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February 2011

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1st February 2011

Another month ticks by. Into February and still grey and cold. The temperature varies between about zero in the heat of the day (ha!) and minus something at night. My new toy from the UK, courtesy of a friend, had indicated that the coldest that it had got so far in the goat house was minus four. I was quite well pleased with that. I never mentioned that I am using the deep litter system in the goat house. The maize stalks get cleared out but nothing else. More bedding goes on top of what is there, and the stuff underneath, steeped in what goats do, starts to compost and gets warm.

After some housework I did a bit more of sawing, chopping and stacking the acacia wood off the yard. Exercise. I had got to the stage of needing to saw a somewhat larger log. Seven, maybe eight inches in diameter. Mmmm - fifteen minutes to lop off a single kugli.

I did the goats, had lunch and finished off the chopping of the acacia I had sawn. I needed a beer and some company after that. Hobo was there! I related my tale of sawing and chopping acacia. He was not best pleased and remonstrated with me. Quite unexpectedly another chap that was in the pub, and listening in to our conversation, which is always fair game in Hungary, volunteered to chain saw the rest up. Now! For nothing! Well, a couple of beers. Hobo agreed on my behalf and ten minutes later, with dogs secured in the workshop he set about it. He had a fairly meaty chainsaw. Forty minutes saw the lot cut into kugli's. I had started to stack them in the wood house. The yard was strewn with kugli's and chainsaw chippings. At one stage I noticed him saw a piece similar in size to the one I had sawn with the bowsaw earlier. I timed it. Three seconds a cut. I did a bit of maths later. It took me fifteen minutes to do by hand what he did in three seconds. 15 x 60 = 900 ÷ 3 = 300. In other words, I would have needed three hundred slaves with saws to achieve what he did in forty minutes with a chainsaw. I'll take that a step further. I have no idea what the fuel consumption of his chain saw was. He certainly did not fill it up whilst he did my thirty-odd logs. Take a pessimistic guess of two litres an hour. 2l = 2000ml ÷ 60 ÷ 20 = 1.667ml. So, the energy density of petroleum equates to one and two thirds millilitres of petrol providing the same amount of energy as my good right arm did in a quarter of an hour. Makes you think. The chap would not even accept a bit of benzine penz.

We retired to the pub - at least Hobo and I did - and I made sure to pay for some beers for the guy. I had one and went home to do the goats, eat and light the stove.

I went back to the pub later, of course. John came in. John has certain plans (not for my blog) which both I and Hobo are privy to. Hobo got on one about the cost. Both John and I tried to explain to Hobo that whatever it is that John is doing he was doing it the cheapest way available. Hobo simply would not have it. Like a dog with a bone. He scribbled monetary calculations and argued and argued. In a friendly way, of course.

I forgot to mention that whilst I was bow sawing the acacia the black dog bit me. On the thigh. Anything that makes that sort of a noise sets him off. Bow saw, file, hand saw, angle grinder... I suppose that they all make varying degrees of high freqency noise, which I cannot hear anyway. It was only a little nip, but he paid the consequences!

2nd February 2011

After a normal start I cleaned up the yard, if you know what I mean. No, let me call a spade a spade and describe life as it is, which I enjoy doing. I cleared up the dog turds. They do give me a problem in the winter but there is also a side benefit. The problem is that if there is snow on the ground they melt their way into it. If only a little more snow falls they disappear from view. Well, we had a sucession of fine days and there had been a very slow thaw. Most of the snow on the yard had either thawed very slowly or sublimated. The temperature was still about minus three, and that is where the benefit kicks in. Apart from maybe one or two fresh dollops from today the rest were all frozen solid. I took the ash bucket with me, which had five or six inches of kitchen stove ash in it. It was much easier to pick up frozen turds with my sooper-dooper-pooper-scooper than it ever is to pick up unfrozen ones. They went into the ash. What did I do with them? The yard in places is like the mountains of the moon. Dog-dug holes here, there and everwhere and their favourite runs devoid of the slightest trace of green. The contents of the ash bucket go into one of the dog-dug holes, the ash on top. Very strange! They seem uninclined to dig in that spot again. I can't think why!

I went back to getting the acacia kugli off the yard and into the wood house. Pictures will follow - I have a number to get off the camera and either publish or archive. All the acacia logs had been sawn into four pieces. There were still thirty-odd logs on the yard yesterday. Somewhere top side of a hundred and thirty kugli. Hobo and I had done some yesterday. The remaining ones were anywhere between five and eighteen inches in diameter. I managed to hurl the smaller ones - up to about eight or nine inches in diameter - into the open doorway of the wood house, then go inside and stack them. There was no way that I was man enough to hurl an eighteen inch diameter by a foot long piece of acacia anywhere other than onto my toes. They had to be carried in and stacked one by one. There are no doubt those in the village who are quite capable of hurling such a kugli. I do not count myself amongst them.

I retired, tired to the house and had lunch after feeding the goats. There was yet another market in the fáluház to which I went after that. I managed to get a pair of trainers - cheap and nasty, no idea how long they will last - a tin of proper black shoe polish (much battered) and a nail brush. Oh, and the thing that I had forgotten that I bought at the last market was a stainless steel ladle. I had been using the one that was here in the kitchen when I bought the place. Chrome on brass. The chrome had started peeling off the brass and it had become quite insanitory. It has found a new use. It now lives on top of the goat shed and instead of hooking out their barley/whatever mix from the bucket by hand I now use that ladle. It turns out to be much easier than doing it by hand. I also neglected to mention that the first thing I did with the tape measure that I bought at the last market was to take it apart and souse the return spring with WD40. The one that I brought with me from the UK basically died of rust!

I went home and finished off getting the kugli off the yard. That left me with a problem. Chainsaw chippings. They had to be removed from the yard today, otherwise Pickle on the chain would drag them all over a two hundred square metre area. Battling against time, and exhaustion, I did it. Two big plastic bags. The light was starting to fade and all three goats were going "meah, meah" by the time I fed them.

Back in the house I lingered over a bite to eat and then I went to the pub, unwashed, unchanged, uncaring and completely knackered. I was determined to be home by eight or shortly afterwards. Yeah, right! Two unexpected beers came my way and it was quarter past nine before I got home. I still had to light the stove and feed the dogs.

3rd February 2011

The shop had no bread. The shop lady said it would be there at ten o'clock. Whatever! I had enough bread for breakfast and I had flour, so I just bought yeast instead. I had fed the goats and was doing breakfast when the dogs did their ballistic bit. Toni was there at the gate with a sack of barley for me, for the goats. Miki braved the dogs and parked it in the hallway. I paid Toni and off they went. It was a good job it had arrived. I was down to just a few handfuls of goat food left from the first bag.

I want to talk about the plumbing. It is fragile. It is primitive. What had brought it to mind was that the WC cistern was continually leaking water into the bowl. I had put it off for a couple of days, until I got round to it, by turning it off at its own stop tap, and turning it on as necessary. Starting at the bottom and working my way up, all the pipework is iron. It is also all buried in the walls, from where it comes into the house to every single tap. I have not the slightest idea where the pipes run, but a pipe breakage within the house would involve major chopping out of either brick or earth walls to get at the offending pipe. Why? I ask myself. Onwards and upwards, the only tap inside the house that works properly is the mixer spray/bath tap over the bath. The two taps to the handwash basin in the bathroom are both turned off. The hot one pissed out water from one of the joins below when I first moved in and has been turned off ever since. The cold one just leaks into the handwash basin. The kitchen tap is no better. The turning on and off handles are just plastic. Push on, pull off. The hot tap some while ago started dripping. I ended up swapping the top for the one on the handwash basin in the bathroom. It was not much better, and now is much worse. When you try and turn it off it simply revolves going "bbbbrrrr" around the little splines between tap and plastic handle. Worse than that, once the hot tap cools down it drips more until there is a steady small stream flowing through it. I could go on and on. It gives me waking nightmares. I finally solved WC problem (for the moment) by disconnecting and removing the ballcock from the cistern, screwing the adjustment screw down a couple of turns and replacing and reconnecting it. The problem will return.

I went back to chopping acacia. It might sound strange but it is a priority job. In spite of all the "chuck it on the fire, it will burn" that I get, I do prefer dry hardwood on the stove, and I know that this acacia tree was just sawn down. I need to chop it into such sized lumps - all of it - that it will be dry and of a good calorific content for next winter.

I had done my stint and returned to the house. The dogs did their ballistic thing again. Tibi was at the gate with a big bucketful of miscellaneous goat food. I accepted it with thanks.

The rest of the day was unworthy of comment. I spent the afternoon on a website I am building for someone in the UK, did the firewood, fed the goats, fed me and went to the pub where nothing of note happened.

4th February 2011

I was up early enough to light the stove and put the coffee on before I went to the shop. When I did go it was a glorious morning. Everywhere was frosty, but as I walked across the road to the shop I came out of the shadow of the house as I got over the road and I could already feel the warmth of the sun on my back. Most pleasant.

Fed the goats on my return and had breakfast. Business as usual. Pear jam at the moment - not one of my better efforts. I should have jarred it up about five minutes before I did. More business as usual followed - washing up and washing clothes. Still more after that - half an hour of splitting kugli.

I got quite warm doing that, and as I returned to the house I could feel heat reflecting off the house wall. I have a thermometer on the outside kitched window sill at the moment and it read twenty five degrees Celsius! It all helps. That heat goes into the huge heat sink of the earth walls and it all helps to keep the place warm inside. I fed the goats. I have to confess that some of the little spuds that came round in his bucket are ending up on the kitchen window sill inside. Future seed potatoes.

After lunch I cleaned the yard. Only this time it was maize stalks. One particular lot that ended up here were very wet and ended up parked in the yard by the side of the garage. The dogs thought they were for them to play with. In the fullness of time Pickle's running chain drew them into a heap either side of the wire, along with bricks, half bricks, firewood... It all got sorted out. I broke the rake handle in the process and ended up finishing it off with the leaf rake.

With firewood in, I was sitting in the kitched doing something - I know not what. The dogs were in the house and suddenly did their ballistic bit again. I poked my nose out of the door to see a TNT van pulled up. The driver was already on his way back to the driver's door when I hailed him. It could only be one thing - a parcel I was expecting from the UK. He made quite a passable attempt at pronouncing my name. At least he got the Steve right! I signed and did a bit of small talk about how quickly the parcel had gotten to me overland. He left and the parcel went inside, to the curiosity of the dogs. I opened it carefully and it was what I was expecting, including a delivery of "Seriously Strong" cheddar. That went straight into my fridge. Ah, I hear you say that I don't have a fridge. I do at the moment - the workshop outhouse.

I went to the shop for a couple of bits. On my way back I stopped at the driveway where I always cross the road and did my inverse Green Cross Code. I espied a wallet lying in the middle of the road. I waited until the rush-hour car had gone by and retrieved it from where it lay. I was not about to investigate it so I about turned and took it straight back to the shop. The shop lady did investigate it and it proved to belong to my neighbour over the road whose driveway it is from which I cross the road. I glanced back to see that she was speaking to someone at the house and she was indicating in my direction as much as to say that it was Steve the Englishman that found it. I continued on my way home satisfied that I had done my civic duty as Halogyi ember. If the position was reversed I would hope that someone would do the same for me.

I had a gert McLelland Cheddar cheese sandwich for tea. Mmmmm!

Pub in the evening. There was an article on the news about the Model-T Ford, and how it was somebody's one hundred and thirtieth birthday anniversary. Hobo was on about him being Magyar ember. I checked later, and indeed it turned out that the Model-T was jointly designed by one American and two Hungarians. Well, I didn't know that.

Once home I had had an e-mail from one of my random correspondents asking about a couple of things that I had mentioned on the blog. He said about poles, I misunderstood what he meant by that and a subsequent follow up indicated that what he had meant was the stuff that had fallen down in the forest. Well, that was the sort of stuff that Tibi had driven me and Hobo to look at. Basically, nobody will touch it. Hobo could get nobody to help shift, load or drive it. I cannot say that I am surprised in this area where timber is undoubtedly farmed. It is felled, sawn to length and stacked in a convenient place ready to be loaded onto a trailer. I don't think that I have ever mentioned that, apart from John's garden, the only place I have ever seen electric fences here in Hungary is the areas of forest that have been cleared. Why? I hear you ask. To keep the deers out whilst regrowth gets established.

The other point was about the effects of ammonia in the goat house whilst using the deep litter system. There isn't any smell of ammonia at this time of year. In the summer, yes. Especially if I am remiss and don't get their bedding changed soon enough. At this time of year, no. And my sense of smell is not so bad as to miss the unmistakable pungency of ammonia.

Another short entry. Must try and find room and time for some pictures - they are mounting up.

5th February 2011

It was a normal start and another lovely day. Frosty to start but warming up again as the sun rose.

I have no idea why but I had no energy. I had a go at acacia and managed one kugli. I abandoned that and set about another needed job. Pruning one of the apples trees in the garden. It is obvious that at some time it had been properly pruned, but now it had lost that desired cup shape and the centre of it was filled with branches that tower skywards. They had to come out. Not necessarily all this year, but over the course of two or three years. I didn't get on very well with that, either. I managed three fair sized branches and was exhausted again.

I had lunch then went to the pub for a beer, as you do on a Saturday. Or any other day that takes the fancy. I was just leaving when Hobo came round the corner with the grandchildren of the establishment. I got dragged back for another. Hobo had made the grandchildren a pipe from an acorn and a piece of reed, and a bow of the arrow shooting variety.

Back home I did a little work on a current woodworking project, then mended the rake. Hobo turned up and did the firewood, so I only had the goats to do.

Ate, did a bit of blog updating and went back to the pub. The news was full of the latest disasters afflicting Hungary, as if the last year was not bad enough. Freak weather conditions had caused the ice on lake Balaton to form rhomboidal blocks of ice. These had piled up and piled up on the lake shore and were causing enormous damage to pontoons, jetties and even some lakeside properties. Four areas of Hungary have been affected by earthquakes. Well away from here fortunately. They seemed to be in an area just to the west of Budapest and stretching north-south roughly. In other areas there had been serious landslides affecting properties. Sorry, maybe a touch of schadenfreude on my part but I had to have a wry grin at one chap who still had a For Sale sign on his house when half of it was falling down the hillside. As they say, God loves an optimist. One other piece of news was the announcement by the Prime Minister that Hungary will not be joining the Eurozone until 2020 at the earliest. I suspect that from my point of view that is good.

Some overdue pictures:
Here are the guys busy at work chainsawing the acacia logs. As I write, I daily hear the sounds of chainsaws running all over the village, and the thump thump of the results being split. Chainsawing Acacia Logs
Yard Almost Cleared All the kugli, bar the one log left for a reason, are off the yard and stacked in the woodshed. The chainsaw chippings remained to be cleared up. I did that this day after I took the photo.
Here is the rather impressive stack of kugli in the wood house. They remain to be chopped and stacked. Kugli in the Wood House
Stack of Acacia Wood The chopped stuff has grown just a bit since the last photo.
A shot of Blackie. I don't have nearly enough shots of him on the blog. Bearing in mind that he is about the same height as Pickle and a couple of inches shorter in the body, you can see how massively he is built. Wonderful broad head with intelligent and curious brown eyes. Huge haunches. I thought that Pickle had big feet but his are something else. And that curious mop of a tail. For the photographically inclined, that is not snow on the yard. That is overexposure. I chose to use spot metering on his coat so that I would get the shine and lustre that he has. And his coat really is that shiny and lustrous. Another thing that I will surely forget to tell you if I don't say now. When he gets wet he does not smell "doggy" - unlike Pickle! Yet another pointer to him being what I think he is. Characteristic of the breed. Blackie

6th February 2011

Sunday. Housework. After the usual start, of course. I did a serious sweep through and mop through of the loo, bathroom, kitchen and hallway. The dogs were relegated to the yard. I constantly had to fend off Blackie. If he is out and you want him in he won't come in. If he is in and you want him out he won't go out. But if he is out and you don't want him in he is in there like a rat up a rhododenron. Save you looking it up - Barry Humphries, the Aussie female impersonator. So it happened today. As usual I backed myself out the house, mopping as I went. I kept him at bay right up until I was actually out of the house doing the last little bit of the hallway. AAArrrggghhh! In he went. Great muddy pawprints all over my nice clean floors. I can never be too cross with him. After all, his slyness at getting into buildings was how I came to adopt him.

I enticed him back out with a walnut. I was not about to add insult to injury by walking over my nice clean floor myself. Both dogs suitably locked out of the house whilst the floors dried, I went and did some bashing of kugli. The floors did not dry. They were still damp when it was time to feed the goats and have lunch. I wonder why I bother. Maybe old Janos has the right idea - earth floors in the house.

I had lunch and went to the pub for one. I thought I had earned it. I sat at the old boys' table. Me, Hobo, magyartarka and old Janos, who is still younger than me. At our usual table was a small foregathering of skittlers. Quite loud. They all left bar one. He came and joined us. I don't know why, but it became quite loud at our table too. I had intended having a quiet beer. The following two loud ones just appeared, quite outwith my control. Eventually the loud one left and so did I. I have to say that as my understanding of Hungarian, limited as it is, improves I appreciate more and more the by-play that goes on in such discussions in the pub. There is nothing your average Hungarian likes better than a good discussion. I read that somewhere, and for discussion substitute light hearted argument.

I went home and attempted to do some woodwork not of the stove kind. In ten minutes I managed to relegate a perfectly good bit of walnut to firewood. I gave it up, fed the goats and relit the kitchen stove and cooked. I can't remember what but it was good. It wasn't haddock, chips and a pea fritter though.

You know, I might just go off on one now. When I was a child out Christmas dinner came through the post. A chicken. Plucked, dressed and oven ready. In a cardboard box. I have no idea how old Syd organised it, but invariably mother would be chafing about no Christmas dinner and invariably it would arrive on Christmas Eve. That was in the days when chicken was a luxury. I can only guess that chickens were not for eating, they were for laying eggs. As a late teenager I did what many did. Sign up to the GPO for extra Christmas deliveries. I actually saw in the sorting office a brace of pheasant just with their legs tied together and a stamped label attached. They got delivered.

I went to the pub. There was something about Ronald Reagan on the news. I found out later. His hundredth birthday. Well, I guess that if he were alive today he would turn in his grave.

7th February 2011

It was another glorious morning. Frosty but clear and bright. We are stuck under a high pressure area that seems to be going nowhere fast. Cold nights, but increasingly warmer days. I doubt that winter has done with us yet, though.

I had only just returned from the shop and lit the stove when Hobo arrived. The pub was shut and he didn't get his breakfast. I took the opportunity of doing a switch on plans that I had for the day - goat bedding. Hobo got railroaded into helping me do that. He loaded the barrow with the old straw from the loft and I cunningly trapped the goats behind the sty door in the corridor with their morning allowance of grain and whatever the particular goodies of the day were. Together we cleared out all the old maize stalks and then Hobo spread the new old straw around whilst I organised the rest of their morning feed. With two of us doing it it did not take long. I released the goats and we went back to the house. I resumed my morning ritual - coffee, toast... I managed to provide Hobo with his missed breakfast - a coffee glass of strong, sweet, black coffee and a shot of pálinka (which he had provided anyway).

He bashed kugli for a couple of hours whilst I finally managed to make some small inroads into a current woodworking project. All through January the winter weather managed to drag me back out of the outhouse once again. I must make a mental note to have wood shavings, small kindling and firewood in there all the time and to lay a fire in the evening so that all I have to do is put a match to it at about the same time that I light the kitchen stove. I say about, because to light it at the same time I would have to be in two places at once, for which I would either have to have been born one of twins or I would have to be some sort of alien capable of being two places at once.

Hobo left and I fed the goats again and had lunch. I went back to the woodworking for a while. I put in four hours work and managed two little pieces of wood but they both turned out well. Well, well enough.

Pub in the evening and some Internet stuff when I got home. It was rudely interrupted by T-Com throwing a wobbly. I neglected to say, but the same thing happened last night. It would either fail to find a site (obvious DNS problem) or if it found the site it would hang saying "waiting for". Sometimes it just hung and sometimes it simply timed out. I gave up and had an early night, of which I must have more.

8th February 2011

Same weather - lovely. Minus four outside. By the way, since I had the maximum and minimum thermometer that is also the lowest temperature I have recorded inside the goat house.

Clothes washing. Not good, not enjoyable, physical but necessary.

With not much of the morning left I bashed some more kugli. As usual, when I left the wood house I cast an eye out for the dogs. Blackie is not a problem. He is always in and out of the wood house to see what I am doing. Sometimes he has a barking session at the axe and sometimes he just cocks his leg on whatever I had just chopped. Lovely. Pleased I wear gloves. Pickle was on the running line. Normally I scan the running line for the chain and then scan the chain to make sure that Pickle is still on the end of it. Today I scanned for the running line. There was no running line. I found it, not running up and down the yard but all coiled up by the goat house, fortunately with Pickle still attached. It was inevitable. The other end of the wire by the big pear tree had similarly parted company some time previously. This time it was the end by the well.

It was goat feeding time and it was me feeding time but I just had to get on and do something about it. Pickle was secured to the well. Socket set, insulation tape, WD40, angle grinder, suitable piece of oak, axe, brace and bit all came out to play. "Insulation tape?" I hear you ask. Yep! the running wire is what I would call seven by seven. Six strands of seven wires on the outside and one strand of seven wires in the centre. If you don't tape it up by the cut using the angle grinder it goes twang and all the wires unravel. Then you cannot get them through the hole that you have lovingly made in your piece of oak using the brace and bit, having previously used the axe to chop the end of the oak into a wedge shape to drive into the ground. You get the picture?

I was just at the stage of having threaded the newly cut, insulation tape wrapped, WD40 soused wire through my oak stake when Hobo happened to pass by. He saw me at it and came to help. Good chap. In a couple of minutes we had Pickle back on the running wire. I had fed the goats in the midst of this and once the repairs to the wire were done Hobo went on his way wherever he was going and I had a somewhat belated lunch.

I got the firewood in early and then did some blog updating. I was alerted to something going on in the yard by Pickle barking. It was not one of her usual barks - ah, that will be miklos passing by then, ah, that will be Posta, ah, that will be next door's pussy cat - no it was more of a "Yip, yip" sort of bark. I poked my head out of the door to behold a chilling and unexpected sight. All three goats were in the yard - with the dogs. Panic set in. WTF was I going to do about this? Instant reaction was grab the Hungarian mobile and ring Hobo. I rang several times - no answer. All the time I was watching what was happening with goats and dogs. It took a while for realisation to dawn. Rudy was boss of the situation. If either of the dogs tried to get near his girls he would rear up on his hind legs and then charge with head down.

I watched as I tried to contact Hobo. My panic turned into amusement as Rudy thwarted every effort by Pickle to get at the girls. It was only Pickle. Blackie was at one stage nose to nose with Rudy and nothing happened other than they sniffed at one another. It was just too good to miss. I went and got the camera:
Goats and Dogs Rudy guarding his girls from Pickle. Notice how much bigger he is now than the dogs! He is not afraid of the dogs, but Pickle at least is afraid of him. Blackie is just curious.

It still left me with the problem of what to do about it. In my quest to figure out how the hell the goats had ended up in the yard I had noticed that the door from the goat house to the yard was somewhat awry. I investigated, knowing that Rudy would look after the girls. The door was off its bottom hinge. The result of Pickle trying to get at the goats from one side and Rudy trying to get at Pickle from the other. The door will not normally open into the yard. There is a piece of angle iron embedded into the concrete of the corridor to prevent it doing so. The door was the wrong side of the angle iron. I managed to heave it the right side of the angle iron and get the door open enough to get the goats back in. To my astonishment they queued up behind me and just trotted in when the door was open enough.

Fortunately I had backup. I did the inverse of what I do when I trap them in the corridor. I bolted the sty door to the post in the corridor once they were in the little yard. Unfortunately the black dog had done his normal trick of going through an open door that I did not want him to go through. He was in the goat house with the goats! Even more unfortunate was the fact that the goats stayed in the corridor with Rudy in front on guard. There was no way that I could get Blackie to come back out the way that he and the goats had gone in.

I pondered for a moment. I was not worried in the slightest about Blackie attacking the goats. Getting him out was the problem. Easy. Back to the house for the dog lead and into the goat house from the garden side. Blackie on the lead, goats still in the goats house, Blackie back into the yard and I was finally able to resume routine. Feed the goats!

I ate and then went to the pub. I was still chuckling about the antics. Ah, Rudy is the boss. Well, not of me he isn't!

Back home and the Internet problem happened again. Tonight it fixed itself after five minutes or so. Tiresome, nonetheless. What a day!

9th February 2011

No idea why, but I was up early - about sunrise. I almost beat the old lady next door to the shop. I think she was pleased to see me about at that time of day because she exchanged a very friendly "Jó reggelt" and some pleasantries.

Lovely morning, but a sharp frost again. I lit the stove, put the coffee on and made the most of the frosty conditions to have a quick clear up in the yard. I had time for a leisurely breakfast and then the goats got fed still quite a bit earlier than usual.

I was doing the washing up when the dogs went ballistic in the yard. The blacksmith was there, come to fix the goat house door into the yard. I secured dogs in house. He came in and went and had a look at the goat house door. I went over to help. After sorting out his tools and a selection of nuts and bolts he plugged his drill into the socket that hangs loose by the goat house door. Of course, it didn't work. There is no power anywhere outside the house. I know. I have checked everywhere with my little multimeter. The whole lot needs ripping out and in the fullness of time a new feed to my workshop and a new feed to the goat house would be handy.

I went to the house and reeled out the extension lead. I had doubts as to whether it would reach. It did - just. I held the door and he drilled from the other side. I passed the nuts through to him and poked/hammered the bolts through from my side. He handed me a nail. It was the Hungarian equivalent of a cut nail. That single nail had been the only thing holding the bottom hinge to the door. No wonder that the result of Pickly dog and Rudy trying to get at one another had resulted in yesterdays escapade. Which I guess is the actual and proper word for it.

Hobo turned up. We already had the bottom hinge done. I think he was supposed to have helped throughout. I had had enough understanding of the blacksmith to know when he wanted a nut, spanner, electricity, etc. that we had managed well enough. The blacksmith similarly fixed the top hinge. It was similarly secured by a single nail. Ah! Once again I bang my head against Magyar teknologya. The door was fixed and goat and dog proof (for now). Blacksmith packed up his stuff. I asked how much. He dismissed it with a wave of his hand. Beer. In the pub. Works for me!

Hobo stayed and set about kugli. I managed the rest of the morning on the small current woodworking project.

Later in the day I went to the shop. I was about to get served when the person whose wallet I had handed in came in the shop. He bought me some beer. Enough that it needed carrying home in a crate. One of the pub regulars was in the shop having an in-betweenie beer. Unprompted, he carried the crate over to my gate. What can I say?

Ate, washed and went to the pub. Hobo had a bunch of posters for this years village pig killing to nail up here and there. Nicely faded onto the background were some of my last years pictures. Makes it all worthwhile.

Same Internet problem at home. I pondered whether to get onto them. The answer was no, if it was affecting me it would no doubt be affecting many others. I have the technical knowledge to know what the problem was, but not the linguistic knowledge to impart that to a Hungarian. Turn the computer off and another early night. I do need more of those.

Apologies to those who use my RSS feed. Just noticed that I buggered it up completely the last few days. Hopefully now fixed.

10th February 2011

Todays gloom and doom is muliple comments about Wikileaks reporting of diplomatic cables indicating that KSA oil production and reserves maybe not quite what they are made out to be. This report from the Guardian is fairly typical. Well, I think we already knew some of that from the OPEC quota wars of the 1980s (I think).

Very short and sweet. Fed the goats at the required intervals. Chopped kugli. Did some more work on the current woodworking project, and got the firewood in. How inspiring is that?

I did manage to go to the pub in the evening.

11th February 2011

Yet another good day. Frosty and clear again. We are sat under a high pressure area on, if you will, the benign side. Hardly any wind, but what there was was from the south.

I did the washing up and someclothes washing (boring) and went onto more immediately upcoming matters. Gardening! I started sorting out prospective seed potatoes, and then sowed a tray each of cabbages and Brussels sprouts. My gardening requirements have changed somewhat. I had no idea that goats love raw potatoes. Well, they do! I will certainly be growing a lot more than my miserly two rows this year. Hobo had said he would come and bash kugli for an hour. Never showed up.

After lunch some work on the current woodworking project and then I got the firewood in myself. A little while later it was coming up to time to feed the goats when the dogs did the ballistic bit up the yard. I glanced out to see Marika wander across with her big plastic bowl. I had a little something in the house for her and went to get it. I got up the yard to within sight of where she had got to and found that she was at the fence talking to my other neighbour. I was going to give her a similar item anyway, so back to the house I went and got another. I presented them with one each, explaining that they were a little thank you for all the continuing kindnesses that they had showed. I retrieved the bowl from Marika, went in the goat house and scattered it around as their evening treat then returned the bowl. She saves all her spud peelings, apple cores and peel and various other bits like the outer leaves of cabbages. All for the goats!

While I think about it, there were a couple of things I missed in relating the goats' encounter with the dogs. One was that at one stage Rudy and Blackie were nose to nose. No hystrionics. No pawing the air and butting by Rudy and no barking or other aggression from Blackie. He did give Suzy a bit of a gallop around the yard, but I think he was actually rounding her up, as he stopped when she rejoined the others. Rudy a couple of times came to me and just stood by my side looking at me as if to say "Can't you make that daft brown thing shut up?". Oh, and the thing about goats eating washing off the line is urban myth. Rudy did give the bottom of a pair of work jeans a nibble, found they were inedible and lost all further interest in them.

Hobo was in the pub in the evening and was in his cups. Turned out that he had been in Körmend all day, which accounted for his absence, and he had been on the pop all day. He was in one of his darker moods and for an hour and a quarter he just bent my ears about the dogs. He left and went home after that, having effectively prevented me from watching two consecutive news bulletins. I do like to try and understand as much as I am able of what is happening in the country and elsewhere. Oh well, the M1 news would be on at half past seven. It did come on at half past seven - and Laci promptly did his channel hopping bit and found a film to watch instead. If anything earth shatteringly important happened on this day it will remain forever unwritten in the annals of my blog.

One good bit to end the day. My Internet connection did not play up this evening, and has not since. So whatever the problem was they seem to have fixed it.

12th February 2011

It was a thoroughly horrible day. Bumping around zero, trying to rain and with a hideous gusting wind that just did not know from which direction it was coming. I was not on top form anyway. You know, I think I might have identified what ails me. Dust allergy. It came to me when I was doing a bit of fairly hefty sandpapering of a piece of walnut for the woodworking project. It set me off. If it is that, well that's a bit rich, considering what I am doing. Winter - dogs, goat food (hay and barley are both dusty stuff), woodworking, wood fires in both rooms. Spring - tree pollen, dogs, kitchen fire. Summer - grass pollen, still the kitchen fire, still the dogs and just walking about when the ground is dry. Autumn - dunno but dogs and goats. Whatever! Grin and bear it, then.

I had another bash at the offending piece of wood then had lunch. I cycled up the village for eggs. That was not pleasant. It was pleasant getting the eggs though. The eggs were huge - the egg box would not close. They were also having another pig killing, for a neighbour I think. I was treated to a pálinka.

I called in the pub on the way home. To dilute the pálinka you understand. Hobo was there. No firewood work today he told me. He had a carrier bag of envelopes with invitations to the village Pig Killing. 26th February. He fished out mine and John's for me to pass on to him.

I went home and did the firewood myself, and found time to bash a few more kugli. The stack of chopped acacia was starting to get quite impressive. The floor of that outhouse is definitely on a slope. As kugli get chopped the chopping block slowly tries to make its way out of the door. I have no idea what the outhouse was originally used for. Must ask Hobo.

I fed the goats, ate, did a bit on the blog and went back to the pub. By about half past seven there were five of us in there. No skittlers, no village blacksmith (unusual). There was me, Hobo, Lajos (fa szakember), his drinking buddy and card playing partner and a young man that I mentioned many, many moons ago in respect of the returning of a borrowed bag of lime. Believe it or not he is now one of my Facebook friends.

It being Saturday night, they had this Lotto-type programme on the telly called Luxus. I have a vague idea what it is all about. Only vague, mind - and it goes on and on. After that comes Joker, which is pretty well equivalent to Lucky Number in the UK lottery, and then the Lotto draw proper. With only five of us in there I think the landlady was looking for an early night. By the time all five of us had sat through Luxus, Joker and Lotto she nearly had steam coming out of her ears and we beat a hasty retreat. Well, Saturday night in the pub in Hungary is just a bit different to Saturday night in the UK. I had a cheap night. A couple of beers came my way. No idea why.

13th February 2011

Normal start except that the shop was shut, it being a Sunday. The shop being shut on a Sunday is my outdoor key to what day of the week it is. Na! Not really. I can tell what day of the week it is just by what vans go through the village playing what tunes and to what extent the dogs react. On Mondays a pickup comes through selling bottled gas - Calor Gas equivalent. I don't know what it is about the jingle that he plays but it sets every dog in the village howling. Including my two. Oh, I still wish that I could get them to sing in tune, or at least a remote resemblance of harmony anyway. On Wednesday the dog food man comes, and I know when his is right at the other end of the village. Pickle starts barking. Why she barks thus at someone who brings her food I can never fathom. Etc.

I swept through and mopped through. I decided that I had a spare half hour to bash kugli. One! I managed one. And it was not that big. It was a piece from about six inches below where two reasonable sized branches parted. The grain was horribly interlocked. Half an hour on one lump of wood. I once posted on a Peak Oil forum where some guy said that chopping wood was not rocket science. My reply was to the effect that rocket science was easier. Take a chamber with a hole in it and burn something therein at tremendous heat and pressure. Attach to the hole in the chamber a slightly tapered diverging conical tube. Organise the burning of whatever such that the products of burning go through the hole in the chamber at greater than the speed of sound and when they get into the slightly tapered diverging conical tube instead of slowing down, as you would expect, the gases accelerate. That's it. That's rocket science. Remind me to talk about physics.

On my travels I discovered that I had kelbimbo (look it up!). Yes to my astonishment one lot of my sewn seeds had already germinated. There were signs of the other lot doing so too.

I had spag. bol. with the remains of the tomato sauce and the remains of the tin of mystery meat.

I did a bit more work on the current woodworking project, and in about ten seconds managed to reduce a little piece of walnut upon which I had lavished about four hours of work to the status of firewood. I was not best pleased. I went to the pub for a beer which became two as Hobo was there and got one in.

Back home it was a bit of a dash round to do the firewood and feed the goats before the daylight vanished.

I made a sandwich and ate it in front of the computer as is my wont at this time of year. I find that I have about an hour after the daylight fades before it is time to go to the pub to do such stuff. Regarding going to the pub, it is my social life you know just as it was in the UK. How sad.

Hobo was there when I got to the pub, but he declined another beer and left. I was knitting. Another chap that I have mentioned before on the blog (speach impediment/bamboo) came and sat with me. He watched me knitting and was interested in the process. Why did I put the needle in that way? And so on. No speach impediment now. I think it may be a shyness thing. He bought me a beer. We continued chatting, as best my limited magyarul allows. I bought him a fröccs back. Before the end of the evening he had insisted on buying me yet another beer. Oh well, two cheap nights.

14th February 2011

Another nasty, nasty day. When we have a high pressure area the daytime/nighttime temperatures can vary by twenty degrees Celsius. Not so when we have fronts coming in. Grey, leaden skies and the temperature varies only three or four degrees between the coldest of the night and the warmest of the day. Today was one of those. It was minus two outside when I got up. It had been minus three during the night. In the heat of the day it struggled to plus one. Horrid!

No idea why, but I was up early and came close to meeting the lady from No. 72 in the shop. As she came out I was approaching. I think she was pleased to see me out and about at that time of day and she greeted me cordially and with a big smile. A little thing like that can lift the mood of a dreary day and make it all worth while.

I had time for a very leisurely breakfast and still fed the goats about three quarters of an hour early. I was doing that when Pickle did her hysterical bit. Unseen by me Suzy had escaped and was having a nice little forage on her own right by the fence between yard and garden. I called her to come, and to my astonishment she did. Just trotted back and went inside the goat house.

I went back to mundane things. Smashing kugli, washing clothes and some Internet work. I had lunch in between.

Latish afternoon I went to the pub for one. In need of some human company. Just as in the UK it is my social life. I might have said that before. I will probably say it again. Hobo was there. We sat and chatted. Time for me to go and Hobo, unusually, did not offer to come and do a bit of work. I went home and did it myself. Firewood. Goats. Eat, etc...

When I returned to the pub later in the evening there was no sign of Hobo. That was unusual too.

15th February 2011

I was up not early but not late. Early enough to decide to light the kitchen stove and put the coffee on to cook before I went to the shop. It was another one of those dreary days. I wished February were over and looked forward to the spring break in March. I have mentioned it before. I will mention it again. There is definitely a spring break. It goes from the tail end of winter to all hands to the garden in just a matter of days. Most of what I hear in the village is chainsaws running and people chopping wood. Just like me! One time within the last couple of days I heard the thump, thump, thump of an axe from next door at No. 72. Ah, I thought, the old lady has someone in chopping the firewood. Wrong! It was her wielding the axe, and I saw her appear from behind her outbuildings with a great armful of firewood and disappear into her house. Ninety years young!

Fire lit and coffee cooking I went to the shop. There was still bread. At the end of my shopping I asked for half a loaf. The shop lady profered a half a loaf in a plastic bag that was where she puts the half loaves that are left when someone asks for half a loaf and a half loaf remains to be sold. Ah! Beware the half loaf in a plastic bag! I had been had like that before. I asked her directly "Ma kenyer?" (Todays bread?) She put it back and reached a fresh, todays loaf down from the shelf and I got half of that. Ever been had? Many times, but not usually more than once in the same situation.

Back home the coffee was almost cooked and the stove was hot enough to make toast immediately. By the way toast in Hungarian is either "pirított kenyér" which roughly translates as browned or scorched bread or "tószt" which is pronounced "toast", but in the Hungarian manner. In the mornings as far as I am concerned bread is simply raw toast!

Smashing of kugli and washing clothes followed. The clothes went on the line and promptly froze solid. I attempted some woodwork in the outhouse but was driven off by the cold. You know, if I had a dishwasher and a washing machine I would have time to get the stove in the outhouse going. But I want neither dishwasher nor washing machine. Not what I am about. I took the woodworking and necessary tools indoors once again. The tools went on the cool end of the stove to warm up.

I had full unhealthy for lunch. Sausages (virsli), chips, fried eggs and fried bread. My only concession to healthy was that I did fry them in poly-unsaturated vegetable oil.

I did a little more on the woodworking project in the warmth of the kitchen, managing to cover a patch of kitchen floor with walnut shavings. Well, they would get swept up the next time I swept up. As I write, they seem to have disappeared. I think the black dog collected them in his fur and shed them outside.

I did the firewood early, including trying to saw some stuff up with the bowsaw. Not good. It left a kerf about the same width as my tenon saw. It got carted indoors and seriously reset. I resumed my getting in of firewood and the bowsaw was now fine - well, coarse actually. At least it would now saw what I wanted it to saw with much diminished effort.

Firewood in I went to the pub for one. Once again no Hobo. I went home in the knowledge that all I had to do was feed the goats and that was the physical done for the day.

I went to the pub in the evening as usual. Still no Hobo. I was beginning to get worried about him.

Back home and on the Internet I saw this utterly, utterly absurd report from the BBC about the Stuxnet virus. One: Any computer that controls vital infrastucture should in no way have any access to any other computer that has access to the Internet, and Two: Anybody that allows any inkling of such access using ANY Microsoft operating system should be certified!! My two forints worth. As I write, there was a report on one of the telly news bulletins this evening about ethical hackers. They showed some closeups of him working. Well, he certainly wasn't using Windows!

16th February 2011

Almost the same weather. It managed to bump above zero, so instead of a sprinkling of fine snow we had freezing drizzle. Lovely.

Usual start to the morning. Not worth commenting on. After breakfast I had a sudden urge for some real meat instead of the processed stuff on which I had been subsisting. I cycled up to the meat van at the pub and got my usual lump of pork chop. I enquired about beef suet. One word answer. None. Could he get some? No. I have to wonder what happens to all the beef suet here in Hungary? Mind you, beef does tend to be a luxury item here - even more than in the UK.

I did a bit more on the woodworking project. Indoors again. Had lunch and did a bit more. No good! Consigned to the kindling basket. Somewhat miffed, I went to the pub for one. Hobo was there. I spoke to him about firewood, which was by now becoming a bit critical. I suggested more Daraboshegy firewood.

Home, firewood and goats. Ate, changed and in the fulness of time went back to the pub.

There were two items on the news tonight upon which I want to comment. The first was that the headline news on one channel was "Snow today, snow tomorrow." Well - yeah, this is February in Hungary. What was the big deal? The second item was more interesting and I am going to explore it in a bit of detail.

The news reported on the cost of bread, which has risen considerably lately. They reported that a third of the price of bread was the price of the flour, a third was the cost of energy to produce the bread and the other third was everything else. Mmmmm. Well, my Peak Oil mind went straight to the third that was the cost of the flour. I attempted mentally to do some sort of calculation as to the embedded cost of energy in the price of the flour. Well, the wheat is grown from seed so we have to step back a year. To get the seed we have have a wheat crop chosen for seed. How does that get in the ground? Well, if you recurse far enough it got in the ground with a man, a horse, a plough, a bag of wheat and a harrow to drag behind the horse once he had broadcast the seed. I don't reckon last years crop of seed wheat was grown like that. Tractors powered by diesel with a drill. Followed by tractors powered by diesel broadcasting petro-chemical based fertilizers. Followed by tractors powered by diesel, spraying herbicides and pesticides. After that come the combined harvesters. How much oil does it take to make a single combined harvester tyre? We haven't even got to this year yet. I haven't even mentioned the cost in fossil fuels of producing any of these machines. Skip to this year and the wheat harvest. How was it sown? How was it kept weed and pest free? How will it be harvested? How will the harvest be transported? Petro-chemicals. Diesel, pesticides, herbicides... Published figures from the US say that for every calory of food that get on the plate ten calories of fossil fuel are expended. Same again for transporting to the mill, the actual milling (don't see many windmills around here, although Frank remembered the water mill just outside Körmend in operation), and the transportation of the milled flour to its final destination. The embedded cost of fossil fuels in the price of flour must be huge. Let us say that it is just half. I reckon much more, but just for simplicity let us say that. That means that half the final price of a simple loaf of bread is fossil fuel energy. Makes you think!

The T-Home DNS server threw a wobbly again this evening. I had hoped that it was fixed. I really must think about getting BIND running on this box. Same old - it's finding the time.

17th February 2011

I was up very early for a reason. By half past eight I had lit the stove, shopped, made breakfast, eaten it, fed the goats, kicked the dogs and was in the pub. The reason was firewood. I had decided that I could really do with some more Daraboshegy firewood. I needed to let the acacia season a bit before I started using it. Hobo had spoken last evening to the Daraboshegy parquetry factory chap who had been in the pub for skittles. He said to see him today at the works. Hence the reason. Hobo and I were going to cycle up there.

The natural meeting place was, of course the pub. I was going to be good and have a coffee, but Hobo got the beers in. Oh dear! Well, we did cycle on up to Daraboshegy after that. It was hard work. The legs are unfit. My exercise, and I do like to get exercise, for the last few weeks has been mainly wielding the big axe. Fine for the upper body but not much good for the legs. Hobo called a stop at the little shop in Daraboshegy where he bought a couple of bits. I may have mentioned it before, but long ago. It is a little shop. About half the size of my big room. It is an absolute Aladdin's cave. They have everything in there. Not many of, but a huge range, in contrast to the Halogy shop where the stock levels are, well, a bit hitty-missy. We left the shop. And instead of leaving went through the door opposite the shop door. Into the pub, where Hobo bought another beer. Oh dear, you can see where this is going. We were the only customers in there.

We finally cycled on to the parquetry factory. I noticed as we cycled that there were patches of snow all across the road in sheltered spots. It crunched icily as I cycled across it. Still frozen. Daraboshegy is (without looking it up by rebooting into Windose and using Google Earth) I suppose about a hundred feet higher than Halogy. In Halogy the road was just wet. Here it had ice on it. Surprising what a difference a hundred feet of elevation makes at this time of year.

We got to the factory. The boss was not in his office. Hobo went scouting about for him and he eventually showed up driving a fork lift truck. The conversation was short and sweet. He had no good, dry firewood, only the stuff from freshly felled logs yet to be seasoned. Well, I already had plenty of that at home. We left. Why the bloody hell he could not have told Hobo that last night in the pub escapes me.

Hobo and I cycled back down the hill to Halogy. To the pub. I bought him a beer in return, drank mine and finally got back home somewhat after eleven having achieved nothing than a pointess early start.

I neglected to say that a friend in the UK was interested in some slides that I had. The slide scanner was where I thought it was, and the cables were where I thought they should be. I had even found the software CD. I had stuck the CD in, and it wouldn't install. I went on the Internet and downloaded the latest drivers. It took forever to download, and even longer to install. I had plugged the scanner in and all the right lights came on, to my astonishment. I had started the software, and what had I got? "Incompatible operating system". Well, I had a thought today when I got home. Try it with the Dell laptop that recently arrived from the UK.

Got the laptop out and cleared enough space on the office desk. Plugged it in and booted it up. I installed the scanner software and plugged the scanner in. Windows immediately went "Bing. Found new hardware.". It even recognised that it was a Hewlitt Packard S20 scanner. Would it work? Would it not! Same problem that I had with it many, many times in the UK - "Lost communication with scanner"! I unplugged the lot and put it all away.

I did some website work in the afternoon. Hobo turned up and did the firewood. He was on about the different types of wood. He had kept talking about "mouse" wood, I had thought - "egér". It turned out that what he was saying was"éger", which I finally got to the bottom of, and which turned out to be alder. I had been chopping it with gay abandon thinking it was beech.

Hobo did the firewood and I did the goats. After that we lingered and chatted in the kitchen over a beer. It turned out to be a rather long beer. By the time he and I had finished it it was time to go to the pub.

Towards the end of the evening an earlier problem recurred with the pub telly. Once again it forgot all the channel settings. The landlord's son had tried to sort it out, then some random bloke came in and fixed it. It happened again towards the end of the evening. It came as a bit of a surprise that the person who fixed it this time was the village blacksmith. Not with his hammer, just the remote control.

18th February 2011

The weather continued unabated. Minimum zero, maximum four for the day. According to the forecast later it is going to get a lot colder.

Usual start - nothing special. I bashed a big kugli to pieces. I reckon that apart from one awaiting consideration from the very bottom of the trunk it was about the biggest one left to do. It took the whole of the time that I wanted to spend on that. The big axe is about to part company with the much damaged shaft any time soon. Hobo says not to buy one from the shop but to get Lajos to make one and fit it. I mentioned long ago about Lajos fitting an axe handle that I had bought to the medium sized axe head. I never mentioned about how he wedged it. I normally cut two wedge slots across the shortest axis about a quarter of the way from each end along the long axis. Lajos' technique was to cut a single quite wide slot running at forty five degrees right in the middle, quite broad, and just use one wedge suitably bevelled at each side. Magyar teknologia! Why didn't we think of it. It wedges the handle in two dimensions - both against the top and bottom of the handle hole and against the sides. That axe is about the only tool that I have where the head does not get loose in the hot and dry weather.

I did a bit on the current woodworking project. Four tiny bits of wood. Straight in the kitchen fire. No good! I had lunch and redid from start. They turned out OK this time now that I had my thinking head on.

Another big bucketful of little potatoes appeared just inside the gate for the goats. Good job I noticed them otherwise the black dog would have had a field day. You know, he is a big lumping great soft, affectionate dog. But he will steal anything. Goat potatoes, cabbage leaves, hay, maize stalks, firewood. All fair game to him. Both dogs have some sort of fascination with acacia bark. Both of them will steal it and then just lick it. I have no idea what that is all about.

I had one bit of woodworking left with which I did not trust myself. Astigmatism. I need a spirit level or a plumb line to hang a picture on the wall. I simply did not trust myself with these final four little pieces of wood. I marked centres and I marked a drill bit with a bit of insulting tape indicating depth of drilling and cycled up to Lajos' place. Not at home. Disappointed, I cycled the hundred metres back to the pub. Hobo was in there. I told him what it was all about. He told me that I was consulting the wrong Lajos. Lajos the blacksmith was my man. Hobo said he would be at home.

I finished the beer and cycled on up there. Vas Lajos was not at home. His mother was there and said he had gone to Körmend. I found a bit of paper, scribbled a rough diagram on it, explained it to the lady who surprisingly understood and stuck the paper in the bag and left the lot on vas Lajos' workbench. She was preparing for their own pig killing. Having seen how much work is involved I did not expect a quick result on my bits of wood.

Back home I did a little bit of work on the second lot of tiny bits of wood, fed the goats and that was it for the day.

Apart from the pub. There was a programme on just after eight called "Üditő" I will leave you to look up the multiple meanings of that. Normally it leaves me cold, as I still have not that much grasp of the intricacies of the Hungarian language. Tonight it was the Hungarian equivalent of "Candid Camera". Works in any language. Hilarious.

19th February 2011

The weather remained the same. Thoroughly dreary. When I fed the goats Rudy threw a serious strop. I have no idea why. He will go for days and days with no problem, then he will decide to launch. I was just in the mood for him, so he had some. For about fifteen minutes I just kept throwing him on his side, or forcing his head back until he bleated. The bugger still kept coming back for more! In the end I left him to it.

It was one of those days of inumerable little jobs, none worth writing about. Except lunch. I rescued the pork from the fridge (outhouse still), sliced it in two, returned one half to the fridge and sliced the other half into two again. Effectively two boned out pork chops. Mmmmm. Red wine sauce. I sorted the stove out to do a nice simmer and went for a beer.

By the time I had done the rest of lunch it was two in the afternoon. It was worth the wait.

Hobo and pici Láci were supposed to turn up and chain saw some tree roots. The ones Tibi pulled out with his tractor the first month I was here, plus others dug out by hand since. They have been under cover in the coal house all this time. Some are pine or fir, and some are hardwood. It didn't happen.

Firewood and feed the goats. I was reduced to having to resort to the acacia to put on the fires. It surprised me. It burns. It needs a little bit of other dry wood to get it going, but it does burn.

Pub in the evening. Still no Hobo. He turned up later with several other of the village workers including one that I know to be a builder. He had obviously been labouring for the day. They had obviously paid him too, as he got the beers in later.

20th February 2011

Apart from the usual goats, eat, firewood routine it was housework (although you would not know it if you visited), blog and some currently ongoing web site work. That's it!

21st February 2011

As usual I got up, got dressed and went to the shop. I was going to say that I got up and went to the shop, but then that might just have caused a bit of a stir in the village! There was a biting and blustery wind that obviously originated somewhere in Siberia and had become colder as is passed over innermost Russia. I was quite pleased that I had got dressed. I went in the shop and sort of shivered and had a moan about the cold wind. Marika followed me in by about thirty seconds and did exactly the same.

By the time I had my stuff, paid and went out of the shop to go back home it was snowing. I guess what you might call snow drizzle. It was well into the minuses so it settled and generally blew about. There was not sufficient fall to cause any problems but it made outside thoroughly miserable.

Apart from my forays to feed the goats I stayed under cover all day. Two good sessions of chopping kugli and otherwise computer work. I mentioned problems with T-Home and their DNS servers. Well, I set about installing BIND. I was in no rush. I read and re-read the Linux DNS HowTo and took the first couple of steps. It was, after all, about six or seven years since I had done this. One does tend to forget.

I did the firewood and lit the tile stove early. It was that sort of day. Pub later, where Hobo told me that he had sourced some acacia posts in the village. Well, I cannot afford them but I need them. Vines! I hope I have more success with last years cuttings that are sitting in the frozen garden waiting to bud in spring than I did with last years cuttings. John had no more success that I did.

22nd February 2011

The weather remained the same. A lovely bright morning but still that persisting cold, blustery north-easter. Marika managed to appear from her gate simultaneously with me opening mine. Once again we commented on the cold weather.

I shopped, lit the stove and put the coffee to cook then went and did the goats. Every morning now Rudy leads the girls out when I open the goat house door, walks past me, turns round and butts me on the behind as if to say "Come on you old fart. Get in there and give us our breakfast", then leads the girls straight back inside. The coffee was just doing as I returned to the by-now warm kitchen and I breakfasted.

I did my morning workout with kugli, then back inside did some knitting. After that it was computer stuff, including finishing off installing BIND. I went through it carefully, and when done went to a command console and typed the magic incantation sudo /etc/init.d/named start and to my delight it did. Got that one right, then. I checked that it would actually resolve names by doing a sudo dig It did that as well. Ah, there's no place like! As someone said. As I write I still need to check the root servers' IP addresses but it works well enough for now. I had forgotten how much faster it makes the Internet having named running on the local machine. Oh well, T-Home know what they can do with their flaky DNS servers.

I managed a bit more outside work in the form of forking down some old hay from the outhouse loft in preparation for doing the goats bedding. I made a discovery whilst shifting some stuff about up there. Two complete consecutive slices from an oak tree. Each of them was about six metres long. Wonderful! That solved an upcoming conundrum. Sawn up they will make perfect cross members to go between posts for the vines, which is going to happen this year. I think the sawing up of them will be a Lajos job though. There is no way that I will have the time to saw them by hand.

In celebration of BIND and the newly discovered oak I went to the pub for one. Which became three, as I fell into some good company and a couple unexpectedly came my way. I ended up necking the last one a bit sharpish as daylight was beginning to fade and I still had firewood and goat feeding to do.

I accomplished both once home fairly swiftly. Well, as swiftly as I was able. I lit the tile stove, ate and, of course, went back to the pub where nothing happened.

23rd February 2011

Same weather. Looks set to continue for a while too, according to the forecast. It is the wind chill factor that makes it feel so cold. I was up early enough once again to light the kitchen stove before doing anything else. It was a good job I stoked it up well as half the village seemed to be in front of me in the shop and there was the normal exchange of pleasantries and gossip going on.

I still was home early enough to have my coffee/toast/toast with jam (apple and mint at the moment) before I fed the goats. I looked at the thermometer sat on the outside kitchen window sill as I passed. Minus six!

I smashed another couple of kugli then went back inside, declared it a two pots of coffee morning and did a bit of knitting. I have no idea why - whether I am becoming inured to the Hungarian winter, or what - but the house seems to have been warmer this winter. I have been able consistently to light the fire later than last winter, and have been getting through less firewood. Last year I was getting through a basket and a half per evening. This year it has often been less than a basket.

Posta arrived. There was just the one envelope which turned out to be from the Hungarian equivalent of Blind Dogs for the Guides. I had one of those red and yellow things in that you pay, which the Hungarians call a cheque but which I call a bill. Two thousand forints. I asked Hobo about it later when I went to the pub for one. One word reply. Dustbin.

I had another portion of game stew for lunch. Food parcel from the pub - again. Enough for three days. Just that and a great slab of bread to mop up the juice and the dish.

During the above mentioned trip to the pub How Do You Do? Láci appeared and it was quickly arranged that they would follow me home and Láci would chain saw the tree roots that were languishing in the coal house and had been for about two and a half years. Some I had managed to saw and chop. The remainder were the bigger ones. These were the tree roots dragged out by Tibi the very first month I was here, plus a few added later.

The dogs went into the outhouse under lock and key. Hobo and Láci set about it. I took the opportunity of the yard being dog free to load yesterdays loft hay into the barrow and go and park it by the goat shed. There were some ingestions of pálinka whilst all this was happening. They went through all the tree roots plus a stack of other stuff on the yard, some of which I did not want chain sawing as I was looking forward to the exercise of sawing it up with the bow saw. Just the right size - four to five inch beech. Oh well!

Hobo and Láci went off to the pub. I was obliged to follow them. To pay for their drinks. Well, it was a good job done and all I had to do back home was feed the goats and light the tile stove. It was an evening for lighting the tile stove early. When I fed the goats Rudy decided to go for a little walk. He soon returned once he heard me ladling out the goat treats. At least it allowed me to distribute it equably, without him butting either goat food bucket or goat food ladle all over the place.

Tile stove lit, I ate and then, still work clothes clad went back to the pub where once again nothing happened.

24th February 2011

It was conkers again this morning. Minus eight, and still with the persistent north or north east wind. Made it feel more like minus fifteen.

Shopped, breakfasted and did the goats. I had a half hour bash at kugli then set off under Hobo's instructions to try to sort out a little business for myself in the village. Posts. Acacia posts for vines. Hobo had told me to find Láci right down the bottom end of the village. From his description I thought that I knew who he meant. After a short false start I found the right house but there was nobody about. I was just going to leave when the guy whom I had thought it was appeared. He is a jolly little chap and his appearance belies his intelligence. He actually has a few words of English and I had chatted to him an odd time or two in the pub where he is a very infrequent visitor.

He took me into his yard to a big stack of acacia posts. We had a discussion about them. They looked a bit short to me. He fetched a tape measure. Two point three metres. We had another discussion. I would have preferred two point five metres. I think that what he said was that he would have to get hold of some. I may even change my mind and settle for ten of the shorter ones, especially as we run into March and I really, really must get the vines off the floor this year. He called the posts legs, and took me to see his compact little vinyard. None of my neighbours grow grapes like that. His were secured at head height and he obviously lets the producing rods hang down. All my neighbours have the main vine at about four feet off the ground and tie the producing rods up. He was finding out if I needed wood for the cross members, which hopefully now I don't. On the way back to his yard chatting to him I managed to run my head into one of his cross-members. Well, he is only a little chap. He has no problem passing beneath them.

Hobo had told me that he lives in what my readers would consider fairly primitive conditions. Earth floors and no mains water to the house. He has a well. That is for drinking water. Hobo had warned me that washing was not a major priority for him. I can't say I noticed, and he probably thought I stank of goats.

I had to do a Körmend, so cycled back home, fed the goats, had a quick swill down, changed into Körmend-type clothes and cycled to the pub in nice time for a beer and catch the bus.

Back in the village (Körmend was not worthy of note, other than to say that I actually paid a bill for twenty forints in the post office) I collected the bike from the pub, first paying the parking fee. Hobo was there. He followed me home and did the firewood. I did the goats. Which presented me with a small conundrum as I was determined that the load of goat bedding in the wheelbarrow was going in the styes. The problem as ever was Rudy. I bullied him into the bit of corridor between the sty door and the door to the yard from whence all three had escaped. He escaped the other way. I bullied him back again and this time slid the bolt on the door so that he could not get back. I put half of the bedding into the sty nearest their little yard. The girls were quite amenable. They had a little wander in and out, not going very far. Now. How to get the other half of the bedding into the other sty in the bit of the goat house wherein Rudy was confined. Easy. I just forked it over the door and if he happened to be there he got it piled on him. When it was all in the corridor I did a quick double shuffle on him. Let him out to join the girls and I bolted the door back behind me to fork the bedding into the sty in peace.

After that I fed them, fed me once Hobo left, then went to the pub for a couple.

25th February 2011

The weather continued the same with a temperature of minus six and still the brisk chilling wind. Roll on the spring break in March!

Once again I was suffering and once again had to resort to the Lemsip. Not a lot got done apart from feeding the goats. I did go for eggs where there was talk about goat kids and I mentioned to the son of the house the enlargement of Suzy's udder and teats.

The only other thing that did get done was to chop some more kugli in order to fill the wood baskets for the evening and tomorrow morning.

26th February 2011

Today was pig killing day. Surprisingly I am going to make this quite a short entry. With a few minor differences it was a repeat of the last two years which I have descibed in detain elsewhere on the blog (Feb 2009 and Jan 2010).

The differences were that the pig came from elsewhere than the last two years and the producer had no cage in which to transport the pig. He had a trailer, but the use of that required that the pig was somewhat dead before being transported so it was slaughtered right there at the producer's premises.

The other difference was that all the butchery and preparation was done on the concrete area at the back of the fáluház, which was actually much better. The previous two years it had been done on the terazzo patio area and as soon as it got wet and there was a bit of pig fat spread about had become like a skating rink.

Yes, the day proceeded much as on previous occasions. Except maybe that I had had an admonishment from the fáluház lady to take more pictures of the work and less of drunken people late on in the evening. Mmmm - fine and good until Hobo gets hold of the camera! For the first time ever, between us we managed to fill the memory card.

Some (very) selected pictures of the day:
The shrubs at the rear of the faluház sprouted a strange crop. Pig Killing 2011-02-26
Pig Killing 2011-02-26 Sign of the times. Last year they used a hacksaw, not an electric woodworking tool.
The workmates. Pig Killing 2011-02-26
Pig Killing 2011-02-26 My part in the cooking. I stirred the boiling in oil pig fat for a while.

27th February 2011

It was not a good day. Strangely I was not late up. I had a hell of a hangover. The day immediately went from bad to worse. I let the dogs out whilst I lit the fire. It was but the work of a minute to do that. I went to get the dogs back in. Only one dog - the black one. I had a quick search in the out of the way places. No Pickle. I called her name. She appeared in sight. In next door's garden. There was yet another tell tale hole in the chainlink fence. To her credit she found her way immediately back and came straight back through the hole but I feared the damage had been done.

The dogs were confined inside whilst I had breakfast. They remained inside whilst I went to survey the fence damage and find repair materials, not really in the best state for either. The old lady approached as I repaired the fence. She was not best pleased. I knew why. I had already seen the scattering of feathers outside her hen house. Two more chickens. I announced Pickle's name and made pistol shooting motions but she would have none of that. I offered to pay and she would have none of that either. She wasn't happy though. Neither was I. It comes down to the fact that Pickle is predatory and sadly, until I am in a position that part of the yard can be made absolutely dog proof, on the chain she will have to stay whilst outside, even if I am round and about in the yard.

Hobo turned up, having been down to the faluház and done some clearing up. He presented me with a can of lager that, shall we say, he had liberated from the remains of the stock. We chatted for a while. I left the lager where it was. He was going to the pub for one. By then in need of a hair of the dog I cycled up shortly afterwards. There were a few in the pub that had been present at last evening's libations. Several were in a much worse state than I was. No names, no pack-drill!

All else that got done as you might guess was to do the goats and the firewood.

I did go back to the pub in the evening. Hobo had bitten the dust. Some of the others who were in a worse state than me earlier had made a remarkable recuperation. I had the one, went home and did the dogs and stoked up the cserepkalyha for the night and went to bed.

28th February 2011

Once again I was under the weather - not alcohol related. Whatever it is it seems to be cyclical with a couple of weeks with no problem (apart from sniffly-snuffly, but it is still nose drippy weather here) then a couple of days feeling like that. I resorted to the Lemsip again.

I improved a bit once the paracetamol kicked in, but not enough to consider doing anything serious. It was a day of feed the goats and get the firewood in and that was that.

Of course I went to the pub in the evening. Once again the news was headed by energy shortages and yet another record price of petrol - pushing on three hundred and seventy forints a litre. There was a stark warning (from government I think) that a price of five hundred forints a litre could be looming. Ouch! Food riots in Budapest, anyone?

There was another item on the news that reminded me that I don't think I have ever mentioned on the blog how you get treated if you are taken to court. I think this is your higher court sort of thing. Assizes, Quarter Sessions. Oooops, I forgot! That was many years ago in the UK - all Crown Court now. Anyway, if you get taken to such a court you know that you are guilty before ever getting into the courtroom. Accused are shackled with handcuffs and chains, hand and foot. They are attached to what I can only descibe as a length of dog chain, which is held by one of two accompanying officers, either police or what I reckon is the equivalent of prison officers. They are black clad, black balaklava'd, armed and wearing flak jackets. All quite intimidating and sinister.

The blacksmith caught my eye as I was buying a beer, or rather I caught his. He still had not returned my bits that I left with him. I made diagram motions on the bar top. He grinned back sheepishly. Can't fall out with him - he will do it for a beer anyway. Just the Hungarian way!


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