Dear friends of Churchfortress e.V,
Lords and Ladies,
it's been a while since you've heard from us. The virus pandemic has turned our lives upside down and thus also our work as an association has been somewhat interrupted. Interestingly enough, however, in the last turbulent months we have been able to observe how much we in Europe and the world depend on each other.
Living in the European Union
Every year hundreds of thousands of people come to Germany to work as seasonal workers in agriculture, factories and slaughterhouses. Often they are employed on a precarious basis by subcontractors and live mass accommodations. The coronavirus pandemic has made this even more visible through the news reports. It has reminded us how little we know about the lives of others in our own country.
Many of these people leave their home and social environment for several months every year to earn additional money. There is an individual story behind each of these temporary migrations. Most of us only rarely come in contact with them.
That is why it seems all the more important for us to meet, in our case in Transylvania, in their homeland, get to know each other and understand the difficulties and the beauty of their way of life. During these visits we try to gain some understanding of what the European Union means in terms of freedom of work and travel, for better or worse, and how this has changed the lives of many in recent years. These changes are increasingly impacting the landscape as well.
A small but good example of the effects of these transformation processes is the village herd in Movile, which is still led daily through the village to the common pasture. While a few years ago there were more than a hundred and forty cows and horses, the number has recently shrunk to less than fifty. Meanwhile, it is no longer possible for the shepherd to hire a helper to look after the horses, so that there is no longer a mixed herd in the common pasture.
Besides the lack of financial incentives for smallholders, the reason for the decline is that livestock farming requires presence in the village all year round. However, with the free movement of workers since 2014, many now go to Western Europe in the summer to work and are no longer in the village all year round. And so a centuries-old tradition will probably disappear in a short time. We try to give you short insights like these, also through our regular Facebook news, and share our experiences.
Early summer cleaning and new arrivals
Despite the limited possibility to travel this year, we were not idle. We were particularly motivated by the fact that two of our members decided at the beginning of the year move to the Harbaciu valley. And so the first beautiful days of the year were used for work outdoors. With the friendly help of neighbors, friends and acquaintances in the village, the garden of the teachers' house was prepared and planted and a new compost was built. And finally the stream canal that had threateningly approached the house was cleared and mended. Seedlings from around Movile were planted to secure the new embankment.
In the rear part of the garden a barn was built for the next new arrivals of the year. After the two Mangaliza pigs, which were slaughtered last autumn, the next six piglets have come to the village. This time they are Bazna pigs, again a traditional pig breed that grows faster but does not grow much lard. Two pairs we have donated in the village where they are now being raised by the local families. Our two house and garden keepers will look after the two remaining piglets themselves. You can see for yourselves that this is very successful: Video Piglet
With the borders opening in June, the first foreigners arrived for the early summer cleaning, which was somewhat delayed this year. With a few busy hands the projects of the last years (like the bridge in front of the house) were repaired and in the teachers house and the courtyard were reorganized and cleaned, so that everything is ready for the upcoming tasks.
This brings us to our plans for the hot summer. The first and, for the time being, biggest upcoming project is the new construction of our gate. The old one unfortunately unhinged during one of the autumn storms last year, and is now threatening to fall over. Together with a craftsman and a helper from a neighboring village, we want to rebuild the gate in the traditional way, replace the support stone and renew the archway. Due to the Corona circumstances we cannot create a big working group of volunteers as we usually do for the projects in Movile. We need professional support instead this time and will have to hire a local craftsman to help.
About 2.000 € are necessary for the work on the gate, another 5.000 € are roughly estimated for the needed masonry work in the house (chimneys, missing lintels and several cracks in the wall ...) as well as a stove. Our costs rise with every project we want to tackle around our castle and in the village, and our funds for now do not allow us to tend to all the necessary projects. Every donation is vital to support our work in Movile and to be able to integrate the community in our projects. Therefore we would like to ask you for financial support. Please donate and / or advertise our special Churchfortress project to your wealthy uncles and aunts overseas. There is probably no better opportunity to spend money than to support the future development of the unique landscapes of Transylvania!
In the meantime, good news comes from the Fortified church in Movile. The Kirchenburg Foundation, together with significant financial support from the HOG Hundertbücheln, will renew the main roof of the church and the two towers this year. How important a tight roof is for the preservation of the fortified church, we have experienced - on a small scale - at our teachers' house were the leaking roof let to severe damage in the structure. In the recent past heavy winds also repeatedly uncovered parts of the roof of the church and created up to two meter wide openings. The roof was mended by us but we are all the more pleased that this important work is being tackled by professionals. We will keep you informed about this and other activities on the church and in the village.
We hope that you are as excited as we are about the upcoming projects. We are confident to reach our goals even in this unusual year, with your help. We wish you all good health and hope to be able to welcome you soon in Movile.
In the name of all Churchfortress members from the editorial board
Katra, Rainer and Felix
P.s.: As promised in the last newsletter, here is the story about the lost trovant:
During the digging work for the new water pipes in the village a big trovant was found. It is a flat round stone, about 1.5 m wide, which reminds of a millstone. After a short persuasion the stone was brought to the parish garden. Now we would have expected that a stone weighing about 600 kg is rather immobile, but one morning it had miraculously disappeared.
Our local master detective immediately picked up the trail and literally left no stone unturned until she found the trovant again. Someone seems to have „borrowed“ the stone, but had dutifully returned it to the parish garden a few months after. There it is now lying until further notice and is guarded by a specially trained watchdog. For all who do not believe it, see for yourself in the attached pictures.