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January 2011

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1st January 2011

I managed late up - about ten in the morning. The goats were not happy. Creatures of habit. They are happy enough if I get to them by nine in the morning. After that, starting with Betty they join in in stages. By half past nine they are all at it.

Yes, not happy at all this morning. Neither was I. Somehow I had managed to achieve a hangover. I had thought that I really did not have that much to drink yesterday evening. Mind you, as the evening wore on more and more pálinka appeared and I have to say a few did come my way. I was even given a shot of McKinlays whiskey at one stage. What a waste! Down in one in the expected and polite Hungarian manner.

Not a lot got done. I fed the goats again at noon, lunched and decided to kill the hangover by going for a beer. You know the saying - "Avoid hangovers - stay p*ssed!" Hobo was there. I managed to solve a problem. Well, not a problem but a puzzle. I was puzzled by BÚÉK. It was everywhere. Top left corner of the telly screen. On all the fliers that Posta had delivered. What was this BÚÉK? It turned out to be "Boldog Új Évet Kívánok", which quite simply translates as "I wish you a Happy New Year". Ah, the fondness of the Hungarians for random abbreviations.

2nd January 2011

Cold, grey and miserable. And that was just me! The weather was the same. I had 'man flu'. Shivery, snotty. You don't need any more. Whatever! The goats got fed and I made breakfast.

I attempted leatherwork but there was just not enough light even with the kitchen light on. Mmmm - not good. The goat collars were (are) a priority job. If the need arose for whatever reason to get the goats out of their house pronto-pronto it would be some fairish sort of disaster if one had no collar at all and another had nothing into which to hook a towing chain. It was hard going and time consuming. I was working through four layers of leather each of which was twice as thick as the leatherwork I had previously done. I had to resort to the pipe wrench pliers to pull the needles through.

Goats, food, beat the dogs, go to the pub.

Good job I did. They almost set a new lap record. Kicking out time half past seven. I think I may have done some blog updates when I got home.

3rd January 2011

Bitterly cold again. If I recall, I think the forecast had said minus eleven. My main preoccupation was simply keeping warm. Up to sometimes five layers on the body in this weather depending what I am doing. Thermals, tee shirt, work pullover, zip-up fleece and either the bike leather jacket or the coat of many pockets. Apart from the couple of days just before Christmas it has been like this since the end of November. Which reminds me to tell you about the container from Daraboshegy that Tibi fetched back here behind his car. It proved to be stuffed with the sawmill equivalent of nutty slack. There was the normal compliment of assorted sizes and shapes of wood - all oak this time - but the interstices were crammed with tiny little offcuts as small as one centimetre by two centimetres by two. No wonder it weighed a lot. Don't much care. It will all burn. Go on then - who remembers nutty slack? <norf country accent>"Eeee lass bank t' fire oop wi' nutty slack an' coom ter bed"</norf country accent>.

Rudy put me on my bum at feeding time. He didn't hurt me. It was quite comical actually. He got his horns behind my right ankle - my good leg - caught me off balance, hooked my leg off the floor (he is quite strong enough to do that) and I was kind of hopping about as best I could on the bad leg. If I had been anywhere else in the sty I would have made sure that I went down on him - good and hard! Unfortunately I would have whacked my head in the brick sty wall that I built. I freed myself, and of course he came back for more, but by then I had both hands free, grabbed him by the horns, hurtled him on his side and suitably admonished him both verbally and physically. He didn't come back for any more.

Back in the house with the kitchen nice and warm I carried on with the goat collar makeover. That was it - all I did all day. Apart from going to the pub!

4th January 2011

The 'man flu' came back with a vengeance. I felt seriously shivery this morning. I was more than a little worried about it developing into real influenza, or possibly H1N1 of which there is some around, here in Hungary. For one of the rare occasions since I have been here I sought pharmaceutical help, in the form of some seriously out of date Lemsips that I brought over with me. Mmmmm - expired end of February 2009. Whatever!

I did nothing all day, other than feed the goats at the required intervals and get firewood in, which proved to be an exhausting chore. I was just getting ready to do that when there was an explosive bang from outside somewhere, followed by a whooshing noise. The dogs were out and they went ballistic. I went outside to investigate and found one dog one side of the outhouse over the yard and the other dog the other side. It had sounded like either something going bang in a big way in someones stove, followed by a rushing of hot gasses and debris up the chimney, or something breaking in a big way such a a wall or a big roof timber. I checked all around. I even went out the gate and walked up and down and checked my roofs. And the outhouse walls. Nothing to be seen. It had certainly come from the old lady at No. 72 side, as that was where the dogs were. Nothing seemed to be amiss there either. Oh well!

I spotted the culprit later when I went to give the goats their last feed of the day. There is a big old decapitated evergreen tree which is not far from my fence and overhangs both my garden and the goat house. It had shed a big branch - probably five inches in diameter. The whooshing noise had obviously been made by its fall through the rest of the foliage. Fortunately for me it had come to rest still some way up the tree and did not make it as far as either the fence or (thankfully) the goat house roof so lovingly restored by Hobo.

The couple of Lemsips that I had taken during the course of the day - one in the morning and another in the afternoon - had the desired effect. I felt well enough to go to the pub ;)

5th January 2011

Freezing cold. Usual start, and back to the goat collars. Well, the one anyway. This one seemed particularly problematical. It is the collar that has allowed Suzy to escape multiple times this year. Even to the extent that she managed to escape from it twice whilst they have been confined in the goat house in the extreme weather.

Somewhere towards the end of the morning the dogs did their ballistic bit. I poked my head out the door to see if it was Posta. It wasn't. It was Tibi from next door with a big sack of something. I beat the dogs away and he handed me a plastic sack with a couple of stone of little potatoes therein. For the goats.

Half way through the afternoon the urge for some company and a beer struck. I went to the pub. Hobo was there. One beer became two and it became touch and go as to whether I would be able to get the goats fed in some semblance of daylight. I did, but only just. Hobo, bless him, stocked me up with firewood.

Later I was in the kitchen cooking when the dogs, still outside, did their ballistic bit again. What attracted me was that it was from an unusual quarter. At that time of night if they go ballistic towards the front gates I take no notice. I equally take no notice if it comes from in the region of the potting shed or the wood house. That is normally a barking match with next doors dogs. No, this was right up the yard either by the goat house or by the garden gate. I poked my head out again and looked up towards the garden. There seemed to be a light, as of a torch, moving about in my garden up towards Telek utca. It seemed to be extinguished when I put the yard light on. I went back in the house and for the first time since I have lived here retrieved my good binoculars. I scanned about the garden but could see nothing untoward. There was a lot more light than usual coming from my next door neighbour's house up on Telek utca and there was certainly a vehicle parked by their house with headlights on. I didn't investigate further. I was not about to wander up there in the dark onto frozen ground with frozen mole hills. There was (is) certainly nothing worthy of theft anywhere in the garden. Except maybe the goats, and I suspect the dogs would have gone even more ballistic than they did if any interloper got that far down the garden after dark.

Late in the day this from The Huffington Post from someone with the screen name of Soma99. It is a while since I linked to any gloom and doom but this says it all.

6th January 2011

I finally got a goat collar finished:
Goat Collar Before Repair This was the state it was in when it came off the goat house floor, Suzy having rid herself of it once again.
And this was after its makeover. The D ring that came out is destined for Rudy's collar. It has been welded shut! I put my home made D ring in this one, as this collar was destined for Betty. There is a double row of double, double running stitch either side of the D so that it cannot turn. There is a small row of stitching behind the buckle to stop that from regressing into the fold of the collar. The end of the foldover has been stitched down and a spare belt loop incorporated, and the end has been trimmed about five inches and restitched. Goat Collar After Repair

The problem was how to get it on Betty. I evolved a devious scheme. At goat feeding time I took two buckets with me instead of one. I took the one with the smaller contents into the goats house. As usual Rudy bullied his way to the front of the queue, but using the bucket as bait I lured him to the end of the corridor, tipped the contents out and trapped him behind the door. It was relatively simple to get Suzy trapped in there too. After that it was but the work of a moment to collar Betty. I took the opportunity to do her paws at the same time. After that I got the other bucket of food in and spread it around, fetched in some hay and maize stalks, released Suzy and Rudy and made my escape.

You know, I have come to the conclusion that Betty is, actually, a pygmy goat. She has grown barely at all since I got her, and I reckon that by now Suzy weighs four times as much and Rudy probably ten times as much.

After lunch I had some computer work to do in the wretched Windose operating system. I have no idea why, but I decided to change the Thunderbird e-mail client configuration so that it would check my Hungarian e-mail account. To do that I had to disconnect the network cable, as I did not want it downloading mails from my normal account. That bit was easy. Reconfiguring Thunderbird was easy. What beat me was getting the network cable back in its socket! In the end I took the one or two bits off the top of the computer case - two CDs, a DVD, a multi-socket connector and my specs case - and tipped the thing on its front to reconnect the network cable. I made an unfortunate discovery. Under the aformentioned list of items was an envelope. Unopened. My Internet bill for December, payable by the twenty eighth!

Fortunately once I had Internet connected back in Windose and checked my Hungarian e-mail there was a mail from T-Home advising me that I had not paid my bill. Unfortunately it also advised me that should I not pay it by the tenth I would be cut off, and equally unfortunately it also advised me that if paying via Posta I should allow a week for the payment to go through. Blast! I pondered. I tried their English language help line. Well, they might have at least found someone who actually spoke English. The best description I can give was that it was a Hungarian reading from a phonetic cue-card. Beyond me! I made the decision that my best course of action was to go to the T-Com shop in Körmend and see if I could pay the bill directly there.

There was ceremonial on telly in the evening. Something about Hungary taking over the presidency (whatever) of the EU for the next six months?

7th January 2011

All I did this morning was to feed the goats - twice - and make sure that I had enough firewood in to do the fires later. As I posted yesterday, Körmend was a must to sort out the Internet bill.

So that's what I did. First call was the bank for cash, working on the assumption that cash would be acceptable. (Never assume - it makes an ass out of u and me) Second call was the T-Com shop. It was packed. In twenty minutes queuing I saw one person leave having managed to complete a transaction. Fifty minutes I was in there! FIFTY MINUTES!! Un-expletive-believeable. My only consolation was that there was a Hungarian lady immediately behind me who was obviously on the same errand. She grew equally as agitated as I was becoming. There was one poor old guy in there, obviously to sort out a problem. There was one guy on the desk serving him and three random bods just standing behind with obviously not a clue what to do. Nevertheless, I had to stick it out. Even when I did get served it proved not to be a problem. Except that it was not just a question of paying the money and getting a rubber stamp on the bill. No, they had to print out their own form - in triplicate - of which copies I had to sign two and the other of which was religiously stapled to my paperwork that I had taken in. Let me guess! ISO9002! Just what I said a while ago about giving the worst service in the world, but if you document it...

It was the same in there when I ordered my Internet connection (without the queue) and the same when I bought the SIM card for the phone I was going to buy. Mother's maiden name? (Goes without saying - ubiquitous here in Hungary) Did your father pick his nose? Did your paternal great grandfather masturbate? I exaggerate, of course - but only slightly. How different in the Pannon shop where I actually bought my Hungarian mobile phone - a) I was the only customer in there, b) the lady that served me proved to be fluent in English and c) it took about ten minutes including lots of chatting and her kindly setting up my Hungarian mobile so that all the menus were in English.

By the time I got out of the T-Com shop I was no longer in a hurry. There was not a snowballs chance of me getting the half past two bus back to Halogy. I wandered the short walk to Bástya utca and called in the Presszo. After the T-Com shop I needed a beer. I also needed to relieve the ever growing pressure on the bladder.

From there I went to what I call the sandwich shop and thence to the Spar shop, where I bought some Rama margarine and a dollop of liver. The savings on what I pay for Rama margarine in Körmend and what I would have to pay for Flora margarine in the village shop covers my bus fare.

I wandered back to the bus stop in plenty of time for the half past three bus. I bumped into Hobo's mum and his half brother there and we did the New Year greetings thing. Back in the village I paid the bike parking fee and with darkness approaching cycled home and fed the goats.

You know, I have mentioned it before in another context. Being more in tune with the natural world. 7th January and I see the evenings drawing out. I was home in plenty of time to feed them in more than semi-darkness. I always try and feed them just before it starts to get dark. I notice the time stretch out day by day. I guess that when I was in a nine to five job I only really noticed it when the clocks went on.

Later, in the pub, I had quite an animated discussion with Hobo about Peak Oil. It started with him saying who he would get in to chain saw up the acacia wood. In jest I said that me and him would do it with the two handed saw. He bit, and I bit back. "Hobo! What will you do when petrol is a thousand forints a litre - five thousand forints?" His answer - biofuels! Ah well! By the way, John was there (if I am thinking of the correct evening). He mentioned something about his blog, and that his readers were reading my blog "to see if he was still alive". Welcome, readers of my blog that read it to find out if John is still alive. He was the last time I saw him.

I noticed on the Beeb when I got home reports of riots in, I think, Algiers about food prices.

Mmmmm - quite a short entry today. I'll try and make it longer tomorrow.

8th January 2011

It was noticably warmer this morning. My weather forecast had said it would be. Note the country code. How does it come about that a Norwegian weather site gives me better information than

I had my semi-normal wrestling match with Rudy when I fed the goats. He will go two or three days and then he has to try his luck on whether he can best me for the leadership of the herd. He can't.

I was busy with lots of little domestic jobs when John appeared. Once again we had arranged with Hobo to do some goat food work. Once again, no Hobo. John disappeared himself back home again, beating the dogs off as he retreated. Once again Hobo appeared shortly afterwards and stocked me up with firewood. He has a thing about stocking me up with firewood. More later.

He disappeared, with the arrangement to meet at the pub at one to move the last of the goat food from where it had been lying these several weeks.

I did the goats and did lunch, then went and appraised John of the new arrangment. I cycled to the pub and John followed. One beer became two, but we finally bestirred ourselves. Hobo retrieved the hand cart, magyartarka joined us and we plodded through the mud to pile the goat food on the hand cart. Fortunately it made just one load. It took a bit of pulling through the mud. Once on the road I cycled home and secured the dogs. The goat food got piled by the fence between the yard and the garden on the garden side. I provided washing facilities to scrub footware moderately clean, and that was that. We all went back to the pub.

A mini-session ensued. I went home at four to feed the goats, kick the dogs, light the fires and cook myself liver and onions in a red wine sauce, mashed potatoes and peas. Lovely. I managed a bit of blog updating after that and had an early night.

9th January 2011

Sunday. Usual start. Hobo and "How do you do Láci" appeared at about half past ten, complete with chain saw and set about the acacia wood in the yard. I bet that went down well half way through the service at the templom. I put a limit of one tank of petrol on the work to be done, being short of funds after the Friday effort in the T-Com shop. I really need to talk to the village blacksmith about some log splitting wedges. I reckon about five would do it. Especially with acacia . It splits true and straight down the grain. They would need to be fairly meaty considering the size of some of the logs, but then once split they would be easy meat with the bowsaw. As it is they are easy meat with the big axe, but more later. They managed to hit into the pálinka supplies a fair bit as well. I gave them a shot of my chestnut stuff and "How do you do Láci" declared it "Nem jó" - Not good. He said the same about the mézes pálinka that came from Hobo. He came back for more though.

Of course we all went to the pub for one after that work session was finished.

Back home I pulled a stunt on the goats. I enticed them into the little bit of corridor behind the door that Rudy shuts and can't get open again and gave them their ration of barley and little spuds. I cleared out all the old maize stalks. Then I took the barrow into the yard and filled it up with the old stuff from the outhouse loft to take into the goat house for fresh bedding. The dogs were in the yard when I attempted to wheel the barrow load round to the goat house. Well, one remained in the yard and one escaped. The black one. He did not mess about. He headed straight for Telek utca. Once more I made my best time up there and caught him in the garden next door but one, which I think actually belongs to my neighbour on Telek utca. This time he did get a damned good whacking with a stout maize stalk that I had taken for the purpose. Collared, he was led all the way back to the yard and told gently not to go out there again. Yeah, right!

I resumed and finished my activities in the goat house and released the pent up goats. There is an ever growing mountain of spent maize stalks - the bits the goats do not eat - outside the goat house. I loaded them up in the barrow and made a couple of trips to the spot where the stuff destined for garden bonfire is piled. I figure on having enough compost anyway by the end of the winter.

A bit more stuff went into the goat house and that was it for the day. Physical enough. I did an early pub. Had a couple. Returned home and lit the tile stove. Ate, and did some blog updating.

10th January 2011

Goats and housework. That was what I did until late in the afternoon.

I needed an outlet. It came to me when I took the wood baskets out to fill. The acacia! I attacked it for about half an hour with glee. The feeling of hafting the big axe and hurting it down into a big lump of acacia, the two pieces splitting asunder and flying about the wood house was just what I needed. Wonderful! Open the shoulders and whack, crack. I started to stack it, separate from the rest. I really want it to stay there until I need it for the tile stove next winter.

Speaking of which, you may remember that a neighbour (not Tibi) donated a hand cart full of stuff that me, Hobo and John shifted one day. I thought it was crap. Damp, mostly tree bark... Well, it had been in my wood house a while and had dried out nicely. You can break it up by hand and it has proved to be ideal for chucking on top of alight kindling in the kitchen stove.

Speaking of which, which I wasn't, I want to go off on one about plastics. A couple of things brought it to mind. One was that I accidentally nudged a plastic food container that I bought the first year that I was here and it fell off the work surface and dropped on the kitchen floor right on one of its corners. It broke. Not very seriously, but seriously enough to render it useless as a food container. The other incident was that Rudy butted a plastic bucket with the barley and goodies in it one day when I went in the goat house to feed them. He did not even butt it against anything. It was just in my hand. It disintegrated. I bought four such buckets the first year that I was here. Two survive. One remains indoors for an unnamed purpose, the other is already cracked but still usable.

The weather here is harsh enough. Weeks of plus ninety in the summer and weeks of sub-zero in the winter. Plastics simply do not last. I think I already mentioned plastic (polypropylene?) clothes line. Everywhere you look we are utterly dependent upon plastics. From what contains the food that you buy in the supermarket to the kezboard upon which I type. I ask myself a question. My plastic buckets disintegrated in a couple of years. I wonder how long a cooper-made, teak, brass-bound bucket would last in the same circumstances. Oh, it would be expensive. But then again, as the price of oil rises so does everything else - it is so tightly bound to the way we live and the way we get our food - everything!

11th January 2011

It was milder again today. The snow had now all but gone. There remained but a few well soiled heaps where people had lots to clear and dumped it in one big heap. By the way, don't eat yellow snow!

Shop, goats, breakfast - boring at this time of the year. By lunch time I had managed to finish reworking Suzy's collar. That presented me with a small conundrum. How to put the collar back on Suzy when I did the lunchtime feed, and more so how to get the collar off Rudy? It turned out to be relatively straight forward. Suzy was concentrating on eating and it was the work of a second to whip the collar around her neck. Once there she was going precisely nowhere until I had it buckled and the end tucked in. Rudy was a bit more problematic, but not that much. I simply grabbed him by the collar. Round and round we went - we must have pirouetted about six times. He backed himself into a corner. I got my left arm around his neck, so I had one horn hooked in with my upper arm and the other round the front of my ribs in such a position that he could do nothing with the point of the horn. I had to remove the collar just using my right had which took a while. He was not best pleased and was determined to have a go at me when I released him, but the collar had gone in a pocket whilst I still had him pinned and I now had both hands free. He got thrown on his back a few times and finally got the message. I retrieved the collar from the pocket when I got back to the house. There is only one word to describe its condition - minging! It went straight into a Dettol solution to soak until tomorrow, which of course puts two days on the job. One for cleaning the collar and another for getting it dry enough to work with.

I had pizza for lunch, but don't tell Hobo!

I went and had another bash at the acacia wood - literally. I cannot really say that I am good with the big ax. Getting better, but just slightly better than Rose in "Titanic". With the medium sized axe I can normally hit the same spot within a couple of millimetres, used one handed. With the big axe it is more like within an inch.

The telly in the pub was going on about the price of petrol. It has gone up again. The Hungarians are not overly happy that it is more expensive here than in any of the surrounding countries. For the first time a litre of petrol exceeded the (notional) price of a loaf of bread. Whatever. The price of a loaf of bread will inevitably follow the price of diesel anyway.

12th January 2011

I finished washing Rudy's collar and put it on the drying rack above the kitchen stove in the warm to dry off.

In the absence of leatherwork I actually managed to get on with a couple of other jobs. One involved the use of my favourite tool - the angle grinder. I had rescued a couple of the goat posts from the garden and started preparing them for a little welding job by the village blacksmith. The have a design flaw. Three out of the four are just straight steel tubes. Rudy definitely, and Suzy probably can get their horns under the chain and lift it off the top of the post. Hence some of the escapes last year. The fourth one is not much better. It is ex-gate-holding-shut device, and still had the hook on the top. It proved ineffective at preventing goat breakouts. They all need T-pieces welding on the top so that the rings on the ends of the chains can only be released by pulling the posts out of the ground. The other bit of work was an ongoing woodwork project, of which more anon.

I had the sign out for Posta. The dog food van turned up and I bought the usual bag of dog food. Only it wasn't. Instead of the normal ten kilogramme bag it was a fifteen kilogramme bag. Five hundred extra forints. I had aside the two thousand which I expected to pay, but had to have a scrat-up for the other five hundred. It left me with about twenty five forints in the pocket. Hence the sign being out for Posta. Once again the van drove straight by my place, ignoring my sign. The van stopped some fifty metres or so further down the road. It was the same young man that had pulled the same stunt on previous occasions. I managed to catch him as he was just about to get in the van whilst I was still about thirty metres away. We had a very brief shouted and sign language communication the result of which was just the same as previously. Tomorrow.

Well, with only twenty five forints in pocket tomorrow just would not do. Dischuffed I retired to the house, had a quick lunch, attired myself suitably and set off to cycle to the Post Office in Nádasd. Fortunately it was a rather pleasant day and other than chosing the wrong way to cycle out of the village it was no hardship at all to make the trip. Other than losing valuable working time at home, of course.

I had another session on the acacia wood when I got home. I put a time limit on a session. Half an hour maximum, then get on with something else. It gives me a nice upper body workout without it becoming too strenuous.

There were yet more reports of serious flooding in the north east of Hungary due to the thaw, with pictures of semi-collapsed houses and such. As if they had not had enough already at various time last year. There was also a report on Devecser, which has doubtless long fallen off the radar outside of Hungary. If I understood it correctly (???) a whole swathe of housing through the village is being abandoned, but, very unusually, they have been granted permission to build new housing on a green field site on the outskirts of the village. Normally this simply does not happen. You do not get the gradual encroachment into the surrounding agricultural land that is found elsewhere. Any new development can only take place within the defined boundaries of a municipality. (A village is a municipality here in Hungary) I could, for instance, sell off the top end of my plot for someone to build on. Not about to happen. The land is why I bought this place!

13th January 2011

Not a particularly nice day, but mild again. Usual start.

Rudy's collar was clean enough and dry enough to work upon, so upon Rudy's collar I worked. By the end of the morning I had two rows of double, double running stitch in, the welded up D-ring inserted and one row of double, double running stitch behind to hold it in place.

It was almost lunch time, so I fed the goats. I was determined on a bit of a workout before I had my lunch so I attacked the acacia again:
Acacia Firewood This is the stack that remains on the yard as I write. Thirty seven logs. Yes, I counted them.
Here are the chain-sawed lumps from last Sunday... Acacia Firewood
Acacia Firewood ...and here is my pitiful effort at splitting them into sensible sized pieces. The acacia is centre. The firewood to the right is the stuff that Lajos brought round in the snow. Ah well, softlee, softlee...

I attempted to do more to Rudy's collar later, but the light was so bad even with the kitchen light on that eventually I had to abandon it.

I did the house firewood, a bit more bashing of acacia, fed the goats and that was that. I lit the kitchen stove and cooked myself a veggie soup. Spuds, onions, spinach, yellow split peas, red cabbage and the remains of the tomato topping that did not go on the pizza. Interesting!


When I returned home I found that Facebook had shat itself. I was faced with a message that said something along the lines of "Oops. It looks like something has gone wrong. We are doing our best to fix it." Nothing else. No "Click Here for more details" button. It makes me seethe when I see something like that. If I saw something like that on a student programming assignment my comment would be "Give meaningful feedback!" and dock them ten percent. Harsh but fair. Simply not good enough for one of the worlds most used websites. I have to say that Firefox is not immune - "Well, this is embarrasing..."

14th January 2011

I wandered over to the village shop at about eight. It was a very pleasant morning. One of the village ladies - John's next door neighbour - was outside. he told me that the shop was shut and the shop lady would return soon. After a couple of minutes she wandered off across the road to a nearby house, no doubt for a bit of a gossip. I stood it about another thirty seconds and decided to return home and get on with stuff. I noticed a bicycle outside No. 72 that I recognised.

Instead of getting on with stuff I headed into the garden. Over the fence by the goat house I met up with the owner of the bicycle. He was there to sort out the old conifer tree that had shed the branch that caused me alarm and caused the dogs to go ballistic. Well, bless her, not a lot gets by the old lady next door. She obviously had realised there was a problem and called in suitable reinforcements.

In my halting Hungarian I managed to get through to him that I did not want the wood - just the small green stuff. Goat food! They will actually eat the wood, and the needles, up to about five or six millimetres of wood. He went off and obviously spoke to the old lady. To cut a long story short she ended up with all the wood that can be burnt as firewood and I ended up with a quite large stack of conifer greenery to feed into the goats. At one stage he actually had to come into my garden to sort out the stuff that he had chain sawed off the tree that ended up my side of the fence. Like Lajos, we was not scared. He is no spring chicken but he just clambered up amongst the branches and sawed them off. I have mentioned him before on the blog - speach impediment. I think it may be a shyness thing as he is fine with me now.

I went back to the shop, and the day proceded. I had a most definite senior moment. I was absolutely convinced that it was a Saturday and shopped accordingly. It was not until I saw the Posta van go through at lunch time that the penny dropped.

I was more than a little miffed that the goat collar work was not complete - they could well have gone out to do a little outdoor munching today.

I went back to fixing Rudy's collar. At least it had the welded up D-ring in it now. I could write at length about the design failings of the collars but it is getting late, so I won't.

I had lunch, attacked some more acacia wood and then went for eggs. It was interesting. I managed quite a long conversation with the fluent English speaking daughter of the family. Entirely in mangled Hungarian. They have more Pickly Dog siblings on the way. I was pressed to a glass of wine, which I accepted, and they told me that they were having a pig killing tomorrow. I went to see the pig. Huge - two hundred and twenty kilogrammes. She would not come out of her sty. Now, I have to wonder, do such animals know that tomorrow is the day that they shuffle off this mortal coil?

Back home I had another half hour session of bashing acacia. The pile of kugli, as they call the chainsawed rounds, was steadily shrinking and the pile of split and stacked pieces was steadily growing. After that it was the normal end to the day. Feed the goats, eat...

15th January 2011

It was a glorious morning - mild and sunny. Shop, breakfast and wang the last few stitches in Rudy's collar. It was simply too good to miss. By half past nine the collar was done, and risking life and limb was reattached to Rudy. He did not take too kindly to it and had a go afterwards. Well, several. Anyway, I finally got their chains on and out they went. I had the posts already planted around the walnut tree where there was a lot of litter from maize stalks lying around anyway. I put some conifer tree branches where they could each get at some also. They stayed out the whole of the rest of the day. Astonishing. I never dreamed that I would be able to put the goats out half way through January. At one stage in the afternoon in the sunshine all three were lying down, munching. Happy goats!

It turned into a physical day. I did another half hour stint on the acacia wood, and after lunch set to to clear up all the old maize stalks from the goat house, wheel a couple of barrow loads up to the garden bonfire area and fetch in some new old hay for bedding. By the end of the afternoon I was pretty shattered. One of those jobs you just have to keep going until it is done.

I was in the kitchen when it was just getting dark, warming up the remains of the veggy stew to eat when there was a doggy commotion from the yard. I poked my nose out of the door to find Lajos parked outside. Ah! My kilogramme of hurka (the black-puddingy-type sausages). Nine hundred forints. Less than three quid, and freshly made that day. I had to hold them over my head as I beat a retreat back to the kitchen. I put them well out of harms way, the harms being Pickle and Blackie of course.

I ate then went to the pub. I had a small catastrophe of the beer type during the course of the evening. I had just bought a round - me, John and Hobo - and one of the bottles slipped from my grasp. It did what bottles do when they slip from your grasp. Fell on its side. It did what bottles of beer do when they fall on their side. Started to spill and started to froth up. I whipped it up quick and do what you do. Swig the froth down quick so as to waste as little as possible. It still left a fair puddle of beer around Láci's clean glasses. I apologised, but he was alright about it. Goes with the territory from time to time.

16th January 2011

Another glorious morning and as soon as I had shopped I went into the garden, moved the goat posts and went to get the goats out again. It was straightforward today - all the collars were in place! Click, click, click with the chains and away we went. Rudy never even threw a strop. Until I hooked him on his post. Then he tried to. I couldn't be bothered with the goat wrestling this morning so I held him by a horn and walked him to the extent of his chain.

Back at the house I breakfasted - the last of my single jar of strawberry jam sadly. Once again this year I had chosen to open it as soon after Christmas as I could. There is just something about strawberry jam on toast in the absolute depths of the winter. I must have another try at getting a proper strawberry patch going again this year. As if I don't have enough to do!

I baked this morning - bread! I ought really to be baking both bread and other stuff much more when the weather is foul and I have a hot kitchen stove going at least all through the morning. I got to thinking about bread making machines. Mmmm - gadgets. Making bread is hardly the most onerous of tasks, time to do other stuff being a large element of it. Crumble the yeast into a cup and stir in a teaspoon of sugar. Thirty seconds. Put it on the warm end of the stove to start working. Ten seconds. Weigh out the flour and put it in the mixing bowl with a teaspoon of salt. Maybe a minute. Put it by the warm end of the stove to warm. Another ten seconds. You get the picture. Mixing the flour into dough is about as time consuming as it gets - maybe five minutes. I reckon in terms of actual labour less than fifteen minutes to make a loaf of bread. The only other time consuming bit is the actual baking - especially when using a wood stove. The bread has to be checked and turned on account of the temperature gradient in the oven. What better excuse to have pipe in the left hand, bottle of beer in the right and the oven glove at the ready?

I cooked one of Lajos' hurka for lunch, with tatie wedges - loverly.

Firewood work all afternoon. I had the baskets well stocked up and another layer on the growing stack of acacia, and it was time to feed the goats. Well, time to stock up the goat house for the night - the goats were still out in the garden as sunset approached. I had literally just done the stuff I do inside - barley into a bucket, some potato peelings, a chopped up apple that I acquired along the way - and stepped out the door. At that the dogs went ballistic and I saw Marika at the garden fence. Another big bowl of goat food. All her trimmings - apple peel, cores, spud peelings, trimming from cabbages, etc., etc., - they all come the way of the goats. We had a chat about the abnormality of the weather. She warned me that winter would return by the end of the week.

With goats still in the garden I was able to distribute their evening food at my leisure and then go and release them. I returned to the goat house with none of them in hand. The girls just trotted on in front. Rudy paused to walk over my onion nursery bed and raid the remains of the leeks. I had hoped to grow them on for seed next year. Mmmmmm! He still beat me back to the goat house. I just had to unclip their chains and lock them up for the night. Very satisfying.

In the pub later it was all set to be an early night. A young man of the village delayed it somewhat. He had a big win on the fruit machine. Twelve thousand forints. In context that would pay my bill at the village shop every day for a fortnight. He insisted on buying a round for everybody in the pub. All five of us. Not content with that he bought a round of shorts as well.

Once home, for a reason, I booted into Windose. Skype started up, and offered me an update. I installed it. Oh, I wish I hadn't! All was fine - test sounds, test microphone... Until I tested webcam. It worked. It worked fine. It just hogged the processor nearly a hundred percent. Even the mouse pointer would not respond properly.

Oh well. I had a Skype video with someone about something that needed doing and that was that. Fortunately it did not interfere with anything else, as I was not doing anything else. As I write, I have not yet had cause to boot back into Windose. When I do I will check whether I have the older install program for Skype still there and if I have the update to Skype will be history.

17th January 2011

There was a freezing fog when I poked my nose out of doors first thing this morning. The only change all day was that the temperature got up to about plus one, so it just became a fog.

The goats stayed in. I fed them at the normal intervals and every single time Rudy had got himself trapped behind the door. Sometimes alone and sometimes with a female goat. Usually Suzy. I have to say that putting the goat food into the goat house in the absence of Rudy is quite a laid back and pleasurable experience. It also allows the girl(s) to have a good go at whatever I provide without him bullying them off it.

Washing clothes, half an hour whacking acacia wood, lunch and more computer work took up the rest of the day.

Pub in the evening, of course, where Lajos appeared and I settled up with him for the hurka. Later, he commented on having seen the goats out in the garden and how big Rudy is getting. Don't I know it! And apparently I cannot expect him to be his full stature until he is about two years old. Mmmmm - wasn't it Hercules that did progressive weight training by lifting a bull calf upon his shoulders and continuing daily until it was full grown? I ask myself - should I be doing such progressive weight training at the age of sixty three with an ever growing buck goat? Whatever! I can still best him easily. I'm still a lot bigger and stronger than he is!

Late in the day this excellent article from Kurt Cobb.

18th January 2011

Once again the dogs had found their way into the sand heap. Scattered not so far this time, but nonetheless scattered. It had to be shovelled back. It was icy cold, unpleasant work. On my travels around the sand heap I happened to notice the rain water butt. In spite of all the milder days that we had had recently there was a plug of ice floating in the top some fifteen inches thick!

I still had a go at the acacia, and, with energy draining fast, got the firewood in. I know not why but I was not at my best.

With the outside temperature plummeting and freezing fog returning I lit the kitchen stove to cook something - I know not what - and lit the tile stove early.

I went to the pub of course. I was cycling my way there when I encountered a random bloke walking the opposite way to which I was cycling, but walking in the roadway, not on the footpath. He flagged me down. He shot off some Hungarian at me, and got back my standard response when dealing with strangers "I don't understand. I am an Englishman.". He persisted and out of the melée came the name Tibi. I explained that I knew three men named Tibi in the village and then came the magic phrase that made the penny drop "Traktor Tibi". Well, that could only be one - my next door neighbour. He had asked by surname but in all this time I never knew my neighbour's surname. I do now. Hobo later confirmed it. With penny dropped I gave him the house number wherein he would find Tibi. With information gained on both sides he thanked me and resumed his trudge down the street. I resumed my cycle ride to the pub, not without a quite warm feeling that I as a foreigner had managed with my ever limited grasp of Hungarian had managed to help a total stranger.

The warm feeling did not last long! The bloody pub was colder than my house!

19th January 2011

Absolutely no idea! Other that that I bumped into the mayor in the village shop who pressed a paper into my hand and explained that I should take some village photos in the fáluház on Saturday!

20th January 2011

Another unwell day! I still have no idea of the cause but the symptoms are that of a common cold. Day after day - week after week. Occasionally rising to days like today. Shivery. Man 'flu! I did what I had to do which was shop, feed the goats periodically, kick the dogs from time to time and keep the house warm.

You know, being a new goatherder I am a bit paranoid about the goat food. I have not the slightest idea whether I am doing right or doing wrong. They get - on a pick-and-mix basis - barley, hay, christmas tree branches, maize stalks, walnuts (shelled), little spuds, apple when it comes my way, ditto cabbage. Fingers crossed, they do not seem to be ailing anything. I would touch wood too if I were supersticious.

I had to go to Körmend for this and that. Hobo accompanied me. Oh dear!

I managed the pub in the evening. Hobo was in his usual place of honour. We had quite a short session and both left. I went home only to find an unwelcome discovery. Once again no Internet connection. Exactly the same symptoms as before. Ah, bollox - WFT is going on with T-Com?

21st January 2011

It was a cold morning but a pleasant and sunny one. Not freezing anyway. I decided that it was good enough for the goats to go out. I found another spot where the coarse grass had managed to grow a bit and where there was a scattering of fallen leaves too. I set the posts out and went for the goats. Rudy and I had our wrestling match. Eventually I won and all three came along peacefully after that.

Hobo had said that he would be around at ten but never showed up. I needed his help with T-Com again, of course. I went looking for him. Guess where I found him? That meant a beer whilst I explained the Internet problem to him. Once again we trudged over to the phone box and he did the telephone bit. That meant buying him a beer for his services. I had one too to be sociable, naturally. After that I did go back to the house.

After lunch, with the weather as it was and the goats out I took the opportunity to do a goat house makeover. Out came all the trampled maize stalks and in went another layer of the old hay. Speaking of makeovers I thought to take the camera with me to Körmend yesterday and got some pictures of the revamped square:
There used to be a road across this side of the square. There is none now and the buildings open straight onto the pedestrianised square. There is, as you see, a bit of off street parking. Szabadság tér, Körmend
Szabadság tér, Körmend Here is the new water feature that I may have mentioned. Sorry for not holding the camera straight - it's my astigmatism you know. If that were in England I would say that it was made of Shap granite. I'll leave those of you who don't know to look that one up.
Towards the centre of the square. Szabadság tér, Körmend
Szabadság tér, Körmend And the eastern side of the square. This was just plain old tarmacadamed car park before.
The same stone used outside the municipal building at the eastern edge of the square. It has inscriptions upon it, of which I should get photos. Szabadság tér, Körmend
Szabadság tér, Körmend I think I mentioned it before. Most of these shops along this side of the square used to be up steps - two three or more. Thanks to the subtle working of the square they are all now on the level. I wish the same thing could be said about all businesses both here and elsewhere.

Hobo did turn up in the afternoon and got me a load of firewood in. Mmmmm. He would insist on putting some of the acacia wood in with it, and also loads of pine in the tile stove stuff. Oh well! I finished up with about three days worth of firewood indoors.

I had chicken soup. Certainly not like any chicken soup you are likely to have tasted. Chicken plus five veg!

The news on telly in the pub once again showed scenes of flooding in various parts of the country. They have (at least) two different words for these floods. Belvíz and árvíz. Belvíz translates in the dictionary to inland water. Árvíz is an inundation. As far as I can interpret that amounts to belvíz being, for instance, melt water from a thaw that has nowhere to go and floods your house, and árvíz is a river overflowing its banks. And flooding your house. Not much difference for the poor sods whose houses are flooded in either case!

22nd January 2011

It was a day of interruptions to my routine. Ha! What routine? One planned and several unplanned. There was no bread in the shop. The shop lady told me that there would be more coming. I bought yeast and flour just in case. When I went back later there was still no bread. Fortunately I had enough of yesterdays for my usual breakfast. Green plum and cinnamon jam at the moment. Not enough cinnamon!

I had spoken to the village blacksmith about my goat posts - no that is not a typo, I do mean goat posts - yesterday evening in the pub. I put the tops in my coat of many pockets, strapped the posts to the bike and cycled on up to the blacksmith. It was hard going. There was a biting, blustery, north east wind coming near enough straight in my face. He was expecting me. I assembled one goat post and he took it off me and marched back down to his workshop with it, giving it a bash on some random agricultural machinery as he went. I assembled the other and followed. It was but a few moments work for him to weld the tops on and a few seconds work with angle grinder to tidy them up. I asked him how much. Beer! Works for me! I strapped them back on the bike and with wind behind me went back down the village. I was quite surprised at the adverse effects on the handling of the bike two goat posts sticking about a foot and a half out behind the rack had on the bike. And I was sober. Not for long though. The temptation was just too much as I cycled back down the village.

Hobo was in there - surprise! My one beer turned into two as Hobo bought me another. Somewhat later than anticipated, and with nothing done at home except feed the goats and breakfast, I did get back home. Goat posts:
This was my bit. Finding some suitable tube to make Tee pieces to go on the top of the goat posts. There are several advantages to having them thus:
  • The goats cannot get the chain off the post
  • I can put them deeper into the ground and the goats still cannot get the chain off the post
  • They will be easier to embed into the ground by hand
There is a minor disadvantage, which is that the rings on the chains will have to go on from the bottom, so the posts can only be temporarily pre-positioned.
Goat Posts
Goat Posts Anyway, here they are, welded up. Two more to do.

The next interruption came from next door at No. 72. The chap that had done the conifer tree by my fence was there to do the conifers by No. 74. Did I want the green stuff? Yes!

Blast! I still had to bake bread. A loaf was hurriedly thrown together, and baked on a basis of "I need to do this NOW!". Well, it was a bit compact but it was reckognisably bread.

I fed the goats early and went to my previously known interruption of the day. The village betterment society, for want of better words, was having another meeting and the mayor had asked me to take photos. So I did.

By the time that was over it was dark. I dropped the camera and tripod off at home and went to the pub. I did not stay long, but I ensured that I paid to some beers for the blacksmith before I left. Strangely enough, in the absence of Internet I managed to get quite a lot of work done on a web site when I got home. Ah, the joys of Linux and Apache.

23rd January 2011

Not a particularly interesting day, either weather wise or anything else-wise for that matter. The goats got fed, I had breakfast and I had a sweep round the house.

On my travels I noticed the still uncleaned second set of windows in the big room. Well, today was the day that they would be cleaned. I thought it would be nice for the faithful returning from the templom to see both sets clean and gleaming. It got off to a false start. I was going to use the outside tap to rinse them off. I assembled all my cleaning kit by there only to find the tap frozen solid. All got carted back inside and I had to resort to doing them in the bath and using the shower attachment to rinse them off. Anyway, it got done - all ten windows of them. I counted them off one by one, and allowed myself a pipe break after number five.

After that it was back to smashing up acacia wood again.

I had the last of the chicken stew/soup for lunch. I neglected to say that on the first day it was a bit bland and a bit watery. I had added some flour to give it a bit of body and a couple of forksful of pickled horseradish, which you will remember is a staple here, to give it a bit of zing.

The goats got fed again - twice. I got the firewood in and as the light faded I turned to the last job of the day. Reorganise my office. The reason for this was twofold: i)it needed cleaning and ii) the computer was still where I had assembled it in haste after I obtained it when the laptop died. I was confidently expecting a repeat of the last time my Internet died and for Mr. T-Com to appear in the morning. The phone and the ADSL modem were both buried behind the computer, which was plonked about a quarter of the way across the table. I had had to stick my head around both sides of the computer to see which green or red lights were showing on the modem.

It all got raved out. The computer case got put against the wall and telephone and modem ended up where I could see/get at them. In the process I had completely unplugged, untangled and removed from the desk both modem and telephone. I replugged everything in - ethernet, power and phone into the modem and the phone socket into the wall. As you do, I turned it all on to make sure that nothing went bang. It didn't. What was more, the modem booted up and gave me an Internet connection. It may be coincidence, but I don't think so, but John told me later that he had had an Internet outage that afternoon. Well, I suspect that when they fixed that they fixed mine as well.

I left the computer on and the modem connected, had a bite to eat and did an early pub and an early return home the check whether I still had an Internet connection. I did! As I write I still have. I had much to - fifty-odd e-mails to check, a website to upload and the blog to upload...

24th January 2011

We had had a sprinkling of snow overnight, or maybe early this morning. I say that because the people over the road had obviously cleared the snow off their bit of the footpath and it had snowed on it again. I know not what time they rise. Early. Much earlier than me, but then again they probably don't stay on the Internet until eleven or midnight.

It was a normal start, in the midst of which I had a text message from T-Com. A direct repeat of last time. After that I had a session of breaking up more acacia, by the end of which there were only another sixteen kugli left to break up, excluding one which I had no intention of tackling and another couple which were part done but had drained my energy getting that far.

I made sure that I was in and around all day for the T-Com man. Children - don't read this bit! It was like the plumber sexual position - you're in all day and nobody comes!

Early afternoon I was on the Internerd and a Facebook chat popped up. "Sör?" (Beer?). Reply "Mikor?" (When?). "Esté" (This evening). One of my ever growing number of Facebook friends here in the village. About a dozen now, I reckon. It has opened my eyes to a number of things. Just over the road, at the end of the lane by the shop is a sign that says on the top line "Doktor Bertalan". In my naivity when I first arrived I thought that that was where the doctor was based until I was disillusioned by learning that the doctor was in the fáluház on Tuesday and Friday mornings. It was not until recently when I started to accumulate Facebook friends here that I came to realise that "Doktor" is in fact a moderately common surname. It translates exactly as you would expect it to translate.

I made another discovery in the course of the day. Flour. Búzafinomliszt. I baked again. You would think that plain flour was just plain flour. Not a bit of it. I mentioned some while ago about the difference between Swan Brand and Baker's Choice bread flour in the UK. Thus it is here with just ordinary plain flour. In the absence of any Coop búzafinomliszt I had been forced to buy Pannon búzafinomliszt at a much greater price - almost double. In my baking it failed to rise to my expectations. Now, I can't be bothered to look it up, but I wonder if that is the origin of the phrase? I can only put it down to different varieties of wheat being used in the milling.

With bread risen as far as it was going to rise I baked it. Then fed the goats their evening meal, and then with bread barely cool hacked off a great lump and just ate it dry and still quite warm. Lovely! You know, when I were a lad we had bread delivered to the house from a local baker two or three times a week. On Saturdays it was invariably still hot. And fair game. Much to the displeasure of my mother I would immediately hack off about an inch and a half off one end of a loaf and just consume it. Hot, with nothing on the bread. I was going to say hot and with nothing on, but that could imply that I consumed it naked, which I never did.c In the evening the young man who had popped up on Facebook was in the pub, sitting at the table with Hobo. He was joined by other young men as the evening progressed. I know not why, but Hobo suffered a deal of winding up at their hands, or should I say tongues!

Somewhen during the day I saw this alarming report from the Beeb on food security. Club of Rome Limits To Growth?

25th January 2011

It was a nothing sort of a day. There was no weather. No wind at all, flat grey skies and no snow or rain. Thoroughly miserable and cold - bumping on zero all day. I shopped then did the goats. With the kitchen lovely and warm I lingered over breakfast. I was confined to yard again anyway just in case Mr. T-Com arrived today. He didn't. I bashed some acacia, including a really big bit which I will confess to putting off. It was about sixteen inches long and about the same in diameter which made that one piece of wood over a tenth of a cubic metre. The technique is straightforward. Aim for about three inches from the edge and whack the axe into the wood. If the axe just bounced off, turn the log and try somewhere else. Once I got a crack started opening up I just used the axe as a wedge and belted the blunt side of the axe with the hammer. At first the axe would go in maybe a millimetre with each strike, then I would hear the log start to split and the axe would go in further and further with each blow until the split off lump fell off the side. Rinse and repeat all the way round. Then of course I had a log that was only nine or ten inches in diameter and it got easier and easier. Half an hour with the big axe was enough, but it is good to get some serious exercise at this time of the year. Posta came and I got some cash. There was a very minor flurry of snow.

I retired to the kitched to start lunch - pizza. By the time the base was made and left to rise, and the topping made it was time to do the goats again.

Goats done I topped off the pizza, including some sliced up left over fresh tomato from yesterday, and cooked it. The local Trappist cheese makes a quite reasonable substitute for real Mozzarella. It has quite similar properties when cooked. I cooked the pizza. The oven did its normal stirling job of cooking pizza. A bit more labour intensive than a normal oven, but worth it. The pizza has to be turned at regular intervals due to the temperature gradient in the oven. Depending how hot the oven is, four or five minutes north, four or five minutes south and a couple of minutes each east and west. I ate half, the rest would do for tomorrow. I do make them large enough for two meals.

I did more web site work in the afternoon and a bit of blog updating and it was soon time to get in the firewood and do the goats. After that a bite to eat and pub. Going back to the link to the Beeb that I posted yesterday I revisited it today and I have to say that I found the chart of UK Food self sufficiency - err - worrying! The only two things in which the UK are (were) self sufficient are milk and cerials (just). The trend line for cerials is, well, distinctly downward.

26th January 2011

A normal start to the day. Won't bore you. In the morning I set about a job I had been promising myself to do for a while. Sharpening and setting the old bow saw blade. I used a small slip stone on the teeth - the one that is designed for sharpening auger bits. It was not nice work. I did about half of it and reviewed it. And declared it NFG. That blade had just hit too many nails and it was just beyond redemption. Oh well, it can go back to being what I was using it for before I tried to sharpen it. I had a thought whilst pondering what to write about it. If you put two nails in a board, somewhat less distant apart than the length of such a saw blade, put the blade equally overlapped at either end vertically against the nails and push it into a curve with a finger at the centre point, what would the curve be? A parabola? A hyperbola? A catenary? I pondered some more, and I reckoned a catenary because all you would be doing would be applying an artificial gravity (the pressure of a finger) at its centre of gravity. No doubt one of my scientific friends will correct or confirm.

I had fed the goats and was contemplating having lunch when Hobo appeared. He skav'd one of my beers as normal. That meant I had to have one to keep him company. We chatted for long over the beer in the warmth of the kitchen. He got to the point of his visit eventually. There was a load more goat food (conifer branches) in the garden at No. 72. He would go round there and drag it over to the fence, lob it over and I could stack it. I had a thought before we set out. I raided the jam cupboard and selected a suitable jar that Hobo could give her as a little thank you for the goat food.

He went round. I went into the garden which is more than a little unusual at that time of day in that weather. Our scene of operations was right by the goat house. I looked in. All three were lying down and contentedly chewing.

It took the best part of an hour for Hobo to drag all the trimmings over to the fence. There was little for me to do. Hobo was quite capable of hurtling them right onto the pile on my side of the fence. I just had the occasional errant branch to pick up and stack. Part way through the old lady trudged across to see me. With a litre of her own wine in return for the jam. What can I say?

Hurtling of greenery complete, Hobo returned to mine. We were both pretty chilled, me more than him, so I blew the kitchen stove back into life and we had a smoke. After that he did a quick top up of my firewood and then guess where we went? Guess who came in whilst we were there? John. We had a couple then I had to go home to do the goats. Back into the house and I lit the tile stove. You know, I am having to relearn how to use the thing since Hobo fitted the new asbestos string. Now you actually have to apply pressure to the firebox door to get it to the stage where you can close it with the catch. It was not until a stray old bit came adrift and hung down that I even realised it should be there. Another case of years of neglect, and only a few forints to fix. The other difference is that with both doors tight shut it does literally close the tile stove down. There must still be a tiny amount of air getting from somewhere, but the wood will just sit there and gently smoulder for hours, which is fine if the stove is already hot but no good at all if it is not hot. It will just stay whatever temperature it was for hours and hours.

Did the goats, ate the rest of the pizza, went on the Internet for a while and then returned to the pub. Guess who came in? John! I have to say that John is very much more self-disciplined than me. He only goes to the pub maybe two, maybe three times a week. Most unusual to see him twice in a day.

At closing time - just gone eight - out we went and Hobo just wanted to chat. He kept us there a while. My bike seat was covered with frozen hemispheres of ice, which would not brush off. Mmmm, cold wet bum when I got home then. To top it off the road was pretty well iced over. The footpath was no better. I decided on cycling home. John promised to collect me if he found me in the ditch part way. I managed to find a still wet line somewhat the wrong side of the road from the middle. It persisted as far as the templom and then it was just ice. Oh well, it was all downhill all the way home from there anyway. I got home safely, got the dogs in and fed them and that was that. But remind me to tell you about cycling up and down the hill on the way to the pub.

27th January 2011

Another dull grey depressing day and all I managed to get done in the morning was the goats and some firewood. I strongly suspect the same in many other households, except there is only me and one other family that have goats.

There was a market in the fáluház from one until three in the afternoon. I wandered on down there, where there was a minor flurry of activity from a gathering of some of the older ladies in the village. I came away not empty handed but disappointed. I had hoped to buy some new trainers. The ones they had were, err, unsuitable. Ditto a stainless steel vessel with lid - they only sold them as as set of four with lids. I did manage to buy another plastic bucket, which will be buggered within two years, a mop handle ditto, a five metre tape measure to replace the one that I brought with me from the UK which is also buggered, and something else which quite escapes me.

I went home and went on the Internet. Amongst other things that I did such as trawling for doom and gloom I determined to see if I could determine any possible lines of heredity for the black b***ard! To my astonishment and delight I eventually found this picture which is the absolute image of Blackie. There seems to be no equivalent of The Kennel Club of Great Britain here in Hungary. I have no paperwork to prove the parentage of Pickly Dog. I know that she is a German Shepherd dog because I know her sire and her dam. I have no such way of knowing about Blackie, other than looking at pictures and reading the breed characteristics on line. Everything fits. His size is right. Colouration can be anything between pure black and pure white, but anything in between being tan coloured. The real giveways were the combination of the feathered ears and feathered, curly tail (and believe me I have done many such searches on Google) and the combination of colours. I will obviously never be able to prove conclusively - DNA tests? - that he is what I think he is. I don't much care. He is now my Tibetan Black B***ard! I go back to considering the mentality of a human who could just tip such a lovely, loving dog out of a car and just drive off.

I cycled up to the pub in the evening. It was shut, locked and all in darkness. I returned home, kicked and beat the dogs and the goats and went to bed.

28th January 2011

Normal start - shop, goats, breakfast. I had a sweep through the house and a general (minor) tidy up of the kitchen. Putting way in the pantry empty polycarbonate bottles and such. I determined to see to what extent I was able by my own muscle power to deal with the pile of acacia still on the yard using only the bowsaw. I selected a log of about five inches diameter. I timed it. Somewhat over four minutes to saw off a single kugli. The bow saw was seriously binding when I was about two thirds of the way through. Not good enough. I retired to the warmth of the kitchen with the bow saw and the side cutters. Using the side cutters I increased the set on the bow saw blade by a fair margin. It didn't take long and was fairly unscientific. I returned to take another slice off my chosen log. Two minutes, and no binding. That was more like it.

Hobo caught me in the act. I got a bollocking. I cannot, and have ceased trying - except occasionally under the affluence of incohol in the pub, get through to Hobo what I am trying to do here. His answer is always to use a chain saw. Which is fine as long as there is petrol to run a petrol chain saw or electricity to run an electric one.

Anyway, his visit was purely social. We went back to the warmth of the kitchen and he produced a two litre bottle of locally produced wine. I think I got the gist of where it had come from. We sat for an hour or so, chatting and alternately consuming either straight wine or fröccs. We even exchanged Hungarian and English palidromes! Another thing that I asked was that I had seen the old lady at No. 72 many times winding water from her well. For what did she use it? I asked Hobo. I was more than a little surprised by his reply. For drinking! No chlorine, no additives. He told me that there are many such of the old people in the village that prefer their well water to mains water. Well (escuse pun) maybe I should start to make my coffee with it.

Eventually Hobo went off in search of John. He returned only moments later to say that he had seen John go by on the bus to Körmend. He set about firewood and I went to feed the goats. It happened that Rudy had trapped himself on the girls behind the door in the corridor. I left them there and did a swift, overdue clearout of maize stalk debris. That achieved I distributed their rations, unpenned them and left them to it.

Back in the kitchen Hobo plied me with more of the wine. It was not turning into a productive day. It got worse. We went to the pub. I managed enough self discipline to have but the one and then go home.

I did the goats, went back to the house and ate. And then set about trying to get a fire going in the tile stove. Mmmm. Don't know where Hobo found some of it but it would not burn!! I got it going eventually to my satisfaction by picking and chosing this and that piece of wood.

I went back to the pub for a couple. I know not why but Hobo was the butt of a lot of the relentless discussion that goes on in the pub. If he were Welsh, or a New Zealander, I could have understood it, but the general drift was that I should beware because Hobo was a goat sh**ger!

29th January 2011

Getting behind again, having made so much effort to get caught up, so I'll keep it short.

Still cold. Normal start to the day. Some domestics, then I attacked the acacia wood again. Hobo continues to play merry hell with me about the physical stuff I do. I continue to do it anyway. There is no exercise to be had on the garden. I may get a little exercise wrestling with Billy Goat Gruff - I never know from day to day, and it is not prolonged steady exercise anyway. Some of the acacia wood that I would have attacked was actually frozen to the yard.

Speaking of which, when I gave them their lunch I managed to get them penned in to the bit at the end of the corridor. Some more physical came my way. The barrow was loaded with maize stalks already removed from the goat house. I had to wheel that up the garden and dispose of them, return with the barrow to the yard, pen the dogs up, go into the loft and fork down another load of old hay, wheel that round to the goat house, remove the current batch of finished maize stalks from the goat house, spread the old hay around as bedding and put some more new food in for them. Simple. Exhausting!

I cooked a meat and tatie pie. I have to so that it was a bit bland. Whatever! It was good hot food.

Pub in the evening. Hobo was there and John turned up. The weather forecast was for minus fifteen overnight!

30th January 2011

Sunday, and time to have a bit of a go around the house. I fight a losing battle. It all got swept through again. As normal there were muliple handsful of stuff that could go in the kitchen stove and be burnt. Dog hair and bits of bark mainly. What remained was basically soil. Dragged in on multiple feet. Mine and the dogs. I don't think that I have spoken of the particularly earthy habits of the black dog. Well, he has! One of his favourites is when the weather is a bit warmer and the ground and some spots inside the goat house are a bit squelchy. I wear the green wellies then. He likes nothing better than to lick the goat sh*t off the bottom of the wellies. He does worse than that but I won't go into it.

Speaking of which, why is it that dog saliva is such a good bleaching and sterilising agent? Blackie eats out of a washing up type bowl that I inherited with the house. I would not use it for anything even vaguely sanitary. It had used to be a white plastic bowl. It was grey, ingrained with dirt and really only fit for the bin. When Blackie arrived I needed something in which to feed him. That bowl is now sparkling clean and brilliant white up to the level that he licks the final remnants of his food. The top couple of inches remain grey and ingrained with dirt.

I spent some while after lunch unbusying the kitchen. The table had become a tool tidy and the worktop had more than enough clean jars on it that just needed to be returned to storage. All had to go where it belonged. It took a while. I know it will return.

I was going to speak about cycling up and down the hill on the way to the pub, so I will. I have only been here nearly three years, and it was only after my fall in the snow last winter that I really noticed it. From my house to the pub, which is a moderately frequent trip but not as frequent as many in the village, I noticed that whatever the conditions - head wind, tail wind - I could always pull one higher gear on my way to the pub once I passed the templom. It took Google Earth to sort that one out. Between my house and the templom the road rises some six feet. After that it descends a couple of feet and then levels off as I approach the pub. I should have known, of course, by the rate at which either sudden thaw water or torrential rain water runs away to the west.

31st January 2011

Normal start, normal weather - cold and grey. At the moment the temperature is barely varying day and night. About zero by day and maybe minus four or five at night.

I did a little experiment this morning. I had a pair of work jeans and a work pullover to wash out. I decided to see if what I saw on the Elizabethan farm series DVD worked. Instead of using washing powder I washed them in well diluted lye. As I write, it seems to have worked. Neither jeans nor jumper have disintegrated and both have come clean. I foresee a twofold benefit here. Of lye I am not short, it being the product of pouring water through hardwood ash and some sort of filtration system. The benefits are i) it is a free byproduct from the burning of wood on the tile stove, and ii) I will no longer need to use very expensive, no doubt petro-chemical based commercial clothes washing products. I still intend to have another go at the soap making also. From one of my contacts I garnered the information that I probably did not have it warm enough and I almost certainly did not stir it long enough.

I bow sawed a bit bigger bit of acacia. Fifteen minutes to lop one lump off the end! I'll come back to that. I did stick at it until it was three lumps, not one. Which then got stacked.

Lunch was sausage and chips Hungarian style. I don't know if I mentioned that I had a food parcel from the pub. That's where the sausage came from. I had thought that it was two sausages but when I unwrapped it it turned out to be one sausage about a metre long. It was quite different from the hurka that Lajos provides. But again it was not remotely like an English butcher's sausage. It proved to be quite delicious. Rice and onion was identifyable within as was actual meat.

After lunch I lit the stove in the outhouse. It went out. I lit it again and it went out again. I gave up after the third time. I managed one small piece of woodworking and was driven back to the house by the cold. The kitchen was not much better, me having allowed the stove fire to expire when I started in the outhouse.

I went to the pub for a warm and a beer. Hobo was there. One became two when he bought one. At least he came back to mine and did the firewood whilst I did the goats in the growing gloom of evening. We went back to the pub. Oh dear!

When I returned home the big room was cold, me not having lit the stove. That was soon remedied, but it does take a while for the heat to kick in. Two tonnes does take a bit of heating! Speaking of which, on the subject of firewood, I am certain that I have never mentioned that the areas of forest that get harvested are the only places that I have seen electric fences. To keep the deer out whilst it re-establishes.


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