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April 2011

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1st April 2011

All day it kept coming on light showers of rain. Well, the goats had gone out at their normal time and out they stayed. I dug - the rain was not sufficient to deter me either. From time to time I paused for a rest and watched the goats munching, with the kid either prancing about generally making a nuisance of himelf - as kids do - or suckling, or just lying down for a rest, or munching along with the other three. I forgot to mention that he started having a little chew here and there very few days after he was born. I had not expected that but, thinking about it, it is nature's way of ensuring that the rumen starts working. I reflected upon my paranoia about them surviving the Hungarian winter. Well, there we were in a new spring with lots of green for them to eat, and not only had they survived but they had thrived and grown, and Suzy had presented me with a fine buck kid. I philosophise!

My workload in the garden is huge at the moment. It will remain huge for a while. The list is endless. The main crop spuds need to go in. I need to start a nursery bed for brassicas. Tomato seedlings will soon need potting on, then I have to dig and weed where they are going to go. Herb garden needs sorting out - all it has in it at the moment is mint and weeds. And so on.

At one stage in the day I caught the kid nose to nose with Rudy in a little butting match. Ah well, alpha male stuff.

By the end of the day I was - quite bluntly - knackered. I still had to get the goats in and feed them. Speaking of which, I found a source of greenery for them. The big fine house over the road which is owned by people in Szombathely had a fine crop of leaves sprung up in the drainage ditch. I had asked Marika about them. Were they cultivated or were they weeds? She had laughed. Weeds! Called apparently horse sorrel. I had tried the goats on them and they loved them. Part of my evening feeding routine at the moment was carrying the bucket of evening goat treats over there, getting down in the ditch and plucking a bucketful of the leaves out.

Goats fedded and bedded, I fed myself and went to the pub. Still no Hobo!

Massive web attack according to the Beeb. Well, yes - that is why I use Linux.

2nd April 2011

Blog entries might get a bit brief for a day or two.

Usual start. More digging. In went a hundred and twenty onion sets and one row of two types of carrot seed. One Magyar variety and one English one.

I was checking the goats and making sure they had water when the old boy neighbour on Telek utca came to the fence. We had a chat about the goats and the garden. I never mentioned, but having met him in the shop from time to time I wondered how he got there. Either way, east or west and then down the lane by the church or the lane just on from the faluház is a fair stroll. I found out one day. He has a short cut through next door but one's garden.

I retired indoors and did some blog updating. After all the digging, planting, sowing and computer work I needed a beer. I set off towards the pub. Something out of the ordinary caught my eye. There was a figure on top of the water tower. I cycled on for a better view and stopped when I found one. From my distance it looked like some sort of statue erection. I watched. It moved. I watched some more. It moved again. Yes, there really was a bloke on top of the water tower. I have no idea what that was all about.

I cycled on up to the pub for my beer. I got to thinking about spectacles. No, on second thoughts I got to thinking about eye glasses which is exactly what they call them here. I have two pairs. A set of varifocals that I wear most of the time, until it gets so hot and sweaty in the garden that I am better off without them. And a set of intermediate eye glasses that are prescibed for doing computer work. I could actually do quite well without the varifocals. If anything happened to the intermediate ones I would be stuffed. Of course, I would have to carry the intermediates about to use as reading glasses.

Home, goats, eat...

Still no sign of Hobo in the pub.

A while ago I got to thinking about how many words I had written on this blog. I searched for word counting tool for websites. Found some for Windose - no thanks. Did not find any for Linux, but I did not search that hard. So, out of spite I wrote my own in PHP. Rough and crude as you like. Just counting the monthly entries, over half a million words. Average for a month fifteen thousand odd. Mmmmm - equivalent of six novels-ish - and all in my spare time!

3rd April 2011

The goats went out. I did some washing. Another session of working over Jozsi's winter digging. I have no idea how he managed it, but in places the couch grass, weedy stuff was three layers deep. It got very roughly weeded.

Goats In Maize Stalks Suzy and the kid playing amongst the maize stalks.
There has been a blossoming of these all over the estate in the last couple of days. Suzy cannot get enough of them. I have no idea what it is - any ideas? And yes, my hands were really that dirty when I took the picture. Flower

Suzy goat remains extremely aggressive towards little Betty. The strange thing is that the little goat, unless he wants a drink from mum or is hiding in the shade, plagues the life out of Auntie Betty. When I get the goats in, in the evening, he has taken to following me and Betty into the goat house where he continues to plague the life out of her. He can still get through the gap between the door in the corridor that separates Suzy and kid and Betty and Rudy.

Getting the goats in is now a three trip up the garden job. Firstly Betty gets safely tucked away in her end, then Suzy comes in and lastly Rudy. I made one attempt to take Betty in first and then take Suzy and Rudy together. Mistake. Big mistake! Suzy just wanted to wander hither and thither munching and Rudy just wanted to have a go. Hence now three trips. If both 'his' girls are already in the goat house he just hightails it back there.


4th April 2011

Once again it was a lovely bright spring morning. The goats went out, Suzy first as usual with the kid. This morning he raced about all over the place, leaping and bucking and finding anything to climb on and leap off. I paused for a moment and just watched in delight.

Washing. After that back to bashing out the area for the maincrop potatoes with the broad mattock. It was much quicker than digging, but not so thorough and the mat of weeds that had been turned in still needed separating out by hand.

There were a few showers of rain in the afternoon. Much needed, but not enough to get the goats in. By evening it came onto rain properly but the goats were in by that time. It was heavy enough that it was a cycling to the pub under the umbrella job.

There was another five forint per litre incease on the price of petrol - another new record. I have watched as it has steadily climbed from just over three hundred forints a litre to now over three hundred and eighty. The price of diesel has followed a similar tragectory which will, in the fullness of time be reflected in the price of everything.

5th April 2011

The rain had cleared off overnight and it was another beautiful morning with everything damp and fresh. It was definitely a morning for the wellies when the goats went out.

I was involved with computer work all morning. A job I do for the UK three, four times a year. It ties in with school holidays, and Easter is quite late this year so it did knock out a morning of gardening.

Hobo turned up looking for a piece of aluminium sheet for a job at John's place. I obliged, but a piece had to be angle ground from a bigger piece. I had to restrain Blackie from having his nose angle ground whilst Hobo did it. I know not why, but the angle grinder is a thing of fascination for Blackie.

After lunch it was back to the potato patch and more broad mattock work. I got half of the remaining half done. At that rate it would never be finished.

Goats, ate, pub... What an exciting life!

A thought provoking article in The Guardian reflecting on the similarities between Peak Oil and the situation in Japan.

6th April 2011

Normal start, then another morning of computer work.

After lunch I decided that it was high time I had a garden fire and the goats were well out of the way up towards Telek utca. Understandably they do not like garden fires. One day last year the neighbour at the top had a fire and the smoke drifted over where the goats were. They were all running round in circles at the extent of their chains and I had to move them.

I raked up a goodly wheelbarrow load of small dry stuff from around the goat house and wheeled it up to my fire spot. A bit of paper underneath and off it went. By stages a small haystack of stripped maize stalks, this years vine prunings, last years vine prunings, two dead baskets and a load of other miscellaneous garden stuff unsuitable for turning into kitchen firewood went on. I got rid of a lot of stuff. The heat was intense and the sweat rolled off me. When it had burned down and I had put on it all that I was going to put on it I left it and went for a needed beer.

Back home I went and checked on the goats and the fire. I gave it a good stir with a stick and it sprang back into life. I happened to notice that next door's cherry tree was in blossom. I glanced up my garden. Odd - why was my cherry tree not in blossom? It took a moment for the penny to drop that it was in fact because I was looking at an apple tree which was in direct line of sight between where I was and the cherry tree. D'oh. A couple of steps to the side assured me that my cherry tree was also in blossom.

I was getting ready to get the goats in when I saw the old lady next door neighbour. I called her over and told her that I would do the rest of her ditch once I had done all I needed to do urgently in the garden. No problem. She returned before I had finished with the goat food with a little bag with half a dozen apples in. What can I say?

Had full unhealthy to eat (fried eggs, bacon, chips, fried bread) then went to the pub.

7th April 2011

Shop, breakfast, goats out. I noticed a problem with Suzy. Her udder was a bit distended and her teats discoloured. Back to the house and Internet. Oh-oh - possible mastitis. I had been trying to get hold of the vet for a few days using the number I had. Always I got "Please try later". I did again this morning, over and over.

Whatever, I needed to get hold of the vet. I pondered. Getting hold of the vet should simply not be this difficult. A-la James Herriot vs Siegfried "You must attend, James - you must attend!". My ponderings resolved me to try Toni and Eva. With all the Pickly dog siblings they produce and their other livestock they had to have a lifeline to the vet. I cycled up there. Eva came to the gate and I explained my problem - emlőgyulladás. She went in the house and was back with a different number than the one I had.

Somewhat relieved I cycled back down the village. I noticed Hobo's bike by the pub. Sure enough he was in there. I explained my problem, enlisted his help and the landlord offered the use of his phone. Within less than a minute a vet appointment had been made. The vet would be at my place in the morning. Relieved, I had a beer.

Back home I checked on the goats. Suzy was not showing any sign of distress. Her tail was up and she was eating well. I had a bite of lunch and went back gardening.

More digging. It did not go well. The couch grass was everywhere again, and I had to hand weed every bit out. I looked around with a degree of envy at my neighbour's plots. Weed free and finely tilled. I managed about four square metres. It was hot and I was preoccupied with Suzy.

The goats went in. I foraged for greenery for them. This was a slim time for stuff for them to chew on overnight. I must be the only bloke in the village praying for weeds to grow!

I ate and went to the pub. Hobo and I were joined by another chap who I have mentioned before. There was a serious discussion of mobile phones, followed by a heated discussion upon why the houses in the village are aligned as they are. My contention was that, certainly along Petőfi utca, they are aligned north/south (with minor variations). Hobo accused me of saying that north was not north and south was not south - hence the heated discussion. The other chap agreed with me.

I was suffering a pain in the side. A sharp, stabbing type muscular pain somewhere slighty rear of left of the middle of the rib cage. It was not goat or dog inflicted. I had not noticed anything particular that had brought it on, but I had definitely twinged a little muscle somewhere in that area.

8th April 2011

I was up early. I had the vet coming. I almost beat him. I had shopped, breakfasted and was literally on the doorstep to put the goats out. Eight o'clock. I went out to his car. We shook hands in the Hungarian fashion and I explained that he would be better going up to Telek utca and I would bring the goats to him. I hooked up Suzy and the kid followed. I looked up the garden and saw the car but not the vet. I let Suzy linger a moment then led her on up. I had planned to put them up that end today anyway. Vet appeared through the broken fence at the top and we met in about the right place. I staked out Suzy. The vet grabbed junior by a hind leg and stuck a needle in him. "Tetanus?" I enquired. "Igen".

The vet selected another syringe and needle. Expertly he stood on Suzy's chain, grabbed her and palpated her udder. In went the injection. That was it. I asked "Should I milk her?". The reply came back "Igen". The price? Three thousand forints - ten pounds. Now, how much would a vet callout and treatment of two animals have cost in the UK? Seventy? A hundred pounds? I was writing of financial stuff only the other day, but today was an eye opener. No wonder that professional people in Hungary bemoan the fact that they are in the EC but still get paid third world fees.

I got the other goats out, did some digging, a bit of computer work and some more digging.

After lunch I decided that the ash from my big fire should go back on the garden. So it did. I lightly raked it into the area where the maincrop potatoes are going. All good for the potassium content of the soil.

Later it was time to get the goats in, and it was a whole new ball game. I had to prepare before they came in. Not only did I have to get Betty in first so that Suzy did not attack her but also I had to prepare another bucket of munchables for Suzy, and my makeshift goat milking equipment. One of my five litre fermenters to serve as a milk receptacle, another to contain udder wash - which is nothing more nor less than a solution of very diluted sodium hypochorite - and the normal evening distribution of goat goodies.

Suzy did not know what was expected of her. I had to manhandle her onto the goat table and put her in the trap. She kicked when I washed her udder and she kicked again when I attempted to milk her. I managed to get about enough milk to go in a cup of coffee. She was inexperienced and so was I.

I finally got to the pub. John turned up but no Hobo. We were chatting when Hobo did turn up. In his cups and in one of his blacker moods. He launched into me about the dogs (again). I was on the point of drinking up and leaving but Láci and another customer intervened and I know not what they said in Hungarian but I am guessing that it was along the lines of "Hobo, it's none of your business if Steve has his dogs in the house, so shut the f*ck up!". Fortunately he did, and we had quite a good evening after that.

9th April 2011

Up before seven, lit the stove and had breakfast. For the first time I had goat milk in my coffee. Apparently I should not have but as I write I have had no ill effects. Opinions on the Internet vary. I console myself with the fact that the milk went in scalding hot coffee and was almost certainly thoroughly paralysed, err, pasteurised before it went into me. It was not off-colour, bad smelling, lumpy or in any way abnormal. It was, well, just milk.

I immediately discovered mistake No. 1 in this milking malarky. The milk had still been in the milking container into which it had gone from Suzy. Resolution: put the milk somewhere else immediately after milking and wash the kit up! I washed it up, rinsed and sterilised it and went to milk Suzy.

I had a big, heavy day of work ahead. A once a year type of day. I had been promised help by Jozsi a bit later in the day and had decided that today was the day the deep litter came out of the goat house:
Deep Litter I worked solidly for four hours. This was part way through. The upturned trough (right) had reappeared, the manger had reappeared (on goat table) and the deep litter was no longer level with the top of the goat table. That goat table is eighteen inches high to the bit the goats stand on.

At the end of my four hour stint I was down to floor as far as the start of the corridor. My decision to use deep litter was absolutely vindicated. The top layer was absolutely dry to the extent of being dusty. All the goat droppings, barley, maize seeds and so on had worked their way pretty well to the bottom with the trampling about of goats on it. The bottommost layers were pretty much already compost. The layers above that were just slightly damp rolled up, just like rolling up a carpet. They were warm to the body as I carried them out. They got as far as just outside the goat house - I had neither the time or the energy to take them further.

True to his word Jozsi turned up and took over from me. I was able to grab a bite to eat and set about another job - barring up the window of the workshop outhouse whence Pickle had escaped to prevent a recurrence in the event of me wishing to lock the dogs away.

Now, Jozsi is a lot younger, fitter and probably stronger than I but it still took him another three and a half hours to get down to floor level throughout. Together we finished off with shovel and brush getting the floor as clean as we could. I would have liked to have hosed it all out but by now time was running away from us and I still had the evening jobs to do - get the goats in, milk. I did take Jozsi for a quick beer and paid him.

Back home, and I performed the above mentioned offices and not forgetting my resolution stored the milk and washed up the milking kit. Absolutely bushed I went back to the pub just as I was - filthy, probably stinking. I didn't care. My only concession was to take the wellies off and put the trainers on.

A couple of pictures for your interest:
A tulip tree in blossom. Tulip Tree
Derelict Tanya Almost opposite the pub is this little what I would call tanya (Hungarian cottage), much derelict. I have always been meaning to get a photo of it, and I have always been curious about it but have never managed to find anything out. Maybe a certain one of my readers can enlighten me.

10th April 2011

After yesterday's efforts I was stiff, sore and still very fatigued. I resolved to have an easy day.

My morning's work was getting a couple of rows of maincrop potatoes in the ground. The weather was plenty warm enough for that and the ground was starting to get a bit dry. Plenty damp enough at the depth of spuds though. I mused over the events of the last few days whilst I was doing it. Plenty of thinking time on those sorts of jobs. Bad habit of mine - thinking! The thought came to me that it is a far cry now compared to the same period three years ago when all I was concerned about was getting one small patch of garden started. Now I found myself much more concerned and involved with the management of the whole plot. It dawned upon me that, particularly with the onset of milking Suzy, I had made some sort of switch from being a hobbyist gardener on a big plot of land in Hungary to being a smallholder.

Satisfied, I went for an early beer, in keeping with my easy day. It happened that there was a foregathering of a number of the regulars in there, and without exception they all greeted me by name and shook me by the throat hand. I had a leisurely beer and went on home. I bumped into John on his travels along the way. A thought came to mind that he had mentioned at some stage recently his lack of success at growing mint from seed. I had happened to notice that mine, kindly donated as four sprigs from somebody's garden, was now spreading like a weed. I offered that if John called by on his way home I would dig him a few sprigs out. He called a little while later, so I did. What surprised me was that the ground was like concrete. I had some difficulty digging some out.

The afternoon was a repeat of the morning, and with evening offices complete and another trip to the pub that was the day.

11th April 2011

I had plans for the day based on the weather forecast and Hobo's possible whereabouts. The day dawned as forecast - bright and clear with not too much wind and not too hot. I took the goats out. I put them fairly well up the plot. Rudy decided to throw a strop every inch of the way. Tiresome!

I went round to John's after that. His parents were over, and it was possible that they might be leaving today to return to the UK. I didn't want to miss them. I stayed a while for coffee and a chat. It turned out that they had decided not to leave today anyway. After that it was time for my next project of the day - cycle into Körmend.

The reason for cycling was that I had two particular calls to make, both of which were some distance on the outskirts of town and both of which were in different directions. I had arranged to meet Hobo in the Presszo bar to possibly assist with one. He was there as arranged and he bought me a beer. There was a discussion on transport. Some phone calls were made and some talk with the barman, all to no avail. Hobo finally persuaded one of the locals in there to lend him a bike, and we set off to Fitting Kft., in the industrial part of town to the west. It was a good couple of kilometers. Although I knew of its existence I had never been in there. The reason for going today was that they are the Al-Ko dealer in town. The vexed question of strimmer was rapidly rearing its head. You know, when I bought the MTD strimmer someone said I would regret it. I had. Frequently. On a number of occasions I had theatened to ride with it over to Csakanydoroszló and throw it in the Raba river.

We arrived, and Fitting Kft proved to be a stonking store; a veritable Alladin's Cave of gardening and ironmongery. We got taken to look at the Al-Ko strimmers. They only had a little one much like my MTD and the big industrial one. It turned out that that had the same engine in as the one I had been looking at on the Internet anyway. We went back to the counter to look at prices. The negotiations began, with Hobo in charge of course. The 52,990 Ft price tag magically became 42990 Ft. That was less than the price that I paid for the MTD plus the previous repairs plus the repairs it needed now. Ah, if only I had known Hobo better when the original situation arose! Such is life. That price corresponded with the cheapest that I could find the smaller model on the Internet and this machine came with shoulder strap and almost cycle-type handlebars to control it. Hobo mentioned that it is the same model that the chap who does the village verges uses. I reckon that he does more work with his in a month than I would do in two years.

Next problem was how to get it home. Hobo came to the rescue on that one as well. He said that he would speak to Tibi - not my neighbour Tibi but the guy who drives the red village bus. He said that he (Tibi) would undoubtedly be going into Körmend tomorrow, tomorrow being Tuesday. Another one solved.

We celebrated by cycling back to the Presszo bar where Hobo returned the bike to its owner and I paid for the hire by way of a piros fröccs. Hobo talked about coming round to mine tomorrow to assemble the strimmer. From the size and shape of the box it was packed in, it obviously would need some assembly. Mmmm - not if I could help it. Good chap though he is I have seen Hobo at work with nuts and bolts. When they break or strip they are tight enough. As my old grandad used to say "Tight's tight. Too tight's loose.". It was time for me to cycle on out of town again after that.

I went to the Vasiviz office (the water company) in an attempt to resolve more problems with their billing system. I found their office OK and when I went in there was a bloke walking down the corridor. He directed me to the correct office where a middle aged lady asked me what I wanted. Out came all my paperwork, and I explained in my best pidgin magyarul. It couldn't have been that bad as she understood immediately and was on the phone to their head office in Sombathely. She asked me if I had read the water meter. I had, and told her the figure. More discussion on the phone resulted. Immediately she put the phone down she filled in a form which I had to sign and told me that I had no need to pay. A good job too, as if I did pay I would have been about two and a half years in advance with my water payments. A success then.

I cycled back into town, made some calls at random shops and cycled back to Halogy. Time was getting on and it was immediately into my evening routine. Goats in, milk Suzy, eat and go to the pub. I was already in my town clothes - I took a chance on getting the goats in in them, so no need to change.

I was heartened by the experience in the water office - not only had the lady understood me, but I had understood her.

12th April 2011

I was up early. I had shopped and breakfasted before eight. I happened to spot Erzsi, the faluház lady, cycle by on her way to unlock the faluház. I grabbed the receipt for the strimmer and cycled on down there. It so happened that Tibi of the village bus was already there. I asked him if Hobo had spoken to him. Nope! Good old Hobo. I explained to Tibi that if he was going into Körmend today (which he undoubtely would be, it being a Tuesday) could he pick up the strimmer from Fitting Kft? No problem. I gave him the receipt and told him that the people at Fitting were expecting him and only him to pick it up.

After the goats I started on digging over the outhouse garden. The crop that will go in there will not go in until mid-May but I had a reason for doing it now. More later.

I had two stints at that with a smoke break between. Easy going is that piece of ground with only the occasional weed. I had lunch.

More digging after lunch, back on the main garden. I really needed to get some brassicas in.

Half way through the afternoon the new strimmer arrived. There was no sign of Hobo so I was able to assemble it myself. And a right dog's breakfast I made of it too. The instructions were quite obviously for a previous model from mine and they did not make clear that they were also for the other type of strimmer - the intermediate model that I had originally intended buying. A couple of false starts and several sets of adjustment later it was done. Put some petroil in and try it then. What ratio of petrol to oil did it use? Had to go back to the manual for that one. Twenty five to one. Blast, my mixture was forty to one. I found some more oil. Now, how to change 40:1 mixture into 25:1 mixture? Fortunately one of the accessories is a graduated mixing bottle. More oil went in - about that much. Into the machine it went. I followed the instructions for getting it started. Two pulls and it purred into life, ran for a few seconds and stopped. Now what? It refused to restart. I went back to the manual and re-read. I had neglected to carry out one of the instructions, which was to open the choke to the normal position as soon as it started. Moral? RTFM (Read That Fine Manual - there is another version!). I soon had it started again and went to give it a road test on the little patch in front of the house. I had no sooner started using it than it stopped again. Now what? It took me a little while to diagnose that I had inadvertantly caught the Run/Stop switch and moved it to the Stop position. I managed to do that several times. Mmmm - more adjustment of the controlling handle needed. Oh well, that could wait until tomorrow.

With that it came on to rain. Not much, just spits and spots. I put the strimmer away, cleared up the packaging and put the toolkit with various ancillaries where I knew where it was. The Fine Manual went into the house. Speaking of which, I always reckon that if you buy a car and it comes with a Haynes manual you can tell the things that have gone wrong with the car by flicking through the manual and finding the pages with the oily fingermarks on.

It came on to rain quite meaningfully. Goats! In they went and I chucked some stuff in for them to chobble. There was a clap of thunder as I was getting them in. They needed no encouragement to get inside.

The weather settled to a steady rain that looked set in for the evening. What the Hungarians call good weather. The garden had certainly needed it.

I milked about an hour later. I cannot say that I was good at it. Still working one handed and doing a side at a time. Suzy had got used to my tender ministrations and is really an excellent goat to milk. She even hops up on the table and puts her head in the trap when I put her food tray on the table. In my inexperience I know when I have milked her out. a) no more milk and b) she gets fidgetty.

After that it was cook, eat, wash, change and cycle up to the pub under the umbrella. The telly had quite a long article on the price of food. Well, that is only likely to get worse as the effects of the Libya situation on oil price filter through the system. Have you seen the latest price on crude oil? I don't comment often but I check every day.

This turned up on the Beeb website.. Mmmm - what a wonderful bit of doublespeak! "At the moment there is very little public health risk outside the 30-km (evacuation) zone.". Very little != none, and by implication or omission the health effects within the 30-km exclusion zone must be not very little, which implies that they are at least significant. And this little gem "processed raw milk". "Processed"? "Raw"? Mutually exclusive. Raw milk is what you get in your bucket when you milk your cow or goat (etc...). It only becomes processed if you do something to it after that, like pasteurising it or turning it into cheese - then it is processed. Ah, sigh, the quality of English language reporting!

13th April 2011

Another lovely morning, bright and sunny but not too hot. Cool enough to encourage some more physical stuff. Shop, breakfast, milk, goats out. I went back to digging the outhouse garden. Somewhat ruefully I reflected on the thick layer of walnut leaves that I turned in. Well, they would undoubtedly have ended up in the garden anyway but the idea had been that they should have gone through the goats first!

I had lunch, then back to finish off the outhouse garden. It did not take long.

The events of the last days, in particular the onset of milking had caused me to once again reorganise my day. I had rapidly found that after the evening milking, normally about six, there simply was not time to make anything substantial to eat before it was time to go to the pub. I refuse to compromise my evening session in the pub. It is, after all, my social life and my way of learning the language. I also refuse to compromise my eating. I do like my basic but high energy breakfast (toast and jam). Lunch varies with the seasons between being the substantial meal of the day and a snack, and vice versa my evening meal. The decision that I made was that with the extra job of milking, plus the complication of getting the goats in something else would have to give and I would do the substantial meal bit before getting the goats in and doing the milking.

So I did this evening, putting aside the time to make, bake and eat a chicken and vegetable pie. I find that since I lost all the excess weight that I was carrying when I first arrived here my whole metabolism has changed. I have lost even more weight, but I have become leaner, wirier and have far more endurance than I had a couple of years ago.

For the first time this year I was able to take the scythe out early evening and scythe down a big basket full of fresh greenery from just one little patch that the goats do not go on for their overnight munchies. I was in the middle of doing that when Tibi hailed me from the fence down the way towards the houses, and two great sacks were hurtled over onto the camping lawn. When I investigated them it proved to be two sacks of freshly cut greenery. Great minds obviously think alike! ;)

I got the goats in, milked and then carried out a "procedure" on the kid. He did not much like it, but even so he only uttered a single "Meah" when it was done. Very silent animals, goat kids, and apparently they will all do the hiding thing that I mentioned before. Nature's way of helping them protect themselves from predators I guess. I even lost him in the garden one day. I could see him nowhere and I even checked all the post holes to make sure he had not fallen in one. It took a while to spot him. He was lying in a bit of longer grass, as down as he could get and quite motionless.

Pub in the evening and Hobo was in one of his darker moods again. Fortunately I was not the subject of it this evening. Some other poor unfortunate bore the brunt.

14th April 2011

The weather was certainly undecided when I got up. I shopped, breakfasted and milked but decided to leave the goats in until the weather decided what it was going to do. I got a couple of pictures for you:
Here is Suzy standing quite placidly on the goat table and in the trap munching prior to milking... Goat on Milking Table
Buck Looks Over Door ...and Rudy looks on over the sty door.
By about ten it was obvious that it was not going to rain so the goats went out. I put them fairly close by just in case the weather changed its mind. It was not really a nice day and there was a blustery, quite cold wind gusting around.

I finished off the outhouse garden by tilling a border all around with the Hungarian hand powered equivalent of a rotovator, of which I must get a picture, and sowing a goodly row of lettuce seed all round right up to the outhouse wall. They are not for me, or the goats. They are a sacrifice crop hopefully to keep the slugs off what will go in the outhouse garden in mid-May.

I have a weed problem in the garden. Mmmm, yes. I need to rephrase that. The general weed problem is part of the reason why the goats are here. I have a particular weed problem in the garden. A certain ground cover weed is spreading in certain places - mainly areas that had been strimmered to death. Problem is that the goats do not like it and will not touch it. As yet I do not know whether to use weedkiller on it, which I am rather against, or to tackle it with the broad mattock.

The weather still being somewhat unpleasant I did a bit of blog updating and then caught the bus to get a few bits from Bödő. I did not relish cycling it in the cold and gusty wind.

I finished off the pie, did the goats, showered, changed and went to the pub. John's parents came in (John was there before them) on their last evening in Halogy, returning to the UK tomorrow. We had a pleasant evening.

I found this gem in one of the comments replying to John Michael Greer's blog. I thought I would share it with you:
Tao Te Ching

The greatest evil: wanting more.
The worst luck: discontent.
Greed's the curse of life.

To know enough's enough
is enough to know.

15th April 2011

After the usual start I decided that some of the tomato plants needed potting up. I pricked out the ten in the most urgent tray and potted them on into peat pots. They went onto a tray which turned out to be just the right size for five peat pots in a row. Once done I put the tray over the ruins of the dog kennel safely out of harms way. I thought! I did the breakfast washing up and when I went back out into the yard found a dismantled peat pot surrounded by potting compost with an ex-tomato plant strewn in it. The culprit was obvious. The black dog up to his thieving habits again. He had a good whack for that one when I collared him. I used an ex-mop handle to administer the punishment. I noticed later that I had bent it. He really does not like having whacks, but in his case he is a very quick learner and once whacked for something he knows that it is out of bounds and does not pull a repeat performance, touch wood. As I write, today the tray and remaining pots were in more or less the same place as they had been since and he has shown no inclination to go near them again.

John's mother appeared at the gate with some chicken offals for the dogs, gratefully received later and to say tata as they were off back to the UK today. I had hoped to catch John's father as well but events conspired against that as it turned out. I did a little woodwork - for John as it happens. Speaking of dog food, the dog food that I buy and which they like has a picture of a Weimaraner on it. I know that certain people who read the blog will be interested in that as we used to have one. He was a thief as well. Within a couple of days of getting him he stole, and downed, two deep frozen lamb chops, but I think his most spectacular effort was to have a Bolognese sauce off the stove. Whilst it was cooking!!!

Needing cash I put the sign out for posta. She turned up in the relief van which has no cash machine in it. Blast! That meant an unscheduled cycle into Nádasd as I had to have cash for the weekend. Hence missing John's father. With cash from the post office in pocket I freewheeled back down the hill towards Bödő. That particular road is notable by having a nice smooth tarmac finish. As I gathered pace down the hill I noticed a problem with the bike. A bumpetty-bump from the back end that should not have been there, almost as if the wheel was out of true. I pulled up and investigated. There was nothing wrong with the wheel but there was something far wrong with the tyre. It was parting company just outside the wheelrim over a length of about six inches and beginning to bulge. Oh-oh - not good.

I cycled home quite gently expecting a bang followed by immediately cycling on the rim. It didn't, fortunately. I resolved to investigate tomorrow. I went back to digging.

I had formulated a cunning plan to get more milk out of Suzy. Today, at three o'clock the kid went on his own little chain and post for a couple of hours. Ha! That certainly stopped him from stealing my milk for a little while. My idea was day by day to extend the time that he was away from his mother giving me a bit more milk every evening.

I went back to the house for some reason - can't remember - and when I looked up the garden saw Rudy and Betty apparently playing head butting games. A few moments later I looked again to see Betty down and Rudy struggling mightily. I made best haste up the garden to see what was going on. Their chains were inextricably linked and interwined. Operator error, although they had been fine most of the day. Try as I might I could not get them untangled and poor Betty was being choked. The carabiner on Rudy's chain was, well, buggered. I could not get it unclipped from his collar. By now he was in a bit of a strop as you can imagine. Only one solution. Rudy's collar had to come off. I cast him on his side and twisted his head so that he was looking at the sky. Totally disorients him - he cannot get up from that position unaided. Off came his collar and as if by magic Betty was suddenly free. I had expected to have to unknit several rounds of knit one purl one chain. Rudy was still immobilised so back went his collar, still with irremovable carabiner and I hauled him to his feet and made good my escape. I moved Betty a few feet further away. I did not need a repeat. They are dangerous, you know. Male bucks with horns. It tells me so on all the goat fora that I read. In the UK and America they are polled. Not so here. And in spite of the risks I have to say that I do prefer my goats with horns. After all, that is nature's way of providing them with a bit of defence against predators. And without horns they look a bit like "gone wrong" sheep.

I went back to the house and cooked. And ate.

Time to get the goats in and milk. In a day or so I will describe the routine. Betty and the kid went in first. Then Suzy who was put on the table with food tray of munchies ready for milking. Then Rudy. This evening he just high-tailed it straight back to the goat house at a gallop. I got him secured in his end and he helped by standing on his hind legs against the door. Off came his collar again, with carabiner still firmly attached. I dished out their treats and milked Suzy. My plan had worked. I got about three times as much milk as I ever had before.

All done I went back to the house. Empty of goat treat bucket had the Rudy collar and chain in it and I had the milk container and the udder wash container in the other hand. The goat milk hygene stuff came first - put the milk in clean jar and then wash up the milking kit, Then I had to sort out Rudy's collar and chain. Much levering with a screwdriver and judicious gentle bashing about later I had the two items apart and the carabiner in working order once again.

Somewhat belatedly I made it to the pub. Hobo had quite a chat about my magyarul. The gist of it was that I knew the words - it was about time I started learning the language. I'll write some more about that soon. Apologies for the short entry ;)

16th April 2011

I said that I would write about the routine of milking, and routine it has rapidly become. First I make up a bleach solution to sterilise the five litre fermenter into which the milk goes as a makeshift milking bucket, together with the jug into which I milk. Then I do a bucket of goat goodies that will keep Suzy happy on the table. After that I make up the udder wash, which is simply a very mild solution of sodium hypochlrate, and then scrub up my own hands.

The various receptacles get carted round to the goat house and Suzy's goodies go on the tray on the goat table. I put her goodies on the tray and she obediently hops on the table, I close the trap and she starts munching. I wash her udder next. She does not much like that. I have found that if I cradle her udder from behind with my left hand and then use my right hand to wash her udder it is no problem. After that I give my own hands a good wash in the udder wash.

Mmmm - milking a goat! Well, as a beginner, I know that you must not pull on the teats. Now, Suzy kecske does not have such big teats. The technique that I have found out for myself with Suzy is to slightly lift the udder and grip the top of the teat where it meets the udder between my thumb, palm and the first joint of my index finger. I then use the rest of my index finger to express the milk. I need no more fingers than that and the rest just get in the way. Oh, how I look forward to teaching my grandchildren to milk a goat. I may not be very good at it but I really like the milking, particularly the evening milking. Sitting there gently milking Suzy, always talking to her in a calm voice just seems to ease away any problems of the day. I always feel good, knowing that my working day is over and I can look forward to a couple of beers and good company in the pub.

The rest of my day was taken up with bitty little jobs here and there most of the day. Pretty well not worthy of comment. Except that I had to mend the gate into the garden again where Pickle was persistently trying to chew her way through it. I mended it with aluminium plate this time. Chew through that Pickle!

One of the other jobs I did was a very makeshift bicycle tyre repair. I glued a cotton patch to the inside using the spirit based glue that I have (Evostik-type stuff), wrapping the cotton over to the outside so that it was trapped between the bead of the tyre and the wheel rim. As I write it seems to have worked to hold the tyre together. Muddle through. Make do an mend. One of my dear old Dad's guiding principles was that it is better to bodge than buy!

I did not get much milk out of Suzy in the evening. I reckon the wretched goat kid had drunk all my milk!

In the pub in the evening I was shown a picture on a mobile phone. I won't say who or what but it would be coming my way, and was an object of outstanding beauty, and clearly a labour of love for the maker.

17th April 2011

It was manicure time again. After milking and putting Suzy and the kid out I chose to do Rudy first, as usual. Oh, it is getting to be a tough job. Not in any way because he is stroppy. Once he is in the trap on the goat table with munchies he is probably the best behaved of the three at toe-nail clipping time. No, tough because of the size and hardness of his feet and toe nails. Strangely, he came very calmly all the way to where I wanted him for the day after that.

I gave the house a good sweep through and then went for a beer. That sort of day.

Digging, a bit of woodwork, more digging and I decided that it was high time I had a haircut and beard trim. I sat outside in the warm sunshine to do that.

I got a fair bit more milk from Suzy at milking time today. No idea why.

In the pub in the evening the thing that I mentioned yesterday did come my way, finished. Back home I busied myself to take some photgraphs of it when a catastrophe occured that is either a major blow or a mild inconvenience. As yet I do not know. I was rearranging the object when my precious Nikon managed to find its way from office chair to floor, gravity assisted. I retrieved it and nothing seemed damaged. However the command screen was winking CHR at me. I removed and reinserted the Compact Flash memory card. Still the same. I formatted it. Still the same. I tried my other flash card and repeated all the above. Still the same. Until I can get my hands on another Compact Flash memory card I will not know whether it is a mild inconvenience - both flash cards coincidentally ceasing to work - or a major blow - the camera is buggered. There simply is nothing in my budget for what would doubtless be an expensive repair of a Nikon camera. End of story.

I since managed to get a picture of the object from Lajos, the maker of said object:
Here it is. As I said, a thing of amazing beauty. Hobo said that it should just be put in a glass case on display. My attitude was why cannot a tool be beautiful also? Sajt Prés

18th April 2011

I had shopped, breakfasted and was preparing the goat milking kit when there was a doggie commotion from the yard of the "Why are these people at the gate?" type. I put my head out of the door to see Milán and the ex-mayor of the village both from the water company at the gate. It was unusual to see them at this time of year and I later wondered if they had come to check whether I was telling porkies on my recent trip to their office. Milán does not like dogs. He is also the young man that fitted my new mains pipe to the house. I bundled Blackie into the house and shut the door, then secured Pickle to the well. Milán was in and out in half a minute having read the water meter. On his way out I asked Milán "Menny?". "Negyven.". Oh good, that was exactly what I had told them in the Vasiviz office.

I released Pickle and returned to the house to release Blackie and resume my morning routine. Bugger!! The house door was locked. Blackie was within. The milking kit was within and the keys were within. I was without. I spent a few minutes with various bits trying to poke the key within out of the lock without success. If I could get my keys out of the lock it would be no problem as I have a spare key secreted in a very unlikely place. Any prospective intruder would most likely have to run the gauntlet of two large, boisterous, objectionable dogs before they could even begin to look for it. The likely commotion would undoubtedly bring out neighbours to see what the heck was going on.

I pondered. Well, it could take a while to get back in the house. Time was passing and the goats needed to go out. OK - forget the door problem for a few minutes and get the goats out, Suzy unmilked. So that is what I did.

With goats out I returned to the house able to bring my burglaristic tendencies into a more leisurely frame of mind. I did not really want to break anything. I found my red handled screwdriver and a small knocking stick (hammer). Without hitting hard enough to chance damaging the door lock I managed to make a little nick in the end of the key, which is only monkey metal as I would call it - MAZAC. Amazingly, as I write I can find no suitable references on Google. MAZAC (monkey metal) used to stand for Magnesium, Aluminium, Zinc and Copper which was much in use fourty years ago because if its ease of casting.

Anyway, with a nick in the end of the key inside and a bit of wiggle-waggling of screwdriver there was a satisfying clatter of my bunch of keys hitting the hallway floor. I unlocked the door with the spare key and opened it. Only to have my bunch of keys on the hallway floor wedge underneath it when the door was only about four inches open. Black dog was still inside trying to get out and I was outside trying to get in. I went to the workshop and found something thin enough and flexible enough to poke under the narrow door opening that I had and flick the keys out of the way.

Black dog was out and I was in. I paused for a few moments to savour a small victory and a pipe of tobacco.

I finally made it back to the garden for my alloted task of the day - finish off digging my patch for where the early brassicas will go. It was once again infested with couch grass. I simply had to hand weed it as I went. Not hard work, but slow going. Today the tune in my head was "The Sailor and Young Nancy" of which I have an actual paid for MP3. It always happens. Whilst I work on some grindingly monotonous task on the garden something will come unbidden into my head. Some of them are bizarre - I worked a whole day with "The Farmer Wants a Wife".

I had a smoke break and went back for more. "I am bound for the East Indies where the loud cannons roar".

Lunch, and more digging - "And if ever I return again I will make you my bride.".

Hobo turned up purely for a social visit and ended up dragging me over to the shop where he bought me a beer and we sat outside with the seemingly ever-growing clan of village p*ss-heads and drank it.

Back home I ate and then did the evening goat stuff. I had started a regime of keeping little goat away from Suzy for a few hours in the afternoon. It paid dividends in milk yield.

Pub after that, of course.

Ah! It's all falling apart.

19th April 2011

Usual start, except that once I had Suzy on the milking table and milked, I did her toenails too. Mmmm! She was none too amenable about that.

They went out and I did a load of work in the garden. Some hoeing, two more rows of peas went in and three rows of white beans. I made a brassica nursery bed and sowed a row of brussels, a row of cauliflowers, a row of broccoli and two rows of cabbages.

The ground was getting very dry. I decided that it was time to sort out the garden hose. Not good. The original twenty five metres of Tesco hose was disintegrating in front of my eyes. I managed to mend some - insulation tape, tightly bound polypropylene string and more insulation tape. All not good, of course. All petrochemical based and all subject to rapid degradation in the heat of summer here. You know, I can feel a yoke coming on.

Marika appeared with a load more food for the goats. She saves all her peelings, outside leaves of cabbages, etc. as input to the goats.

I did a bit of work with the new strimmer. I managed all the way around one patch of garden and got halfway round the other. I hit something - I suspect a bit of wire in the grass and the strimmer immediately went to over-rev. I stopped it to check and whatever it was had sheared off the line both sides. I say that I suspect it was a bit of wire as I continue to find it everywhere. It turns up in the yard, it turns up when I am digging and it turns up when I am using a strimmer. Mmmm - OK, need to rethread the line then. I found my way into it with no problem - it had a little button that said "Press and twist" with a little arrow to show which way to twist. I did, and it came apart. It was fairly obvious how to rethread the line. There was even an instruction moulded in that told me which way to wind the line. So I did. Could I get the thing back together? Could I not! I retired to the yard with it and studied. The problem was that I could not grip the bit that remained attached to the machine hard enough and simultaneously reverse the procedure for getting it undone. It occured to me in a flash of perspiration that there was a means of locking the rotating head. I did that, and in just a few seconds the line container and the tap-and-go mechanism went back on with a satisfying click. I tried it out on the yard. Hmmm - tap-and-go did not seem to work. I redid from start and tried again, this time tapping it against the asphalt of the yard. It worked. Enough for the day. It was time to feed me and get the goats in.

I can't remember which one I was getting in but they paused for a munch by the little morello tree. I noticed that it was absolutely laden with blossom. It was too last year but then we had the spell of dreadfully cold and wet weather in which nothing was pollenated. I hoped that this year would not be a repeat. I got about a dozen sour cherries off that tree last year. They just went into the goats.

Rudy was in one of his moods going back to the goat house. I had read on some goat site somewhere that the answer was to spray vinegar into their face. I had already tried that but he always came back for more. This evening in the struggle the spray head came off the bottle. Whatever, he had to have it. I downed him and poured it straight in his eye. When he got up he was considerably cowed and had that eye closed. He did not come back for more and I got him in with no further ado. I worried about if I had damaged him of which more tomorrow. Well, it is a case of him or me and by whatever means I am determined that it will be me.

I milked, washed up, had a bite to eat and went to the pub. The dramas of the day were not yet complete. As usual I went to feed the dogs when I got home. Their food bowls went on the now cold stove for me to put into them the dog food. To do that I had to put the tray with the remaining unstolen by black dog pots of tomatoes on a stool. Black dog was milling about. I repeatedly told him to come away but he did not. The inevitable happened and there was a crash as the tray of about six little tomato plants went on the floor. I was fuming. Black dog had physical punishment. I was still fuming. I had some left-overs to put in the dog food this evening. Pickle got her dog food with her ration of left-overs. Black dog got the compost and peat pots from the floor with his ration of left-overs mixed in. He ate most of it!

20th April 2011

Shopped, breakfasted, milked and took the goats out by the usual routine at the moment. Rudy was suitable cowed after yesterday evening's experience. I still had the sprayer with me and he stayed the full length of his chain away from me all the way up the garden.

I succumbed to the craving for real meat and cycled up to catch the meat van. I had a craving for a home made beefburger. No beef! A butcher's van with no beef. I suppose that it reflects the status in life of many Hungarian villagers. If they cannot afford a car, and in many cases cannot afford the bus fare into town they have to make do with what is on the van. Which is pork. And in many cases not that right often. I ended up with my usual slab of pork chop on the bone. It was a goodly lump. I asked him if he had any smaller. He did not have. I later reckoned that it was enough for five meals - pork stew, pork stew, pork stew and porkburger, porkburger. Where the hell is Porkburg anyway? Come to that, where the hell is Beefburg? I know where Hamburg is!

Back home I got my tray of Brussels sprouts into the ground. We really do need some rain.

I did a bit of woodworking and then had lunch, over which I managed a bit of blog updating.

After lunch I checked on the goats and segregated the kid from his mother. Little so-and-so is still stealing my milk. I returned to the yard to find Tibi mowing my bit of the verge. I responded in kind by getting out the new strimmer with the intention of doing the sides of the drainage ditch on his bit and mine. He beat me to it with his own. I did mine and he did his. He had a look at my new machine and declared it good. He cautioned me against revving the whatsits off it.

I went to a gentler pursuit of pricking out and potting on more tomato plants.

I never mentioned before but the have repaired the edges of the road through the village. They have macadamised it. Note that I do not say tarmac'ed it. I had never seen that done before. I wonder if they know something that we do not. A sign of times past to come again maybe.

We also all had a paper from the faluház about the parlous state of village finances and exhorting us all to take care of our verges and ditches ourselves. Time will tell, but I wonder if we have seen the last of the village handiman and his sidekick with mower and strimmer?

The HUF/GBP exchange rate is killing me. The forint is, for no discernable reason, inordinately strong. I followed an Internet link from Pestiside News and the article that I read said that analysts had no idea why the forint should be so strong. Well, it is doing me no favours at all.

21st April 2011

Usual start, with another warm spring day in promise. Now, when I say a warm spring day that actually means that the shade temperature would be maybe twenty but the temperature in the direct sun would be maybe thirty, maybe fourty. Quite warm.

Having broken my fast I had no need of other than jeans, tee shirt and wellies when I went to milk and put the goats out. Rudy was bolshie again. When I got Betty out she had to have her toe nails clipped. I took with me the milking stool and did it in the garden. Did I say garden? Meadow. I like having a meadow. The goats like having a meadow too. The neighbours are somewhat ambivalent about me having a meadow.

As I said, I had to do Betty's toe nails. It still surprises me that her feet get in the worst condition, but then again it does not when I think about it logically. Rudy is a big, fine, strong buck animal. The actual cutting of his toe nails is hard work, as I have described. But he has no problem with his hooves. Suzy is Cinderella - the hooves are just right - not too hard, not too overgrown. Betty on the other hand is a problem. She is the smallest and lightest of the three adults. She does not manage to wear down her hooves by clambering about here and there. They were a mess and it took me longer to sort out her eight hooves than did Rudy and Suzy combined. She was not too happy about it, but I was. Sitting in the shade of the remnants of the big chestnut tree on a fine spring morning doing what I had to do.

With all done I retired to the kitchen where I stored the goat milk, washed all up and set about the slab of pork from yesterday. Two thirds went into the slow cooker and one third went through my toy mincer. Once again the potassium metabisulphite came out to play. It did not kill me last time. I will let you know if it does this time.

I watered some of the garden, had lunch and returned to the garden to sort out compost heaps. The composted stuff went on the garden to be dug in for the tomatoes and paprika, and the non-composted stuff went on top of the other compost heap.

John appeared at the gate with rhubarb. We went to the pub for one (or two).

Back home I sampled the delights of the slow cooker, having first made a couple of suet dumplings to go in it and cook. Ah, beef suet. Many moons ago Hobo assured me that he could obtain beef suet. One of those Hungarian things. It never happened.

I did the goats and went to the pub. A young man in there won quite a lot of money on the one-armed-bandit. He bought a round for everyone. Me and him. In fairness, as the evening customers trickled in he bought them drinks too.

Amongst them were Hobo, me (again) and various others. Lajos came in and he and Hobo immediately started a verbal jousting match. I never mentioned it before, but they were school mates with only three months between them, and they have been daggers drawn ever since.

22nd April 2011

After the normal start it was time to clean up the yard, if you know what I mean, and take the new strimmer to it. I followed Tibi's advice, giving it just enough revs to keep the centrifugal clutch engaged. I made two discoveries. The first was that I did the whole of the yard in half the time that it took with the MTD strimmer. The second was that it used about a fifth of the petrol to do the yard compared to the MTD. Now, that should not really have come a a surprise considering my knowledge of the car transport business. We had a mixed fleet of ageing, smaller trucks and newer, larger and much more powerful trucks. Without exception the newer, larger and more powerful trucks returned much better fuel consumption than the older ones.

I did a minor two minute woodworking job and then made a sandwich for lunch. I had just finished when Hobo turned up. I spoke to him about weldmesh and concrete. As it turned out, today was as good a day as any to sort it out. I did a quick bit of checking on the goats and went to find him in the pub. A beer appeared, and then another. I paid for neither.

Eventually we set pedals for Nádasd. When we arrived there he went one way (to the pub) and I went another but changed plans between then and then to go and get petrol for the strimmer first and thus do my part towards the depletion of the finite resources of the earth.

Hobo saw me cycle up that way - he was cycling up the gravel track to the pub. Instead of going to to pub he followed me up to the filling station. I have to say that getting petrol - though I am much against it - does give me a sense of wry amusement as I park the push bike by the pumps and the young man comes out to serve me. I have the black plastic petrol container bungeed on the carrier. All I have to do is leave it there and remove the cap.

The reason for Hobo joining me became apparent when we cycled the hundred metres further to inspect weldmesh at the big builder's merchant next door to the filling station. I don't know why I bothered having Hobo along. I suspected that the weldmesh would have to come from there, and it one of the only establishments where Hobo cannot negotiate a discount. I sorted out what was needed and got a price for it. Ouch! More later.

We cycled back... No, I will rephrase that. We freewheeled back down the hill to the Csillág bar on the wrong side of the road, elbowing aside the Magyar equivalent of the Tour de France as we went. I jest, of course.

We had a beer in the Csillag bar, paid for by Hobo and then another, also paid for by Hobo during which I had a quick walk over to Bödő, some hundred metres away, to get strimmer line. It turned into a mini pub crawl when Hobo dragged me over the road to Cafe Rick, where he bought the beers and I was pressed, for the very first time, into doing and paying for a ticket for him and a ticket for me for the Hungarian lottery. A beer and a half a beer followed, none paid for by me. Time was ticking by and I still had to get home and do goat work.

I took my leave and cycled home at my best pace. The dogs were where they should be and so were the goats. In haste I assembled goat food and milking kit. Food was distributed, goats returned to their house and Suzy provided me with more than enough milk for the morn.

I ate, changed and went to the pub. Hobo was noticable by his absence.

23rd April 2011

I was in the shop quite early. So were many other people, all stocking up for the bank holiday weekend. I got my bread - a whole loaf, which I had had the forethought to order, and my quarter kilogramme húsvéti kalács, which turned out to be a glazed plaited loaf of slightly sweet, very white, fine bread. A traditional Hungarian thing apparently. Note that I did not say delicacy. Had to be tried I suppose. I don't think I will be bothering next year.

Breakfasted, Suzy was milked and out went the goats, me having my daily tussle with Rudy. I had just got Suzy out when Lajos appeared at the gate. He did not come in but unloaded my finally sawn up acacia logs and propped them on the fence by the gate. He just waved and off he went. The goats went out just beyond the garden. There was a hail from the fence - my next door neighbour at the top. He wanted the goats up by the fence to his garden. I told him later - I had just got them all staked out by then. Later actually turned out to mean tomorrow.

I watered a bit of the garden on my way back to the yard. I washed up the milking kit, then the breakfast stuff. I always make sure to do the milking kit first in the nice clean washing up water and then my stuff afterwards. After that, clothes washing and got them on the line to dry. They would not take long. It was a warm day with a nice bit of breeze blowing. After that I spent some time with the panel scraper getting a really fine finish on John's thing preparatory to linseed oiling it.

I fancied a beer, so I went for one. Hobo was in there. He bought the beer. Then another. He was obviously intent on an early start to Easter.

Back at the house I had lunch then went to check on the goats. I thought to take more water with me. It was about time to segregate the kid from his mother anyway. Rudy had done his usual trick with his water bucket. He will have a couple of drinks out of it then he picks it up in his front teeth and chucks it. Stupid goat.

I went back to moving compost again. Wherever I have had a compost heap I find a depression in the ground where it was. I pondered that as I worked. Of course - earthworms. They do like to get into the lower layers of a compost heap and I guess that on each trip they take a little soil with them.

Towards the end of the afternoon, and slightly as a sop to my neighbour for not getting the goats moved, I got the scythe and chopped back a bit by his fence and by the side of his cottage. I needed some greenery for the goats anyway. The winter goat food was all gone but by now it was growing everywhere certainly as fast as the goats were eating it, and there are still places where I cannot park them.

The goats went in and I milked. Changed and went to the pub. Hobo had bitten the dust. Nowhere to be seen.

24th April 2011

The goats went out, up by the neighbour's fence towards Telek utca. Well, the two girls and the little one did. Rudy was a right royal pain in the backside from the moment he left the goat house. I wrestled with him, sat on him until he bleated and squirted him. He still kept coming back for more. By half way up the garden I parked him on one of the old standpipes and retired to the yard. I deliberately put him where there was not a lot to eat and where he could barely see the girls. He started "Meah, meah, meah" as soon as I walked away.

I got back to the yard literally dripping with sweat. I took the spray bottle with me. Time to up the ante a bit. Just as I got to the yard gate Hobo appeared. He saw the state I was in and enquired the reason. I told him. We retired to the kitchen where he plied me with pálinka - well, two of my very small glasses anyway. He was still in his "I am celebrating Easter" mood. We sat and chatted for the best part of an hour.

He left. I upped the ante in the spray bottle somewhat - not too much. I went back up the garden to reunite Rudy with his flock. He was still going "Meah, meah, meah". As soon as I approached him he was still in the same frame of mind. I positioned myself such that if he came for me I could reach his horns but he could not reach my legs. Every time he came for me, head down, he got a spray of the now stronger vinegar. It took twenty minutes, but eventually he did not come back for more and went as far away from me as his chain would allow. I ventured into the radius of his chain. He still did not come back. I led him gradually up to where I wanted him in the first place today. He came quite meekly. As I write he has been no further problem. He will be again, of course. It is in his nature to want to be the herd boss. Well, he is. Just so long as I am not around.

I did some cooking-type stuff and a bit of housework. It is still in disarray and likely to stay so. As much as my pretences at being houseproud are, my priorities are elsewhere. Goats. Food in the garden. Hobo reappeared. He dragged me kicking and screaming up to the pub where he bought a beer. John appeared and had one too. I went home to deal with goats.

I caught up with a good friend on Sykpe and we had a chat for some while. Then I did a bit more at John's woodwoking project, caused by my own carelessness. Ate, and it was time to get the goats in. Betty and the kid first, then Suzy. Finally Rudy. He trotted/galloped about two thirds of the way down to the goat house. Paused. Reared up on his hind legs as if in preparation for a charge. And then thought better of it and trotted obediently into the goat house. The old lady next door appeared at the fence. She was armed with a grass hook (sickle) and basket. The basket was full of greenery for the goats. I distributed it and returned the basket. I milked and went into the house, did the goat washing up, changed and went to the pub.

Later, I thought about my day. You know, the first year that I was here I rarely ventured up to the Telek utca end of the plot. Today I had done it multiple times. I did a quick rule-of-thumb calculation. I reckoned that I had walked up and down the plot for about four or five kilometres today.

I found this 2007 essay by Perry Arnett that I had not read before. It makes very chilling reading. I urge you all to read it.

25th April 2011

Considering it was Easter Monday I was up early. Earlier than a normal day. I went about my routine as normal but I had something else to do afterwards. Breakfast, goat milking, goats out. Once again Rudy was cooperative. I wonder if I finally got through to him? I doubt it, but for the moment thanks be for small mercies.

It was time to go and sprinkle the neighbouring ladies. I did not know about this custom until late in the day last Easter Monday. I did manage then to borrow an atomiser from Hobo and cycled home and sprinkled Marika and her daughter-in-law. I was much better prepared this year. I had resurrected an empty atomiser sprayer that I had, bought the necessary Eau-de-Cologne in the shop, managed to get the crimped on sprayer head off the atomiser and had it filled and primed.

My first target was my dear old lady neighbour at No. 72. I missed her last year. She must have been very much affronted. I wandered round, still in my work clothes and tapped on her door. No response. I waited for a moment and knocked a little more loudly. This time I heard her voice from within and in about a minute she opened the door. I did the necessary sprinkling and she beamed with pleasure. She had me wait a moment and went back inside. She returned with yet another litre of her wine. I thanked her profusely and took my leave. My eyes misted with tears as I returned home to deposit the litre of wine. My eyes mist again as I write this. That a lady of great age should take so much pleasure from the odd English neighbour with the goats and the horrid dogs, well dog, taking the trouble to perform a Hungarian Easter Monday tradition quite got to me.

I composed myself and went on to the next target - Marika. It happened that as I went from my gate to next door Marika was walking back from wherever she had been, only some fifty metres away on the pavement across the road. I waited for her at her gate. I was invited in, and did the necessary sprinkling. A large pálinka followed, and I do mean large. I turned down the offer of another. I had been down that road before, as anyone who has read my account of the first village pig killing will know.

I took my leave, went home and got the bicycle out in search of my next intended recipients. I cycled up the village to Toni and Eva. Sadly I got no response there. Next target - Hobo's mum. I did get a response there, including a pálinka and a guided tour of their new chickens, all in a separate little hen house, including two speckled hen chicks. I tried again at Toni and Eva's place, but still no response. As I cycled back down the hill I spotted another target. The landlady from the pub was in her best attire and was with a group outside the templom. I pulled the bike up and gave her a sprinkle. Also her daughter-in-law, who accepted the sprinkle but on the wrist.

Back home I checked the goats. Yes, I could see them all from the yard. They were not cavorting about in an agitated fashion, and they were all contentedly munching. No need to go up the garden just yet, then.

I refinished the bit of woodwork that I managed to mess up, and then tried to cut a piece of glass. As usual it did not play ball. It cut anywhere but where I wanted it to. All the glass I have is elderly, brittle and flakey (i.e. not consistent). I have this feeling in my water that I will just have to cycle the eight kilometres to Ivánc and back for four little pieces of glass. Would you believe that (as far as I have been able to find out, and I have enquired) there is nowhere in Körmend that you can get a piece of glass cut to size. I know where the glass merchant is in Ivánc - I happened to notice it from the car window when Lajos took me to get the goats.

After lunch I did venture up the garden with pail of water, and chain for the kid. I topped up their water - in Rudy's case all of it, he having done his normal trick - and segregated the kid from Suzy. Every three days he gets segregated by an extra half an hour. Little bugger would steal my milk else.

I spent the afternoon on blog updates and some other computer work, which did not work.

Early evening I ate and then did the goat-getting-in ritual. This evening Rudy was not a problem. He took himself off at a gallop right the way to the goat house and never even walked on the garden to chew the remnants of the leaks.

Lajos presented me with a jar that looked just like a jar of my goat milk, only thicker, in the pub in the evening. Ah, good! Waterproof wood glue. The last lot of supposedly sooper-dooper wood glue that I had imported from the UK was not up to expectations. And it was expensive. Well, as usual here the price of a jar of wood glue was a beer!

As much as I applaud this young man's efforts I wonder if the emphasis should be on craftmanship and/or apprentice training?

26th April 2011

I had caught another mouse this morning. I did not mention it for a while but there is an ongoing problem with mice. The dogs are useless, and they would just kill a cat if I got one. The problem at the moment is that it is the occasional mouse. When I catch one I leave the trap unset but baited. If I see tell tale signs on the bait then I set the trap again. It can be a week or ten days between catchings of mice. Without a huge expenditure there is zero way to make this house mouse proof.

It was raining today. What the Hungarians call good weather. A nice steady rain. Enough that the goats had to stay in. A bit later it eased off and I put the goats out. Within half an hour it was back to raining again, so the goats went back in. Fortunately I had parked them only a few metres from the goat house.

I had to go out in the garden and get damp. The goats still needed food so I had to take the barrow and scythe and get some green stuff for them. There is a certain perverse satisfaction about scything in the rain. The weight of the moisture and the surface tension of it makes the job of scything, which I enjoy anyway, so much easier. Everything falls, right down to the ground cover weeds that, when dry, would just duck under the scythe.

With the goats fed, and plenty more in the wheelbarrow I returned to the house and got rid of the damp outer layers. I fell into one of my darker moods and nothing much else got done all day.

I fed the goats and attempted an evening milking. That was a total waste of time. The blasted kid had had the lot. I got about two millilitres. Suzy is such a good goat. She knows that is the time for milking and gets on the milking table and puts her head in the trap most times without prompting, even if she has nothing to give. She does not like having her udder washed though.


27th April 2011

I had a better day today. The weather was good and after the usual start I was able to sit on the doorstep, mix up more potting compost and prick out another tray of tomatoes. The seeds had come from what I think of as my tomatoes saved from tomatoes that I grew two years ago from an unnamed variety of tomatoes of which I brought the seeds over from the UK with me when I first moved here. I must talk about size. Here in Hungary big is beautiful. The cutlery that I bought when I first came here is all big. Teaspoons that hold about twice as much as a UK teaspoon. Soup spoons nearly the size of tablespoons. Same with tomatoes - they have to be huge. Now, I am not entirely in favour with the big is beautiful. I tend to prefer my tomatoes to be smaller and actually taste of tomato. Not sort of vaguely tomato flavoured water. I digress again.

I pricked out my tray of tomatoes with only two casualties - one I managed to break the stem and one I managed to separate from its roots, in my clumsiness. In the kitchen I had a look for whatever else needed potting on. I had a surprise. I had a tray of Moneymaker tomatoes (thanks Dan), fifteen seeds of which only three had germinated. I had more or less given up on them. The surprise was that today eleven had germinated. As I write another one has germinated. Well, twelve out of fifteen is not bad. Eighty percent. More than enough for a first class Honours Degree.

I sowed some seeds that Marika had given me - mainly cucurbits - plus some cherry stones. I had been reserving them for hawfinch but alas neither Mr. nor Mrs. Hawfinch showed up this winter. I do hope they survived. Once again planning for a far distant future. My one and only sweet cherry tree is old and not in good shape. Hobo tells me that it takes ten years for a sweet cheery tree to begin to bear fruit. I don't know. I do know that I need to think that far ahead in what I put in the ground.

The strimmer came out to play. It was time to do the yard. I was amazed by how much quicker it was than the MTD, and also again by how much less petrol it used. It has got to that time of year where stuff is growing at an astonishing rate. It still takes me by surprise.

I had lunch and then cycled up the village for eggs. Back home I went into the garden and planted out a tray of broccoli. They did not need watering in. The ground was plenty wet enough after yesterday's rain. I noticed the weeds starting to sprout up so I did a little light hoeing. I noticed the old lady at No. 72 doing exactly the same. It came on to rain lightly. We both carried on. The rain became heavier and we both packed in at about the same time. It did not last long and eased off to spits and spots. I went back to the hoeing. The old girl had beaten me to it. She was already out there. I noticed a number of well chewed onions in my rows. Time will tell whether they recover or not. Courtesy of the goat kid, I suspect. He is getting to be a pain, and the sooner I have him segregated from his mother all day in the garden the better.

It soon came on to rain again. It meant it this time and there were rumblings of thunder. Oh-oh! Goats in. I still had to follow my routine of Betty and kid in first, kid secured and Suzy next, on the table with munchies and Rudy last off. Three trips about three quarters of the way up the garden in the pouring rain. Then I had to go back to the house and get the milking kit ready and take it out to the goat house. I was determined that the kid was not going to steal my milk.

As fortune had it there was plenty of greenery still about which I distributed into the goat house. Then I milked. I got enough, but less than usual now as Suzy had been segregated a couple of hours less than usual.

My other routine of eating and then milking was turned upside down too. Make it up as you go along. Back to the house, light the stove and cook. The last of the minced pork was spiced up with hot paprika and made into spicy pork rissoles. With chips and a couple of fried eggs fresh from the producer today that more than did me. I wonder if kings or queens do eat such?

Hobo was not in a good mood in the evening. Withdrawn and very quiet. Not just with me, but generally. I had no idea what the problem was and confess to bottling out on enquiring.

28th April 2011

I gave the goat house another clean. In spite of how recently the deep litter came out it was a fair amount of work. I wanted to get as far as the bit that was missed as we ran out of time on the big clean-up - hosing out. I left it as long as possible to dry out and later, just before I got the goats in, new bedding went in throughout.

I mentioned hoeing yesterday in the garden. I did not mention that I spotted half a row of tiny little carrot plants. It was a right royal pain to hand weed all the stuff of equal or greater size that infested the row. The other half a row showed no carrots at all. I just hoed everything out of the half a row. I think that I mentioned sowing half a row of this and half a row of that. I had no idea which was which. I re-sowed the now vacant half with local carrot seed. We will see.

Scythed down a bit of greenery for the goats, got them in, milked and that was that. Exciting day!

Later in the pub Hobo was much more his normal self. It turned out that he had had a sod-of-a-job yesterday and was just generally knackered and unhappy.

This from the Beeb and Libya is (or was) an oil exporting nation. Now, just exactly what justification exists for the fact that if you own an automobile - anywhere in the world - you have a "right" to buy petrol/diesel in order to be able to run it? Coming soon (two to ten years) to a filling station near you, wherever you live. At least I know how to trick up an engine to run on pure methanol, and I know how to make pure methanol.

29th April 2011

There was a little rain when I went to the shop. Not enough to warrant the brolly. By the time I had breakfasted and milked it had stopped so the goats went out as usual. I tried a new tack with getting them out. Suzy and the kid went first, but instead of taking Betty and then going back for my titanic struggle with Rudy I took them both at the same time, only Rudy was on his chain but free to go where he wanted - except on the garden - whilst I steadily made my way to where I wanted them in the garden with Betty. It seemed to work. I had no problem at all with Rudy today.

I can't remember if I already mentioned the wretched kid nibbling my baby onions. Well, he does given half that chance.

I mentioned the acacia that had been sawn up for the crossmembers for the vines. I didn't mention the cost of having them sawn up. Two beers! Works for me. I also did not mention that when I came to measure them up they were way bigger than I really wanted. I had asked for twenty three millimetres by seventy. They came back anywhere between thirty and thirty five by seventy two to seventy eight. Bugger! All the holes in the reclaimed posts and the one new one I had done in expectation would have to be redone. I did one of the reclaimed ones today. It was not fun. Oh well, I am not expecting to have to do it again in my lifetime.

It rained again. Not enough to get the goats in.

I made lunch and turned the computer on to see if I could watch any of the ceremonial happening in London. A wedding, apparently. I knew it was a problem immediately Firefox started. Thirty seconds to load the Beeb front page. All the links I tried either timed out or told me to bugger off because I was in the wrong country.

I went out and shovelled sh*t instead. Well, not quite true. I started removing, by fork and wheelbarrow the fairly substantial heap of stuff that came out from the deep litter to start a new, big compost heap within easy reach of the garden. By the way, I managed to answer one of my own questions on the blog from a while ago. Will maize stalks compost? Yes they will. In the time that I was putting new maize stalks in and then clearing them out again when the goats had had as much as they were going to get off them, inevitably some got missed and disappeared into the deep litter. The lower down ones were starting to compost already.

The old lady next door saw me doing this. She was busy again with her sickle. Another two baskets of greenery came over the fence for the goats. Good-oh - saved me scything. I got the strimmer out, gave the camping lawn a haircut and started on strimming round the vines on the east side. I got as far as the main garden when there was a bang and the strimmer went immediately into over-rev. I stopped it to investigate only to find no strimmer line visible. Whatever I had hit had sheered off both right by the cutting head. OK, rethread the line. I managed to get it apart easily enough. There was a little button into which was moulded "Press & Twist" in English. There was even a little arrow to show which way to twist. It came apart. Inside was a cassette to hold the line. The cassette came out and the remaining line obligingly unwound itself. That was no problem either. Moulded into the cassette was the motto "Wind chord this way" once again with an arrow. So I did. Could I get the cassette back on the machine? Could I not! I had it in the cutting head with chord coming out of the holes, but I found it impossible to replace the bit that said "Press & Twist". By now I was perspiring freely, getting nowhere and it was starting to spit with rain. The whole lot got gathered in hand and went back to the yard.

I started to sort it out when it came on seriously to rain. Oh-oh - goats in. I was in a hurry. The goats were getting wet and so was I. Betty and the kid went in first, and taking a chance I just slammed him in that end of the goat house with Betty. Suzy next, and onto the goat table with some munchies. The kid was still in the other end - good. I even thought to wedge a piece of wood over the one gap that I suspected he could still get through. Back up the garden for a bedraggled Rudy who needed no encouragement to get back to his house. When I got there the kid was in with Suzy. Damn and blast. My barricade was still in place, so how on earth did he get there? More in hope than in anger I put him back the other end and went and prepared the milking kit back in the house. When I returned to the goat house the kid was in with Suzy again. I made a forlorn attempt at milking. And it was. I got about two millilitres - the kid had had the lot.

I went back to the house to solve the conundrum of how to put the cutting head on the strimmer back together. I sat on the step under the porch out of the rain. It proved to be simple. The guard for the clutch mechanism has a hole in it. So does the casing for the clutch mechanism. If you insert an allen key through the hole in the guard and rotate the cutting head until the allen key engages it locks the cutting head from rotating. With it locked thus, both hands could be used to push the tap and go mechanism and line cassette against the spring and it was literally a couple of seconds work. I gave it a quick test on the yard to make sure the tap and go mechanism worked. It did. It was still pouring down so away went the strimmer and I retired indoors to cook.

I had noticed three of my remaining onions were determinedly sprouting, so I decided to make an onion soup. One of the bases of the onion soup recipe was potatoes, so that used up a couple of my ever-dwindling supply. The cellar is now empty. All that remain are a few in a Tesco bag in the kitchen. They remain in good edible condition in spite of the drenching the received when the cellar flooded.

It was Hobo's birthday. A relatively quiet celebration. As I have said before, they do tend to let their hair down a bit more on Name Days.

30th April 2011

Normal start except that when I went to the shop all she had left by way of bread was a small loaf of a type I had not encountered before in all this time. All the other small loaves I had bought just had the legend "Kenyer" (Bread). This one didn't. It had the legend "Csakanyi Csemege Vekni", as in from the Csakanydorószló bakery and "Csemege Vekni" roughly translated as "Choice Loaf". It was quite large for its weight and I have to say that at breakfast time it was very much to my taste. Mind you, most of the Hungarian bread is. This was just, errr, more so.

Once again in my attempted morning milking of Suzy I managed about two millilitres of milk. Blasted kid had had the lot again. The goats went out, without incident and I went back to the house to deal with the non-milk and wash up.

I returned to the task of moving the ex-deep litter onto my one or two years hence compost heap. It will be a big 'un, and I hope a good one. It came on to rain. Not enough to get the goats in, but enough that I retired to the yard and went in the outhouse to have a little go at woodwork. It stopped soon enough and I returned to my garden task. I took with me the necessary materials for a repair to the newer hose. I had found when I hosed out the goat house that there was a pin hole in just the right place that it soaked my left leg of the jeans and ran down into the wellies.

On one of my trips up the garden I hauled up the hose and gave the last year' compost heap a good hosing down with a fierce jet. It was far too dry.

Somewhat sweaty and damp I went to the pub for one. I actually managed to have a sensible conversation with Miklos about the Royal Wedding.

Back home I had lunch. It was interrupted by a doggy commotion. Miki (Miklos above mentioned) turned up with motor mower and did my side of the drainage ditch.

I returned to shovelling sh*t.

Towards the end of the afternoon I took the barrow and the scythe to a little area to get some greenery in for the goats. Next door at No. 72 there was a small forgathering of grandchildren and great grandchildren. Every one of them came to the fence to greet me and have a look at the goats.

As I scythed the wind blew up and the skies darkened. In haste the goat food went down to the goat house and I strode at my best pace up the garden to get the goats in. Hail started to fall. I don't think the goats had encountered hail before. They did not like it. They were soon back in the goat house.

I secured them in their relative positions. That is to say Suzy on the milking table, kid secured where he could not steal my milk and the other two in their end. By now it had turned to pouring rain. In the pouring rain I went back to the house, prepared the milking kit and went back through the pouring, cold rain to milk. At least Suzy did not let me down this evening.

I saw a swallow today. Yes, I know that one swallow does not make a spring. I also heard for the first time the call of the Oocuck bird, quite close by.

Ate. Pub. And that was April.


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