“What may be these urban girls capable of?”

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We arrived at a Sunday afternoon to the Szakál-farm at Hajdúdorog with Adrienn Földes. After that, we were guided through the farm and shown around. Both sides were trying to judge the other: “what may be these urban girls capable of?” Then came the jokes, and they were waiting on our reactions to them. We were also trying to get a grip on the situation, just having been arrived from the city, will we be able to prove ourselves?

Next day, we woke up at half past six in the morning, and – of course – by the time we dressed up and went out to the yard, everyone was already in the middle of working. Our host was pondering on what kind of work should he assign to us: “what may be these urban girls capable of?”. We managed to find the suitable tasks after the initial difficulities, and we tried to blend in. After a few days, we knew what was coming and when, the job was the same every day, but this sense of predictability was calming. We got the same treatment, they were trying to include us in every task around the farm. We were changing the straw of the cows, built a larger box for the bigger calves, who – from then on – were raised together, but deprived of milk. Transferring the calves was not an easy job even as the two of us were doing this one-man job, but the calves wouldn't come for God's sake. Of course they complied as soon as the “relief troops” got there, and the two guys solved the challenge in a more coordinated and easy fashion.
We learned how to milk a cow, and even how the milking machine works. Ottó Szakál provided us with some instructions about the “milking master”, uncle Pista: he's not too chatty, a man for himself a bit, but he will help. And uncle Pista showed kindly and patiently what and how to do, and he really helped, even smiled a lot because of the clumsy urban girls. Maybe our enthusiasm infected him, and during the following day, milking was cheerful, accompanied by the media. One day Duna TV's “Gazdakör” (“Farmers' Circle”) made a report about us, then journalists came from the weekly magazine “Blikk Nők” (“Blikk Women”) to write an article about us, salted with a lot of photos of course. We already started to get used to publicity, and although neither of us is the kind of girl who would particularly enjoy it, we solved this challenge too.
We were even helping with re-deploying the electrical fence. While doing this, we had even more chance to talk with locals and it became more and more apparent that the views of the urban and rural youth on the world are not that different. Meanwhile, wandering cows had to be shepherded back to the herd, during which the sun was shining, and the weather was hot and humid, but it was really good to spend the whole day outdoors. When I decided to join the Rural Adventures Programme, I knew that I want to try out everything. That's why I dared myself even to do artificial insemination. It wasn't as easy as it looked, and this was too much for Adrienn, who opted to be the makeshift photographer and took pictures of the event. But she was more brave than me when it came to slaughter the chicken for dinner. We did the plucking and the chopping together, and the family found the chicken soup and the fried meat tasty when they ate it. Of course, we had leisure time as well: we went to eat some ice cream, cooked bacon at the evening, and we even participated in a young farmer meeting in Miskolc as a part of the week's programme.
Unfortunately, the weather was quite adverse, we were caught by the rain almost every day, so the work on the ploughland had to be postponed. We were unable to see how baling works in practice and how the machines work which were resting in the hovel. Ottó's elder brother was trying do tell us enthusiastically and as depictive as he can about how it is working, but it was all up to our imagination. Although riding a tractor could not be missed, we both tried it and had a great time. We also got lucky, because we were able to witness a birth, which we were able to make photographs of. We drank fresh milk every day, although we were told to stay near the lavatory, because the milk is more fatty than which is available in the stores. Luckily, this was not a problem. The whole week went really well, filled with experiences, and not only about work and the tasks we tried to do. We felt that the family has taken us in: Ottó's mother cooked with the same devotion to us, as she did for his sons, and tried to involve us in everything, answering all of our questions. Everyone was friendly, kind and direct whom we met. Instead of the promised “culture clash”, we had a positively aching heart when we had to come home at Saturday. We hope that we contributed a little to the change of the “urban” stereotype, and the city and the countryside are a bit closer to each other because of us.


Andrea Szabó