Tao Te Ching


This is my summary of the book Tao Te Ching:

To me personally The book Tao Te Ching makes a very plain first impression. As I got into reading the first few chapters, the main focus of the book seemed to be the art of living, which the author writes about in a meditative, didactic way.

Ink on silk manuscript of the Tao Te Ching, 2nd C, BC

Ink on silk manuscript of the Tao Te Ching, 2nd C, BC


Take the sentence "Let the Tao be present in your life and you will become genuine." It tells you what to do and how to live your everyday life. A bit like a prayer it continues in a parallel sentence structure, like this:

“The Tao is great.
The universe is great.
Earth is great.
Man is great.
These are the four great powers.”

At this point I asked myself, if by "Man" he meant the entire human species? To me  Homo sapiens aren’t such a great species, because its mainly makes bad contributions to earth and nature are often deleterious. I personally wouldn‘t mention the human as one of four great powers. Other species on earth are more elegant and less destructive. But maybe it was important to the author because this book gives advice on how to live your life as a human being and how to make the best of it.

In one poem Mitchell describes the "Tao" as an invisible power, which flows through everything and cannot be compared to anything material. It reminds me of a person religious people call “God", since it has existed even before the creation of the universe. But other than God you can't define the Tao so well. Everyone imagines it in a different way; some people might think of it as a ghost-like creature, others think of it as a cross or a rainbow.

The positive thing about the Tao is, that people of all religions and secularism can get advice from it regardless of race, gender, sexuality or religious beliefs.

It is a smart read on social, political and ethical/moral issues (e.g. "When the country falls into chaos, patriotism is born.")

In conclusion, anyone can learn something from this book to improve their way of living or their way of thinking about certain topics. And the way a person thinks about something affects their way of acting and can result in different consequences.

--- Jana Adali

Langston Hughes and the Radiance of Poetry

I started reading through the collections of Langston Hughes poems at night. At the start I didn't know that the loneliness of the night is matched in his poems.

The book "Selected Poems of Langston Hughes" is a collection of poems which were chosen by Langston Hughes himself. The Collection of Poetry is divided into 13 chapters. Each chapter is about a special topic. 

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

The first chapter is about African Americans. The poems in this chapter are mostly about slavery, poor working conditions, and dreams of being free and enjoying life. I think Mr. Highes chose this topic for the first chapter because it is an underlying and ongoing issue for all African Americans in America. Period.



The second chapter is about Jesus and praying.  The topic of the second chapter is purposeful, answering affirmatively to the first chapter - with the hope that many African Americans and many other people find through religion.

Yet in the chimera of hope, Langston Hughes’s poems are melancholic and sad. 

He writes about people, mostly black people, working and living in adverse conditions. 

His love poems are about heartbreak, loneliness or lovesickness, but ultimately about love.

Almost every poem also includes a spontaneous wish for hope, the hope that shines in all of us, that hope that everything is going to be better. Someday.

—- Klara Lobmayr

Brocade River Poems

Summary: Brocade River Poems [Xue Tao's Poetry from Maggie's library]

Xue Tao was born around 786  A.D. in China during the Tang Dynasty, and died late in 831 (or in the next year). Xue Tao lived as an independent woman which was not easy nor common in this time. 

Xue Tao's portrait by  Qiu Ying .

Xue Tao's portrait by Qiu Ying.

Her father worked for the government. He died when she was a little girl. He may have given her some kind of literary education, including knowledge of how to compose poems. When her father died, her family sent her to one of the houses, a common punishment for families of criminals. There she met a lot of artists started to write poetry herself. 

Female entertainers in medieval China looked with contempt on the women who worked in “marketplace brothels”. Yet these women entertainers had guild and paid taxes to the government that regulated and protected them. Courtesans performed at public events and the town Chengdu was well-known for its entertainment district. At parties these women facilitated much of the social interaction of powerful and cultured men. After years of training in the arts, famous courtesans attached to the most prestigious houses. The men who associate with Xue Tao had one or more wives at home.

Xue´s work suggest that she often entertained important visitors to Chengdu by composing poems in their honor at parties. She was awarded the title “Collator”. 

In her early forties she met Yuan Zhen. This was the start of her relationship with him. Yuan Zhen is known for his poetry, his prose and his influence on the literary movements of the era. Yuan Zhen was ten years younger than Xue Tao. She might have left Chengdu to live for a time with Yuan, but this is not readily corroborated. It is also unclear if all of her poems was written for Yuan Zhen or for someone else, but it is said that she wrote poems for him. 

One of the poems is called “Sending old Poems to Yuan Zhen”. This must have been meant for him. 


— Tina Reitermayr at Woodlawn Farm, Ridge MD August 2018

Tall Trees in Georgia

Here is a video taken by Klara in Georgia.  As Monika described, we moved from a temperate climate to a tropical climate.

Our interns were just finishing a massive 2 day project, pruning Formosa Azaleas 5 meters high and removing wisteria and greenbriar vines, old wood and debris that had collected for 40+ years or as long as anyone can remember. 

Here they are pulling away a particularly difficult vine, just as the rain came pouring down on to the live oaks, magnolias, and our seemingly small but intrepid landscape managers.

Even inside, trees are hard to miss and always nose in on the scenery.

Jana and Klara reading in the library at the Reid House Farm. 

Jana and Klara reading in the library at the Reid House Farm. 

Yes, Georgia is the land of tall and magical trees. Here is a lovely footage of my favorite recording artist Eva Cassidy --- Tall Trees in Georgia.  Her parents were from Georgia.

"Fields of Gold" and "Over the Rainbow" are also my favorites from 1996. The Washington Post commented that year that "she could sing anything — folk, blues, pop, jazz, R&B, gospel — and make it sound like it was the only music that mattered." She died the same year from metastatic melanoma, aged 33.

These recordings of Fields of Gold and Over the Rainbow, as well as Tall Trees in Georgia, are from one of her last performances at Blues Alley, Georgetown, earlier in the same year.


Tall trees in Georgia. They grow so high, they shade me so.
I'm sadly walking through the thicket I go.
The sweetest love I ever had I left aside
Because I did not want to be any man's bride.

My parents took me where ever I traveled out.
I traveled west and north and east and south.
When I grew older and married I would be,
I found my sweetheart, he would not marry me.

When I was younger the boys a-courtin' came around
But now I'm older and they're all settled down.
Young girls take warning and don't complain
And 'don't make moan,
For if you're fickle you'll soon be left alone.

Control your mind, my girl, and give your heart to one,
For if you love all men you'll sure be left with none.
And if perfection were to be found in mortal men
We'd soon grow tired and go off alone again.

Tall trees in Georgia. They grow so high, they shade me so.
I'm sadly walking through the thicket I go.

Here it is again from the Native American (Canadian) woman who wrote the music and the lyrics, Buffy Sainte-Marie. Buffy Sainte-Marie was born in 1941 on the Piapot Plains Cree First Nation Reserve in the Qu'Appelle ValleySaskatchewan, Canada. She was adopted, growing up in Massachusetts, with parents Albert and Winifred Sainte-Marie, a Wakefield, Massachusetts couple of Mi’kmaq descent. 


--- Maggie O'Brien

How to Become an Expert Gardener in a Tropical Climate. Get up Early and Eat a Big Breakfast!

Hi guys,

We are back in Maryland after a week in Georgia and Florida.

We were staying in a big, beautiful house, with a big garden. The area is very impressive, and the garden is really magical. There is a lot of Spanish moss hanging down from the trees which leads to, in combination with the palm and magnolia trees, a fairytale mood.

Sunlight in the trees at the Reid House Farm.

Sunlight in the trees at the Reid House Farm.

But the highlight is when the sun is rising in the morning and the light glows in the trees. And in the evening it is possible to see some owls. 

Morning sunlight in the palm and live oak trees.

Morning sunlight in the palm and live oak trees.


A big garden needs a lot of care and so it was our work place for our week in Florida and Georgia.  Before we were able to start work each day, it was really necessary to have a good breakfast, to have enough force for the work.

Also it was really important to use mosquito spray. 

The kitchen at the Reid House Farm.

The kitchen at the Reid House Farm.

Getting ready to head out to the gardens from the porch. Bits of dirt from the previous day. When we finished, we also cleaned the porch and Maggie was extremely pleased.

Getting ready to head out to the gardens from the porch. Bits of dirt from the previous day. When we finished, we also cleaned the porch and Maggie was extremely pleased.

In the first days Jana and Klara cut some bushes and Lisa and Tina cleaned a secondary area of  azaleas in the arrival area. The rest of us started in to new territory where azaleas hadn't been cut down for 40 years. We cut down 5 meter Formosa Azalea bushes to 1/3 meter. This was a lot of work, because there were a lot of vines with thorns. That’s how we got one or another of the cuts on our legs, but with the teamwork of all together (including Maggie) we were able to finish our work in the beautiful garden.

Here is where I started with Verena and Elisabeth. Behind me and in front of Verena you can see the shrubs really are 5 meters. 

Here is where I started with Verena and Elisabeth. Behind me and in front of Verena you can see the shrubs really are 5 meters. 

Our work started early in the morning, because in the afternoon it got quite hot and humid so that it was impossible to work effectively. We were surprised how much landscape we cleared and improved. Now there is a big heap of debris in front of the garden which will be removed by the town next week.

Here is Elisabeth hauling wisteria vines that were choking the camelias. 

Here is Elisabeth hauling wisteria vines that were choking the camelias. 

Verena with a big pile of vines. 

Verena with a big pile of vines. 

Verena and I are raking the final debris from the first clump.

Verena and I are raking the final debris from the first clump.

Tina and Lisa starting in to the second large clump of Formosa Azaleas. 

Tina and Lisa starting in to the second large clump of Formosa Azaleas. 

There is still a lot to do but in the future the Reid House Farm will also be a place for weddings.


--- Monika Friedl

A Trip to Florida

On Friday we went to the Sunshine State -- Florida. After 2 hours driving, we arrived at the beautiful white sand beach on St. George Island. There we spent some hours in the sun swimming and relaxing.

Enjoying the sun at St. George Island.

Enjoying the sun at St. George Island.

After that we went to Carrabelle where our apartment was located. First it was a little bit difficult for us to find the right place. We had dinner at a quite trashy restaurant. But the food there was tasteful and we met some nice women who were a little bit crazy. On the way home we saw the world's smallest police station.

Look! What's that?  --The world's smallest police station. --

Look! What's that?  --The world's smallest police station. --

On the second day of our trip we went to a town named Apalachicola. It was a little bit rainy in the morning but nevertheless we enjoyed shopping there and eating lunch at a very nice place where we had a great view of the water. In the afternoon we went to the beach again. The sun was shining very strongly so we all got a great tan. We stayed there nearly until nine o' clock to see the sunset.

On Sunday we headed back to Thomasville but stopped at the Governor's Square which is located in Tallahassee. Finally we were able to go to the famous Victoria's Secret store. After shopping in such a big mall we went to our favorite store -- Marshalls. Now we can look back to a great trip to Florida, where we spent a nice time although some of us got a sunburn. 

Here you can see the sunset at Carrabelle.

Here you can see the sunset at Carrabelle.

--- Elisabeth Kumpfmüller 

So Much to Do! So Little Time!

Movie Theater
On Sunday we went to the movies to see Mamma Mia! — Here we go again. When we arrived at the cinema, we were a little bit confused at first as we couldn’t answer a question we were asked by one of the workers there.

He soon realised that we must be from another country as we didn’t know how the system in this cinema works, so he explained it to us. Further, we bought Nachos, mozarella sticks and popcorn to have some food during the film, so we didn‘t have to starve.

When we went to the room where they played our movie, we were very surprised by the chairs there! You could move them to nearly a sleeping position — very relaxing. In Austria we don’t have such luxurious seats, not even in the VIP area! The only bad thing was that it was quite cold in there.


Before the movie started, they played a lot of commercials and trailers. The movie was very nice to watch and we all enjoyed it a lot. We didn‘t have any problems with understanding what the actors were saying, either. What a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

We are able to try a lot of new things here. Last week Maggie tought us how to do wallpapering. In the beginning she showed us places in the house where wallpapering already has been done and told us about the techniques used and some of the difficulties they in certain areas.

Tina and Lisa are hanging a piece into a corner (tricky!) while Monika is preparing to cut another section. 

Tina and Lisa are hanging a piece into a corner (tricky!) while Monika is preparing to cut another section. 

Further, she showed us how to identify a good quality wallpaper and which pattern she likes. After this short introduction we got started. Maggie showed us how to mix the glue for the wallpaper for adhering it to the wall,  and how to measure and cut the roll. She helped us try our first pieces on the wall on our own, but we always had to help together in pairs or groups of three, because it was a little bit difficult to keep the wallpaper on the wall and assure there are no wrinkles. We didn’t have enough time to finish the whole room but enough that we could already see a huge difference! Some of us are already thinking about continuing with wallpapering at home, too. Hopefully our moms are as happy about that as we are..

Elizabeth and I are working together on the window edging.

Elizabeth and I are working together on the window edging.

Going to Georgia
Yesterday we had to get up very early in the morning — at 5am! The reason why? We drove to Georgia by car, which is an extremely long car ride! Because of that we had to start early.

On our way to Jubilee farm, where we met with Jim and Maggie, the man on the radio was saying "What a Monday!".

We agree. We spent all day sitting in the car listening to podcasts, music or talking to Jim. Jim told us, especially me as I was sitting in the front seat, a lot of stories about the cities we passed, occasions which had happened in his life, things he thinks are good to know about the American highways and a lot more. And I have to say, I really learned some new things!

Furthermore, I sometimes had to be Jim‘s secretary as he often got some text messages he couldn‘t answer while driving, so I read them to him and he responded at our breaks.


We stopped for little breaks to go to the restrooms, walk a little bit, use the phon, or eat something. We also stopped at "South of the Border" so we could see this very strange place. We saw some other strange things, too. For example when we stopped for dinner, we saw a motorcycle with a coffin on it!


As it got later and later we got very tired and were looking forward to our beds. When we arrived at about 11:30pm, we were so surprised by the beautiful house we had to look at all the rooms because they looked so great!


---Verena Lederbauer


Hi there,

Tuesday we were in Annapolis, a really beautiful town near Washington, D.C. My job was not just to enjoy but also to drive the car. Yes, that sounds very easy, but for Monika and me this was difficult and a bit stressful. Monika´s part was to drive us to the big shopping mall in Annapolis. We had a GPS and a map with information from Maggie with us, luckily. Because without them we would maybe be in Washington, D.C. or somewhere else. After two hours driving we were at the mall. All of us were really curious about the different shops. We found some great new clothes and the food was also very delicious. 

Then I had to prove my driving skills, because our next destination was the city of Annapolis. It was really difficult driving even with the GPS to find the right way, but luckily my navigator Verena could find the correct way.


I have to mention Verena was the best navigator I ever had. In Annapolis there are a lot of cars and the streets are really narrow. We found a parking lot at the harbour and we decided to eat ice cream. During the break I calmed down. The hardest part was to leave the city and to find the right way to the highway. I drove along streets with five lanes, a big highway beyond what I've driven before. I had to concentrate the whole time and that was very exhausting. I am not used to driving a big car like Maggie and Jim's Dodge Caravan. In general the cars in the USA are bigger than the cars in Austria and some people drive really fast.


I am now a better driver and I expect the roads in Austria will no longer be a problem for me. It was a great experience but I was really happy and relieved to be at Woodlawn again.

--- Lisa Neundlinger

PS Maybe I will write again about my encounter with a wasp after working in the vineyard Thursday!

The Privilege to Attend St. Peter Claver Church

Hey, there! Last Sunday we were privileged to experience a service in the St. Peter Claver Church. We went there because we were curious about the differences between Austrian and American churches. And we have to say, we were absolutely surprised, but in a positive way! As this church is an African Catholic Church, there was a gospel choir. With their stunning songs they made the service very lively. So did the priest, who told some jokes during the sermon. 


The people there were very friendly and conveyed to us a warm and hearty welcome. It was definitely a good decision to go there!


-Verena Lederbauer 

The Life of a Chesapeake Bay Fisherman

Hi guys!

Today we had a little change in our plans, as we went crabbing instead of wallpapering.

Together with fisherman Phil Langley (mdcharterfishing.com) we went out on the water very early in the morning with his boat Lisa S.

He showed us how he crabs. It was fascinating, because most of us have never done crabbing before. We boated from cage to cage and it was very exciting to see how many crabs were in the cages.

A Slack Team selfie including Captain Phil Langley, Lisa, Jana, TIna, Monika and Verena.

A Slack Team selfie including Captain Phil Langley, Lisa, Jana, TIna, Monika and Verena.

Phil taught us many things; how to hold a crab so it won’t claw you. or how you can identify the sex of a crab.

Tina shows us how to hold a crab --- and not get clawed!

Tina shows us how to hold a crab --- and not get clawed!

We also saw some other animals including fish and shrimp. Further, we were allowed to steer the boat! 

We had a lot of fun, as Phil was joking around all the time.

Captain Phil prepares the steam pot. Yeah, let's eat some crabs!

Captain Phil prepares the steam pot. Yeah, let's eat some crabs!

After the fishing trip, we decided to eat some of the crabs, so we seasoned them, steamed them in a big cooking pot and ate them. They were very good, but we had some difficulty opening them as this is a bit of a procedure, so Phil and his wife had to help us.

A bit of Old Bay Seasoning and life is good!

A bit of Old Bay Seasoning and life is good!

Phil’s wife got us some snacks, too. Both were really kind and we also had a great conversation with them.

Thank you two for having us! We learned so many new things, it was really nice!  


---  Jana, Lisa, Monika, Tina & Verena, Slack Farm Austria Team 2018

Verena & Friends...

Hey, my name is Verena and I’m one of the seven Austrian trainees this year. This is my second practical training in a foreign country. Last year I interned in Sweden for fourteen weeks, together with Elisabeth. We were at a dairy farm with about 200 diary cows, a lot of calves and many heifers. Our tasks included milking the cows and caring for calves, including feeding them and refreshing their boxes. The calves were extremely cute and funny, as well as curious and a little bit clumsy.

A cute little calf and me. 

A cute little calf and me. 

We cleaned the cowshed regularly, put the heifers out to new pastures, did gardening work as well as construction work as the family was building a new barn during the time we were in residence. On occasion we cooked Austrian dishes for the family we lived with or baked cakes for our co-workers, who seemed to be addicted to sweets. But our main duties were outside in the barn. 


The cows were milked three times a day, once in the morning, once in the evening and once in the middle of the day. For the milking in the morning we had to get up very early at about 4am --- which was pretty hard in the beginning as you might imagine, but we got used to it. At the end of our practical training we were quite good at milking cows and completed our work faster, too. 


In general, we had to work a lot which was often extremely exhausting, but we also gained many new skills and learned a lot – not only about farming but also about the country and the people. Our leisure time was spent either outside in the beautiful Swedish countryside or visiting cities like Stockholm or Göteborg. 


It was an amazing time there, which I talk about often because I really enjoyed it, even though the farm schedule was grueling. 

I love to create beautiful memories as I did there.

This is the reason I’m very grateful to be here in Maryland now. And I’m already very curious about the work in the vineyard and everything else we will do here. I´m really looking forward to the next 4 weeks and hope to see many new things and places, get new skills and learn as much as I did on my last internship. 


--- Verena 


The Flight to Dulles International Airport... seems a long time ago.

Hi there, we are Lisa and Tina!

We started our trip to America at eight o´clock from Upper Austria.

First we drove to the airport at Munich. It takes three hours. When we arrived at  the airport we checked in.



After four hours sitting in the plane we were in Reykjavik, Iceland. At Reykjavik we were a little bit stressed because there were a lot of people and we couldn't easily locate our gate. Luckily there were many friendly and helpful people who showed us to the gate.


After the chaotic search we sat happily in the Icelandair plane and flew straight ahead to Washington, DC,  Dulles Airport, for six hours. We were happy that we arrived without any complications and lucky our baggage arrived, too.

Jim picked us up at the international gate and brought us to Woodlawn. The time in the car with Jim passed quickly because we talked about God and the world.

Our first impression of the farms was very positive and we are curious about the four weeks at Maggie, Jim and Tucker's place. 

--- Tina Reitermayr and Lisa Neundlinger, Slack Farms Austria Intern Team


First Workday Impressions

We woke up early in the morning with jet lag on the one hand and excitement on the other. With the first step out of the door, we were surprised by the high morning temperature. But we didn't think it could get much hotter. 

When we arrived at Jubilee Farm, the sister farm to our residence at Woodlawn, our task was to weed the extensive gardens. In the beginning, as with all ventures, it went well; the sun rose as did our effort. At our first break, a very tasty, cold and refreshing beverage was served --- iced tea. Delicious.

Klara pulling weeds, more weeds, and more weeds. 

Klara pulling weeds, more weeds, and more weeds. 

The expression "many hands make light work" is clearly not just a saying. We've experienced the result of work and reward. And what was our reward for our amazing work --- weeding 1/2 acre of gardens in one day? We got to go kayaking.

Maggie showed us how to kayak through Blake Creek and back to the head waters. She guided us through the still waters until we arrived at the beaver huts. The beavers were too shy to show themselves, but we saw a Terrapin turtle and several herons. 

Jana is on the left; Lisa Neundlinger is on the right.

Jana is on the left; Lisa Neundlinger is on the right.

This is a Maryland Terrapin, an endangered turtle species. He is sunning on a beaver log.

This is a Maryland Terrapin, an endangered turtle species. He is sunning on a beaver log.

Amazingly, we didn't even capsize. All in all, it was a great first day of work and we are excited about many more experiences to come.

--- Jana Adali and Klara Lobmayr,  Slack Farm Austria Team 2018


We Were Asked to Choose a Book....

and each of us have responded with a response from our readings.  The Library at Woodlawn was the source for our books and I chose a book about the Cottage Gardens. We have been working today to restructure the "cottage gardens" at Jubilee Farm.  The pictures below say it all: love the plants you work with and don't be afraid  to shape them and the landscape they inhabit. 

Here I am with Tina reshaping the eponymous by the pool. 

Here I am with Tina reshaping the eponymous by the pool. 


In my readings I learned that the Cottage Garden has a rural charm and can be used in town, city or country. Its ambience  looks like an orderly chaos unplanned and overgrown; you will need to shape it if you like order (see pictures below). You have in the cottage garden more different types of flowers than in a conventional garden. Colors are mixed and many cottage gardens consider water in the form of pumps or ponds. 

Here is the euonymous Tina and I pruned. 

Here is the euonymous Tina and I pruned. 

 Flowers are at the front of cottage gardens and vegetables, too, if you know how to incorporate them. Traditional cottage gardens have wild and fruiting trees; whatever you love in the garden, structure it so you get many different effects with the plants you love. For example, structure  areas for tall plants, formal hedges, rustic fencing, climbers or fruit trees. A garden is so much more interesting to walk around if it has a theme. A traditional cottage garden feature is to use edging materials to outline paths with low-growing plants to invite you in to an area.

Arches, garden seats, arbours, gravel or brick paths give the garden a typically rural deal.  Arches are ideal features for linking different parts of the garden, and different sorts of climbing plants like roses and clematis look pretty over an arch. Seats situated at the end of a walk, or in a niche in the hedge also look enticing and beautiful.

Today we also painted the front stoop of the Jubilee Farm house. This is where our friends, Maggie O'Brien and Jim Grube, live. We repaired the wood steps, leveled them, reset them into the brick walkway, and here we are finishing the painting with a few patches to go. 



--- Lisa Neundlinger, 2018 Slack Farms Austrian Intern

Monika's Internship in Finland


My name is Monika, I'm one of the Austrian trainees and I will tell you something about my internship from last year in Finland. I was in the middle of Finland on a diary farm for 14 weeks with about 150 cows, 140 cattle, some calves and one bull.


I am from an agriculture farm without any animals, so I decided to do my internship on a dairy-farm to get experience with this kind of farm work. It was a good decision, because I gained a lot of new experiences. I learned how to milk cows with the help of a milking robot and how to feed calves. I also learned a lot about the Finnish way of life. For example, I got an insight into the typical finish Sauna–culture and participated in a hunt. I also experienced the bright night skies, because in Scandinavia the sun doesn`t go down in the summer.  I also visited other parts of Finland. 


Finland is called “The land of thousand lakes”, and I confirm it. On every corner is another lake and around the lakes, the people have their small summer-cottages to spend their holidays in in a silent area. Finland has also a lot of woods and the inhabitants like it to collect the tasteful berries, mushrooms and herbs and use it in the kitchen to prepare food. And when you are “lucky”, then you can see elks, bears or rabbits in the finish nature. But especially in the northern of Finland, you are able to see a lot of Reindeers directly on the streets or in the cities.


In Finland were a lot of differences to Austria, but all in all, I learnt a lot, enjoyed the summer and I`m able to look back to a really, really great time. And now I am looking forward to a nice time in Maryland to collect impressions of the American way of life.


--- Monika Friedl

Elisabeth's Practical Training in Sweden

 Practical training in Sweden

Hi, my name is Elisabeth, I’m an Austrian student and spend my internship this year at Woodlawn Farm. Last year I did my internship together with my friend Verena. We were in Sweden on a dairy cow farm named Botans Lantbruk. The farm was located nearly 300km from Stockholm in a region called Rättvik.

Here I am with the Swedish flag.

Here I am with the Swedish flag.


  Our bosses Kristina and Bengt own the big farm with around 200 milking cows and a lot of calves and heifers, too. They have two girls, Josefin (21) and Mikaela (19) and one son whose name is Fredrick (17). The farm is one of the three biggest farms in this region of Sweden. 


 The cows were milked three times a day in a big milking carousel. We also fed the calves and cleaned up the barn. While we were spending our time at Botans Lantbruk, a new barn was built, so we helped the workers there, too. For example we painted the wall in the new barn. 


 The work was sometimes a little bit hard but we learned a lot of new things and it was very funny to work together with some Swedish workers. Now we know how to manage a barn with a lot of cows and how to milk with a milking carousel. 


In our free time we spent five days in Stockholm and in Göteborg. On each trip we did a little sightseeing tour, went shopping and spent one day in a fun fair. 



Verena and I enjoyed the 14 weeks in Sweden very much and we got to know a lot of very friendly people. It was a great experience for us. After this amazing time we especially missed the workers, the work and the delicious food of Kristina. 


 Before we went back home, we spent one week in the north of Norway in Tromsö. There we went hiking and shopping and we relaxed. One night we saw the beautiful polar lights which were quite amazing. 









Yesterday our interns arrived...

Yesterday our interns arrived and here they are from left to right Lisa, Tina, Klara, Jana, Monika, Verena and Elisabeth. The picture above was taken in Austria. The picture below is where they will be working this week, helping us to tend the vineyards. To the upper right is a peak at the pool, where they might be resting after a day of pruning and trellising.  

Welcome Tina, Lisa, Monika, Elizabeth, Jana, Klara & Verena.  Verena has already saved the beagle who ran away.  --- Maggie O'Brien


Welcome to our 2018 Elmberg Interns who join us for the month of July

The Elmberg tradition of training is quite remarkable.  The learning instinct of these young women is enviable; they are hard workers and eager to acquire new skills. 

In addition to gardening and vineyard maintenance, we will make sure they enjoy a bit of Maryland summertime fun: kayaking, swimming, crabbing and fishing as well as sight-seeing. They will provide the posts this summer and it will keep them busy and sharpen their English skills. Read some of the posts below for an insight in to past interns' humorous takes on American life.

Thanks to Christina Allen for bringing these student interns to our attention.

--- Maggie O'Brien

Greetings from Jubilee Farm! It has been a long and chaotic last few weeks here on the farm so forgive me for not posting anything until now. While things have not exactly slowed down, it finally seems like most of the machines are working, the barns are looking ship shape, and the wine is bottled and ready to sell.

It is hard to imagine that just over six weeks ago we had not harvested the grapes or even held a single wedding at Jubilee. Oh how times have changed.    

Save for  incessant rain showers at both Jubilee and Woodlawn on Saturday - thanks Matthew, things were seamless and pleasant. The new mower arrived early last week and oh boy is she a beauty. Let me just tell you this is not you're father’s John Deere push mower. With a six foot deck and zero degree turning the grounds at both Jubilee and Woodlawn are looking tighter than ever.

It has been a huge advantage having all the machines working especially since the days are starting to get shorter and the evenings chillier!  

I am signing off for now - feel free to come by. You might catch us kicking around the hacky sack or on the slackline, but most likely you'll just have to try some Slack Tide Blanc and watch us work!

Cheers! Angus

Sunset over the water at Woodlawn Farm 

Sunset over the water at Woodlawn Farm