Tractor Soup

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Well I didn't get more trivia about the history of cities last Friday, I would have been mad at the organisers if that would have been the point. But that day, I gained some knowledge about work safety. For example that if it's possible, don't try to climb fruit trees in the rain, lights must be turned on when darkness is coming, and that those who are allergic to bee stings should not be working in an apiary. (OK, there were some important information too.)Strict rules: playing dress, sevenatmorning. Usually I don't have any problems with waking up. (But, just for Lajos not to worry, I have always managed to do this complex operation, it seems it needs some space. It would be lucky for only tha reason that I'll be close to Hortobágy, I'll recite a Petőfi-poem every day when I wake up).My first positive experience (although I wouldn't classify it as a surprise, since I wasn't expecting everyone to make a face like someone who'd just eaten a lemon for the rest of the day) was the openness of the others. Of course, the main theme of the discussions was “and where are you going?”. In another situation, it would have equalled the interest level of the question “How are you?”, but that day, new information could have even been a life-saver. (Mental preparation for the early wake-up, but for how early? For example, I was unable to find that out.) And there was the directness on the receiver's side that – at least for me certainly – melted the long morning's and cold's ice string.

The main problem with waking up early is that it is hard to plan the number of clothing layers. With my reverse logic, I thought that if it is cold now, it will be warm; it didn't. Raincoat on everyone, recorded by the cameras, the fashionable color of this year's summer is dark. The cameras were really unfamiliar. When one thought that they are gone, it turned out that they have only found the new angle behind your back. Cameras can record two things well: natural ones (e.g. the flight of the mosquitoes indifferent to the cameras) and the unnatural (anyone who finds out that he or she is being recorded).

It was good to take a walk in the manure. Of course, experiencing the reality under the solid layer of straw was sudden, but after the quick thought <playing outfit>, sinking could have come.
We manure-legged girls got to the tractor last, with all the theoretical info in our heads. For example: how much does a tractor cost?; how heavy is it?; how much gasoline does it consume from Győr to Szegvár?; these are all important informatin. By the way, tractors are very expensive, really. But they may be air-conditioned, and there is a seat which inflates itself adjusted to your weight, for a million forints.So 5-6 girls are standing in the wind, straw bales, tractors. Could be the album cover for a metal band, if we would have enough leather clothes. What is certain is that the number of our driving licenses is at least n-(n+1), (all right, maybe two girls had it), but starting to drive with a tractor is cool. But there are still mutual rounds of courtesy: you go first!; no, you go!.
According to a quick opinion poll at Friday, tractor is cool among the intelligentsia of Budapest aged between 18-29 (i.e.: cool, ”kúl”, ungodly). But one answerer was keen on the harvester.


Instead of a live coverage, from the record at least. Because things happened in a way that during doing a lot of work, I didn't manage to reach the computer. I don't regret that. But, if things turned out like this, I'll try to write every day about what exactly happened a week ago.Physical activisation started even during the weeks before departure with the mapping of the rubber boots of Budapest. The long preparations were followed by quick trepidation, the result: a pair of medium-quality pieces that are bigger than my feet by some numbers. With hindsight, I note that they were not needed a bit.It should be known that I practically don't eat meat. Not a bit for six years, and very rarely for a little time. To put it another way, as I told at the first interview, “according to my needs”. This was acknowledged by Lajos with relief, so – maybe with a little pedagogical objective – I was sent to an animal farm. I was a bit worried about dying of hunger, so for the sake of safety, I departed with a jar of pesto and half a cucumber. I shouldn't have been so jittery, because no one was forcing me (on the contrary, Apolka made a lot of food without meat) – after a while, I ate it for myself. I tasted several things if I were there, for example chips made of Hungarian Grey Cattle (tasty), sausage made of mangalica swine and Hungarian Grey Cattle, but the winner was black pudding that I was missing since my childhood.

Gergely, aunt Erzsi, István and Apolka (plus the mixed chorus, the media and approximately half a thousand animals)
Madarász House, Bödönhát (

Act 1 - The (ac)climatisation
Rolling alfalfa and chilling in the plain in forty degrees

Waking up at four in the morning after one hour of sleep – I didn't think that I will wake up earliest at home during the week –, because I departed only Monday morning instead of Sunday as planned. By the end, alone, because the other girl became sick – I hope that she is well since then.At “Keleti” (Eastern) railroad station, the ground is full of sleeping people, so one knows from this that Sziget festival is over. But my head is already somewhere else (is it sure that I'm on the right train?), I'm trying not to fall asleep, I manage to do that. Not so much for Gergő, but he soon arrives. At the beginning of the relatively long car trip, he tries not to talk about the place, only if I also see it, of course one cannot keep this from happening.
As we arrive there, it seems that we won't have too much to do that day. But alfalfa is a very sensitive thing, and rain is said to be tomorrow. In order not to leave the animals without food for the winter, baling must be done before the water comes. But before baling, the rows cut must be arrayed in order to let it be picked up by the machine, this must have been done that day. (This whole process took longer than we expected. Machines are for being going wrong, and they did so. We could have finished baling only by Thursday.)
Random trivia: a bale is approximately half a ton, and during winter, thirty are consumed of them during a week.The few hectares of alfalfa were not so far, but time is distorted with a tractor (the way there – 40 minutes). Especially if two of you are sitting in a place barely enough for one. Unfortunately, it came into our head only during the way back that I should clutch.After a few rows, I even took off to bear the next 3-6 hours on foot. Luckily, I had the camera, so I managed to double the amount of photos with clouds made during my life.
Then, I thought that I have made enough photos to satisfy this need for that, but it didn't turn out like that. Maybe I will attach a picture or two of the mangalica and racka series, and I will try to avoid the rusty pictures.
I have seen fox, stork, and a lot of other birds, and after that, I fell asleep. But, not to let me without work, I have also rolled three rows, there's even a picture of it of course. At it, by the way, it's clearly visible that probably they have not a part that is straight.Baling must have been started at the evening, because it was said that rain is coming. It is another question that it was not raining during the whole week (although I wasn't sad because of that). Because if tha alfalfa gets wet before baling, the whole thing can go to the garbage, but water can come to the bale. And it's also not good if it is too dry, so it's hard to guess the period when the thing works out.
We went to see Gergő on Monday (there will be such an occasion, just to raise the interest), we brought him “pogácsa” [a type of Hungarian savory scone] (almost), and not the least importantly, I made the first bale of my life.

Act 2

Grapes are sour even for the mangalica swine, and the beginning of my brief relationship with the baling machine. A blog entry that turned out to be long about a long day.

Waking up at seven seems to be a healthy compromise. While Gergő is resting after the last day, we tie vines with Apolka. It could have been growing for a while, it twined on everything on every cable and plant nearby. I start with great enthusiasm at the beginning – I am especially happy that a bit of viticulture and viniculture happens to be here, because I would have gone happily to such a place, but you can't always get what you want. István shows me the “eight-knot” that we can make perfect in the next few hours. The dogs enjoy the thing, but it is a bit hard to untie them of the strings by the end. After a while, the scaffold is not needed that is high enough to make me unsure sometimes in my faith in moving successfully. Nut neither of us fell down, this is positive, and we even had a chance to eat grape during work. (It is said that unfortunately, one cannot make wine from such a type of grapes, unless one is attracted to methyl alcohol. Regardless of how idillic it may seem, tying is an activity that one can be bored with very soon. All my respect to those who can do this for a long time, we managed to get to the middle of it. Of course, this was helped by the emergence of other tasks (I think the other half of the vines are awiting for someone since then, without being tied,)For example, one needed to eat. By the way, this happened so many times during the week that I was almost unable to move after the first ration (especially of some form of meat was there). Otherwise, everything was delicious, but the peak product of Tuesday was grape lassi, a drink with yogurt and milk made of freshly picked grapes.It wasn't really helping to work that I had a phone interview for a job during it. They were pretty surprised when a bit of duck quacks had been heard besides the dog noises. I was probably saying pretty silly things all the while my brain was thinking about which knot should be made how :)
After that, we brought the grape peels to the mangalicas, thinking that they will eat it. It seems that after a certain age, even they are not eating anything, the older ones were looking at the stuff quite distrustfully. Although a handful of minced blue grape peel does seem to be quite disgusting, that's for sure.Many sows just happened to had their piglets, with striped backs and everything. They are nice animals bu I wouldn't dare to go to the adults. I've heard stories that the are getting started with anyone who they can feel is afraid of them. I think even the piglets are scared of their own mums, at least the piglets shaking on each other in the corner prove me right. An adult pig is quite strong. One of the sows thought that it will show a demonstration of strength, so it pushed the concrete feeder weighing approximately 50 kilogramms with a smooth move of its nose. One of the piglets was at a wrong place at a wrong time, so its rear suffered because of it. We probably noticed it soon – it was squeaking very loudly –, so we told it to Gergő. The two of them were hardly moving the feeder, and the poor piglet didn't seem like making it. It was unable to move its rear legs, we didn't know what woul be the best for it: if we let it live for a day or two, or if not (I wouldn't like to discuss the details of this). By the end, the former version came out as a winner, so I checked many times per a day to see its condition. After a day or two, I was really happy when it was hard to notice that it is crippled. It could be hard to be a piglet.If we went to the animals, Apolka held a professional tour. Bull calves, horses, mangalicas and racka sheep were nearby, so during the first round, we checked them. I only discovered some goats and turkeys later in a hidden corner, I hope they will not be forgotten to be fed :)
We have even seen the fishing lakes too, they're quite beautiful. There are a lot of birds. No fishers yet, but if the places for having grill parties and the small house will be finished at the peninsula, they'll surely be not only have tourism all day and to finally finish baling, I helped to repair the baling machine.Because one of the straps out of the eight defected. To avoid misunderstandings, strap in this case is a wide rubber belt in the baling machine, not a hiking equipment. (When Gergő told first to take a look at the two side straps, I didn't know what he's talking about, even while they almost poked my eye out.) If a strap defects, then comes a poetically named work phase called “making it infinite”. I liked this name so much that I was stranded in my mind next to the baling machine for the whole week. Unfortunately, I had to be there many times physically as well, because these machines are broken for longer than not. (Of course, one could buy brand new ones for 10-20 million forints, but who has money for that?) Back to infinity. A strap is finite that must be rotated for a time that seems infinitely long, therefore it must be made infinite. It gets a row of sprockets at both end an it can roll.The hardest part of the job is maybe not this, but one must press the clamp on the strip very hard, but correct re-lacing. Especially at the first time it happened more than once that we thought that it will be good this time when we discovered another missed hole.At the baling machine, one was able to find a task, even if you have finished with repairing. For example, it can always be clearer than it is. Hay is easily twined to turning axes – especially the rectangle-shaped one –, and it is surely not easy to be removed from there. Gergő hates to do it, and I didn't have a well-formed standpoint about it, so I did it. Anyway, I twited myself into the baling machine more easily, and later it turned out that I like to do it more than not to. Of course, this is almost as redundant activity as making your bed in the morning, you will have to do it again next morning. (I did it next day, and after that, of course the media got hooked on the Flashdance-feeling, fortunately I didn't have to dance.)We managed to do it by the afternoon, which meant another baling since, well, of course, they predicted rain again. This time, I went, so at least Gergő did not fall asleep because of boredom. The tractor for baling (that is not the same as with what we have been rolling) is almost perfect: a sound-proof piece with an mp3 player and air-conditioning. Its sole flaw is that it is still not for two people. I spent most of the time in it with trying to figure out the least uncomfortable body position. By the final version, I ended up next to the clutch on the floor that tells a lot about the comfort level of the other positions :)But it was still good with all of this, Gergő told me about the Netherlands and the selection of fighter pilots, and I jumped out every five minutes to cut the tying string, because for some reason it wasn't working properly of course. Then, about five-ten bales before the end, the machine didn't like something again, so it thought that it will rather end it. This meant another round at Thursday, but at least some great baling pictures could have been made to Nők Lapja. But later about that.
I reckon that the day was tiring since I woke up next day early morning in glasses and with a light turned on, and I quickly finished the unfinished word in the sms that I was writing when I fell asleep.

The third

Half-time and calm before the storm

Re-reading a few sentences from the last days, I realised that it is probably not easy for an outsider to feel the mood. Maybe I haven't emphasised enough here so far how good I felt, only the poor ones living around me got too much from the good, I couldn't stop talking for days...Although I will go there again according to a half-serious agreement made with Gergő, I'll learn how to drive a tractor by then, I'll be totally efficient. I surely have good chances for a tractor at Pest.
But back to Wednesday, when I managed to get up earlier than the others, except of course Uncle Laci. Otherwise, the surprise how much people can work there (and I think at other places too) even in their seventies is waiting for a day to happen but I am already surprised a bit in advance to have something as a tugging hook for the next blog entry. If I were already awake, I went to see the feeding. This is unfortunately a one-man job, so I was just standing before the swine, with the digs at my feet. Of course this way, I could have had a look at the piglet of the last day, and I was making friendship with the mangalica ready for transport that we filled the sausage wiht next day. It was accepting its fate quite calmly, I made some pictures of it just make something happen.Soon, Gergő arrived, and after a little material transport, we were off to the slaughterhouse. Well, I wasn't really so sure about that I wanted to go, but I thought that I am not here to be choosey (alright, five minutes of re-evaluation is allowed for example before touching things for long that are floating in fat). The nearest slaughterhouse was quite far away (40 km), but at least the pig had a chance to hum the song “Born to be wild” while fur on its back is blown by the wind.
The slaughterhouse is more “nice” than I imagined, not a pool of blood or flies, but of course it is the same situation for almost fifty years. Although we didn't go in, that probably helped in making a positive impression... Yet the pigs are already feeling here that something is not OK, they don't really want to go in there which is not surprising. Before us, a truckload of animals; luckily, they let us in before that with the sole pig, and it enters the finish in a well-mannered way. Too well-mannered. It can only be brought home next day, because it needs to be cooled down.I clean the baling machine before noon, furthermore, they dare to give a sharp knife in my hand – quick career. When they came to make a movie from AGRYA (although we are not really sure that they are them), I greet them in thick dirt with a knife, freshly from the baler. Maybe I would have been surprised if I were them :)It seems that they like this thinf, they don't even let me to get out the pieces of alfalfa out of my hair before my interview. Which, of course, turns out to be disastrous, to no avail, camera and pre-set photos are not my cup of tea (yet I enjoy journalism the next day more). We go to Juhkút too, and take a look at most of the Hungarian Grey Cattle, but there are also horses and racka sheep there. Juhkút is approx. 10 minutes by car, the territory is loaned from the National Park of Hortobágy. Józsi, the shepherd lives here from April to December, he is not even going home. Even I would like to live in that shepherd house despite (or because) there's no electricity in it. It is just around noon, so most of the animals are in the shade. I got stuck at the racka sheep. They are easily scared animals, if you go nearer to them as they think to be suitable, they quickly run to the other corner. And if one of them starts to go, the others are going after it, just as sheep do. So I thought that I will sit net to them a bit, and if I don't move for long enough, they'll come closer. I was already sitting there for 20 minutes, they almost came to the external part already, when the others returned from the cattle. Of course, the sheep turned back at that moment... By the way, it is not a bit boring, I would gladly sit there even for a whole day. It could be a funny group of statues, I attach some photos as samples if someone feels like to do something like that.

Meanwhile, István is cooking since morning, today's guests are a good reason to use the “bogrács” [traditional Hungarian open-air stewing pot]. Wild boar stew with tomato, old shepherd recipe, and the meat is – as an exception – not from here (although the small pigs have stripes on their backs). If not so much red wine was put in it because of the tomatoes, we drink it, and there is also apricot juice from Harkány made in 2011, it is hard to say which one is more delicious.After the guests, quick tractor glueing. Cast glue is quite stinky, but at least it works. After that, we only have one thing to do: to find out how the next few days will be done. Because we weren't slaughtering the pig just for fun, there will be a big sale in Budapest at Friday and Saturday. For this, 100-200 kilogramms of stuff is needed, more than half it fresh sausage and pudding. These must be done at Thursday. The biggest worry is because of the cooling, we try to solve it in the afternoon (with not so much success). Should we bring a fridge or not? That is the main question. What's sure is that after this day, very long ones will come (we didn't even know how long...)By the evening, the wine had its effect. To avoid sleeping in the grass (while the dog is licking my face), I rather went to sleep. At seven o' clock in the evening.

Fourth in a row

This is my last day at Bödönhát because of the sale. Fortunately, there is no last supper, at least not worth of a fresco, the pace is so quick until late night. There are many tasks left to this day, finishing baling pushed back day by day is the smallest of these.

At dawn, another mangalica was slaughtered to have enough material for the sausages. I don't know whether my specific antagonism towards pig slaughtering or the general objection of my body, but the alarm clock “didn't wake” at quater past four, so I missed that. Of course uncle Laci is on his feet since quarter past two, arranging pig things, and soon the elder ladies come (Marika and Jolánka), but I'll tell about them later..
At morning, when Gergely returned with that slaugtered pig, we “quickly” get baling done. By now, only max. 10 bales remain, but that one hour would be great for now. The baling machine works almost perfectly, I fortunately just imitate repairing it for a photo. Because meanwhile, reporters arrive from “Nők Lapja” [Women's Magazine]. When it turns out that I was going at the same school as the journalist's, Csilla's sons, there is no awkward uptightness as there was before the camera last day. It is good to talk with her; she has good questions, and she lets me talk after that too, István tooks advantage of this :)
But some of the wishes of the camera guy starts a revolution in me on a cellular level, for example to find a pitchfork and to get to the mangalicas. I tell him that i would rather miss on that opportunity, so he wants to send me to the Grey Cattle next. The cow, if it has calves (and it has), will chase you if you go too near to it. I would gladly fo among the rackas, but they flight even at the idea. But the peak is the group photo, when we have to stick our heads out between the grape leaves (furthermore, to eat a grape!) :) They surely will be good pictures, but, well, I don't like pre-set photos.
By lunch, the meats are turning up that I haven't tried yet. There is Grey Cattle-mangalica dry sausage, and a thing called beef jerky, that's name is even causing some troubles for aunt Erzsi a bit.Beef jerk is smoked and dried meat, mostly made of Grey Cattle here, cut very thin. Straight from the Wild West, instead of chips. It'd really delicious, I don't even understand why it is so unknown in Hungary.After a “brief” siesta with making 300  photos of the dogs, we really go to work, help is needed. We grind meat to the sausage to be fried, and we pack, or just watch aunt Marika twisting the sausages. By the way, i help to stir the filling, if my hand became dirty for the sake of the photo (“I want to see dirty hands!” :)) Dirt is not the biggest problem, but the thing that needs to be touched is approximately 520 degrees hot. Not surprisingly, uncle Laci absolves this effortlessly, I rather wait for a while. They don't let filling out of their hands. Probably they do this right, a couple of meters of bowels and a good deal of time are spared from being wasted. The crates are being filled with routined hand moves there will be even more than we expected.But the end of it is coming a bit late, approximately 150 kilos of pudding and sausage needs to be filled, twisted and packed, all the way down to half past nine. We create a serious manufacture with aunt Jolánka, she bags them and I glue. (Meaning that i am practically useless, but it is good to listen to aunt Marika and uncle Laci teasing each other.) By the end, I start to get worried about having to cycle home at night, but the others are enduring it still well, they stood and packed all day, they don't want to sit even now. I would like to be like that when I'm sixty-seventy years old.

The fifth, seal.

Not to miss even the end of it. Less unusual, less beautiful, but at least a double last day. Just vy the end of the week, at  Budapest.
I have already been careless with the longevity of the days, but Friday was really the longest of them all.The competition would be won only by the wake-up planned at four, to pack the houndredandwhoknowshowmany kilos of sausage & pudding in itself, plus a lot of fat, sausages and bacon. Of course, my spoilt biological rhythm boycotts the alarm clock again, so I wake up “only” at five. We should already go, everyone's packing while being sleepy. We manage to depart a bit after six (compare with which road goes to Buda here, dog market). We are almost late at the departure (the organisers asked to arrive between half past six to half past eight; friendly conditions for rural people). Fortunately, in reality, half past eight means nine, at least one of the organisers said that neighboring streets will be closed only then. (Of course, as it turned out, everyone said other things...) There's traffic jam in the city even before closing, but we manage to get there a few minutes before nine – if only the street weren't closed earlier. We go around half the city, aunt Erzsi would already go home, but at the end, we can stop to unload..Our tent is next to the Chain Bridge where just some tourists are wandering, it is a workday eventually. People come to the tasting of course, a total locust attack, black pudding fried last night is consumed quickly. Just a few buy anything, mostly sausage, a better-working system must be found out by next day. But there are some more serious ones who are interested. For example a restaurateur from Buda, who like to know where his raw material is coming from, so he likes to by products mostly from smaller farms. It is a great place by the way, I was there a while ago.
The low point of the day is when it turns out that we will have to stay until midnight. We checked the clock every three minutes even at the afternoon, furthermore, I think Gergő has slept only ten hours during the week altogether. By the afternoon there was less direct sunshine and more people, but most of the raw things are still resting in the cooling boxes. By midnight, most of the sellers are gone, but for some reason, they are not willing to let our car in. We have waited for an hour when it was possible to park in at least the neighboring street, and in our anger, we contemplate on not coming back next day. Of course the contract binds us. Therefore Gergő has the idea that at least he will bring the fresh products home not to be spoilt.
At Saturday, working hours only last until ten, but of course everything for the buyers, during the industrial revolution, shifts were longer (although last day’s dose was even on the verge of that). Only Apolka and Gergely works through this (aunt Erzsi drove home with the meat). Unfortunately, I can’t help all day, and alas, I happened to be just there during the fireworks (there are a few events that I tend to avoid more than that).
The pace is huge, a thousand and two times more people. By the time I get there, huge queue leads to the tent, I can barely force myself through it. The new system is that instead of tasting, finished food is there, with which István is going back and forth through the whole city. We always run out of something, bread, handkerchief, pudding, energy. There is a half an hour when only fat bacon is available, there is not even bread to it :) (Note: there were still some people.) A group managed to get a corner of a bacon for a broken plastic sword that is flashing with colors. Both parties are satisfied.
After the fireworks, people start to slowly go home, so we are rooting for István very much to make it through Lágymányosi with the last batch pudding and sausage. he makes it approximately by ten, just when organizers start to make a fuss that we should be really closing. of course there’s a huge amount of food on our heads, people are still hungry and everything else is closed, so while István is bargaining (=diverts the attention), we manage to sell most of it. Of course, there is still something to eat and pack left, but also energy for channeling stress. But that’s out of the programme.

Bidding droopy farewell, summary

Although I stank of fat most and became the most tired at home, most of the “mosts” (the positive ones) are from Bödönhát.
After the end of it, it was still strange to be home for a few days, with the bustle and everything that is annoying by standard. of course, it was good to be home, live again at last – if only one could keep a dog here without having to directly go to a walk with it…
As I have written, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut for days. I also gladly, although not so exclusively tell everyone now about the week. I received the letter today that there will be newer programmes. Talking, even a publication, these are all good and useful things, but the real thing is of course done by now. I hope that next year, new people will have a week with grease for machinery and horse saliva.

Annamária Töttősi