Since ancient times, working in and with nature has been something deeply gratifying. There is a kinship one can feel, a kinship to the natural world, carried by deep love to the beauty of life. In nature, one can see and feel the harmonious interconnection of all things and constant change – a change that happens organically and is at the same time wild and untamed. Getting in touch with this world is a pure blessing and one can only be grateful to be able to experience it.
It happened to be that we could dive into this ancient life style of working with nature and together as a group when my daughter, Anna-Sophie, and her friends rented an old farmhouse just an hour south of Vienna. Renovation was needed on every corner. Those in our family who live in Vienna went out there and helped to start the project. We encountered a magical world!
Entrance of the farm house
The several hundred years old farmhouse (the roof expansion was added about 40 years ago) is surrounded by a huge yard. Nobody lived there the last 15 years. During this time, nature took over as much as it could – the place seemed in a 100 year long sleep.
The statue of the Buddha was found under a tree covered with vines. Canon, the Buddha of compassion (to the left) and the nativity scene were found in an old fire pit in the yard. The statues kept their whiteness.
Inspecting the yard and deciding what needs to be done first
A little playhouse for children was totally overgrown by a blooming vine. The smell was fabulous and thousands of bees visited the flowers. It made me sad that we had to cut the vine away for the little house to be saved.
Andy cutting for many hours through the thick wall of stems and branches
Cutting, cutting, cutting….
The play house freed of the vines
The yard was magical in its wildness and beauty. However, vines and shrubs covered buildings, house walls, and crawled even through the floor of the farmhouse into the living room. We needed to start the process of liberation. During this process, amazing things came into light. For example, a huge blackberry shrub covered a Renault 4 with the keys still in the starter and four winter tires in the back. Nobody knew why the car was left the way it was.
Renaut 4 under a roof of wild blackberries
Lorenz and Anna-Sophie cutting away an elderberry shrub destroying the roof and the gutter
This gazebo was totally overgrown by shrubs.
A charming little cart was found in the overgrown area beside the gazebo.
Tearing down a dead tree with common efforts
A waterfall of vines with the first leaves turning red. These vines stayed untouched in its beauty and continue to grow.
Ale raking the dried grass cut by a helpful neighbour. In the background, you see one of many piles of cut shrubs and dead wood.
We had so much fun working together as a group
Urgent work needed also to be done in the former stable and the wooden barn. Hay still filled the feeding troughs for cattle and the wood, which once covered the earth floor, had totally deteriorated.
Max inspects the chicken loft before Lorenz dismantles it with the heavy pickaxe
David cleaned up the floor of the barn
Anna-Sophie working with a pickaxe
We all helped to deepen the stable floor 20 inches. Many wheelbarrows of dried heap, rocks and clay had to be brought outside, making a huge pile. This project is still not finished. This room will become a workshop for the house.
Sometimes, a rest was necessary
The kitchen was big enough to prepare warm meals for all of us. Cooking on the old gas oven without a security switch off reminded me of my childhood.
Lia prepared a cocktail of ginger, curcuma, cumin and linseed oil – they all know how to live healthy. One of their projects for next year is to prepare a section of land for a vegetable garden.
After a long day of work, it was so relaxing to sit around the fire, listen to stories and the guitar music played by Max and Andy.
Lorenz found this glove in the yard. Somebody a long time ago used it and worked with it. It seemed to be a perfect symbol for that what we were doing – working together as a group without any pressure or obligations.