A castle and 400 cattle

A castle and 400 cattle

The view sweeps across the expanse of golden yellow fields to staffelberg and banz monastery. The manor house on the ummersberg rests stately. The path is lined with birch trees rustling in the wind. A castle-like building, little towers, a park behind it: in this movie-like setting, the only thing missing is the young owner of the estate, elegantly dressed and trotting along on his horse – but the french reality is not that kitschy. Jochen finkel wears jeans and a gray T-shirt, which he will exchange for another gray T-shirt in the course of our meeting. The young master farmer has plenty to do. T-shirt no. 1 already looked like work in the morning. There we met the 31-year-old in a field above eggenbach in the district of lichtenfels.

"Because of the bird protection we were not allowed to cut the hedges. But overhanging aste must go, I have clarified this with the agricultural office. Otherwise something like this will happen", he pointed to the broken wing mirror on the tractor. Then he took us to the farm. Five kilometers further on we were surprised by the stately home with stone lows in front of the house and bronze statues in the park. Gut ummersberg lies lonely on the road between birkach and busendorf and is the smallest part of the municipality of ebensfeld. We want to get to know all the residents. But first the granny.

The east prussian and his franks

Antonia marie finkel, 80 years old, searches out documents. In 1872, the wealthy doctor august swaine loved to build the palatial home on the farm and lay out the park. Because he had no children, his cousin inherited it well. Her husband came from the east prussian noble family conta and is said to have always stood on the tower to see whether the people in the fields were really working. Some also say that he only put up a doll so that the workers would feel watched. Either way: it was no use. "That used to be 60 hectares, he couldn’t see that far. The people have transferred the grain behind the mountain on their own wagons."

Antonia marie finkel speaks in broad rheinhessian, she tells of her childhood in a suburb of mainz, of the bombs in the second world war, of the new currency, the deutschmark, and of how television needed flats. She was married young. "My father and father-in-law both had farms. They got together and looked for a new farm all over germany." They found it in france, sold it to television, harvested it for the last time in mainz in 1963, and that same year they were already planting wheat and rye on their new farm.

A man from the village had said to her: "you will no longer be here in five years." The ummersberg did not look like a film set back then. It also became "hungersberg called. None of the last owners had managed here. "The aristocrats didn’t work and for the others it was too rough", explains the 80-year-old. "When we took over the farm, everything was broken. House, garden: totally neglected. We said: we have to roll up our sleeves." Their oldest jurgen had just been born. "He should become a farmer." And jurgen became a farmer. His son jochen as well. "I always wanted that, the 31-year-old zogert: "but it doesn’t make so much fun anymore. Everything you have to write down four times."

Controls, regulations and bureaucracy

He tells us that the lower nature conservation authority is coming today, as well as the veterinarian. Together with father jurgen, he shows us the modern barn at the back of the land, where 400 bulls are fattened up. Lots of light, air, technology like the feeding robot. The manner reports CL producer control, field control, QA control. "If I wanted to run a business as a single person, I couldn’t do anything outside, only management", says jochen finkel. The 31-year-old talks about the constraints, the bureaucracy. "You are constantly being scrutinized. Is also o.K., when you produce food."

Not o.K. The farmers find that they feel they are increasingly seen as nature destroyers. "We are conventional, and we stand by it. If, for example, we didn’t use insecticide against the canola, we would have 60, 70 percent crop failure." Jochen tries to explain that farmers act in a deliberate way. "Otherwise we could not feed the population." His father is clearer: "everything that comes from somewhere else is better regarded. Argentine beef from farms with 120,000 animals: that’s great!! Genetically modified plants are used everywhere", he grumbles. "I also want my soil and water to do well, and I need the bees like no one else does! This is our economic basis." His son adds, he also has a family to feed.

We meet every resident

We still get to know his wife carina, their three-year-old daughter jule and baby pauline. And jurgen’s wife sibylle. We actually meet all seven inhabitants of the ebensfeld hamlet and even talk to a few visitors who spend their vacations here on the farm. In the 10 000 square meter park there are also vacation homes. "As a farmer, you have to have several legs to stand on", says jochen finkel.

The family business is rough. With two employees and a romanian seasonal worker, the finkels farm 400 hectares of land. Jochen finkel looks at his cell phone in the digital "ackerschlagkartei". When he is in a field, he immediately sees how much manure, fertilizer and pesticides have been used. "We have 191 plots, ranging from 0.22 to 25 hectares." He shows us a small winter wheat field. This is where our voyage of discovery to the ummersberg had begun in the morning.

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