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June 2010

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1st June 2010

It had rained overnight and everywhere was soaked. I kept the goats in their little yard, somehow imagining that they would perish if they got their feet wet. In the meantime, after breakfast I made jam. The first of the season. Strawberry jam. Unfortunately not my own strawberries. I had eaten one or two, but the rest that the old lady gave me were made into jam. I know that somewhere deep into the winter I will open that jar and when I have my toast and jam I will be reminded both of spring and an old lady's kindness this year.

The guy from the village turned up to do a bit of work. No, bugger it, his name is Janos (John). Janos turned up to do a bit of work and set about the scything again. I did some digging. Once again it was really a bit too wet. There was a little market at the Faluhaz. I wandered down there. They did not have any lighter gas, which was what I actually went for so I bought a clothes line instead. It will never have clothes hung from it. I bought it to use for Spanish windlasses in woodworking projects.

I washed the pots when I got home and had a minor catastrophy. One of my precious Denby small plates managed to escape and found the floor in a big way. Of course it flew into a thousand pieces. I was not happy.

I got the toy mower out and had started on the yard, and of course I made it rain. I went up the garden to get the goats expecting them all to be going "bleh, bleh" (as opposed to sheep which go "baa, baa") but they were actually quite happy. I took them back to their hotel nevertheless.

The rain got worse. I repaired a gardening tool that I laughingly call a Hungarian rotovator. Must take a picture of it. The handle fell off. There was nothing holding it in. Half a minute with the drill and a couple of my precious, ever dwindling stock of stainless steel screws and it was fixed.

The rain got worse. Irrespective, the goats needed some fresh food so I braved it, whacked back some greenery and wheelbarrowed it down to them. I was going to give them some fresh water and was astonished to see a little snake type thing swimming round and round in the bucket. I rescued it and released it back into the wild.

You know, I don't think the locals can actually get their heads around the fact that I like my plot (apart from the bit that is garden) being a meadow.

I had a water bill problem - more later - but I mentioned it to Hobo. He made a phone call and at least set the ball rolling to get it fixed.

2nd June 2010

Second of June, and the weather once again was crap - persistently precipitating. It really does not seem to be in any way normal for the time of year. I put Pickle on the short chain and went out to the garden so that I could put some more green stuff in the little yard for the goats. Confined to barracks again. On my way back I had just reached the yard gate when a hedgehog trotted across from somewhere around the still standing coalhouse which houses all the dug up tree roots for drying out and disappeared into the falling down outhouse behind the outhouse garden. Pickle was still involved with barking at the goats so she missed it. On a miserable morning it quite cheered me up. It was quite a big plump one too.

It carried on raining. I did some blog updating and various bits of housework that needed doing. Mmmmm- there are lots of bits of housework that need doing.

Towards the end of the afternoon Hobo appeared. We went out into the garden and I whacked back a wheelbarrowful of greenery with the scythe. Hobo forked it into the wheelbarrow and wheeled it down to outside the goat house. They were quite happy in their confinement. I forked a lot of fresh greens in there. In the meantime Hobo had stocked me up with kitchen firewood, so the goats were sorted and I was sorted. At the moment they all have a free run of their yard and both the pig sties. That will change when they get to breeding age, of course. I have plans to remodel the whole outhouse including the big garage which will never have a car in it whilst I live here. Thinking ahead, I need a clean milking area and a kidding pen at the very least.

Later, in the pub, the news was full of catastrophic scenes of new and even more floods in the north east of the country. Pictures of earth houses like mine simply washed away. Not good, really not good.

3rd June 2010

Once again everything was wet through first thing. One of the results is an explosion of the slug population. If I had salt to hand I explode them. If I have a suitable garden implement to hand I either chop them in two or smash them to bits depending upon which type of gardening implement it is. It's a losing battle. I see the village ladies out with their little bowls of salt. A losing battle. The b**tards are there again the next damp morning. Nematode worms - that's the answer. Harmless to everything except slugs. Of course you would need to drench the entire village with billions and billions of them at considerable cost.

It wasn't raining so I put the goats out to work. There is a problem. Everywhere is either three feet tall or scythed to the ground. Goats are browsers, not grazers. They like stuff that is either sticking up or hanging down. Most of the stuff that is hanging down I don't want them to get at (fruit trees and the like) and there is not enough green stuff sticking up all over for them. I should, of course, have controlled the rate at which it all got scythed down more carefully. Part of the learning curve of being a kecskepásztor. It is complicated by where I can and cannot put them. Just outside their hotel is a grape vine. I have bashed it to death, but, Zombie-like, it keeps springing up again. It will never do any good. It is in the continual shade of a huge conifer in the next door garden. Nonetheless, each spring it springs to life again. The goats found it. Munch, munch, munch and there was not a shred of green left in all of about thirty seconds.

Janos turned up again and set about one of the only remaining standing areas of grass in the garden. It's not good. I know that it is not good. It is just full of evil tussocks of grass and little shrub stumps sticking up all over. In the end I will have to go over it myself and bash out all the tussocks and shrub stumps. I, for the first time this year, turned my attention to the little path that runs up the garden. By lunchtime I had removed three tree stumps and found the fourth. Apple - about fourteen inches in diameter. Oh shit! I had a desultory bash at it and retired for lunch. Whatever, it was coming out. I had decided that my little path would be there, and there it will be!

I went back after lunch and took the big ax with me. I simply smashed the tree stump to pieces. To my amazement it eventually all came out. It left a fairly significant hole in the path. It also left the best part of a wheelbarrow load of stuff that will, when dried, burn in the kitchen stove.

It came on to rain again. Quite gently at first. Once again I expected the goats to be going "bleh, bleh" and once again it did not happen. It became quite serious rain though, so the goats went back under cover. Fortunately they still had plenty of food in there. I popped to the pub for a quick one. Janos was in there and talked at me about what more needed doing in the garden.

I checked on the goats when I got home. They were fine. I really don't know why I am so paranoid about it. Either novelty value or just me being a conscientious goatherd. They become more friendly by the day. Pickle remains intensely jealous. Don't know what to do about that one other than make sure that they are kept apart.

4th June 2010

It was a grey sort of a day but I put the goats out nonetheless. I had no sooner put them on their stakes than it came on to rain. So I marched them back to their yard again. Pain. Best part of an hour out of the day. Janos turned up, in waterproofs and wellies and set about a bit of work regardless. I did a bit of Internet research on goats. In spite of them being remarkably maintenance free there is still much I need to know. More on that later.

I relit the stove and made lunch:
Sausage and Chips Hungarian Style I thought I would share it with you. Sausage and chips Hungarian style. The sausage is hard to describe, not being remotely like a British one. I suppose that the best I can do is to say somewhere between a black pudding and a haggis. Produced in the village, of course. The chips were my spuds which are still holding up quite well in the root cellar. Peeled, cut into wedges, brushed with oil and lightly sprinkled with mixed herbs. Whole lot in the oven for about three quarters of an hour et viola. Pity I can't share the taste with you.

I was due to meet Hobo in the pub at one. There was supposed to be the young chap from the water company the one that fitted the new pipe across the yard. I had a water bill problem. I had had five bills - one for each month from June to October. I can only suppose that these are estimated bills. Unfortunately they were obviously estimated on the basis of last years water catastrophy, as each one was for thirteen cubic metres of water. I had checked the water meter - you may remember that I had a new one fitted on the third of February - and in the four months since then I had used eight cubic metres total. Two a month. Thirteen a month is a long way adrift and I don't want to pay them and have a big hastle getting it corrected. I would much rather it was sorted out first. The young chap didn't turn up so Hobo made a phone call using my phone. A few minutes afterwards the young chap did turn up. Between me and Hobo we explained the problem. He looked at the paperwork and said that he would look at more and read the meter next Monday at my house. That was that.

I went home and very belatedly put the goats out. In the garden, that is. They weren't on fire. I did a bit of hoeing. I need to do much more. I spent a little while sitting on the step and resharpened the big axe and the narrow, heavy mattock with my favourite tool - the angle grinder. I did some Internet stuff and in no time at all it was time to get the goats back in. Pickly dog went ballistic as usual. I know that she would eat a whole one given half a chance unless I was there to knock seven bells out of her. Well, I'll cure that in a little while.

I ate, didn't bother changing, and went to the pub. Hobo was there, and no sooner had I sat down than he asked me if I wanted some cabbage plants. Well, I have about eight miserable specimens in my brassica nursery bed in the garden. He went off to get me ten cabbage plants. He returned only minutes later with plants wrapped in newspaper. We cycled back to my place and planted them. By pure luck I had given the area destined for brassicas a thorough hoeing only that day. It was a matter of a few minutes work to get them planted. I trowelled and Hobo planted. One small problem was that there were actually sixteen plants, not ten. Bugger - where am going to put the rest of my brassicas? We went back to the pub, our beers still on the table.

5th June 2010

For some reason the goats were not happy in their respective sties this morning. There was a lot of "bleah, bleah". I let them out into their little yard and they quieted down. It was a lovely morning. Clear and sunny but not too hot.

After breakfast I took the goats out into the garden and put them to work. Pickle did her ballistic bit. Oh well, she will just have to get used to it.

With Pickle secure (I do wish that I could trust her not to chase stuff) and the goats on station and munching away I got the bike out and cycled to Nádasd for petrol for the wretched strimmer. Oh how I hate it, but it fulfills a need. I guess that when I can no longer afford to put petrol in it most of the rest of the village will be in the same situation with much larger machinery. Horses. We need more horses. I think there are none in this village. Very occasionally horses trot through the village. All the dogs go ballistic. They are invariably ridden by what I can only describe as hoity-toity females. More or less the same as in England but there you get hoity-toity males as well. No, we need work horses. I have seen them as close as Körmend but there are none in the village. Speaking of which, an aquaintance of mine in the UK some years ago used to ride a rat bike. Very big, very wide and very loud. The local hunt was foregathering at a certain spot, and in defference he dipped his clutch and coasted through them at a low speed. There was not a single one of them that put their hand up in thanks. He went on about a quarter of a mile, then turned around and went back through them with the bike on full chat. Horses and riders everywhere. What was the Oscar Wilde quote?

Of course, having cycled to Nádasd and back I had worked up a fair sweat by the time I got back to the village. No,no. That's not right either - what's the quote - "Animals sweat, men perspire and ladies glow". Well, I had still worked up a fair sweat by the time I got back to the village. Call a spade a digging implement! I called in the pub. By chance Lajos (fa szakember) called in. He told me that he had left some timber that I had ordered at my house. I asked how much and settled up with him.

Back home, and with the heat of the day increasing, I made hay:
Now can you believe this? It is actually not hard work. Just fork it over and make sure that any green or damp stuff is on the top. Hay Making

Whilst I was doing this the old lady's grandaughter at No. 72 came to the fence and talked to me about the goats. She wanted to know what their names are. I told her. She found a big handful of greenery which I distributed amongst the three of them.

Back in the yard I set about sorting out the timber that Lajos had left and started on a quite urgent woodworking project. I did a couple of hours, needed a beer, went to the pub and had a beer and then returned home and did another hour.

After that I forked out a load of uneaten stuff from the goat yard and the sties and then went and got some fresh. By the time I had done that I was absolutely, totally knackered. I put the goats to bed, showered and went to the pub for a couple. I didn't need rocking to sleep when I got home.

6th June 2010

Forty three years to the day since my major motorcyle accident. It haunts me and taunts me with pain every single day. Increasingly. Not helped by the fall in the snow this winter. Whatever! Life goes on. I can still manage the dog, the goats and the push bike. Most of the time! Not all at the same time, you understand. If anyone had said to me six or seven years ago that I would be goatherding now I think my response would have been along the lines of "Don't be bloody daft!". The goats are the perfect foil for Pickle. She is big, strong, boisterous and both intelligent and stupid at the same time. The goats are gentle, intelligent and are quite happy to go about their work muching the landscape. Once in a while one will manage to get itself entangled around its stake, the chain having snagged on something. If that happens the goat will make do with what is in range and just sit down and munch, patiently waiting for rescue.

I put the goats to work, with the normal accompaniment of frenzied jealous barking from Pickle, and went back to work on the urgent woodworking project. Picture tomorrow. I ran out of wood screws. Bugger! Well, I suppose I could have cycled to Tescos and back, but no. I just went to see Lajos (fa szakember) and left there with a little bag of thirty-odd wood screws - and a small handful of radishes pulled straight from his garden. The price was, of course, a beer later in the pub. I wonder if there are any villages left in England where the like would still happen now. It is the normal here.

I called in the pub for one on the way home - it was a warm day. Mistake! The Moto GP was on and just had to be watched.

I had not been home more than a couple of minutes when Pickle went ballistic by the garden gate. I glanced out of the doorway to see the back of a lady disappearing up the garden carrying a bucket. It was Marika from next door. She had seen that the goats needed a drink, hopped over the fence, gone in the sty and got their water bucket and took it up to them. There was obviously a divergence of opinion between my village goat advisors. Hobo insists that goats don't need water when they are feeding on green stuff. Marika thought otherwise. I looked it up on the Internet later. Marika was right - they should always have water available. If they don't need it they won't drink it. I had quite a long chat with her whilst I was there.

7th June 2010

From The Guardian on the oil leak.

The goats went to work. I started in on the woodworking again. By the end of the day I got this far:
Useful Thing This is the progress that I had managed so far. Any guesses what it is? You'll have to be quick as there will be another picture on the next update that will pretty well give it away.

It was another beautiful warm (hot later) day. We have suddenly gone from the horrendous weather of May and the early part of June to the weather I would expect at this time of year. I hit another snag with the woodworking. I have probably already said that it is fairly urgent and has jumped the queue over all the other woodworking projects. It has even taken precedence over the gardening. I needed some shaping doing. In the absence of jig saw it would have taken me a day to do by hand. I scribbled on a couple of bits of wood, tucked them under my arm and cycled round to Lajos. I knew he was at work as soon as I got there because I could hear the sound of his planing machine. He finished what he was doing, then I explained my problem to him. With jigsaw, thicknesser and router it was done in about two minutes. The price - a beer later in the pub.

I cycled home with my bits. Via the pub, of course. Once home I checked on the goats. They were OK. I lunched and then set about screwing all the second half of the woodworking project together except for one piece. I had to do this with the last remaining piece:
Detail of Woodwork
I won't say why at this stage - all will be revealed in my next update.

I got the second piece finished. It remained to be attached to the first piece, but by now it was gone five, I was fairly shattered - it had been a hot afternoon even though I was working in the shade - and there remained to be done getting firewood, getting the goats in, cooking and showering.

And going to the pub!

8th June 2010

Sharon Astyk on a recent New York Times article.

I put the goats out to work. Getting boring isn't it? I noticed that the sties were getting a bit niffy, and also that they had stopped eating the other green stuff in the yard. Very fastidious, goats. They will only eat clean stuff. Being semi-wild domesticated creatures they do what goats do which is to perform their natural bodily functions wherever they happen to be. The result of that is that perfectly good goat food rapidly becomes imperfect goat food as far as the goats are concerned. It all had to be outed. I forked it all out onto the ever growing heap outside the outhouse. Mmmmm! It was getting to be quite a big heap. I swept the passageway and yard clear of goat droppings and they went on the heap too.

After a break I tackled the heap. Two big extended barrow loads went onto the compost heap. Well, with all that goat excrement and effluent on it it should make good compost. I like the smell. At least in one small corner of the place it smells like a farmyard. I probably do too. I don't much care. Nobody has complained.

I went up the ladder into the firewood house loft. Not my favourite occupation. Also technically incorrect. The loft over the firewood outhouse and the loft over the potting shed are contiguous, being separated only by a bloody great wooden beam over the wall below. I forked down a new load of the old hay up there. It was quite unpleasant, dusty and sweaty work. I stopped when I thought I had a good extended barrowload. I had - by a factor of two.

I took another break - with a beer this time to lay the dust, and then wheeled the barrowload of new/old hay over to the sties. Now there's a contradiction in terms! I forked a load about and that was that, apart from some new munchables for the goats later.

Hobo and Janos turned up. They sorted out the good hay from the bad hay. I have to say that the goats, when in the garden and when they can get at it, are quite happy with the bad hay. The good hay went into the first half of the loft above the sties. Hobo did it. I'm pleased I didn't have to. I am guessing that I will one day. They knocked it on the head and I went to see Lajos. More wood screws. He treated me to an action guided tour. He was making a cot. I reckon that if you ordered such in the UK it would be about a grand Sterling. It was not just a cot. It had drawers underneath and a unit at the end with lots of shelf space and a beautifully moulded front. He was making the panel to do into the front. When I got there it was glued and clamped in the sunshine outside, as rough as you like. In a couple of minutes it was roughly cut to size. In another couple of minutes it was sanded down on his big belt sander. He marked out the final shape then took it outside to a big old bandsaw that lives under the eaves of his workshop. I had wondered if it was derelict but it wasn't. Had to be kick started though. He switched it on and there was a humming noise but not a lot else. He gave one of the big wheels on which the saw goes round a twirl and off it went. Back in the workshop it went on his spindle moulding machine twice. Evil things, spindle moulders. If you know what a woodworking router is they are like a giant one of those. The cutters are not an inch in diameter. They are about seven inches and they don't just take a finger off. Given half a chance they would take your arm off. Lajos handled it with gay abandon, even leaning over the back of it to adjust the depth of cut. Anyway, within about ten minutes the bit of roughly glued up wood was ready to go in the door of the storage compartment door on the cot. I was going to go off on one about energy, but I'll save it for another day. I left with my bag of wood screws.

I called in the pub on the way home. Well, it was hot. Hobo and Janos were in there and decided to come and do some work for me. Back home they went back to work hay making and I grabbed a sandwich and went back to the woodworking. I finished the second bit and attached it to the first bit:
I deliberately left Pickle in shot to give you a proper idea of scale. Any ideas now? Didn't get an answer from yesterday. The bit that was in the diagram yesterday is the bit that is leaning out towards Pickle. The bolt in the diagram goes through that and the bottom cross member. Only it isn't. A bolt that is. I had no suitable bolt but in my rummage through the workbench I found a bit of threaded rod that happened to be cut off just the right length together with nuts and washers. I probably made it for some job that I have since forgotten. Useful Thing

Hobo and Janos finished and I had a loft half full of new hay. There is a load more out in the garden but it is still not quite dry enough to come in.

Later, in the pub, the TV news had yet more harrowing scenes from the north east of the country as the flooding there moves slowly downstream. Earth houses like mine simply washed away. Brick houses had not fared much better. Pictures of people wading thigh deep in their villages. They are even worried now about whether the Danube (Duna) will flood, and preparations were under way with sandbags in case. Hobo started on about John's rotovator and I could not help but rise to the bait. I asked him what he would do when there is no petrol available. As quick and as glib as you like he came back "Sunflower Oil". I couldn't get through to him that if there is no petrol for John's rotovator then it is likely that all the stuff that goes into making sunflower oil on an industrial scale will likely stop too. Mind you, it did shock him when I told him how many litres of crude oil the world gets through in a day.

Sorry but I just can't resist it. Late in the day James Howard Kunstler arch-doomer!

9th June 2010

Jeremy Leggett in the Financial Times.

Nothing much to report today, which will help with he catching up. Mainly due to the fact that, apart from a couple of things, I forgot to make my aide-memoire notes. Tut-tut.

There was an amusing incident whilst I was taking the goats up the garden. There is always a bit of a struggle to get them past my - sort of - gardening centre. It is where the water butt is, and there are normally a number of gardening tools leaned up against it. It is also a bit green and lush at the moment, so the goats take full advantage of it. I also have to make sure and prevent them from eating potato plants, onions, cabbages and spelt on one side, and raspberry canes, tomato plants and paprika plants on the other. I had persuaded them past the garden bit and they were munching contentedly on clover and long grass. I had a scout around by eye for a suitable place to put them a bit further up the garden. I turned round. Only two goats - Suzy and Rudy! I checked, and sure enough I still had three chains in my hand. My eye followed the third chain. It went over the edge of one of Pickle's deeper excavations. I wandered over the three metres or so, and sure enough Betty was in the hole. She couldn't get herself turned around to scramble up the sloping side. But the best bit was that she was quite happy in there. The weeds were starting to grow down the insides of the hole and she was quite happily munching away at what she could reach.

The only other thing that I noted for the day was a report in the Budapest Times that throughout the country the month of May had been the wettest on record. I'll talk about the consequences of that another time.

10th June 2010

The goats went in the garden. Well into one bit that isn't garden. Hobo and Janos appeared to do some work. I set about some long overdue hoeing. Parts of the garden are a catastophy, other parts are not doing too well and the stuff that loves a lot of rain is thriving. Including the weeds. I sowed a row of carrots between my two rows of onions. Nothing! Not a one. John reported the same. The little Morello cherry tree has maybe a couple of dozen cherries on it. The leeks are just sitting there, whisp-like, looking forlorn. The only upside is that everything that likes a bit of moisture is doing fine. The potatoes are going well. I am getting to the stage of having to squish Colorado Beetle larvae. The apples appear to be thriving, as do the peaches.

Posta appeared with an important package from the UK - an early birthday present. (Thanks J). I had lunch and went back to finish the woodworking project. All I had to do was put a couple of pieces of wood on the business end of whatever it is, and make a little wooden tray to slot in there:
Useful Thing And here it is complete. Well, almost. It actually needs another couple of small pieces added. My guess on when I will get round to that is never. It looks a bit like a stylised wooden donkey, doesn't it? Or is that just me having had too much beer tonight? I was about to say that nobody figured out what it is, but I checked my e-mails and someone did figure out what it is, so I might as well tell the rest of you. It is a goat milking table, but it serves another purpose too that will be apparent tomorrow. Hence the urgency. It will be about next May before I have goat milk.

Hobo and Janos finished what they were doing, and Hobo dragged me round to Johns where he had a good tinker with the rotovator. He took it out into the garden, declared it "Nem jó" and had another tinker. There is a dichotomy in the village. Those that are fascinated with ICE powered machinery (Hobo and my next door neighbour Tibi) and those for whom the tools of choice are the traditional ones (me, for apparent reasons to anyone reading the blog, and Janos). Hobo would be happy tinkering with a hundred rotovators and strimmers. Janos and I (and quite a few others in the village) prefer the scyth and the spade. Best of luck to Hobo to get a rotovator running on sunflower oil. He could always trick it up to run on methanol though.

Back home I put the goats to bed. Rudy licked me all the way back to their yard. Salt, of course - I had been sweating during the course of the day. Very peculiar, being licked by a goat. Quite unlike being licked by a dog or a cat. Very rapid little licks - lots of - and only a swallow every twenty or thirty licks.

My water bill problem was sorted out today. Hobo had noticed that the water company van was at the mayor's house. (He also works for the water company). He called in there to find that they actually had a printout of my consumption and all the payments that I had made. Hobo had appeared with it, triumphant, at my house. I had owed them not several tens of thousands of forints, but a hundred and twenty three. Which I had already paid.

As it happened the young man from the water company came in the pub that very evening. I bought him a beer.

11th June 2010

An article on a report from Lloyds and Chatham House warning of the consequences of a likely energy crunch.

Well, it was an interesting morning. Lovely, bright, sunny and warm. But I had a job to do first. Trimming goats' toe nails. Another dive into the great unknown. I had watch a couple of You Tube videos, so I had the basis of an idea. One was by a lady that simply used garden secuteurs. The other was by some random American guy who only gave you the idea of what a ba****d job it is. Well, it had to be done. Now, the idea behind making the milking table at this time was to use it to secure the goats whilst I trimmed their toe nails. That fell at the first hurdle. Both Suzy and Betty were able to escape it. Ah well, whatever. I straddled the goat table with Betty and just clasped her into my lap, my arm around her midriff. There was a certain amount of "Bleah" Without too much fuss I managed to give her a pedicure. Likewise Suzy, but by the time I had done that I was sweating profusely, uncertain as to whether I had done it correctly or not and still had Rudy to do. I retired to the house for a beer and a calm down.

Back in the goatery I tackled Rudy. I tried him in the goat table. Ha - with his longer horns he could not escape. With some fresh green munchables in front of him he was quite happy. Until I picked up one of his back feet. Then he kicked and kicked. I soon found the knack. He didn't like being held by the lower leg. As soon as I just held his foot it was a lot easier. He still tried to kick from time to time and would just let him go and then get back to hold his foot. He didn't do the same with his front feet and allowed me to curl them back on top of my thigh and snip away to my hearts content. Odd - a very new experience. I had anticipated the whole thing taking me a complete morning. It didn't. About an hour and a half and I was done.

I put them out to work. They were not bleeding and they were not limping. I was happy enough.

I wandered round to the neighbours to see if they knew enough about goats to tell me whether I had done a good job or not. They didn't know, but they did make the (very friendly) comment that I might have been a computer lecturer but now I was a goatherd. Do you know, that cheered me up immeasurably. Not that I was down, you understand, but I came away from there grinning from ear to ear.

I happened upon some knowledge in the village and followed it up immediately. I cycled up the village to see Toni and Eva. Not one hundred percent sure, but I had been told that their son knew all about goats and hoof trimming and such. Eva told me that she would get the son to talk to me about it. I had a quick one in the pub and went home.

Hobo turned up and did a bit of work and then press ganged me into cutting his hair. Bloody nightmare. Talk about unruly. Reminds me of the one about what's the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut? About a fortnight. We both thought we deserved a drink after that so we went to the pub where his new appearance caused merriment and ribald commentary. Could have been worse. I could have given him a Mohican!

Back home Hobo put a load of hay into the little yard. Far too much! I could have done with about three quarters of it going into the little hay loft. Suzy jumped onto the goat table and from there stepped off onto the hay and promptly disappeared. Rudy got his horns into it and tossed it this way and that. Betty just started eating it, with the occasional "Bleah".

Later, in the pub, Toni and Eva's son turned up. He is the one for whom I made the leather quiver. I astonished myself by being able to explain what I had done and why I wanted him to come and check on what I had done all in Hungarian. And he understood!

12th June 2010

Hobo and Janos turned up at half past eight. Complete with three cold beers from the shop which had to be drunk right now whilst they were still cold. Oh dear - did not bode well for the day. I quite deliberately left mine in the kitchen having only taken a single swig at it.

Thomas turned up to look at goats feet. I had left them in their little yard in expectation. He came armed with a blunt-ish knife! I went to the house and returned with my sooper-dooper almost brand new goat foot clippers. His eyes lit up when he saw them. He went to work and it was instantly obvious that he knew exactly what he was doing. He went in at about forty five degrees, whereas I had cut parallel to the sole of their feet. In places he managed to snip off another two or three millimetres of nail more than I had. He found a couple of bits on the first goat I had clipped that I had missed entirely, and he clipped some hard skin off the actual soles of their feet. It was good to see him at work. I will be a lot more assured the next time I do it. Cost - nothing - exactly what I charged him for making the leather quiver. What goes around comes around.

Belatedly the goats went out to work. I went back to the house and did a pile of washing. I even managed to hang out out to dry. Hobo and Janos finished what they were doing. Hobo grabbed my legs and Janos my arms and they carried me kicking and screaming to the pub. Yeah, right! As it happened Hobo's Austrian friend was in the pub. What was supposed to be A beer extended to three, maybe even four. I wobbled my way home. It was seriously hot - somewhere around the thirty five mark. I checked on the goats. Rudy had managed to tangle himself up so that he had no shade. He was lying down and panting. I was worried. I got him on his feet and into the shade and made sure that he had some water. I read up on it later on the Internerd. Goats both sweat and pant. There is apparently no differentiation in their systems between sweating and panting - they both kick in at the same time. That gives the goats a bit of a problem. Hot and dry (i.e. lots of sunlight on the skin) they would be better off sweating. Less hot, and humid they would be better off panting. Lots of learned papers on the Internet! All part of the learning curve.

Hobo appeared and wheelbarrowed a load more good hay into the little loft for the goats. I found a basket by my front door full of pea plants - uprooted from the ground with peas gone. Now, I am guessing here but in former times I would have hurtled them straight on the compost heap. They were obviously destined for the goats, so the goats had them. And short work they made of them too. What I am guessing about is whether they would be better put straight on the compost heap, or whether they are better liberally sprinkled about the land as goat droppings. I was going to say goat shit but thought better of it!

I went back to the house and had just started on making a bacon sandwich when Tibi from next door appeared - with a huge bucket with all the pods from the pea plants in it. They went into the goats as well. I went back and made and enjoyed my bacon sandwich - not quite the same as English bacon though.

The first England match was on later in the pub. Laci switched the telly off with three out of four minutes of stoppage time still to play. Oh well, no doubt it would be all over the Beeb in the morning.

I was going to comment fairly strobgly about what is going on in the Gulf of Mexico, but I will refrain other than to say that I think the US Government is doing quite a bit of meaningless posturing and that BP, if not the whole oil industry, simply do not know how to stop this thing. Depressingly, one wonders if this is the Black Swan leading to an ELE. Sorry to be gloomy, but I am gloomy about it.

13th June 2010

I held the promise of being a hot day so the goats went where they could all find shade and had a water bucket within their collective reach. I did a bit of blog, then some hoeing and hand weeding.

I had been instructed to be in the pub between one and two in the afternoon for the return of Hobo's Austrian friend on the way back from their Hungarian cottage. Two came and went and no sign of them. They eventually landed at about half past. Another round of drinks came and went, and another. Eventually it was time for them to leave. They had with them two young children who turned out to be Hobo's friend's grandchildren. Hobo asked if they would like to see the goats. I cycled home first to make sure that Pickle was sufficiently out of the way not to be a problem. I put her on a much shortened chain at the first staging post by the garden gate. I discovered another big bucket full to the brim with pea pods - another food parcel for the goats. By that the rest of them arrived from the pub and we all wandered up to see the goats. We were all in a group admiring the goats when all hell broke loose. Pickle arrived on the scene completely minus chain. I have no idea how she managed it but she had managed to slip the carabiner that was holding the chain to a shorter length. There was a bit of commotion with dog and goats lunging this way and that, adults shouting, children screaming, dog barking and goats "Bleah"ing. To her credit Pickle desisted when I said "Nem" to her in that particular voice that she knows really means no or dire punishment will follow. I petted and praised her for that, but then she did have to go back on the chain. I showed the young boy - I guess he is about four - how to hold his hand to give something to the goats then let him feed the goats a morello cherry each. They liked that and so did he. The little girl is a bit too young. She just watched. Eventually it was time for them to go so they took their leave and departed for Austria.

Hobo departed too, and I just had time for some more hoeing before the by now normal evening ritual. And that was another fairly eventful day.

14th June 2010

It was another really hot day. It got up somewhere around thirty three/thirty four by the end of the afternoon. Once again the goats went where they had shade. I did more hoeing. It remains simply astonishing how fast the blasted weeds will grow.

Hobo arrived with a food parcel from the pub. Quite unexpected. I had no idea what for. In return he took some of my roses to go on the "Reserved" table in the pub. The landlady always keeps a vase of fresh flowers on that table.

Lunch followed and more weeding in the garden. Mid way through the afternoon it was time for a cold beer in the pub. I cycled on up there and sat down with pipe and a cold beer. I had only taken a couple of mouthfuls when quite suddenly the skies darkened and there was a huge clattering sound from outside. Hail. Quite big - about a centimetre size, and all clearly hexagonal like a scattering of rough cut gem stones from the sky. It only lasted about thirty seconds and then turned to a downpour of rain. Ooops - the goats were still out in the garden. The rain eased a little. I necked the beer and cycled home through the last of the rain accompanied by Hobo, who had been in the pub, to rescue the goats. Stupid animals. They don't like rain but they had all stood out in the open and got thoroughly wet instead of getting under their shade trees where they would at least have been protected from the worst of it. Hobo and I trailed them back to their goat shed.

We sat in the goat shed quite a while chatting and were treated to something I had not seen before. Rudy and Suzy were in the little corridor playing. It was quite clearly playing. When Rudy is doing his Male Chauvinist thing he does what male goats do - butts. This was quite different. They would circle round, then both go on their hind legs and paw at one another with their front feet. Occasionally one or other would spring in the air off all four legs at once. I was quite surprised how high they went - higher than their own height. Betty was busy eating cling film.

15th June 2010

President Obama has more to say on American dependence on fossil fuels. The beginnings of political acknowledgement of peak oil, perhaps?

I happened to get involved with doing a bit of web site administration stuff and thought I would have a quick look at the web statistics for the blog. Quite pleasing! I am getting about six hundred unique visitors a month and an average of three visits a month each, and that discounts visits by robots. The statistics included people who link back to the blog. I knew about most of them but one caught my eye. It is a forum on an Austrian language website about Balaton and you can find the link by going to forums and searching for There are only three or four comments but I notice that one particularly mentions the links that I post to Peak Oil stuff.

Speaking of which, Jim Kunstler

I completely forgot (again) to make my aide-memoire notes, so I have no idea what happened. Nothing out of the ordinary, obviously.

16th June 2010

Peter Fowler of Newsroom America on Barack Obama's speech from the Oval Office.

It was seriously raining first thing. Seriously enough that I had to break out the umbrella to go to the shop. There was a phalanx of umbrellas by the shop doorway. The modus operandum is simply to lay the brolly down still open on the shop forecourt as near the door as you can get it and then quickly dodge into the shop.

The weather continued inclement and the goats were once again CB. I had a serious go at unbusying the kitchen work surface. Not before time. I was in the midst of that when there was a toot-toot from outside. It was Toni and Eva in their van. Toni dived out and grabbed something out the back and equally rapidly carried it up the yard and popped it in the potting shed. Three great big slabs of mixed salt animal licks for the goats. I promised to settle up with them later. Kitchen unbusied, I bottled the nettle beer. Another long overdue job.

It had stopped raining by midday so the goats went out. It was still very overcast but that worked in my favour as I was able to put the goats in the open on some patches that needed a serious chewing that I would not be able to put them on it it was hot and sunny due to lack of shade. I don't know why but I had an afternoon when I achieved absolutely nothing except contemplate my navel. It happens from time to time.

Later, Toni and Eva came in the pub. I jumped straight on it and went to pay for the salt blocks. I gave Toni a thousand. Toni bought his round of drinks and in the change there should have been enough to give me the change from my thousand. There wasn't. Laci had managed to short change him. The change went back on the counter and Laci recalculated, coming back with more change. Toni and I still did not have the correct combination of money, so more money went back over the counter to be changed into smaller denominations and eventually with much shuffling around of coins of the realm all was good.

It transpired from Hobo that I also had salt coming from another source. Double booked - ooops. Later back home I went to relieve myself, as you do. I had been evicting little frogs in penny numbers for days, but tonight there were ten of the little so and sos hopping about the place. I scooped them up by the handful and plopped them into the saucepan that catches the drips from the boiler and out they went. Mmmm - ten. That is worrying. I think they must be living in the earth wall somewhere there.

17th June 2010

It was very wet in the morning. We had had about an inch of rain overnight. I knew that because the big bucket in which the neighbour had brought the pea pods round had about an inch of water in it. It was another dull, grey and cloudy morning.

After breakfast I put the goats out, as it was not actually raining, and then did a load of washing. Hobo appeared, demanded a carrier bag and disappeared. I found out why later. I went to check on the goats and there was a ladder up the cherry tree. Hobo was collecting the cherries. Throughout Hungary the cherry crop is a disaster. This is my third year here with cherries on the tree. This year they are mostly on the ground. I had not seen that for the last two years, but the TV news that I had watched showed a doubling of price of cherries. Hobo came back with half a carrier bag full. Not good.

In the afternoon I did manage to get some gardening work in. It is hard going at the moment. It is either too hot to work or, having rained, too wet to get on the garden. I managed to get a load of hoeing done, some digging and another half a row of peas in.

The old lady from No. 72 threw a load of pea haulms over the fence - destined to be turned into goat shit. I really haven't got my head around what the neighbours do with peas. As far as I can tell they plant a huge area with peas in the autumn and then about this time of year they simply pull all the plants, pod all the peas - and then what. They must jar them up or something. Quite different to my carefully growing a succession of peas so as always to have some fresh and hopefully enough over to jar up or dry for winter. The goats do love pea straw though.

At the end of the afternoon I popped to the pub for one. Now there's a surprise. Hobo was in the pub. Now there's a surprise. I had my one beer and cycled on home. Hobo came with me for no other reason that he wanted to help me put the goats to bed. He likes the goats just as much as I do. I ought to make nappies for them so that I can get what they drop straight onto the compost heap. Any ideas?

I ate, washed and changed and went back to the pub later.

It was raining again when we left the pub.

18th June 2010

First thing it was raining - again! I contented myself with some work around the yard and house. I was in the house when there was a "toot-toot" from the gate and Pickle did her ballistic job. I poked my head out of the door just in time to see two more huge blocks of salt licks come over the gate. I asked the price. A beer in the pub later.

Towards the tail end of the morning it stopped raining, so the goats went out to work. Hobo turned up and whitewashed the sty that had not been done before. Then he left. I prepared to make one of my necessary trips to Körmend. I decided on the bus today on account of the uncertainty of the weather. It is fine and good cycling from my house to the pub and back under an umbrella, but I could not contemplate doing that all the way into town and I am not really geared up for inclement weather cycling.

I did cycle as far as the pub and locked the bike up there in preparation for catching the bus. Hobo was there. I asked him if he could check on the goats whilst I was in town. Not a problem of course - he really likes the goats, and they know and like him. I caught the bus to town and at the next stop Hobo's mother and her friend got on. We chatted about this and that on the journey. We parted ways when we got off the bus.

There are huge works going on in Körmend. The whole area of the big car park and the green are barricaded off. It looks like everything that goes in pipes underground is being replaced. An entire road has disappeared.

Once again I restricted myself to business in the town centre. Once again the leg was better, but I have to say still not good. I had time for a beer in the Presszo and then my last couple of calls. I was still in time to catch the half past two bus back to the village. I was threading my way back to the bus stop around all the barricades. I turned a corner where the barricades are quite close to the buildings, allowing only room for people to go in one direction. I found a largish, smartly dressed lady was at the other end of this bit and being the gentleman that I pretend to be, I stood back to let her have precedence. To my astonishment she stopped and spoke to me. "How are the goats?" I told her that all three were doing fine, but my puzzlement must have showed as she mentioned that she was the lady from Ivanc from whose son I had bought the goats. It was definitely one of those "Sorry missus - I didn't recognise you with your clothes on" moments. It was another of those moments that lift the spirit and I limped back to catch the bus grinning to myself.

The bus came, and for once there was plenty of room. It dawned on me - no schoolchildren. They had obviously broken up for the summer holidays. And so back to Halogy, where I rescued the bike and paid the parking fee. Hobo was in there, but he made sure to tell me that he had checked on the goats. He was looking for a little work and came back to the cottage with me. I set him on to saw off yet another big dead branch off the old apple tree. I'm afraid its days are numbered but I would really like to get some cuttings made from it so as to preserve the continuance of that type of apple.

Later, in the pub for the evening, I remembered to confirm with Hobo what had happened to the little abandoned dog at the football field. I cannot remember whether I reported that I thought it had been adopted by someone in the village, but happily that is the case. It is now living not that far from me, with two other dogs, several cats, rabbits, chickens...

I solved another puzzlement for myself too. For some days the whole country has been going crackers about VB. Everywhere you looked, on telly - everything. VB everywhere. I was at a loss as to why the whole country was in such a state about a programming language. Particularly a crappy one like Visual Basic. It dawned on me that it actually refered to világbajnokság which is the Hungarian for the football world cup. They call it the world championship. It was peeing down again when we left the pub.

19th June 2010

Short-ish today. For once it was a nice day. I set about the cherries sitting on the doorstep. That is to say that the cherries were in the carrier bag wherein Hobo had placed them. I sat on step with carrier bag. There were about a couple of kilogrammes of them. Way short of the amount I had had the last couple of years. I, as everyone else in the village, have been seriously affected by the unseasonal weather. I mentioned it before. The cherry crop throughout the whole country had been a disaster. There were certainly no gifts of cherries coming over the fence this year. No cherry wine either. I forget how many litres I made last year. All this years meagre crop was to go into jam. No cherry brandy either this year. Neither morellos nor sweet cherries. It is quote sobering when weather and horticulture combine to bite you on the bum. In context of what I am doing here a crop failure like this means that I would simply have to make do with what I had. Oh well, swings and roundabouts I guess. I expect other stuff that likes wetter conditions will no doubt do better.

Hobo was about. I can't remember what he was doing, but at some stage both me and him got involved with rescuing the tomatoes. It was a very windy day, and they were whipping about and attempting to uproot themselves. Between us we managed to locate forty sticks, tied them all up and firmed them back into the soil. Strange thing - with a lot of rain the soil here swells up and becomes spongy.

Hobo left and I made the jam. In contrast to last year when I had several big jars of cherry jam - I'm eating the last one with breakfasts right now - this year I managed just two medium sized and two small jars.

Later on the TV news there had been a huge hailstorm at a site where they were preparing for a big horse show. The place was absolutely trashed. What the hail had not got the high winds had. They are still showing the aftermath of the floods, with lots of areas still under water. An unpleasant side effect of that is that there had been an absolute explosion of the mosquito population - all that standing water and a few fine days. I'm jumping ahead a bit here, but I know that I will forget to write about it otherwise. On later news bulletins they showed the effect that the hail storm that destroyed the horse show site on the maize crop in the area. Utterly destroyed also. Just sticks standing in the fields. There will be no maize harvest there this year.

20th June 2010

Cold and raining again. What the heck is going on with the weather? The goats were once again confined within their little yard. It is better accommodation than some in the village. I did housework.

Towards the end of the morning it stopped raining so I put the goats out. I finished off whatever bit of housework that I was doing, and fairly fed up of housework and my own company decided to go the pub for a quick one. I got as far as the church - about fifty metres. As soon as I poked my nose out of doors it started raining again. I turned the bike around, pedalled home and got the goats in. They didn't need much encouragement.

Undeterred from my beer I put the brolly up and cycled to the pub. Hobo was there. What a surprise! But there was someone else there with whom I wanted to do a little business. It happens that I had spotted a clump of bamboo growing in the village. Now, I can't be sure whether I have mentioned the chap before or not, but he is the only Hungarian that I have met that speaks with a stutter. Which makes communication a bit difficult. Hobo acted as intermediary, and whilst we were talking about it John appeared. I asked him if he wanted a couple of roots of bamboo, and yes he was included. I had taken some pains to ensure that Hobo knew that I wanted it roots and all - not just the canes. A deal was (sort of) struck.

Time to go home and Hobo tagged along as far as my place, grabbed wheelbarrow and a spade and then we trooped back to the house where the clump of bamboo was. Owner of the house, with whom we had done the deal was nowhere to be found. Hobo just set about it and hacked off roots and all two pieces of two canes each of live bamboo about twelve feet high in an increasingly insistent downpour. Into the barrow it went. It stopped the traffic when we wheeled it out into the road, only there wasn't any. It stopped the traffic again when Hobo took up most of the road to turn into my yard. There wasn't any then either. I chose one of the roots. John just tucked the other under his arm, stopped the traffic again as he left my yard and walked it home. In even more persistent precipitation Hobo and I investigated whereabouts in the garden it should go, and there it went. Hobo dug the hole. I stuck the bamboo in and between us we heeled it into place.

We were thoroughly wet by then so we went back to the pub and had another beer. Somewhat later the guy from whom we had stolen with whom we had done a deal to buy the bamboo was in the pub. I don't think he even realised that we had stolen done a deal for it. I tried to talk to him about the cost but he was, unfortunately, somewhat inebriated by this time and just went off on one. The landlord intervened and told us both to sort it out tomorrow.

21st June 2010

It rained again pretty much all day. Once again the goats were confined in their little yard. I made sure they had a supply of fresh hay and that was them dealt with. It will not be long berfore I have to start thinking about how to remodel the entire outhouse and garage. There are a minimum for three requirements:
On my travels I happened to see the chap with the bamboo. He was with a young man from the village and they were just carrying some construction timber into his yard. I stopped and had a bit of a rambling discussion with him about the bamboo. I don't think that he grasped that we already had the bamboo in spite of the fact that there were two bald patches on the outskirts of his clump as evidence of their removal. He seemed determined to press more upon me. He even wanted to saw some canes off for me. I explained that there was no need, and eventually we settled for the princely sum of five hundred forints which I paid him.

Back home, and still raining, I carried on with what I had been doing - updating the blog.

I needed spuds and so had a trip into the cellar. I sorted out the last of the usable ones. The rest are destined for the compost heap. About half a tray full. I am quite pleased with how they have kept this year. With no water catastrophies and a reorganisation of the way I stored them they have lasted quite well. I still have a few good carrots down there too.

Pub in the evening.

22nd June 2010

On The Oil Drum site today was this guest post from Shirin Fatemeh Wertime on the effects of Peak Oil on agribusiness.

I set about hand weeding the spelt. There was a lot of competing wild grass and other weeds growing amongst it, to the extent that it was no longer possible to distinguish the rows of spelt. Out they had to come. With the wetness of the ground after the rain they came out easily enough, but it was mind-numbingly boring back-ache work. The goats were parked nearby. I simply hurled the weeds in handfuls to them and they munched away quite merrily on them. I took some pictures:
Suzy Suzy
Betty Betty
and Rudy Rudy

I took a picture of the onions in flower too:
Onions in Flower Triffids!

I managed to weed a miserable one sixth of the spelt patch before I had had enough.

A load more goat food came over both fences, and a little handful of radishes for me.

It rained again in the evening. Fortunately the goats had already gone to bed.

23rd June 2010

The weather seemed to have turned somewhat and it was a lovely bright morning. I came home from the shop to find four newly fledged swallows sitting on the guttering just above the potting shed door. Typical teenagers - just sitting there expecting to be fed! Nice to know that 'my' swallows had had a successful brood though. In context with what I am doing here small things like that are important to me.

I was expecting a small parcel from the UK but Posta passed by without stopping. Ah well, maybe tomorrow.

A certain amount of stuff in and around the yard was destined for the compost heap so into the barrow and onto the compost heap it went. I carried on in the garden by digging over the row, now full of weeds, where the carrots should have been. I think I mentioned it before. Not a one appeared. Nothing. John experienced the same. The weeds were by now about a foot high. I just chopped them up with the spade as I went and dug them in as green manure.

I went to the pub and watched the match. I can't remember which match it was now. Unimportant in the greater scheme of things.

Back home the goats went to bed after I had had a bit of a scout round in the garden and found them a bit more good hay. I went back to the pub.

24th June 2010

An Irish Times article discussing the opinions of Jeremy Leggett and Jeff Rubin on Peak Oil. And Jan Lundberg writes about work (==slavery?).

Another short one today. Another fine but not too hot day, so I did some washing and got it out. Then it was back to the garden. Three rows of beans went in the freshly dug patch from yesterday. I was thinking that I was very late getting them in - I had hoped to have them in by the end of May. It turned out that at Toni and Eva's place the very same thing was happening.

I dug over the area where the vine cuttings had been as I needed still more space for planting out. The vine cuttings were yet another disaster. Most had come into bud and then we had the constantly wet and cold spell and they did not like it. Not a single survivor. After that it was back to the weeding. It is still an uphill battle. At this stage of the year I should be doing what the neighbours are doing now which is a daily bit of hoeing, general garden maintenance and gathering in the ready produce. Instead of which I am still trying to open up more ground. As I have commented it cannot be done roughly. It all has to be properly weeded. I reckon on needing at least half as much again opened up. Maybe even double. It will come, with time.

25th June 2010

I changed my routine on days when it is not raining. Instead of going to the shop, breakfasting and putting the goats out I decided to get a bit more work out of them by going to the shop, putting the goats out and then breakfasting. I was doing that this morning and had a look around at where I wanted to put them. I wanted them nearer the house today. Blast! Their tethering posts were way up the garden. I wandered up there and retrieved them so as to have them in position to just drop the goats onto, one - two - three. I was wandering back with posts when I heard the particular yip-yip that Pickle makes which means she is bothering the goats. I got back in the yard to be treated to an amazing scene. The door from the yard into the sties was wide open. The goats were curious as to what life was like the other side of the door and they were queuing up to get into the yard, Rudy first and the girls behind. Fortunately Pickle was still on her chain so she was unable to pursue them into the sty. Rudy was utterly unafraid of Pickle and they were nose to nose. Whenever Pickle made a lunge at Rudy he just put his head down and all Pickle could get hold of would be a horn. This bothered Rudy not at all, except insofaras Rudy does not like having his horns held. Rudy would twist his head - exactly like you twist a stick round to get it off a dog when it won't let go. Pickle would be forced to let go and Rudy would promptly butt her under the head. That dog is going to have a real problem when he is bigger. I don't think that it will be the dog doing the chasing!

I closed the door to separate them and went back to routine by putting the goats out. I left Pickle in the yard as punishment for trying to get at the goats. I was just on my way back to the yard when there was another commotion. Pickle was going ballistic at something by the yard gate. When I got there, there was a hedgehog rolled up just in the angle between the gate and the outhouse wall. I shut the gate to let Pickle have a proper go at it. There were a couple of pricked noses and paws and much barking, then I called her away. Poor Pickle. She was not having much luck this morning.

Hobo and "How do you do?" Laci turned up. The former with a sawing horse and the latter with chainsaw. They set to and chainsawed everything in sight. Dog, goats, my bad leg... Na, only joking of course. But they did create a load of firewood that just needs chopping up with an ax. We had a wander up the garden where I showed them the big chestnut tree. I can't remember whether I mentioned it but the top half of the tree has not come into leaf this year. My attitude was to take the dead half out piecemeal and see what happens with the bottom half. Their attitude was "Saw the f***er down" Fortunately Laci's chain saw is not man enough for that job, so they sawed a pear tree down instead:
You know the Irish one about the tree fellers of course? No? Sean and Paddy were walking along a lane at the side of a wood when they came to a gate with a sign by it. "Tree fellers wanted" Sean said to Paddy "Ah ter be sure, it's a pity Mick isn't with us." Sawing Up a Felled Tree

They went off. To the pub I suspect. I set about making lunch. Meat and tatie pie Hungarian style. Hobo returned and set about wheelbarrowing all the sawn up pear tree and stacking it in the kitchen firewood house. The small stuff remained to be chopped up in situ and barrowed down. It still remains as I write. As Hobo finished the pie was cooked. I offered him some. The pie was divided into three pieces in the proportions of two fifths, two fifths and one fifth. I had a two fifths sized piece, Hobo had the one fifth sized piece and the remaining two fifth sized piece would do me very nicely for the next day. The contents of the pie were very red. Loads of the normal mild Hungarian paprika and a bit of zing added by making some more chilli powder from my store of hot cherry paprikas. I haven't sorted out how to get the seeds to grind up with the pestle and mortar yet. I might try lightly roasting them another time. Hobo declared the pie to be good.

It came on rain - again - so the goats went back in their shed. I didn't make a note of when the first time today was, but that was the second time today.

For a few days I had had a particular health problem. It has happened several times before and I knew that it would sort itself out in a little while, but it was particularly sore today. And no, not haemorroids. Didn't stop me going to the pub though.

26th June 2010

Another grey morning and everywhere was soaked again after yesterdays rain. We seem to be stuck under a low pressure area that is just wallowing back and forth around the Carpathian Basin. I wish it would make its mind up to disappear elsewhere.

I was going to tell you about some problem or other that completely escapes me now. The word I have used in my notes is not found in my little pocket dictionary is not in one of the on-line dictionaries and the other on-line one is down as I write. Oh well - I'll tell you some other time if I remember.

Lajos appeared, took some measurements and disappeared again. I took the goats out.

Lajos was back in a couple of hours with a brand new sawing horse. Three thousand five hundred forints. I hadn't asked for it. I think Hobo had organised it. It was one of those "We are going to help you whether you asked for help or not" things. He had apparently made two. One for me and one to be used at his mother's house. I was going to say one for his mother but I suspect that she would not do a lot of sawing. Lajos brought one of his daughters with him to see the goats. As it happened we were just on the way into the garden when it came on a sharp shower. Back to their yard they had to go. I took one of the girls, his daughter took the other and Lajos was left with Rudy. Rudy did not like it one bit. Rudy is very, very particular who handles him. I am OK and so is Hobo, but Rudy does not like Tibi next door. Nor did he like Lajos. They had a bit of a tussle and Lajos ended up frog marching Rudy back holding his horns. That would have made him like Lajos even less as the one thing he is not partial to is having his horns held. Even by me. Or Pickle. We got them in eventually.

I went for a lunchtime beer, it being a Saturday. Lajos appeared. He had a problem. His mobile phone was nowhere to be found. He and Hobo went to my place to have a cast around for it but came back empty handed. I got Lajos to put his number in my magyar mobil. When I returned home I had a wander round the garden ringing his phone at intervals. I retracked everywhere that he had been. No mobile. Wherever it was, it was not in my garden or yard or the goat shed. It came another sharp shower so that put paid to me putting the goats out again.

Instead, I grabbed a small bucketful of green wallnuts and returned to the house to make nocchino (walnut liqueur):
Making Nocchino I sacrificed a litre of pálinka to use as the base. I drink very little of it anyway, just a small thimble full with the occasional visitor that calls that I know likes it, just to be sociable. I didn't bother with rubber gloves. Not that fussed about a few walnut stains on the fingers.

It was still raining on and off so I did some blog updating, and yes, I know it is getting behind again.

In the pub later a particular chap shook my hand as usual. He decided this evening on a trial of strength. He gripped quite hard, so I gripped back. A good handshake he declared it. He and Hobo are always winding one another up, and Hobo insists on calling him magyartarka. It is not a thing that is to be found in any of the dictionaries, so I decided that today was the day for finding out what it meant and I asked Hobo. I hope I got the drift of what Hobo told me, which was that it is a derisory term for someone who is, how shall I say kindly, larger than nature intended. No doubt my ex-pat Hungarians will tell me.

27th June 2010

Well the weather was good. Someone threw the switch and it went from a series of miserable days to what I would expect at this time of year in about twelve hours. There was a down side to that. With the wetness of everything the humidity rose in proportion to the temperature rising. Not good. Everything I tried to do outside was like working in a Turkish bath. The sweat rolled off me.

I did some gentle weeding here and there. Some of the weeds went on the ground to mulch, some went in the goats. Once again I was having to make sure the goats had shade and water.

The Visual Basic football was on telly. Laci the landlord was running his book. A hundred forints a guess at the full time score. I had a go and so did Hobo. We didn't win. I was in the pub, of course.

Back home I did some clearing out of the goat area. It was not pleasant work. Flies and mosquitos abounded and the sweat ran off me like a river. Had to be done though.

I didn't make a note, but I suppose I went back to the pub in the evening. A couple of things of note that I can't remember whether I wrote about before. The weather we had today is regarded as being bad weather here. Thunderstorms are equally regarded as bad weather. Good weather is either a nice gentle rain all day or a fine day with the temperatures no higher than seventy in old money. For younger readers subtract thirty two then divide by nine and multiply by five. Going off on one here. You know, it used to seriously p**s me off to have to supply formulæ to University level students. When I were a lad and left the High School I knew that the volume of a sphere was four divided by three times pi times the radius cubed. I think that I am correct in saying that we actually hd to supply that formula to the students for an in-class test. How sad. Applied mathematics for gods sake. Just the same as applied physics.

Went back to the pub in the evening seeing as how I was neither ill nor dead.

28th June 2010

I was up early and it was another very warm day. Evidently the low pressure area had decided to bugger off. I had a mental list of things that I wanted to get done. I normally do. Every day I set myself a mental list of what I want to achieve during the day. I rarely meet them! One of my regular correspondents mentioned the Hungarian attitude in an e-mail. "Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?" I begin to notice what he means. The change back to hot weather is also a bit of a two edged sword. With all the accumulated moisture from the recent rains we are into a situation of very heavy dews and lots of mosquitoes in the early part of the morning. Don't mind the dew but the mosquitoes are a serious pain. After that it starts to get really hot, and there is just a limit to what you can do in terms of serious physical stuff without risking dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Anyway, my first target after putting the goats out and breakfasting was to get the yard strimmed, which I did. I fancied a beer in the cool of the pub after that so I did that as well.

I got home to find that quite by chance I had done my strimming on the same day that the guys were doing the village verges. Good. I could kill two birds with one stone and do all the clearing up at once. I managed to catch the guy that does the actual strimming who is a fruit tree expert and asked him to have a look at my old apple tree. With Pickle safely tied up out of his way - he is a bit wary of her - we had a wander up the garden. He looked at the old apple tree and declared it "Nem jó". His suggestion was that about October time he would get a guy in with a tractor and just pull it down. One less tree stump to deal with. He plans to take cuttings from the few remaining good bits of the tree. He went back to his day job. I moved the goats to a shadier spot.

Back in the yard I raked up the grass trimmings from the bit that I do rake the grass trimmings from and then went to rake up the grass trimmings from the roadside. Mmmmm! Bit of a mystery - there were none. I found out why a little later. Marika had obviously gathered them up at the same time that she had done hers and they eventually found their way over my fence to the goats.

My day, by now fairly well interrupted, was further interrupted by the arrival of Hobo, Jani and A.N. Other with a handcart of hay from Johns place. Where did I want it? I showed Hobo the little separate area in the main firewood outhouse and said to put it in there. I let them get on with it.

I stayed around the yard and spent some time on a little woodworking project so as to be on hand if the need arose. Another two handcart loads of hay appeared and disappeared. I ballsed up the woodworking project. Oh well, start again from scratch. I managed to produce three very nicely planed up pieces of firewood.

The hay carters disappeared and I went to investigate the hay. They had, in true Hungarian fashion, managed to put it precisely where I had not wanted it! Another unwanted and unscheduled job for Steve. At some stage soon it will have to be shifted. They had put it not in the little separate area but right underneath the loft hatch in the area where I want to fork down the old hay from the loft. My plan is to use old hay for the goats' bedding through the winter and the new hay for fodder. It was much too hot and sweaty to even contemplate starting to move it today. Another time.

Pub in the evening. Nothing out of the ordinary.

29th June 2010

Not much to report today on account of the fact that I made very few notes. About half way through the morning the guys arrived with another hand cart load of hay, which, on account of me not having started to move the rest from the wrong place to the right place, also went in the wrong place. Another load followed, and that was the lot. I paid them and they went away happy.

I will tell you about a problem associated with my OCPD relating to socks. Having OCPD means that washed socks have to be dealt with in a certain way. The socks are always hung up in their correct pairs and the right way out. The left sock naturally goes on the left and the right sock on the right. The toes must always point to the east and the heels to the west. Over time this has meant that the right socks which are always to the south have become sun bleached, so all my socks are now no longer pairs. One is always lighter than the other. And if you believe all of that give yourself nought out of ten! It is (mostly) bollox. I do hang them in pairs and the right way out, simply and logically because it makes them easier to fold up and put away.

30th June 2010

My littlest daughter celebrated a birthday today, and what a way to celebrate it. In the US of A on tour with Gordon Sumner.

Back here on the ranch life continued as usual. Shop, goats, breakfast. I managed a row of digging. Just the one and then I was driven back by the heat. It was top side of thirty Celcius today, and very humid again. Once again what the Hungarians call bad weather. I know people that would disagree, but it really is not nice to try and work in. I was drenched in sweat all day without doing anything much physical. I moved the goats on account of the heat.

Moving the goats caused me to lose a lot of sweat, and I developed a raging thirst. Yes, off to the pub I went for a cold beer. John was just leaving the pub as I arrived. He turned around and joined me, so one cold beer became two.

Back home I checked the goats. They were fine in their shady spot. I settled for a bit of housework in the relative cool of the house. I say relative - it was twenty six everywhere in the house. After that I settled to an utterly trivial task connected with an utterly frivolous project involving coins - more later. I spent a while polishing up a two forint piece. Hobo appeared and I asked him what the stylised flower was on the coin. He didn't know. We had a beer and got the goats in.

Hobo left - it had been purely a social call. I went to the shop. There were quite a few people in there so I had to wait a while to get served. The usual banter was going on and this evening it centred around water melon. One of the old girls of the village wanted a quarter of a melon. They are huge - at least twice as big as any that I ever saw in the UK. The shop lady struggled mightily with her huge knife and eventually had two, somewhat off centre, half melons. One was cut in two for the quarter melon. The next lady in the queue decided to take the remaining half melon as it was. I made a note as it went on the scales. Four kilogrammes and six hundred and fifty grammes. The price? I made a note of that too. Five hundred and fifty forints! Just over one pound fifty UK. I was actually grinning by now with the sheer pleasure of all the exchanges that were going on. Anybody looking would have thought "What's he grinning at? Stupid b***er!" Another of the village ladies came into the shop accompanied by her small daughter. She is small - I think she may be about three, maybe a little less. She is one of the cheeriest, happiest little children I have ever met. All in pink, with her earrings in and her own little shopping basket to help mummy do the shopping. You know, there is absolutely none of the feminist "You can't have gender roles" here in the village. Little girls are little girls, with earrings from a very early age, and little boys are little boys.

Back home a little Internet research was called for and I found out that the flower on the two forint piece is in fact a cinquefoil, and a little more research revealed that in Hungarian it is a pimpó. Yet another extremely unlikely word to add to my magyarul vocabulary.

I enlightened Hobo what the flower was later. In the pub of course.


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