Feel the Burn & Get Stacking

There is a universal saying, that wood warms a person three times; once when you cut it; once when you stack it; and once when you burn it.


This was told to me in my first year in Schliersee by the man delivering my firewood. I think he saw panic in my face the moment I realized I faced days of moving and stacking seven Stere of wood. To give you a little perspective on firewood sizes. A “Stere” is the German measurement of wood. In the US we measure our firewood by “cord” which measures four feet high by four feet wide by eight feet long (4 ft. x 4 ft. x 8 ft.) and has a volume of 128 cubic feet. The German measurement, “Stere” measures 1 cubic meter. That is a heaping pile of winter heat.


What is wonderful about wood other than its warming properties, is that wood is sustainable. We made a plan when we decided to rent an old Bavarian farmhouse or “Landhaus” we would install the best Swedish style wood stove and heat the house using wood as much as possible as a way to cut cots.


As you wander around Schliersee in autumn you will be keenly aware that it is time to start planning the year’s firewood order. Heavily laden trucks and tractors are on the streets bringing the residents their wood deliveries. Many times you might see small mountains of wood occupying someone’s parking place in front of the home and everyone is busily moving and precisely arranging and stacking their woodpiles.


These diligently and impressively exact stores of logs are creatively tucked into any spare covered nook and cranny. Under bench seats, as bench seats and climbing right up into the eaves.These towers of future warmth become architectural features, not just utilitarian lumps of lumber to hide out back. Many are simply works of art which bring not only a warmth to the inside of Schliersee homes but also add a welcoming dimension of home and hearth to the beautiful exteriors of local buildings both modern and historic.



I hope some of these designs inspire you to get “stacking” and add a bit of Bavarian Schliersee flare to your home this winter season.


Here’s some more interesting firewood facts:



Hickory – 25 to 28 million BTUs/cord – density 37 to 58 lbs./cu.ft.

Oak – 24 to 28 million BTUs/cord – density 37 to 58 lbs./cu.ft.

Black Locust – 27 million BTUs/cord – density 43 lbs./cu.ft.

Beech – 24 to 27 million BTUs/cord – density 32 to 56 lbs./cu.ft.

White Ash – 24 million BTUs/cord – density 43 lbs./cu.ft.



Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).




Da summa is außi -The Summer is Over

After a long peaceful summer with the cows dotted lazily about in alpine pastures we are reaching the final climax of a successful season. There is such peace and tranquility in these days filled with the long golden light of autumn.

As the many tourists begin to head back to their homes and sometimes stressful lives, a calm sets on our land here in Schliersee. Daily life and Bavarian traditions return once more. Though the animals on the mountains seem blissfully unaware. I am sure somewhere in their DNA their internal clocks are ticking away their time of freedom under the great big sky is ending.

Soon their farmer will return, one last time, to guide them on their long journey back to the valley and the familiarity of their farms. Their big day of celebration will soon be upon them and  their joyful reunion with the other animals from the farmstead.

To wander in these final moments amongst the cows and they lay about like lizards sunning themselves accompanied by the tinkling of the bells as they groom. I can honestly say there is a feeling of serenity that takes over and you just can’t help but smile.

At this time the swallows dash about gathering the last of the insects for fuel for their next journeys. Everything on the mountains seems to preparing for their next adventure. With the shorter days and cooler temperatures signaling all that the big change is near. Some may call it as the last breath of summer.

In each season here in Schliersee, from the mountain peaks to the shores of our green lakes there is magic to be found.





Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).




Autumn Traditions and Time Travel – part 1

We met at dusk on the evening of our first meeting.  Leonhard “Hartl” Markhauser of Fischhausen, a local farmer, and his father Joseph “Sepp” Markhauser kindly collected me and then drove through the dark foggy forest to meet Anna Deutschenbaur the Sennerin, herder and cheese maker for the Rainer-Alm. Anna met us at the door of her cozy wooden cabin on that chilly night and welcomed us inside. The smoky scent of a fire burning in the ancient wood stove coupled with gentle clanging of bells from the cow stirring sleepily in the stall attached to rear of the cabin was entrancing. After a quick tour we settled down to begin learning about each other and how to make the paper decorations that are affixed to the individual head pieces (Buschen), which the lead cow wears when returning to the valley.

The 23-year-old Anna, caregiver by trade, has been able for the past 2 years to take a 4 month break in the summer to perform her role as the Sennerin for Rainer-Alm. Rainer-Alm is located 1240m above Neuhaus and Fischhausen. Her Alm Hütte or mountain cabin has no electricity, no TV and no Internet. She is kept busy with making her many varieties of delicious cheeses and butter with only a radio and her 2 young frisky cats as company. We were blessed to enjoy a platter or Brotzeit of these beautiful cheeses as well as some local smoked pork. I have to admit her dry aged mozzarella with herbs was a favorite as well as her chili spiced Alm cheese.

On our second meeting Hartl and I once again hopped into the jeep and drove up the mountain this time stopping along the way near the top.  From there we rambled up a washboard side of a hilltop pasture to gather Almrausch a very important plant for the Almabtrieb tradition. The Almrausch or Alpine Rose is used in bunches to decorate many head pieces and also to cover the leather straps on the harnesses which hold the head pieces . This plant is a variety of rhododendron and it is approximately a three inch sprig of new growth which is picked and when perfect will have a rich green color. It can also have a  slight reddish blush and resembles a rose bud pattern.
Proudly armed with our bags of Almrausch, the result of 2 hours of picking while gazing way down the mountain on our picturesque Leonhardi Chapel, as it was aglow with the setting sun, we returned once more to Rainer Alm. On this visit we selected the best of the Almrausch and gathered them in bunches for Anna to affix on a rope the circumference of the belly of her lead cow. While our hands were busy we chatted away about the local traditions, the state of affairs with the other farmers and their herds and of course…the shocking price of beer at Oktoberfest.

Upon leaving the ever gracious Anna and the Hartl who I now call my time traveling guide, we finalized our plans for Sunday when we would meet for a final time as Anna leads her herd of 2 milking cows and about 20 young bulls back to the valley and to their home farm in Hausham.

If you would like to visit Rainer-Alm

For a wonderful farm house vacation or amazing cabin in ski season:


Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).