During the Vorlesungsfreiezeit (i.e. really long Easter holiday) here in Germany, I spent a month volunteering at a hunting lodge and horse farm in Lower Saxony. After a few very early and very cold mornings trying to push wheelbarrows around and apologising for being too weak to do even the simplest physical work well, I was beginning to wonder whether this hadn’t all been a huge mistake. But once spring began to make an appearance and I’d become accustomed to the work, and to huge German breakfasts, I started to enjoy myself.
After finishing the morning’s work in the stables I was free to do as I pleased, so I would spend the afternoon riding, cycling round the village or walking the dogs. The lifestyle on the farm could not have been more different to what I was used to in Heidelberg. They were very proud of never buying meat, always sourcing it themselves from the local area. I was pleased to hear about the relationship they have with the surrounding countryside – never hunting enough to create an imbalance and only at specified times. What’s more, the animals have an incredible life there. During my time on the farm we ate almost exclusively deer or wild boar, with potatoes prepared in an astonishing variety of ways. I was surprised to be presented with spaghetti bolognese one evening, only to be told the meat was, in fact, Wildschwein. I should have expected it by then.
Amy – Heidelberg, Germany