Natural Beauty

We have been working in the fields for the last several days. It is hard labor, but the beauty that surrounds us is so great that the load is lightened. As I sit on the back of the tractor, I gaze up at the blue sky and see planes on their way to somewhere. A hawk glides through the air and then pumps the massive span up and down. I hear the wings in the wind.

Not just this part of my day that is beautiful. I spend so much time with family working as a team. It is really a special opportunity, even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes. ūüėČ

My day starts getting the munchkin and I ready, gathering all we need for the village. Today there is some old food we can give to the dog, cat, and pigs. There are strips of bright-colored clothe I will tie around the seedlings we need to plant. color camouflage accounts for many left somewhere on the ground. A wasted of time and energy  after caring for them for a year in the nursery.

Our ride to the village has me in the back with the little one and hubby navigating the winding hilly roads. Munchkin likes to tell Daddy to go fast.

Our hound greats us happily as we get out of the car, and we go into the warmth of the wood stove to see what Baba has prepared. She is always crafting something so good. Kurpin Deda is one of my favorite treats.

It is milk, egg, and cheese drizzled over day old bakery bread and baked. She topped it with sesame seeds. YUM!

Munchkin finds her kitty, and Baba dotes on both of them. Here kitty gets to taste the yummy fresh pudding she has just made.

After some prep, the hubby and I make it to the field. Replanting trees and some large-scale pruning is in order. One large forest tree is blocking light from our growing seedlings, and we have to trim and remove the branches.

A pleasant surprise awaits us as we get to the field,  the clanging of sheep bells greets us and just over the hill I find a small flock of nervous sheep.

The call of the cuckoo bird and the sheep bells are the background music to the work. When we finish in one field, we move to another. I look on at the village from the back of the tractor.

 Well planned rows of sprigs turned trees are becoming brawny. Soon we will see the fruits of out labor.

As the sun wanes, we return to the house. I take off my mud caked boots and change out of the field warn clothes. Munchkin greets me with a smile and “MOMMY!”

We all sit down to a well planned feast. Salads, soup, fresh bread and lots of meat. All fresh from the farm.

Dobar dan y’all!

stock foto from last Christmas… I cheated.

Cabbage Patch Kids

It’s harvest time! This week we were getting down and dirty in the garden. The only things that were naughty were the phallic looking or overly suggestive carrots. Shocking really how pornographic they can be. ¬†Sorry no pics… I was afraid I may be reported for vegetable porn.

First, we conquered the cabbage patch. Profitable work, and fun ta boot! The hubby picked and peeled the balls of leaves. Cleaning off the layers of snail eaten bits and then passed me the heads to stack in the wheel barrel.

We filled three or four barrels. I toyed with calling this post “catching cabbage”. Rain has soaked the cabbage heads and made them heavy. As I caught them, they smacked hard against my fingers and palms and a spray of water would fly past.

After so much rain we were lucky to have a good harvest, but still we lost some of them to rotten soaking messes that stank of gooey, slimy leaves. Yum!

The next day it was celery root, beets, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. To be sure, my hands are dry and rough after digging in the clay for soil that is is our garden. It sucks the moisture right out of the fingers. I will digging dirt out from under my nails for some time.

The smell of¬†¬†the pigs premium export filled our nostrils. We listened to them serenade us with their grunts and squeals from inside the adjacent pen inside the barn. It’s amazing how the smell of pigs and cows are the same the world over.That scent takes me back to childhood. It is strange, how it makes me feel at home.

Serbs always ask me how I like going to work in the village. I guess they assume it is foreign to me. But it is the place I feel most at home. My days of walking the streets of NYC have not spoiled me for life on the farm. I love the country life.

Our village kitty especially brings me joy. Lenka the kitten was our shadow, meowing time to time for attention and cuddles. At 3 months, she is already earning her keep catching mice! What a great little cat!

 

This is the kind of sweet sweaty labor that makes coming home at the end of the day, and taking a shower feel so good.

Dobar Dan Y’all!

Recovering Energy

Sunday was the Big day, 1400 sour cherry trees planted. Gathering all the seedlings from the garden was done the day before. The big day we started out at 6 AM with three tractors pulling two wagons, and one large corkscrew digger thing to dig the holes.

Seedlings were stacked in the wagons and the crew took seats and rode the bumpy wagon to the fields. There was another lady, her and I trimmed the roots to prime them for the new soil and fertilizer. We joined the men when that job was done.  Planting was really hard work, making sure they were in straight rows takes time and patience.

On the way down the hill to the last field there was a little excitement as the tractor began to slide down the hill in an expedited fashion. Control was gained rapidly and the roller coaster butterflies were squelched as quickly as they began.

The last field was the smallest and went super fast even though we had lost two workers. They had asked if I wanted to leave as I was a female (I guess?). But, this is my field too, I will work it! So I stayed and was happy to see the job done.

After the long day, there was a very large feast prepared by Mama and Aunty Slavica! It was awesome, and loud and so smokey. The best part for most was the roasted pig!

I opted out with the munchkin, we went home early. I savored the quiet and fresh air of the condo. It started to rain just after we got home. It was a long steady rain that will soak the cherry trees and melt the fertilizer, feeding the little saplings. ūüôā Yay!

We had about 10 people working hard to achieve the goal. Thank God for great friends! I wasn’t even doing the really hard work and all I did was lay around yesterday. I know the team has to be hurting!

Today, I am a new woman. And I have a break to write while the little one sleeps. ūüôā

Preparing for my last class tomorrow and figuring out what to pack for the little one and myself for the next month+ are my next projects.

This little Mama is overjoyed to go home!!! Making plans with friends for reunions is a big priority. I may or may not be containing the drool that pools in my mouth as I think forward to Thanksgiving! YUM! Pecan pie, green bean casserole, and the rest of the fixings are coming to mind. My belly growls even though I just ate.

Bring it all on!

I hear the whimpering munchkin duties calling now. Naptime is over.

Dobar Dan Y’all

Whatever Wednesday~ Right Now

Right now, things are a bit Crazy! For the past two weeks we were preparing to plant several hundred sour cherry seedlings. It was going to be last week. Then when the hubby pulled one up and saw the roots were green, the date was pushed back to possibly this weekend. If the roots are green, the plant is working on something. If they are replanted, it may injure them or kill them. I have learned lots of new stuff in the last week regarding planting. That was one of the many things.

Planting is on hold now because Mama tripped and fell HARD! She broke the top ball par of her upper arm bone or humerus. Not funny at all. She is sporting a shirt style cast missing one arm, with the broken arm pinned to her middle. Poor lady, I can imagine sleep is difficult for her. And covering herself is a serious challenge.

The Munchkin finds the cast interesting.. She knocks on it like a door.  We all had a good laugh over that.

Taking showers in our house is a bit awkward at the moment. It was 4 AM two or three weeks ago, when I was awakened by a loud CRASH and then more crashing. The acoustics in the bathroom enhanced the sound of the tiles falling from the wall into the tub and even woke the neighbors on the other side of the very thick cement wall.

It scared the crap put of me at first and I was afraid someone was breaking in and even had a flash of fear going back to the bomb in our building 5 years ago. But when I got up and saw the tiles I was at least relieved neither of those scenarios were true.

Because we have been so busy with the farm work, we haven’t been able to get the wall fixed.

 

The day the tiles came off the wall was the day we road tripped up to Krusevac for a seminar. I went to make contacts with a fellow expat who has an NVO with a Green emphasis. He invited me to help me with my English teaching project that is working on  a Green agenda. I did some good networking. But now I must wait til I return from the States to make further progress.

Our work in the village has consisted of: Making markers out of corn stocks from our corn field, marking four fields for planting, harvesting carrots and beets. Oh, and dealing with a guy who was steeling wood from our forest. That is a felony here… We have been busy.

Marking the fields was more difficult than I thought. It takes a lot of planning. The tractor must be able to go around the rows of trees, the trees much be planted super straight, and the fields must be plowed before we do the marking and planting to soften the soil to make marking and planting easier.

Then, when we get to the field, the hubby and the Papa bicker over where to start, what is best… and a bunch of stuff I can’t understand. So I walk around taking pics to share with you. But the new motherboard in my computer screwed it up and won’t let me add pics. The hubby’s computer screen went out last night, so no pics. C’est la vie!

In the end the fields got marked with the help of really skinny trees or long poles cut from the forest. They were measured and used as measuring sticks. About four long ropes tied together were used to keep the rows straight. They were pulled tight and then laid down carefully. Marker corn stalks were shoved into the dirt at measured stick length intervals and after a couple of days the fields, with lots of corn stalks sprouting just out of the dirt wait for a team of friends with shovels and about a thousand seedlings to come and make new little orchards.

First all those seedlings will have to be plucked and have the roots trimmed just before they are replanted.

 

Mama was going to care for the Munchkin, I am not sure if I will be able to help now. She would have cooked to feed the mass of field hands… she is good at making bulk amounts of food. Did I mention it is all Serbian food. Of course!! So now, I am not sure what will happen. ¬†or when.

Adding to that, the Munchkin and I will be flying away for a visit to my homeland in about 2 weeks.

My Serbian paper work, that makes me legal to live here without crossing borders every so often and on my way to citizenship was filed in December of last year. It should be filed at the same time. But I will be in the U.S. The money invested to start the process may go down the drain. ūüė¶ Hubby is going to the police station today to see what we can do about that mess. Either way I am legal. I have papers and I will go home. ¬†And being legal here isn’t really a problem since I am married to a Serb and enhanced by our little Half blood princess. ūüôā

Needless to say we are a little busy. Off to make more apple bread cake to make life a little sweeter.

Dobar Dan Y’all!

Whatever Wednesday~ field work

Yesterday, we literally were working in the fields. I saw three field mice when I disturbed their shredded corn husk nests. The pair of us, my man and I were picking up piles of corn stalks to stack and use later in planting our baby sour cherry trees. I also saw a tiny lizard on the same field.

The hubby and I made quick work of that small field and soon we were off to harvest walnuts. A very long stick was used to beat the upper branches to free some of the clingy nuts, that was the tall man’s job. I scavenged on the ground for those who had already given up tree hugging. The pastures floor was riddled with nuts and I soon had my bucket full.

http://www.nuts.com/gifts/bucketsofnuts/walnuts.html (My bucket was much less commercial looking.)

Buck kept us company. Our “hot dog” style mutt, ran from one of us to the other and around the field and regulated the vehicles that passed occasionally. ¬†Once he tried to steal some nuts from my bucket, but he wasn’t pleased with the taste.

Back at the house there were a few more trees to smack and more nuts to harvest. One of the biggest trees stands over a small ridge where a small creek trickles below.

The hollow under the ridge was covered with nuts, so we went back for our boots and went down the hill like Jack and Jill. This was the easiest place to find them with no long grasses hiding them, and there were so many!

While we were down there, the hubby found an old horse or cow skull. You don’t see that everyday. Well, unless you have a love for south west ¬†art including cow skulls….

Soon the munchkin made her way down via Baba’s arms and when she saw me, it was all over. Back to Munchkin duty. Thanks God for naps that allow me to sneak away for a bit.

It is morning now, and she will soon wake from her long nights nap so I will bit you adieu for now and share more stories next time.

Wish me luck, I have my third TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) class tonight. I have been taking an online free class in TEFL course and I am excited I have learned so much to help me do a better job!! Can’t wait to use my new skills!! Thank you TEFL boot camp!

Happy Hump day Y’all!

Photography Friday~ Barn & Garden pics

We spent a few days in the village this week. It was peaceful and beautiful. Food fresh from the garden fills our stomachs. Going to the back of the house is like visiting the produce section of the grocery store.

Our seedlings are growing well. I have done a good bit of weeding, and it is nice to see the progress! They got a bit of a parasite and we have to give them some  medicine. Soon they will be all better. Lots of tender loving care is going into raising these babies just like with the Munchkin.

One afternoon, I got a decent break from motherhood and retreated to the barn loft with a cup of tea. The smells of hay and drying grains kept me company.

Old roof tiles stacked and ready when needed.

And even though I was enjoying the break from my little one, my mind went to her as I looked at the vines hugging the barn beams like my Munchkin hugs my legs.

The loft was quiet, not even the sound of the chirping chicks below made it up the narrow  barn stairs.

 

The “stairs” are little more than a latter with double rungs and a rail. But they do the job. What a great place to have as a retreat.

Soon enough the sound of my Goldilocks brought me back to reality. Baba had gone up to the rooftop terrace to show the Munchkin where I was.

Then it was back to the grind… ūüėČ

Walking on a dirt road

I walked home from working with the hubby on clearing a field. There was nothing left for me to do. He and papa had to finish the rest with the tractor. Joyfully, I was able to walk home in silence. I found myself surrounded by so much beauty that I had to stop and take some pics.

A field of sour cherries not long for the picking.

so much color framed with mountains and fruit baring fields.

Wheat and barley fields sway in the wind like waves in the ocean.

 

The dusty path brought my uncle and cousin by. Just another pleasant surprise.

Almost home enjoying the shade in the forest.

Check out the Woodpeckers nesting tree!

A nice long walk is always a good mental break. This fence marks the beginning of the village. And the end of my quiet walk home. Back to the munchkin.

Here is a song for the road… Though I am not a country music girl. this song minus the dumb wrap seems just about perfect.

 

Photography Friday~ Zubetinac

More Fairy Tale village pics!

Fresh fruit from the village.

Last week I spent 4 days in the beautiful village of Zubetinac. I have posted about It before, but the pics were taken in late winter/early spring. It is like another world with the colors of summer giving it a make over.

Baba was watching her munchkins in the garden

It was a great get away for the little one and I. Not terribly relaxing… We were guests of my Serbian besty and her two little ones (pictured above).¬†Most of the time we were minding the three dwarfs. Our only reprieve was when they slept.

I was glad to get away with my pal. Girl time is priceless. Like water for my friend parched soul. I only regret there are no pics of the two of us.

These two flowers will take our place.

I have lost my groove

No, not my dancing groove. In fact, I dance now more than I used too. The Munchkin likes¬†no LOVES to dance and so we do, Daily! IT is my blogging groove that is missing. I have been back and forth so much between the village and town, then with the PMS from hell and trying to balance my new summer life… I am all out of sorts.

This is a big holiday weekend back home, the kick off of summer and the big working season at the beach where I used to live for the last 20 years. (Enter Cha-ching cash register sound here!) I think that has a lot to do with my mental state.  I miss my job, friends and my old life in general.

At the same time, the work on the farm here has picked up. I have written about most of the work I have done, NOT MUCH. ¬†I go with the intention of working. Millie throws a fit and all agree I should stay with her. ūüė¶ It is frustrating. I am used to working for the family, providing, now I just babysit. though I guess it isn’t babysitting when it is your own child. But it leaves me feeling useless. unproductive. confined. IT Sucks!

People here in Serbia say it is the best job there is. I think I have even heard that at home too. but I would agree to disagree. I want a job that makes money.

On the other hand, people here ask me when I will put her in Preschool. and I think, “WHAT?!” she is only 15 months old and I don’t have a job. Why on Earth would I let someone else raise her? ¬†What a juxtaposition of thoughts, huh?

Furthermore, Consternation in my marriage is dismaying. We had agreed we would work on the farm. My lack of work there is the problem for both of us really. and my desire not to go to the village is also a problem. But as I wrote above, often I end up staying with the munchkin in the cold village house. unable to help. This means more time with the blessed in-laws who I don’t dislike. It is just exhausting.. more than most in-laws because we don’t speak the same language. Even though I am not technically working, it is stressful and I get so tired. (So, why bother even going to the village?)

Compounding the difficulty of going to (not) work in the village, we don’t return home when the work is done, we STAY for dinner. The food is getting repetitive and not what I want, in spite of my mother in law trying her hardest to please me… It is also what the hubby has been missing for years. HE is in hog heaven, literally as most of the food is PORK!. for me it is just more time stuck in the cold village house. I think to myself, “What did I get myself into. How long can I do this?”

The time in the village is nice (imagine the italics is a sarcasm font). but when we have a day “off” in town. it is a day to work for me. laundry, cleaning, fitting in coffee with friends if I don’t just sit in the apt recuperating from over stimulation. I think it is all getting a bit too much. it is affecting my desire to write sadly. The writing is my life therapy. my link home. and I am slacking.

Am I complaining? or am I just a complaining? lol Maybe I just need a kick in the @$$. Mea culpa.  Adjusting to a new life takes so much time! Damn this Culture shock.

These are my consolation prizes (for my living here and your reading this rant). The vistas on the way to the village are pricele$$.

Now that spring has turned the hills all green and flowery, the entire drive is eye candy.

Lush greens, purples, and reds so vibrant you can taste them.

And fields of poppies that are like a painting providing the calm of opium. ¬†(strictly metaphorically speaking obviously or I wouldn’t have had to write this post!)

Hopefully this will work as an enema to work all the crap out of my brain and get on with my life. Bring on the sunshine!

Happier posts to come soon.
Dobar Dan

Happy Mother’s Day MOM! I love you

A pic of your last baby girl from your first

Today, back home it is Mother’s day. This post is written¬†for my awesome Mommy. I love you and I wish I could celebrate with you.

This week has been super busy with lots of trips to the village. It really reminds me of childhood in Hannahville, PA. The iris, tulips, trees, and more are all a bloom.

The fields are being worked for the harvest come fall. the tillers are ripping up lots of weeds and we are removing the rest.

blooming wall of rock

I went out yesterday to take a pic of all the flowers blooming about the rock wall and discovered this.

Mating Snails!

There were three sets of mating snails at the base of the wall not 2 feet apart. Kinda kinky, huh? Nature is surprising and intriguing all the time. just like when I was a kid.

Yesterday the hubby and I got to work in the field together trimming pesky seedlings planted by fallen cherries. Milan helped me to learn how to drive the tractor. Not a difficult task, but something that will take a few more lessons to learn. with the strange gear shift and all the brakes… well all two. ūüėČ still.

The long shadows of the end of the day make me tall. Something only a set of heels does otherwise.

Working in the fields is a pleasure for me. Mama got to take care of the little tyke while I explored the great outdoors with the hubby. so many treasures. New flowers and plants I have never seen before! some familiar ones too.

I found this lovely nest nestled in the ground among the weeds.

Tiny speckled eggs, that will soon hatch tiny baby birdies.

The days work also brought the joy of finding a little shack at the edge of a stream below the fields. The shade of the trees and the air coming of the  stream creates a natural air conditioning system so welcoming after working in the sun filled fields.  Mosquitoes are the only downfall of this respite.

Close to the shed there is also a necessary room, that sets atop the creek.

and not far away is a little bridge that traverses the creek to other fields that lay nearby.

The bridge was used later to get to the tractor in a neighboring field. There was one more field to fertilize on the way home.

Then we went home to our little baby and Baba.

Our little rockstar was all tuckered out after the long day.

We send you lot of warm wishes and hugs and kisses on this special day.
XOXO

Dobar Dan