After a couple unsatisfying hours of CoD I get up for a change of pace. My first impulse is to grab my kindle and head outside but as I step out into the courtyard it just doesn’t feel right. I scan the sky while considering my options and after deciding that the rains seems to have moved off I head back inside, drop off my kindle, and go looking for a fishing rod.
I find the rod in a storage room downstairs. What else do I need? I don’t know much about fishing…ah! There’s a net, I guess that’s useful. Don’t I need bait? I scan the room until my eyes fall on a dead fly on the windowsill. Well…ok. I impale the fly on the hook and head out to the pond. It takes me a few casts to get the hang of it and by the time I do the fly is gone. I’ve seen more bugs on this farm than I’ve seen this whole year in Prague so I figure something useable can’t be too far. I grab a stick, dig around in the dirt, and find a worm before I know it. It’s kind of tough to get the worm on the hook because its so skinny and before long its gone too.
I go scavenging again and after overturning an old dilapidated piece of wood I find a couple big slugs of the variety I’ve already slaughtered out in the veggie beds. I grab one the slimy fuckers and get casting. The problem is I have no idea what the hell I’m supposed to do. Do I let it sit still? Don’t they always talk about patience when they talk about fishing? But aren’t I suppose to move it along so it looks alive? Should I keep it moving, or jerk it around then stop and wait? I don’t know so I just keep trying a bunch of different ways.
I think I feel a tug but it could be anything. At some point the slug is gone so I go looking for more which turns out to be no problem except the as soon as I find them I have to beat the chickens to them. I’m pulling along when the completely unexpected happens — something pulls back. I start reeling in faster and now it’s unmistakable, there’s something hooked.
I reel and reel taking a few steps back and before I know it I’ve got a huge fish flopping in and out of the water. It’s way bigger than I expected to find in this pond, eighteen inches at least with a sharp pointed snout (can I use snout to describe a fish’s head?) which I will later learn is characteristic of Northern Pike. I’ve never really made it this far into fishing and I’m kind of at a loss for what to do. The line feels like its going to break at any second, the net is just out of reach, so I reach for the line to pull it in by hand. Then all of a sudden the line is slack and the fish is gone.
I realize my heart is beating and I’m exhilarated. I’m going to get this fucker. I go back for another slug and in my zealousness I end up slinging two slugs clear across the lake — the first plop is the hook, the second the slug 50 feet away. Oops. I find another, bigger, worm and hook that one up good.
Cast, reel, jerk, reel, jerk, reel, reel, nothing. Again. Again. Again. I’m hooked.
"Nate! Catch anything?" "What? No…almost!" "You coming to the pub?" "Pub…yeah…yeah I’ll catch up I gotta put this stuff away…oh, how do I get there?" "Just keep going left." "Left, got it. Just three more casts I tell myself. Well, that one doesn’t count it hardly went anywhere at all. Five to ten casts later I pull myself away, clean up, and head down the road into town.
It’s a three km walk into Votice and I didn’t think to ask the name of the pub they were going to but I figure there can’t be too many pubs to choose from. I stop in at the first place with high hopes but scan the room and see no Americans. I continue on but the next place is a herna bar and it’s hard to imagine them there so I double back and check the back patio of the first place where I find the gang. Dinner is fine but I’m practically falling asleep at the table. The walk back with Dar, Leah, and Kevin is really nice though.
Yet another restless night this time with very vivid dreams of light green watermelon (the inside, not the outside) and hammering nails into my own kneecaps to name a few. Weird.
Outside at eight and Ingmar assigns us to another day of strimming. Today i take a weed wacker. It’s kind of hard but kind of satisfying to lay waste to whole colonies of nettle and there’s very visible progress to be seen. Still its tough and we’re at it for five hours straight. While trimming out behind the back of the greenhouse something catches my eye and I stop to go check it out.
Yup. That’s what I thought. Ingmar you dog. He’s got a couple peculiar yet unmistakable five leafed plants hidden behind the tomatoes. I don’t know anything about growing these things but I can tell its not ready yet so I get back to strimming. We call it quits at 12:55 and I’m definitely sore today. I walk the long away around the back of the barn and pick two jacket pocketfuls of blackberries to snack on later.
Leftover pasta and banana splits for lunch. It starts raining right on schedule at 1:30 so I pop on Inglorious Basterds and Sam sits down to watch it with me. After the movie I bum around for awhile until I get restless and head out to try my luck at fishing again. I pick a bagful of slugs on the way out of the courtyard and head down to the pond. An hour of slinging slugs and no bites later I pack up and head back into the farm. One of the neighbors is walking her dogs as I’m walking back and we have a very broken Czinglish conversation.
"asdklj asieuaekj Ryba?" Ah, I know that word. It means fish. "Ne ryba" I smile sadly. She peaks into my bag of slugs and looks very disappointed "Neeee. askjkasjd as dkja jase ae hke." I shrug sheepishly, "Neumim cesky, pardon." "Neumim anglicky. Rusky?" "Ne…." "asdjhasd ajsee akase j eh" she pantomimes digging in the dirt and looking for worms. I pantomime back a worm to show I understand and she smiles " Yo! yo! America?" "Yo, California." "Oooh. California super!" "Yo, tady super." "Tady super? Ne." "Yo, yo, tady super and Praha super." I point towards the neighbors house in a questioning way and she answers with a nod "asdjhk akse bebushka. Bebushka mama." "ooooh" I understand now. We’ve reached the gate to the farm so I wave goodbye and she waves back "Ahoj!"
Dinner of borsche made by Sam. A new volunteer from Buffalo, NY shows up named Stephen, and an early night because I’m exhausted.
Seven o’clock is starting to feel earlier and earlier. It’s the usual breakfast of two eggs, toast, and coffee before meeting Igmar in the courtyard at 7:55. Maria is sent to the kitchen to help Mia, Kevin goes off to keep working on the bees as usual, and Gerard, Sam, Stephen and myself are sent to take care of the animals. After feeding the cats, dogs, chickens, turkeys, geese, goats, pigs, and peacocks as well as cleaning up the pig’s shit we go find Igmar for further instructions.
Two people need to mill more wheat and two people need to take care of something else. I get assigned to wheat duty because I’ve done it already and Gerard comes with me. Igmar gives his same militaristic spiel to Gerard about the million ways not to mill wheat which I can tell goes right over Gerard’s head because his english isn’t that great and Maria isn’t around to translate. After Igmar leaves I reexplain how to do it via gestures and grunts and I can tell that Gerard understands. Last time I was doing the positioning and the stacking but the containers are somewhere between 60-100 lbs when they’re full of ground wheat and my forearms were killing me so I opted for the more consistent but less strenuous task of bailing wheat from the 1,000 lb bag into the mill.
After we finish we meet back up with Stephen and Sam and after a few small chores we’re all sent over to a pallet stacked with plastic bags of wood pellets. We have to move the bags from the pallet into a storeroom by hand. The pallet has a metric ton in 15 kg bags. It’s tough. Very tough. Igmar says we’ll do two pallets today but Sam loves to show how hard of a worker he is and eggs Igmar on into giving us another, and then yet another pallet. By the fourth pallet we’re all completely pooped but we make it through and you can tell Igmar is kind of impressed. He even let’s us off for the day around 12:25.
I said something about my arms being sore before but now I really mean it. I’m SORE. I don’t even take a shower I’m so tired, I just scramble up some eggs, sink into the chair, and play the dumbed down console version of Civ. After conquering the world around the middle ages I prolong the game for another 30 minutes or so so that I can develop a worthy nuclear arsenal. I diligently allow the Mongols, the Persians, and the Russians to climb themselves back into the game while I pump all my resources into scientific advancements only to find out that this dumbed down version only allows you ONE measley ICBM. Not even enough to destroy a single city let alone the world.
I turn off the console in disgust and hop in a car with Kevin, Sam, Stephen, and Leah who are headed to a nearby town to check out a small brewery. I can’t drink because of the metronidazole but it’s nice to take a ride and get out anyways.
We get back to the farm around 19:30 and I force myself to sit down and write this out before I get any further behind. Dinner is borsch again which personally I didn’t think was all that great the first time but that’s ok because Kevin’s making wood-fired pizza tomorrow. I anticipate another early night and hopefully a better night’s rest due to exhaustion and the winter blanket Mia brought out for me this afternoon.
I don’t have many pictures of the farm to share that really give you a sense of the place, just snap shots of odd moments throughout the day (and also what may possibly turn out to be the crown jewel of my dead bird collection). But Kevin is here on some sort of journalistic mission writing an article and some blog entries so I’ll link you to his flickr:
**protip: look for the ones that say Votice