An Evening Stroll and a Bit of History

I had to take a day off of work because I have (again) sprained my fingers when working on my current project. So I decided that not working one-two days is better than pushing through the pain and risk even longer and worse effects.

If I get the project to work, I will make a post about it, but so far it is only frustration and failures. So I have also decided to go for a walk whilst I think about things and how to solve the problems that I have encountered. I did not take my camera with me, but I snapped a few pictures with my phone and here they are.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

This year’s wet and cold summer was very good for one thing – grass. The meadows surrounding our town have been mown for third time. This time they did not dry hay, for that the weather is not sufficiently warm and dry anymore, even on a sunny day. So they have wrapped the still-wet grass in these huge plastic-covered bales where it will ferment a bit before being fed to livestock in the winter. This has become quite popular in last years and some years they do not harvest dry hay at all. This year they did, two harvests of hay and one of this fermented plastic-wrapped thingy.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I live in a very windy area, which has downsides. The wide-spread meadows surrounding my house sitting near the top of a hill mean that in winter, my house is fully exposed to frequent western winds, which significantly affects my heating bill. One upside is that this area is suitable for windmills, so there are several on the opposite side of the town. Here you can see one of those windmills, standing still because there was no wind today evening. It is quite far away. In fact, the whole town is between me and that windmill, only you cannot see it because 90% of the town is in a valley, with a few dozen houses scattered around it in meadows.

This peculiar layout of a town is not a result of deliberate planning, it is an accident of history. The town was a fairly big industrial center in its peak time pre-WW2, with over 15.000 inhabitants. A lot of the land that is pastures/meadows today was inhabited in those times (although it was still a bit scattered, essentially town surrounded by homesteads, each with a garden and a few patches of field). But after WW2 the original German inhabitants were deported and the communist regime had no interest to really resettle an area this close to the German border, so only a few thousand people came in, from other parts of former Czechoslovakia. Including my family which originates from the Giant Mountains.

In the cadaster maps, there are still patches of land that are marked as “building plot” or “pathway plot” that are a part of a continuous meadow today. In fact, my garden consists of two garden plots and a pathway that does not exist for over fifty years now. Because after not repopulating the area, the communist regime had most of the empty buildings demolished and the gardens and pathways were usually plowed into the fields whenever possible. In some areas, there remains a testament to these former pathways, like three huge sycamores behind my house, which are all that remain from an alleyway. Thus my house, originally one in a reasonably long street became one of two stranded in the middle of a meadow, completely exposed to west winds. My father tells me that even the path leading to our house was almost plowed over, he intervened with the tractor driver and had to talk some common sense into him so he leaves at least one path to each of the still inhabited houses.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

My attempts at snapping a shot of kestrel hovering above the grass bales were unsuccessful, who would have thought that tiny camera lens with no zoom won’t be suitable for bird watching. But I did snap a picture of an airplane leaving behind it the poisonous track of mind-controlling chemicals, a chemtrail!!11!. Ever since I was a kid I have been somewhat fascinated by these. I do, in fact, remember asking my father what they are as a kid on an evening similar to this one. He gave me a reasonably good explanation given that there was no internet back then and that he has no higher education.


  1. Jazzlet says

    Going for a walk often seems to let your mind mind find solutions it couldn’t when you were concentreating on a problem. I hope your fingers settle down, and that you find a way through the problem project.

    That fermented grass is called “silage” in English. We see a lot of it most years because of our relatively wet summers.

  2. Ice Swimmer says

    Wishing for the best for your fingers!

    Here the plastic-wrapped silage bales are called tractor eggs (Finnish: traktorinmuna).

  3. Ice Swimmer says

    My farmer relatives would call silage “AIV”. The letters come from the initials of the inventor of modern silage. Artturi Ilmari Virtanen and his research group discovered in 1920s that if the silage would be acidic enough, it wouldn’t affect the taste of milk, spoil or lose very much nutrients. The acidity was ensured by adding small amounts of strong acids to the silage (initially sulphuric acid and hydrochloric acid, nowadays formic acid).

    The AIV silage and the AIV butter salting method made it possible for Finland to export more butter to UK during the winter, starting from around 1930.

  4. lumipuna says

    I understand AIV is a type of silage that uses initial “spicing” with acid to ensure the strong dominance of lactic acid bacteria during the fermentation, which results in high quality preserved feed, and in fact the spicing may be nowadays done using a culture of lactic acid bacteria.

    According to English Wikipedia, there is “sour silage” that is based on lactic acid fermentation and “sweet silage” that is based on some other kind of fermentation. Apparently the most common type in modern times is the AIV method sour silage -- in fact Finnish Wikipedia doesn’t even have anything to say on other types. Finnish Wiki also suggests Virtanen invented sour silage, whereas English Wiki says natural lactic acid fermentation (as in sauerkraut) has been commonly used since 19th century.

  5. says

    Ah, silage was the word I failed to recollect, despite growing up in the country and being in contact with the stuff every year. I might be getting old, or just confused by this different language thingy. The worst thing about this instance though is that the word “silage” is nearly identical in Czech, albeit with different spelling (siláž).

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