So after leaving Berlin I had a half day stopover in Zagreb before heading to Slovenia to meet my classmate Andrej. Zagreb seemed like a small but nice capital city, surrounded by mountains and with lots of green areas. I don’t have much else to say about it except here are a few pictures.
Andrej met me at the train station of his town, Zagorje, with two other classmates Mark (Canada), and Brecht (Belgium). The 1.5 hour ride from Zagreb was a good introduction to what the majority of Slovenia is like. Beautiful mountains filled with lakes, rivers, windy roads, mountains side farms (including vineyards), Yosemite-like terrain, and generally one of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen.
We moved onto Andrej’s families farm and his awesome and hilarious dad greeted us with a barbecue and proper Slovenian food. In general that implies meat, more meat, potatoes, more potatoes, and some salad. One of the grillables include a typical Serbian/Bosnian pork sausage called cevapcici, which is also popular in other former Yugoslavian countries like Croatia and Slovenia.
Following dinner I had my turn with the cows. They have 14 cows on the farm, which they feed primarily grass but also a little corn that they are growing and drying on their land. First I fed the lone calf, filling up the wine bottle with it’s mom’s milk and letting it gulp it down immediately. Then I proceeded to have Andrej’s mom show me how to milk the cows. No problems there. Talk to it a bit, hit it on the side, and proceed milking into the pan. They milk 5 of the 14 cows twice a day, in the morning and evening. So the family has fresh milk daily. Then, I proceeded with the shit shoveling, which must be done daily also. Let me say, 14 cows create a lot of shit! I split the work with Brecht and we each filled about 3 or 4 wheelbarrows which probably consisted of only about half of the day’s poop.
Feeding the calf:
Milking under supervision:
Scooping the poop into wheelbarrow and removing:
They also have a big chicken coop. They just keep the chickens for eggs. Plus 3 pigs, which they use for pork (they make and dry their own sausage which was phenomenal). Then they have lots of random fruit trees over their land. Cherry, walnut, apple, pear, and so on, so they are having fresh fruit many times throughout the year. Then they are also growing lots of lettuce, tomatoes, green/regular onions, herbs, peppers, and a variety of other vegetables. Plus they have a bee house and make their own honey. This in addition to the 6 lounging cats and dog make it quite the full farm! And it is in a truly breathtaking setting in the middle of the mountains. Andrej said his dad rebuilt their house when he inherited it but it has been in the family for 6 generations. They have a wood burning stove which they are filling each time they cook. They distill their own schnapps. They are growing wheat which after cutting they send out to be milled, then they make bread regularly. Let me say, being used to crappy white bread, that stuff is dense! 1 or two pieces and you are full. Even they say most Slovenian farmers aren’t doing it this way anymore, his dad just really enjoys it.
Hanging and drying corn:
One of the wheat fields:
The view of their house and barns from the top of one of their hills:
The hilarity of the entire time on his farm was that his dad thought I was way too skinny and wanted me to get bigger by the time I left. I would sit next to him, he would scoop my portions (which would be massive for what I am used to), then say ‘repete!’ at the end, for repeat. I definitely say that by the end my appetite had expanded. Definitely faaaaaar from hungry at the end of each meal. And communicating with papa Cebela was hilarious and done mostly by hand gestures or through translations by Andrej or his siblings. By the end Mark & Brecht & I had learned the basic phrases like thank you, good morning, etc. On the day we left he gave Mark & I hats and coin pouches. It was truly enjoyable and relaxing there and the hospitality was overwhelming. Andrej even clothed me before I left since they seemed to have hundreds of extra shirts lying around and I now am the owner of 3 new (used) Slovenian shirts! Haha…
The day's milk (after boiled the layer of cream forming on top is used in the coffee... never had 'real' cream but it is a unique and strange texture).
Where the poop is stored to be used for fertilizer:
The bee house:
The main barn storing some tractors, 14 cows (feeding holes on the side), 3 pigs, the upper half storing grass for the winter, and in the back Andrej's brother has a shop where he repairs smart cars::