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July 2011

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1st July 2011

Very hot! Very short, as I am so far behind. Weeding and staking tomato plants and tying them up. Exciting day.

During the day more stuff came over the fence from No. 72. Mainly vine prunings. I have abandoned until the autumn now any effort at reposting the vines. They are so laden that there is not a hope of getting them off the floor. Oh well, a fourth year of picking grapes at knee level.

I will just have to repeat Hobo's idea of clearing out the foliage from around the grapes a few days before the harvest. It certainly paid dividends last year and I ended up with forty litres of wine. Speaking of which, I know that I mentioned the two previous years taking vine cuttings and sticking them in the ground in autumn. I neglected to mention that I have had a success this year. I stuck fifteen os so in the ground. I am now the proud owner of a single new vine that took out of the fifteen. Oh well, one is one better than none, which is what I achieved last year. I am reckoning that I might just try ground layering instead.

Pub in the evening. That was that.

2nd July 2011

It was my birthday today. Sixty four! I have probably said it before and I will probably say it again. If I had known I was going to last this long I would have taken better care of the body. Nothing wrong with the mind (I think).

I did make an inward resolution that the only thing that I would do today would be the necessary kecskepásztor munka. It was raining when I got up anyway. Good-oh - that was watering the plants sorted out!

The goats had to stay in until half past ten before the rain had subsided sufficiently to allow them to go out. I cannot remember why - I think I was just returning a bowl or basket that had come round with goat goodies - but I went round to the next door neighbour's and was invited in and ended up chatting for the best part of an hour. I took my leave, checked the goats, and went for a preprandial, as you do on your birthday. It was going to be the one. The landlord found out it was my birthday and it became two.

Back home I had a slightly belated lunch then set out on my pastoral duties to untangle goats, top up their water and trim Betty's toe nails to which end I took the milking stool with me as well. It was actually quite pleasant sitting in the sun doing that. Betty is the most amenable of the goats, and being heavily pregnant was not inclined to struggle whilst I did it. Well, that is to say, I believe that she is heavily pregnant. She is like a little barrel now compared to Suzy who is sleek and fit and very strong. Unfortunately, phantom pregnancies are not at all uncommon amongst goats. If that is the case she will likely have her waters break and then there will be no kid(s) and no afterbirth. From what I read she could be very distressed.

I took it easy the rest of the afternoon, had a light bite and then did the evening goat routine.

Of course I ended up in the pub. I had a very low-key, but nonetheless pleasant, celebration of my birthday and then it was time to go home.

Birthday or not I did my trawl for doom and gloom. Nick Hodge writing for Energy & Capital. Well folks, 2015 is not that far away. They (governments, IEA, etc.) are papering over the cracks. Call me a doomer if you want, but I reckon it could all unravel pretty quickly once it becomes obvious to the whole world. And on a lighter note Google have earned some brownie points in my estimation.

3rd July 2011

It was a normal start to the day with nothing out of the ordinary upon which to report. You know, I have thought about the readership that the blog attracts. It extends far beyond my original purpose which was simply to keep family and friends up-to-date with my goings on. I am only guessing here, but maybe it is that my extended readership (including those who actively feed back to me, which I enjoy) find my life here so far removed from what they are doing for a living and which I also used to do, that there is a fascination with it. Keep reading - it will get better. It will also get worse, but that is another matter not for now.

The working morning was taken up with weeding and staking more of the tomato plants. Some of them were big enough that I had to do the staking before I could get anywhere near the weeding. It took all morning. The weeds went straight into the goats who as luck had it were nearby.

After lunch I set about making some more stakes for the tomatoes. Oak. I managed one stake before the thought came into my head "Bugger this for a game of soldiers!". The remaining slab got tucked under the arm and I cycled off up to Lajos' place. He was not at home, but I had had the foresight to take a felt tip pen with me. I scribbled some pidgin magyarul instructions on the slab and left it leaning up by his porchway steps.

Back home (after one in the pub) I managed a bit of blog updating.

I got in a bit of evening goat food and that was pretty much it for the day.

4th July 2011

It was raining when I went to milk, but had stopped by the time I had had breakfast and it was time for the goats to go out. There was a small sadness as I went to milk. There was a fledgling black redstart fluttering on the yard, obviously fallen from a nest. The dogs were on it in an instant. It was probably a kindness actually. It could not fly and would not have survived. Ah, the cruelty of nature.

Breakfast after milking and then the goats went out. I have no idea why, but Suzy and Rudy were both in a playful mood today. Suzy leapt and cavorted all the way to where I wanted her parked. So did Rudy, but he always leapt and cavorted in a direction other than me and the bucket of water I had in hand. Can't think why. I raked up a goodly handful of the chestnut catkins and distributed them to the goats as a little supplement to their browsing.

Back in the house, the usual domestics and then a spell on the Internet.

Lajos had told me that he had sawn up my oak and it was ready to collect. After lunch I cycled on up there. Lajos was not about but the oak wasexactly where I had left it, now sawn into six good oak stakes. I had a word with one of his daughters and took the oak. Back home (after a quick one in the pub - as you do) I set about roughly chopping points on the ends, easier to get them into the ground. I was using the smallest axe. The axe head kept threatening to drop off and a piece of the handle simply fell out. I flew mad and determined to make a new handle right then. I cast about for something suitable and caught sight of the remains of the old handle from the biggest axe which had befallen a similar fate and had been consigned to the firewood box. I had a quick measure up and determined that there was enough still good at the end which would need to go through the axe head that it would make a perfectly good new handle.

About an hour of sawing and planing later it was ready to go in the axe head. I pressed it most of the way in using the workbench vice. It still had a little way to go, but I did not want to risk the wooden thread on the vice. I took it over to the wood shed, put the butt end on the chopping block and gave the axe head a few whacks with the back of the large axe and it went all the way home. Back to the workshop, cut a wedge and whack that in and there it was, good a new. Well, better than new actually as the original handle was always a bit loose from shortly after I bought it in spite of me having rewedged it.

I retired to the kitchen and over a pipe of tobacco sowed seven seed trays of stuff, mainly winter brassicas. After that I had a wander into the garden to check the goats and take a few photos which I will publish just as soon as I have time. Marika called me over to the fence, gave me some stuff for the goats and started chatting. I was there chatting to her for the best part of an hour. One of the things that came up was that she could see I had no uborka (what they call cucumbers but what I would call a gherkin). She went a few steps away and came back with three for me. She was in what I would term as her garden - I never see Tibi in that part of the garden. In order to locate the third cucumber she had had to strip off a load of horseradish leaves. I had never really noticed before but it came to me then how extraordinary her bit of garden is. Everything is mixed in together. Cucumber, horseradish, tomatoes, paprika and house flowers just higgledy-piggledy everywhere and anywhere. There is obviously method in her madness as the ground cover was complete - little need of weeding. Mmmm - food for thought.

The afternoon was drawing on so it was time for firewood, a bite to eat, get the goats in and milk. Finished for the day it was time for a swill down and off to the pub. John was there but Hobo was notable by his absence.

5th July 2011

Cheese making day. Somewhat routine by now. Retrieve the rennet from the shop, warm the milk over breakfast then stir the diluted rennet into the milk. Rennet back into the shop fridge and take the goats out to their workstations. Strong stuff, rennet. Just half a millilitre will curdle a litre of milk. Well, that is the theory. I got back to the kitchen to find that once again I had had a curd disaster. Not a good curd at all. More cottage cheese. I have a theory as to why it should be so. Ambient temperature. Once the daytime temperatures approach the thirty Celsius mark the milk becomes un-pasteurised faster than I can deal with it.

As usual whilst this was going on a miriad other little domestic tasks happened. Empty the ash from the stove. Wash some clothes. Have a tidy up here and there...

Having accepted the fact that the cheese making was just making túró I wrapped it in a cheese cloth, sat it in a sieve to drain and went to the pub for a beer. Thirsty work, cheese making. Speaking of which, back in the good old days when Sheffield was a world class producer of steel, did you know that the pubs used to open for a couple of hours from six in the morning? The night shift workers - blast furnaces and stuff - needed to slake their thirst. Five or six pints of shandy. On a related note the pubs in Grimsby (Eee - it's grim in Grimsby, but it's hell in Hull) when Grimsby had a fishing fleet used to open and close according to the tide times.

Anyway, my quick one in the pub unaccountably became three. Hobo, who was obviously in funds, bought me the second and the third came, quite unexpectedly, from Zoltán the guy that scythed my entire garden way back in about May 2008. He has had no work from me since, but has always been friendly towards me. You know, I am thinking about putting up a "Dramatis Personæ" page. What do you reckon?

Back home considerably later than intended and went to check on the goats. Once again the goats were fine, and once again a considerable amount of greenery had come over the fence from No. 72. It filled the extended wheelbarrow. I have picture of it in the camera which I will post just as soon as I have time to download the pictures from the camera.

It had rained on and off all day. Just gentle showers. Not enough to even think about getting the goats in. I managed a bit of blog updating and then it was time to eat, get the goats in, milk and go to the pub.

6th July 2011

A normal start and then an exciting day of weeding - much needed. Once again the weeds went directly into the goats. I took an enforced break from that at about eleven. I had the sign out for posta and needed to get dog food from Kutyatap-kutyatap. I was successful on the first count but not on the second. I was indoors doing a bit of blog updating and was relying upon Pickle raising the alarm long before I could hear his jingle. It never happened. I found out from Hobo later that he was not in his usual van, so there was no music. Oh well, it was not desperate. I had enought dog food for a couple of days, so it would not cost me an arm and a leg. Think about it ;)

At the tail end of my waiting for dog food I had taken the angle grinder to the new bit of fence at the front of the house. Hobo appeared whilst I was fending off black dog and grinding off sticky-out bits of weldmesh. He stayed outside the front fence out of the way of the mayhem and looked on in amusement. It did not take me more than a minute to grind off the unwanted pointy bits once I persuaded Blackie to stay away by angle grinding his tail! I jest, of course. Hobo left, saying that he would be back later to go and check on the progress of haymaking.

Now, I don't think I have mentioned this hay story. A bit convoluted. It involves the land of John's absentee next door neighbour. You know that I had been doing a bit of scything for hay at John's place. I had noticed that the next door land was in about the same state as mine was when I had to employ Zoltan the first year here to scythe down the lot. I had already had words with the village mayor, offering to scythe it down in exchange for the hay. He had said that he had no problem with that, but Hobo would have to clear it with the absentee owner. John had already told me that he had seen a certain village character doing a bit of mowing along the front (the same guy from whom we obtained the bamboo). This character, Imre by name, is I can only describe as punctilious in his nature. He is the only person that I have seen here use hand signals when riding his bicycle. Always. There might not be a car, a pedestrian or another cyclist moving within two kilometers but he still uses the hand signals. Anyway, he got wind of my request to scythe the place down and would have absolutely none of it. It was his job. I certainly did not have a problem with that. It would save me a lot of hot and sweaty work. What we had difficulty with was getting him to understand that I wanted the hay for the goats. It took several conversations with him in various places, including the pub landlord intervening and putting in his two pence worth, before the penny finally dropped that me, Hobo and John would be responsible for clearing the resulting hay and getting it to my place. Once the penny had dropped with a resounding clink everyone was happy. Imre was happy that nobody was stepping on his toes as kind-of caretaker to the place. I was happy because I would get a load of hay for nothing and not have to do the donkey work, and Hobo was happy because he saw the light of a little gainful employment.

I hung around doing various bits and pieces not too far from the yard until it was pretty obvious that Hobo was not going to show up today. After that I did a load more weeding, once again feeding it directly to the goats.

Then it was time to cook and do a bit of work on the cheeses. I should tell you a bit about that. The cheeses in store need to be turned over and checked for abnormalities. The book says daily for the newer ones and every few days for the maturer ones. I don't have that many so I do them all daily. After that the cheese in the press has to be removed, turned over into a clean damp cheesecloth and put back in the press with a bit more pressure. That happens for four days. Anyway, I did that, ate, got the goats in, milked and went to the pub. Hobo apologised for not turning up - some other work had come his way. Nothing unusual there - I long since accepted it as the norm. We rearranged the checking out of the hay for tomorrow. Early, Hobo said, before it got hot. Ha! You have to be out and about really early for that. By about nine in the morning it is hot, and the heat of the afternoon will only be two or three degrees hotter.

7th July 2011

I milked, breakfasted, put the goats out, cleared up in the kitchen and once again waited for Hobo to turn up. He did turn up - at half past eight Hungarian time. Which happened to be eleven thirty Central European Summer Time. He took me on round to where the scything of hay was going on. We had a look at it and there was already quite a fair amount that was dry enough to store. Imre was hard at work scything down more. I noticed that he was assiduously scything down John's little hawthorn hedge as he was going, thorough chap that he is. I went back up to Telek utca, grabbed the bike and cycled round the lanes to alert John. Quicker for me than walking the rest of the way down his plot. Alerted, John shot off up his garden to stop Imre before he scythed the lot.

All that excitement in the hot weather had made us thirsty...

Back from the pub I made a quick sandwich and ate it before Hobo appeared complete with hand cart. Round to John's and with his help we soon had three big handcart loads stored away in the little room in the wood house. All that work in the hot weather had made us thirsty...

Back home I did a little in the garden after inspecting the goats - "Yep - one. two three - all there!". Na seriously, I do take my kecskepasztoral duties a bit more seriously than that. I made sure all had water and all were not tangled up. I have no idea what I did in the garden. Something.

After that into the early evening routine. Back to the house and something hot to eat - I do like something hot to eat once a day even if it is only cheese on toast or a fried egg sandwich. Get the goats in, milk, wash and change and out to the pub. The telly this evening put a heatwave warning on the main news - not just the weather forecast.

8th July 2011

After the normal start I went to put the goats out. They went about as far up towards Telek utca as they go. I had just got Rudy on station when there was a hail from the fence. The old chap neighbour up that end. We had a chat about this and that. He indicated a weedy area just by where we were standing and wandered off. He returned shortly with his scythe. He scythed down the little area of weeds. It was an extraordinary thing to behold. The scythe barely moved. It must have been about half a metre a second. Everything fell before it and in a few very slow strokes the area of ground was clear down to the finest blade of grass. I thought that I could get a scythe reasonable sharp but that tool was literally razor sharp. A lifetime of practice I guess.

The weeds and grass came over the fence for the goats, we had a few more words and we went our separate ways.

I had noticed whilst we were chatting that it was about time that I took the strimmer along that side, so after doing the kitchen stuff that is what I did. I did the whole of the western border, a bit outside on Telek utca and then started back down my path up the middle of the plot. I had got about fifteen metres in when a bramble entwined itself firmly between the cutting head and the back plate. I stopped the strimmer, took it off my shoulder and unwound the errant bramble. Would the strimmer restart? Would it bu**ery! Mmmm. Oh well, back to the yard. On the way back I picked up several horse fly bites. It is that time of year again.

I did a few bits around the house and yard and decided to see what ailed the strimmer. It had quite cooled down by now. Although there was still petrol in the tank I added the last that I had in the petrol can. Took it just outside the outhouse, did the starting drill and off it went like a good-un. A couple of possibilities to its non-starting occured to me: it could have a thermal cut-out (I was working it quite hard) or it could just have been my sweat that got onto the workings of the On/Off switch (I was working me quite hard and the handles had been slick with sweat - nice). Anyway, it worked so that was a relief.

After lunch I decided to go to Nádasd and get the petrol can filled as I also needed to get one or two bits in Bödő anyway. I had a very gentle cycle ride there. It was slightly into the breeze of which there was just enough to keep me cool enough that I was at least not dripping sweat. I managed a misunderstanding at the filling station and instead of the four litres I wanted ended up with 4.81 litres. Blast! That meant that I would have to use mental arithmetic to calculate how much oil to put in it. The cycle home was a bit more rapid than the cycle there, and me putting in a bit of effort. I managed it in ten minutes. Guess where I went?

Hobo was in there. I asked if he could give me a hand getting in some greenery for the goats a bit later. No problem. Back home I dealt with all the bits I had bought and set the petrol aside out of its normal position with the oil wedged on top of it to remind me that I had not added the oil. I was not in the frame of mind to do mental arithmetic right then. The time came for Hobo to come and help with the goat greenery. And went, and went some more. Ah well, just get on with it, so scythe, barrow and fork got trudged all the way up to Telek utca. I scythed enough for the goats and trudged it all the way back again. Then it was time to trudge back up that way, get the goats in and milk Suzy...

There was no sign of Hobo in the evening either. I had asked him about the big old pear tree. His response was the expected one - firewood. In response to an e-mail received I collared Lajos and asked what pearwood was worth here in Hungary. I half expected him to come back with the same answer, but no, it is apparently worth a lot of money here too. He would make enquiries. As I write I am still waiting - I will have to give him a prod. Also as I write, a high class crafts web site that I visit is listing pearwood veneer at £14.95 for three square feet of pearwood veneer.

Byron King reporting on Ali Samsam Bakhtiari. Read what Bakhtiari has to say about Peak Oil.

9th July 2011

It was a very odd sort of day. Hobo had asked me if I could get up to his place as early as I could to help with moving some stuff about. I had no idea what that was all about but had readily agreed. I milked, breakfasted and put the goats out with water in super-quick time. Hobo had said to meet him in the pub at about half past eight. He was not there. I had a coffee (yeah, right - hop flavoured and cold) to see if he would appear. He did not. Having consumed my cold hop flavoured coffee I cycled on up to his place.

As soon as I got there I could see that my assistance was not required. There was a working party in progress to do a makeover on what I would call their summer kitchen. You might call it the hallway. Not so. I have a hallway in my house. I am assured that my summer kitchen is where I now have my workshop. It's all about size. I reckon that the hallway in that house is probably twice the size of my kitchen. Anyway...

I was sat down and plied with red wine and pálinka and coffee. I was starting to need the coffee by this stage. I watched as the working party went about their work. Everything that could possibly be removed had been removed and all was being scrubbed/dusted/otherwise cleaned out on the yard. I do include in this the doors and windows. Hobo stepped up to do his professional bit. Scraper and a mixing of glett. Another large red wine and then a can of beer came my way. All I had done so far was to help to arrange dust sheets.

Eleven o'clock, and I decided that I needed to go and inspect the goats. I took my leave and cycled on up the hill then down the gravel track onto Telek utca. The goats were parked fairly well up that end and it was much easier to cycle a little uphill, then coast downhill and then just walk twenty metres or so than to cycle to the front gate and then walk the hundred and fifty odd metres up the garden.

I had just checked the goats, untangled Betty and was about to walk back up to Telek utca when a little white car that I recognised passed by. It did not pass by far. I do not know whether they saw me or just saw my bike parked against the fence. It was Tibi and Marika.

They reversed back and waited for me to reach Telek utca, then got out and had a chat. Turned out that they saw the bike and were worried about it getting stolen. Anyway, one thing led to another and I was ordered into the car whilst Marika was left behind. Tibi reversed all the way back to the lane that runs up by the templom. To my surprise Tibi set off up the rough track that eventually takes you a back way into Daraboshegy. At the top of the hill he took a right turn into the fields. A little way in we came to an area that was wired off and had a notice attached to one of the posts that said in so many words "Beware - surveillance cameras in use". Within were pumpkin plants, and it turned out that it was Tibi's land. We had a drive around the edge and stopped and got out. There was a fold in the land down to another valley which is quite hidden from where I live. You could not see any habitation and it was really a quite pleasant spot. It explained why many times I had heard his tractor at work - it has a very individual sound - but not been able to see where he was. There was an area on the down slope which was obviously lying fallow and Tibi indicated that when it was grown he would mow it by tractor, turn it into hay and bring it on down for the goats. Wow - that would be a lot of hay!

We set off back to the village, but instead of dropping me off at the top of my place he turned down the lane to the templom then onto Petőfi utca and back to his house. Ah, that explained it! There was my bicycle propped by his gate. Marika had obviously ridden or wheeled it down from Telek utca.

I was invited in. Two large pálinkas and a beer followed plus another hour of chatting. I eventually got away, did a quick tour of inspection at my place - checked on the dogs and did a quick visual on the goats over the garden gate - then cycled back on up to Hobo's place as it was about lunchtime and I knew that I was expected for lunch.

When I got there Hobo was just putting the last touches to the glett work. As soon as he had finished we did indeed have lunch. Lecsó. Surprisingly, lecsó features in neither of my on-line dictionaries. It is in my little pocket dictionary. It also features in a light hearted telly advert for Unicredit Bank, although the significance escapes me. To put you out of your suspense, lecsó is paprika and tomato stew. Todays variation had scrambled eggs folded in. Simply delicious - in every meaning.

After lunch Hobo started on the emulsioning. I sat about expecting to be called on to do something. I was (expected to do something) - keep drinking the red wine and cups of coffee that came my way. Somewhere in the course of the afternoon I did another goat inspection. Rudy threw a strop. I just kept out of his way.

Back at Hobo's he was just doing the second coat of emulsion. With the afternoon ticking on all was eventually done. I was called upon to assist in the only bit of actual work I did all day - that of assisting to get the freezer back on its little pallet. I know not why, but all the appliances were on little pallets. All the appliances went back into their respective normal positions with millimetric precision.

By this time the afternoon was seriously ticking away. I still had to get goat food in and the goats and milk. As soon as I was respectfully able I left to go back to my day job. It was late. At my best pace, which is not very quick, I wheeled barrow, scythe and fork up the plot. A reasonable load of goat comestibles was assembled into the barrow in short order. By now it really was getting on and I really did not want multiple trudges back up the plot to get the goats. I took a flier and circumvented the system. On my way back down the plot I simply unhooked each goat as I passed it. Two water buckets were emptied and chucked onto the top of the barrow load. To my surprise it worked. The goats were more interested in the food in the barrow than in me. Thus, me waterless against Rudy, we made stately progress to the goat house and, with the encouragement of some armfuls of greenery, the goats were soon in their respective quarters.

I milked, had a quick snack, not needing more, changed and went to the pub. Hobo was there of course. I think he had had enough of the being stuck at home. Well, a rather different day.

10th July 2011

Another different day, at least at the start. It all started a couple of days previously when an old boy who I knew by sight was at the table with Hobo when I went in that particular evening. He is another quite battered looking character who may (or may not) have done a few rounds in the ring. Nonetheless, a very pleasant old chap of some eighty four years young. Some discussions had gone on with the result that Hobo had summoned me to appear in the pub at nine thirty in the forenoon.

I appeared, and Hobo presented me with a beer. Oh dear! Two days on the trot. Now, I know that you know that I like a beer but nine thirty is normally a bit early for me to start. And particularly two days running.

After the beer we cycled up the hill from the pub. Somewhere about opposite Toni's place we stopped. Hobo attracted the attention of Imre, the old chap in question. We went into his yard and were taken to the source of the subject in question. Pigeons. Dozens of them. I mentioned some while ago on the blog how I should obtain a source of animal protein. One of my regular correspondents sent me an e-mail with the subject line "HUNGARY, not PERU" having discerned that I was of course talking about Guinea pigs. Now why pigeons never crossed my mind I do not know. Lack of awareness that a flock (correct collective pronoun? Wiki says so) of pigeons existed in the village? They are, of course, a much better answer than Guinea pigs. Self-replicating in the same way, but given suitable housing much less liable to predators - they have the advantage of operating in three dimensions. Relatively low maintenance, and the subject of a body of gourmet recipes.

A discussion took place with a preliminary agreement for me to buy a breeding pair of pigeons. Sorted. Except that they would have nowhere to live. Ah well, another little project leap-frogs the ever extending queue.

I went straight home after that to put the goats out rather late. It was hot - thirty plus - so I put them in the shade. Not a lot else got done after that.

Mid afternoon I wandered up to the pub in the forlorn hope that the Silverstone Grand Prix would be on. It was. Forlorn. There was some random film on which both I and the rest of the regulars must have seen at least ten thousand times. Oh well, I suppose it is his telly.

I went home and wheeled the barrow up the plot to scythe down goat food. What an exciting life I lead. The strange thing is that it is exciting. Today was the discovery of the pigeons. Unless you have exotic birds to whom you give names, avians tend to be anonymous - and food! The goats came in, Suzy was milked and I went back to the pub.

11th July 2011

Up at the usual time and milked Suzy and watered the garden. All exciting stuff.

It had the promise of being another really hot day. Even the locals were complaining about the heat. After breakfast I put the goats out in one of the shadiest parts of the garden. Even they don't like the heat much, but then they are wearing fur coats full time. I think Betty, being heavily pregnant, was having a particularly tough time.

I did the usual round of housework, dripping sweat as I went. Not much got done after that - it was just too hot.

Towards the end of the afternoon I went for a beer, knowing that next thing I would have to get in greenery for the goats. Hobo was there so I enlisted his help. It was but a few moments work between us, me scything and Hobo forking up and stacking in the barrow. We wandered back down towards the goat house, Hobo pushing the barrow, to find a huge stack of horseradish leaves that had appeared from No. 72 in the meantime. Great - with what we had done and that lot there was about three nights-worth of goat food there. Hobo helped get the goats in and then went back to the pub. I did the milking, then sorted it out and washed up the milking kit ready for morning.

After that I went to the pub. Imre, the pigeon man was in there and we did a deal. It turned out that I was not getting just a pair of pigeons but a pair with the hen bird sitting eggs. I guess that is probably a good thing as it would keep her occupied whilst settling to a new home. I managed to get away from the pub quite early and did a bit of work on the blog before retiring.

12th July 2011

Cheese making and washing day. Not much more to be said about that. I was interrupted for a short while by Hobo who dragged me out to go and check on the state of haymaking. It was still a little too green to go in so we just forked it all over to finish drying out in the sun.

We went for a beer after that.

The advent of a deal involving pigeons had precipitated a number of items that leap-frogged the every growing list of stuff to be done. Hobo had done an inspection for possible quarters for them, rejected the wood store and ended up with the last remaining unused outhouse. What was that I said a while ago about having too many outhouses? Within minutes he had found an old crate suitable for pigeons to nest in and had securely nailed it to the wall. My part would be to make it pigeon proof from the inside and dog proof from the outside and to put a little door on the nest box. It also precipitated me having to ring "Kutyatap, kutyatap" and organise pigeon food. For the first time I found myself dealing with a Hungarian business person by mobile phone. I don't know whether it is just me but I far prefer dealing with that sort of stuff face-to-face. Anyway, I did that. It took a second or two for the penny to drop to whom he was speaking, but after that it was easy. He understood what I needed and I understood his answers. Small steps, but I felt quite pleased with myself.

It was another seriously hot day but I plunged into making a dog-proof door for the future pigeon loft (only it is not a loft). That involved sawing four suitably sized pieces of wood. It turned out to be oak - very old, very dry and it took some sawing. I did it, but after that it was definitely beer o'clock!

Back at the ranch I retired into the relative cool of the office (only 27 C) and did a bit of blog updating. After that it was into the evening routine, as normal.

13th July 2011

Once again it was a seriously hot day. I persevered with making a door for the pigeon house until I had had enough.And apart from the usual, that was that.

14th July 2011

I knew that there was something on just as soon as I let the dogs out first thing. Rudy was anxiously peering through the gap between yard door and garage wall. That was not a thing that he does at that time of day. He is normally there at the time that I take the goats out into the garden as if to say "Come on you old buffer! It is time we went out to play.". I got the milking kit ready and wandered round to goat house via garden, as normal. Instead of just getting on I had a look over the gate into the part of the goat house where Betty and Rudy were living. Only there was not just Betty and Rudy. There, still wet from birth and once again without any intervention from me, was a brand new kid.

All appeared well so I milked and went back to the house for breakfast, more hurried than usual. Back at the goat house I had to have a redispositioning of goats. Suzy went out and then with a bit of shuffling about I managed to get Rudy out on his own. Back in the goat house I had to ensure that all was well. I turned the kid over. Blast, another buck. Oh well. Next I had to ensure that the kid received colostrum from Betty. The kid knew more or less where to look but was not finding the teat. I helped by giving the teat a squeeze so that he would be assisted by his sense of smell. That worked. He was soon contentedly suckling. Again a sense of wonder and delight at a small miracle of nature swept over me as I watched. Happy that all was well I left them to it.

Hobo appeared, intent on getting the hay crop in. I told him about the kid and we went and had a look. All was still well and Hobo immediately coined a name for him - "Hurka". I will let you look that one up for yourselves. Hobo said that he would enlist the help of John to get the hay in and I could stay here. Several trips with hand cart and the hay started to mount up in the separate room in the wood house. We had just got the last load in when there were ominous signs of an incipient thunderstorm. I legged it up the garden and got Rudy and Suzy inside. Just in time, as the full force of the storm hit us. Well, there would be no more gathering of hay today, so we went to the pub. I cycled under the umbrella so I was not too bad. Hobo was like a drowned rat when he got there - soaked to the skin. He was quite unconcerned. He had a beer in front of him. The rain turned to hail, quite big hail.

We were not of a mind to go out in the rain and hail which continued so we had another beer. Then another. Eventually it eased off enough for me to make a dash for home. With goats in and nothing to be done in the garden after the drenching by the storm I settled down to do some blog updating and other Internet work.

Early evening I ate, Suzy was milked, Betty and kid were checked and they all were fed for the evening. And that was that, apart from the usual trip to the pub.

15th July 2011

After milking and all the usual stuff I decided that all the goats would go out, including Betty and the kid. Mmmm - Betty and the kid. Sounds like some B-Western movie. Anyway the adult goats went out and were parked to my satisfaction. There was no sign of the kid. I wandered back to the goat house to find him there hiding. They do, you know - hide. I carried him up the garden to join the others and he was happy enough once there.

I tarried a while looking at my goat family. Suzy was happily munching as was Betty, the kid now by her side. Rudy was - well, just being Rudy. You know, in my naivety I thought that buck goats were only in rut at a certain time of year. Not so my Rudy. He is in rut full time.

Eventually I went back to the yard where I started on turning the laboriously sawn pieces of oak into a pigeon loft door. I wonder why it is called a pigeon loft even though it is at ground level?

Apart from that I spent much more time than usual checking on the goats. On my travels I happened to notice that the kid's anus was caked with what I can only describe as quadruple strength custard. I went to the Internet for the answer to that one. Quite normal, but the mother goat was supposed to clean it off. Betty had not cleaned it off. At the end of the day, once the goats were back in house, it fell to me to wash custard-shit off a baby goat's arse. Nice. Goes with the territory and as I write all is well. Ah, the joys!

16th July 2011

In an attempt to get caught up, not a lot to say. Apart from the usual I did more work on the pigeon loft door - the big one that will keep dogs out. Weld mesh on the outside and fine chicken wire on the inside. Hobo and John did another stint of moving hay. I reckon that I now have about thirty cubic metres stored. At the end of the day I went to get the goats in. The old lady at No. 72 had her family there helping out. Another load of goat food came over the fence. In exchange I showed them the kid, now two days old. I cannot be sure of the generations but the children, who were particularly pleased to see the kid, are either great grandchildren of the old lady or great-great grandchildren.

I forgot to mention that when I got the goats in yesterday evening the kid did not accompany Betty back to the goat house. Nope - he stayed right where he was until I went to get Rudy. Then he trotted along right with us back to the goat house.

17th July 2011

It looked like it might rain so I put the goats quite nearby. Without a thought I put them where I usually put them when I park them nearby. My habit is to park them and then take water out to them a little later, or earlier, according to the temperature of the day. I took the water out. There was Rudy, there was Suzy and there was Betty. Where was the kid? Nowhere to be seen. I searched all around - no kid. It suddenly dawned upon me that I had parked Betty where Tibi had made the post holes for the as yet unfinished vine posts. Oh no! Could it be? It was. I found him nose down, bum up at the bottom of the third post hole I looked in. I was just able to reach down and haul him out by his hind legs. He was none too happy, poor little soul. With Betty and kid reunited I moved them both to somewhere more suitable. All part of the learning curve for all concerned.

Back in the house I set about making my first lot of kephir. Now, I am not all that adventurous when it comes to food. I am assured that kephir is readily obtainable in the UK, but me being me I would just pass it by, not knowing what it was. Hobo had put me onto it and I had tried and liked it. It had turned out that John had been making kephir for some considerable time. He had presented me with a little jar with some milk and kephir grains in it. All I did to get the show on the road was to move it to a larger jar and add as much of this mornings milking to it as I required kephir.

The Nudes of the World phone hacking scandal was attracting considerable attention on the telly news here. I think I would take a rather right wing view on that. Let those that think they are above and beyond the law be dealt with above and beyond the law. A few posts along Westminster Bridge with spikes on the top upon which to impale heads should do it. Sorry, one of my lighter thoughts :)

18th July 2011

When it was time for the goats to go out they went about as far up the garden towards Telek utca as they ever do. The kid was doing his hiding stunt and I ended up having to carry him up there to join mum. Mmmm - three trips the length of the garden instead of two.

I was just sorting out the milking kit when Hobo appeared to tell me that he was on his way to get more hay. He told me that he would get John to help - no need for me to go along. A few more loads of hay appeared and disappeared into the hay store. The hay store was by now getting pretty full. I reckon about thirty cubic metres in there. If Tibi also makes good on the hay from his field I certainly will not need more for this winter.

There was the obligatory small session in the pub after the hay was in and then I had lunch. After lunch I took the strimmer to the verge again.

I multitasked whilst preparing evening food and made up the pickling solution for the pickled walnuts. I was able to use some of my own cider vinegar as a basis. That was the stuff I made the first year that was undrinkable. It is even more undrinkable now that it has turned itself into vinegar. Good to find a use for it.

Time to get the goats in, and two long trips up the garden. At least I did not have to carry the kid - he trotted along with Betty.

19th July 2011

Cheese making day - that took care of the morning, dispersed with domestics.

Lots of weeding in the afternoon. Once again they went straight in the goats.

I forgot to mention seeing a thing that in all my years I had never seen before. I was sitting on the step, I think rewinding the line on the strimmer. With half an eye I was noticing the swallows flick flacking out of the cellar outhouse. I noticed a little white moth fluttering just by the wheelie bin. A swallow flick-flacked out of the outhouse, noticed the moth and in less than the blink of an eye the moth was gone. To my knowledge that is the first time that I have ever actually seen with my eyes a swallow take its prey. Amazing.

Also, since then but I know that I will forget to write about it, the swallows from that outhouse have now fledged. It was quite comical. Out they came and all but one perched on the clothes line. They were a bit wobbly and when one wobbled the rest were obliged to wobble in syncronisation to avoid losing their balance on the line.

Nothing else to report. Pub in the evening, of course.

20th July 2011

It rained overnight. It still looked like rain this morning. In my second endeavour to communicate over a mobile phone I had an appointment with the vet. He turned up a few minutes after I expected him. Fortunately the dogs were still in the house.

I locked them in and took vet to see Betty. Tomi had told me to call the vet, so I had. He gave Betty the once-over and bunged three injections into her. I led him back down the yard in a general direction that avoided dog turds, paid him and that was that.

The rain held off, the goats went out to play and I took the strimmer to the yard. It was long overdue and it took me a while.

Mice - I still have mice. In the house. The dogs are bloody useless of course.

Early evening we had a thunderstorm. About half an hour before, the goats were all running around at the extent of their chains. How do they do that? I managed to get them in before they got wet.

I did the firewood, lit the stove and cooked something quick and easy, then changed and went to the pub.

21st July 2011

It was raining quite steadily first off so the goats stayed in. I did some housework here and there. Eventually the rain stopped so the goats went out to work. I did some more housework.

I had to go to Körmend in the afternoon for various reasons. I managed to pull my by now usual stunt and miss the half past two bus back to the village. You would think that I would have learnt by now how long it takes to get from the Presszo bar to the bus stop on the police station road, but apparently not. With almost an hour to kill, and not wanting to trudge back into town I called in the Korona bar which is only a few metres from the bus stop. It was the first time I had been in there. I had always avoided it as it looks like a big posh place where the beer would be expensive. It wasn't. To my surprise it was the same price as in the Presszo bar. It had turned into a nice day and it was quite pleasant sitting in what could be turned into a covered patio area with plastic curtains that could be rolled up or down watching the world go by.

Back at the ranch there were no dramas or crises. Oh dear, whatever would I do without my daily disaster :)

It has been a while since I linked to a Tom Whipple commentary.

22nd July 2011

Again, with not much to report I will keep it short. After the usual start I carried on with making doors for the pigeon loft. Photos will follow in the fullness of time.

I went for eggs. I bought ten eggs and they were accompanied by two large tomatoes and two large paprikas on the house.

Back home I carried on with the woodworking. I had been half expecting visitors from the UK, but it had turned into an on-again-off-again situation. I called in a favour from John and the meat that I had bought yesterday went in his freezer.

I inspected the goats - no problems there.

The garden is dieing from neglect. I need to spend some serious time there. When I know not. Too many balls in the air, as usual.

Once again the goats managed to warn me of an impending thunderstorm. We all did just get caught by the onset of downpour this time and got back to the goat house slightly damp. Again, it was pushing on towards milking time so when the storm passed it was time for the early evening routine anyway.


23rd July 2011

It was a horrid day, raining and not warm. With what follows on the next few days I had a major problem with what happened and its aftermath. Mid way through the afternoon there was a doggie commotion. I poked my head out of the door to find one of the big garage doors open and Rudy half in and half out the yard fending off Pickle. I intervened and put Rudy back inside. He was having none of it. Imagine if you will trying to hold the door shut when two great hairy-a*sed Mr. Plods come calling with their cast iron battering ram. It was a bit like that. Rudy hit the door from inside every few seconds. The door would fly open about a foot and then I would slam it in his face. This went on for a while. I tried wedging it shut - no good. Eventually I had to bite the bullet, go inside and usher Rudy in with the girls. I nailed the garage door shut with lots of big nails.

Back in the goat house I ushered Rudy back into his quarters. In a matter of seconds he had undone all my work, and with a great splintering of wood the garage door flew open again. Beaten, I put him back with the girls again. I went off to the pub to see if Hobo was there and enlist his help. He was there. He sat me down an bought me a beer whilst I explained the problem.

Hobo followed me home, surveyed the catastrophe and in true Hungarian style set about mending it with nails and string. Except he did not use string :) The garage door lock got double locked. I went round to the other side of the goat house and ushered Rudy back into his half. All appeared well. Hobo left to go back to the pub. I went into milking routine.

After that I went to the pub as well, in need of refreshment after the dramas of the late afternoon.

As soon as I got home I could see all was not well. Once again there was an opening where a garage door should have been and Rudy and Pickle were confronting one another. Ah, shit. Well, at that time of night I had to cut the Gordion knot, confine Rudy with the girls again and wedge the garage door shut as best I could. Rudy was no problem. I had the wind-up torch and if I shone it straight at him he just wanted to be elsewhere.

The major problem was that at nine tomorrow I was due to get a lift to Körmend and leave for the UK for a couple of days. Until that goat house was secure I would be going precisely nowhere.

With Rudy in with the girls again and dogs in house I went to bed.

24th July 2011

I was up early. I still had to milk, then I had to go and find Hobo to help me deal with the latest crisis. I knew where to find him. In the pub having his "breakfast" - a coffee and a rum, followed by a bottle of beer. He was on the bottle of beer when I appeared at about five past seven all of a fluster. He sat me down, bought me a coffee and had me explain the problem. Ah, no problem - just need more nails and string.

Hobo followed me home and in the cold light of what promised to be a dreary day we surveyed the damage. It was astonishing. I mentioned that the lock was double-locked. I cannot remember if I ever mentioned it but all the Hungarian locks are double action. If you turn the key once it throws the bolt out so far. If you turn it again it throws the bolt out twice as far. The bolt on the garage door lock was bent at about eighty degrees. Such is the power of Rudy. Hobo, with hammer, could not get it straight.

Hobo told me in no uncertain terms to go and get myself ready for my trip - he would sort the doors. I did. By the rime I had packed (one minute), showered (two minutes) and dried myself, suitably pomaded and changed into UK-type clothes (five minutes) Hobo had two bloody great pieces of oak nailed and clenched across the garage doors. Well, it would have to do. You know, Hobo (like many Hungarians I suspect) trusts nails more than he trusts screws or nuts and bolts.

At nine I was on myway to Körmend station bound for the UK.

And apologies to those many people who would have wished me to touch base with them in the UK and with whom I did not touch base. I needed to make it as short a trip as possible because of all the stuff I had going on here.

25th July 2011

In the UK. I did manage to surprise one or two by appearing briefly in my local!

26th July 2011

Still in the UK, but headed towards home with a lift to London and train and coach tickets sorted out for the morrow. I did manage to go paddling in the sea though. How sad is that?

27th July 2011

I will cut a long story very short by saying that I was on my way to Stansted bright and early, through security in plenty of time and then managed to miss my flight to Graz courtesy of the failure of British Airports Authority information systems.

Deeply unhappy I made my way back into London. I had had to book a flight tomorrow to Linz at no small cost and I was fortunate that I was able to crash out where I had the previous night.

There were only two very minor consolations. I had fish and chips, and I managed a couple of pints in the local Wetherspoons. I had to spend some considerable time on the Internet researching where I would go from Linz and buying a ticket on-line.

28th July 2011

Fortunately the day went with only a minor hitch. I caught my flight to Linz, caught the Post Bus into town where the railway station could hardly be missed with its bloody great big ÖBB sign. I even had time for a beer :)

Once in Austria I touched base with John via SMS. He in turn appraised Hobo of my progress. It was always touch and go whether I would get back to Hungary, but hats off to ÖBB. All my trains had connections waiting. From one train to the next with just a couple of minutes to spare to limp from one to the other. Their information technology was, of course, top knotch. I was able to understand the printout of the route I had the foresight to do all the way through. The only hiccough was that the train to Graz was late and that meant that I would miss the immediate connection at Szentgotthárd to Körmend.

Right up until Graz I was uncertain whether I would get back, or whether I would have to seek hotel accommodation for the night. The SMSs continued to flow, my final one being that, bollox to it, I would be on the last train into Körmend. If necessary I would have walked from there to the truck stop at the junction of E65/86 and sat and drunk coffee until the first Halogy bus in the morning. It proved unnecessary. The train pulled into Körmend on time and there to meet and greet me were Hobo and Tomi - the son of Toni and Eva - and in just a few minutes I was back in my beloved Halogy. The bedding was damp and cold due to the recent rainy and cool weather. I did not care. I was home.

29th July 2011

With all the dramas and crises that preceded my UK trip many things remained undone in and around the house. Right up to the very last moment I had been uncertain whether I would be able to make the trip or not. I had showered and packed literally moments before Tibi appeared to give me a lift to Körmend station.

Well, some sort of token effort was called for as I was expecting visitors from the UK this very day. The day started as normal with me milking Suzy. I had a bit of a shock. Her milk yield was very noticably down from what I had been getting prior to my trip. I had absolutely no means of telling the cause, and I am pointing no finger of blame. Could be anything - possibly just even the change of routine. As I write her yield has gone back up a bit but is still slightly down on what it had been.

A flurry of housework followed occupying the morning and some of the afternoon. With some semblance of order restored to the house I went for a beer. My UK mobile buzzed and rang once just as I got to the pub. It was an SMS from my visitors saying that they would not now arrive until tomorrow. Oh well.

I went into wind-down mode and just relaxed a bit after the stresses of the last couple of days.

At the end of the day it was back to the normal evening offices. Goats in, milk, change, pub.

30th July 2011

I had an early and busy start. Suzy milked, an early breakfast and the goats out with water just after eight. There was a reason. It was Falunap - village day. I was up on the football park by about half past eight with my metaphorical photographer's hat on.

It started early with the five-a-side football competition. Lots of other events took place, and the action really got going just after lunch time. We (apparently) only have a village day every other year, but there seemed to me to be a lot more going on this year than the last one I attended. It was also differently organised. Apart from the inevitable football matches all took place on the grassy area by the water tower.

I took the opportunity to dive on home and check dogs and goats during a lunchtime hiatus in proceedings. I had no sooner returned than my guests turned up. I could hardly miss them in their Hymer campervan. I managed to get them fed - bab gulyás - and the beers started to flow. I dodged off from time to time to take photos. Visitors also dodged off a couple of times, once on foot, once by bicycle, to have a look around the village. They managed to successfully identify my house with no input from me. Mmmmm! Wonder how? Mind you, the goats in the garden was a bit of a giveaway.

The highlight of my day was missing out on a photo opportunity granted by rides being given on the local fire brigade turntable ladder. It had started to rain, and they pulled the plug on it.

There was another break in proceedings between the end of the afternoon stuff and the start of the evening entertainment. I took the opportunity then to go home and deal with goats a bit early. I made a discovery. It seemed that Rudy, having now given up on the nailed shut garage doors, had now turned his attention to the door between sty and yard. It was now the wrong side of the concreted in angle bracket that was supposed to prevent the door from opening into the yard. Ah well, yet another unscheduled fix it, then.

A quick swill down and change and back to the falunap celebrations. Food followed, and much more beer. I ventured out to do the photography bit and the battery on the camera died. Nothing I could do about that. Oh well, sit down and enjoy the music and the beer. I was not overly late home, although undoubtedly replete with beer. I still had a goat to milk in the morning. Others stayed quite some while. More tomorrow...

31st July 2011

I confess to being up just a little later than normal. I had a lie-in until about seven. After that business as usual. Milk, breakfast. My visitors surfaced a bit later.

A problem arose in that they had managed to leave some paperwork behind that was now in the TourInfo office by Balaton. Quite rapidly they shot off in order to get to Balaton before the TourInfo office closed. I confess that I had hoped that they could stay a little longer than that.

I watered the goats and in the absence of visitors decided to water me by going to the pub. As you do on a Sunday lunchtime. Or not. I have to say that my few years in the pub trade tended to show me that the Sunday lunchtime clientele was different to every other session of the week. Altogether more gentle, more laid back. One group in the village pub today seemed intent on just carrying on with the falunap celebrations. More than one freebie beer came my way. Láci the landlord caught my eye and cast a wry smile at the group. Not a word was said. None was needed. By the time I left Hobo was fast asleep on his chair. I suspect he had been at it all night.

Back home and after a spot of lunch I set about securing the goor between goat house and yard. The first job was to get the door back the proper side of the angle iron stop. I used the heavy mattock as a lever for that and it was astonishing the amount of bend I had to get on the door to achieve that. Once again it shows the power of a determined buck goat as Rudy had to have put the same amount of bend in the door to get it outside the stop from his side. It was, however, quite clear that the bottom horizontal door member which is only softwood was beginning to get past its sell-by date.

The next bit of the problem was how to stop Rudy doing it again. I decided that a couple of suitably meaty pieces of oak secured one inside and one outside just above the existing horizontal member should do it. I had nothing with which to secure said pieces of oak once I had found them and cut them to size. I cycled on up the village to Lajos' place. He was in, but had nothing of the size I was looking for. Blast.

I called in the pub for a beer and a ponder. The ponder proved productive. I finished the beer and cycled back up the village to see the other Lajos - the blacksmith. Fortunately he was home as well - just another day at the office for him. In minutes I had what I wanted. Three meaty nuts and bolts with suitable washers. Lajos' mother was picking up windfall pears from by the roadside. She pressed about a dozen on me as I left. With nowhere to carry them I stuck them down my teeshirt. Another little village kindness.

Back home again a while with brace, bits and socket set saw my repair bolted securely in place. Time would tell if it prevented a repetition of Rudy's battering antics. I was going to similarly reinforce the very bottom of the door but just using nails in true Hungarian fashion. I ran out of time on that one as it was by then time to eat, get the goats in and milk.

I went to the pub as normal in the evening. Hobo had bitten the dust. Nowhere to be seen.


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