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May 2011

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1st May 2011

The first of May, and a bank holiday here in Hungary - and a Sunday. Oh well, tough for the bankers then. Correct me if I am wrong but I seem to remember as quite a young child it being the same in the UK until the government changed it to the first Monday in the month.

Usual start, but as I was taking Suzy out I noticed the tiny, tiny little walnuts on the big walnut tree, and the cherries set on the sour cherry tree. It set in motion a chain of thought about how my views of my project here have changed as I go into my fourth year. They have changed quite considerably. I was and still am an optimistic Peak Oil doomer. "Optimistic?" "Doomer?" Oxymoron, surely? Not at all. You only have to listen to Richard Heinburg to find another such. Another doomer, but what a cheerful and upbeat guy.

I suppose that my original notion was to set up a doomstead, aiming to become completely self sufficient eventually. I still intend to attempt to become more self sufficient than I now am. There are a couple of good reasons for the change in attitude. The first is the time factor, which is in itself twofold. There simply are not enough hours in the day to manage a place like this entirely by hand. I do as much as I can, making token improvements slowly here and there. One of the purposes of the blog is to document the various trials and tribulations encountered whilst doing that. Part of that stems from the knowledge that readership extends far beyond that for which the site was originally intended. The other facet of the time factor is, of course, me. Going on sixty four and with a gammy leg. I am always encouraged when I see the dear old lady at No. 72 out there working. She is not the only one. My neighbour Tibi and his wife set a ferocious pace. He is seventy and he farms in quite a big way. The other part of the change of attitude can be summed up in a single word - community. I suppose that I have grown into this community at the same time as they have come to accept me. I know to whom to turn in most situations. Again, there is another facet to that. The number of people in the village that make all or part of their living from working the land in one form or another is huge. I suspect that more do that than there are of those who are in full-time paid employment. When you compare that to the two percent employed in agriculture in the United States it is an eye opener.

Anyway, what of the day? Not much. Housework - swept and mopped right through, and I started on weeding - much needed - the little bit of garden by the house. That is to be my herb garden. I already had mint in. Waves of minty fragrance hit me as I weeded around it. Today I put in some little sage plants, kindly donated from the same source as the mint, and some little basil plants grown from seed. I sowed more basil seed in the same spot too.

It came on to rain - heavy enough that the goats had to come in for the early milking routine. Betty and the kid first, with Betty secured in her end and the kid secured still on his chain where he could not get at Suzy, then Suzy with munchies already on the milking table. Then Rudy. He was certainly no problem this evening. He just wanted to get in, out of the rain.

I ate afterwards then went to the pub.

2nd May 2011

I had just returned from the shop and lit the stove when there was a doggie commotion from the yard. I poked my head out, to see a car that I knew and a trailer with ironwork behind. The blacksmith had arrived with my weldmesh. Six millimetre diameter one hundred and fifty millimetre square weldmesh. Well, once it is all in place it should for once and for all p*ss on the fireworks of any dog trying to escape from the yard. Chain-link fence did not do it in either direction. Well, pick the bones out of that, dogs, when it is in place.

Blacksmith and I just dumped it on the verge outside my gates. I breakfasted and did the goats.

Back in the yard I cheated on the dogs. I enticed them both inside (with nothing but enticement) and then set about hauling the weldmesh into the yard. It was not pleasant work. I hauled all three sheets in and closed the big gates then let the dogs out again. I forgot to mention that the old lady is back up to her full complement of six hens with four young ones added to the ones that escaped Pickle. I was going to say how kind of her to provide more entertainment for Pickle, but thought better of it. The present weldmesh exercise is to absolutely prevent any chance of that.

Well, there was no time like the present so out came the extension lead and the angle grinder. The weldmesh sheets were five metres by a little over two metres. I did not need two metre high fencing. I found a suitable measurement and set about slicing off the unrequired bit along five metres. Blackie was a total pain in the *rse. Twice he managed to unplug the angle grinder whilst I was in mid-grind and once he bit me on the bum. Enough! Into to the workshop outhouse he went, under lock and key. He shows the same hysterics to the angle grinder that Pickle does to the toy mower. I have not mentioned the toy mower for a while. Sadly, it is utterly useless in the yard. The face of the yard resembles the surface of the moon, thanks mainly to dogs. But with grass. And weeds. I digress again. The weldmesh was ground into suitable sized pieces. The bits for the fences in one place and the other bits in another - all well out of the way of Pickle's chain. I had had to untangle her several times during the cutting.

The old lady from next door came to the fence to see what I was doing. She was well pleased. As ever she told me that the chickens were incidental, but she was afraid of the big dogs.

I did the goat water and necessary goat untanglement and went to the pub for a beer. It came over the bar gratis. Back home I had a bite to eat and went back to sowing maize seeds. Another row - another ninety eight seeds planted by hand.

I was going to say what more needs to be done but that can wait.

Time was getting on and I barrowed a goodly load from the diminishing heap outside the goat house and piled it on the compost heap, then continued up the garden to load the barrow with greenery for the goats from where I had sown the maize seed.

I had just milked and was back in the house sorting out when there was a toot from the road and a doggie commotion. Lajos had turned up with another trailer load of firewood. Me, him and his fit young daughter hurled it upon the yard. I had no money with which to pay him for the firewood. Not a probem.

Pub time. Hobo turned up quite late.

3rd May 2011

For once I was up early. Shopped breakfasted and went to take the goats out. For the moment I have given up on the morning milking. Waste of time. All that washing of utensils and scrubbing of hands for a couple of millilitres of milk? I think not. Overnight the kid is having the lot. Speaking of the kid, I think I figured out how he managed to get back into Suzy when I shut him in the other side. His agility is astonishing. In the garage - the Rudy and Betty half of the goat house - is a window. It used to have glass in it. Rudy sorted that out. Inside the garage the height to the window sill has to be a metre plus. Outside it is much less. In either direction the kid can spring from the floor directly onto the window sill. He can also negotiate a three inch wide ledge on the top of the wall that I rebuilt. Rudy decided to throw a strop even before we left the goathouse. He managed to get a good raking of my right shin again.

I went to reworking the reclaimed acacia posts upon which to attach the vines. It was not fun. Posta appeared - the relief bloke, who for once did actually stop at the house in response to my sign hung out. It took a bit of getting through to him that all I wanted to do was pay my Internet bill with my bank card. It was eventually achieved.

I checked the goats and made sure they all had water, then had lunch. I noticed a pair of swallows on the old electricity wires over the yard. Had my swallows returned? As I write I still do not know for sure because at this time of year they are on the wing from daybreak, when I confess I am still abed, to dusk, when I confess I am in the pub. I will know for sure once they are sitting.

I did a bit in the garden and it became cold and came on to rain. The early milking routine got called into action.

Unnoticed by me until this evening, the shop had changed their evening opening hours to summer time opening. I went over at the usual time to find the shop still shut and a note to tell about the change of hours effective from May 1st. Which was a bit odd as the first of May was a Sunday and the shop was shut anyway. Ah, Hungarian logic.

A bit of blog updating and went to the pub.

4th May 2011

Short and sweet. After the usual start I managed to put in a row of maize right up towards Telek utca just past the wilderness patch. It was donkey work. I knew it would be and I was not disappointed. Bashing the grass tussocks off with the broad mattock, then loosening up the soil with the heavy mattock and then the bendy stretchy exercise of actually planting the seeds. Time will tell whether I get a crop.

By then it was lunch time-ish. The dog food van came along and I bought a bag of dog food only to realise that that left me with about a thousand forints in pocket for the pub this evening and the shop tomorrow morning. Mmmmm!

I plodded along at moving the ex-deep litter all afternoon until I had had enough. Time to cook - can't remember what. Then goats in and milk.

I went to the pub as usual. Hobo and John were already there. I bought a kis piros fröccs. Hobo raised his eyebrows. Both Hobo and John bailed me out after that - they bought the beers. Now piros fröccs might well be a very cheap way of getting inebriated but I have to say I do prefer the beer.

5th May 2011

Shorter and sweeter again. Same start. Another row of maize.

It was one of those days when everything I tried to achieve turned to rat-sh*t one way or another. Not a good day.

Six dead tomato plants in the peat pots into which I had pricked them out. Not good.

Out of pure spite I took the strimmer to do a strip by the neighbour's fence up towards Telej utca.

Hobo bought the beers all evening in the pub.

6th May 2011

I was not up early but not up overly late either. As usual the first call was the shop. I was quite surprised to see my old lady next door neighbour in there. She keeps very different hours to me, as do most of those that I recently referred to as the agricultural part of the village. I suspect that most go to bed when it gets dark and get up when it gets light. Sadly, my double life as a smallholder here and trying to do my best to keep the stuff coming on the blog and keeping in touch with friends and relations in a time zone one hour behind simply do not permit that. Burning the candle at both ends springs to mind.

I had only got as far as taking Suzy and the kid out when the old lady's grandaughter, who I had seen arrive, hastened up the garden with the news that Blackie was in their yard. WTF? I temporarily secured Suzy and made best haste back down to my yard. Blackie was back in the yard. Next door's chickens were unmolested. But there was another bloody great hole in the chain link fence. Much bigger than Pickle had ever made.

Bollox! I did a temporary repair by wedging the lengths of weldmesh that were left over from cutting the three sheets, sufficiently to deter any further border excursions. I got the bike out and cycled to Nádasd for the other stuff that I needed to make the repair (hopefully) permanent. I made best haste, never even stopping for a beer.

Thankfully, back home the dogs were where they were supposed to be. And the goats. Goats got water and the dogs got a beating and I set to work on the fence. It took me until six in the evening - and that was just temporary repairs. Well, not all. First of all out came all the old temporary repairs. Each one was mended either with spare bits of weldmesh or by tediously sorting out the wire of the chain link fence. More weldmesh than chain link fence. All was wired together in such a way that until it all rusts out it will not come apart again - I hope! After that I dug a shallow trench my side, rammed the earth down hard, made a big mixing of mortar and laid a course of bricks tight up to the repaired chain link. I covered the whole lot with loose laid roof tiles that were part of the original temporary repairs to prevent the dogs getting at it until the mortar had gone off.

Somewhere towards the end of this the old lady came up to the fence from her side with what I can only say was quite a large glass of her wine. "Meleg munka" quoth she. I agreed, and it was pleasant to pause for a moment or two in the shade whilst we chatted (as best I am able). I finished off.

I still had the goats to get in, and goat food and milk Suzy - not necessarily in that order. Reminds me of a Morecame and Wise sketch involving Andrew Preview :) I did all that and had a bite to eat.

I went to the pub. There's a surprise. Hobo bought the beers all evening - now there's an even bigger surprise. There was a brewery promotion on. Aranyaszok (Golden Aces) was a pint for the price of a half - well a korsó for the price of a pohár.

7th May 2011

I had ordered one of the Csemege Vekni from the shop. As I write I have ordered another for tomorrow. I quite like them.

Normal start and back to planting maize seeds. It was starting to get warm and it was not nice work. Once again it is astonishing how quickly spring becomes summer here. I just looked back on the blog for May 2008 when my first visitors arrived. That was about 20th May and I know that the heat drove us back out of doing any serious physical work. I did manage a whole row of maize seeds.

I must have done a whole load of other stuff, but I can't remember what, but later in the day I took the strimmer to the camping lawn and then worked my way right up to Telek utca along my wiggly-waggly path. G.K. Chesterton, but not in those words. Anyone care to quote?

Boring day, boring blog but I did the usual evening offices and then went to the pub. There was no Hobo. I got involved with someone else and to the limits of my ability we had quite a good chat. Hobo did eventually appear and was quite affronted to find me sitting not in my normal place and involved in another conversation. By the way, conversations in pubs in Hungary are public property - expect every man and his two dogs to butt in.

The guy that I was chatting to left and I went over to join Hobo. He was still not happy. Whatever! Within a few minutes the telly went off and it was time to go home anyway.

8th May 2011

The goats went out, I had breakfast and then set about a couple of long overdue kitchen jobs. One was to unbusy the worktop. The other was to clean the stove and pipework inside and out. That took up most of the morning.

I happened to notice the faithful returning from the templom. That reminded me that I still had one of Tibi's baskets with a load of little lettuces for the goats in it. I went and made a small distribution and stored some away for an evening treat. Then I took the basket back.

The neighbours were in the top bit of the yard. I waved the basket and was going to just drop it on the door step and leave but they came back to the house and I was invited in. A couple of large pálinkas came my way. I got a couple of astonishments as well. The conversation turned to goats and goat milk. The first astonishment was that Marika is a cheese maker. She presented me with a little cheese of her making, straight from the freezer. I told her about Lajos' handiwork and she showed me how she did it. Two ex-food containers that more or less fitted one inside the other, one with holes poked in the bottom to let the whey drain. Simple and moderately crude but it appeared to work. The other astonishment came when we were talking about my other neighbours. I was saying about how much work the old lady got through in the garden at the age of ninety. It turns out that my neighbour up on Telek utca is ninety four! Maybe it is the hard work and country living that just keeps them going. I had watched him digging one day. A technique quite unlike mine - sort of a dig and a flick of the wrist - but he was averaging a spadeful about every one and a half seconds. Dig, flick, dig, flick.

I took my leave and decided on a beer to dilute the pálinka down a bit. It started raining whilst I was in the pub. Spitting and spotting type of rain. Not enough to worry about the goats. It was quite a cool wind though. Back home I had lunch.

By then it had more or less stopped raining, so I went early in the garden and scythed down another row of greenery for the goats whilst it was still wet. I say a row, but that is not quite true. I did scythe down a row right across, but only the stuff from the shorter side of my wibbly wobbly path went in the barrow for the goats. The stuff from the longer side was left in its windrow, hopefully to turn into hay for the winter. All part of the learning curve. I had found that we had put far, far too much greenery in for the goats last year. About ninety percent of what went in never got eaten and came straight back out again to go on the compost. At least today the coolness of the wind kept the mosquitos away. Oh yes, they are back big time. They are very irritating, but I have not had the reaction to them of previous years. I go to bed with the back of my neck and arms covered in bites and in the morning they are gone. None of the itching and scratching for days of previous years.

I have a disaster to report. The chestnut plantation is no more. Just sticks sticking up out of the ground. I suspect the work of an unnamed goat kid. I have to say that when I located it where it was I did not consider goats. Well, in particular I did not consider unteathered baby goats that still needed to get to their mother to suckle. I now have plans to fix it, but it will not be for a while until my finances improve. Fences - lots of. One contiguous goat area from the goat house to as far up the garden as they will be allowed towards Telek utca and three non-goat areas: one to include the outhouse garden, the main garden and the vines on the eastern border, one to include the other bit of garden and the vines on the western side, and one right the way up just beyond the wilderness area all the way across the plot to enclose the last twenty or thirty metres towards Telek utca. Any new little fruit trees will go in there to make it more of an orchard area. It all takes time. And money.

I cooked and ate what had to pass for a spaghetti bolognese and then it was time for goats in, milk, change and go to the pub. There were no Hobo or John in there so I ended up with Lajos' group.

9th May 2011

Highlights of the day in an attempt to catch up. I set about another row of maize. Got abour halfway through and was beaten off by the heat and the exhaustion. I went to a much gentler type of gardening. I weeded the next bit by the house and the coriander went in. One of the translations for coriander in Hungarian is "gypsy parsley". I quite like that.

The cheese that Marika had given me had thawed out so I tried it for lunch. Yet another astonishment! Apart from being just a little softer and a little moister it was English white Cheshire cheese. Same crumbliness and same taste. It was not remotely like any other cheese that I had found in Hungary. I have not caught her since to have a conversation about it, but I intend to.

In the heat of the day I finished off the row of maize. At least the mosquitos do not like the heat of the day either.

In my wisdom I decided to try out the brush cutter blade on the strimmer. There was an area around the still half-dead chestnut tree that could warrant its attention. I took off the strimmer line holder complete and referred to the manual for how to assemble the brush cutter blade. It is an evil piece of kit. A thin hardened steel disc with a hole at the centre to mount it on the machine. The circumference was divided into six and of the six three were blades and three were gaps, if you get my meaning. It was emblazened with the legend "Direction of rotation" with, as ever, the useful arrow telling which way was the direction of rotation. I assembled it, only to find that I had put it on upside down with the wrong direction of rotation. I disassembled it and reassembled it the right way up. I found a puzzlement. Both front and rear edges of the cutting blade had cutting edges - one ground one way and one the other. Which ever way you put it on the machine the profile was the same. Why indicate the direction of rotation then? Unless Al-Ko had some significant knowledge of metal technology that I am not privy to, such that the blade would work fine one way up but explode and slice off my left leg in the process in the other.

I went up the garden to tackle the area. It was useless. Within a minute or so I realised that I needed to beat seven bells out out the undergrowth with the normal cutting line head and then return and do the brush cutting.

I abandoned that and went back to the yard. I noticed a bike by the fence of No. 72. The chap that gave her conifers a haircut. I caught him as he was about to cycle off up the village. I wanted his help to move one of the weldmesh sheets from my yard into the old lady's yard. In an hour, he said. I captured Blackie in the house. Pickle was on chain and I hauled the weldmesh sheet out to the verge.

The hour went by. And another fifteen minutes. Whatever, I had the goats to do, so I did. Goat routine done and all the washing up and so on it was time to go to the pub. It occured to me that I still had a sheet of not cheap weldmesh lying on the verge. Now, there are those in this village... The sheet had to go back in the yard or the chances were it would be gone when I got home from the pub. Not best pleased I set about it. Blackie was once again incarcerated and I opened the big gates and hauled the weldmesh back in.

Somewhat - no, quite a lot later than I intended I went to the pub. Nothing happened there other than the usual suspects foregathered, had a beer or three, and five minutes after the telly went off went home. So did I. When I got in the yard I could see that a dog had been digging in the little bit of garden by the house. Oh No! My precious coriander plants. I knew who the culprit was - that bit of garden is outwith the reach of Pickle on the chain. I was about to administer severe physical reprisals and admonishments when I realised that where he had dug was just a foot or so to the left of where the coriander plants were. What a clever dog! He had managed to do the next bit of weeding for me withount me lifting a finger. It made me chuckle. For quite a while. He is quite intelligent, that black dog, and when told "NO!" he does remember it. Sadly, unlike Pickle.

Well, there you go. Just the briefest of highlights of the day.

10th May 2011

I did not have a good day. I have no idea why. The weather was good but I was not.

I eventually forced myself into action and cleaned out and put new bedding in the goat house. It was a lot of work again, including having to go into the potting shed loft and fork down more of the old hay up there. Hobo reckoned when he saw it that there would be enough for four years. I reckon he may be right.

I did mange to be good and take the old stuff up to the compost heap and not just dump it on the not inconsiderable amount that remains to be shifted outside the goat house.

It took me all day. That was it.

ITEOTWAWKI. If you do not recongise that just do a Google search. And also Oh dear! Well, you know how I feel about Micro$oft.

11th May 2011

Usual start. After that I managed another row of maize planting. That was it for the morning.

After lunch I decided that, in the absence of any help I would set about the weldmesh reinforcements to the fences. I tackled the one nearest the road which needed doing from my side. And a right so-and-so it proved to be. First I took the big mattock and dug a channel my side of the fence wide enough plus a bit for a course of bricks to be laid my side. I used the mattock to tamp down the earth as solid as I could get it.

Next I had to manoeuver the weldmesh sheet into position. It was nearby but that was not the problem. The problem was to negotiate its way around the peach trees which still exist there. It bends, you know and it had pointy bits sticking out of the three sides that I had not had to touch when I cut it to size. They caught on everything. With might and main I managed it eventually. Only to find that bits needed to be angle ground off to make it fit snuggly.

The angle grinder came out to play. Black dog was ecstatic. Fortunately the angle grinding took place in such positions as to neither give him the opportunity to unplug it whilst I was working nor bite me on the bum. Finally cut to size and in the right position the weld mesh was hammered into the ground. Then it was securely stapled to the existing posts. Mmmmm - Hungarian staples. Not good. They are made with much too wide an angle between the legs. You know, I was going to post a bawdy comment about that but thought better of it. After that I narrowed the staples somewhat before hammering them in. In a short while that bit of fence was dog proof, goat proof, deer proof and football hooligan proof.

I took the strimmer out to play and worked my way back down the side of the wilderness patch that I was attempting to tackle with the brush cutter. I had to stop numerous times and untangle the cutting head. It happened that just as I emerged victorious from the bottom end Tibi was driving his tractor from wherever he had been. He saw me, and noted what I had done and greeted me with approbation.

I still had to get goat food in, goats in and milk Suzy all of which I did. I was late to the pub but managed to catch an article on the news warning of serious increases in energy prices. Well, no doubt I will write more about that soon.

12th May 2011

I lacked energy. It was a pretty tough day yesterday and I think it had taken it out of me. The goats went out but were parked quite close by. I really did not fancy multiple trips all the way up to Telek utca.

No gardening work got done all day, which was not good. I did a load of washing and hung it out. I happened to catch sight of my old lady neighbour just as I finished pegging the washing out. I went round and spoke to her and told her that I would bring round the sheet of weldmesh that needed to go on the bit of fence her side.

I secured black dog out of the way for a few minutes, opened the big gates and hauled the sheet out. With big gates closed I released Blackie and went to haul the weldmesh into the old lady's garden. I hauled it the few metres along the road, which was not easy as I happened to be wearing the hob-nailed gardening boots. The weldmesh slid easier along the road. The gardening boots provided less traction on the tarmac. A couple of times I thought that I would fall on my a*se. The old lady had opened her big gates and I hauled the sheet in onto her nice grass yard. I continued hauling, the boots now in their natural element, until I had the sheet at the edge of her potato patch, with her spuds just shooting through green. Now, I did not want to just drag the weldmesh across that and decapitate all her little krumpli plants. She saw the problem, and to my astonishment came to help. I would have left the weldmesh there until I could have enlisted some able bodied assistance. Not a bit of it. She grabbed one end of the sheet and lifted it as high as she could. I grabbed the other and hoisted it to chest height and it was entirely off the ground. Together we negotiated her spud patch without decapitating any plants and laid the sheet down on the grass that separates the back of my outhouse from her spud patch. Ninety years old! Hauling weldmesh sheets about. What can I say?

She spoke to me about helping financially with the cost of the new, strong fencing. I told her that I would think about it. I don't normally go into future here on the blog, but I know that I will forget if I do not tell it now. The weldmesh sheets, cost of beer for having it delivered and various ancillaries made it about thirty thousand forints - give or take, a hundred quid. Of the three weldmesh sheets two were destined for the border with No. 72 and one for the border with No. 68. Ignore the ancillaries and the weldmesh sheets came in at just over eight thousand forints each. I decided that somewhere about a fifty-fifty disposition should do it. By the way, the Hungarian for fifty-fifty is "fifty-fifty". I decided that I should subtract from that the costs of having my blasted Pickly dog marauding her chickens. I came upon an equitable figure of five thousand forints, of which I informed her.

Even further ahead, as I write. Yesterday she gave me six thousand forints and yet another litre of her rosé wine.

Now, where were we? Ah, yes. I set about bricking in the first sheet of weldmesh that I struggled with before. Hobo turned up and helped.

Time was going by, so I went and scythed some more greenery for the goats. Rudy was wandering about loose - no chain. The kid had two chains attached. It allowed him to move about a foot east-west and about three feet north-south.

Time for them to go in anyway. I recaptured Rudy and bullied him inside and then the others. I milked Suzy and got more milk than ever. I had enough and to spare so I found a little jar and filled it. I managed to catch the old lady at No. 72 and presented her with it. She was delighted.

Usual routine after that. Pub. I know that there are those of you that take an interest, but until this evening Devecer had pretty well fallen off the radar here in Hungary. There were two items about it this evening - one on the news and one on a current affairs programme that followed immediately afterwards. The news item showed the progress of demolition of the houses too contaminated to be saved, the progress of building replacement housing on green field site on the edge of the village, a day trip to Budapest for the schoolchildren of the village and other progress with the clean-up which still continues. There were shots of a workman jet washing the red gunk off the trees by the course of the river, photographs of which I published. The current affairs thing was quite a prolonged interview with some bloke about it, most of which I confess I did not understand.

13th May 2011

I was not happy. I had something on my mind all day (not for the blog). Distracted, I did what I had to do and little else.

A known good Compact Flash memory card kindly loaned to me from the UK arrived. I inserted it into the Nikon. The result made my mood even darker. The Nikon is, and will remain for some considerable time an ex-camera. I cannot contemplate what would undoubtedly be a pretty expensive repair. I simply do not have the funds.

Out of spite I went and earthed up the early potatoes. Colorado beetles were back. I found seven. Some of them were at it. They all met untimely, crunchy, squishy ends. The potato patch was well infested with weeds. Nice green fleshy ones. Good oh! They all got chopped to bits with the broad mattock and went in the earthing up as a green mulch.

Business as usual after that. Nothing more to say. Not one of the better days.

14th May 2011

I shopped, breakfasted and the goats went out. I stayed in the garden and had a gentle but neccesary morning with the various hoes and hand weeding. I have probably mentioned it before and will almost certainly mention it again that once we get to this time of year the growth rate of everything - particularly weeds - is astonishing. What I need is some sort of non-toxic, non-persistent and non-chemical spray that would make plants sprayed with it unpalettable to the goats. I could spray all the stuff I want to keep and eat with that and let the goats (well the smaller ones anyway) get on the garden and eat the weeds and leave the plants alone. Mmmm - yeah, right - in my dreams.

It was lunch time so I had lunch. It was also hot, so after lunch I went for a beer. Hobo was there looking for work. I took him on and together we set about doing more of the brickwork at the bottom of the reinforced fences. We stuck at it for a couple of hours and at least the bottom of the weldmesh between me and No. 72 had a row of bricks cemented (well lime mortared) in.

I went on the Internet after Hobo left to publish a couple of days of unpublished blog, only to find that my site was down. Everything. And all the sites that I host were down too. I raised a support ticket.

I ate, the goats came in in their usual order and I milked. Off to the pub. Saturday evening and there were four of us in there!

Back home I went back on the Internet to find my site still down. Somewhat miffed I rebooted into the dreaded Windose system intent on watching a DVD. Instead I ended up having a long and good chat with my son on Skype.

15th May 2011

Sunday, and the weather fulfilled the forecasters promise of rain. I could tell it was a dull day by the amount of light coming in the house. I allowed myself the luxury of a short lie-in.

Arisen, I was able to confirm the sagacity of the forecasters when I saw that it was indeed raining. I had taken note of the forecast by putting extra greenery into the wheelbarrow which was now parked outside the goat house. It was but a few moments work to go round there and chuck in some more munchables for them. They stayed in.

My website had been restored and I had a couple of explanatory e-mails. I got on with a while of blog updating and other Internet stuff, after which, it being a Sunday, I went for a lunchtime drink.

Back home I had lunch. By then it had more or less stopped raining so I put the goats out. Quite nearby in case it changed its mind. They had munched through a fair amount of greenery so I went and scythed some more. After that, believe it or not, I had to do firewood. At this time of year doing the firewood is an act of fine skill and judgement. The amount I chop, saw or whatever depends upon what I am cooking for my early evening meal. Size and type of chopped wood has to be taken into account, and then I always need to have enough for a toast and coffee fire in the morning - plus a bit for contingencies. The aim is to keep the physical work to a bare minimum.

Matches! Now there's a topic. Not matches as in equivalents you understand, but little bits of wood with something on the end that is supposed to catch fire when you strike it against the side of the box they come in. I had backed myself into a corner by carelessly forgetting to buy a lighter refill the last time I went to Körmend, so in spite of having three perfectly good lighters to hand I had had to resort to buying a pack of ten boxes form the village shop. The Coop matches are not the best of matches at the best of times. Not to put too fine a point on it this lot were crap! They are either making them down to a price, or whatever little quality control they had had gone out the window. Grrrr!

Anyway, after that it was back to business as usual - not of the capitalist kind. Stove lit, meal cooked and eaten and it was time to get the goats in. I mentioned that the goats were nearby. Rudy was the nearest. He was an absolute so-and-so to get in this evening. He had a go when I took him off his post. He had another go when I finally managed to get him to come into the goat house, and he was positively belligerent about being put in his end of the goat house. Ended up being a horn at one end and a tight fistful of skin at the other. You know, he has two quite different butts. The one to watch out for is when he puts his nose almost down to the ground and comes at you at speed. I have the scars. He will turn his head and try to rake the sharp front of one horn wherever he can rake it. I have learnt from experience that whatever else I have to get hold of his horns if he does that. Whatever else I have to hand - his chain, other goats chains, water buckets, whatever - drop them and grab his horns. Several times he has bowled me over thus, but so long as I have a horn in each hand I know I can best him even if I am lying on my back in the grass. The other butt is a friendly butt. He puts his head down to the level of his spine and just goes boom. From close range and just with the power of his back legs. It hurts. But that's the friendly butt.

With all done, Suzy milked, the kit washed up and me in a slightly better state I went out of the door to go to the pub. As I went out I beheld a sight that has to be reported on. Pickle, on chain, set off up the yard for whatever reason. Black dog decided to follow and launched into full gallop only to decide that, after about two strides, he needed to scratch. Just into his gallop he did try to scratch. The result was hilarious. He went down on his a*se in a big cloud of dust, and with dented pride recovered himself and did his scratching. Ah, if I had a video camera to record every moment that one would have been worth two hundred quid or whatever the going rate is now.

Still chuckling I went to the pub.

16th May 2011

It was a glorious day and there was a brisk breeze from the north east which kept it cool. An ideal day for garden work which was just as well if I wanted to save half my tomato plants. I had pricked them out into peat pots that came from the UK. They did not like it. I had about thirty. As I write they are down to twenty one and suffering.

Why? They are in exactly the same compost as the ones that remain in the house in ex-margarine tubs used as seed trays. Not good. I did a load of digging and got them in the ground. As I write some are surviving. Not enough!

Bash round with the strimmer in the afternoon and it was soon time to get the goats in and milk.

I got lots of milk. I really needed to get my head around what to do with all this milk. I needed to get into the cheese making business quite urgently.

At kicking out time in the pub there were four of us. Lajos (fa szakember), Lajos (vas szakember), Hobo (mind szakember) and me.

Transcript of Richard Heinberg speech to graduating Worcester Polytechnic Institute students. Worth a read. Worth more than a read - a must read.

17th May 2011

It was a normal morning except that I wanted stay relatively unsweaty in the knowledge that I was headed into Körmend on the one o'clock bus. All I had time for was a change of clothes. I did manage to have a conversation with Marika about how she made her cheese. More later.

I had multiple issues to deal with in Körmend. I caught the bus having chained the bike up outside the pub. When we got to Körmend the bus did not take the normal slip road into town. The Raba Hid (river Raba bridge) was still closed. We went via the roundabout close to Tescos. I happened to notice a sign that I had not seen before, never having gone that way before. The sign was for a butchers shop, right on the edge of town. Mmmm - at some point must investigate.

I got off the bus on what Hobo calls the Police Station road and headed into town. First stop was the sandwich shop for some lunch. I bought my usual random selection of goodies and walked over to the water feature in the middle of the town which was the thing that I mistook for a roundabout when, on my very first visit here, I had asked for directions at the station.

I munched some goodies, then set about call No. 1. The bank. I needed cash anyway, and for the second time I had managed to lock myself out of their Internet banking. I got my cash and then punched in the touch screen queueing thing. It gave me a ticket. My number was called immediately. A young lady who I had not seen before helped me. They had changed their system. She understood my problem and asked for my mobile phone number, which I gave her. She did some computery-type stuff, printed off some forms in duplicate which I had to sign and my magyar mobile went ... -- ... and I had a new PIN to get into my account. I have the idea that it is, in software engineers speak, a "known issue".

I went to the Presszo pub for a beer after that.

After that it was Gazdabolt. I spent a lot in there. A digital cooking thermometer, which was under lock chain and key, a rather nice large stainless steel cooking-type pot, a couple of large jars and one or two other bits. The stainless steel cooking pot came with a glass lid priced separately. I told them I did not need the lid. I got it anyway as a freebie. I asked for cheese cloth. They had none. I tried the textile shop a few metres away. They had none either. The other textile shop which used to be next door had gone. I called in another shop of which I knew the existence but had never been in before. The very pleasant young lady in there regarded me as though I had come down from planet Zog. Not in an unkind way, but in an amused surprise way that anyone should ask for such a thing. Oh well, I had a supply at home of plain, white, unused one hundred percent cotton. That would just have to do.

After that I had a wander down to the bike shop to bite another particular bullet. A new back tyre for the bike. I mentioned doing a fairly gash repair on it earlier. Well, since then I had had to repair it in two further places. The chances were that any time soon it would let go in a fairly spectacular fashion and if that happened I would not just need a tyre I would need an inner tube as well so I was actually saving myself some money. The usual young man served me. "Jó napot. Kérek új kerekpar gumi." (Good day, I require a new bike tyre). "kulsö vagy belsö?" (Tyre or tube?) "Kulsö." (Tyre) "Mi nagyság?" (What size?) He turned a piece of paper round for me to write it down. I knew it off the top of my head and just told him. Once again he grinned as he understood my response. Off he went into his store and came back with a selection of three: a road slick, an off-road knobbly all over tyre and an intermediate one like the ones already on the bike. I chose the latter. If I had been buying a pair I think I would have gone for the road slicks. I asked how much - two thousand two hundred forints which is about seven pounds. About half the price I would have to pay in the UK, so I was happy enough. I paid him, completed the necassary pleasantries and that was another target for the day achieved.

After that it was the Spar shop. I was shocked at the rise in price of margarine. It had gone up from three hundred and ninety nine forints to four hundred and seventy nine forints. Ouch! I was slightly surprised to see on the salad department sprouted leek seeds and sprouted lucerne in bags as salad stuff. I was tempted, but it was already an expensive enough day.

I wandered back into town and, in some pain through all the pavement pounding, decided that I just had time for a beer in the cellar bar. I had a senior moment. I was watching the time closely to give myself time to get the bus and entirely forgot the detour that the bus had made because of the closure of the Raba Hid. The penny only dropped when I was half way along the side of the square. Damn and blast! I legged it as fast as I could go down to the Police Station road. There was a bus at the bus stop. I got close enough to read that it was the Halogy bus when the left hand indicator came on and the bus set off. The driver was, of course, concentrating on his left hand mirror to spot the gap in the traffic to turn out safely from the bus stop and he did not see my frantic gesticulations. Bugger! Oh well, wander back into town with two hours to kill.

I sat for a while by the old water feature in the centre of town watching the young children cycling round it, and which had been familiar to me since my first ever visit to Körmend when I came looking for houses, and it had been used as a landmark to help me navigate my way to the hotel. You know, of all the many times I had sat on the seats there I had never until today noticed that it is eccentric. How about that for observation. It also has sixty five spokes. The cobbles are two colours, red and grey. The spokes are red and the gaps are grey. I wonder if the sixty five is significant.

I decided on another very steady beer in the Presszo bar. In plenty of time for the last bus I made my way back to the bus stop. I sat on the seat and lit the pipe. A young man came up and in what was obviously very polite and very correct Hungarian asked me something, the significance of which signally escaped me. I told him I was English and did not understand. He held up an unlit cigarette and said "Van tuz?". Now that I did understand, and with a grin handed him my box of matches. He lit his cigarette, returned the matches and thanked me. Shortly afterwards a young lady came up on the same errand. Apparently I was in possession of the bus queue's collective matches that day.

Irrespective I called in for a beer when I got back to the village. Hobo was in the pub. I enlisted his help with goats and goat food. It happened that Tibi my neighbour had taken his scythe to the verge of the big, fine house opposite me. Hobo got the barrow and went over the road with it. I did the milking kit and went to retrieve the goats, and between us we had goats fed and goats milked in super-quick time.

Hobo went back to the pub. I did the necessary with the milk and milking kit, had a bite to eat and went to join him.

18th May 2011

After the usual start I had a couple of urgent little woodworking jobs to do, both cheesemaking related. I say little but they took up most of the morning and then I had to wait for wood glue to set to complete one of them.

After lunch on one of my goat inspections I took hoof shears and milking stool with me and sat in the garden and clipped goat toe nails - Suzy, Betty and the kid. The kid was small enough to lay on his back in my lap but he did not much like it. Much struggling and bleating. On the way back to the goat house with the milking stool I felt a breeze on my chest where no breeze should be getting to. I looked down, to find that one of my more precious tee shirts was a write off. It now had a great L shaped tear in it about six inches in each direction. Blasted kid must have done it with one of his as yet unclipped feet during his struggles.

I changed the back tyre on the bike. (Then gave it a road test as far as the pub)

I was just preparing food when there was a doggy commotion. There were two people at the gate and the rest of the family were over the road. They had come to pay for and take delivery of the kid. The sale had long been arranged but I was always uncertain as to whether it would happen or not. Nothing had been previously arranged and they just turned up. I secured dogs and the three of us trooped up the garden. They secured a bit of rope around his neck, I removed his collar and chain and they paid me. Not without trying it on to the tune of a thousand forints, in true Hungarian fashion. I stood my ground on that one. On the way back down the garden, them with kid in tow, I explained about the toenail bit - needed doing every six weeks. The guy that did the paying also tried to con off me the little collar and chain. He got no change out of that one either. Case of no mate - buy your own like I had to.

I let the dogs out and I have to confess to a pang as I stored away the little collar and chain. Bloody nuisance, but I would miss him. I ate belatedly and then went to get the three remaining goats in and milk Suzy. The kid's makeshift water bucket was still by the post he was secured to. I rescued the water from it as I took Suzy and Betty in. I did not have the heart to take his bucket with me. It lay abandoned on the garden. I quite expected some sort of reaction from Suzy to the loss of her kid. There was none. There was a general air of disdain, as if to say "Thank goodness he is gone, the little nuisance". I milked her as usual.

I went to the pub. Hobo put on a brave face of not being happy with me. Ah, news travels fast. He ribbed me unmercifully all evening. He still was this evening as I write. I think he was more concerned with my not having a ritual goat slaughter than the actual fate of the kid.

19th May 2011

I think I mentioned on the blog the arrival of the goats being a life changing event. Well, not really. Just some minor adjustments. It had struck me at some stage yesterday evening, after I got home from the pub I think, that the life changing event was the departure of the kid. I had realised that I had a morning milking to do. I had long since abandoned any attempt at a morning milking as the kid, as he got bigger, was having the lot. Up at six, prepare the milking kit and go and milk Suzy. I have to say that it was pleasant to go out in the coolness of the morning to the goat house, put some munchies on the goat table, have Suzy obediently hop on the table into the trap and sit and milk her and quietly talk to her. There was a lot of milk. There was still no reaction from Suzy to the departure of the kid.

I was in the shop before seven and I had breakfasted and the goats were out by eight.

I had lots of milk kicking about by now, so I decided to try my hand at cheese making to a recipe given to me by Marika as best I understood using vinegar to curdle the cheese. It did not turn out at all as I expected. A trip around the Internet told me that to use vinegar to curdle milk quite a high temperature was required - eighty Celsius. I hotted it up to that. Mmmmm - still did not turn out how I expected. It curdled all right but it did not form a solid curd. Oh well, I strained off the whey and into the press it went. As I write, it did not turn out well, and is destined to go into the dogs.

Posta arrived in response to my sign hung out. I got cash and paid for a top up to my Hungarian mobile phone. Today was the last day. Tomorrow the SIM card would expire and I would have to get a new one and a new phone number. However little I use it I did not want that to happen. Whilst I was dealing with Posta the chimney sweeping guy arrived. I told him no need. Still had to pay though.

When I went to check the goats after lunch I retrieved the abandoned bucket that the kid had used for drinking water. I still felt a pang, unlike Suzy apparently.

Gardening (can't remember what) and getting greenery in for the goats for the evening occupied the afternoon.

Pub in the evening, naturally.

20th May 2011

Second day of early milking. You know, I never changed the setting on my alarm clock. Before this I used to sleep through it - it was the radio going off an hour later that used to wake me. Now I do not sleep through it. How odd. I had been trying to get to bed an hour earlier once the realisation dawned that I would have to be up at six.

I shopped, lit the stove and had breakfast. I had to pasteurise last evenings milking and this mornings. In so doing I managed to slop some water from the saucepan upon the very hot stove top. I got some nice steam burns as a result. They are going away as I write but I had three wonderous blisters on my index finger and middle finger of my left hand.

By eight the goats went out. I dug. The grandaughter of the old lady was there and called me over to the fence to thank me for all the work I had done with the weldmesh to keep dogs securely in the yard.

A quick smoke break and more digging. It was by way of being a bit of a race against time. I had reserved this patch for some of the stuff to go in that had to be planted out after all danger of a late frost had passed. That time had come.

After lunch I cycled up to Toni's place for some promised paprika plants. He had spoken about them yesterday evening in the pub and told me that he had ten plants put by for me and that there were no more after that. You know, I think the Hungarians have a counting problem. I got my tray of plants and paid for ten. It eventually turned out to be seventeen plants that went in the ground. Often happens. I didn't mind - I had only paid for the ten. The tray of plants was secured on the bike carrier with the help of Tomi (the son), and I walked the bike back down the hill. I was not about to risk the precious plants by attempting to ride the bike!

The obligatory call in the pub for a beer followed. The beer turned into two when Hobo bought me one.

Back home I set about yet again mending the fence between the yard and the garden. Pickle had once again torn the nails out of the aluminium sheet and one corner was hanging loose. Hopefully that was fixed for once and all, as this time I secured it behind a suitable piece of oak with nails that went right through oak, aluminium and existing fence and were clenched over the other side. Pick the bones out of that, Pickle.

Cooked, ate, did the goats and milking, and went to the pub.

21st May 2011

The third day, and the getting up early to milk begins to be routine. I might be in some sort of stupor or otherwise not quite with it, but up I get. The routine continued once I had milked Suzy. Shop, stove, breakfast. Having had my breakfast needs I set about pasteurising the rest of last evenings milking and this mornings. I did it whilst I ate the toast and jam, drank my coffee and had a pipe of tobacco. I followed the same routine as yesterday, but with a bit less water. I topped up the water once the saucepan of water with the jar of milk was on the stove. As it heated up I heard a "dink". After that, ever so slowly, the water in the pan bacame milkier and milkier and the level of milk in the pasteurising jar equally slowly went down and down. I suspected the worst. I was right. When pasteurisation temperature was reached I screwed the lid on the jar to lift it out. Well, most of it came out but the whole bottom of the jar of milk stayed where it was. In the saucepan. The result was a huge explosion of steam and a strong smell of burnt milk. Fortunately I escaped with no further injury. Bugger, bollox - a whole day of milk production gone in a second apart from what I had had in my coffee.

Brand new from Gazdbolt - it had to be faulty. The only other time I had had a similar problem was blatently my fault - pouring jam into jars too hot from the oven. No point in even thinking of complaining. In the bin it went.

I did some more digging - I still had plants to get in that area - and then I took the strimmer to my verge. And Tibi's and the old lady's as far as both their gates. It certainly looks as if the village handimen who came round and did it once a month are a thing of the past. As I write, it looks as though certain of the peasants are in revolt. A particular bit of verge outside a really spick and span garden is now about two feet high with grass and weeds. Political, I think. I was just finishing off that job when, as usual, I managed to find the on/off switch with my little pinky. I managed to switch it on again at last gasp. It was last gasp as well. It did not run as before and in a couple of seconds it spat the complete line holder off the machine. I had to think about that one. It took me a while. Any suggestions? No doubt a small prize for someone that comes up with the (correct) answer that I discovered.

I sat on the doorstep with a beer whilst I sorted that one. To my amazement I spotted a little tomato plant clinging to life just a few inches from the doorstep.

The skies darkened ominously. There were rumblings of thunder from quite nearby. Rain started to fall. Oh-oh - thunderstorm - get the goats in. So I did. They did not need any encouragement. The rain increased and then went away. I had no idea where the thunderstorm went. We did not get it. I was not about to take the goats way up the garden again, so they stayed where they were.

Hobo turned up. To put the paprika plants in. He had said he would, and he did - hence the digging exercise of the day. He did that and I went and milked Suzi.

Hobo went off to the pub. I sorted out the milk and milking kit and had a bite, then went to join Hobo in the pub.

22nd May 2011

Sunday, the day of rest. Ha! Well Suzy still needed milking so up at six and milked.

There was still digging to be done too. I still had a couple more rows worth of tomato plants to go in. I stuck at that, with a break, until it was really too hot to be digging.

After lunch I went to woodworking. Three lots. One was a really gash little job of which more tomorrow. One was to sort out some old but good oak and saw it to size. I was going to call on Lajos' services and get them sawn into bits for a fencing job. In true Hungarian style, as I write it has not happened. I cannot for the life of me remember what the third woodworking job was.

In the heat of the afternoon I had to get in firewood. Oh the irony of it. Speaking of irony I forgot to mention that one day recently, cooking before getting the goats in, I had to mash some potatoes. I had no milk! I had pasteurised the lot and was not about to open the jar wherein it was stored. The spuds got mashed milkless.

It was an amusing evening in the pub. There had been a bucsu in Csákánydoroszló and Hobo had said that he would cycle the six kilometres over there. He came in somewhat after I had got to the pub. Obviously with a fair load on board. Later Jozsi came in (the Jozsi that occasionally does some work for me) and for whatever reason Hobo had a right verbal go at him. A considerable amount of verbal. One of the things that came out was that Jozsi is cigány, and he freely admitted it. I had not known that.

23rd May 2011

Up at six for milking. Getting boring isn't it. At least at that time of the day the mosquitoes have not woken up. The evening milking can be a torment if they are about. They bite me whilst I am milking and Suzy is constantly either twitching or kicking.

Breakfast, and whilst I was eating my toast and jam and drinking my coffee with fresh goats milk I set about pasteurising yesterday's evening and the rest of this mornings. The woodworking item that I mentioned yesterday came out to play. It is a little cruciform wooden trivet to go in the bottom of the saucepan under the jar of milk. Mmmm. Contradiction of terms. Cruciform? Trivet? A trivet has three legs - hence tri. Whatever, you know what I mean. The aim was to have the jar away from direct contact with the bottom of the saucepan on the direct heat of the stove, and the wood would provide a little extra insulation in that respect. Well, I had no further catastrophic incidents. Bring the milk up to seventy two Celsius, wang the lid on and into the sink with the tap running gently on the lid and down the sides to chill it as quickly as my non-refrigerated house would allow.

After that the goats went out. Rudy was a pain, as usual. I did my usual trick and frog marched him to the nearest standpipe. In the meantime Betty ate a paprika plant. "I'm reviewing the situation...I think I'll have to think it out again"

Clothes washing. Boring, hard work without a washing machine, but necessary. Posta arrived with multiple parcels and mail. I needed cash anyway. I got the cash and took the rest inside. I knew what was in the parcels. One was from my son in the UK with a digital camera on loan and the other was my order of rennet from the UK. It had arrived in super quick time so I sent them an e-mail in praise of their service. As I write I just sent them another to ask for permission to post a link to their site on the blog. Until I get the permission they will remain anonymous. I'm a bit like that. Sites like the Beeb, the Oil Drum, etc. are fair game, but when it comes to family businesses I think it is only courteous to ask first. The other item of mail was from Vasiviz - the water company. Oh, what now? It turned out to be a couple of "cheques" (as they call a bill that you can pay at the Post Office). One was for just over a thousand forints and was the standing charge and had to be paid in June. The other was for half a year worth of water and was for about four thousand forints. It does not have to be paid until August. A result then. My cycle ride into their office in Körmend had obviously worked!

I started on strimming the yard. John came by on his way to get ciggies in the pub. Beer? We went to the pub and had a couple of leisurely beers. It was a hot day.

Back home I had a late lunch and finished off strimming the yard. My UK mobile had been on charge in the house. When I went and checked it I had an SMS to tell me that I was a grandad again. Wow - three deliveries in one day! I went to the pub for another to celebrate.

Back home reality kicked in and I did firewood and scything down greenery for the goats overnight. I ate, got the goats in, milked and went back to the pub. Nothing out of the ordinary.

The highs of the day turned to ashes as I cycled home. As I came around the slight bend by the templom I could quite clearly see what was obviously a dead cat on the road somewhere towards my house. It was Tibi and Marika's silver tabby. They were quite obviously abed. I removed it from the road to avoid it having the further indignity of being squished again and laid it on the verge. I was thinking "Oh no, oh no - how can the gods be so cruel as to allow that particular cat end thus?". I have never mentioned it on the blog, but ofttimes it would come into my garden whilst I was digging and rub around my legs and allow me to pet it. It had been one of the nicest, prettiest and most friendly cats that I had encountered in the village. I will miss it.

24th May 2011

I milked, shopped, had breakfast and the goats went out. Suzy first on her own then Rudy and Betty together. Still a mistake. We got nicely past the garden bit when Rudy threw his strop. I frogmarched him to the nearest standpipe and had to floor him before I could even get his chain on the standpipe. In the meantime Betty had made good her escape and consumed an entire paprika plant. I dragged her away before she could start on another. I resigned myself to the fact that getting the goats out and getting the goats back in was going to involve six trips to wherever they were parked no matter how tired I was or how much the leg/knee/foot hurt. I have since found on the Internet another method of "training" Rudy. I will probably need a spare two hours. It involves prolonged sitting on him and whacks on the nose. At least he is not a Saanen. Apparently Saanen bucks can reach two hundred and seventy five pounds in weight (a hundred and twenty five kilogrammes). Ouch!

I gardened. I had decided that the tomatoes in the peat pots simply had to go in deeper into the soil, so they did. I had still managed to lose another couple in the meantime. I also dug four little squares quite towards the fence with No. 72 and the four cucurbits of unknown variety that had resulted from the seed Marika gave me went in the holes.

I had lunch and went to the pub for one. John turned up too. It resulted in a mini-session with the result that I got home a bit later than intended with still cheese to make. So I made cheese. That involved lighting the stove for a little warmth. At least this time I was able to use rennet. In about forty minutes I had curds and whey. The curds did not behave quite as my cheese making book said they would. It said they would sink to the bottom as it was warmed a little more. They didn't. They remained obstinately floating, even after cutting the curd into more or less cubes. Perhaps it is the difference between cows milk and goats milk. The whey was easy enough to drain off anyway. Push the curds down with my stainless steel ladle and the whey drained over the edges. With insufficient aforethought about what to do with the whey it went straight into the dogs. They loved it. They could not get enough of it.

It took a while but eventually I had what the book told me was about what the curds should be like. With a struggle I got them into the press in my super heavy duty bleached calico that is quite unlike cheesecloth.

Fortunately, with time now getting on, I already had greenery for the goats at the ready. Quite late I got the goats in and milked. When I went to get the goats in I espied my neighbour on Telek utca walking across his garden. There was nothing out of the ordinary about that, except that he had nothing on his feet. He was walking barefoot across the soil of his land. I paused with whatever particular goat I had in hand and watched. I found it quite extraordinary and also quite charming.

I grabbed a bite and went to the pub. It happened that Toni and Eva came in. I asked Eva where to get cheesecloth. She did not know, but more tomorrow.

25th May 2011

Very short today. Normal morning start with which I will not bore you. After that the remaining tomato plants in seed trays went in the ground, then lunch and then a first row of Engish sunflowers (wink-wink) went in the ground.

Apart from getting some greenery for the goats and getting them in, etc, that was it.

Until the pub in the evening. Toni and Eva appeared again. Eva came up to me with a little carrier bag. Cheesecloth! I asked how much - a couple of quid. As it happened I had to wait to pay her until I had changed something larger. When I did pay her I asked where she had got it. The textile shop nearby Gazdabolt where the lady had said they had none. Mmmm! Amazing that between me going in there and today they magically had some. Whatever. I was well enough pleased to have it.

26th May 2011

I milked Suzy as usual just after six, then started on a new daily routine - water the tomatoes, paprika, cucurbits and English sunflowers. We were at the stage of really needing some rain.

After shop and breakfast the goats went out. I had my daily tussle with Rudy.

Once again, much needed washing of clothes. The lifestyle is very harsh on clothes. What comes out of work clothes when I wash them is, basically, soil!

I went over to the shop for something. As I approached Hobo came out with an open bottle of beer. When he saw me he went back in the shop and came out with another open bottle of beer - for me! I got what I wanted in the shop, took it home and returned to outside the shop to sit on one of the flower troughs outside, have a beer with Hobo and generally chew the fat. It was quite pleasant there in the sun, even though a little on the early side for me. Hobo bemoaned the fact that the pub was shut until after lunch.

Back home I tanked up the strimmer and went into the garden with it. I did the camping lawn, the path up the middle right up to Telek utca, a strip about a metre wide westwards from the path (which gave the strimmer a bit of a workout) and the strip by my neighbour's fence on that side. The sweat was dripping and I had had enough by then.

I had lunch and went for a beer. Back home I did a Colorado Beetle patrol - yes, they were back - dispatched the ones I found, then gave the early potatoes another good earthing up. They were just starting to show the first signs of flowering. I reckoned that it would not be long and I would have new potatoes.

I went and got the greenery in for the goats and then I cooked. Potatoes (bought from the shop sadly, and a scabby bunch they were too), onion (mine), freshly picked young spinach and sorrell leaves from the garden, a little flour to give it some body and goats milk, salt and freshly ground black pepper and I had a wonderful, filling soup.

As soon as I got in the pub Hobo gave me the bad news. My lovely little goat kid, son of Suzy, was no more. He had been savaged to death by the German Shepherd dog of the people to whom I had sold him. I was gutted. What a sad, sad, horrible end to a fine little creature. Maybe it was some sort of divine retribution on me for Pickle's antics. Whatever, I was not best pleased. Hobo told me not to say anything, and then proceded to tell the rest of the pub about it anyway. When I went home I glanced at his little collar and chain where I had put them with a decided lump in my throat.

27th May 2011

Up at six to milk and water the garden. Is May officially still spring? Well, it was high summer here with daytime temperatures in the low thirties.

I shopped and at the same time retrieved my rennet from where it resides courtesy of the shop lady - in the beer fridge behind the counter. I had basically cocked up and had thought to make cheese tomorrow when the realisation dawned that tomorrow was Saturday and likely I would not be able to get the rennet back in the shop fridge before she shut. I had decided on a small cheesemaking today instead.

I had breakfast and the goats went out. I stayed in the garden and did a load of weeding, the results of which all went into the goats.

It was time to go and make cheese. I am jumping ahead a bit now. That particular cheese only made a small cheese. The size of the mould - obviously - but only about an inch thick. When I finally removed it from the press a day or two later it broke in two. I had to go for the storage bit immediately. With no fire lit I had to use oil instead of lard. As I write I can tell you that oil does not work as well as lard. It is simply absorbed into the cheese whereas lard clings on the surface. To cut a long story somewhat short I decided to try that cheese (yesterday and today, as I write). It turned out to be rather good. I can still taste it now as I type - quite Cheddary. I will let you know how the others turn out in due course. That one little cheese will do me for three days. Ideally, if I can make a cheese every fourth day that will last me for five or six days by the time that it is time to dry off Suzy to kid again I will have enough put by that I will never need to buy cheese in the shop again, and it will be nicely mature. I don't doubt that I will have failures as well as successes along the way, but the one I am eating is only the second I ever made (with rennet) and is most definitely cheese and is already rather tasty too, though I say it as shouldn't.

The cheesemaking had taken two hours. I had put the rennet aside and returned the rennet to its home in the shop fridge earlier. The recipe is called "House Cheese" and it is supposed to fit in with your routine. Yeah, right. It needed attention pretty well all the time, firstly to maintain the right temperature once the rennet was added and then to increase the temperature once the rennet had done its work, then cut and turn the curds as the whey is drained.

It was time to go and scythe down goat greenery and get the goats in. I tried a new stunt with Rudy. I enticed him down to the goat house with a freshly pulled bolting lettuce. It worked - no tantrums. I returned to the garden, I can't remember why - I think to check whether anything needed watering again. I fell into conversation with Marika over the fence. The result was that five tomato plants, all about four times the size of the best of mine came over the fence. I found spaces for them and in they went.

Normal routine after that. Milk, back to the house and store the milk and deal with the kit. A bite to eat, a swill down and off to the pub. He stayed upen very late - I know not why. The assembled regulars made good use of it. I paid for it the next morning.

28th May 2011

Good-oh - it rained most of the day. What the Hungarians call good weather - a nice steady rain. Just what we needed. I donned goat hat and fleecy jacket and went to milk Suzy. As luck had it I had enough green stuff in the barrow to keep them going through the day, so in the goat house it went. I say luck, but it was perhaps better described as anticipation. I do tend to work to the weather forecast and the rain was expected.

After breakfast I did indoor stuff, like attempting to update the blog and various cheese making operations.

I braved the rain later to get in some more greenery for the goats.

Fortunately it stopped raining towards the end of the afternoon. With goats secured and with more than enough greenery, dogs suitably admonished and the house locked I set off to answer the call of the Halogy Község Önkormányzata to take pictures at the Gyereknap. I will leave you to decipher that. It was all good simple childhood fun. Simple games with makeshift kit. One was to pull a little cuddly toy across the grass by way of using a corn cob husk as a spindle upon which to wind brightly coloured fluffy string attached to the toy. There were lots of others. Blindfold the children and make them search for sweets scattered in the grass. Ah, simple pleasures - made me chuckle.

I had to call a halt on the photography and go home and milk. Which I did. After that I answered the second call of the day from the Halogy Község Önkormányzata. They had decided to renew a little village gathering which had not happened for twelve years. I cannot be entirely certain, but I think it is a last Saturday in May thing. It was much more low-key than I expected. No speeches, no formality - just a general gathering on the Park (village green) where they lit lots of little bonfires for people to cook random bits of dead animal of their choice. The mayor made sure that I was fed and watered - well, alcoholed anyway. I went home a little after nine. The pub was in darkness and locked up. I think they had taken the opportunity for an early night. Pretty well all their regulars were at the gathering on the park anyway. Pancakes! Forgot to mention pancakes. Served cold, with jam. The cold bit took me by surprise. Also the batter was somewhat lighter and fluffier than how we cook pancakes in the UK. I am guessing, but I reckon maybe a bit of bicarb. in the flour. I can't remember ever mentioning it, but there is no self-raising flour here. You have to make your own.

29th May 2011

Sunday. Usual start then housework. It took a while - it was in a bit of a state.

I had quite a late lunch then popped to the pub for one, it being Sunday. I managed to catch the last few laps of the Formula One.

Back home it was back to the weeding. That time of year now and it is like painting the Forth bridge. There were lots of two different types of fleshy weed. I needed to get them out as they would soon seed. I stacked hem up and carried a great armful and put them with what I already had in the wheelbarrow for overnight goat food. The goats love them. They can't get enough of them. As I have said before it is a pity I cannot train them to go on the garden and just eat the weeds and leave my stuff alone.

I scythed down another row at the top by Telek utca but just left it to dry for hay.

In the pub in the evening Hobo and Miki were having a right go. I had no idea what it was about. It went on all evening and nearly came to blows.

30th May 2011

I went to milk. As I sometimes do I looked in the garage window to see that Rudy and Betty were OK in their half. Nowhere to be seen. I called Rudy. Still nowhere to be seen. Mmmmm - that was a bit unusual. He normally comes to that window when I call him, looking for food. Whatever. I grabbed a small handful of green to go on Suzy's tray and opened the door, only to be greeted by all three goats in the little yard. Rudy had managed to get the door between their bits open. I ushered Rudy and Betty back in their half and resecured the door. There had oviously been some scuffling about as the milking stool was wedged under the milking table. I retrieved it - and a leg fell out. Blast. Another unscheduled repair job. I stuck the offending leg back in its hole and milked.

I took the stool back to the yard with me and put it in the workshop for attention. Speaking of the workshop, the door now has to be wedged open. I have swallows in residence. In fact I have swallows in residence in four of the outbuildings. I delight in seeing them flitting in and out. Apart from that, they do help to keep the mosquito numbers down.

I had to be back in the yard anyway, as I had the sign out for Posta because I needed cash. I set about the repair to the milking stool. The cause of the problem turned out to be a patch of rotten wood running just by where the leg had been inserted. I chopped it all out - well, poked most of it out with a finger actually - and got back to good wood. I glued in a bit of oak suitably formed, lashed wood glue about and tapped the leg back in. I did not even tap that hard. The bit of log end that was the seat split half way across. Oh-oh! The days of that milking stool were distinctly numbered.

Posta arrived, I got cash and then I had lunch.

I have no idea what I did, but I spent the rest of the day becoming increasingly disorganised, with the result that at the end of the afternoon I was running about like a blue-*rsed fly to get the goats in and milk.

I was late to the pub! Catastrophe!

31st May 2011

I milked and watered what needed watering in the garden. The weather was remaining hot and dry and once again we could really be doing with a drop of rain. I have mentioned it before but it is only the garden that needs watering. Everywhere where there is weed cover (the whole of the rest of the plot!) seems to be a self-sustaining system. It gets heavy dews at night time which seems to provide enough moisture for continued growth. At the moment there was in many places a rock hard barrier of dryness some six inches down. It affected everywhere that did not have a fair amount of shade. I was having to resort to using the blunt side of the medium sized axe to hammer the goat posts in.

I went to the shop and did what I think was my smallest ever shop since I have lived here. Two beers and a tomato! :) After that, breakfast and start the next lot of cheese. I took the goats out whilst the milk curdled.

Back to the house and another cheesemaking. I was interrupted at about ten by Hobo calling and dragging me kicking and screaming over to the shop where he paid for the beers which we then consumed sitting outside on the edge of the flower troughs in the sun. Bit of an early start for me, but I think it was what you might call elevenses for Hobo.

Back in the house I got the curds done, the whey into the dogs and the curds into a cheesecloth and in the press.

Just after eleven I wandered down to John's with the scythe and started on his grass. You might wonder why I would be scything John's grass when I had plenty of my own to be going at. My motives were not entirely altruistic. Goat food - hay. I stuck at that for a couple of hours. Hobo was there painting John's fence. At about one we knocked all on the head and went for a mini-session in the pub. I dropped the scythe off at home, did a quick goat inspection and then followed Hobo and John on the bike.

Back home I had a rather late lunch then went and did some scything of my own for evening goat food. The scythe blade parted company with the snath. Twice. I forked up what I had, which was enough, into the barrow and wheeled the whole lot down the garden. I mended the scythe in true Hungarian style. With a nail. As I write it remains thus mended. The blade and snath have not parted company since.

Evening ritual followed. Goats, eat, pub.

I came across this report that bears further looking at. For instance this gem:

Guatemala, where 865,000 people are said to be at risk of food insecurity because of a lack of state investment in smallholder farmers who are highly dependent on imported food

Surely the first role of a smallholder farmer is to be self-sufficient first and foremost? NOT to rely on imported foods. and then this:
However, the report's emphasis on the importance of small farmers was challenged by Nicola Horlick, a leading British investment fund manager who has invested in farmland in Brazil, in a debate with Ms Stocking on the BBC's Today programme.

She said large mechanised farms still provided some job opportunities for local workers and created spin-off industries.

"You cannot reply [sic] on a whole lot of smallholders to feed the world - it's not going to work," she said.

Well yes so get in the queue for whatever there is. I suspect that a friendly smallholder could be your new best friend any time soon.


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