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1st September2011

When the goats went out I put them more or less where I wanted them. I say more or less but something was bugging me. Well, in particular two remains of small trees/shrubs that the goats had eaten to death - literally - and the stumps and twigs of which prevented me from putting a goat on quite a big munchable area.

I decided they had to come out. I went back to the yard for the heavy mattock. It was seriously blunt. File. Workshop. For some while I have taken to not using the angle grinder to sharpen garden tools. It is too fierce. It takes whatever temper there was out of the business end of the implement. Fine for cutting up random bits of pipe or weldmesh, but not for use on tools. They sell suitable, fossil fuelled implements on the Internet, you know. Such as this. When I was a young man we had in the garage attached to our office a proper grind stone. A fine abrasive stone about two feet in diameter and about five inches wide, propelled by a handle. There are two problems associated with such a stone, both sadly human related. Firstly, the stone ran through a water bath at the bottom. Once finished with grindstone you were supposed to pull the bung out of the water bath and let the water go. Sadly, people being people, they didn't. The water remained in the bath causing a soft spot on the stone. Secondly, it was necessary from time to time to true the grinding face to flat, which meant using something harder than the stone itself to abrade the stone to flatness. That never was done either. The result would be that the grindstone would end up without a true circumference and with a surface that was less than flat. Somewhat like the slow lane northbound exit from the M1 to Birmingham many years ago. Anybody else remember that?

Anyway, with heavy mattock sharpened to my satisfaction using nothing more than a file I headed back to the garden. It was a good job I did. Betty was on her side, which I have read on goat sites is not a good sign, foaming at the mouth and rolling her eyes. It appeared that she was choking on something as she was doing frantic chewing motions with her mouth. I hauled her to her feet and did my best equivalent of a goat Heimlich maneuver that I could think of. It sort of worked. At least her eyes stopped rolling and I could see her breathing. For a while she continued to chew on whatever was the problem and foam at the mouth. She was very wobbly on her feet for a while. I watched.

As I saw her slowly coming back to normal I went back to my day job. The two dead shrubs - one oak and one that I had hoped was hazel - had to come out. Inwardly I thanked my gods that I had happened to come back there at that particular time. I do worry about Betty, and Suzy bullies her dreadfully for which I have no cure.

The dead shrubs came out. It was good to be able to open my shoulders and use the heavy mattock in a meaningful way. By the time I finished Betty was quite recovered and back to normal.

I went back to the yard and started on a job that I intended to do in a non-gut busting way. That of getting the firewood which adorns the yard under cover before winter weather sets in. A dozen pieces of Lajos-type firewood were taken in, chopped with big ax to suitable sized lumps for the cserepkalyha and stacked.

I did this and that around the place expecting Hobo to turn up and go and shift some hay which I had been offered from a new source. He never showed up. At about four I gave up on it and went to the pub for a fröccs. Hobo was there and so was John. Suddenly at about half past four Hobo decided that it was hay shifting time. John was roped in to help and me and Hobo left. John had gone to the loo. Hobo just set off. I had been requested to get fork and bungees from home. I called out to Hobo that John did not know where he was going. He just kept on. I cycled home, got the fork and bungees and cycled back. Sure enough, John did not know where he was going, and I had to turn him around and tell him where the hay was.

I delivered fork and bungees and then went back home to secure dogs and open the yard gates. Not many minutes later John and Hobo accompanied by the chap that provided the hay turned up with the first load. It got stacked up in the wood house in front of the door that led to the other hay. Mmmmm. They set off back for the second load and I closed the yard gates and let the dogs out for a run around the yard. Hobo & co were a bit longer with the next load. Dogs were reconfined and the hay went in with the rest. It was now impossible to get through one of the two doorways into the wood house. It was a lot of hay.

By the time the hay was under cover the shop was open. Time to join the little pub outside the shop. I paid for the beers for the four of us. The guy who had provided the hay downed his in super-quick time and asked straight out for another. I bought him one. I did not mind. Not only had he provided the hay but he had also helped us shift it.

No sooner had I done so than the skies darkened in the west and thunder could be heard. I downed my own beer and made best speed back to the house to assemble the milking kit and out into the garden and get the goats in. It was another evening of them needing no encouragement. It was also another evening of milking in semi-darkness as the storm approached. I managed it, and managed to get back to the house without getting wet. It got a bit wet after that.

Did not stop me going to the pub though.

2nd September2011

After the usual start I had a job to do after yesterday. Yet another day when events overtook and all my plans went out the window. Yesterday's hay was in totally the wrong place and simply had to be moved to the right place. So I moved it. It all went in the loft above the sty nearest the garden.

The barrow with its much delapidated extension came in the yard. I had to fill it by hand. I tried using a fork but I either got hay the size of a double decker bus or three straws and a twig. It all had to be pulled apart into suitable armful sized chunks. I piled the first barrow load so high that I could not see over it and had difficulty negotiating the sand heap and the yard. I did not make that mistake again.

Once at the goat house each armful had to be forked up into the loft and then I had to go up the little ladder into the loft to consolidate it and pack it in as tight as it would go.

I had estimated ten extended barrow loads. I was not far out. There were eleven. It was hot, dusty, sweaty and scratchy work. With a break for lunch it took me well into the afternoon. When I had finished, that one half of the loft above the sties was solid with hay. A vertical wall of it from floor of loft up to the roof tiles. I was not about to do anything more physical today.

At the appointed time, which was not long afterwards, I joined the little outdoor pub outside the shop. I deserved a cold beer and I was damned well going to have a cold beer. I was enjoying my cold beer, sitting on the edge of one of the flower troughs outside the shop, facing the shop. There was a hail to me from the road. The guy that used to strim all the village verges before austerity hit Halogy was cycling by. He greeted me by name as he cycled by, put his thumb in the air and patted a big sack that was on the carrier of his bike with a knowing grin to me. Ah! I knew what was in the sack.

I enjoyed my cold beer at leisure in the company of like minded people. I think there were eight of us on this particular fine evening. Quite a nice mixture ranging in ages from about twenty up to octagenarian. I must mention one chap that has become a regular part of this gathering. He is a near neighbour of mine, living next door but three if you count the plot next to Tibi that has no house on it. From the very early days of me living here, once I had mastered "Jó napot" he would always reply to my greeting with the formal "Jó napot kívánok". Since the inception of the little pub outside the shop we have progressed to "Szervusz" about which I am inordinately pleased. It only took three and a half years, but I find him to be a very affable person.

I had been going to have a night in, but Hobo insisted that I went to the pub to watch the the Hungary versus whoever match. He bought the beers, and Hungary won. So the evening was not a failure on any account.

3rd September2011

After a normal start I did some inside gardening work. Believe it or not sowing seeds. Spring brassicas. I also tried extracting leak seeds from the seed heads from the ones that I let run to seed this year. They were not dry enough. The seeds are there but the seed pods will need to dry a bit more before they can be extracted easily.

It was Buscu weekend here, the actual day being tomorrow. The whole village was alive with the sounds of mowers and strimmers. I strimmed the yard. It took me two sessions with a smoke and beer break in between. Once I had done that I cycled on up to the pub for a fröccs. I noticed that even the semi-derelict house a few doors down from the pub on my side of the road had had the front done. I had my fröccs and went home. I checked on the goats over the garden fence. One, two, three, four. Yep - they were all there. They were all lying down in the shade, apart from Rudy who was on his hind legs raiding an apple tree, Suzy who was chewing a shrub by the fence and the kid who was alternating between annoying dad and annoying Auntie Suzy. I reckon that Rudy, when he gets on his hind legs is probably about six inches taller than I am.

I headed into the house and made a sandwich for lunch. As usual I put the computer on and checked e-mails and the state of the world whilst I ate it. There was the sound of a motor mower nearby. At intervals it extended to a crescendo with a concomitant crescendo of dog barking from the yard. I poked my nose out of doors. It was Tibi doing the verges. Not content with that he fetched out his strimmer and did the ditches as well. He had a helper who I do not think I have previously mentioned. Next door but one to me, after Tibi is a plot that has no house on it. No.66 - it still has the pressed aluminium sign attached to the fence. More or less opposite is a run down cottage - not as run down as mine - where this character appears from time to time. I believe he lives in Szombathely and comes to the village when he has chance. Anyway, Tibi mowed and strimmed everywhere and character raked it all up and cleared up after Tibi. Much to the delight of the dogs who had a barking match.

I was engrossed in Internet and blog when the realisation dawned that I had not separated kid from Betty. Oh well, much too late by then. No milk from Betty this evening.

At the appointed time the goats came in. I did not even attempt to milk Betty.

Back indoors and with no intention or pecuniary wherewithall to venture forth again I was quietly doing some blog updates when my Hungarian mobile rang. It was Hobo with a message to the effect of "Get your arse to the pub!". I told him I had no cash for the pub. The message was repeated. I went.

4th September2011

Sunday. Still up for milking. I just don't seem to be able to get through to the goats that it is supposed to be a day of rest. Milking done, followed by a leisurely breakfast. Then on with the motley. The first job was to provide Mr. and Mrs. Pigeon with clean fresh water. I had a surprise. A pleasant one. When I looked in on Mrs. Pigeon sitting I had to do a double take. I definitely had to look twice. There, peaking out from underneath her body was a tiny fluffy head and a beak and one little beady eye regarding me suspiciously. How wonderful - a baby squab. I left well enough alone and beat a hasty retreat. Ah, another little miracle of nature.

Inordinately pleased, I took the goats out. There were no dramas or crises doing that either, sadly. Oh, I do like writing about dramas and crises.

Today was Bucsu, which accounted for the frenzy of activity everywhere with mowers and strimmers yesterday. The whole village was spick and span. Well, almost the whole village.

I did some seriously strenuous work. I turned the cheeses and put the one in the press into a fresh cloth and put it back in the press. Then I set to and extracted seeds from six different varieties of tomatoes and set them to ferment in little jars covered with cotton cloth, all carefully labeled. I went to the pub after that, it being Bucsu.

Back home I had a session on the Internet and did a load of blog updating. Then it was time to get the goats in and milk. Exactly as last year, the old lady at No. 72 had had much of her family there all day. As I returned to the yard after milking I noticed that all her family visitors had departed and saw her drawing water from the well, preparing to retire for the evening.

I showered and changed into smart clothes to go to the pub to celebrate Bucsu. John had to be persuaded to attend with a tersely worded SMS - something along the lines of "Get your a*se up here!". He did. I did not last long. I was going to say that I had a girlfriend once that used to complain about that, but I thought better of it.

I was home just after ten and in bed not long after. Ah, how the mighty are fallen!

An interesting article from the Beeb about the demise of capitalism. I am hoping that it limps along long enough to see me out. I fear for my children. I fear even more for my grandchildren.

5th September2011

It was set fair to be another glorious September day. The sort of days that I remember both from when I first visited Körmend to check out houses and the first year that I actually lived here. In spite of my early retreat last evening I still managed rather late up. In deference to the chance of there being no bread in the shop I went there first, before I milked.

After breakfast it was back to the usual. Into the garden to put the goats out, stopping off on the way to give the pigeons fresh water. Mrs. Pigeon was sitting. I could not see the squab. I must have got a bit close because Mrs. Pigeon flapped off the nest. I looked. There was not a single baby pigeon there. Nope. There were two! The second egg had hatched since yesterday so now there were two beaks and two beady eyes looking at me in suspicion.

Rather happy at the success of Mr. and Mrs. Pigeon I went to put the goats out. The girls went out with no problem. The procession into the garden is invariably leisurely. One or other of them will go to raid the barrow just outside the goat house. The other will look for windfalls from the peach trees nearby. Next they head for the peach tree a little further up on the same side. If Suzy gets there first Betty avoids it. If Betty gets there first Suzy bullies her out of the way. It is odd. Suzy shows no such animosity towards the kid, who is after all Betty's offspring. I wonder if it is a deep seated hatred from when I first got them and Betty was bigger than Suzy and did the bullying. Next comes getting them past the garden as quickly as possible to avoid collateral damage. The next stop is invariably at this time of year the pear tree that leans over the old lady's fence just a few metres from where her property adjoins that of the neighbour on Telek utca.

With girls and kid parked I went back for Rudy. I always open the gate between his quarters and the girls' with both caution and alacrity. If I take too long about it he is just likely to take a barge at it and I get a sty door in the face. This morning all was well, but he was in a hurry to get out. I had the carabiner end on his chain in right hand and made a grab for his collar with left hand as he rushed past. I have not the slightest idea how it happened but I ended up with chain in right hand, collar in left hand and no Rudy, who had just kept on going.

Not the first time it had happened with one or other of the goats. I clipped the chain onto the collar and followed Rudy outside. Fortunately he was following form and was raiding the barrow. I let him continue to raid the barrow whilst I resecured the collar. I had a shock. The collar was on the last but one hole, and it was getting decidedly tight. I like my goats to have nice slack collars. They are not about to get them off. Unlike British and American goats my goats have horns. If the collars are four or six inches slack they will still not get them off. Especially Rudy. I must take the tape measure out one day, but I reckon that the span of his horns is pushing on for two feet. Which is all to the good, as it gives me a fair amount of leverage against his hugely powerful shoulder and neck muscles if he does happen to launch.

Anyway, he didn't, and he followed the same progression up the garden as the girls. The only difference was that once we reached the garden I just let him run. He ran to his invariable first stop above the garden. The pear tree by the fence. I let him linger there and then coaxed him to where I wanted him. We still have the occasional drama, which invariably results in him getting wet about the head, and he snorts and sneezes and thinks better of it. About fourty minutes to get the goats out today. Whatever! The goats were on station doing their job and I remained unscathed which is always a bonus.

Cheese making. That took up most of the rest of the day, with trivial tasks interspersed.

Goat greenery came in, and then it was over to the shop for the early evening little pub outside the shop session. The goats came in and I fed them and milked. Slightly after half past seven I went to the pub. No Hobo and I had one beer. By ten to eight they were shutting up shop. And who can blame them when the previous night they were probably open until two in the morning.

6th September2011

After the goats went out I collected a bucketful of paprikas from my single row of plants. There is still probably another bucketful still to come. Makes up a bit for the disastrous performance of the tomatoes, again. Sadly, also again it looks like the old lady next door has suffered the same fate with her crop. It would have been the cold, damp spell in July that caused it. That is all it takes. I have since found out from John that Fittings in Körmend (where the Al-Ko strimmer came from) sell Bordeaux mixture. I will make sure I have some to hand before the tomatoes go in the ground next year.

Back at the house the paprika were washed and I made a selection of those that would be pickled and those that I would attempt to dry.

Mid way through the morning I took the goat water out and stayed in the garden to water some stuff - brassicas, leaks and peas - and do some hand weeding.

After lunch I went back to sorting out the vines. It is the first year that I have really made the effort to do it better than I had been doing. It involved pruning away canes with no grapes, pruning back canes that are running out of control to within a few leaves of where the grapes are and generally thinning out the leaves around the grapes so that the sun can get to them and help them to ripen. It had a side benefit. All the leaves and prunings went in the wheelbarrow and, with the greenery I already had, became part of the goats overnight munchies. No scything today!

I was having my now accustomed beer outside the shop when to faluhaz lady came along and put an A3 sized poster on the noticeboard. It was bordered in the Hungarian colours. Something official, then. I picked on the word "Népszámlálás". Well "Nép" is the people and "Számlá" is an account, or numbering. There was also what I considered to be quite a clever logo. It was a stylised house in four quarters, each quarter clearly representing a different type of dwelling, the whole was overlaid with a circle of stylised human figures again representing different ages and genders. Ah, that would be the official census then. I checked with my little dictionary. Absolutely correct. There was a web URL quoted on the poster which I later visited. It had an English version and there were links to English versions of the two forms to be completed, one for the house and one for the people. All very straighforward, and come the first of October there will be web based forms to complete it on-line. It is obligatory, of course.

Pub. Hungary match on the telly.

7th September2011

Once the goats were out and I returned to the yard the first job was once again to mend a fence. This time it was the little bit of fence between yard and garden that already existed when I first came here. Hobo built the gate, which by now is also showing signs of wear and tear, when I first got Pickle. The next bit of fence is aluminium sheet, also showing signs of wear and tear and since reinforced with weldmesh. The bit this time was the wooden fence between the aluminium bit and the goat house. Pickle had dislodged a rotten board. Well, broken it in half around the nail holes. I was not worried about Pickle getting out. More about Blackie going walkabout. I cast about for a suitable piece of wood. The only thing I could find was one of the better pieces from the long abandoned dog kennel. Hammer, nails, string and in the gap it went. It won't last long.

After that it was back to the kitchen to sort out washing up, goat milk and the peppers selected for pickling yesterday. Pickling - ah vinegar! I had little so it was over to the shop for another bottle of the strong stuff. I made up the pickling solution and started on the peppers. It was a tedious job. Cut out the stalk. Halve, quarter and eighth and get rid of the pith and the seeds, then pack tightly into a jar. As luck had it once the jar was stuffed to capacity I had but a couple of small, iffy peppers left.

In went the pickling solution and I set about canning them. My readings on the Internerd indicate that just cold pickling in a vinegar solution are not enough. You then need to heat to boiling point and hold there for a while to prevent such nasties as botulism. So I did.

I had a disaster. The pan in which I was canning the peppers came to a furious boil at one particular spot and deposited a load of boiling water on one place on the stove. There was a "dink" and I thought to myself "Oh, bollox. I know what that is.". I was right. The differential rate of contraction caused by the boiling water on the cast iron stove top had caused it to crack. Fortunately as I write it remains only a minor disaster. The crack originated from the edge of where one of the removable rings sits on the top of the stove. It was not a big crack extending to the edge of the cast iron plate. About two inches, and since then in normal cooking it has been invisible.

When I went to feed the pigeons Mr. and Mrs. Pigeon were both off the nest leaving the babies by themselves. It did not seem to be a problem. The babies at the moment just huddle up together anyway. They continue to grow at an astonishing rate.

I did a load of work to the north western corner of the house. I had promised myself that I would do some house wall repair work every day in September. A promise that fell at the first hurdle. A week into September, and today was the first day that circumstances did not conspire to prevent me working on the house. There was a damned great crack that ran down from the top of the wall to the top right hand corner of that window. There is a corresponding crack about two thirds of the way to the left hand bottom of the window which extends to ground level and about which I commented long ago, when the big room was given a makeover, extended right the way to the inside of the house. I started at the top. It looked like the crack had been stuffed with fine straw and rendered over. I cannot say that it was a good repair that I did but at least all the straw was raked out, loose stuff was chipped out, the area wetted down and earth brick mix rammed into the crack.

It was hard going. I was working as high up the little ladder as I want to work and it was either up and down the ladder or just standing on it for long periods whilst I rammed earth. I made the mistake of doing it in trainers. I will remember to put something a bit more substantial on the feet next time.

I went to the pub for a fröccs after that. I had figured I had earned it. On the way home I was stopped by Imre (the character that I have mentioned that tends to have a speech impediment if dealing with someone/something not familiar). Something about hay. He dragged me up to his garden to show me a load of stuff that he had scythed down, part dried. Did I want it for the goats? Yes! We wandered back to his gate and I got on the bike ready to cycle home. He stopped me again and once again dragged me up his yard. Oh, my poor aching feet! He grabbed a couple of forks from his outhouse and the next I knew I was haymaking. His place is not as wide as mine but is just as long, going all the way up to Telek utca. I was weary and sweating by the time we got to the top.

On the way back down I noticed a big heap that was topped off with a load of fresh vine prunings. "What are you going to do with that, Imre?" "Burn it!" I indicated the vine prunings and said "Good goat food!". I asked him straight out if I could have it if I came round with wheelbarrow and took it away. He aquiesced with a shrug of the shoulders and a wave of the hands. I had an ulterior motive. I knew that I still had to get in goat food, aching feet or not. A quick mental calculation told me that it would be about the same distance as I would have to walk with wheelbarrow up my place and then I would have to scythe and fork. I finally made it home, took off my bum bag, confined black dog whilst I fetched the wheelbarrow and got it by the roadside, released black dog and trudged back with the barrow for the vine prunings. Imre was nowhere to be seen, but being a neighbourly sort of chap has left his gate open for me.

I wheeled barrow in and helped myself to the vine prunings. It made a big extended barrow load. Quite heavy enough for an old chap like me. Being a neighbourly sort of chap I closed his gates behind me. It was a trial of strength in its own right. His big gate had to be lifted to get it to move. It was not light. I managed, with a struggle. I closed his little gate and wheeled the barrow home.

Blackie was reconfined whilst I got the barrow as far as the garden and with all the yard gates closed, released again.

I decided that a smoke and a beer outside the shop were in order before I went to get the goats in. I made an unpleasant discovery. When I put the bum bag on I discovered that my precious Falcon pipe was no longer there. It could only be one place - somewhere on Imre's land. I chose an alternative pipe and went to the shop for a beer. Somewhere between thirty and fourty years ago I lost a similar pipe, except that it had a block meerschaum bowl. It took me three tries to lose it, all three in rather extraordinary circumstances. The first time was on a Brussels sprouts field in Lincolnshire in November. Imagine if you will a Lincolnshire Brussels sprouts field in November. Mud, sludge and debris from the chopping out of the sprout stalks. My wife of the time and I used to make our Christmas spending money thus. She did piece work trimming the sprouts from the stalks and I used to take a week of paid leave from work and go in the field trimming the leaves from the tops and sides of the stalks, chopping them off and chucking them in a trailer conveniently parked.

The pipe had been in the top pocket of my overalls. When we had a lunch break it was there no more. I wrote it off, of course. To my astonishment the next March or April, in the local pub, the farmer came across. "I reckon this must be yours." He had been walking his field when a glint caught his eye. It was the stem of my pipe sticking out of the mud. I'll tell you more tomorrow.

No pub. Stayed in. Austerity measures.

8th September2011

All the usual happened first off, nothing out of the ordinary. I pondered over breakfast about the amount of work I really want to get in before winter hits. House and yard-wise I want to get a lot further on with the front wall of the house, I need to take the house doors off and clean them, sand them down and give them a coat of wood sealer. Ronseal type stuff. Ditto the gates, but that will be quite time consuming as I want to do it my way, not the Hungarian way. In the garden I have spuds to dig and carrots. There is various other stuff that needs getting in. There is some sowing of seed to be done and the winter digging. Well, what gets done will get done and what doesn't won't. Simple as.

I set to work to restore the corner of the earth wall of the house. I decided on bricks, just one brick per course. One laid north/south the next east/west. You get the idea. There was nothing left of earth wall to support the half a brick that stuck out from the preceding course, as it were, so at each course I had to have earth brick material available to ram into the wall and provide a basis for the brickwork. Tedious, nasty and not good for the hands. The lime in both the lime mortar and in the earth mix is a wonderful skin drying agent. That was no good at all. I need nice soft girly hands for milking goats.

Towards lunch time Tibi appeared at the gate with a wheelbarrow load of pumpkin halves for the goats. By that Hobo and John appeared. With three people outside the gate the dogs had a field day. Tibi suddenly decided to show them who was boss, charged through the gate and bellowed at both the dogs. They fled in terror, tails between legs. He stopped bellowing and the dogs resumed barking. He bellowed at them again. They fled in terror again. Hilarious. You had to be there. Tibi left his barrow load of pumpkin halves outside the gate and departed. It turned out that John and Hobo were just paying a social call to show me the result of their recent activities. They had been out in the forest scrumping wild hops. Although maybe not scrumping - scavenging possibly.

They left. I wheeled Tibi's barrow into the yard, then into the garden where I deposited the pumpkin halves outside the goat house. Empty barrow went back round to Tibi.

I had a belated lunch and then decided what to do next. Peaches. I collected a goodly load of peaches from the peach trees in the yard, by the well and against the front fence. Some were undamaged windfalls but most came off the trees. What to do with them? Ah - I thought I would try my hand at peach marmalade. Out of curiosity and not knowing the Hungarian for marmalade I looked it up. Orange jam. Well - errr - not really.

First job was to weigh them. About two kilogrammes. Next job was to peel, stone and slice them. There are members of my family who know well my aversion to the furriness of peaches. I looked it up on-line. Quite common apparently. However, you peel peaches in exactly the same way as tomatoes - by blanching them for a minute in boiling water. Once wet the peach fur did not bother me. Peeled, stoned and sliced they went into the slow cooker as a precursor to them becoming marmalade. Mmmm - non-citrous fruit. Marmalade? Easy. Add a dollop of citric acid. I will know when I try it.

I started on the next lot of goat cheese as well. As before, it was made by the simple expedient of letting the raw milk sour and curdle naturally and syphoning off the whey. The whey as usual went into the dogs. It has not hurt them, and as I write the cheese made thus has not hurt me.

I had a problem with Rudy when I went to get the goats in. No, not the normal problem - he was not aggressive. As usual at the moment the goats came in two by two. Suzy and the kid first and then Rudy and Betty. Suzy and kid were in their allotted places and Betty was with me on chain at the goat house. Rudy was still in the garden gorging himself on the Linden Lea apple tree. Armed with water bucket I had to walk all the way back up there and drag him away.

In the pub in the evening I was talking about cement to Hobo. The smallest quantity that it comes in is twenty five kilogrammes. That was way more than I wanted. I needed a couple of kilos to touch up the front window sills before I think about the first coat of rendering on the front of the house. Hobo told me to ask Láci, the landlord. I did. I phrased it in such a way as to enquire if he knew if any of his customers had a little spare cement. It happened that he had. He told me to come along tomorrow morning. Hobo would be working there and would sort it out. Once again Hobo had played a blinder. He needed me to ask Láci for the cement, which Hobo knew he had, and he had once again forced me to make a request of Láci that stretched my abilities in the Hungarian language.

Where was I? Ah, yes. The pipe. The second time I lost it was in even more strange circumstances than the first. I was a member of Covenham Sailing Club back then. We had a social evening one Saturday night at the club house. (Read p*ss-up) Somewhere rather past midnight the Commodore of the club decided that it might be pleasant to take another member's wife for a little outing on the reservoir in the club rescue boat. A little time went by and the engine of the rescue boat could no longer be heard. The members still in the clubhouse decided that a rescue mission was needed. I volunteered. My boat was nearby. The sails were still attached and only heeded hoisting, so in the water it went. Up went the sails, and - oh bugger, I forgot to put the rudder on. I went aft to put rudder on. The boat had a transom mainsheet horse. In the very slight breeze of the evening the mainsail and mainsheet were gently going whip/whap about the stern of the boat. I leaned over to put on the rudder and the main sheet wrapped around the stem of my pipe, which stupidly I still had in mouth. It whipped the pipe away, and plop - into twenty five feet of water. Well, I thought, that is the last I will see of that. Wrong! It happened that the local constabulary used the reservoir for training. Normally they used an area which was off limits to the sailing members, but one time when there was no sailing on the reservoir they did a trawl underneath the clubhouse pontoons. They came up with sails, booms, rudders, miscellaneous crap that had fallen out of/fallen off of boats moored on the pontoons. Amongst it all was my pipe. It took weeks to get it dried out and a decent smoke again. I will tell you about when I finally lost it in equally extraordinary circumstances tomorrow.

9th September2011

After the usual start it was back to work on the corner of the house. Once again it was not good and time consuming.

Towards lunchtime I headed up to the pub for a small fröccs. I had provided myself with a small stout paper carrier bag and within an equal sized shop plastic bag. Hobo was working there. I produced bag and mentioned cement. Hobo took me to one of the pub outhouses where he unearthed from layers of straw a full, unopened, fifty kilogramme bag of cement. About four kilogrammes went into my bags. That would do me.

I had an odd incident with Linux in the afternoon whilst doing some blog updating. I was thinking about what to write next and pondered about it. I pondered for a little while and saw the screensaver start to kick in. I gave the mouse a waggle, as you do. The screen went black for some while, there were some flickers, then it went black again for an even longer while. It came back up with a log in screen. Mmmmm! That was obviously a feature, then. That is software engineering speak for an unfixed bug. Since I waggled the mouse at the moment that I saw the screen saver kick in I had no idea which screen saver it was. My system is set up to select randomly from several dozen. I was peeved. I lost a whole sentence of blog update.

Nothing more happened during the day worthy of note so I will continue to the third and final part of the story about the Falcon pipe with the block meerschaum bowl.

Many years ago - thirty or so - I borrowed a book from my local library about pipes. Every other authority that I have ever read says that "Meerschaum" is a translation from the German "Sea Foam" on account of the fact that meerschaum is the colour of sea foam. Well, this book made no such attribution and their attribution of the word "Meerschaum" was in fact Afrikaans and translated meant "Lake Clay". I can find no other reference to that.

Anyway, I was working for the Weights and Measures Department in Lincolnshire at the time. My assistant and I were working in Mablethorpe. One of the privileges of the job was that I had a window sticker in the car that permitted me to use any of the next tier down from County Council car parks for nothing. At lunch time we invariably went to the car park on top of the sand dunes overlooking the beach. We sat and munched our pack-ups and then I got my binoculars out. They are (I still have them) a particularly fine pair of Karl Zeiss 7x50 binoculars. They are still under guarantee. They are guaranteed against defect in manufacture for the lifetime of the purchaser.

They were very good for totty-spotting on the beach :) It was a fine summers day but with a strong prevailing westerly wind, which was offshore Mablethorpe being on the east coast. I was casting about with the bins looking at ships headed for Hull and Grimsby when something caught my eye. There was a bloke with a boy in a toy rubber dinghy already far out to sea, paddling furiously towards Mablethorpe and headed for Holland.

Richard and I baled out of the car and headed diagonally across the dunes towards the coastguard hut at best speed. I stopped from time to time to make sure that I could still locate bloke and boy. We got to the coastguard hut and I told the chap out the front that there was a bloke and boy in serious trouble out there. He attempted to reassure me that they had an eye on them all. I told him that I did not think he had an eye on this one. They were by now the best part of a mile offshore amongst the white horses blowing towards Holland. He said "Where?". I picked them up in my binoculars again and said "There!". They were so far out that he could not see them. He told me to keep my binoculars right on them and then stood on the next step up from me at the coastguard hut. He had to use my sighting of where my binoculars were pointed until he spotted them. His next words were (verbatim) "Christ - Two maroons" For those not in the know look up definition 2 here.

The inshore lifeboat men were there in minutes. The coatguard continued to keep bloke and boy in sight through his binoculars. He directed the life boat via radio. They were at first looking about a mile too far inshore. I watched as they finally found them and brought them back to safety. They had done what they always did - put a knife through the toy dinghy. The boy was obviously shocked and cold, trembling. The bloke just laughed it off. Arse hole. When I got back to the car my pipe was gone. It had been in the top pocket of my jacket. I retraced my steps there and back. I did not find it. I suppose it was a small price to pay for possibly saving two lives.

10th September2011

When the goats went out I took the secateurs with me intent on harvesting some of the green and grey/brown weed shrub that still springs up everywhere. I had found that if cut green it does not drop its leaves. It is also one of the things that the goats like equally if it is dry and withered as they do when it is fresh and green. In fact they like most things equally if they are dried to a crisp. Goat crisps for winter. Except for one fact. Goat kid was on the loose. I was wasting my time. He came over to see what I was doing and proceeded to try and eat the lot single handedly. Oh well, it would have to wait until he was on his own post.

I did some weeding. It was getting hot again. Creeping on towards noon I felt the need of liquid refreshment so I went to the pub. John was there and shortly Jozsi came in. A mini-session ensued.

Back at the house I had a quick bite and returned to the repairs on the corner of the house. Not good. I can manage a couple of courses at a go, and that is about it. I have decided that apart from a couple of really bad spots not far from the corner I can get away with putting in a course of actual bricks onto the rough concrete foundation and then just dobbing the rest up with lime mortar in thin layers. I don't think you will find the verb "dob" in any dictionary. It is certainly used in the English building trade to mean a repair carried out with a rough application of filler, be it lime mortar on a wall or epoxy resin used to seal a pipe joint.

I had had enough by then so I went back to the pub for a kis fröccs. I have not the slightest idea why, but I ended up having quite a few kis fröccs and did not pay for any of them. I wobbled on home to do the evening shop, get the goats in and settle in for the evening.

I wandered over to the shop, bought what I wanted including a cold beer for right then and went and sat with the rest of the little pub outside the shop. Imre turned up - he of the stutter and recent haymaking and lost pipe. When he saw me he rummaged in his shopping bag and came over to me. There in his hand was my no longer lost Falcon pipe. I was a happy bunny.

Home, goats in and settled in for the evening. No pub.

11th September2011

Well, the gardening this year has been very mixed. I have already mentioned the onions and the tomatoes. The early peas were all right, but not spectacular. Beans were a total write-off, I know not why. Paprika have been spectacular and I will be harvesting until first frost comes. Plenty of spuds still in the ground, and half a row of carrots to dig. Very mixed. Very odd. As regards goat food for the winter I already have half as much hay again as I had last year, and hay was the last thing to run out in spite of it being such an abominable year last year that the goats were already eating the hay because they were confined indoors. I have the promise of a huge load maize stalks from not far away - John's land and next door towards me.

By ten in the morning it was twenty nine Celsius in the shade. Another hot one. With goats out with shade and water I contented myself with getting some more Lajos firewood chopped and stacked.

Hobo had said that he would help me get hay in from Imre's place. It never happened. I wandered up to the pub to try and track down Hobo. He was there. So was John. Formula One was on the telly. Oh well, the inevitable mini-session ensued. It was an interesting race. I saw at least three overtaking moves.

More goat food came over the fence from No. 72. Horseradish leaves - armfuls of them. They are the goats' favourite. All of them will munch them happily. As far as I can tell she removes all except one leaf from all her horseradish plants. I can only guess, not being a horseradish cultivation expert, that it makes the roots grow. The old lady grows enough to feed a minor army. Once in a while Hobo gets called in to dig some up. Speaking of which, I still have some in my garden. It is now in its fourth season of being scythed, strimmed and eaten by goats. It still exists. The leaves never get any bigger than about three inches high before one or other of the goats will munch it on our procession up the garden. You cannot seem to kill it. John Seymour in his Self Sufficiency book describes it as being rather thuggish in the garden.

I decided that it was time that the squabs had their own water supply. A suitable container was found, cut down to size and I cleared a little spot in their nest box, put it in and filled it with water. The squabs continued to do what they always do. Squabble. They are inseperable - always closely side by side - but they do squabble. I wondered about the etymological link between squab, and squabble, but apart from them being of Scandinadian origin from c1600 I can find no direct link between the words. Seems a bit coincidental though. Squabs squabbling.

I stayed home again in the evening. Ah! Austerity. Go on then - who remembers the 2-10-0 WD Austerity steam locomotives? I do. They were regular visitors to our stretch of what used to be the London, Midland and Scottish railway that ran nearby. And yes - sad person - I was a train spotter. I do believe if memory serves me correctly that the Sun Inn at the top of Derby Road in Eastwood, my home town, had a plaque outside to commemorate that the inaugural meeting that led to the formation of L.M.S took place there.

12th September2011

I made a decision about the garden whilst I was putting the goats out. A bit of medium term planning. I have decided to abandon the bit of garden by No. 72 that started off as a strawberry bed. When the time comes to fence the goats off properly, which is in my plans, it will mean that there will only be need of two fences instead of three. I will be able to get back the cultivated area anyway by extending the main garden down towards the camping lawn. At the moment I can only get one goat on the uncultivated area anyway, or two if I use much shortened chains and even then I have to be careful so that they do not decimate the walnut tree or vines, or get themselves tangled up in the little row of what are supposed to be the plums like big sloes but still have never borne any fruit. They might as well come out.

It was a beautiful early autumn day with the temperature pushing on towards thirty.

I managed a bit more work on the corner of the house. Very time consuming, and I can only manage to get a couple of bricks in at a session. I never mentioned how far out of vertical the front wall of the house is. An inch or more from top to bottom.

More greenery came over the fence from No. 72. The goats' favourite again - horseradish leaves.

I went to the pub, Hobo bought the beers and it rained.

13th September2011

I was doing a bit of digging in hopes of getting some spring brassicas in - still hoping as I write. It was a mistake. It was before the time when small goat goes on his own little chain and post. He came to investigate and I had to keep shooing him away. On one such occasion he spotted my little pea plants about three inches high and before I could get to him he had had more than half of them.

A load more of the Lajos firewood got chopped and stacked and then I made one of my pies. Meat, tatie, onion and red kidney beans. Loverly. Make it up as you go along.

I went for a post-prandial fröccs and John was in there doing the same so we chewed the fat for a while and then both went back to work. My work happened to be some computer stuff which involved booting into Windows. I decided in my wisdom that it might be a good idea to check disk fragmentation. I wished I hadn't. It needed defragmenting. To cut a long story short, it took a while. I removed some unwanted files from when I did the installations on this box and had it defragment again. I left it to it and popped down with some photos on the pen drive and put them on the faluhaz computer.

I did the beer at the little pub outside the shop thing again. There were fourteen people there this particular evening. Not all drinking, but the majority were. I was approached by a young man of the village who expressed concern about the old, huge, now dead pear tree in the yard. I have to say that he only echoed my own concerns. If it decided to shed a branch it could have disastrous consequences. He asked if he could have a closer look. Yep, no problem. I had to secure Pickle and Blackie within the house. He would not enter the yard until they were safely under lock and key. He had a look and came up with what I already knew. There was absolutely nowhere to fell it and it was going to be a big problem. We went back to the shop to finish our drinks. He told me that he would be in touch about the tree.

Back home I went to get the goats in and noticed that yet another pile of stuff for them had come over the fence from No. 72. Goats went in and I milked. I was getting a bit overstocked on milk anyway so I found a clean jar and filled it with the fresh milk from this evening's milking. I managed to catch the old lady over the fence just as she was finishing off outside. I passed over the jar of goat milk and she absolutely beamed with pleasure. Such a small thing, but the old lady's obvious pleasure quite made my day.

I was quite late to the pub - gone half past eight. Austerity! I bought myself a beer. Hobo bought me another.

14th September2011

I have absolutely no idea. I never made my notes. So here are some pictures taken since the last lot:
A crop For some reason this never got published. It was taken in June. It is a crop. Any guesses?
This is the nightmare nest of horrors revealed when the cement rendering came off the corner of the house. Earth Wall Damage
Bucket of Paprika A full bucket of paprika from the garden.
Parts of the place are falling down faster than I can put other parts back together. This is the roof of the little outhouse in the yard attached to the goat house where I used to keep firewood that was green and needed drying. Collapsed Roof
Collapsed Roof And another view.
T/his is the hay that I had to move from the firewood house to the goathouse loft. Hay in Loft
Door Repairs The oak reinforcement bolted to the inside of the garage doors, hopefully ensuring that Rudy does not get back out into the yard.
And this is the cunning device that prevents Suzy from letting Rudy out into the girl's side of the goat house. The walnut sticking down bit prevents the bolt from being withdrawn. It is a two handed job to operate, so I reckon it would take two very clever goats working in concert to operate. Cunning Device

15th September2011

It started out as an ordinary day. After the usual stuff I set about doing a bit more of the digging that I wanted to get done. I worked for a solid hour and a half from nine until half past ten. I had just finished a row and was contemplating whether to work on until eleven and get a bit more done when there was a doggy commotion from the yard. There was someone at the gate but I could not see clearly who it was. They saw me and beckoned. I plodded back to the yard to find that it was the young man who came and looked at the pear tree the other evening.

Dogs went in the house and young man came in the yard and we had a discussion. After some misunderstandings on my part and some on his - language barrier thing - it transpired that he was offering to take the pear tree down together with a colleague for thirty thousand forints. I would get the wood, all sawn up. I had a think about it. It dawned upon me that I was expecting to have to pay out for more firewood later this year anyway, and there was probably at least a hundred thousand forints worth of firewood in that tree - minimum. I agreed and we shook hands upon the deal.

I asked him when. Now, today, in half an hours time. He took off, and by a stroke of luck I just managed to catch Posta for the necessary in spite of not having my sign out.

I might just describe the problems they were going to encounter. The pear tree had a huge crown and three major (I do mean major) branches. One of the major branches hung to the north - over the yard. It was no problem. It could just be dropped straight into the yard. The biggest problem was a second branch that went somewhat south of west completely over the entirity of the goat house and out to overhang the old lady's raspberries. The third branch pointed a little east of south so that much of it overhung the goathouse yard. By any standard it was going to be a sod of a job. The tree was undoubtedly much older than any of the buildings on the plot. The house only dates back to the 1950s. "I know - let's build the garage and pig sty just there by that pear tree.".

I let the dogs back out for a while, knowing they were likely to be confined for some time. Young man and colleague were a little longer than half an hour, but not much. They turned up with an assortment of ladders, cordage, chainsaws and petrol containers. Dogs were reconfined. Colleague turned out to be a bloke of about fifty I reckon built like a brick outhouse and with an air of knowing what he was about.

As I expected, the north branch came down first with a huge crash. They sawed it up into kugli and stacked them out of the way. The smaller stuff just got stacked against the fence. With that out of the way they hit a snag. They had nowhere near enough ladderage to even begin to tackle the west facing branch. The younger one disappeared on foot and soon came back with quite a long single aluminium ladder. They simply roped it to the triple extension ladder that they were already using.

They tackled the west facing branch next. All the small stuff went first. That was no problem. Just one single small branch fell in next door's garden - small enough that the old lady was able to pass it over the fence to me unaided. They got to the big stuff.

Their consummate expertise became apparent. They started having to rope stuff down. At every step it was obvious that their own safety and the safety of my property was paramount. The older chap was in the air doing the cutting. Every step was discussed from the ground. When he went back up in the air I noticed that he roped himself to a bit of tree that was not being cut down. Another rope was passed around a branch higher up in the crown of the tree and tied to the bit to be cut. the young man on the ground had the tail of the rope. The guy in the air would saw through only just enough that the guy holding the rope could feel it start to give, then he would unrope himself and come back to ground level when the rope would be gently released until the sawn through bit parted company, sometimes with wild swings, and then lowered to the ground.

And so it went. It took them nine hours with only an occasional break to have a swig of pop - that was all. Somewhere about hour seven and a half I told them that I had to get the goats in and milk. By then the south facing branch had gone. I got the goats in. They were not in the least concerned by the sound of chainsaws within a few metres of where they were. I was just milking Suzy when there was an enormous crash - a monstrous crash. I guessed what it was. They had taken the whole crown out of the tree in one go and just dropped it. When I got back to the yard I saw I was right. They were wading about in six feet deep bits of pear tree just knocking it into manageable lumps to get out of the way. I got rid of the milking stuff and went out to help hurtle the small stuff out of the way and stack kugli.

Finally the trunk came down with a crack and a dull thud. The two of them persisted with chainsaws until the trunk was also kugli. It was dark by then and they worked by the faint glimmer from my yard light which I think has a twenty five watt bulb in it. The sound of chainsaws died away and the sound of them retrieving all their kit and taking it away commenced. Eventually it was done, and in the dark I paid them. They departed.

I let the dogs out who had been incarcerated for the entire nine hours. To their credit neither had disgraced themselves. I let myself out after that. To the pub, gasping for a beer.

16th September2011

I let the dogs out first thing to a scene of devastation on the yard. When the guys finished yesterday evening it was absolutely dark, and all I did was pay them and go to the pub. That old tree had been full of small and not so small dead wood. On small trees it is not so much of a problem to keep on top of the dead wood. Impossible without employing a specialst on anything that size. When the bigger bits of tree had come down the dead wood had shattered into a million pieces. The top of the yard was carpeted with it. In addition, the trunk lay where it was felled - just sawn up into kugli. I could see what the morning's work would be.

Oh well, first the usual. Suzy was milked, I went to the shop, the stove was lit and I had a leisurely breakfast, husbanding my resources for what was to come. The goats went out nearby and I returned to the yard to set about it. First the kugli from the trunk had to be got out of the way. Fortunately most of them were still standing, not lying flat, and the trunk was reasonably circular. With some effort I was able to wheel them away over a carpet of chainsawings and the small brittle pices of dead wood. The top of the trunk where the three main branches emerged was an absolutes so-and-so. There was no way that it would wheel and I had to end-over-end it to get it out of the way. I just did a quick ball park calculation using your good old πr2h thing and a guess of a relative density of 0.9 and worked out that those kugli were between a hundred and twenty and a hundred and sixty kilogrammes apiece. There were sixteen of them. I took a break.

After the break I set about raking up the carpet of tiny and larger broken pieces. It had to be done, otherwise Pickle's chain would just drag them into a carpet about two feet deep along the length of her running wire. It took the rest of the morning. On my travels I noticed some collateral damage from the felling of the tree. On the north side of the goat house two roof tiles were cracked and would need replacing. On the south side one roof tile had been dislodged and would need repositioning. Also on the south side I found that, once again the wheelbarrow extension had been trashed by people taking bits off trees. The last time was when Hobo and Jozsi had pollarded the walnut tree. Oh well, a very very small price to pay for something that had had every potential for major disaster.

Somewhere during the course of the morning the realisation had dawned on me that yesterday's expenditure had left me with no cash, and that the Posta lady had told me that she would be in the spare van today, with no cash point machine. Damn and Blast! That meant a cycle ride to the post office in Nádasd.

Quite late enough I had lunch, fed the pigeons and checked on the goats. Then I got on the bike. Nádasd and back and into the pub for a beer. Can you blame me?

Back home, and wheelbarrow entension-less I still had to get in goat greenery. Up the garden, scythed, piled as much as I could get on the barrow and that would have to do. I was still not quite finished with physical. I had to chop and get in firewood for the kitchen stove tomorrow. I just could not help myself, and also tackled one of the smaller kugli from the pear tree. It split quite easily. It went on the stack for drying.

You know, the timber from that big pear tree is totally different from the pear tree that came down in the garden. It is actually quite pale, bland and uninteresting compared to the wonderful ruby coloured, purple flecked timber from the garden one. Well, I did my best to find out if anyone was interested in at least the trunk for timber. Nobody was, so firewood it will be, sadly.

The goats came in. I milked, went to the shop, had a bite to eat and then went to the pub. And who can blame me. It had been a pretty physical day.

17th September2011

Very short. Cheese making day. I interspersed it with blog and Internet work.

Helmut, Hobo's Austrian friend, and family and friend turned up in the evening. It turned into quite a session.

18th September2011

Sunday, and a half hearted, hung-over attempt at some housework. It was seriously hot again for the time of year - pushing on thirty.

I decided to rescue the wreckage of the wheelbarrow extension from the garden, survey said wreckage and make a choice between repairing it or starting over. I have to say that it was not in the best of condition before the lump of pear tree hit it. It is too usefull to do without. With it I can get three or four times the volume of lightweight stuff in the barrow than I can without.

I surveyed it back in the yard outside the workshop. One end was completely trashed. One side was partially trashed. I had a quick cast around in the workshop and discovered that I had another piece similar to that which I used to replace the top piece one side last time. I also found that I had just one piece left of the original stuff that would make a new top piece for the end. With thinking head on I worked out the pieces. "If that broken piece comes off there it will be long enough to replace that short broken piece there."

Decision was made. Repair it. So I did. Lots of sawing, drilling, nailing and inserting of screws. Note that I carefully avoided the use of the term screwing. All was also glued. I decided against putting it back on the barrow, leaving it in the workshop for the glue to set.

Once again it was up the garden for goat greenery with just the barrow. The old lady next door caught me as I wheeled it to the goat house. Another litre of her wine. I think that was reward for the milk. We managed a chat about this and that and went our ways. Once again it quite pleased me.

Late afternoon I went to the pub for one, then back home, do the goat stuff and settle in for the evening to do some blog updating and not go back to the pub.

19th September2011

The goats went out and I finally managed to saw up the last lingering bits of small stuff on the edge of the camping lawn and hurtle it on to the ever growing pile at the top of the yard.

Imre mowed next door at No. 72, including the roadside bit. Bugger. Than made mine look untidy, so out came the strimmer and I did mine and as far as Tibi's gateway. Well, you have to keep up appearances.

At lunchtime I had a major catastophe. I had a bowl of my own goat milk kefir that I was going to have for the second part of my lunch. I put it, as I thought, somewhere stable and out of the way of dogs who were in at the time. It proved not to be. It up-ended itself in an explosion of kefir all over my office desk. Mainly in the computer keyboard. Oh, bollox! I turned the keyboard upsidedown and went for cleaning up stuff. I managed to wipe most of it off the table straight onto the floor where the dogs cleaned it up for me.

What to do about the keyboard? Only one answer. All the keys had to come off and the body of the keyboard and the keys all washed off and dried. There was another problem. It was doggy vaccination day. At half past two I had to be at "the old place" (the pathway that leads up to the cemetery, just by the bus stop near the pub) and at a quarter past three I had to be at the faluhaz with the other dog.

It was a race against time. The keyboard keys came off and the black dog ate two of them - the zero key and the nine key from the numberpad. Well, he chewed them sufficiently that later they would not go back. Eighteen screws in the keyboard holding top and bottom together. The internal workings were fortunately free of kefir - it is fairly clingy stuff - and was propped up against the display. Top and bottom of the keyboard went in the sink and were scrubbed. The keys, apart from the aforementioned, went in a bowl and were swilled round with several changes of water. I have to admit that the keyboard was long overdue a clean. Kefir proved to be a wonderfult cleaning agent.

With keyboard clean and propped on the outside windowsill to dry I just had time for my as yet uneaten sandwich and it was time to take black dog up to "the old place" for his injection. I stood in the queue to get the dogs' passports (vaccination certificates) stamped and stickered. I got queue jumped about three times. Then to the vet for the vaccination. I may have mentioned before about the vet not liking big dogs. He particularly, it would appear, does not like big black dogs. He had me turn Blackie such that Blackie could not see what was about to happen. Of course Blackie never even noticed the injection and continued to wag his tail.

As on the way there, we made a stop/start somewhat zigzag way home. Back home I even had time to start putting the keyboard back together, at least as far as top, bottom, internal workings and eighteen screws. Then it was time to take Pickle to the faluhaz. At least with Pickle it was not stop/start/zigzag. It was just pull. Apart from the fact that I later found a huge blood clot in Pickle's hair - vet must have found a minor blood vessel - there were no problems. I had to give each dog two tablets to prevent any adverse reactions. Easy - little bits of damp bread with the tablet folded in the middle. Throw (me), catch (dog), swallow (dog), sorted (me).

I went back to putting the keyboard back together. The "qwertzuiopasdfghjklyxcvbnm" were not too much of a problem, but the "öüóőéáí" were. Bad kecskepásztor that I am I entirely failed to notice for some while that outside it was pissing down. When I did I went at best haste (fast limp) to get the goats in. That presented me with another problem. How to keep baby goat away from Betty - I wanted the milk. More in hope than in anger Rudy and the kid came in first and were confined in the boys' end of the goat house. The girls came in to their end.

Somewhat damp I retired and decided that after the exigencies of the day I deserved a visit to the pub. So I went for a fröccs. It turned into a beer as Hobo was there and paid. A thought sprung suddenly to mind. In all the fraccas of the day the pigeons had not been fed. I downed the beer and went home to deal with it. It was still pissing down so I got damper still.

When I went to milk, the inevitable had happened and the kid was back with Betty. Oh well, no milk from Betty this evening.

I had the offer of more pigeons from Imre in the evening. Free of charge. Well, a couple of drinks in the pub.

It was still pissing down when I went home. My modem petulantly refused to boot up. I had had this before. I suspect that the mains voltage was down because of the rain. Eventually it did boot up.

Now, this is pretty rich coming from the company that gave us the CD that wasn't. I have one item here labelled Sony. It was bought for me. I would not entertain buying anything made by Sony Corp. Maybe all the Sony Play Station users should simply refuse to sign up to the new T&C and raise a class action to get their money back on their purchase. Corporate egoism at its worst. The sooner such companies are stamped into the dust the better as far as I am concerned.

20th September2011

After the rain it was much too wet to contemplate any garden work. It was fine again though, so the goats went out.

The old lady at No. 72 had had a gentle moan about the small stuff from the pear tree stacked against the fence. Mmmmm - it was a bit of an eyesore. With goats out, and to show willing I set about it. I had been caught out with small stuff before. It is no good at all leaving any little twigs attached to other little twigs. No problem when you put it in a basket as kindling. Huge problem when you want to use it as kindling. You grab a likely looking small piece to put in one or other of the stoves, pull it, and half the basket follows it and deposits itself on the floor. No, It had to be broken into every single separate twig. A basket took me an hour and then went in the firewood house. Another basket took me another hour. Speaking of which because I know that I will forget to say, as I write I have not yet found a single piece of live wood amongst the small stuff. Not one. It was gone - all dead. Sad. And speaking of that I also since did my dendrochronology bit and to my best ability the tree had been about a hundred and ten years old. Some of the growth rings were as little as half a millimetre apart.

I went back to it after a small lunchtime session with John. By the time I had done five miserable baskets of stuff had gone into the wood house, and I had barely scratched the surface of what was out there. My work did not go unnoticed. A litre of the old lady's wine came over the fence.

I had goat greenery to get in, so I trudged barrow, scythe and fork up to Telek utca. I had visitors whilst I was doing that. A car that I knew went past, stopped, reversed back, drove off and came back again pointing the other way. The two people got out and we chatted for a few minutes about this and that and what was going on on the ranch. They left and I finished off getting in goat supper.

Another evening at home.

21st September2011

It was time for Rudy to have his toe nails cut, so after putting the girls out I rearranged the goat table and enticed Rudy on there with some choice goodies. Once in the trap he was quite happy to just stand there and munch. He was in fact very good about having his toe nails cut. It is more or less the same technique that you will have seen when a smith shoes a horse. Fold the leg backwards and upwards so that the foot is pointing up. If I can get a knee under there as well so much the better. He hardly kicked at all, just a couple of times. The major problem was his feet. He now has bloody great feet with thick tough nails and lots of hard skin that has to be clipped away. I got it done in not too long.

I expected a confrontation when I let him off the table, but not a bit of it. I had had the forethought to clip on his chain and he dutifully trotted off to join the girls. That is what I do these days. If he tries to go somewhere he should not be I catch up and haul him out.

I was ambling up after Rudy, who was by now raiding the pear windfalls, when I noticed a figure up on Telek utca gesticulating. It was Hobo. I don't know why but I glanced back towards the yard only to see Pickle with her head through the gate where a piece of wood should have been. I made best speed up to Telek utca. Hobo was there and so was Blackie. Now, why Hobo had not collared him I do not know - they were side by side. When Blackie saw me he decided that it was fun time. He set off at a gallop over the road and into the big field which is straight over the road from my place. He went west to the edge of the field, south to the next edge of the field then east along that side and disappeared from sight in a fold in the ground in the direction of Zalaégerség.

Bollox!! Neither me nor Hobo had any chance of catching him. I legged it at best limp back to the yard and got the bike out. I left the gate as it was. Pickle was going nowhere - she was securely on chain. I cycled up the hill by the templom and then up the gravel track that leads up to the football field casting my eyes this way and that and calling Blackie by name. Not a sign. I cycled part way down the main road into the village until I could see into the dead ground. Still not a sign. Back down onto Telek utca. I cycled past my place - still no sign. I caught sight of Hobo where he was working. No, he had not seen him either. Back onto the main street and I decided to have a quick look in the yard and up the garden.

I just got as far as the garden gate when I noticed a commotion amongst the goats. They were milling about. There was black dog trotting down the western fence - not troubling the goats in any way. He had a little wander this way and that back down the garden, pausing to investigate whether Tibi's dogs were in his garden or in the yard. They were in the yard, so there was no fun to be had there. Back to the garden gate he came, tail wagging.

I let him in and found a temporary, unsuitable piece of wood to block up the gap. Well, there went the morning. Find the hammer, find the nails, find yet another suitable piece of planking to replace the missing one. I secured the gate again. You know, Hobo built that gate :)

I went to the pub for a fröccs. Láci knew about the black dog's escapade. The next customer in also knew about it. In fact the whole damned village knew about it! I went home. Dogs were where they were supposed to be. So were the goats. I had lunch.

Normalcy returned. I put another brick in the wall and then went to collect walnuts. The compulsive counting kicked in. I have no idea what it is with walnuts. I don't count chestnuts as I gather them or potatoes as I dig them. Two hundred and seventy five.

Some were escaping my gaze. The strimmer came out and I gave the area of the footprint of the walnut tree a good haircut.

The little pub outside the shop was in operation. They all knew about the black dog. I even had a problem at milking time. When it was time to swap over the girls on the milking table both of them, plus the kid, escaped. Ah WTF? I rounded them up, finished milking and most certainly had had enough for the day. I went to the pub. Hobo bought the beers, so that was a bonus.

22nd September2011

The goats went out nearby. Cheese making and clothes washing. I was not on best form. I felt under the weather - not alcohol related - and did not know why.

A thought had occured to me that I thought I would share. You know, people in the village that are doing what I am doing - only bigger and better - do not take holidays. I have had a couple of brief trips back to the UK and a weekend in Budapest. In the three and a half years that I have been here I can think of many, many people that have maybe only left the village for a part of a day, maybe to visit relations in Körmend or just go to the market. You know that I go to the pub every day. I see the same set of people there every day. They do not go anywhere.

Going off on one now. I reckon that holidays as we know them - i.e. going away from where you live to somewhere else, maybe for a week or a fortnight - has to be a fossil fuelled thing. It only started to happen for relatively ordinary folk once the railways came along. When I was in Lincolnshire I lived in the same village - well, glorified hamlet - as a workmate of mine. He told me one day about receiving a visit from a friend in the next village. When the time came for friend to leave he asked workmate to go with him and make sure he was on the right road home. I just checked on Google maps. The distances between the two villages is one an a half miles. This was in the 1970s, and there was a guy whose horizon of travel did not extend to one and a half miles.

I caught this snippet from the Independant the other day. Yeah, right! Which planet are they living on? Zog? We are already seeing the high price of oil pushing economies into the second phase of a double dip recession. And airlines have to be the most vulnerable industry in the world to the price of oil. I would hazard a bet with anyone who wants to take me on that, barring some miraculous technical development - solar/nuclear/steam/fart propelled airliners - the global airliner fleet in 2030 will be an order of magnitude less than it is now. The bet is the smallest unit of British currency available in 2030. And speaking of which...

...two wonderously troubling items both from the Beeb this evening. This and this. Neither is Peak Oil related. I recommend you read them both. It is all falling apart. They are papering over the cracks.

23rd September2011

After milking and breakfast I went about the rest of the routine. I had a nasty surprise at my first port of call - fresh water for the pigeons. One of the baby pigeons was missing. I searched everywhere that I could get to. There was just no sign of it.

I checked again once the goats were out, just in case baby pigeon had hidden itself away somewhere that I could not see. No sign - it was gone. Examining further I found a hole where there should not have been a hole. I suspected a rat. I blocked the hole as best I could using earth and bricks.

No idea what I did the rest of the day.

24th September2011

Another dead pigeon this morning. Again I found it when I went in with the water. It was still in the pigeon house, savaged around the neck. One of the new white ones. Obviously whatever had got it had been unable to take it from the pigeon house, it being an adult bird. There was a tell-tale hole in the place I had tried to bodge up.

Right! This would not do. The goats went out. I provided them with water straight away and little goat went straight on his own post. Then out came the bike and I cycled to Nádasd. I bought more chicken wire and a few wall nails from Bödő and cycled straight home.

A bite of lunch and into the chicken house. Chicken wire. Small mesh stuff. Hate it. In the pigeon house is what you might call a window. All it has over it is a framework of wood with metal bars top to bottom. small enough gaps to stop pigeons getting out but big enough gaps that it was yet another place where rats could get in. It all got covered with the fine chicken wire, and bits at the sides had new wood fillets nailed in.

I decided to investigate the outside, which is where the outhouse garden is. Beneath the aforementioned window are two hinged wooden doors. The bottoms of them are now below the soil level of the outhouse garden. I had a thought. I went back inside the pigeon house and checked. My thought was proved correct. Inside the pigeon house, right where I suspected the intruder was getting in was one of the doors, roughly blocked up with somewhat aged hardboard. The other one had been completely bricked up inside. I asked myself why do one and not the other?

I decided against trying to brick it up from the inside. I will later. Instead I went back to the outhouse garden and decided to brick it up there. You know, the ground is on the move here. The bottom of that rotten wooden door was four or five inches below the current soil level, and I did not move any soil - just dug what was there. I dug it out down to where it met up with the brickwork below and six inches or so either side.

I had a supply of bricks to hand. I reckon I put them where they are now in March 2008. I just checked the archive on my blog. I did.

Three biggish mixings of lime mortar and one roof tile later I had a mini-wall built where the obvious entry hole of rat or whatever had been. Last job was to locate an ex-crate and nail it up high on the wall to give the pigeons more roosting space out of harms way, I hoped.

I had bumped into Jozsi earlier. He turned up and inspected the pigeon house and identified another three thousand six hundred and seventy seven places where a rat could still gain entry. I exaggerate, of course, but I will have much work to do there before winter arrives.

Goats in, milk, pub. Four of us at kicking out time. Back home I fed the dogs and whilst they were eating took the torch and went to check on the pigeons. They were all roosted and present and correct.

25th September2011

The remaining pigeons were all out and about when I checked on them on the way to milk, except for "cheep-cheep" who was right where he/she was supposed to be - in the nest box going "cheep-cheep". As I mentioned yesterday I have much work to do in there. But not today.

Milked breakfasted and the goats went out. I cannot remember whether it was this day or another, but Rudy is now bigger, heavier and stronger than I am. We have, however, a routine. The girls and the kid go out and then I go back for Rudy. When I open his gate he inevitably comes out head down. I open the gate towards me with collar clip in right hand. As he goes by I grab his collar and clip on his chain, then he is free to go. I think maybe (fingers crossed - not supersticious) that all the previous was probably down to juvenile delinquency. I wonder if such exists in species other than homo sapiens?

I set about housework. Seriously neglected and much needed. It took me some while and I managed to get the loo, bathroom, kitchen and hallway into a remote sense of order. With dogs safely outside in the yard and some windows open so that my freshly mopped floors might dry I went to the pub for a fröccs. I only bought the one - all seventy five forints worth (all twenty pence worth) - but several more came my way. No idea why.

Back home late, and a quick sandwich and off into the heat of the afternoon to scythe down goat greenery. I made sure that I had enough for a couple of days. Sweat dripped. It was still pushing on thirty Celsius.

I went in to cook before gettng the goats in and milking. The blasted stove would not light. The gourmet meal that I had planned turned into a fried egg sandwich through shortage of time. Mind you, I reckon that in Lincolnshire a fried egg sandwich is probably still regarded as a gourmet meal.

Goats came in, milked and off to the pub for a couple more fröccs. I checked on the pigeons again once home - all present and correct.

26th September2011

The pigeons were all present and correct in the morning as well.

In the course of the morning I happened to go onto the Internet and on my travels went on Facebook. I was not really happy at all with what they had done to the interface, without so much as a "By your leave" or "Kiss my a*se". In subsequent discussions on-line one of my Facebook friends posted that the changes had been posted on the Facebook developers' blog. Yeah, right. Like, I have the time to read said blog? Nor should I need to.

After lunch I collected another three hundred and seventy six walnuts. That was almost a bucketful. You know, I collect them in my galvanised pail. Quite deliberately. There is something quite distinctive about stuff being dropped into a galvanised pail. Also the rattle of the handle when you set the pail down and just let go of the handle. I do it quite deliberately so that the neighbours know that I am out there collecting walnuts.

After that I dug the carrots, somewhat overdue. As I mentioned previously, there was only half a row due to me using one type of seed for half the row and another for the other half. I had resown the other half, but got nothing. What I should have done, of course was to resow the other half a row as quarters - one quarter the one type of seed and the other quarter the other. Then hopefully I would have had another quarter of a row of carrots, and I could have resown the other quarter in eighths of a row... Mmmmm - might have been better to label it in the first case. But I think the above is more fun. I got one monster carrot out of the row. I weighed it later. It was one and a quarter pounds, or just over half a kilo. Unfortunately it had suffered some mole damage and would not have kept. It went into a veggie stew, grated. It took me fifteen minutes to grate it.

I got firewood in, set about making the abovementioned veggie stew in the slow cooker, and apart from getting the goats in and going to the pub that was it.

27th September2011

The carrots had to be dealt with. Into dry sand in a tray and into the root cellar. The tray was relatively easy to come by. I found a suitable candidate in the potting shed. The dry sand bit was just tedious. My builder's trowel - at least what passes for a builder's trowel here in Hungary - would hold about half a cupful of dry sand. If I tried to use anything bigger it picked up damp sand. Not what was wanted. Eventually I had all the carrots in the tray and submerged in dry sand. It got as far as the outhouse but not as far as the cellar. I closed the door against marauding theives (black dog) and decided that the carrots were fine where they were until I could summon the energy to get them down the steel step ladder into the cellar.

Spuds were dug. Not all of them, just a few for now. You will know when the spuds are dug. It will be an all day job. I am still only three quarters of the way along the first row which I mentioned sending Hobo to when my UK visitors were here.

I went for goat greenery and on the way back collected a pocket full of chestnuts.

All the usual stuff after that, except that when I went to join the little pub outside the shop I was enjoying a beer in the usual company when Pickle and Blackie went ballistic. I I could not see at what they were going ballistic, but both nearly breached the defences of the yard at a point where I knew a weakness had remained. At the front corner where my outhouse meets the fence is what I suspect used to be a little gate between the old lady's yard and my yard. It had long been wired up and nailed up when I first arrived. I had reinforced almost to the top of it with weldmesh, the same as everywhere else. This evening both dogs were threatening to get over it. Oh well, just another little job for the morning then.

You know, if ERNIE sent me a million pounds I reckon I would blow some of it by having the entire boundary done with three metre, two inch stainless steel weldmesh buried a metre into the ground. I reckon dogs, and/or goats would still manage to escape.

I went to the pub.

28th September2011

On the way back from putting the goats out I collected another pocketful of chestnuts. It is a painful experience. You espy a husk containing two or three robust, worthy chestnuts and try to extract them. Prickly little so-and-sos will go through anything. Once they are on the ground the majority of them start to go off immediately. As much as I do like chestnuts I do not have an answer for it. Only today as I write I saw off half a pair of industrial strength rubber gloves in such a fashion. Anybody got a spare left hand red rubber industrial glove?

Back at the house I started on the next lot of cheese. I went to the pub after that for a small fröccs.

Back home I set about sorting out the breach of defences noticed last evening. Much to Blackie's delight the angle grinder came out to play. Much to his displeasure the angle grinder procedings lasted a mere thirty seconds or so. I switched it off, unplugged it, put it back in its place on the tool untidy and wound back the extension cable. He went off and sulked.

I had a quick bite and then went and wired up the extra wendmesh that I had cut up. As I write, it still is not finished. I need to get into the garden at No. 72 and wedge the weldmesh to my outhouse with a stout piece of wood and some wall nails.

Two hundred and fourty nine walnuts. You know, the barren walnut tree that I had Hobo and Jozsi pollard was not barren. I have had ten walnuts off it so far this year!

Greenery for the goats. It is starting to slow down now. Not long before they are on winter rations. Never mind. I have twenty thousand maize stalks with the goats' name on them only about a hundred and fifty metres away.

I did a time switch this evening between going to the little pub outside the shop and getting the goats in. The goats came in half an hour earlier and I milked. Then I went to the shop. Thus do the seasons turn.

Before I went to the shop, but after I had milked there was a doggie hiatus. I poked my nose out of the door to see a lady of the village that I knew by my gate. By dint of shouting at each other over the gate to make ourselves heard I came to understand that she was the census enumerator for the village. She handed over a big envelope of stuff. I told her that I understood all about it and would be completing it on the Internet. Another paper came with the envelope. It was general information about who had to complete the census forms. In eighteen languages!!

29th September2011

When the goats went out I paused nearby and collected another pocketful of chestnuts. Back to the house and deposited the chestnuts with the others and then did the necessary in the kitchen.

Another couple of baskets of the bits of pear tree by the fence. It was going to take me a while to shift that lot but it was a case of a low priority, but do enough so that the old lady could see that it was being done. She did see. I got another litre of wine. I stuck at it until lunch time. All boring stuff, sorry.

After lunch I went for goat greenery early. I was just wheeling the barrow back to the yard when there was a doggy commotion. Jozsi was at the gate, come to do some splitting of the big kugli for me. I had just set about taking the roof off of the falling down ex wood house next to the goat house. From behind me was the sound of a dull thud and a crack. Next I knew Jozsi was wandering about the yard looking nonplussed with axe head and a short piece of handle in one hand and most of the rest of the handle in the other. That would be the end of that effort for the day then.

I collared Blackie whilst Jozsi left and headed for the pub. I told him I would take the remains of the axe to Lajos and then join him for one. I put the axe head, with its little bit of wood on the bike carrier and carried the rest of the handle in my left hand. I opened the gate to wheel the bike out. And Blackie was gone - like a shot! I propped the bike up outside the gate and went back in the house to get the dog lead. When I got outside I saw Blackie emerge from by the templom, cross the road (without doing his Green Cross Code!) and start to head back my way. There was a small foregathering of people at a house just up the road. About three people inside the gate and three outside. Blackie made for them and the people saw me walking up and encouraged Blackie to stay right there by speaking to him. One of the people outside was a young man astride a bicycle. Blackie took an interest in the bike. He cocked his leg and peed on one side of the back wheel. Then he walked round the back of the bike, cocked his other leg and peed on the other side of the back wheel. The people, apart from the young man whose bicycle it was, thought it was hilarious and laughed out loud. By that I was there, collared Blackie, and safely on lead led him back and put him in the yard.

I resumed my trip. I could hear that Lajos was in his workshop - the planer/thicknesser was running - so I wandered on up there. Lajos finished off what he was doing and switched off the planer. He took one look at the axe and said "Miki?". I shook my head. Lajos said "Jozsi?" I grinned and nodded. Lajos cast about for a handle already made. He found it but it turned out to be too thin. I just left the axe with him. He was none too chuffed that the handle relatively recently made and fitted by him was thus in disarray. Well, I was none too chuffed either.

I still went and had a beer with Jozsi though. He is too important a resource for me to unfriend on account of an axe handle. I will no doubt have some work for him in a few weeks, especially in view of my decision to abandon the western side of the garden.

When I got home more greenery appeared from No. 72. Some over the yard fence and more out in the garden. The goats would be pleased. Their favourite, again.

I ate, went and milked and afterwards went to the little pub outside the shop. It continues to grow. I cannot remember whether it was this evening, but one evening the village mayor joined us.

I went to the pub in the evening. I was not that early either. It had been dark for some while when I went. When I went in, Láci was on his own, watching the telly. He greeted me with a wry smile as I looked around as if to say "Where are they all?". They all were there soon enough.

30th September2011

Cheese making day. I should have dealt with chestnuts between times but didn't. As I write I still have not, but that is another story, upcoming.

Towards the end of the morning I went for a fröccs. Hobo was in the pub. The fröccs turned into a beer. Then another. Hobo paid for both. He knows fine well that whilst a fröccs is a cheap and acceptable way of getting p*ssed I do actually prefer a beer. Did I ever mention how alcoholic a fröccs is in the pub? A small fröccs is served in a dumpy little round sided glass that is at a guess about a third of a pint. I think that a decilitre of wine goes in it, or in other words two fifteenths of a standard bottle of wine. A standard sized fröccs comes in what I would call a bottle glass, and is twice the size, or in other words four fifteenths of a bottle of wine, or slightly over a quarter of a bottle. So four normal fröccs is just over a standard bottle of wine. For about two quid, and that is pub price.

After lunch I set about working off the incipient afternoon hangover. Both the sties and the goathouse corridor were completely cleaned out and I took the hose to the corridor and Rudy's sty. I had no need of taking the hose to the girls' sty. As with humans, so with goats it appears. The old bedding from the girls's sty was all dry and clean. They appear to perform their natural functions in their little yard. Not so Rudy. He just does it everywhere. I had a little accident with the hose. Both the dogs got cornered and got just a little damp. New bedding went in for the goats.

Apart from a little firewood that was physical over for the day. I already had ample goat greenery in the barrow from yesterday.

Goats in and milked, and I went over to the shop. A couple of extra beers plus one to drink outside the shop and that was me set for the evening. No pub tonight. The advantage of having made the time swap between shop and goats, to goats and shop is that it gives me time to sit amongst the clientelle of the little pub outside the shop and enjoy the by-play unhurried. There is always by-play. I suppose that there is in the UK too, but I guess that, being a foreigner here, I just tend to notice it more markedly.

The signs of impending autumn are everywhere now. The swallows have long since gone. They evenings become ever more chilly, although nowhere near a frost yet. The days are shortening rapidly and the first carpetting of dropping leaves is beginning to appear in the gardens.


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