will get a good soak. I will lift them out of the tub tomorrow morning and hopefully this will be enough water to last them a while, since I intend to leave them inside for at least a couple of weeks so they can continue rooting without worrying about frost.

(Mind you, the sedum cuttings I took last year survived being put out into the freezing cold winter, even though they did die back from their new growth and had to start over in spring. This meant they were significantly shorter than my other sedums this year, but that was actually a good thing, since they didn’t flop all over the place like the sedums I moved from the fern patch to The Puddles.

The Puddles in AutumnMost of the sedums in the photo above have flopped and then tried sending upright flower shoots, except for the cuttings from last year who just grew their flowers on short stalks. (And yes, I know I need to get the leaves out of The Puddles ASAP, but I will do that some other day,)

So for now, with my cuttings potted up, I will relax with a glass of red wine by the cosy fire and then head off to bed.

Roaring fire

-Is it wrong that I think this is a lovely way to spend a Friday evening? After all, I think I have outgrown the clubbing days of youth several years ago… (Okay, I might sound like I’m 74, even though I’m 34!)

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WRONG!

True, our small apple tree might not produce a crop big enough to warrant a large juice-making session, but when I went out there yesterday and started picking I did get a large bowl of apples. (The bowl is 40cm across, so it holds a fair few apples.)

The tree was here when we bought the garden, so it is now the apple I’d have chosen. It is a Lobo, which is all right, but I’d have preferred either an Ingrid Marie or a Cox’s orange, the former being – to me – the quintessential Danish apple and the latter being sweet like candy. When I was a child I preferred Cox’s orange over any other apple, and the dog we had at the time agreed with me. In fact, she wouldn’t eat ANY other apples, which was a bit bizarre for a dog that otherwise seemed to eat anything she could lay her paws on…

Lobo apples

So… Does anybody know if lobo apples will keep well? To me they seem rather like the sort of apple you need to eat straight-away, but I might be wrong.

I’ll bring the lot back to Copenhagen with me, since The Flâneur Husband has requested an apple pie, and if the internet provided me with NO information whatsoever about how to store lobo apples, at least it told me that they are very popular for making apple pie with in Canada!

Speaking of storing apples…

We took a small field trip during the family juice making, visiting Ørskov Frugt, the fruit whole-sale company that my uncle delivers his cherries to. Wow… That’s fruit on a completely absurd scale!

Ørskov Frugt - boxes of apples

Each of these huge crates is full of fruit waiting to be processed before it can end up in a neat plastic bag in your shopping cart, and it really was an amazing sight. In the Danish plant alone they process 36,000 tons of fruit each year; that’s a LOT of fruit salads, pies, jams, cakes, and whatever else you could think of!!!

The company started out as a small family farm with an orchard, and the present owner’s father had the idea to collect fruit from neighbouring farms and sell it to retailers back in 1943. It’s still a family business, but now they also have processing plants in Poland and deliver to most European countries as well as to Australia, Chile and other far-flung places.

But I was talking about apples… Remember how I showed you a picture of two small kids throwing apples into an old bath tub to wash them? Well, here it was done in a slightly more impressive way:

Ørskov Frugt - washing apples

A clever piece of machinery transported the apples from the huge boxes and into a canal of water were soft brushes cleaned the apples, and this was very impressive until we reached the next step:

Ørskov Frugt - sorting apples

Swimming along merrily in another set of canals, the apples are then sorted by size and directed into these swimming lanes that are released one by one so each crate of prepared apples contain the same standard of apples.

Ørskov Frugt - storing apples

We then passed the vast storage rooms for the clean fruit. Fruit like apples and pears will actually keep completely fresh for at least 6 months when stored professionally, so when you buy an apple in May it might have been harvested in August originally and kept in an oxygen-free storage room like this one for months on end without loosing too much of its freshness. Still, when you buy apples in May or June, remember how much energy has been spent to keep that fruit fresh; each of these storage units holds 100 tons of fruit, and each is cooled down to 3 degrees Celsius and kept free of oxygen; that doesn’t happen without a serious energy consumption…

Anyway, I buy apples in May, too, so it’s not like I’m sitting too firmly on my high horse. Just be conscious of it, okay?

However, when we buy apples in the supermarket they tend to come in slightly smaller portions than the 1-ton crates above, so here’s the next step:

Ørskov Frugt - packing apples

And there you have it. Your little bag of apples is ready to be sent to the supermarket for you to buy it.

I must say, though, that much as I enjoyed the visit and was awed by the amazing machinery, I think I still prefer to was apples by hand. At least as long as I don’t have to wash 36,000 tons of them!

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There isn’t much bloom left in the garden these days. The sweet peas are clinging on to their last flowers, and the rudbeckias are doing their best in front of the covered terrace – but they will look much more impressive next year when they’ve settled in more!

And then there are the dahlias in The Sunny Border.  They just won’t quit!

Dahlias

The colour combinations are completely random, as these were grown from mixed-seed packets, but I might label some of them so I know where they will look their best next year. For instance, the coral on in front definitely looks out of place with all the whites and the pastels, so it should perhaps be given a spot in a different bed next year….

The prettiest part of the garden right now, though, is probably the lawn. A few areas are still green because there are no large trees or shrubs nearby, but large swathes are coloured brown with oak leaves, yellow with mirabelle leaves or purple with cherry plum leaves.

LeavesAnd in some places, like the photo above, a few cherry plum leaves dot the yellow surface of mirabelle leaves and create quite a beautiful spectacle in their own subtle way. I think it is quite the loveliest thing in my garden, even surpassing my much-beloved dahlias right now. -Though probably not so much when I start raking them up… That will be quite a job! And of course the dahlias need to be dug up, probably next week once the first frost has killed off the plants above ground level. And the lawn really needs a final (high) mowing. And spring bulbs need planting. And I’m sure there is much else to do, but right now I am sitting by a warm fire, enjoying the sound of the wind shaking the trees and the sight of my yellow lawn with purple dots.

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`Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING–absolute nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,’

(Ratty in “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Graham)

On Saturday, once we were done tidying up after the juice making, sixteen of us went on a boating trip to Romsø, a small island off the coast of Funen. The island is just over a square kilometre, and partly a protected nature preserve with the south tip of the island being off limits during the mating season of the sea birds from April through July. It’s privately owned as part of the Hverringe estate, but it’s open to the public as long as you observe certain precautions (no feeding the animals, no fires; that sort of thing).

Boating

We went in two boats, and as you can see the skippers gave them full throttle on the way over to the island. It was a bit of a choppy ride, going at 45 kilometres/hour, but great fun. I have always loved being out on the sea, wide horizons all around and so much space.

Seascape

It was one of those wonderfully warm autumn days, with temperatures up to 19 degrees Celsius and the occasional glimpse of sunshine; it almost felt like “the end of summer”, though there’s no denying that we’re in full-on autumn by now.

The island has a population of 180 fallow deer and we were fortunate enough to see quite a few of them as we went around the island. Unfortunately there was a hunt going on in the forest, so we had to stay on the coastal path, but we saw a couple of herds grazing on the edge of the forest, and we also saw the two albino deer but obviously there was no point in trying to take a photo as they were well beyond the range of my phone camera. You can see a picture of one here if you want to see what they look like.

Romsø beach

On the Southern side the island has wide marshes and a pebble beach, but on the North side, especially to the North-East, the sea has eroded the hills and created some beautiful clay cliffs, topped with a stretch of meadows with hawthorns in a very distinct shape that clearly shows how high the fallow deer can reach, since they bite off all new shoots below one metre.

Romsø cliffs

Once we had made it all the way around the island (it is only about 4 kilometres in circumference) we settled down for coffee and biscuits – and perhaps a beer or two had snuck into the hampers alongside the thermos flasks…

Romsø coffee break

This island is really a small gem, especially because the Hverringe estate maintains it in such a gentle manner. The deer population is only hunted to the extent necessary to keep it at a viable level, and new stock is introduced every so often to avoid inbreeding, and the forest is more or less left to its own devices so the only trees cut down are the ones that pose a danger to visitors. It’s a prime example of responsible stewardship of an area of natural beauty. It may not be large and dramatic like the Grand Canyon, but Denmark is a small country, so our natural beauties are perhaps more subtle and gentle than in larger countries. (Remember that the highest natural point in Denmark is only 170.86 metres above sea level… Yes, we measure our highest points with two decimals, because they really are so low that every centimetre counts…)

Leaving Romsø

We left Romsø in the glorious afternoon sunshine, and on our way back we had the pleasure of spotting a few porpoises playing around in the waves. (Even our whales are small in Denmark…)

I haven’t been to Romsø since I was a child, so it was a real treat to go back and be able to recognise some of the places. At one point I saw an old farm building and realised that I remembered that there used to be a great swing hanging from the branches of an old oak tree, but sadly the on-going hunt meant it would be neither safe nor sensible to go see if it was still there. Risking your life to check up on an old swing is, surely, too stupid a thing to do, even for me.

And this ends my trilogy of posts about my autumn holiday; I was away from Wednesday to Sunday, taking time to spend an extra day on either end of the juice making to visit my grandmother with just my Mum and my Mother-in-law so I could spend some time with the old woman without having lots of people and children and work all around to distract us. She turns 90 next spring, so it’s worth investing a bit of time with her while we are fortunate enough to have her with us.

I came away with a pre-emptive inheritance of two small Krenit bowls and 7 Kirsten Piil beer glasses, the latter coming from my Great-grandmother and matching the glasses The Flâneur Husband inherited after his grandmother. Basically my grandmother is getting rid of lots of stuff she doesn’t need, and she’d rather see people be happy about their inheritance while she lives than leave it for when she can no longer take pleasure in giving it. – And she doesn’t give away anything she wants to keep herself; it’s simply that her drawers and cupboards are full of heirlooms that she doesn’t need, doesn’t like or just doesn’t care about herself. The best silver is reserved for wedding presents to her grandchildren (The Flâneur Husband and I got two silver spoons that were given to my great-grandmother on her baptism and confirmation respectively, engraved with her name and the dates), and I’m sure her will is full of little sweet thoughts like that so she knows who will get what. (She has told me that I will get whatever books her children don’t want… And it’s a rather varied collection; I’ve already been given some, including her copy of American Psycho which she read when it appeared in Danish. She hated the book, but how cool is it that my grandmother has actually READ it?)

Anyway… I’m veering off topic now, so I guess that means this post is at an end. I hope you enjoyed coming with me on a family holiday with me and 37 members of my family. (On my mother’s side… My father’s side is the LARGE family!)

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Each year my family gets together on the family farm to make apple juice. We’ve been doing this since 1936 when my great-grandfather bought the out-dated machinery from the local juice factory – which has since evolved to become the largest in the country but used to be just a mother and her spinster daughter making juice for local farmers – and we are still using the same machinery. The pulping machine is actually still under warranty from the manufacturer, so they service if for free…

Oh, and of course the whole session takes place in the village which has become synonymous with juice in Denmark; Rynkeby, which is now the brand name of the small juice factory that my great-grandfather bought the machinery from. (Though the factory has long since moved to a town in a completely different part of Funen.)

First step, obviously, is to ensure we have somewhere to put the juice. We have a few thousand bottles of different shapes and sizes, but every bottle is washed and then rinsed in a chlorine solution.

Washing bottles

The apples are bought in bulk since the farm no longer has an apple orchard (it has been replaced with cherries which is much more profitable). Large crates of apples that can only be moved with a fork lifter.

The apples are then washed in an old bath tub, and this is perhaps the part that’s easiest for the kids to help with. Especially when there’s no rush and the apples can be washed at a leisurely pace…

washing apples

When the apples have been washed they are then pulped in this grinder. It’s old, weather-beaten and absolutely beautiful. And the local factory repairs it without charge whenever there is a problem, since they delivered it with a lifetime service warranty. (And “lifetime” in this case means perpetual…) The image below is a few years old since I forgot to take a decent photo of this part of the process, so the young girl in the picture is now the mother of two, and the man in his prime is now the grandfather of three.

Pulping apples

The pulp is then layered in the press, covered in cheesecloth, and then the juice is pressed into buckets that are emptied into old milk cans (10-litre buckets, 40-litre cans). The two young bucks working the press below are my cousins Martin and Mikkel, but really anybody can work the press; it might seem like hard work – and it is – but it is not so hard that my mother-in-law couldn’t take her turn at it.

Pressing apples

Some impurities will make it through the cheesecloth and the sieve that you see on one of the milk cans above, so the milk cans are emptied into a huge tub that can hold up to 1000 litres. Normally, though, we never fill it to capacity; we simply haven’t the time! We start working on Thursday morning around 9AM, and during the course of that day we produce some 6-800 litres. Then on Friday we bottle it and pasteurise it, while simultaneously producing another batch of juice.

A vat of juice

The juice is rather muddled at this stage, so to clear it we add a tiny amount of dissolved gelatine to the juice in the evening. This causes the impurities to sink to the bottom of the vat, and allows us to tap a cleaner, purer juice.

Tapping and capping

The juice is then left to settle overnight, and the next morning the tapping begins. (In order of appearance, to the left is a friend of the family – Tommy – my aunt Inge and my uncle Knud.) This is one of the important steps of the process, since this is where the quality control takes place. Bottles with impurities are poured into jugs to be served at lunch and dinner, and if a bottle is filled too much the “capper” takes a swig of it to make sure it is filled to the right level. After all, an over-filled bottle will be more likely to explode during the pasteurisation, so all the effort would be wasted.

Pasteurising

The final step is to pasteurise the juice. This ensures that it will last for several years in the capped bottles. We do this in the old boiling vats of the farmhouse, originally built for laundry. The vats are heated to 80 degrees Celsius and then left for 20 minutes, and this kills off any organisms in the juice. The furnaces are fired with newspapers, since this is the simplest way to raise the temperature once the vat is full of bottles and water, and it allows the vats to cool down slowly once they have reached 80 degrees, rather than continue to heat up as they would if we used wood.

This year we only made 1100 litres of apple juice. Normally it is 14-1600 litres, but we didn’t get through all of the juice last year, so we always adjust. After all, the juice from last year is still good – it will easily keep for 5 years in the bottle without loosing the taste – so there was no need to make too muchApple juiceAnd this is the result. Bottles and bottles of apple juice that tastes better than any you can buy in the shops. It tastes like biting into a fresh apple, even after a year in the bottle.

This year, though, we suffered a minor failure; the juice is normally completely clear and brilliant, but this year we used Aroma apples to make up the bulk. We always use one ton of cox’s orange, one ton of Ingrid Marie and two tons of “bulk apples”, but normally the bulk is phillippa or another cooking apple, whereas this year we used Aroma, which is an eating apple with a lot more juice but apparently also a proclivity to make the juice unclear. Lesson learned, and next year the juice will be as brilliant as last year.

Now, how many people does it take to make 1100 litres of juice? Well… I’m sure it could be done with 5-6 hard-working people, but for dinner on Thursday there was 38 of us, including children. (It goes some way in showing how ample the space is on the farm…) It’s always the biggest family reunion of the year, though numbers seem to increase as those who were once children turn up with their spouses and children – or as in my case their Mother-In-Law.

Lindestrømgård

I – as the rest of my family – feel blessed that my uncle and aunt decided to continue this tradition when they took over the farm. (Even if they are visibly relieved when people start leaving again…) It is a lovely tradition, and the product is second to none; you can find no better apple juice in the world.

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Lindestrømgaard

On Thursday I returned to one of my most beloved places in the world, Lindestrømgård. This was my grandparents’ farm, and my uncle has since taken it over. It used to be a large farm, but standards have changed and eventually it was just not possible for my uncle and aunt to make ends meet, even with my aunt working full time, so they had to sell off the land and give up the pigs so my uncle, too, could get a job rather than “just” being a farmer. These days, the only farms that seem to make a profit are vast compared to what was considered a large farm back in the 1960’s.

My aunt and uncle have only retained the two fields nearest to the farm, as well as the cherry plantation and the small piece of woodland that we call “the forest”, though it’s barely 200 meters across.

Lindestrømgård

The field in the front has been planted with more cherry trees so the orchard reaches almost down to the barn, and to the right where you can see my grandmother’s old vegetable garden there is now a large shed for machinery and my aunt’s Icelandic horses.

In 1981 or 1982 the outbuildings – barns, stables, garages et cetera – burnt to the ground and were replaced with the current buildings that form the three wings of the complex. Fortunately the fire didn’t spread to the house, but all the old timber-frame buildings went up in the flames at a time when I was too young to remember them, so these early-80’s farm buildings have a charm to me that they probably don’t have to anybody else, since this was my childhood farm.

(No people or livestock perished in the fire, as all the pigs were swiftly herded outside. The alarm was raised on a Sunday morning during the church service, and I have heard tales of priceless scenes of the local vicar – still in his robes – chasing pigs in the surrounding fields. Now, ANYBODY who has ever chased pigs through open fields will know that they are rather quick when they want to be, and even in trousers it can be hard enough to keep up with them, so I can only imagine a priest in full cassock doing his best to keep up with them…)

We spent at least a week there every summer – and most often two weeks – and especially the last week of the summer holidays was special, because that was when my two brothers and I were sent down to the farm while my parents returned to work. We’d get up early and help my Grandfather feed the pigs before going inside for breakfast at the long oak table in the dining room.

Happy as a pig in muck

Yes. We were happy as the proverbial pig in muck (okay, so my older brother is moping in the photo above, but he never liked cameras…) and as you can see I (on the left) had a certain chubby resemblance to a well-fed piglet.

It was the first place I ever got to drive a motorized vehicle – a tractor, of course – and where I learned to drive a combine harvester and keep it aligned with the tractor pulling the grain wagon, and it was where I first saw a living creature being born – and saw a living creature being killed. It was the place where I went running in the pea fields and ate so many peas I got a tummy ache, and the place where I ate so many cherries that I – well… You get the picture.

In autumn the whole family gathered on the farm – as we still do, thanks to my uncle and aunt’s decision to continue this hospitality – to make apple juice in copious quantities, enough to last us all through the year and then some to give away to friends. We got up early in the morning, worked throughout the day interrupted by 7 meals – morning coffee, breakfast, mid-morning coffee, lunch, afternoon coffee, dinner, evening coffee, and of course everything that includes the word “coffee” also included some sort of home-baked goods; rolls, cakes, you name it – and in the evening my grandfather would take his fiddle off the wall and my aunt would bring our her accordion and then there’d be folk dancing in the middle of the living room.

The autumn juice making still takes place now that my uncle and his wife have taken over the farm, but of course service levels have dropped since there is no longer a full-time housewife to feed the 20-something people and clean up after them. There’s a kitchen rota, and the whole assembly ends with a communal cleaning-session on the last day so we leave the place as we found it.

The village has changed, of course. It is no longer a small village, but rather a commuter suburb to surrounding towns. When I was a child it was the sort of place where we could shop at the local co-op on my grandmother’s account simply by bringing with us her rather distinctive tartan cloth shopping bags, and anyway the cashiers would know our faces and know that we came from the Lindestrømgård farm – so we couldn’t just go down there and buy sweets on the account!

Still, the farm is on the edge of the village, and though the actual farm house only dates back to the 1870’s the actual farm probably pre-dates the farming reforms in 1788 when the village system of strip farming was replaced by the system of wider fields as we know it today. At that time, many farms were moved from the villages out onto their allotted area of land, so since the farm is still just on the edge of the old village – the 12th century church is just a few hundred meters away – it is safe to guess that it has been the site of that farm for a very long time.

Rynkeby Church

The village church is almost the stereotype of a Danish country church; whitewashed walls, the choir slightly lover than the nave, and a tower with the stepped gables that were all the riot back in the 16th century. I can still remember going up the tower when I was 5 or 6 and getting so afraid of the steep stairs/ladders that my Mum had to carry me down – pretty tough going, as anybody who has carried a 5-year-old on steep steps will know.

Biskorup

Mind you, its history as my family farm is quite recent. My grandfather bought it in the 1960’s after his ancestral farm (the black and white photo above) had been expropriated to build a large-scale concrete housing estate. (Now one of the most infamous “ghettos” / “especially vulnerable public housing areas” in Denmark, Vollsmose.) My grandfather augmented the landholding by buying three other farms and incorporating them into the farm, selling off the buildings of one as a small-hold and keeping the buildings of another as part of the farm  while renting out the house.

I love Lindestrømgård. (Lime Stream Farm, though to the best of my knowledge there has been neither limes nor a stream near the farm for ages…) I used to dream of one day living there, and at times I still do. The outbuildings might be dull 1980’s buildings, but the house itself is wonderful; it is large (7 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a huge sitting room, a dining room, a vast kitchen and an equally large so-called “weaving room” which is where my grandmother used to keep her large loom), but it’s a welcoming home, and part of the reason I love our apartment is that it reminds me of that house. A beautiful home to be lived in, to welcome guests, to embrace you and give you space.

And it remains, in some way, my home. I never lived there, but I know every nook and cranny of that house, I feel at home there and I know the gardens, the lands, the buildings. I know what the soil feels like between my fingers. The house might be in need of a serious overhauling to get it up to modern standards, but that would cost a small fortune so it won’t happen any time soon. At least my aunt and uncle have ripped out all the pig sties of the farm buildings and converted some to storage space and some to horse stables which they rent out to earn some extra money; it is nice to see that those vast buildings are not just a white elephant that will eventually take a lot of money to either renovate or pull down, but are instead used for practical purposes.

Tomorrow I will bring you a step-by-step instruction on how to make apple juice, family style. It involves a couple of tons of apples, some octogenarian machinery and lots and lots of people.

Oh, and if anybody is passing through Funen on a bicycle it’s possible to spend the night at lindestrømgård in the garden or the surrounding grounds. For more details, please see this link.

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