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October 2011

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1st October 2011

The black dog did a runner again this morning. He got as far as the lane by the templom and fortunately decided to turn back. I was there with dog lead to intercept him and home he went. That was the highlight of the morning.

The highlights of the afternoon were getting in some greenery and collecting another pocket full of chestnuts.

The highlight of the early evening was quite amusing. When I went to get the goats in there was a hen in my garden. It was quite easy to tell that it was one of the old lady's, as it just patrolled between the goat house and the top of her garden looking for a way back. It even had a wander round the goat house to see if there was a way back there. There is none. The only way that I think it could have got into my garden was by climbing up her wood stack that leans up against the big conifer right by my fence and jumping over. By the time I had finished milking and putting food in for the goats it was still there, right by the goat house. Pickle had seen it and was giving it a good dose of looking at whenever it went far enough up the fence to get into her line of sight. Pickle did not bark, but from the look on her face there is not the slightest doubt what its fate would have been had she been able to get into the garden. What the heck was I going to do about it? Well, it had to be returned was all. By a stroke of luck I managed to catch it when it tried and failed to get between the fence and an elderberry bush my side. There was a squawk and a flap when I grabbed for it, but once I had it with its wings folded by its body and held it either side I was quite surprised how acquiescent it was. No squawking, no pecking and no scratching. I dropped it back over the fence and it fluttered to the grass and legged it at best speed straight in the direction of the old lady's hen house. Good deed for the day. You know, to the best of my recollection than is the first time that I have ever caught and held a hen.

I have no idea why - there was nothing particularly special going on - but Láci stayed open very late this evening for the time of year. Ten o'clock. I still went and checked on the pigeons when I returned home. All present and correct again.

2nd October 2011

Sunday. Another good bash at housework and a load of stuff to do in the kitchen. I had a bash at the chestnuts. Not good this year. I collected them fresh off the ground as soon as they had fallen. Many were already starting to turn.

I was to the pub later after a marathon effort of discarding chestnuts. John was there...

The goats came in and were milked, I checked on the pigeons as dusk fell and that was that. No pub this evening.

3rd October 2011

I got up at the usual time, which is now about seven in the morning. As the mornings draw in milking gets later. There are no lights in the goat house, and Suzy who is the only goat that I milk in the morning is quite amenable. There was something amiss when I went in the kitchen to prepare the milking kit. It was warmer than I expected, and humid. The windows were streaming with condensation which was also not normal. I sterilised the bucket to receive the milk and went into the bathroom for warm water for teat wash. All I could see in there was steam hugging the ceiling. I heard a sound. The boiler wheezing. The boiler was boiling. My first thought was to get the warm water. I was not thinking too clearly at that stage. I turned on the hot tap and after a couple of seconds it petulantly spat out alternate gushes of live steam and rust stained water.

My next thought was to turn off the water supply to the boiler. I got as far as the doorway to the loo wherein boiler is situated when reality and reason kicked in with crystal clarity. First thought - "Don't touch that you effing idiot - it is all dripping wet with water and is connected to three hundred and eighty volts!". Next thought, as the boiler continued to wheeze, was "Get the fuck out of here because if that goes bang it will take all of this end of the house with it!".

Outside I killed the electrickery to the whole house and waited a while. Nothing went bang, so I ventured back in. The boiler was still wheezing, but less so. I turned on the hot tap over the bath and let the pressure go. I still had Suzy to milk, so I warmed some water in the electric kettle and made up teat wash. I went and milked. That was priority one. Whatever was happening in the house could wait.

When I returned from milking I immediately noticed another problem. Water was now bubbling up from beside the house and spewing across the yard. I limped at best pace to the water supply man hole. Sure enough, the water meter was going round in a blur. Down the manhole. Turn the bloody water off. Do you know what I did? Go on - guess! I just laughed.

Whatever, life goes on. Somewhat belatedly I got to the shop, shopped, went home and lit the stove. After the last water catastrophe I have always held by the tenet of keeping my stainless steel kettle full of water. I had fresh bread, wood for the stove and water in the kettle with which to make coffee, so a little later than usual that is what I did. Had a leisurely breakfast.

Also somewhat later than envisaged the goats went out. I already knew where my next port of call would be - the pub. Not for a drink, but to borrow a couple of the containers in which they buy their wine. Not a problem. With a couple of ten litre containers in which to put drinking water I was sorted for the moment. I had a beer. Another came my way gratis.

Back home I took the goats their water - fortunately plenty in the buckets since yesterday. Then I ventured next door to ask a favour of filling up the wine containers with fresh water. Once again, not a problem.

Back home I set about once again digging up the yard by the house wall to identify the problem. Compared to last time it was relatively easy going. Ha! Well, at least I did not have to bash through hardcore gravel as me and Hobo did last time. It took me the rest of the morning to dig back down to the pipe, one hundred and ten centimetres below the yard. I roughly cleared out around where it went into the concrete below the bathroom extension. I ask you - concrete down to over a metre and maybe beyond. I ventured to the manhole and turned on the tap to the merest trickle that I could manage. Any more than that and by the time I got back to the hole in the yard the pipe would have been submerged in water. Back at the hole my worst fears were confirmed. Water was flowing from where the iron pipe went up inside the wall. Oh well, just a major catastrophe then. Why the f*ck do the Hungarians bury the pipes in the wall? It just means that what maybe possibly a minor pipe problem immediately becomes a major structural problem. Oh well.

Back down the manhole I turned off the dribble of water and noticed another problem. There was no longer a drain-down tap on the house side of the water meter. There used to be. That was how Hobo filled up the water containers the last time I had the big catastrophe. I have no idea when it went missing. Either when the young man fitted the new plastic mains feed to the house or when the new water meter was fitted. In either case, not good. Especially in a climate as severe as this you need to be able to drain down all the pipework if the place is going to be unoccupied for any length of time over winter. I now had no means of doing so.

The whole morning's activities threw into stark relief the dangers associated with having mains pressure hot water systems. You know, in the mid 1980s my wife of the time and I took the tenancy of a pub in Dorset. In the kitchen was a Rayburn stove. There were some broken parts which, after a lot of enquiry, we were finally able to replace. The Rayburn had a back boiler. My ex-wife (now) used to cook the pub lunches on the Rayburn. This was in the good old days when pubs closed in the afternoon. Lunchtime trade over, the Rayburn was shut down and we went to walk the dog and do whatever we needed to do in the town. The Rayburn was so hot that many times when we returned to the pub steam was issuing from the back boiler header tank overflow in the loft. I could make a pot of tea straight from the hot tap in the kitchen. At least if it boiled it just vented it into the header tank and/or out through the overflow. But it didn't break the bloody mains water supply to the house. Hungarian plumbing!!!!

Enough for today. All the usual stuff got done after that, and I can't remember whether or not I just went to the pub and got p*ssed.

4th October 2011

I had enough water to do breakfast and give the pigeons some and the dogs some. Otherwise life went on as normal.

After the goats went out I did need to replenish my two ten litre containers of drinking water. I cycled up to the templom to get it. Just outside the templom is what looks for all the world like the village pump. It isn't. It is the village tap. Apparently the village pays the water company a fixed fee and the water from the tap is not metered. I had never seen anyone use it. I did today. It was rather odd. When you opened the tap all that happened was a rush of air and then after about a second you could hear the water rushing up the pipe. It is just a bit clever and I have not the slightest idea how it works. In just the time it took to screw the top on one water container, put it on the grass and unscrew the top from the other container the water had been pushed back down the pipe so the same thing happened. Quite obviously, somehow that I know not, the act of drawing water from the tap is made to compress air which when the tap is closed is blown into the water pipe and forces the water back down. In this climate it makes perfect sense. If the pipe to the tap just contained water it would be frozen solid in a very short while in the winter. As it is, I reckon that the water is forced back down to a depth at which it will not freeze even in the coldest conditions.

Using a luggage strap that came with me when I moved here - used to hold my forty kilogramme suitcase together - the two ten litre containers straddled the carrier on the bike. The bike proved to be a bit wibbly on the way home.

The first container went straight to the goats. The second container was started to do the washing up of the milking kit and the breakfast stuff and replenish the kettle.

I had a look down the hole in the yard. A mass of earth had fallen off one side and completely covered the pipe again. I dug it out again. I was doing that when there was a doggie commotion. Tibi was at the gate. He said something about water and barrels and get rid of the dogs. I locked the dogs in and went to get my one-and-only barrel. Mmmmm - if was not fit to put water in. A few minutes with neat bleach, scrubbing brush and most of the second container of water soon sorted that. Tibi had indicated my little front garden, adjacent his fence. When I got round there, there was already a barrel there with a hose running into it. Tibi appeared with another barrel and passed it over the fence.

It took a while to fill the two barrels. It was not drinking water. It came by hose and the flow rate was quite slow so I suspected that it was not pumped well water either. It came to me that they could well have a rainwater catchment system rigged up - it was that sort of water. That would explain the tank on a trailer hauled up the garden by his toy tractor and the water pumped to irrigate the garden by a twelve volt pump. They did make point of telling me that it was not drinking water but was alright for washing clothes and the like. Which was just as well, since I had a bath full of washing soaked but not rinsed when the latest catastrophe happened.

After lunch came some goat house cleaning out. That was an hour of sheer physical slog. With no piped water it did not get the hosing out that I would really have liked to give it either.

I went to something a little gentler after that - another collection of English sunflower ( ;) ) leaves. Marika called me to the fence whilst I was doing it and gave me some sad news. Their dear old dog Szultan was no more. From her explanation I suspect that they had decided that a hip displacia problem had grown so bad that they decided on a merciful release. I may be faced with that myself one day. It is a thing to which German Shepherds are very prone.

I looked in on the pigeons on the way past and was surprised to find Cheep-Cheep wandering around the floor with all the others. I took the opportunity to clean out the nest box and put in some fresh hay, then lifted him/her back up into the nest. I just called the squab when I wanted to do that and it walked straight up to my feet. The others are still wary and never come within arms reach.

It was a year to the day since the dreadful toxic sludge disaster that hit Kolontar and Devecser. There was extensive coverage of it in the news, with solemn ceremonies at memorials set up in both villages and scenes from the new housing development in Devecser to replace houses that had had to be demolished. Something struck me about the development. Because it had been built on a greenfield site at the edge of the village it was very stark. It took me a moment to identify why. No trees! There were a few saplings planted roadside but absolutely no mature trees. I guess that it will be about a decade before it starts to look like part of a Hungarian village.

I had a stroke of luck with the exchange rate. The forint had weakened quite a bit against the pound so I had decided to take the plunge and transfer cash from my Sterling account into my forint account. It later transpired that I hit the absolute top of that particular bubble and I got an exchange rate of three hundred and forty eight forints to the pound. A bit better than two hundred and ninety five, then. Every little helps as the old woman said.

I forgot to mention doing the census on-line on Sunday. Apart from a little quirkiness with the auto-complete drop downs (they were in Hungarian, not English) it was very straightforward. I also happened to see the enumerator lady in the shop on Monday and mentioned to her that I had done the census on-line. She already knew, so they obviously have a good communication system.

5th October 2011

I did Betty's feet this morning. I had tried to do them as before, out on the garden on the milking stool but she would have none of it. This morning she stayed behind on the post just outside the goat house when I took the others out. Then back in the goat house she went and onto the milking table. It was a pain in the whatsit job. On a scale of 0 - 10 of amenability to having the feet done Rudy scores about a nine, Suzy a five and Betty a resounding nought! Kick, fidget, kick fidget... It took me about three times as long as Rudy and twice as long as Suzy.

Once Betty joined the others out on the meadow I returned to the house and started in on the mayhem that had accumulated since the latest demise of the water system: a not inconsiderable amount of washing up, a bathful of washing to rinse and get out to dry and a general clean up and tidy of the work surfaces. It took a while. And I dealt with the cheese in the press.

After that, over a fröccs and a pipe, I dealt with the crop collected yesterday so that it could be hung up to begin the curing process. Then lunch.

After lunch a big barrow load of dry chestnut leaves were raked up and went in the goat house loft. Then I went scything. I particularly enjoyed it this afternoon. It was warm enough to moisten the brow but not so hot as to send the sweat dripping. The scythe was working well - I had the sharpening just right - and I was in a bit of good going. I tarried and instead of doing just a couple of windrows did four. It looked to be enough for the goats for three evenings. Pleased with myself I went for a beer.

Back home I cooked and ate, then the goats came in, etc. I had a beer at the little pub outside the shop which was in full swing then went home and stayed home.

6th October 2011

Edited highlights of the day: I collected another load of the crop that I dealt with yesterday. Hobo turned up just as Posta arrived. We had had a conversation about whether my current water catastrophe would be covered by the house insurance I took out. Posta made a phone call (insurance lady). It was covered! Happy man.

I had been watching the weather forecast both on the telly in the pub and also the Norwegian website. Both were forecasting heavy rain for all day tomorrow. In spite of the amount of greenery in the barrow I tipped it out by the goat house and went and scythed down more. Yesterday in the afternoon warm sun was fun. Tomorrow in the p*ssing rain would not be.

Goats came in. I went to the pub.

7th October 2011

Short and sweet. I went and milked as usual. It was not raining, but the skies overhead were just a continuous muddy grey. Also as usual I went to the shop after milking. As I walked over there the first big fat raindrops started to drop. Everything else after I got home from the shop was done under the umbrella.

I gave the pigeons their water and fed the goats at intervals and that was it. All day. Introspective navel gazing. I did not even cycle under the umbrella to the pub in the evening.

8th October 2011

After the usual start I collected walnuts. Four hundred and seventy nine of them. I could have collected more, but the bucket was full, so I stopped.

I gathered some more English sunflower leaves but that was it for the gardening today. After the downpour yesterday everywhere was soaking. Not a hope of doing any digging or whatever.

I did have to get goat greenery in. It is always easier to scythe down when it is wet. You know, I don't think I ever wrote about Hobo trying to teach me how to use a scythe, It was actually quite hilarious, although Hobo did not think so. He held it in some absurd manner, and almost bent double attacked an area of goat food. He did not swing the scythe. He dragged it directly through the stuff to be cut down. His attitude was that the butt end of the scythe next the snath was what did the cutting. Absolutely not so. If the first nine inches of the pointy end are properly sharp that does most of the work. I would venture that Hobo with his technique would be utterly knackered in about twenty minutes. Scything should not be thus. I already mentioned seeing my old neighbour on Telek utca using a scythe. I think I prefer his technique to Hobo's.

I have no idea why, but when the goats came in Suzy was seriously down on her milk yield.

John sent me a link which I thought I would share with you. This is scary stuff and I would advise you all to watch it, wherever you may be.

9th October 2011

Sunday. Housework, insomuchas I was prepared to do housework with no running water. Nevertheless I managed the washing up and a bit of clothes washing. The pigeons got water, the dogs got water and the goats got water. I was out of fresh water by then, so the two ten litre containers got strapped across the bike carrier and I set forth. I called in for some water for myself before replenishing the water containers. Hop and alcohol flavoured.

As I cycled back towards the templom I saw a dog outside my gate. My dog. Blackie. Instead of stopping at the templom I cycled home and put black dog back in the yard. I resumed my quest for water. Back at the templom I filled one water container. I poked my head out and looked down the road before filling the second. WTF? There was black dog wandering up and down the verge again. I filled the second container and cycled down the wrong side of the road to intercept him. He was in a neighbour's yard. The neighbour had beaten a hasty retreat into his house. I know not why, but many people are afraid of the big black dog. He is as daft as a brush. So long as you do not treat him agressively you will not find a nicer natured dog. Yes, he does not like to be treated agressively and will respond with like for like.

I collared him, abandoned bike and water, took him home and locked him in the house. I retrieved bike and water.

Where the hell was he getting out? After lunch I released him and watched. It soon became apparent. The was a hole in my fence in my little front garden and Tibi's yard. The hole, originally made by Pickle, was now somewhat bigger. I actually caught black dog in the act of trying to escape again. Ah, whatever - just deal with it.

I happened to have a conveniently sized bit of weldmesh available. With some time spent, and lots of twisting of wire ties, the hole was no more.

I was going to rabbit on about this and that, but instead will write about some changes, for the better, that seem to have happened since the last election in Hungary. It mainly concerns the young people of the village. As with everywhere, what is there for young people to do in a place like this? Nothing! But there is now. There seems to have been formed some sort of committee between the youth of the village and the currently elected representatives of the village. The result seems to have been that on Friday and Saturday evenings the faluhaz is open to them as a sort of youth club and they get to use the skittle alley in the pub from time to time. How excellent!

I caught four mice today with just one bit of cheese.

10th October 2011

There was just a touch of frost this morning when I went out to milk. Oh well, that time of the year. Much to do.

After breakfast and goats out I did an hour in the Halogy potato mine. The crop was not overly exciting. The ones grown from my seed were medium to small. The ones grown from Tibi's seed were all small. Never mind. This was on the fresh ground opened up on the main garden. There were still another four rows on the other bit of garden to the west.

I returned to the yard for a smoke break and to find something else to do for a while. There was a doggy commotion from the yard. Ah, the electricity meter man. Black dog was confined. I held Pickle on a short chain. Electricity meter man was in and out of the yard in seconds. I was quite dreading the electricity bill for two reasons. I was expecting it to be quite a bit higher than last year anyway for a number of reasons. One is that the boiler, until it decided to run away and break the water system had been on for much of the time, another that I am not now running a laptop but a tower case computer system (and there have been times when I have been very lax about turning it off) and the third reason the increase in price of electricity anyway.

I did a little more clearing away of the small stuff from the pear tree. Posta called. I had a form to sign relating to the insurance. She also told me that an assessor would call to inspect the problem.

I had lunch, got the firewood in and went to the pub for a fröccs. It turned into a beer. Hobo paid. Back home, goat greenery and then some cooking preparatory for evening meal. A car turned up at the gate. Hobo got out. The driver stayed in the car. Black dog was again confined to the house and Hobo secured Pickle to the well. The driver got out of the car and came into the yard and Hobo introduced him as the plumber. He had a look at the problem and gave Hobo some intructions which I roughly understood that he wanted a bit bigger area of the yard dug out. That was that and they both left.

Goats in and milked and I prepared to go to the shop. When I went to the gate with shopping bag Blackie did his Houdini trick again. By the way, did you know that Houdini was Hungarian born? No, I did not either until a moment ago. Anyway, black dog vanished from sight. Whatever, it was now growing dark, I was not about to go cycling around looking for him and I still needed to go to the shop. So to the shop I went. Back home I left the little gate ajar and wandered up to the garden gate intending to leave that ajar. In the growing darkness I could just make out something moving in the garden. I went and closed the little gate and went and let the miscreant in. Getting to be a pain!

I was preparing to settle in for the evening when Hobo rang. Get myself to the pub. He would pay. So I did.

Here is a very interesting presentation by Nicole Foss describing her own preparations for Peak Oil. Almost fourty minutes quite long but I found so many echos here of what I am trying to do.

11th October 2011

Another hour in the potato mine this morning. At the moment the jobs I have lined up fall into two categories. Must do and Not going to happen. Digging the spuds of course falls into the must do category.

Hobo turned up after lunch and made a start on enlarging the hole in the yard to the plumber's instructions. One of the translations into Hungarian of plumber translates back as "Water pipe mechanic". Makes sense to me. Whilst Hobo was doing the hole I stayed in the yard and broke up more of the small pieces of pear. It takes an age just to do one small basket. It is disappearing very slowly.

The little pub outside the shop was still in operation this evening. It will disappear once the weather turns. The signs are growing stronger although we are still having lovely autumnal sunny days. It can still get well over twenty in the afternoons.

I was getting the bike out to go to the pub when black dog did it again. Once again I was obliged to hang about and wait for his return. This evening he came to the front gate. He had a whack for his pains this time. He really does not like having whacks. He snarls and growls and bares his teeth. It normally has the desired effect. He has not shown the slightest inclination to get in the pigeon house since he got whacked for that. Reminds me of a comment that one of my daughters made about needing "a good dog braying stick".

Somewhat belatedly I got to the pub and watched the Hungary - Finland match. It was a good match even though ending as a nil - nil draw.

12th October 2011

Usual start. My starting time slides back by the day. There is no way that I am even going to contemplate going out to milk Suzy in the dark. I hate getting up in the dark anyway. I suppose I might have to consider it for a couple of weeks at the beginning of November if there remains much outstanding gardening work.

The goats went out in the usual order. Girls and kid first and then back for Rudy. There was a problem. I had the clip of the chain in hand as normal, undid the bolt and opened the internal gate as usual. Also as normal Rudy walked out and I made a grab for his collar to clip on the chain. Bugger. No collar! I just let him go and he trotted up the garden to join the girls, once again showing an abundance of healthy male goat interest in Suzy, who was having none of it. I searched the goat house for the collar and could not find it. Back to the house for the torch and a good look around in the sty. Still could not find it. Blast! I even considered borrowing Blackie's collar which ninety nine point eight percent of the time is purely ornamental, the rest being his one trip a year up the village for his jab and the odd time that he escapes and I either have to use dog lead or just collar him to get him back home. I had another look in the garage where Rudy gets his food. I happened to catch sight of one small end of the collar peeking out of the remains of the greenery from last night.

I had to get the collar back on Rudy. Oh-oh! It promised to be an interesting experience. I had the forethought to clip the chain onto the collar as I went back up the garden. Fortunately Rudy was still intent on pressing his male attentions upon Suzy and Suzy was still having none of it. I just waited in a spot at the extent of Suzy's chain, and as they circled past whipped the collar around Rudy's neck and fastened it. After that I retreated until I could grab the other end of his chain and then coax him to where I wanted him, which is just a normal morning thing.

Somewhat slightly dazed, but unbruised, I returned to the house for a smoke and a sit down to calm the nerves and the exertion. Then I sorted out the kitchen. I was doing that when Hobo appeared to complete the digging out of the yard for the plumber. He did that in fairly short order whilst I finished off in the kitchen. He dragged me over to the shop and we did a mini-mid-morning little pub outside the shop for which Hobo paid. It was very pleasant sitting on the edge of the flower trough outside the shop with the warmth of the autumn sun on my back. We lingered quite a while over that beer.

Lunch, and then a walnut collection. Only four hundred and forty one today. I decided on getting the goat greenery in early, so I did. I decided on a fröccs in the pub. John was there...

Back home, the old lady called me to the fence. A basket full of carrot tops for the goats. I tipped them over the yard fence into to garden and returned the basket, thanking her as always.

Hobo had said that he would return. I cannot remember for what reason. He didn't, so he obviously did not remember either.

The goats came in. I neglected to say in his morning's fraccas that they were parked as far up towards Telek utca as they ever go. It was a long couple of limps to get them back in. I milked, went to the shop and the little pub outside the shop and then I was in for the evening.

Scary stuff from Tom Whipple

13th October 2011

Hobo had told me that the plumber would be here this morning. Once the goats were out I stayed in the house and around the yard all morning. No plumber! Reminds me of the one about the plumber sexual position - <risqué joke alert>You're in all day, but nobody comes</risqué joke alert>. Groan. I managed to get a little washing done and some bits and pieces around the house.

I had just finished lunch when there was a doggie commotion and the sound of Hobo verbally beating them off on his advance up the path. He came in and summoned me - something about maize. I initially thought that we had to set off there and then to deal with some maize stalks that were still standing with the goats' names on them just down the road. Not a bit of it. Hobo had me secure dogs in house and he opened the big gates. A tractor and trailer hove in sight driven by a character I know well. He drove in the yard and parked. Hobo extracted a big polythene sheet from the trailer and spread it out by the tailgate. Driver and Hobo opened the tailgate and a cascade of actual maize husks, with maize still on, fell onto the polythene. I looked in the trailer. The entire bed of the trailer was filled to a depth of about six inches. The trailer was not a tipper. They borrowed my shovel and the broad mattock and in a matter of moments it was all on the polythene. A not inconsiderable pile.

Polythene plus pile had to be moved. As ever, it ended up in the area beneath the loft door where I fork out the old hay for goat bedding. It took the strength of all three of us to slide it there. Hobo later reckoned that there was at least a hundred and fifty kilogrammes of actual maize there. Getting tractor and trailer out of the yard provided much ado. The trailer was unhitched and turned round in the yard by hand. Driver did a seventeen point turn in the yard to get the tractor pointed approximately in the direction of the road and reversed back to where the trailer attachment to the tow hitch was. Hobo and I eventually managed to get it hitched back up. Driver set off in the general direction of the road, only narrowly avoiding taking out both my wheelie bin and the side of the well. Why it could not have simply been reversed out onto the road beats me, but then again I have noticed a general tendency that they are not good at reversing with trailers. Strange in a place like this. I have a tale to tell about such, but not for now.

Nothing was said about money, and nothing was said about where the maize had come from. I was left with the presumption that it had come from Driver's place. It turned out later that it had come from the landlord of the pub, surplus to requirements and sent down for the goats out of the goodness of his heart. What to say? That act of kindness had certainly saved me five thousand forints this winter. Maybe even six. I do not know the going price of a sack of maize at the moment.

Normal service (HA!) was resumed. Dogs released, goat greenery, goats in...

14th October 2011

It was a cold morning when I went out to milk and there was just the first faintest hint of frost on the ground cover weeds. There was a blustery north easter blowing. Straight from Siberia by the feel of it. I checked the thermometer outside the kitchen window as I passed by on the way in. Four Celsius.

I had shopped and was about to have breakfast when there was a doggy commotion. I opened the little window in the big front door (got to be a song lyric there somewhere) and glanced out. A person whom I knew not was standing by the big gates. I ignored him and carried on with making breakfast. Commotion continued. Unknown man was still there. Oh well, better see what he wants. The penny dropped as soon as I walked down the path. He had a camera round his neck. Insurance assessor. Dogs had to be confined then he came in the yard. Interestingly, the first photo that he took was of the front wall of the house with no rendering on. He saw the hole in the yard and I showed him the water pipe. He took a couple of pictures, never even asked me to turn the water on so that he could see the leak and then had me go to his car and sign a form in three places and that was that. Less than five minutes.

I released dogs, resumed breakfast and only slightly belatedly put the goats out. Back at the house I roughly rinsed out the washing in the water from Tibi's tubs that I had soaked yesterday . I must admit that living without running water is a serious inconvenience, particularly for cheese making. Washing out cheese cloths in non-running water is a pain.

I set out to fill one of the fresh water containers at the village tap. Via the pub. Hobo was there. In the pub, that is, not at the village tap. I was going to have a small fröccs but Hobo bought me a beer. And then another. He told me that the plumber would be at my house at one or maybe half past. I finished the beer, went and filled the water container and for another reason cycled up Telek utca from the templom and down Telek utca past the back of my place, stopping at the back of John's place to see what was happening with maize stalks. Not a lot. I cycled on down and round onto Petőfi utca and back to my place.

I had no sooner got home and started making lunch when the plumber arrived. Half an hour early. What goes on here? A plumber early? Blackie was confined and Pickle was secured to the well. I attempted to contact Hobo who had said he would come down and assist. I gave up after three attempts only resulted in me getting some unintelligeble message in Hungarian. Plumber had me turn the water on to locate the leak. I had been decieved. The leak was in the plastic pipe, not in the iron pipe buried in the wall. Plumber asked me if I had more plastic pipe. I had. Several metres of brand new pipe tucked away in the outhouse since the catastrophe when Hobo and I dug up the yard.

Plumber sliced off a length, climbed out of the hole and went to his car, returning with what was obviously a fitting for joining plastic mains water pipe. Back down the hole he trimmed and measured, and very shortly, using nothing but a pipe wrench such as I have and a very sharp knife had a short new bit of plastic pipe joined to the old one. In the meantime I had managed to contact Hobo and he arrived just as the repair was complete. Plumber told him to turn the water on in the manhole. Hobo did. Water rushed through the pipe. And continued rushing. I told Hobo it would be the WC cistern refilling. Water continued to flow. It was not coming out in the hole in the yard, nor was it issuing from the wall. I went inside the house, to find that somewhere in the absence of water I had obviously had a senior moment. The cold water tap over the kitchen sink was fully open, not fully closed. I closed it and went back out fending off Blackie's attempt to go and join the fun.

The little wheel on the water meter had come to a standstill. All was well. Plumber climbed out of the hole, with about the same difficulty as I would have had. I neglected to say that he is a gentleman of about the same age as me. He gathered his bits and pieces and returned to his car. I followed to settle up with him, which I did. More on that later but I cannot say right now.

Hobo went off to the pub for a beer. I finally finished making my belated lunch. Hobo returned and filled in the hole in the yard and that was that. Whilst he was doing that I bagged up and moved to a more suitable place five and a half big sacks of the maize (on husks) that had arrived yesterday. At the end there was a big emulsion paint canister plus a half a carrier bag of loose grain.

The bitingly cold, blustery north easter was still blowing by the end of the day. I got firewood in and for the first time this year filled, well half filled, the wood basket for the tile stove. The goats came in and I milked. Had a bite to eat and went to the pub.

John was there. Later Helmut and entourage arrived. A fair amount of everything was drunk including several St. Hubertus. I lit the tile stove for the first time this year once I was back home. Being absolutely cold it provided little warmth in the evening. It was warm enough in the big room by morning.

15th October 2011

With the promise of frost very shortly - proper frost - after the usual start I cleared the garden of paprika once the goats were out. Some were not worth saving. They went straight in the goats. There were still a few odd ex-tomato plants with posts here and there. The posts came out and the haulms and plastic string were set aside for burning when I have a bonfire. Fifth November? It is a Saturday so I will be allowed a bonfire. After that I put the scythe to the whole area where tomatoes and paprika had been. It all went in the barrow for goat food. It was quite a weighty barrow load.

I did a slightly belated job after that of chucking some new/old hay for bedding in the sties. It was belated because of the arrival of the kukorica from Láci which had been parked where I needed to fork the hay down from the loft, and had to move it yesterday.

I did the firewood. It promised to be a cold enough night to need the tilestove lit again. After that I decided to investigate the boiler. I turned on the water. It rushed through the pipes into the boiler. It filled for an age. From time to time I tried the only hot tap in the place that works - the one to the bath and shower head. It spat out rust and gurgled. Eventually the rush of the water into the boiler subsided and I was rewarded by a constant stream of water from the hot tap. I was also rewarded by an ominous drip-drip-drip from the direction of the boiler. I investigated. Sure enough the boiler was buggered. It was leaking water that was dripping directly into where the electrics are. Oh well. An ex-boiler, then. And an ex-boiler it will remain. No hot water in the house other than that provided by either the electric kettle or various vessels on the stove. It is coming on to winter anyway. I remember a quote from some Peak Oiler, quite well known, whose hot water supply is entirely generated by solar. The quote was "If the sun doesn't shine I don't wash.".

The goats came in a bit early this evening. There was a reason. I was to put on my village photographer's hat and take pictures at the annual knees up for the older people in the village. I must have misread, or misheard the instructions as I was sure that it said six in the evening but when I got there at five to the party was in full swing. Oh well. The beers kept coming out "on the village" until quite late on. John arrived, and so did Helmut and contingent. I left moderately early with quite sufficient on board and still with a goat to milk in the morning. No doubt the die-hards would have been there for some while after I left.

16th October 2011

I mentioned previously the must do jobs. I also mentioned yesterday a frost was expected. Today turned into one of the must do jobs. The grape harvest. And that was what I did. All day apart from a pre-prandial beer and a late lunch. I started with the vine by the camping lawn and worked my way south.

It was after lunch when I was harvesting the last two vines on that side, right up in the goat area, when I had a visitor. It was the lady neighbour from Telek utca who wandered down the garden just for a chat. She proved quite knowledgable and pointed me in the direction of the south east corner where she said was an oporto vine. I knew of the existence of the vine. Much neglected it straggles in and through much neglected shubbery in that corner which I rarely visit. I wrote about it last September in the blog referring to a beech tree growing grapes. A quick visit to the Internerd shows that what it is is a Blauer Portugieser vine. Known in Hungary as kékoporto (blue oporto) it is one of the grape varieties from which Egri Bikávér (Bull's Blood) is allowed to be made. He-he - the prospects of my very own Egri Bikavér.

After she left I finished off the harvest of the vines where I was and headed up there. I had been robbed! There was not a grape to be had and evidence of someone tramping about in the grass up there. I poked my head out onto Telek utca and there were none by the roadside either. There had been - lots. I know from when I strimmed up there. Mmmmm! I think security needs tightening at that end of the estate. I do not even know where the vine originates amongst all the shrubbery. A job for when the fall is complete, and I suspect a little ground layering propagation is in order to get some new vines established in a more suitable place on the plot.

I did the few vines down the western side and that was that. Barrow of grapes wheeled back to the yard gate, grape crushing machine scrubbed and scalded and the dogs were secured in house. They would either steal the grapes or Blackie would p*ss in them! It was but a few moments work to run them through the grape crusher into the big fermenter which by chance was already cleaned and sterilised as a result of me thinking it might be needed during the recent water crisis. It was not a big harvest. Never mind. Free wine!

By the way, it is not unknown here in Hungary for commercial vinyards to be robbed. Stripped during the night using grape harvesting machines!

Goats came in, etc. and I stayed home.

17th October 2011

It was a cold morning and when I went to milk the outside thermometer read minus one. Yesterday's efforts well justified then. I neglected to say that I also yesterday evening pulled the last four English sunflower plants and put them under cover.

I was not on best form. I felt generally under the weather. Not alcohol related - that was yesterday :) Whatever! Get on with it. The goats went out and I put in half an hour in the Halogy potato mine on the way back.

Back in the house I did the kitchen stuff then resorted to Lemsip. Posta arrived with the usual Monday fliers and a couple of letters. One was the Internet bill. The other was from Eon. I opened it in trepidation. Forty eight and a half thousand forints. Big enough, but not so big as to be a shock to the system. I note that last year my bill equated to about a hundred and twenty seven pounds. This year about a hundred and thirty nine. I already wrote about causes for that, but not too bad. You know, there was a time a few months ago when I was seriously worried about not being able to meet this bill. Well, the exchange rate gods had been kind which helped. With my income all being in GBP and my outgoings all in HUF, I am dependent on the exchange rate and always relate my outgoings back to GBP.

It was another warmish and dry day. Another couple of barrow loads of dry and crispy leaves disappeared into the goat house attic. Speaking of which, here is a strange one. The walnut tree by the main garden, the one that was pollarded, had dropped most of its leaves today as a result of the evernight cold. The big walnut tree by the camping lawn had hardly dropped any. I wonder why. Thermal bulk maybe? Do smaller trees feel the cold more than bigger trees?

Another lemsip, and a scrubbing down and hosing off of the grape crushing machine later, I felt well enough to venture to the pub for a beer.

Back home it was greenery for the goats and firewood time. After that the usual sort of evening.

18th October 2011

When I went to give the pigeons their fresh water baby bird was wandering around the floor with all the rest. Obviously starting to flutter about, then. When I took the goats out I had the brainwave of taking them all at once, as I wanted them right up the top towards Telek utca. Mistake! I hooked on their chains and let them go. They all immediately headed for the Linden Lea apple tree, still with the branch hanging on the ground. By the time I got there Rudy and Betty had chains inextricably entwined around each other and around various bits of the tree. I unhooked them and untangled the chains.

I managed to capture and rehook Betty and catch Suzy and coerced them to where I wanted them. Small goat was no problem. He just followed along. Rudy was also no problem as he still had his obsessive thing about Suzy. Getting Rudy back on his chain was the problem. I solved it by simply standing just outside the radius of Suzy's chain and waiting until she came round to where I was, avoiding Rudy's unwanted attentions, with Rudy on the outside. Grab. Collar. Click. And Rudy was back on his chain. I slowly drew him to where I wanted him. No dramas, no crises, no threat to life and limb, but some little expenditure in time.

On my way back to the yard I collected the broad mattock. I confess that in spite of what I said earlier I did take the angle grinder to it, quite gently, in the interests of speed. I wandered on foot down to John's and then went trespassing onto "Uncle Steve's" land next door to John where there was half a field of standing maize stalks with my goats' name on them. I set about them with gusto. Well, no, with the broad mattock.

I stacked them on the ground in suitable sized bunches as I went. Three hours solid. I was buggered. I dragged John out and we went for a beer. Once home I still had to get in greenery for the goats and firewood.

Then it was into evening routine. Goats in, milk... I stayed home - no pub.

19th October 2011

The goats went out very nearby and I stationed them so that they could all get at a vine or two. With the grape harvest done and the season changing the vine leaves were starting to drop anyway. Might as well let the goats have the benefit of them.

I dug another half row of spuds and down to the cellar they went.

After lunch I wandered round to John's on my way to shift the maize stalks cut down yesterday. John volunteered his help with tying them in bundles and carting them over to his garden. We had done maybe two thirds or three quarters when I called a halt. Had enough after yesterday. We went for a beer. As you do.

Later the goats went in and were milked which did not take too long. After that I went to the shop. Marika was standing guard over a case of beer outside. I did my shop and bought a beer to drink then at the little pub outside which was still going strong. There was no sign of Tibi. I joined the others, sitting on the edge of the flower container. Tibi reappeared lugging what I would guess to be a full twenty five litre container of some random liquid. Without ado he changed the container from his right hand to his left, then with his right hand grabbed one side of the case of beer. Marika grabbed the other, and off they went.

I finished the beer and wandered on home to eat before going to the pub. I don't think I mentioned that the changing of the seasons, with the goats now coming in so much earlier means that I swapped back from eating before doing the goats to after. That frees up more time to do gardening type stuff in the daylight if I need it.

The tile stove was lit once I got home. Now a regular feature. I noticed that in my office the temperature was sixteen in what is the second coldest corner of the big room. You know, I seem to recall in my youth and living Ooop Norf in the UK that sixteen was regarded as being room temperature. When I worked at the University some of the older computer labs that had been the first to get air conditioning had thermostats that went down to sixteen, and when I worked in them down to sixteen it went. "Cold? Bring a sweater with you next time!"

20th October 2011

It was raining and cold. A bit of a shock to the system after the lovely autumn days we had been having. It had been forecast however, so I was prepared. I had piled as much greenery as would go in the extended barrow yesterday. I went to do the milking under the brolly, fed the goats as far as possible under the brolly and went to shop under the brolly.

I did a load in the kitchen then set about repairing a couple of tools. One was the shovel of which Hobo had managed to break the handle whilst filling in the hole in the yard. Fortunately it had broken right where it entered the metal shovel part. I only lost a couple of inches after sawng it straight and making a new taper in it. I secured it using a screw, not a nail in true Hungarian style. Ditto the other tool which had been lying in what is now the pigeon house since I arrived here. I had retrieved it and given it an exploratory waggle in the air and the business end simply fell off. The wooden handle was absolutely rotten with woodworm.

The business end had had to go in the kitchen stove fire to burn out the remains of the handle. There was absolutely no way that I was going to risk any of my precious tools by either chipping or boring it out. I had not the slightest idea what its original function was. It looked like a very short hoe with a rectangular blade at right angles to the handle about six inches by three. It had obviously been village made but the odd thing was that the blade appeared to be stainless steel whilst the socket for the handle was just a bit of iron ex-water pipe welded to the blade. Another odd thing was that the socket bit, whilst handle had been held in with nail Hungarian style, which had a beatifully machined and countersunk screw hole.

I knocked up a new handle out of oak and fitted it. I screwed it in with one of my ever-dwindling stock of marine grade stainless steel screws that fell off the back of a boat in Poole.

In the midst of this Posta arrived with two letters. One was the Internet bill, the other was from the insurance people. I opened both. The letter from the insurance people was, of course, in Hungarian. Oh well, sort that one out later.

I fed the birds early and chucked more greenery in for the goats then went and changed into town clothes. Off to Körmend.

One of the reasons for going was that I had lost a mousetrap. It was not even my mousetrap. It was on loan from John. Once again I had (have) a plague of mice. The trap had been set on the kitchen worksurface which is where they appear, and there it was - gone. The bait was still on the worksurface. The trap nowhere to be seen. No dead mouse and no trap. I have a pretty good idea where it is. Gone down the gap at the back of the worksurface, either with or without a dead or injured mouse attached.

That was Gazdabolt, where I also bought string. I got cash from the bank and went to the Post Office and settled Internet and electricity bills. Finally I called in the Spar shop for margarine, liver and coffee beans. I worked it out later that buying a kilogramme of coffee in the Spar shop covers the return bus fare to Körmend when compared with the price of buying small packs of ground coffee in the village shop. I had a beer in the bar which is only a few metres hobbling distance from the bus stop whilst I waited for bus time, then back to the village.

I called in the pub to pay the bike parking fee. John was there. We had a couple then went our ways. It had started raining again. Cold and wet. Once home that was me for the evening. Stayed in.

21st October 2011

With a couple of minor exceptions it was an identical day to the day before yesterday, so I will not bore you with it. The exceptions were that there was no chain catastrophe with the goats, and John was unavailable to help with maize stalks. I got them bundled and stooked easily enough anyway.

That was all the maize stalks I had chopped now on John's ground. It came back to me later that they, the people whose land they were on, thought I had made a good job of it. I have to say I prefer the chopping to the bundling and carrying.

22nd October 2011

Washing and cheese making, then more spud digging.

I had managed to get through to Marika that I wanted fallen walnut leaves for winter goat food. She called me to the fence whilst I was doing the spuds and showed me two big heaps that they had raked up. I told her that I would get through the fence in the afternoon and get one of the heaps over onto my garden.

After lunch that is what I did. Four heaped up tarpaulin loads were chucked over the fence. Back over my side I spread them out on the bit of garden where the paprika and tomatoes had been. After the day before yesterday, with all the rain they were on the damp side and would need drying before I could put them in store. I did some flicking over of my own walnut leaves after that. I was doing that when Marika called me to the fence. Something about walnut leaves. I did not quite get the gist and she shot off. In less than a minute Tibi arrived outside my front gates with his baby tractor and trailer. The trailer was piled high with walnut leaves. Without any to-do Marika opened the big gates and Tibi drove in with baby tractor and trailer. They left the big gate wide open. AH! Black dog!!! To his credit he was far more interested in what was going on with tractor and trailer than going walkabout round the village. Tibi turned the little tractor round and, more than capably, reversed the trailer up towards the garden gate. I retrieved the tarpaulin and spread it out and they unhitched the trailer and tipped the contents onto the tarpaulin. Together, each of the three of us with either bits of side of tarpaulin and bits of end we slid it round into the garden and dumped it by the goat house.

All this time garden gate was open and big gates to the road were open. Blackie just barked and barked at the tractor and trailer - "That should not be here" - occasionally pausing to draw breath and piss on one of the tractor or trailer wheels. They left me, with the information that there was another load to come.

I cast about for another plastic sheet and found one. I was on somewhat of a tight schedule anyway. I went to the road gate. I could hear Tibi's little tractor but could not for the life of me see or identify where it was. It came in sight from the big house over the road which used to be the lower pub - both geographically and clientel-wise as I understand - and where Tibi and Marika do a fair amount of gardening caretaker maintenance. The return was an exact repeat of the first load and soon I had two big, big heaps of walnut leaves outside the goat house. Once again Blackie did not disgrace himself.

I was on quite a short timescale by now. I had a photo shoot to do at the village green where a commemoration of the anniversary of the 1956 Revolution was to take place. As ever, the main part was readings by the young people of the village. It was much like the one for Triannon day, but different. The main national celebration would be tomorrow, but here in the village we had ours this evening.

I dashed home and got the goats in and milked just as darkness was falling. You know, milking is quite a visual thing. Easy enough to grab a teat and squeeze in the dark, but you have not got a clue where the milk is going. Goats were fed. I looked in on the pigeons and put baby bird from off the floor into the nest box and that was that.

Apart from the pub.

23rd October 2011

There had been an overnight change in the weather. It was cold, grey and damp - always with a touch of drizzle in the air and always threatening to turn to rain. Horrid. The goats stayed in.

I stayed in too apart from when I had to deal with goats, pigeons, firewood or dogs. Some much needed housework happened in the kitchen and elsewhere.

Midway through the afternoon Jozsi appeared looking for work. I set him on to break some new ground. He did ask me what would be going in there. I told him. Spuds. Later on when he was done he told me that he had dug in some of my best goat-sh*t compost. I did not have a problem with that. Whilst he was doing that I had filled the barrow with greenery for the goats overnight.

I paid him, and with no worries about getting the goats in, only having daylight for the milking, we went to the pub.

Back home I got the firewood in, went and milked and settled in for the evening. I managed to get a bit of blog updating done. Yes, yes - I know!

24th October 2011

The weather was the same as yesterday - horrid. The goats stayed in again. I made a start on trying to tidy up the workbench ready for whatever I can get done in the workshop over winter.

I had the sign out for Posta. I neglected to say that a couple of days ago I slowly and painfully typed out the insurance letter that I had received into Google translate. The gist of it was that the assessor had assessed the damage at fifteen thousand six hundred and fifty forints and that if I wanted more than that I would have to contact them and also produce copied of invoices and such. I had showed the letter to Hobo who confirmed that was what it said, and he had told me to show it to Posta - hence the sign being out.

Posta showed up. I showed her the letter. She read it through and asked me if the sum mentioned was enough. I told her it was. That was that bit of business finished, but ironically whilst she was there I paid the next installment on the house insurance.

Nothing special happened the rest of the day, so to keep it short that was that.

25th October 2011

The weather remained the same but at least today it was neither constantly drizzling nor intermittently raining. The goats went out. It is becoming a problem to know where to put them. Having said that, I think that they must be quite happy to graze when the going gets tough in spite of naturally being browsers. They never seem to come in hungry.

I dug more spuds, which finished the penultimate row. I had put in a fair stint and decided a beer was in order. On the way to the pub Posta was coming along in her van. She saw me and flagged me down. She made me sign a couple of things and then presented me with fifteen thousand six hundred and fifty forints and a copy of the slip I had to sign for her as confirmation of payment. Mmmmm! So that's how insurance works in Hungary. Well, I can only say it works for me.

When I got to the pub Hobo bought the beer. That worked for me as well. Lajos came in the pub. I asked him about my big axe. No wood! Or at least none suitable for a big axe handle. As I write I continue to ask. The answer remains the same.

After lunch back home I determined to see if the heavy mattock could stand in for a big axe on the pearwood. That would be a no, then. I was not so stupid as to risk breaking the heavy mattock handle. I cracked one of the kugli with the first blow, but there was not enough leverage to develop it further. If you can imagine, it was like hitting a very wet, very tough sponge with the edge - not the point - of a carving knife. The pear wood really needs to come under cover. At the moment that is falling in the not going to happen category, at least for several weeks and a lot longer than that if we have snow early in December and it persists.

After that, more scything for the goats then the usual evening stuff.

26th October 2011

The weather remained crap. For days both the local weather forecast on the telly and the Norwegian one that I rely on on the Internet had both been forecasting a series of successive fine sunny days. It wasn't. We remained trapped under a blanket of dull grey skies, sometimes threatening rain, sometimes drizzling and sometimes just sitting there as a blanket of dull grey skies. A bit like Bournemouth. Or Cleethorpes. The only thing for which it is worth going to Cleethorpes is Steels CornerHouse Restaurant. I don't know if it is still the same, but when I lived nearby and worked in Cleethorpes from time to time we would go and eat there. It was not a fish and chip shop. It was a restaurant. Selling fish and chips, but there was no take-away service. They served the fish and chips on big oval steak plates. The fish (haddock, of course) would lie along the major axis of the oval plate, overlapping the edges of the plate by a couple of inches each end, with the chips and the peas on the minor axes of the oval either side of the fish.

Nothing else out of the ordinary happened here.

27th October 2011

Same as yesterday. Except no rambling about Cleethorpes. Oh, I don't know though. When I lived in the district in the 1970s it was said that it was impossible to swim in the waters off Cleethorpes - all you could do was go through the motions. Think about it.

28th October 2011

The weather was still the same - grey and leaden. Never mind, it was at least not raining or drizzling so the goats went out. I set about the last row of spuds. I have modified/improved/whatever the spud digging technique this year. A couple of spadesful come out from each side of the row about level with the start of the earthing up mound. That gets back filled into where I already dug. It leaves if you will a nicely domed pillar of earth that contains the actual spuds. There are three techniques for getting at that. The first one is that with luck you can see where the spuds are at the spud face and simply tease them out. The second is to keep undercutting either side, working towards the centre of the row. If the conditions are right the bottom will drop out of the spud face depositing the spuds in the bottom of the trench. If they won't drop out a gentle whack with the flat of the spade on the top of the mound will make them drop. That is technique three.

It is slow and steady and successful. Out of six rows of spuds dug this year I managed to dig through two! Spuds that is - just two individual potatoes out of three piled high trays now in the cellar. I had lunch and whilst eating it noticed an unusual phenomenon. Somewhere to the south and about midway up the sky was this strange yellow thing unseen for weeks as it felt like.

With pigeons fed and goats checked I wandered on foot down to John's. I wanted to see what the state of play on maize stalks was - particularly on the neighbouring land. The weather had by now definitely taken a turn for the better. Half way down the road I came across (what I think is) the shop lady's father. He was just preparing to settle himself in one of his favourite spots just inside his gate. He is quite a severe stroke victim. He tells me he has been thus thirty-odd years. When I first met him (in the pub!) I really did not quite know what to make of him. He fixes you with a direct, unflinching gaze of steel grey eyes. I found it disconcerting. Over time I have grown used to it, and we now never fail to exchange the handshake and the "Szervusz" greeting of friends. The gaze remains the same, but of course I now know that there is nothing sinister or unfriendly in it. Thus it was today and I told him where I was going and what I was doing.

I wandered up John's land. Ah! Not what I expected to see. My understanding of it was that all the stalks on both plots were for me. Not so apparently. There had been three stooks not cut down by me. There were now only two and of the two one was disappearing onto a trailor behind a tractor at a rate of knots. I wandered over. After an initial misunderstanding it became clear that all the previously cut-down stuff was his, the stuff that I had cut down and that John and I had tied and stooked was mine, and that all the stuff on John's land was mine as well. AH - OK. I had not a problem with it. The guy was my nearest neighbour after Tibi. We were both stockholders looking for winter fodder for our beasts. He runs cows, I run goats. Can't remember whether I ever mentioned the village cattle that provide the milk for those fortunate enough to be on the list - they never see pasture, those cows. They live indoors year round. The logic escapes me. Not only do you have to put stuff in for the daylight hours but you also must therefore have twice as much that needs to come out again at the appropriate time.

I had a quick wander home and back to fetch broad mattock, Leatherman and string. In both directions I stopped and exchanged the pleasantries with the shop lady's father. I got back to John's and started on whacking down and bundling his maize stalks. I wished I hadn't. I managed to do three bundles before it was time to head home, do goat greenery and get the firewood in.

29th October 2011

Edited highights! Spuds finished. All out of the ground and in the outhouse, if not in the cellar yet. Helmut et al. were in the pub in the evening so it was somewhat of a session.

30th October 2011

Wine pressing day. I have described in detail before, so I will not again.

I had an astonishing and very pleasant surprise when I went out to feed the pigeons. I always call out to them and rattle the seed about in the container wherein I keep it. There is normally a great fluttering of birds about inside the pigeon house when I do that. Today there was a special treat. Young pigeon flew straight to the door and clung on the wire mesh immediately in front of my face. It only let go once I began to open the door and it flew off to join the others. I had been noticing for a couple of days that it could flutter onto the old wooden wheelbarrow in there. This was proper flying! It still irks me that its sibling was taken. But then, it is a small warm feeling such as today when this young bird flew to the door to greet me.

Jamie Oliver is on the telly: - I will let you do the searching.

31st October 2011

The clocks had gone back yesterday. I had hit on a scheme to extend the working day. It started off OK. I got up early and went to the shop in the semi-darkness. The plan was that I would shop and breakfast in the darkness then milk when it was light enough and put the goats out immediately after milking. It started off well enough and went immediately downhill. Once back from the shop it took me forty minutes to persuade the stove to get hot enough to toast a piece of bread and to cook coffee. Don't ask! No idea. Blasted stove went out four times.

Well, there was the extra hour gone then. The pigeons were watered - once again the young one came to greet me at the door - and the goats went out.

I retired to kitchen to finish off the wine pressing.

After lunch, it being a rather pleasant, breezy and drying day, I went out and flicked over lots of walnut leaves. What happened to them last year was still a touchy point. I did a bit of non-gardening as well. Non-gardening? Yep. I roughly leveled out the area on the soon to be abandoned western bit of garden with a view to encouraging selected weeds and/or other invasive species (e.g. mint) that the goats like.

All too soon I was caught out by the end of the afternoon. Goats came in and I milked in the growing gloom. I still had to get in firewood!. "Now, let us see which thumb we are going to sacrifice by chopping firewood in the dark. The left one, or the left one? Ah, the left one then?"

A report from the Beeb. You know, I find it astonishing. If you have computers with such sensitive information on them then do not connect them to the Internet! I was going to express it in somewhat stronger terms than that.


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