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October 2010

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1st October 2010

Well, just to prove that I am still alive I'll attempt a quick update. The workload is crushing. I have more jobs lined up than I can possibly achieve. To add to which, it was another thoroughly depressing grey day. At least it didn't rain, so the goats went out.

Urgent jobs are lined up for the month:
As my contribution for today I collected walnuts and chestnuts. I don't know if it is getting to me, but I have stopped counting. Well, that is to say, I always start out counting and then either goats, or dogs, or neighbours interrupt my counting and I lose count. Whatever - premature senility!

Posta turned up in response to my sign hung on the gate. With a non-working ATM. Bugger! All the plans went out the window again. I had a bite of lunch then cycled to the post office in Nádasd to get cash. I cycled back and had a beer in the pub. It was cool enough that I managed to put a bit of effort in without breaking into a sweat.

Back home I turned my attention to the inside of the big tile stove. Not good. Really not good. I cannot remember whether I wrote about the availablility of firebricks. There were certainly none available locally. Oh well, it would just have to be bodged up with fireclay. That is apparently what they do and the ingredients are available locally.

I started on peeling the chestnuts. I tried it with the outer skins on and the outer skins off. Both ways it still created a new high in tedium. About an hour to get the pericarpus off a dozen chestnuts, and I ended up with half a jar full of chestnut bits. I managed to get one single whole chestnut. They are simply not of a variety not to break up when you remove the pericarpus. In fact it was easier to deliberately break them. There has to be a better way!

Pub in the evening, of course.

2nd October 2010

Another cool and very overcast day. Not nice - depressing. Where has our autumn gone? Shop and goats then breakfast. At least it was not raining, so the goats could go out. After breakfast I moved the goats somewhere else for the day where there was more stuff for them to munch.

It being such a depressing day I kept the kitchen stove going and did some more chestnuts. By lunch time I had managed another twenty five and had filled up my first, smallish jar. There simply has to be a better way. It is fine and good if you are roasting chestnuts to eat as a treat at this time of year but I was in the process of trying to get as many as possible preserved for winter. I water bathed my one jar of chestnuts then wanged the lid down tight. The ones I had done yesterday were starting to ferment. Oh well, slightly alocoholic chestnuts jarred up then. Works for me ;)

Over lunch I did some stuff on the Internet. After lunch, being pissed off with the weather, pissed off with chestnuts and generally pissed off I went to the pub for one. Which became two as Hobo was there.

I checked on the goats when I got home. Rudy had managed to get his chain tangled up. Whilst I was sorting it out he decided to get a strop on with me. All part of the rutt thing. I had to subdue him three times before he decided that, well, maybe I still was the herd boss.

I got a big basket of kitchen firewood in and then cooked very plain fare. Lentils and rice. Green lentils (brown?). It takes long cooking to get just right. The only other ingredients are a small onion fried then added to the mix, and seasonings. I used to cook it for my two youngest when they were small children. They used to call it "stodge". They liked it though. The lentils were not cooked enough. They were still a bit a'l dente. I prefer it when they are almost the consistency of mushy peas.

I washed, changed and went to the pub. Back home after closing time I fed the dogs. I had kept back about four tablespoonsful of lentils and rice and added that to their food. You know, if I just give them the dry dog food they will crunch a couple of mouthfuls of it, then they will swap feeding bowls to see if what I had given Blackie was better than what I had given Pickle, and vice-versa. It never is, of course. They both always get the same. If there is the slightest hint of human food, veggie or not, in with theirs they will lash it down.

I have a load of pictures to post. They will have to wait. As you can tell by the fact that I am still a week behind it is as much as I can do to just keep the blog entries coming. Simply too much to do in the day, and more than one day of blog takes me past my bedtime in the evening.

3rd October 2010

Not a good day weatherwise, and it being a Sunday I had not planned to be up that early anyway. I have to confess that I was still in bed at half past eight when the dogs went ballistic - both of them. I heard sounds from outside and immediately knew what it was. I let the dogs do their ballistic bit and rolled over and dozed for a few minutes. Once I did rouse myself and let the dogs out my suspicions were confirmed. My big fermenter was now by the side of the house, not in the little front garden, and was empty. The plums had gone on their way to be made into pálinka. Hobo later revealed that the guy to whom the plums had gone had fifteen hundred litres of plums fermenting. Wow, that is a lot of pálinka. I know that I will forget about it later so I will tell you now that Hobo came up with a recipe for turning pálinka into liqueur. Now, how many blokes in England, or the UK for that matter, could you ask "Give me a recipe for a liqueur." and who would be able to provide an answer?

I can't say it was one of my better days. It's the weather. I am not alone. Half the village are not their usual cheery selves. Nevertheless there was work to be done. The goats went out. I collected more chestnuts on my travels.

After breakfast I set about moving the stuff from outside the goathouse to the main compost heap. That was certainly my physical workout for the day. Three barrow loads, and it was heavy. It steamed as I forked it onto the main compost heap. Now that's what I like to see.

It was local election day in Hungary today. I qualified to vote but did not exercise my perogative. Quite honestly I don't know enough about it. I did have the forethought to ask Hobo if voting was complusory. It isn't, but it would be so easy to fall foul of officialdom here on such a silly thing. I am ever concious of the fact that my continued presence here is simply down to Hungary's membership of the EU, so all EU citizens have right of residency. I read an article by a Canadian on the Budapest Times web site that he has to leave the country every two years, apply again for residency from abroad and return when it is granted. I a way I find that surprising, and in another way I don't. Yes, they have to keep tabs on who is allowed to be here and who is not, but somewhere in Budapest they have their very own Domesday Clock. It is counting the population down to nil! It recently, for the first time since it was started, dipped below ten million. I know that this village has dipped from just over three hundred population to just under three hundred. An aging population, of whom I am one, and an inclination for women to have children when they are in their mid thirties all contributes. Mind you, if you are a believer in population overshoot that is no bad thing. At least Hungary is self sufficient in food.

I can't remember what I did the rest of the day - this and that, nothing special. The goats went in in the evening. I ate and washed and changed and went to the pub. It was different! All evening long the main channel was showing the progress of the elections. Not quite as in the UK, as this was just the local elections. There was quite a large party at one table and a particular person kept dodging in and out to answer their mobile phone. Somewhere about a quarter to nine, which would normally be closing time at this time of the year, we had a new village mayor. The person that had been dodging in and out. He bought a round of drinks for the entire pub. Not long afterwards his side-kick was also elected. I know not what the relationship is - deputy mayor, whatever - but he bought another round of drinks for the entire pub. Hobo sensibly sneaked his back to the bar and had Laci put a top back on it for the morning. I drank mine!

Well, well, well. Can this be from the same Michael Lynch that I have flamed several times on several forums over his overly optimistic view on Peak Oil. The revelation that the Saudis are using this at Ghawar is frightening.

4th October 2010

It was a better morning. Very misty with heavy dew, but with the promise of a decnt day to come at last. The shop had no bread. I had to make do with a couple of kifli. Fortunately I still had enough bread left from the weekend that I could still have my toast and jam. Speaking of which, do you know what to do with stale baguettes? They are best eaten on the day of purchase. By the next day they are stale. Easily fixed! Heat up the oven to hot. Once it is hot put your baguette under the cold tap, shake off the excess moisture and pop it in the oven for few minutes. As good as new!

I took the goats further up the garden than they had ever been before. As far as I could get them up towards Telek utca before they could get into the young apple trees. There was lots of stuff there for them to chobble on. Is that a word - chobble?

I hobbled back to the yard and determined to find out the problem with the strimmer. It was a repeat of the previous problem and then some. The pull-chord starting mechanism was, well, buggered basically. Hobo told me later that a new one would be about twelve or thirteen thousand forints, but it would break again in a year or so. Wonderful!

That threw a shadow on the day. I returned to processing chestnuts, making no more progress than before.

After lunch I went up the garden and scythed down some of the last remaining greenery to feed the goats overnight. I wheeled a barrowful back to the goat house. I wheeled the barrow back all the way up the plot and stacked it with all the available hay to wheel back to the yard into storage. I noticed that my neighbout at the top had piled a load of maize stalks over the fence. It stacked them on the top of the hay in the barrow. They could go straight in the goat house.

I went to the pub for a beer.

When I returned it was time to get the goats in. As usual I took the girls in first. On my way back I noticed a couple of things. One was the lady neighbour at the top. She was standing by the end of their outbuildings watching me deal with the goats. The other thing that I noticed was that Rudy was standing on top of a compost heap there and was silhouetted by the sun. He looked quite magnificent. Bugger, I did not have the camera! I have in mind to try and get him to pose for me thus.

I took the girls back to the goat house, and of course Rudy set up a plaintive "Meah-meah-meah" at the disappearance of his harem. It took me a while to get the girls back and return for him. As usual I just released him and let him run. He determined that He would have a go at the chestnut plantation on the way back. To my amazement he never touched a chestnut plant. He just went for the lush young green grass between them.

I had corn on the cob to eat before returning to the pub. Those who know me - don't ask! The method of cooking it was a bit unusual though. Blowlamp! Just keep turning it and turning it and playing the blowlamp across it until the tips of the seed just start browing. One of my ex-wives taught me that one.

John and I were in the pub and there was an article on the news about a red flood in a village in Hungary. Neither he or I had much idea what was going on, but later it made the Daily Telegraph.

5th October 2010

It was another quite cold but pleasant morning, and the sun was just getting out as I went to the shop. Even at that time of day you can feel the difference immediately. The goats went out and I had breakfast. With the stove still lit I decided on a couple of experiments, both to do with chestnuts. I had about fifty chestnuts in a bowl from which I had removed the outer skin. No. I will rephrase that. I had exactly fifty chestnuts in a bowl from which I had removed the outer skin. I chopped them up quite small, put them on a baking tray and put them in a drying oven, i.e. the stove oven with the door open. I turned them and shook them about from time to time to assist the process. More to follow on that one.

The other experiment was to find a better way to get the flesh out of chestnuts. I know I have mentioned it a couple of times. I put my smallest saucepan on the stove with just enough water to cover a chestnut and brought it to the boil. I slit the outer skin of a single chestnut along the flat side and popped it in the water. I boiled it for an hour whilst I did other stuff, then I removed it from the water and simply chopped it in two, from blunt end to pointed end. Then I simply squished each half between my thumb and first finger, much as you would do with a lemon in the absence of one of those conical lemon juicer things. It worked! With a squish this way and a squish that way about ninety five percent of the flesh came out, with no pericarpus, in a matter of seconds. More to come on that one too.

Hobo turned up. For no other reason than to have a chat and drink one of my beers. We had the chat and drank the beer and he went on his way. With stove still alight, and ingredients to hand I determined upon pizza for lunch. So I made one, and ate it. Well, somewhere about four fifths of it anyway. The other fifth went to Hobo later.

After lunch I went right up the garden and di some more hay making. It was pleasant work. Not heavy work, and with the warmth of the autumn sun on me. After that came one physical job and one dusty one. I completely cleaned out the goat house, which was quite physical and then took the wheelbarrow into the yard, forked down a load of the old hay from the loft, loaded up a barrow load and took it back to the goat house to spread about as bedding.

I deserved a beer after that, so I went for one. Bugger me if it didn't come on to rain. Down the beer, cycle home and get the goats in. For once I had no ready food outside the goat house, so they had some of what should be winter supplies.

I returned to the house, showered and changed and had a snack - I didn't need much after the pizza - and went to the pub for the evening. The details of what had happened yesterday started to become clearer, as I linked to in the Daily Telegraph report. A dam had broken at an aluminium plant some eighty kilometers away from here and released a toxic tide through several villages. It was clearly very serious.

6th October 2010

The shop lady was ill. Her son was deputising for her in the shop. I have to say that it seemed a bit odd to be served in my village shop by my bank manager, and not only that but to be on first name terms. He greeted me with "Hello Steve", which is perfectly good Hungarian.

I had neither broken my fast nor put the goats out when there was a commotion. Lots of dog barking and the arrival of Hobo and a large vehicle. I knew what it was, but had not expected it for another hour or so. I enclosed the dogs within the house and Hobo unhooked the clothes line. The large vehicle backed into the yard. It grieved me to see it, but the time had come for the septic tank to be emptied. It goes quite against Seymour's philosophy. There should be no outputs from the estate. Unfortunately two and a half years of my various outputs from the house - you get my drift - plus the rather large amount of water involved in unblocking the drain into the septic tank meant that the time had come. The driver stuffed his huge tube into the septic tank, revved up his lorry engine, pulled a lever, and within a couple of minutes all was gone. He told me the cost - eleven thousand and some odd forints - and, being unable to get his head around my name made the receipt out to Hobo. And off he went. And so did Hobo.

It came on to rain. The goats remained within their house. They were not overly happy and neither was I. I noticed that my neighbour on Telek utca had thrown a load of maize stalks over the fence. In the wet I went and collected it and delivered it to the goats. They set about it with gusto. I was just damp.

I thought to put some beans in the slow cooker to add to what I had planned for later. I do tend to try and plan ahead as far as food is concerned. But not that far ahead. I'll talk about it more another time - trying to play catchup on the blog. Hobo reappeared. He didn't do any work, drank one of my beers and disappeared again saying he would be back later. He never showed up. It is a thing that I just have to accept. He is a good friend and helps me in so many ways, but I realise that as far as work is concerned I am a long way down the pecking order. If one of his long time regulars rings up they take precedence over me. So it turned out when I met up with him later.

When the weather is bad it is a no-win situation with the goats. They were all born this year, so they have yet to experience a winter. They don't really like being cooped up all day, but then again they don't like the rain either. I braved the elements and fetched in some more maize stalks for them. I pulled a leak for myself. It took some pulling too.

I cooked plain fare for myself. Boiled potatoes, mashed and the cooking water put back in. Leak sliced and gently sauteed, and the beans that had been in the slow cooker. All made up to a soup. Wonderful! With a slice of rozslangel (sp?) kenyer it went down very well. And enough left for tomorrow.

In the pub in the evening the extent of yesterdays disaster was becoming clearer. And a major disaster it was. The sludge that had torn through the villages was highly alkaline. They showed a clip of them taking water from the local river and testing it. The pH was 12.1! In Kolontár there were red tide marks up to two metres high on the walls, and the force of entry into some houses had exploded tiles from the roofs. Many people exposed to it were beginning to report chemical burns to the skin.

7th October 2010

Praise be! A good day, weatherwise. As usual we had the phenomenon of the sun starting to rise and then being obliterated by the mist that rose all around from the dampness. By the time I had the goats out the sun was beginning to burn off the mist and it held the promise of a lovely autumn day. I was happy.

With plenty of kitchen firewood in I went to work with my pre-tested new technology of dealing with chestnuts. The jam making saucepan went on the stove and brought to the boil. I slit the chestnuts and in they went to be boiled for an hour. I kept them hot, fished them out three at a time and did the squishing thing. They went into my finest sieve and with the aid of my marble pestle were propelled through. I found that about ninety percent of what went through the sieve clung to the underside, so it had to be scraped off into my stainless steel bowl using the back of the knife blade. I managed the lot in just over an hour. I added the other ingredients and bashed it about with a wooden spoon into the intended product of chestnut puree. I jarred it up - one twelve ounce jar - and put the lid on. It could wait until tomorrow to be water bathed, sterilised and finally sealed.

I had to go to Nádasd in the afternoon to get the materials to mend the inside of the tile stove. I called in the Coop shop there, which is bigger than the one in the village and usually has stuff that I want that rarely appears in the village shop. I went to the pub just nearby to buy another ingredient. Not something you would expect to buy in a pub. I did have a beer as well :)

Back in Halogy I called in the pub to pay the bike parking fee. Hobo was there doing nothing in particular. We finished our beers and went back to the cottage where we set about dealing with a load of apples. Once again I applied a new technology to the task. The apples were destined to be turned into something alcoholic. There's a surprise. You will remember me having a moan about how long it took to process a bucket and a half of apples using my toy mincer. I had done an Internet search on how best to pulp them. Lots of people suggested using an electric juicer, some came up with the same method I had already used, but the answer that was voted best by the asker of the question said to chop them up, not too small, put them in a suitable container and beat them to a pulp with a big wooden stick. Now you know why I went up the garden in search of a suitable beechwood branch.

Hobo and I set about it. He chopped, I pulped. In a couple of hours we had three well stacked up buckets of apples pulped. OK, not so finely pulped as if they had gone through my mincer, but it was all about the time factor. That many apples would have taken me a day and a half to just put through the mincer. No doubt I would get a bit less juice but that is part of the time/productivity balancing factor. I sulphited the pulp, and put the lid on it. It could wait until tomorrow to be pressed.

Hobo departed. I got the goats in and ate the rest of yesterdays soup.

Unwashed, unchanged and with backache from pounding the apples I went to the pub. Once again the news was dominated by the chemical catastrophe. There were scenes of them dumping tons of gypsum and spraying acetic acid into the local river downstream. There were distressing scenes from the villages affected. Utter devastation. Some people were trying to clean out their houses, but if it had got in the house their whole surrounding area was just thick with a caustic red slime. One guy had a sheep in the bath trying to wash the red muck off it. Dreadful!

8th October 2010

It was another Keats sort of a morning, with the promise of a good day. When I put the goats out I noticed that both neighbours to the west had lobbed more maize stalks over the fence. Good-oh. There was goat supper, then.

All that happened the rest of the day was that Hobo and I bashed more apples, so here are some long overdue pictures from last month to make up for it:
Tile Stove Before Grouting Here is the tile stove before I did the regrouting. The black streak about the verticle joint is soot, which escapes when the tile stove is alight.
And here is the same spot after cleaning and regrouting. Tile Stove After Grouting
Wild Hops Here are some wild hops that are festooning my wilderness area.
And this is Boris, the Ural motorcycle/sidecar combination upon which my UK visitors arrived. The black thing draped over the front wheel is the tonneau cover for the sidecar. Boris
The Hedge By Telek Utca The "hedge" at the top of the land which was - well, shall we say - starting to cause concern.
I have to say that it does not that much different here, but it was. It had all been hacked back a couple of feet over the verge. At some stage I will get the whole lot down to about two metres high. No idea when! After Hedge Trimming

9th October 2010

It was another lovely autumn day. The goats went out early and stayed on station all day. I pressed the apple pulp.

With apple pressing done, I had a sandwich and went to the pub for a beer and some company. Hobo was there. He came back to the house with me and together we harvested the English sunflowers. It was an urgent job, as the forecast was for either one or zreo Celcius overnight, which would certainly have seen off the crop. We got a black bin liner full. Well, that will take me a bit of processing then. Never mind. A lot better crop than last year. The website from whence came the original seed said that they would acclimatise. They certainly did. I had leaves up to about eighteen inches long and eight or nine inches across.

We sat on the doorstep in the warmth of the autumn sun and had a beer together. I made good use of the time by giving the grape crushing machine an overhaul. I knew that there were a couple of teething problems left over from last year, and the time was rapidly approaching when it would be needed. A little work with the shoulder plane and a spot of sandpapering and it was better than it was last year.

More maize stalks came over the fence and went in the goat house. So did a load of the apple pressings.

The early evening routine followed, inasmuch as it is ever routine. Goats in (invariable), eat (variable - sometimes I eat before I get the goats in, sometimes after, and sometimes when I get home from the pub), wash (variable - depends how smelly I think I am), change (variable, dependent on the previous).

And so to the pub. The news from the toxic spill area was distressing. They were evacuating Kolontár! It dominated the news again, and there were loads more reports showing the damage caused. You can gauge the seriousness by the fact that they moved soldiery in and evacuated an entire village. After the news the conversation around the table turned to my reports of Rudy's sexual antics. I will try and get some photos, but they will not be for the faint of heart! Oh, I nearly forgot to mention, the news also carried a report that John Lennon would have been seventy today.

10th October 2010

I had some Internet work to do for the UK today. After the goats went out it was sit at the computer time. Unfortunately that also subtracts from my blog updating time. The house was in catastrophe, but it would just have to stay that way until I found time amongst all the other stuff that urgently needed doing.

I checked on the goats, and thought to take the camera with me. All over the garden are fungi. Everywhere I went. I took a selection of shots of them. It was obviously down to the exceptional dampness of this year. There are, apparently, here in Hungary highly poisonous mushrooms that look exactly like your ordinary edible mushroom. There are fatalities every year. Not a problem for me - I just don't like mushrooms. The texture, not the flavour. I don't have a problem with mushroom soup, nor with meals such as beef stroganof with mushrooms in. I just leave them to the side.

I left the computer uploading a load of files onto a website and went for a beer. I caught the last few laps of the Grand Prix on the telly, had the beer and went home. Whilst the computer was still uploading files I did manage a quick bit of work on the blog.

The afternoon was tailing away, so the goats came in, I got the firewood in, cooked (can't remember what - not mushrooms!), ate, changed and went to the pub for the evening.

11th October 2010

I was up quite early. It was cold outside - cold enough for an extra layer of clothes. The shop lady, now back at work though not fully recovered from her illness, commented on it. Back home I lit the stove and made breakfast before the goats went out. It really is one of the things that I like about this life. The ability to just make it up as I go along. If something does not work, try another way. If I decide that I am going to do this before that then this gets done before that. I used to work for a company like that. It was a relatively young company, built up from nothing by one guy and a couple of his sidekicks. It was fun. Well, it was fun until the company was sold out to a European outfit, and even less fun when BS5750 came along. What a load of tosh that was (is? And its ISO equivalent). You know, you can run a company that offers the worst service in the world and get BS5750 or equivalent. So long as you document what you are going to do, and run the company according to how you have documented it and document that you do actually run it according to how you documented it in the first place you can get BS5750 or equivalent. All it achieved was to create a lot of worthless paperwork, just in case someone wanted to come along and look at the paperwork. And they did! And take all the fun out of the job by preventing you from making it up as you went along unless you wanted to go through another round of "This is what we will do" paperwork. Completely off topic, but along the same lines, The Hungarian government decided to accept the inevitable and has legalised home production of pálinka. Yeah, right. Like it was not happeining anyway. Yes, every family is now allowed to distill one litre a week for their own consumption. Yeah, right to that too. Just how are they ever going to police it? "Look out, the pálinka police are in the village! Take the other hundred litres we distilled last week and hide them by the Raba!" Mmmmm - went off on one there just a bit.

Anyway, the goats went out, quite nearby. Rudy was allowed on the camping lawn, far enough from the vines that he could not reach them, but close enough to where Hobo and I had harvested a certain crop that he could get on there and munch all the weeds. A good go he had too.

I did lots of little jobs. Some washing out to dry, and another lot in soak. Clean up the yard - you know what I mean. Then the worst one. I set about repairing the inside of the tile stove with the fireclay and waterglass cement. It was not nice work. Not nice at all. I was working one handed and blind through the firebox door aperture - maybe six inches by eight. As before I ended up using my bare hands. One mixing was enough. I gave it up for the day. It needs to be done though, as the writing is on the wall that ere long the tile stove will need to be litten.

I went to check on the goats, to find that the neighbour had been playing pumpkin skittles again. I carted some across to the goat shed and stacked them on the roof (out of Rudy's way) and shared some out for immediate consumption.

I had lunch and decided on a beer. As I left the gate I could see the village handimen doing the verges. Oh well, another unscheduled job when I got back, then, as a beer I was determined to have. Back home I went for the wheelbarrow and the leaf rake to clear up the unscheduled job, only to discover that the wooden extension to the wheelbarrow was in disarray. I had seen it happen but not appreciated the extent of the damage. Rudy had used it to support himself in attempting to reach ever higher peach tree leaves and had pulled it over whilst it was still laden with heavy, wet greenery. I detached the wooden extension and set it safely aside for future consideration. I wheeled the barrow through the yard to the roadside and cleared up. It was definitely a case of "Was your journey really necessary?" There was about a quarter of a barrow load of greenery, mainly mashed to a pulp. It went in the goat house nevertheless.

Still armed with wheelbarrow, now plus secateurs, I set about a job preparatory to the grape harvest. Hobo had offered to assist in the harvest, but he had said that I should clear all the greenery away from the actual grapes so as to allow easy access to clip off the bunches. They have a very accurate and highly scientific way of telling when the grapes are ready for harvest here in Hungary. They pull off a grape and eat it. If the sweetness is right it is time to harvest the grapes. Hobo had done just this the last time he was here, and I saw the old lady at No. 72 do exactly the same thing. I managed the western side as the day drew to a close. All the greenery - a good wheelbarrow load - went into the goathouse of course. They love it. The goats followed. At least I did not have far to take them.

Pub. The Konontár disaster still dominated the news.

12th October 2010

Another cold morning, but with the promise of a bright autumn day to come. Again, after shopping I breakfasted before putting the goats out. It is starting to become a conundrum where to put them. The grass is still growing, but slowly now and they do tend to prefer a variety of stuff at which to nibble. I have to say that they have done a good job since their arrival of keeping lots of areas under control. What they say about goats eating anything is rubbish, though. They will have an exploratory nibble at most things to see if it is edible. They work primarily by sight, but after that they use scent, and they are very fussy. Fallen leaves for example. They will happily munch this one and that one, but not the twenty seven identical leaves in between. I staked them out, and when I had Betty on station I noticed a mushroom. It caught my eye, as the sun reflected off its dewy coating. It was quite a big mushroom - maybe four inches across. I pondered momentarily whether to go back to the house and get the camera and get a picture of it to add to my collection. With that Betty found it, sniffed it, and in three chomps it was gone. Well, I guess it was just a large common or garden edible ex-mushroom then. Saved me going back to the house for the camera.

Back at the house I returned to the repairs to the inside of the tile stove. It proved to be an equally abhorrent job to the last bit. I got to the stage where as fast as I stuffed the fireclay mixture in it fell out elsewhere. I gave it best for the day, with a bit still to do on that patch. I had another patch to do that would be even worse. It would mean working either left handed, or upside down.

I had lunch and then gave the farming boots a birthday. Do you know, I had not had them on this year! At the start of the year I was recovering from the leg ulcer and didn't dare wear them. After that I made do with working in the stout trainers. The time was rapidly approaching when I would be needing to do some serious winter digging. Farming boots work. They were given a good scrub down and then I went to work with the paint brush and castor oil. I never did find anything better. It keeps them waterproof and supple, and as far as I can tell does not affect the stitching, unlike dubbin. I never did find a way to get dubbin to go into the welts properly anyway.

I took in a load of washing that had been on the line for about three days. It was dry at last. For various reasons I found myself short of cash. I had the choice of getting the bus or cycling to the Posta in Nádasd. I was short of cash so I decided to cycle it anyway. It was cool enough, and I went the direct route up the to big hills on the way. I got to Nádasd and cycled up to the Posta, only to find it closed. Closing time on weekdays was now 2:45pm. I really cannot be sure but I reckon it used to be 4pm. Whatever. No cash. I cancelled another call into Bödő. Likewise the Coop over the road, and cycled straight back to Halogy, not passing Go and not collecting ten thousand forints.

I did stop on the way back. I wanted to try a little experiment with the goats. The short forested area before the dip and sharp hill until you drop back into Halogy was strewn with acorns. I wanted to know if they would eat them. I collected a couple of handfuls in the shopping bag and then cycled home.

In the absence of what I intended to get in Nádasd I decided I needed eggs. I cycled up to Toni and Eva's place and bought eggs. I was not that cash strapped that I could not call in the pub on the way past this time.

Back home I put food for the goats into the goat house, including half a dozen acorns in the tray that goes on the milking table then got the goats in. Blasted ingrates! They never ate a single one. I had a cheese omelette and went to the pub.

13th October 2010

It was a cold morning but at least not raining. I shopped, put the goats out to work and had breakfast. Hobo had said that he would be here this morning to clean out my big one hundred and twenty litre fermenter, which still contained the remains from when it had the plums in it, and help with the grape harvest. He never showed up. I did this and that and eventually out of pure spite I cleaned it out myself. The hopper which goes on the grape crusher needed a good cleaning too, so I did that as well. I also cut off, to fit the wheelbarrow, a piece of Hobo's large dust sheet that he had used to catch the plums and had left for disposal. It was lunchtime by then, so I had lunch.

I went to check on the goats. As usual Betty was in a tanglement. She still worries me. She does not have the strength of the other two, and a big tussock of grass is sufficient for her to get tangled up. Suzy is making good progress, and very rarely complains about anything. I can put her some way from the other two (still within eyeshot) and she just gets on and eats. Rudy is getting to be quite a big fine chap and he is starting to look quite impressive now that he has started to grow his winter coat. I can still put him on his back if needs be, though.

I had just got back to the yard when, blow me down, Hobo appeared. Whatever. He had come prepared with his own set of secateurs. I tooled up with mine and we took the wheelbarrow, with its plastic lining and a couple of clean buckets and went to set about the grape harvest. I was astonished at the dividend that clearing the greenery away provided. In about an hour and a half we had a barrow load of grapes and had done all the vines except for some up the eastern side that I had not had chance to clear away the greenery. We retired to the yard with wheelbarrow, where we had a beer and a smoke and then put my little grape crushing machine through its paces. It was not many minutes work and a wheelbarrow full of grapes were crushed and in the fermenter.

We went back to the garden and tackled the rest. It was a bit harder going. I made sure and clipped off lots of greenery anyway which I threw in heap here and there to be retreived for the goats' supper. It didn't take too long and we were back in the yard. The rest of the grapes went through the crusher and that was the grape harvest safely in the fermenter. Just three hours work. All part of the learning curve, but I really must get the vines off the floor!

It was growing dusk by then. Hobo helped me grab firewood, and together we got the goats in. Hobo heaved the fermenter up the steps into the hallway, where it lives whilst fermenting. We cycled up to the pub together in the start of what a photographer would call the blue hour, and drank a couple to our successful grape harvest. I reckon about forty litres this year! I'll be happier when it is a hundred!

14th October 2010

Another cold morning when I went to the shop, but the promise of another fine day. The goats went out and I had breakfast. All boring stuff. I kept the stove going and did the rest of the chestnuts. It was none too soon - the number of bad ones had increased by an order of magnitude. It was the same process as before, slit, boil and squish into the mixing bowl. With the other ingredients it made another jar full. It could wait until tomorrow morning to be finally sterilised and sealed. All good. At least this year I have been far more organised on that front. Last year many apples and almost all the chestnuts went to waste, shame on me. This year I have made sure that, whatever other jobs get put on hold, the stuff from the garden is dealt with.

One job I could not put on hold was to repair the gate into the garden. Pickle, in her hysterics when I take the goats out, had managed to tear one plank completely off and chewed another beyond redemption. I found suitable timber and some stout nails. The nails were long enough to go right through the new timbers and stick out the other side. I left half one side and half the other and clenched them over both ends. Now, Pickle, pick the bones out of that. It came back to me later that the neighbours were curious as to what I had been hammering and banging at. Nothing, but nothing escapes notice. Which is actually good.

After lunch I went to check on the goats who were stationed quite a way up the garden. They were fine, and I fell into a brief conversation with my neighbour at to top. As usual another armful of maize stalks came over the fence for the goats. It is a win-win situation for both me and the neighbours. They just burn them otherwise and the goats love them. Well, the leaves and the remains of the male flowers anyway. The old lady at No. 72 likewise deposited hers over the fence. There was enough that I stored a big bunch of it in the little loft above the styes. There was one small patch of greenery worthy of scything down, so I scythed it down and transported it to the goat house.

At the same time I transported many garden tools back down to the yard. Mattocks and scythe went away for the winter. Rake, leaf rake and spades I would still need but I placed them strategically where I knew I would be needing them. If the weather holds the leaf rake will get a lot of use. Goat food. The continuing bad weather had meant that I had already been feeding them what was supposed to be winter forage. It was a major concern. I really did not want to be paying out thousands of forints to keep the goats alive over winter. They are supposed to be supporting me, by doing what they had been doing and eventually providing me with dairy produce and after that meat and leather. Mmmm - sounds harsh doesn't it? The ones I have now won't be used for meat and leather you understand - they are the dairy project. If excess does come along I will sell them. If bucks come along, well one thing will happen and one thing will not happen. The thing that will happen is that they will be castrated, and the thing that will not happen is that they will not get a name. I read it on some random web site. If you intend to kill an animal for food and/or other by-products don't give it a name.

I went to the pub for a beer, and realised that I needed to do a load more stuff once home. Firewood, get the goats in, cook, eat... I would have to think about another change in the routine, because all that was pretty exhausting at the end of the day.

Anyway, I did all that and it was time to go to the pub. John was there. I had not seen him for a while.

15th October 2010

It was cold when I got up. It was overcast and there was a blustery wind from the north east. There was what I found an amusing incident when I let the dogs out. Pickle found a suitable place and squatted to have a wee, as girl dogs do. Blackie found a suitable place and cocked his leg to have a wee, as boy dogs do. Sorry, but it is my earthy sense of humour, because it still makes me chuckle that the suitable place that Blackie found was in fact Pickle. Yes, he wee'd all over her back. As I write, I did think that the best adjective was probably bumptious, but I looked it up and the definitions all refer to offensive. Maybe just boisterous is better. I never have mentioned his growl. It comes from the depths of the earth in a basso-profundo rumble. And it would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and if delivered at a distance of less than a metre would cause small children to explode.

I shopped, put the goats out - at last it was not raining - and went back indoors to light the stove, breakfast and water bath yesterdays chestnuts and seal them up.

I dragged the empty trays from the root cellar, had a little bit of a reorganise down there and, back above ground, gave the trays a good hosing down. I forgot to mention the spuds at the start of the month but they will have to be dug before the end of the month and cellared.

I had had lunch when Hobo turned up. We had another bash at the apples - literally - and another three buckets of apples were reduced to pulp. I know that I will forget to mention it otherwise, but within the last few days John came in the pub with a booklet about cider making and one of the pictures - I couldn't be sure if it was a very old photo or an engraving - showed exactly the technology that we were using. Bash them about with a gert stick. I can't claim credit. It was voted best answer on, I think, a question to Yahoo Answers.

The goats came in. At least I had had another full days work out of them. In spite of the lateness of the year stuff is still growing. I have to move them about more but there is still plenty of stuff for them to chew.

I was making my evening repast when I caught Blackie cocking his leg on the kitchen firewood basket. I was not happy. He was suitably admonished. Both dogs got tipped out. I washed my hands and finished making and eating my evening repast and then I went to the pub.

16th October 2010

I went to the shop at about eight, my usual time give or take a few minutes. It is quite noticable that a certain proportion of the population obviously change their rising habits in accordance with the changing of the seasons, as I see people in the shop now at that time who I know in the summer have shopped by about half past six. Others in the village are more fixed in their habits. I reckon the old lady next door probably gets up at about five, winter and summer. Mind you, they don't have the same habits of coming home from the pub, looking on the Internet at various things going on in the world, chatting to friends and relations and possibly doing a bit of blog updating. I suppose that if I went to bed at about nine as they do I could be up at about five too.

Fungus pictures - no captions:

After breakfast I decided on a little goat experiment. Well, they are still little goats. According to one web site I visit they have growth spurts and don't reach their full stature until they are about two. My experiment was, that in the absence of the strimmer, I would let them loose in the yard to see if they would get the grass (and weeds) down. Dogs locked safely in the house I did just that. They were delighted to be let into an unfamiliar part of the world, especially unfettered by chains. That was a failure, then. They ate some of the big weeds lurking in out of the way corners and they had a go at the hibiscus and the roses but took no notice at all of the nice young grass (and weeds) on the bit that gets strimmed regularly. Oh well, they got herded back to the goat house and thence onto their chains and back out in the garden to work. I pressed yesterdays apple pulpings, getting another ten litres or so of apple juice to be fermented.

I had just about finished when Hobo turned up. Just for a chat. As it happened I had no spare beer, so neither of us had one. I pressed a teaspoonful of my spicy peach chutney on him. It was another of the recipes that he had mocked - "What? Peaches and onions and garlic?" He was suitably impressed and declared it "Finom". I resolved to try it out on Eva later witha view to passing the recipe on if she was also suitable impressed. Hobo and I had to settle for going to the pub for a beer.

Back home I was just going to check on the goats and noticed Marika in my garden. Some more goodies for the goats, I forget what. We had quite a chat about this and that. Back in the house I was about to finish with the press when Lajos appeared with a kilogramme of still hot hurka - black pudding-type sausages. I paid him and off he went. I cleaned off the press, the apple pulp went into a bucket for the goats and the press hosed down for next time. My little press has seen quite a bit of action this year!

I had spotted in the shop a tin of red kidney beans and bought it as a treat. The slow cooker had been on all day doing me what had to pass for a chilli-con-carne. The meat was tinned pork mystery meat but nonetheless it turned out fine. Washed and changed I went to the pub. The Kolontár and district disaster was still making much news. Toni and Eva were not there, so I had no chance to try my recipe on them.

17th October 2010

Sunday. The goats went out but the weather was not promising. I breakfasted and managed to get as far as sweeping through when the rain came. The goats went in. I gave up on the housework. Waste of time with the dogs in and out.

I settled for doing a bit on the blog, and yes I know it is still well behind. Then it was evening. Toni and Eva were in the pub this evening so I had chance to try out the peach chutney on them. They liked it too, as did a few more selected regulars that the little jar went round. Oh well, a translation job looms then. Mmmm - I can find no Hungarian translation for chutney. It will just have to be Spicy Peach Pickle.

18th October 2010

Another day of bad weather. At least it was not actually raining, so the goats went out. I had a load of clearing up to do in the kitchen. Speaking of which, I had mice again. I had had the evidence for a couple of days. The bread (since the electric stove disaster that trashed the bread bin) lived on a little chopping board on top of the unit above the sink. For a couple of mornings there had been tell-tale gnawings into the bread. The mouse trap came out to play again. Damn and blast if I did not find it still set this morning. With the cheese gone. I reset it with a bigger piece of cheese.

The stove was still alight so I had hurka es burgonyaszirom for lunch. Sausage and chips, Hungarian style.

I went out into the garden, checked on the goats, and set about the winter digging. I had just barrowed in a load of compost and tipped it onto the outhouse garden and it came on to rain - again. The goats went in. I decided to repair the wheelbarrow extension.

With all the wood about the place you would think that that was an easy matter. Not a bit of it! It took me a good half an hour just to find a suitable piece of wood. I searched the loft over the big garage, the loft over the outhouse where the old hay is. I was about to give up and find something that I would have to saw down by hand when I spotted the ideal piece leaning up in a corner of the potting shed/little garage. I heaved the remains of the wheelbarrow extension into the outhouse workshop and set about repairing it. It was two adjacent sides of the rectangle that were, basically, buggered. Some of the joints had been glued and nailed. Some were just screwed in after Hobo and Jozsi demolished it before when they pollarded the walnut tree. By the way, that walnut tree is not barren. It had two walnuts on it this year.

I retrieved the marine grade stainless steel screws that I had brought over with me. My dwindling supply is starting to get a bit precious. They originally fell off the back of a lorry from somewhere, somewhere between Bournemouth and Poole, destined for a prestigious boatbuilder in Poole. Off topic, I used to visit a harware shop in Cleethorpes where you could buy phosphor-bronze woodscrews off the shelf. Ever been to Cleethorpes? If you do, don' try and swim there. If you did you would just be going through the motions...    ... from Hull, Grimsby, Scunthorpe... Speaking of which, and even more off topic, the Borough of Scunthorpe some time after they connected their local government offices to the Internet installed some anti-porn software. Mmmmm - none of the local government of Scunthorpe got any e-mails for a little while after that.

I was not well. I had a cold. Snotty and sniffing. I had shrugged it off all day, but I definitely had a cold. Not enough to stop me doing anything, but enough to make it all miserable. A "builder's handkerchief" sort of day.

The news in the pub later was once again centered around the Kolontár disaster. Everywhere that the red mud went, and stays, will have to be removed. I fear that the whole area will be like a moonscape when they do that.

19th October 2010

I was up early. It was still very dark outside - darker than I expected it to be. I found out why when I let the dogs out. It was deeply overcast and p*ssing down again. Not good. The goats stayed inside and I braved it enough to chuck some more forage into the goat house.

Ichucked some washing into the bath to soak and had a tidy up in the kitchen. By eleven it had stopped raining so the goats went out. The kitchen stove was still alight so I decided on a meat and tatie pie. I decided that it needed peas in it. Bugger! The shop was already shut. Oh well, pealess meat and tatie pie it would have to be.

Postie arrived and I paid the electricity bill. It was about a hundred and twenty seven pounds for the year, so I reckon that all my economy measures were probably offset by however much the electricity rose in price over the year. Between then and now I have seen that Lidl have introduced screw in replacements for light bulbs using clusters of fifteen LEDs. At nearly two thousand forints apiece they are quite pricey, but I think that that will be the way to go if I really want to reduce the bills some more. Lighting is the main thing I use, apart from the computer and the ADSL modem. Water heating only goes on when I have visitors, or occasionally when I have let the washing mount up, which I try not to do. The LED things supposedly provide twenty five watts worth of light for a consumption of just three watts. And, being LEDS, they also (supposedly) have a life of twenty five thousand hours. I still reckon that with a bit of cunning direct solar distillation of wood and a few Petromax-type lamps I could have all the light I wanted for nothing. Unfortunately that would not keep me connected to the Internet!

I cooked my meat and tatie pie (minus peas) and ate half of it. I think that I have mentioned before that I make big pies that are well sufficient for two hot meals.

I had just finished when the dogs, who were in the yard, went ballistic. Well, no! Blackie went woof-woof and Pickle went ballistic. The young man from the water company was there to read the water meter. He doesn't like dogs anyway. I restrained the dogs and he read the meter - a few seconds work. Blast - another bill, but not unexpected. I checked the meter reading myself, after previous catastrophies. I reckon about sixteen cubic metres of water, which, with tax, should come to about twelve or thirteen quid - depending upon the exchange rates. A bit different to last years hundred pounds plus bill!

It came on to rain. Again! The goats went into their house, and I abandoned my plan to do some winter digging. Not good, not happy! I went to the pub for a beer.

Back home I got the firewood in. Then I checked on the English sunflower leaves. Not good, not good at all.

I went out and fed the goats for the evening. Once again I was into what was supposed to be their winter rations. That was not good either, and I was starting to get concerned about how, or how much it would cost, to sustain them through the winter. On a more cheerful note, the goats are starting to grow their winter coats. Getting quite shaggy actually. Did you know that goat hair is hollow and thus a highly efficient insulator. I have read somewhere that they can survive temperatures for a short while as low as minus forty!

It was evening by now and I went to the pub. Once again I asked Hobo about firewood. It was now starting to get just a bit urgent. Once again he prevaricated. I have to say that it was starting to wear a bit thin. I had been asking for firewood since January!

Football was on the telly. Now there's a surprise.

20th October 2010

It was not a nice morning - again! Grey and overcast. At least it wasn't raining, so the goats went out.

I had no sooner had breakfast than it started raining. The goats went in. Once again I was feeding them what was supposed to be winter food. I have to say that I was starting to get seriously worried about the winter goat food situation. I had already lost one big hat crop off the land due to it being stacked up here and there and me not being able to find out what was good hay. Of course, I am a complete novice. This is the first time I have ever had what I would call livestock. I was basing it on my previous experiences of Hungarian autumns. Long series of fine days tailing steadily off into winter. Certainly not every other day p*ssing down and me having to feed them indoors. I went back to the house depressed, and contemplated my navel for far longer than I should have.

I roused myself and did a bit of housework here and there. Somewhere in between innumerable trivial tasks I had lunch. Somewhere around three o'clock in the afternoon it stopped raining. I thought to myself "Bollox to it, the goats can go back out.". So out they went.

I was out of my reverie triste and, welly shod, I set about the winter digging of the outhouse garden. I made good progress apart from turning up the odd brick end or broken floor tile. By the time I finished I had about a third of it turned over and compost dug in. By the time I finished there was a line of blue sky clearly delineated by the back edge of the front which had caused the rain.

I left the goats out as long as I possibly could. It was approaching what photographers call the blue hour by the time I put them to bed. They had made the most of their three hours on the garden. All three were like little barrels when I got them back to the goat house.

In a somewhat better frame of mind I ate and went to the pub.

21st October 2010

The promise of yesterday evening's passing of the depression - both mine and the weather - held good. It was a cool morning but bright and clear. Today the goats went out early, were found suitable pasturage, and stayed there all day until they went back to the goat house in the evening.

I finally got some washing on the line and it was dry by the end of the day.

I dug the rest of the outhouse garden and was finished by lunch time. I should have got a before/after picture but I didn't.

After lunch I moved the previous stuff that had been forked out of the goat house to the main compost heap, and then started a new one by cleaning out the goat house. Well, half cleaning it out anyway.

I was just getting the firewood in when Hobo appeared with a load of goat food. A bag full of maize cobs and a bucketful of maize seeds. Some of it went into the goat house, the remainder into storage. He helped me get the goats in, and went off to the shop. I needed to go to the shop also so I went to the shop. Hobo bought me a bottle of beer, which had to be comsumed outside the shop as the bottle deposit was not paid and the bottle had to be returned. Oh dear. Once again I joined the village p*ss heads sitting about outside the shop. I realised that I had forgotten something and went back in the shop for it. When I went back out Hobo indicated a problem. Pickle was in the old lady's yard again, having found the weak point in the defences. Hobo and I legged it over there. Between my forceful use of voice and Hobo's fleetness of foot we cornered Pickle and she went back into my yard of her own devices whence she had come. I limped round to the yard and put her on the chain. Hobo and I returned to our station outside he shop with the p*ss heads and finished our beers. At least Pickle didn't get a chicken this time!

We finished our beers and returned the empties to the shop. I don't think that I have ever mentioned that not only do they charge a deposit on beer bottles, but also on wine and spirits bottles. I went home and went for a full healthy meal. Bacon, eggs and chips. After that I went back to the pub.

Somewhere along the lines I had had a catastrophe. A ten thousand forint note! As I write I still have not found it. Not good! Three days worth of food and beer!

22nd October 2010

It was another day of good weather, but there was quite a hard frost on the grass this morning. This was the sort of weather that I would expect at this time of year, not all the constant two or three days of rain and one fine day. I went to the shop and the goats went out. I moved them about a fair bit during the morning. The greenery is getting less and less but I still needed to get the maximum into them while the going was good.

I got the wheelbarrow and filled it with compost from a couple of the well rotted first years heaps here and there. I was busy speading about where I intended to do winter digging when Hobo appeared, in a state of agitation. "Gyere, gyere - kecsketap" - "Come along, come along - goat food". I had not even had lunch but had no choice other than to follow. Lunch turned out to be a bottle of beer in the pub before we went to look at the goat food. It turned out to be only next door but one to the pub. I was led through the yard and onto the land. There was a standing crop of maize stalks probably a hundred metres by twenty. The cobs had been harvested, obviously by hand. Did I want it, I was asked. Oh yes - all of it. Suddenly there was a small working party and we set about hacking it down. A hand cart appeared upon which to start stacking what we hacked down, powered by the guy that I have referred to on the the blog that Hobo refers to as Magyartarka. We hacked and stacked, and stacked and hacked, and it was time for a tobacco break. We all plonked outselves down on a convenient horizontal stack of maize stalks. Those that smoked smoked, and those that didn't didn't. Then we went back to work. The sun was warm on my back - we were working from south to north.

I was working with a sickle. Hobo had a small mattock that had appeared and sharpened with a file for the job. Miki was with us, much to the displeasure of Hobo. He was working with a sickle too. It was hard, back breaking work and it was wonderful. Halfway through the afternoon we sent out for a round of cans of beer from the pub. Once again we sat on the stacks of stalks and this time had a more leisurely smoke and a can of beer each. I had to pay for them later, of course. Whatever. It was as if a burden of "What am I going to feed the goats on this winter?" had been lifted from my shoulders.

We went back to work. Miki disappeared and reappeared with a scythe. Now, a scythe is designed for cutting down stuff a bit less substantial than maize stalks. He managed about a row and a half and the inevitable happened. He broke it. A little later he appeared with what I would call a hand scythe, borrowed fron the pub. He promptly took the good sickle and I was left with the one he had borrowed from the pub. It was, as they would say in Lincolnshire, headachy. That is to say that the blade was loose on the shaft. I looked at it. One of the rivets that had held blade to shaft had disappeared. In its place was a nut and bolt. Of the wrong size, and rusted solid. No wonder it was headachy.

As much as could possibly piled on the hand cart has long since been piled on, and secured with string. The sun was starting to set as we chopped the last few stalks of maize, and the hand cart was wheeled down to my place and the contents stored away - of which more later. The three assembled p*ssheads that had wheeled the handcart back and stacked it away went to the shop for a beer. In the growing dusk I went and got the goats in. Exhausted and happy I led them back to the goat house.

Starving hungry I grabbed something to eat - cheese on toast made on the stove with the blowlamp, I think. Then, unwashed, unchanged and uncaring I went back to the pub. The evening was spoiled when Miki had a go at Hobo. I have no idea what that was all about, but I do know that they are daggers drawn.

The euphoria of the days work was further marred when I got home to find that my laptop would no longer play a DVD. I suspect a motherboard problem rather than the DVD drive. It has happened twice now.

23rd October 2010

It was National Day, and a bank holiday today. I have probably said before, but I'll say it again anyway. It is the celebration of the 1956 uprising. There had been solemn programmes on the telly the night before. The goats didn't know or care that it was a bank holiday so they went out. Neither did my garden know, so I set about the winter digging of the area where I had spread the compost about yesterday. It was a lovely day for it, much like yesterday and in a short time I was minus coats and sweathers. The going was good, but the earth was wet and heavy after the recent rains. The soil is now coming into condition. There was none of the finding patches that were nearly impossible to dig like there was last year. It was hard work, but pleasant in the sun and progress was swift. There had been a covering of ground cover weeds over which I had spread the compost. They just got dug in. It was getting towards lunch time so I stopped, had a bite to eat and went for a beer - I reckoned I had earnt it.

I returned and did some more digging. It came to a stop when I ran out of area where I had spread the compost. I didn't want to go scouting for more compost particularly, so with spade still in hand I set about digging the spuds. I had been going at it a while when movement nearby caught the corner of my eye. I turned and looked. There was a Suzy Goat where Suzy Goat had no right to be. I had staked her out on the outskirts of the camping lawn. She still had chain attached and the stake was still in the ground where I put it. How she managed to get the chain off the stake is a mystery, particularly as she had had the one with the hook still attached at the top. It was getting on in the afternoon so I staked her out on what used to be Pickle's staging post in the garden and went back for a short while to digging the spuds. Accounting for what had already been dug I managed about a row. They went into the barrow, were wheeled back to the yard, and I just covered them over with a couple of trays to keep the frost off them (and stop the thieving black so-and-so from getting at them).

Time to do the wood baskets, get the goats in, cook, eat and go to the pub. With it being bank holiday nothing whatsoever out of the ordinary happened in the pub. Just a normal evening. I noticed that Laci had the flags out - the village flag and the Hungarian flag. I also noticed that he had managed to hang the Hungarian one upside down. I didn't say anything.

24th October 2010

You know, I rarely post links to gloom and doom these days. There is nothing new out there. Only denial and pipe dreams of new technology. But I happened across this by Peter Goodchild which is rather sobering.

After the usual start I had managed to accumulate a mountain of washing up and various other kitchen jobs so, in spite of it being a good gardening day, I got on and did them. Washing up, bottling of cider and checking on the progress of the elderberry wine, which was not good. I fear I may have a "stuck" fermentation. I also reckon that I will need that big carboy very imminently as the real wine will very soon need to be pressed.

Yet another day passed when no help appeared to get the maize stalks from where they lay on the land to my place. I was not happy. I already lost a small roomful of hay on my own place on account of it getting piled hither and yon and me not knowing which was good hay and which not.

Hobo turned up saying that he hadn't been able to find another helper to do the maize work. The hand cart is definitely a two fit blokes job. The turning into the lane by the church is extremely steep. I can cycle up it - just - in the lowest gear of the middle range on my bike, but the last few metres is hard going. Speaking of which, my leg continues to improve. I still have to make some accommodation in my method of perambulation but I can manage much further and walking much more normally now. The really strange thing is that the knee rarely complains. I can manage two hours of digging without even thinking about having a sit down. Must make sure of no repeat performance this winter though! I set Hobo on digging out the rest of the spuds. He finished it in short order and wheeled the barrow down from the garden and parked it in the outhouse with the door firmly closed.

Later in the pub Hobo told me of another source of maize stalks a little further away, in Daraboshegy. The weather forecast was not good, and I deferred a decision on that one.

We had had a couple of fine days, and everywhere was swarming with wine flies again. It still is, even as I write.

The news showed more scenes from the disaster area. As I feared before, it is turning into a moonscape. They had allowed most of the residents of Kolontár to return to the village a couple of days ago. Many didn't.

25th October 2010

I was up early in not a good mood. The weather forecast for the day was not good. I shopped, put the goats out, had breakfast then put together various bits of kit and cycled up to when the maize stalks still lay on the field

It was a foul day that matched my foul mood. Always threatening rain and with a bitingly cold east wind. My thoughts were "If nobody will bl**dy well help me shift this lot I'll effing-well shift it myself". I started bundling the stalks on the field using my bungees and laboriously dragging them to a grassy area just off the main field, by where the big drainage ditch runs down through the village. I dragged and stacked, and dragged and stacked, my mood becoming darker as I worked. The leg finally said "Enough". I had cleared the field up to about the half way point at that stage.

I strapped a couple of bundles to the bike and one to my back and walked them home. I stacked them in the outhouse with what had been so far retrieved from the field. The threatened rain came, and the goats went in.

I retired to the house and simply cannot remember what I did. Maybe some blog updating.

Later I went to the pub. There was an animated discussion as to what I should do to store the maize stalks. Opinions varied strongly. "Lean it against a fence", "Stack it round a tree", "Whatever you do, don't put it indoors". My next door neighbour a couple of days later put in her two penceworth. "Put it in the outhouse. It will be fine."

The news on the telly still mentions the Kolontár disaster. If I got it right two hundred and sixty nine houses in Kolontár and the other villages will have to be demolished as either too badly damaged or two badly polluted to save. It goes on and on. It will take years to sort out.

26th October 2010

As if to compensate for yesterday I was late up. I never even heard the alarm. It was not very bright outside either, which probably contributed. Another cold, grey, overcast day threatening rain. I left the goats in the shed and had breakfast.

It didn't rain, and looked like improving a bit, so I got the goats out. My neighbour at No. 68 called me over as I was getting them out. I hooked them onto a temporary stake that I have by the scrap metal pile (it will all rust away before Hobo decides that the price is right to weigh it in). She passed over some goodies for the goats, and that's when she said that it was alright to store the maize stalks in the outhouse. She went back to her house and I went to retrieve the goats. Rudy got in a strop. I had to put him on his back until he bleated three times before he desisted. I like the story (true) about the guy who was helping his daughter put feed out for the goats. Big guy - two hundred pounds plus, with a twenty kilogramme sack of goat food in his arms. A buck goat butted him at the back of the knees, so he allowed his knees to buckle and sat down on the goat - all two hundred and odd pounds of him, plus the goat food. He opened the goat food and broadcast it by hand, still sitting on the head of the errant buck. Took him fifteen minutes. Apparently that buck never butted anyone ever again. And yes, it was still alive when he got up off it. Eventually I put them where I wanted them. Not too far way in case it did come on to rain.

More work in the kitchen. I really must remember to make a note of what.

Hobo had said to be in the pub at one o'clock and had arranged for another young man to assist with the removal of the maize. I was in the pub just on one, the young man showed up about ten past. He had one beer and after about twenty minutes left. I lingered until about a quarter to two. Still no Hobo, so I left too.

I cycled alone up to the field and, armed with my bungees, dragged a load more up to join the rest until I had had enough. I returned to the pub for another well earned beer. Guess who was there! He did have the good grace to follow me home and get the firewood in and help me get the goats in. He returned to the pub. I cooked, ate and changed.

Back at the pub John was there. So was Hobo. For some reason that totally escaped me Hobo went off on one about Hungarian technology. Now, don't get me wrong because the Hungarians are extremely inventive people. But it was a bit rich coming in an area where the answer to everything is nails or string!

27th October 2010

I was fairly late up again today - not good. I lit the kitchen stove before I did anything else. I went to the shop and it seemed as if everyone else in the village was late up too. It was one of those mornings when the old girls wanted a good gossip, and either them or others got as far as the till and then decided that they wanted this extra, or that extra, or this and that extra, or is this one better than that one. Twenty minutes in the shop! Worse than Sainsburys! Normally I take a pleasure in it, but I had lit the stove. Inwardly I was jumping up and down and thinking that the kitchen fire would already be out by the time I got home.

It wasn't, but it was close. I breakfasted first then put the goats out. For no discernable reason I decided that it was time that I had some real meat. I cycled to the pub to catch the meat wagon. Na! Sounds wrong! I cycled to the pub to purchase meat from the travelling butcher's van that calls outside the pub at about ten o'clock on Wednesdays. (For non-English readers, a meat wagon is an ambulance!) I made my usual purchase of the smallest piece of pork I could see. A slab of pork chop, on the bone. I had another reason to be at the pub anyway. During yesterday evening, in between arguing about Hungarian technology, we had arranged a working party to get the rest of the maize stalks shifted. Hobo turned up, and a few minutes later John did too. We had a beer. John remembered something at home and we rearraged to meet at my place at eleven. Hobo bought another beer. We timed it to perfection. John was just walking up the road as Hobo and I cycled back to my place. We wandered up to the maize field. We tied and trudged, and tied and trudged. One hand cart load was loaded. The rest was cleared from the field and stooked.

We trudged back to my place. Well, no. They trudged with the handcart. I cycled. We stacked it away and went back to the pub for a beer. That was that for the day, but at least the maize stalks were starting to appear by the handcart load. Not just what I could handle.

Back home I went to check on the goats and Marika called me over to the fence. Something came over the fence - for me - can't remember what.

I put about half the pork into the slow cooker to make into a stew later. I went back into the garden and did about an hour of winter digging. I was just a bit exhausted after that, so went back to the house and finished off making the stew. And ate half of it.

Later, in the pub, Hobo said that he would come to my place tomorrow to mend a puncture on his bike, then get the rest of the maize stalks in. I raised the subject of his missing spokes. He was adamant that he could fit them without removing the freewheel gear casette from the wheel. I was equally adamant that he couldn't. Been there, got the tee shirt - several times. My Dawes Galaxy was a wonderful bicycle but after a certain length of time it did have the habit of breaking spokes. I would be riding along and I would hear a "ping". I knew immediately what it was. Another spoke needed replacing. Hobo and I had a heated discussion which resulted in a small bet of two beers which was witnessed by another regular. We'll see.

28th October 2010

It was a beautiful, bright morning but there was quite a hard frost. I shopped, then put the wellies on to put the goats out. I got to the garden gate and beheld an astonishing sight. The big walnut tree by the camping lawn had shed about seventy five percent of its leaves overnight. There was a huge carpet of them maybe two-three inches deep. It had been shedding leaves here and there, as you expect trees to do in the autumn. All the other species in the garden were pretty well bare by now, and I had noticed that the walnuts were holding on to their leaves longer than the others. This is now my third winter and it had completely escaped me hitherto that the walnut trees' shedding of leaves must be temperature triggered. The pollarded walnut by the main garden was even more dramatic. It had lost about ninety five percent of its leaves, and by the end of the day had lost the lot. I don't know. Maybe it is me becoming more observant of the rhythms of nature as time goes by. I had a plan for the leaves anyway. Winter goat food! They love them.

I had breakfast and had not long finished when Hobo appeared. Complete with a bicycle rear wheel. His. It had a gumi problema (puncture). Strange language. They might have two hundred and thirty different word for horse, but then they make a single word perform two hundred and thirty different functions. "Gumi" is such a one. He set about repairing it in my kitchen. The reason for that is that I seem to possess the village bicyle pumps. A big one, which a friend sent from Canada and a small one acquired earlier. He soon had the tyre off and the inner tube removed when, remembering our bet, I challenged him with a spoke. He held it this way and that, and poked it in and out of the holes in the hub. He removed the nipple from the end and repeated. He even flexed it to see how much bend he could get on it without rendering it useless as a spoke. Without a word he screwed the nipple back on and put it back on my shelf with the others. There was not a word about our bet, either. I will remind him at some stage. He went back to repairing his puncture. Finally, at about half past eleven, we went and dragged one more load of goat food down the the house and stacked it away.

I had to go into town where, in short order I visited the bank, Zenit, Gazdabolt, Real, Zebra and the cellar pub. The work on the revamping of the big square was almost complete.

I had gone by bus, the bike locked up outside the pub. On my return the pub was shut, so I just cycled home with my purchases. John turned up to do more cartage. No sign of Hobo. I rang him and he said that he wouldn't be back today so John went home.

I got the goats in and then the firewood. I ate and lit the tile stove. Then went to the pub. When I got home, for the first time this year the door sausage came out to play.

29th October 2010

It was a nice day but there was a cold and blustery easterly wind. I was just finishing putting the goats out, right at the top of the plot, when John who had braved the dogs wandered up the garden. Hobo was supposed to turn up to shift the rest of the stuff off the field and get it in storage. He didn't, so John wandered off home after a chat.

I put some washing to soak and went in the garden to do some winter digging. I was well into it, turning in the compost that had already been spread. I paused for a breather and turned to look at the goats. They were fine, and I noticed the old lady, the wife of the neighbour at the top, standing by the fence and for a long while she just stood and looked at the goats. Somehow she seems quite fascinated by them. I had noticed before when they were up that end, but didn't think it worthy of comment. I resumed the digging, and continued until I had run out of area with compost spread. I needed more compost and looked around for the barrow. It was nowhere in site. Blast, where the hell was the barrow? It took a few moments for the penny to drop and I realised that it was exactly where Hobo had left it - in the outhouse with a goodly load of spuds in it. Well, I needed the barrow, so the spuds would have to be dealt with. I trudged back to the yard.

I had a sit down and a smoke, then dealt with the spuds. Into the trays they went, and the trays disappeared into the cellar. It was time anyway.

It was by then about lunch time, so I had lunch and spent some time on the Internet whilst I ate.

I went back into the garden, with barrow. I loaded it up with compost and wheeled it back to the main garden. I was about to spread it about and start digging again when Marika called me to the fence. She had some bits for the goats, but also noticed that I had no lettuce. She went off, and in less than a minute reappeared with a bunch of little lettuce plants. Another unscheduled job, but no problem with where to put them as I had loads of freshly dug garden from which to choose. Of course, I chose to put them in by where the line was that I was digging to. I always use a line at the margins otherwise it is all over the place - like a dog's hind leg. Twenty odd little lettuce plants went in, using my finger as a dibber.

I went to the pub for one, and on my return went to the shop. I went back to the garden to discover Suzie on the camping lawn and Rudy ravaging the garden - leaks. Poor Betty was all on her own at the top of the land going "Meah, meah, meah". They both still had their chains attached. Once again I had no idea how the chains had managed to get removed from the stakes. I have a plan for that.

It was getting on towards their bed time anyway, so Rudy and Suzie got hauled back to the goat house, then I went to rescue poor Betty. She did not need any encouraging to get back to the goat house.

As usual I ate, changed and went back to the pub. John was there. At some stage the talk turned to compost. Probably because I had been talking about digging in compost. Hobo was insistent that you should only have one compost heap. I was equally insistent that you should have a compost heap per year. After all, if you keep just piling it on one compost heap, however do you get to the good stuff at the bottom? Hobo would have none of it and finally, and for the first time ever since I had been here, I cracked and my Cancerian nature asserted itself. The claws came out, and nipped. "Hobo! Do you think that only Hungarian people know about compost?" In Hungarian, and in a voice loud enough that the whole pub heard. Hobo dropped the subject a bit sharpish.

30th October 2010

It was not a bad morning and I was up early. First call was the shop. The shop lady reminded me that it was a bank holiday on Monday. A good job too. It would have caught me out. The goats went out. I had breakfast and then cycled up the village for eggs. It turned out that they were having a pig killing. They only had little eggs, so I got them gratis and I was also treated to a tumbler of their this years wine.

I had timed my trip such that I could be in the pub at ten o'clock. The three musketeers - me, Hobo and John - had arranged to meet there today and finish off the cartage of the maize stalks from the field. Now where had I heard that before? Hobo was there, and John turned up soon after. We had a beer. John realised that he had forgotten to do something at home, so we hastily rearranged eleven o'clock at my place. Hobo used the intervening forty minutes effectively. By buying me and him another beer!

We cycled off from the pub at about five past eleven, and as we went past the templom we saw John just walking up by the shop. Oh, how wonderful it is when a plan comes together. The hand cart was retrieved from my yard. They trudged up the hill with it and I cycled. I had with me string and cutting tool to bundle up the remainder of what I had hauled up myself using the bungees. You knew those bungees would come in useful, didn't you A?

I hobbled to the field to start tying up the remainder of my lot. To my astonishment they were already tied up. Not with string, but with some sort of bendy twig. All nicely done in reasonable sized bunches. I started hauling them up to the roadside. The mystery was solved a little while later when one of the pub regulars admitted to doing it. He got a drink from me, of course.

We piled the handcart high. I cycled home, secured the dogs and opened the big gates. Hobo and John were a little while appearing, but appear they did:
Goat Food Appears You can choose to believe or not, but Hobo actually used hand signals to indicate to any other traffic that he would be turning into my yard.

This lot was stacked around the walnut tree, and then it was a case of rinse and repeat. Another load appeared. It was shared out between the walnut tree and the fence between the yard and the garden. It was time for a beer by then. So we went for a beer. The handcart was tucked away by the templom and we wandered up to the pub.

Beer consumed, and back up the hill, it turned out that there was only about a half a handcart load left. In short order it was back in my yard and this time it went in the outhouse. Hedging of bets, I guess. I thought that that was that. Not a bit of it. Hobo announced that we could get a handcart load of firewood from a neighbour, so we did. It was not many minutes work. It was naturally in order to celebrate a successful outcome to the day with a libation to Bacchus. So we went back to the pub.

31st October 2010

The clocks went back. Daylight Saving Time. Now, there's a phrase to conjure with. Just how can you save daylight? At whatever time of year in whatever hemisphere or whatever latitude there are, by nature, only as many hours of daylight as there are. You cannot "save" them. No, the Brits have that one right. Either Greenwich Mean Time or British Summer Time. I remember the disastrous experiment in the late sixties when they decided that it should be BST all the year round. I think it only lasted one year. It was a disaster. Most people were not used to driving to work in the dark, and road casualties took a hike.

It was a nice day, but I was ill. The head cold had come back with a vengeance. Snotty and snifly and feeling that my head was the size of one of the neigbour's pumpkins. Nevertheless, the goats went out and I lit the stove and had breakfast.

I tried a bit of digging, but lasted about half an hour. My head by then had swollen to the size of a prize pumpkin. I retired, defeated. I did a bit of work on the Internet, got some firewood in, got the goats in and that was that for the day, and for October

Still went to the pub, though ;)


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