Here's the goat, where's the goat?

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As newlyweds, we applied for this programme because we want – besides our “ordinary” job – to do a bit of household farming somewhere around Pest. Therefore, we wanted to see it from arms' reach, to try how many days of work is spent on making such a farm work. We volunteered to a “tanya” [typical farm and place for living mostly in scarcely populated areas of the Great Hungarian Plain] because it was closest to what we have envisioned. And now, the report.

Day 1 (Sunday evening)

“Welcome »pálinka«” and “where is the bathroom”?

The tanya where we have arrived is in Siklós, not far from Pécs. The initial careful introduction is boosted by “God-welcomes-you” pálinka [typical Hungarian spirit made of fermented fruit], and then reinforcing it with another…:-), and after that, we go to see Misi's realm. Misi, or host is a forester, he is doing sylviculture besides the farm, but his real passions are horses, more specifically, Gidran-horses. These beautiful yellow (for laymen: brown) horses are descendants of Arabian studs and Hungarian mares from Mezőhegyes.
Besides horses, ther are also goats, chicken, rabbits, mangalica swine and pigs, geese, cats, two racka sheep, helmeted guineafowls and a dog.
We walked through the farm, packed our things in the room, and since there is no bathroom at the farm, we went over to Misi's house at Harkány to get bathed. Back then, I didn't know that it was the first and last time during the week:) But I will tell you about it later...
We came back to the farm by midnight, and before going to sleep, Misi told that we will get up at 6 o'clock next day, so waking is at 5:45...

Day 2 (Monday)

Could helmeted guineafowl soup be for lunch?

We have gone to sleep just a few minutes ago but we already have to get up... Barna is fresh and peachy (the skylark he is), while I don't even know where I am. Misi welcomes us with pálinka. For empty stomach? Then I also drink a shot on a “who cares?” basis and I can feel it warming me nicely from the inside. We also drink a good got tea, and then starts the work. We start with feeding the animals. As we go to the backyard, the cock starts the noise, and he is joined by the hen's chorus, the geese are also indicating in the neighboring roost that they are awake, and the deep, rusty baritone of the mangalica swine is soon joined by the soprano of goats and this beautiful chorus is suddenly disturbed by a dissonant voice. My God, what is this? The helmeted guineafowls. Misi says that they are the best defenders of the house, because they can scare away even the rats with their terrible shrieking voice. Well, I can understand that. (How could they be silenced even for a minute?)
The animals are demanding breakfast loudly. Misi explains at the granary that which animal gets what. We can identify corn and wheat, but we have to take a second look at rye and barley at 6 o'clock to distinguish them. It is an unbelievable joy to feed the animals, the rabbits are gobbling the leaves of cabbage and rye with a peculiar noise, hens are jumping at the wheat like dive bombers, geese are picking up corn with dignity, pigs are gulping up slop shrieking and munching, and horses are demanding rye with snorting.
Then we are also eating: ham and eggs and stifolder. The latter is a really delicious kind of sausage that Misi makes from mangalica and deer meat he hunted himself.
After breakfast, we continue our work with getting the manure out of the stables, which is a lot of wok for eight horses. Approximately after the first half an hour, the pitchfork causes fine, big blisters; strangely, it did not to Barna. We transport the manure, mixed straw and manure to the other, far away end of the yard with a wheelbarrow. There is a stable from which we brought out an amount of 12 wheelbarrows. Barna is in the same situation with hay and straw just like I am with rye and barley... yes...yes... straw goes under the horses, and hay before them, but which one is which...?:)
We give water to all the animals at noon. It's shocking that a horse can drink approx. 30 litres of water per day. After the evening feeding, we are cooking outside in a “bogrács”. Misi makes fantastic wild boar stew, he even invites some guests, and the drinks are brought by two neighboring winemakers, Tibor and Attila. We drink very good white wines, cuvee, rozé and divine red wine which is called “devil blood”. Since Barna is not drinking wine, I drink his portion too, not to make anyone insulted:)

Day 3 (Tuesday)

”Don't feel sorry for it, Szandi, because then it cannot die!”

Well, I renounced the pálinka at the  morning, since the memory of last day's devil blood is vivid in me. Barna is again fresh, peachy, ready for action and of course he looks at me reproachingly.
After the morning feeding, manure-removing, we take the lots of – lots of manure that we collected at the end of the yard to load it up on a big trailer and we take it to Misi's land where we start to unload it. This would be a nice work if only the Sun wouldn't shine so intensively and there wouldn't be 35 degrees. For me, it feels like it will never end. At the end, Barna feels pity for me and he forks most of it down.
By the time we got home, we see that Misi's mother, Aunt Marika had arrived home. She practically lives here and manages the farm. The programme for today afternoon: cutting down chickens. They keep them, as all the other animals, for own consumption, but sometimes the neighbors are also ordering chickens, so today we will cut down eight of them. “We”, well, this plural is nice, but it is Aunt Marika who cuts them down, while I am gathering my strength after the first one cut to go to the yard again. Aunt Marika hold the chicken's neck back, plucks its feathers a bit, and then she proceeds to cut its neck with the knife. The whole thing is really quick, but the first one is squirming for a long time in the dust... I go to the kitchen to sit down for a bit... “Don't feel sorry for it, Szandi, because then it cannot die!” – she says and proceeds with another one. I am participating in the plucking, we pluck the feathers together from the scalded chicken and when it is nicely cleaned, we start to disembowel it. First, we cut its head off, then we cut it open at its breast and we pull out its stomach. Then, we turn it, cut the gland above its rear, we throw it away, and then we cut below it, we make a big opening, we reach in and we pull all the guts out. It's crazy that everything comes out with just one move, one only needs to put his hand in again for the heart. When we cut its gizzard in half, we can see that its full of undigested seeds, and the morning corn is still in its stomach. I am proud of myself that I can keep the pace of Aunt Marika, and while she is preparing the chicken, she is even paying attention to mine and helps with some words what and how to do.
The cats are waiting under the table for the guts, the stomach and everything that falls.
I cook a good stew from the guts, and Aunt Marika makes delicious home-made “nokedli” [gnocci-like Hungarian pasta] for it. While we are cooking, Barna gives water to the animals. We drink a nice spritzer after the lunch, and how nice it would be to sleep a bit after that... but rain starts to fall and we can see that the water is flowing into the rear stables from the roof. There are holes on the foil covering the roof and water is flowing in there. I junp into to the big plastic boots of Misi, Barna takes on a brogue and we are scooping out the water of the stable with buckents and without seeing its end... Meanwhile, my blisters are ruptured and now they are soaking in the “juice”. The horses are looking in curiously. I hope that they appreciate that they will sleep in a stable with fresh straw.
During the evening feeding, we get to know the two neighbors, Erzsi and Jani. Jani brings a rooster that Marika cuts off and I disembowel with the routined ease:) We have our lunch for tomorrow.
We barely have any strength for the evening bathe. Water must be heated in a big cauldron on the gas, that one pours into the basin and mixed with cold water, the bathing water is ready. Well, it's not easy in a small basin to e.g. wash one's back.

Day 4 (Wednesday)

Here's the goat, where's the goat?

Misi goes to summer holiday at the morning with his family, and the three of us stays including Aunt Marika The day kicks off. We start with feeding, the animals are already waiting impatiently, there is a lot of noise from the chickens (the rooster), the pigs are loudly demanding their breakfast, the chorus is joined by the goats, and the helmeted guinefowls... Have I already mentioned the helmeted guinefowls?! Only the rabbits are silent, but while I clean their cages, I have to hold them back with my hand, not to allow them to escape. Barna is feeding the horses, he brings the rye, and transports the lots of hay with a pitchfork. Aunt Marika is mixing the slop to the pigs and swine. She tells that the mother of the three smallest red pigs (they are three months old) died the morning after she gave birth to them, so she fed them for a long time from a bottle. They grew pretty big by now. When they get the slop, they rush into it crawling on each other, they are pushing each other, munching happily, while the pigs at the back are demanding with shrieking that here tooooooo, but right now.
Barna is feeding the horses, he starts with the studs at the rear stables: Rátarti, Rubikon, Ántáresz and Rezgő, and after them, the mares: Árvácska and Aranyvirág. At the end, the two pregnant mares in the neighboring stable; Rebeka and Brodina.
When everyone has eaten, then we sit down to have a breakfast. We fry an omlette out of beautiful fresh eggs, we eat delicious, home-made-like bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and of course, the inevitable stifolder. Now that the three of us is working and we clean every stable every day, we bring out approx. 4 wheelbarrows of manure, which is a lot less than the day before.
At noon, we eat rooster stew, and we have a chat with Aunt Marika with a spritzer. Then, out of pure diligence, or because our urban sense of aesthetics dictates it that way, we clean the chicken yard with Barna, where a lot of old tyres, shaders and other trash looms. And we bring the goats to graze at nearby locust trees, where we tie them and we fold a lot of branches for them to reach.

After giving the animals water, Aunt Marika asks us to take a look whether the goats have been entangled in the branches. Yes, they are. Barna manages to free two of them, but mine somehow ran away while I detached the collar from its neck. We were chasing it for a while among the sharp locusts... but for nothing. Therefore, we shepherded them all in, than of course the runaway also came with the others. Barna cut them a lot of branches for compensation, which we put into their kennel.
After a long day came the joy of the evening bath... heating water, pouring it into the basin... the mark of the locust tree scratches are stingy in the soapy water.

Day 5 (Thursday)

Goat milk

The morning today started with the same routine (feeding, giving water, taking out the manure). It is interesting that by the time we are through with the morning feeding and water-giving, we feel like it's already noon for sure, while the time is only 9 o'clock. After breakfast, we wandered in the village with Aunt Marika, we take a look at neighboring farms.
There are beautiful roosters and mangalica swine at one of the neighbors, another keeps cows, and the third one keeps rabbits (among surpirisng circumstances for us: in a gutted “MINSZK” fridge). Jani, the neighbor brought us delicious, fresh home-made cottage cheese, so we ate it with pasta for lunch. In the afternoon, we cleaned the goat styes thoroughly from where we removed a lot of trash, planks, wires. At the evening, we tried to milk goats under the leadership of Aunt Marika. The two little goats didn't give too much milk, but we managed to get a glass of it. It was really tasty.
At the evening, we cooked corn, and we went to bed exhausted.

Day 6 (Friday)

Almost over:((

corralcorralcorralcorralcorralThis day was marked by knowing that it was the penultimate one. We agreed with Aunt Marika in that we will be at the feeding tomorrow morning, and we will only go home with the bus early afternoon. At the afternoon, the well-known daily routine is done, and something new is next: we have to lead the mares without the help of Misi from their stable to the corral to finally let them run a bit. This didn't seem too complicated, the corral was only some 20 meters away from the stable. But when we have opened the gates of both and the horses started to run, we felt that it is only up to their good will whether they will go to the corral and not somewhere else, that we are only dangling at the end of the hose, it is only a decoration... Fortunately, the girls (the mares:-)) did not take advantage of their bigger strength and are friskily having fun in the corral (and provoking the boys in the stable). Leading them back at the evening was easier since we put the dinner to the stable in advance which proved to be a bigger advantage than wandering freely: therefore, it was possible to lead them back for the night without any problems.

Day 7 (Saturday)


We open even the last day with the normal daily routine: feeding, giving water, taking out the manure, and then, the well-earned breakfast. Beside this, today's pensum is that we must bring food from the cities to the swine. It was enough until today what Misi left at the storage, but it would not be enough for Monday, and we don't want to leave Aunt Marika alone with the goods to transport. We revealed a cute little retro carriage from the farm's inexhaustible storage, and we depart. We are very lucky: the Sun is not shining so much, the rain is not falling – yet... We only realise how light was the empty carriage when we are coming back, and how much easier life is with a car.
Then, after a good lunch, we bid farewell; not only to Aunt Marika: en route, all the neighbors we got to know comes out to say goodbye. We even get freshly baked pogácsa for the journey. We ourselves are surprised: bidding farewell is much harder as we have thought a week ago...


•We had a great time and learnt a lot about rural life and about ourselves during this week.
•We will only keep horses if we will be doing horse therapy. As a mere hobby animal, it consumes much more time and money as all the other animals combined.
•If one keeps a sensible amount and well selected species of animals, it seems to be a acceptable amount of work even for us.
•For us, the ideal place to live is a “tanya” near an average-sized city.


Alexandra Fleischer