Routine continued this morning with the exception that the marmalade I brought over with me appeared on the table and seemed to get the Sturm seal of approval too which was nice. Tim took charge of the testing this morning as I got on with producing a graph of the hourly-averaged electricity usage around the farm using the data from our testing. With luck it should be able to tell Thorsten and Georg whether they’ll be able to install batteries with solar to cover their pump and other auxiliary usage. As well as the normal morning testing Tim and I also peeled the cover on the silage back another 6 feet and managed to avoid falling over the edge while rolling the covering back and replacing the sandbags. With half an hour to kill before lunch we also cleaned up the silage a bit, shovelling a good pile into the path of the loader for tomorrow.

A view inside the giant final storage tank - it's huge!

A view inside the giant final storage tank – it’s huge!

Lunch was soup to start with breaded mushrooms, potatoes, peas, carrots and sweetcorn which was great. Dessert was the other wine cake that was made – this one is cherry, nuts and red wine and is also superb. Honestly, I’ve put rum, stout, ale, baileys and a whole host of other spirits into cakes into the past but never thought of adding wine to the fruit. Just delicious.

Me looking very chipper while brandishing a spanner - I'm obviously enjoying myself!

Me looking very chipper while brandishing a spanner – I’m obviously enjoying myself!

After lunch Thorsten asked us whether we could remove the oxidiser on the exhaust of the oil/gas motor so he could clean it. This involved removing the cladding and unbolting a sizeable panel before we could get access to the exhaust (fortunately the engine was off at the time!). Coordinating the spanners while on a platform with ear defenders was a bit of challenge but we managed it okay, removed the filter with no problems and replaced the panel and cladding as asked. While Tim got stuck into the titrations for the afternoon I wrote the visual basic code for the pig-logging spreadsheet Thorsten asked for last night and got generally frustrated by the errors, but we got there I think, eventually.

Finishing up around 17:45 we headed back to the room and caught up with family, emails and diary. Still unsure whether we’re off running tonight yet. I would happily go alone but it’s already dusk, I’d definitely get lost and Thorsten has the head torch, so I’m pretty much dependent on whether he fancies it or not. On the one hand I really feel like I need it, having eaten quite a lot of fried food the last few days, but on the other I don’t know whether I’d be up to running another 13km at sub 5-minute pace having not really done much (except 6km on Sunday) for over a week. I suppose we’ll see!

…Well we did go for a run and managed about 11.5km in just under an hour, which considering we were talking most of the way and I hadn’t even broken 10km before coming out here I was pretty happy with. Leaving just before dusk I was glad Tim was riding with us as the gyro on the bike gave us a much better amount of light than the headtorches though I still managed to very nearly fall into a ditch. That’s what I get for trying to multitask (talking and running).

Back in the evening we sat around the dinner table for a few hours discussing a wide range of topics from politics and energy to what you call the end of a loaf of bread (the answer is ‘nobby’ in case you’re wondering/ think it’s something else – like crust for example – and need correcting). Feeling completely shattered from the run I managed to check a few emails, write a few replies, post a blog and then collapse into bed. Last day tomorrow and don’t want to be tired for tractor training (EGGS-SIGH-TED).

Mmm, oven dried digestate - gulle kuchen as Christian called it

Mmm, oven dried digestate – gulle kuchen as Christian called it

Up bright and early this morning and having forgotten all about the corrections I was mulling over last night I got on with the inspections and testing with Tim and Thorsten before breakfast at 7. The morning was largely consumed by the normal testing with the addition of getting some fresh muck to analyse as well as the normal digestate. Given the choice I’d take anything that’s further along the process as most of the initial materials (of which a large amount is excrement) are broken down, so that by the time it gets sprayed on the fields it doesn’t have the manure odour any more (it does still smell of something, though nowhere near as offensive/ pungent). With a little bit of time before lunch I start turning Tim’s idea of a typical daily schedule for trainees into reality in the hope that we, and anyone who follows us, doesn’t forget one of the 9+ sets of tests that are carried out each day.

Lunch today was soup (which is becoming pleasantly frequent) with kartoffeln pouffes (potato pancakes) for seconds. The lo­cals tend to have them sweet, doused in apple sauce, but I also tried them with a bit of salt and pepper and thoroughly enjoyed them like that too. The last pieces of nut cake for dessert (Noooo) but Christa assured us there was a new apple cake for dinner. Spoilt. Rotten.

After lunch Thorsten asked us to go through the accounts for the last 7 years looking for all of the maintenance payments outgoings for the different motors. He is trying to calculate whether the engine that is more efficient at generating electricity from gas is actually more economical than the less efficient one since it seems to cost more in spares and servicing. After a couple of hours of going through German bills and rebates we came up with a spreadsheet that compared the costs and headed to get started on the tests which consumed the rest of the afternoon along with trying to finish the VB macro for the gas analyser data.

Thorsten seemed impressed with the cost comparison and showed us how he wanted to use the data to compare it to the hours of operation for the engines (and the kWh each produced) to get a maintenance cost per unit of energy sold. With the day drawing to a close we agreed to look at it tomorrow and I also got another spreadsheet job to help keep stock of the pigs.

Dinner was the remainder of the potato puffs with the usual bread, cheese, eggs and tofu spread options. The bread today was dense and even more laden with seeds so even though I was stuffed by all of the potato Christa had served up for us I had to try a piece and it was super – crunchy bread, NOM! The cake we’d promised at lunch was also on offer and in trying to get moisture into the dough without using milk Christa had decided to add wine to the apple cake which is an idea I’m definitely taking note of as it tasted superb! With Thorsten and Georg away at a meeting this evening Tim and I chatted to Christa over dinner each of us practising speaking in our foreign language and generally managed to get our messages across. My German is still pigeon and probably painful to behold to a native but I can at least now tell stories and make jokes (I say jokes…well if you’d had the friends I’ve had for the last few years you’d know how low the bar is for ‘joke’) which is win in my books.

Now, a little diary writing, a kiwi fruit and perhaps another stab at the corrections and I’ll be out for the count I reckon – it’s been a computer-heavy day!