My wife and I are very glad to be home again after two weeks of traveling my ancestral homeland in southern Germany. In the 1860’s, my great grandfather bravely left the house/barn he was born in to come to America.
We went to the region in hope of finding that original home and enjoying learning more about my heritage. In the process, we learned a few things that may be in the future of agriculture in the Northeast.
While I couldn’t find that home, many such combination house/barns still stand there, housing several generations of humans and animals. Quite by coincidence, we stayed in a lake-side hotel having a breath-taking view of an Alps on one side and a hillside pasture with Brown Swiss heifers plus a house/barn on the other.
Guess which view we got. Hint: The scene and faint farm scent make us feel right at home. And just down the road -- and I mean down -- was the village of Moos.
We explored awesome cathedrals, museums, castles and fortresses of Munich, Koln, Heidelburg, Nurenburg, Middle-Age Rothenburg (tourist trap) and Salzburg, Austria. We saw buildings and contents dating back to 1100 A.D. – feudal Europe and Roman times.
In the cities, trains and bicycles were the main transportation systems. We saw women riding bicycles to work in their high heels. Southern Germany must have 100 times as many used bike sale and repair centers as used car dealers.
Small diesel autos ruled the roads. During our two weeks, we spotted only two pickup trucks – both diesel-powered. What would you expect with diesel fuel priced equivalent to $7.37 a gallon and super-unleaded at $8.54?
A picture of tomorrow’s Northeast
Traveling through the countryside to get to those cities was more interesting to me. Here's a quick list of farm potentials that I saw for the Northeast:
- Much more intensive cropping with alternating bands, for example, of corn and vegetable crops, cover crops and possibly trap crops. It may be an integrated pest management approach.
- Many apple tree blocks in the fruit-belt covered with sun shades.
- Much intensive grazing with water wagons and mineral containers.
- The most notable observation was farm after farm of solar collector fields, and solar collectors on houses and barns often on the same farms.
I’m proud of my German background and work ethic. But I learned something from a highly-educated tour guide, after I told him I about my roots. “You are not a Bavarian,” he stated. “You are a barbarian!
“Bavaria was populated by more sophisticated Austrians and Swiss. The rest of Germany was populated by barbarians.” Of course, a man raised in Switzerland would say that.
We enjoyed the vacation, the foods, and culture of Germany. But we were very happy to return to America, and particularly – as our daughter said when she was very young – “to my very own bed.”
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