Bessarabia: Homeland in pictures appeared for the 17th time in 1988. We hope that you derive much enjoyment from the calendar and that it will serve as a treasured companion to you during 1988.
As one who enjoys our calendars, you will have noticed that, aside from the documentary pictures, much valuable information about Bessarabia and our Homeland Museum is shared. What could be of greater importance in the portrayal of life in the German cillages of Bessarabia than observance of the progression of days in a calendar year? Charted for us are reminders of seasonal work in the home, the yard, the barns, fields, and meadows, as well as the annual return of holidays.
VILLAGE LIFE IN BESSARABIA IN A YEAR’S PASSING
Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter
We Bessarabia Germans were farm folk and felt closely bound to the soil.
Each of us knew where bread came from. “Pray and work” was the motto of the Bessarabian Germans; the best work in the fields failed unless the blessing of rain or snow came from above at the right time.
Fear of God and faith in Him were closely tied together and directly connected with nature. The year’s passage of spring, summer, fall and winter and the interdependent work from the sowing to the harvest formed a complete unity. One felt oneself in the center of the seasons, inseparably bound with each of them, and so he could yield to great variations and abide by God’s recurring new plans.
To this time we could say with Matthias Claudius:
“Wir pflügen und wir streun We plow and we scatter
den samen auf das land the seed on the land
das Waschen und Gedeihen the growing and the thriving
das liegt in Goettes Hand.” That lies in God’s hand.
As children, we already understood the folksong:
“Im Märzen der Bauer die Röszlein einspannt,
er pflanzt und beschneidet die Baume im Land.
Er ackert, er egget, er pflüget und sät
Und regt schon die Hände gar früh und noch spat.”
In March the farmer hitches the horses,
He plants and prunes the trees in the land.
He plows, he harrows and sows,
His hands are busy both early and late.
Or even more, the Bessarabia example, a song that originated in the Black Sea area:
“Ich bin das ganze Yahr vergnügt:
Im früling wird das feld gepflügt;
Da steigt die Lerche hoch empor
Un singt ihr frohes lied mor vor.”
I am satisfied the whole year:
In spring the field gets plowed;
The lark rises high upward
And sings his happy song to me.
After a cold, severe winter, spring came, I might say, overnight.
The first messenger of spring was the starling. He came from the south. Merrily and gaily he trilled his song loudly and distinctively from the still bare acacia tree> We children received him with shouts of joy and from each mouth came the message: “The stars are here!” Now we knew for sure that spring was coming. The stars seldom made a mistake.
The buds on the branches broke open. Overnight the bushes and trees turned green, and in a few days the meadows were in bloom in their best finery.
While snow still covered the ground, the first snowbells in the house garden were soon to bloom to announce the arrival of spring.
We boys took to the meadow with the “March stick,” ready to dig up the first Marzglümla” (March flowerets similar to snowbells). They covered the pastures by the thousands. We waited for them eagerly.
Generally, the first flowers that pushed their green shoots out of the ground in the house garden were the “kaiserkronen” (Kaiser crowns). Then came the violets and later the Syringe (Zirenka-Flieder), soon all to bloom in their glory.
In the barns, the young foals and calves and, above all, in the
Harmon (wooden fence enclosure) at the sheep barn young lambs ran
freely about on their happy little feet. It was a pleasure to see
them in their play. We children were happy for them knowing that
the day was not far away from the time to go sheepherding in the
meadows. Not only the animals romped happily about. We children
met while sheepherding and played games, like racing, distance running
and ball tossing.
In the spring, farmyard work began in earnest. Activity ruled in barn and yard. On the platform, upper barn floor, or in the cow barn, six to ten brood hens sat in a row of buckets or mangers. A brood hen was set on 12 to 16 chicken eggs or 10 to 12 duck eggs. The chicks hatching one by one were placed in a little basket, softly lined, and set in the warm kitchen. The geese had their brood nests in the goose barn with the gander guarding them all during the brooding time. With loud screeching, he warded off dogs, cats, and people. The very small goodlings and sucklings came into the kitchen in a warm basket until the last was hatched.
With delight we children held the little chicks and snuggled them in our hands. They liked it. Sometimes the father or older brother carried a little lamb into the kitchen for a warmup or a rubdown. What a joy it was to hold the memele (milk bottle with nipple) in feeding the little lambkin.
The pigeons cooed and flittered on the roof, flying here and there. Tumblers among them exhibited their talents in the air. Ther was no boredom for us children.
No less changeable and interesting was goose herding. We watched them in the meadow, led them to the pond and were spellbound by their first attempts at swimming as we stood on the shore. Occasionally, we ourselves stepped into the water barefooted with rolled up pants legs and to catch frogs, crawfish or “silberfischen” (young fish) by hand or with wicker baskets.
And during Passion Week when at noon Big Brother came across the white bridge (over the Sarata River), we knew that something nice was in store for us pre-Easter joy! He would lie down in the tall grass with us and casually ask this and that. “How did the goose herding go today? Were all the goslings still there-none carried off by the chicken hawk? Had we gathered enough island moss (floating sponge used to dye Easter eggs)?” Unnoticed by us, Big Brother distracted us cleverly and then called out: “Look, there go the Easter Rabbits!” In our happy state of excitement and childish fantasy, we were really seeing him, although it could have been a gopher or a weasel that moved so fast. And look! There before us, two or three Easter eggs rolled around and we gathered them excitedly. The dinner Big Brother brought to us in a little “brotsack” (bread sack) tasted unusually good.
It was a carefree, happy time for us children. In retrospect, one wants to exclaim: “O, you beautiful childhood time!”
Weeks before Easter, the grown brothers and sisters found it an interesting task to plant barley seed in an Easter plate so that the barley was tall enough at the right time to hide the painted Easter eggs in it. The plate was the center of the table decorations and enthralled the children.
Palm Sunday started Holy Week. Good Friday was the quiet day of the year. It was a Fast day. In the forenoon a communion service. The entire community took part. Only one person guarded house and yard or cared for the little children. At noon, only a light lunch was served – no meat, only fish, rice or Grieszgrei (pudding) and Löffelküchle (spoon cakes) with wine soup. In the evening a large meal was served without meat.
The afternoon Good Friday service was also solemn and sober. One heard again about the sufferings of Christ and the song Auf dem marter Hügel (One Martyr Hill).
In some Sarata families an old custom was practiced. The hen eggs laid by chickens on Good Friday were carefully removed from the nest and kept separately. On Easter Sunday morning they were cooked and eaten for breakfast uncolored in the tradition that they prevented “Bauchkremma” (stomach cramps) for one year. Our grandfather Rüb, who had a frame like a chicken, found three eggs not sufficient, so he ate five.
On Saturday before Easter came the great egg coloring event. One hundred or more eggs to color was no exception. It depended on the head count of the family and household help. The eggs were beautifully decorated with inscriptions like “Frohe Ostern” (Happy Easter). The last preparation for the great festival was accomplished.
Now came Easter Sunday, the day of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Easter was a festival of joy over this event and the awakening of Nature. Early in the morning before sunup, young and old, whoever was able, went to the cemetery. The grave surroundings were all put in order and, if possible, decorated with flowers. The congregation gathered in the open space of the cemetery and at sunrise sang, accompanied by the trumpet band, the glad message of the Resurrection of the Lord. In Sarata we heard this song ringing over the calley:
“Ostern, Ostern, Frülingshewen, Ostern Ostern Auferstehen
aus der tiefen grabes nacht. Blumen sollen fröhlich blühen,
Herzen sollen heimlich glühen, denn der Heiland ist erwacht.”
Easter, Easter, springtime reigning, Easter, Easter, Resurrection
From the deep night of the grave. Flowers will joyfully bloom;
Hearts shall secretly glow for the Lord has awakened.
After this early worship service in the cemetery, the members scattered and each looked up the graves of his loved ones. Back in the homes the great moment for the children had come; time for the Easter egg hunt!
The large farmyard had many quaint little places to hide the colored Easter eggs and presents. With calls of “cold,” “warm,” and “hot,” the little searchers were helped so that no nest was left undiscovered. The grandparents felt privileged in helping their littlest grandchildren, leading them by the hand to make their joy complete when the Easter Rabbit’s secret hiding place was found.
The school children visited the children’s service, and at 10:00 o’clock the Easter service began, the entire congregation, the choir, and trumpet band, participating.
On Easter Monday, the “Eienlese-Spiel” (egg gathering game) was played by the village youth. I shall refrain from going into detail about this practice. It was a folk game traditionally played on Easter Monday. Our forefathers had brought it to Bessarabia from South Germany, where it lasted until the Resettlement, whereas, it had been lost in the original homeland. With the passage of time, many variations of the game were devised, but the basic idea was fully preserved. As in all folk games, in which the abilities of young people are measured in betting competitions having deeper meanings, so it is the “Eierlesen.” It is a distinctive link to the awakening of nature. The egg symbolizes the Resurrection and the awakening of new life. Jubilation and joy in overcoming death and the stark cold of winter were expressed through the gathering of eggs on Easter Monday.
The Eierlesespiel was practiced from immigration of Resettlement time by youth on Easter Monday in spite of opposition and never lost its popularity. (In “Heimatbuch Sarata” [Sarata Homeland Book] the game is described in detail on pages 533-535.)
Another important Easter practice deserves mention here. Not only the children and members of the household received gifts, but also the shepherds.
Although the herds could not be driven to pasture yet, the sheepherder, with his donkey cart, as well as the horse, cow and calf-herders, symbolically acted the droving to pasture. With whip-cracking they loudly announced their coming and the farmer, as well as we children, stood prepared with a big Easter pretzel and two colored eggs. We waited at the yard gate until the shepherds came and we could hand over the Easter presents. For us, the pleasure was as great as it was for the recipients of the gifts.
The farmer had much to do in the spring. Early in the morning he went to the fields with two horse-drawn wagons holding the necessary feed for the horses, the treated grain, three share plow, the big harrow with iron prongs an a large water barrel.
In the “steppe” chest in baskets was food for the entire day, carefully packed. The wine jug and the earthen milk pot could not be missing. At the yard gate the farmer turned around once more to wave goodbye to his wife and children, while the chained dog howled that he couldn’t go along.
The farmer cracked his long whip over the heads of the horses, who in full trot left the village behind. By the clatter of the settler’s wagons, the yard dog recognized his master’s coming and with his bark announced to the farmer’s wife that her people were coming home. We children would encircle the wagon and in one voice shout: Vatr, hasch hasabrot mitbracht?” (father, did you bring rabbit bread along?) even today I can see my father’s smile showing that he had thought of us. From the brotsäckle (little bread sack) he would take the leftover bread crusts. The hardness had really turned them into “Hasabrot” (rabbit bread).
In the mean time, it was time for bed for the little ones. After we, according to age, had spoke our evening prayers, Mother laid her hand on each little head and after her “sleep well – good night,” we fell asleep satisfied and at peace.
Father and the grownups still had much to do after supper. Caring for the horses, preparing the grain for the next day, the tools, the harnesses, and checking the wagons if necessary. Late in the evening they came to rest. Nights were short; a new toilsome day was waiting.
“Storch, storch, bester,
Bring mir eine schwester!”
(stork, stork, the best,
Bring me a sister)
Oder (or) “Storch, storch, gutter,
Bring mir einen bruder!”
(stork, stork, good-one,
Bring me a brother)
The farmer got his spring seed into the ground in a few weeks: barley, wheat, mustard, oats, summer wheat, sunflowers, castor oil beans, soybeans, clover, and other green fodder.
Between times there were the grapes to cut and much work to be done in yard and garden. The manure had to be spread out, rolled and later spaded into blocks for drying, then stacked and restacked, and finally stored as fuel.
As part of spring naturally was cleaning in house and barn. Everything was cleaned, newly whitewashed in and outside of house, barn and yard wall. How pretty was the contrast between the green of the acacia trees and how neat was the village with the acacia trees in bloom.
An important part of the work was “Maiskornhacken” (corn hoeing). This had to be done twice and just at the right time so that it was completed before harvest time. Much corn was grown so day laborers were hired, five to ten per day. The soil was tilled with one or two corn plows. Little boys as young as 6 years worked as “ausreiter” (little horsemen). They sat on the horses and steered them between the rows. Yes, on hot days one knew how long a “Gwand” (round) could be and how lucky one felt when he arrived back at the wagon and the water barrel.
Who doesn’t sometimes think of the ride home from the fields when he could lie on the soft cushion of pulled corn plants, look at the sky and hear the trill o the lark. Then all the toil of the day was forgotten.
At this time and all through spring, the farmer had another necessary job to do –catch gophers. By community decision, a gopher per hectare had to be caught and the tails delivered to the authoritites. Yes, there was such a thing,
When the swallows moved into the barns and farm building, summer was not long in coming.
“Und kommt die liebe Sommerzeit,
wie hoch ist da main Herz erfreut,
wenn ich vor meinem Acker steh’
und so viel thousand Ahren she!”
“And comes the sweet summertime
How gladden my heart is,
When I stand before my acres.
And see so many heads of grain!”
The harvest and threshing times were the hardest and yet so beautiful
At the beginning of June, grain harvesting began. School vacations had begun. Young and old, including the mother, were on the steppe from early morning to late evening. The reaper buzzed and rattled the whole day long. The horses were spelled off, because the maching had to be in operation without interruption Also, the “Runterschmeizer” (down-throwers) –were changed off, because the work was very hard.
Four to six hektar were harvested rep day. The cut grain was set up in bundles and raked together with large wooden rakes tied with rope of twisted straw, then stacked into “Kopitzen” (heaps) held together with flat rope.
Tired? No, yet everyone was. Only the young Russian girls sang their melancholy songs on the way home, their voices ringing our far over the steppe.
And then came the threshing time that lasted three or four weeks. Early in the morning, sometimes at 2 o’clock, the rumbling wheels of the “Harbiwagen” (Erntewagen), harvest wagons, began to roll by the noise lasted only half an hour, then, sleep returned. Around 8:30 in the morning, the highly-loaded harvest wagons drove leisurely into the yard. I can still hear my brother Jakob’s loud “Brr” at the sight of two or three highly stacked harvest wagons in the yard. The horses were unhitched and fed and only then was it breakfast time.
Meanwhile, the sun over the threshing place was high enough in the sky so that the grain could be spread out on the threshing floor and threshed by dragging over it three heavy stones, each drawn by two horses.
Who among doesn’t know what it meant: to lay-out; turn-over; rake; carry straw; pitch up high; set a straw attack; gather up the “Drusch” (threshed grain) with a sled; to run it through a cleaning mill; clear space; gather schaff; measure grain and transport it on Bühne (platform) to the Dachboden (loft).
All that comprised a threshing day.
As a child, I liked best to clear away the flaxseed. It was so cool, smooth, and soothing; its smell was superb and one could “plop” into it so nicely. Yes, one could gain something fine from every kind of hard work.
After a day of such work one did not need a sleeping pill to fall asleep. Big brother and the hired man set up their night sleeping quarters out in the open in a lay down “Grogwagen” (trough wagon), in order to be at their post promptly in the morning. Before their departure, as mentioned, at 2 o’clock in the morning there was no breakfast, but “nussaschnaps” ( a sort of whiskey) was not frowned on because it helped one stay awake during the long ride. Even today the “nussaschnaps” is a good remedy for a stomachache. Our wives could, and many of them still do today, choose to prepare it.
“Im Herbst schau ich die poäume an,
schau Äpfel, Birnen, und pflaumen dran,
und sind sie reif so schüttl’ ich sie,
so lohnet Dott des Menschen Müh’!”
In the fall I look at the trees;
See apples, pears, and plums on them,
And if they’re ripe, I shake them down,
So does God reward the people’s labors.
Autumn –Spätjahr (end of season) –was a delightful time in Bessarabia, all filled with field, house, and garden work. In early August, the first wine grapes were ripe. By mid-July the watermelons and muskmelons ripened and the first ears of sweet corn were ready for roasting over a glowing fire or cooking in saltwater. They tasted so good!
On the 15th of September school began again. Now the feed corn was ready for harvesting. This required the help of the entire family. Early morning, the work began with two horse-drawn wagons. The ears of corn had to broken from the stems. Each “brecher” (breaker) put a sack over his shoulder so that the ears of corn could be conveniently dropped into it. Quickly and nimbly, one went along between the rows. The only sound was the cracking of the corn ears and the rustling of the dry cornstalks. Full sacks were emptied on the ground in rows in a cleared area so that the wagon could easily drive between the rows to load up the ears of corn. When the wagons were fully loaded they were driven home. In order to load more, a board about 40 cm. high was fastened to the side of the wagon to hold more full sacks.
We schoolboys unloaded the wagons at home. With a wooden fork we raked the ears off the “Trogwagon” (trough wagon) and brought them to the loft in the barn, where they were later husked. Everything had to be hurried because the drivers were always in a rush. We worked hard and wasted no time, but we had fun, too.
Das “Abziehen” or “Abblattern” (the husking) was always a happy community project. The young and neighbors worked together, once at this place and then another, successively. In one evening the large pile was husked to the last ear. All the while there was storytelling, joking, and much singing. When the work was all finished, sometimes late in the night, a good meal was served, consisting of sausage, sheep cheese, Arbusen (watermelon), grapes, and kuchen (coffee cake). There was always a little glass of wine and a bit of dancing to harmonica music.
The feed corn harvest required 10 to 12 days because the cornstalks had to be broken down and brought home, where they were stacked to be fed to the cows in the winter.
Pumpkins planted in the corn field had to be brought in. They were good fodder for animals. With an s-shaped chopping knife or chopping machine, pumpkins were broken open, their seeds carefully removed, washed, dried, and roasted, and ‘gekiefed’ (bitten open with the teeth), wither for our own consumption or sold by us children to increase our pocket money.
Then came the winemaking, considered the nicest work of the year. Here again the entire family plus the hired help as well as helpers from the neighborhood took part.
The trough wagon was rebuilt to hold the large grape stands. Smaller stands were set into them. The “leser” (grape picker) could eat grapes to his heart’s content, but in good judgment had to be careful. It was taken for granted that the afternoon break bread, sheep cheese, and ham would not be spared. In the evening “Borsch” (vegetable soup with plenty of lamb). Fried or stuffed “Pfeffer” (peppers) “Paprickaschoten (red pepper pods) –tasted downright good!
The nicest grapes were put onto a special bucket. At home they were laid on the wheat or hung with string in the attic where they stayed fresh until Christmas.
In the fall came the additional work –“Einmachen” (canning). Fruit, pickle, tomatoes were all preserved in glass jars. There were watermelons to pickle, cabbages to cut, cabbage halves to preserve, grape juice to be prepared, jelly and “Gselz” (marmalade) to be cooked.
So passed the lovely autumn all too soon and the last mild days suddenly led into winter on the threads of “Altweibersommer” (old wive’s summer).
Not to forget: The farmer during this time also had to get his winter seed into the ground and if rain came at a good time the stubble fields could be disked or plowed under.
“Und kommt die kalte Winterzeit
da ist mein Haüschen überschneit
das ganze Feld ist Kreidweisz
und auf der Wiese nichts als Eis.”
And comes the cold wintertime
And when my little house is under snow,
All the field is chalky white
And on the meadow, only ice.
In wintertime field work was at rest. But the farmer always had enough work to do in the barn and in the house, yet there remained time enough to spend happy and contented hours. While the grown sons and hired men cared for the animals, the farmer could spend his forenoons with neighbors and friends, taste the new wine, discuss the new spring seed, and on an evening go visiting with wife and children, on foot or by sleigh in the snow. Sleigh riding and skating were greatly enjoyed by the young, and in Tarutino, there was tobogganing down the long hill to the main street.
In the winter months there were many social events. Recitals, chess games, and theatrical plays entertained young and old. The Youth Society held “Heimatabende” (Evenings at Home) and Singing hours, weeks at a time.
We Bessarabians were song-happy. Just before Christmas and on long winter evenings there was much singing. Outside, fierce cold reigned, but in the farmhouse parlor it was always comfortably warm. Two large stoves, burning straw, cornstalks or dried manure radiated gratifying heat. In the “Ofenröhrle” (little stove pipe) hot water hummed in the teakettle or the pleasant aroma of potatoes laid in the pipe indicated that they wanted to be eaten.
The evenings were “Urgemütlich” (most pleasant). Mother sat at the spinning wheel, the older sisters did crocheting, stitching, knitting, tatting, or other handwork. My sister Mathilda was very expert at making artistic things, especially beautiful roses from rose paper, so natural that one thought they were real.
Father read the Bible or “Lichter der Heimat” (Lights of Home), and Big Brother played chess with us or told fairy tales and scary stories. We children would play dominoes for hours or Mühle (Mill), “Mensch, ärgere dich nicht” ( Man, do not be annoyed), Halma (straws), and various quartet games. Since no one wanted to go to bed with the “Durak” (devil or loser), we would continually challenge the winner to another game in the hope of winning.
The most important church festival of the year can in the winter months –Christmastime with Christmas vacation, Chirstmas programs, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I described the custom and practice of the pre-Christmas celebration in detail in 1985. It is my sincere hope that his lecture will be published in the separate brochure.
In the winter months there were many tasks and duties to be performed in house, yard, and barns. Binding brooms for use in yard and barn, as well as in the house was necessary. On many a winter evening the men cleaned the brushwood and sorghum stalks used to make brooms for yard and barn, but mostly for threshing. The house brooms were made from Sorghum plants. The sorghum plant and the bush for the brushwood broom were pulled separately. On a pleasant, sunny February or March day one removed the corn kernels from the ears with the “Maisrebbler.” Incidentally, I must mention another task that had to be undertaken before spring work began. That was to grease all the horse harnesses with “Dochot,” a dark brown grease.
Changes of the Season
Yes, so passed the years in our old home of German villages on the far distant steppe of Bessarabia.
The picture of village life and the countryside of Bessarabia would not be complete without mention of types of birds, because South Bessarabia –the “Budschak” –was not only for the nomadic birds, but for the birds passing through, as it still is. In the spring the migrating birds go north and in the fall go back south to warm Africa.
The transient journey of the birds was always special event. The stanza of this song applies also to our Bessarabian homeland: “Wildgänze rauschen durch die nacht...” (Wild geese fly murmuring through the night...). They traveled like wild ducks and cranes in well-ordered flight formations. Who of us living in Bessarabia does not remember how they flew over us following a leader replaced from time to time. They came in perfect formation like a “Big one” and were gone!
In the fall, one could observe how the storks assembled for departure to their winter quarters. Unforgettable, too, is the picture of the swallows sitting closely side by side on a sagging telephone wire.
And when the starlings piped in the spring, it was time for everyone on the village to be concentrating on preparing the soil and bringing out the seed.
After the cold and gray of winter one could expect the bright springtime
and happily sing:
“So geht’s yahrein, yahraus mit mir,
ich danke meinem Gott dfür
und habe immer frohen Mut
und denke: Gott mach alles gut.”
So it goes year-in, year-out with me.
I thank my God for it
And I am always in good spirit,
Thinking God makes all things good.
After seeding time the first heavy work of the farmer is done. Growth of the crop and prosperity lie in the hands of God.
Source: Memories of Childhood in the old Bessarabian homeland.
Speech of the occasion of a pre-Christmas celebration of December
7,1986, in Stuttgart.
Translation by Alma M. Herman January 25, 1991
January 1988 Bessarabia Winter Scene – Clearing the pathway
February 1988 Bessarabia Cutting cane (schilf)
March 1988 Bessarabia Farmstead – View of the dwelling house from the sideyard
April 1988 Bessarabia Youth group gathering eggs on Easter Monday in Tarutino
May 1988 Bessarabia Housewife making butter in a butter churn
June 1988 Bessarabia The “milkshepherd” milking sheep
July 1988 Bessarabia Harvest time-Setting up “Kopitzen”
August 1988 Bessarabia Threshing – In the foreground – At the drawing well
September 1988 Bessarabia Rustic idyllic scene at a farmyard
October 1988 Bessarabia View of Sofiental
November 1988 Bessarabia Church in Teplitz – Interior view
December “ “ The “Christkendle” (Christ Child) was here!
Brief Descriptions of the Pictures
Title Page: “In March the farmer hitches up the horses.” One of the first jobs in the spring was plowing the fields. After the long time in the barns, the horses welcomed the change and went to work eagerly. The foal (Hutschele) could go to the field with its mother and stayed close by her side. In our picture, Tarutino, down in the valley, is seen in the background.
January The winters in Bessarabia were severe with much snow. Often there was so much drifting, that pavements and paths had to be shoveled laboriously from house to barn. Our picture was taken in Sarata in 1931.
February At the time of settlement, the materials used for roof covering were mainly reeds. In many communities in Bessarabia this was true until the time of resettlement. Along rivers and streams on the steppe the various communities grew reed fields. In fall and winter each freeholder had to cut reeds for his own needs.
March Our picture shows a farm yard in Lichental. There the farm yards were divided into dwelling, barns and farm buildings, all well cared for. Each farmer took pride in keeping his yard in the best condition.
April The game of gathering eggs (Eierlesespiel) on Easter Monday was a special event for the young people in all Bessarabian communities. Our story in the Calendar reports the details. In the picture taken in Tarutino, The “Spieler” (players) and “Schurzenmädel” (apron girls) pose happily for their photograph.
May Before there were dairies in Bessarabia, the butter churn played an important role in the farm house. Butter was churned and prepared by the housewife and tasted so delicious.
June From early days in Bessarabia, sheep raising was a vital branch of the economy. The sheep provided not only wool and meat, but above all sheep cheese, an important and very desirable source of good-tasting food supply. Farmers who did not own large herds of sheep, united and combined their herds of about 100 sheep. They hired a “Melkschäfer” (milk shepherd) who performed the task of herding, milking the sheep, and processing the cheese. They were entitled to an amount of cheese based on the number of sheep, and their meals were supplied. The moldowaners were the best milk shepherds.
July Farming was hard work in July, but it also had its pleasant side. Increase in the use of reaping machines made harvesting much easier. Yet, as seen in our picture, the cut grain had to be stacked in “Kopitzen” (heaps) with wooden forks, as always. The grain was carefully gathered with large rakes.
August Threshing time followed the harvest. The cut grain was brought to the threshing place with “harba-wagen” (large harvest wagons). The threshing machine, in the decades before the resettlement, replaced the threshing stone in many communities and lightened the farmers substantially.
In the farmyard, as a rule, was a well from which water, that precious liquid, was drawn up with a pail and a reel. People and animals were refreshed at the well when threshing made them thirsty.
September Life on the farm was ruled by regularity during the warm months of the year. Man and beast were tied into the daily routine. Household work was gladly performed outdoors, and children played under the watchful eye of the mother.
October We cast a glance at harvest time in Sofiental, a progressive and impressive agricultural daughter community founded in 1863. In the center of the village stood the stately chapel with its bell tower.
November The Bessarabian Germans were very devout people. They found shelter and comfort in their churches, especially in hard times. These were not few. Our picture shows the interior of the church in Tepliz. It was dedicated on October 6, 1863, and served the people until the Resettlement.
December With joyful emotion, the Christmas verses were recited
under the Christmas tree branches, and the children with shining
eyes announced: “Dar Christkendle war da!” (The Christ
Child was here!) What sacred times of happy childhood – then
Translation by Alma M. Herman June 1991