WV Farm Bureau Magazine November 2014 - Page 21

must go back and clean it up. Corn is being planted in smaller and smaller quantities because the people of Germany do not like the way it looks and feel that it mars the landscape. In all of Germany, only 20% of cropland is planted in corn. And then there’s the open land law – where anyone can walk across your land at will, regardless of whether it’s your best field of alfalfa or a woody lot. If a member of the public wants to take a hike across your land, they can. One of my biggest challenges while in Germany was knowing what to eat. The Germans like their pork, but not pork chops or roast like I am used to – they like sausages. Lots of sausages. And sometimes they eat pork that isn’t exactly cooked. We were invited to lunch with a very nice farmer who runs his own meat processing facility where he treated us to a nice spread of cooked sausages similar to American hotdogs, smoked liverwurst, smoked sausage, and mettwurst. Mettwurst, as we found out, is completely raw - as in uncooked and unsmoked. We were assured that only extremely healthy, sanitary hogs are butchered for mettwurst and that very stringent sanitary conditions must be met to produce this meat, but all of us left feeling pretty unsettled. As a beef farmer, I am used to eating a lot of hamburger and steak, but those items were not on many restaurant menus. On the two occasions I did order some beef, I wasn’t overly impressed. I found out why during a particularly mind-boggling visit to a beef cattle farm. We stepped out of our van and into a large barn of feeder cattle, which I assumed would be steers. However, upon inspection I realized that every animal in the building was a bull. There were dozens and dozens of bulls in two or three large pens. Then the farmer proceeded to tell us that these bulls would be slaughtered in just a few months. Because of animal welfare issues, the Germans do not castrate animals. In fact, by the year 2018, no swine will be castrated at all. When questioned about why they would want to eat bull meat, we were emphatically told that steer meat is too fatty. There is no market for steer meat in Germany. Instead, bulls are raised to 17-24 months and slaughtered around 2500 pounds. Naturally, that would explain why the roast I had at dinner was pretty flavorless and a bit tough and hard to chew. I saw my favorite part of Germany on one of our last days in the country. We visited the mountainous southern region known as the Black Forest. After traveling a steep, winding one-lane road through the woods, we arrived on a beautiful mountaintop timber farm. The area reminded me of the Spruce Knob and Sinks of Gandy area. When I emailed home that I had found West Virginia in Germany, my mom replied that the Black Forest was the region of Germany that my original Wilfong ancestors had come from many hundreds of years ago. No wonder I loved the area so much! After twenty four days, thirteen hotels, thirteen trains, six planes, and four countries, I finally arrived back in my mountains of West Virginia on October 21st. I came home with an increased awareness of the connectedness