Monday 23 December 2013

Farm Update

It has been a while since I've updated the blog regarding our farm. We've had a good-ish year with animal husbandary and veg growth. So in no particular order here is their season news.


Its been a quite a quiet year for the dogs, no major dog escapes and no one has been too sick. The electric fence has finally finished and it is too effective. I've tested it on myself and it has a bite/kick! The dogs are terrified of the fence and the area where the fence is. They are currently camped in the area between the kitchen and the house. The winter will be spent coaching them into going into their new home.


We've had rabbits now for about a year and overall its been a slow but good year. We've finally managed to breed our original group and at one point we had over 25 rabbits. In the later part of this year, Mr Brown and his ladies picked up a bacterial infection which has taken about 3 months for them to shake off. We don't know the full extent and effects of the medication which was used. The best case scenario is that these rabbits can bred and are kept separate from the other rabbits. The worse case is that they are all sterile, so we would need another buck; Mr Brown would be kept as a pet (he is sooo cute!) and other girls would be dispatched. The descendants of have been unaffected so with the help of an external Buck, we've successfully mated the remain girls. The first litter didn't survive and another litter in our colony space appeared today :)


The Chickens have been a suprise success. We've eaten the 19 chickens down to 7 chickens and 2 cockerels. The 7 ladies have each been producing an egg a day so we are upto our necks in fresh free-range eggs. We are already planning for next year's batch of day-old chicks. We're aiming for 20 meat chickens, some more egg layers and some orpington chickens.


Hopefully our grass munching goats are all pregnant by Steve the stud. We'll only really know in January when you can see the bugles. The milk is drying up slowly. We've gone from 3 liters a day to about 1.5 l every 3 day but this should increase with the hopeful spring kids.


We planted loads of vegetables this year, the success stories from our seeds were pumpkins, butternut squashes, courgettes, sunflowers and potatoes. WE also managed to grow tomatoes and paprika peppers from plantlings. We are planning expanding the patch to produce more next year so We've ploughed the patch and are waiting for the spring

Tuesday 19 November 2013


Our goats are still producing milk. It's about 1 litre a day and this small but regular supply means that our fridge and freezer rapidly fills up with milk. The answer to all these problems is goats cheese. 5l of milk roughly produces 500g of dairy goodness. The process involves pasteurising milk and then adding rennet with magic ingredients to the room temperature milk. The next day, there is a pan of separated curds and whey which looks like a massive blancmange. This is seperated by a cheesecloth and then the curds can be pressed to make cheese.

We've nailed the process down and seem to be able to make three or four varieties .Hard cheese can be made by the addition of calcium chloride whilst the omission of this leads to a smooth cream cheese. We have made a white camembert-esq cheese and a blue cheese by adding a small remnant of cheese source (usually bought from Tescos)  to the cool milk and allow mould to grow on the final cheese. We've also made a Goaty mozzarella by heat treating and hand pressing the curds. 

All the cheese taste great and slightly goaty - they all improve by waiting a week or two in the fridge, if they can last that long!

Monday 28 October 2013

Kindling the Morning Prayers

I've finally managed to find a way to automagically download The COFE daily prayers and make them appear on my kindle. A combination of wget (to download), perl (to tweak the HTML) and calibre to convert the html and then upload to my e-book library means that I can read without the temptations and distractions of the internet morning and evening prayers whilst watching the dogs run around in the garden.

Wednesday 25 September 2013


Our flock of birds have finally come good. We are averaging about 3 eggs a day. They range from a mini to goliath size. The cockerels are fattening up nicely and a couple have made it to the pot. They are very tasty and come with a big layer of fat inside. The remaining cockerels routinely have singing competitions at early hours of the morning just to let us know that they are awake. The chickens keep the goats on their toes as well by stealing little bits of food away from them when they are not looking or are not nimble enough to get to them. We do have one odd aggressive chicken which does like to peck Andy on the head and feet when he approaches her. The eggs are a lovely addition to our growing organic farm food which this year has been remarkably successful due to Andy's hard work and amazingly good weather for it. 
It is a pretty wonderful feeling just wandering out into the garden and either picking your own food, selecting eggs, milking or eyeing up the next meat meal feast :)

Sunday 18 August 2013

Offlineness and kindle-ism

I've just returned to the online world after spending a week teaching english at a camp. Samm has done an awesome job looking after the farm and our friends have been an amazing support of energy, food, love and company to her throughout the week. Returning to the internet,  I'm surprised to see that the world hasn't fallen apart, the ice-caps haven't melted, etc and the world has only incrementally changed. Thankfully, nothing major happened (ala Russia 1991) but it has caused me to re-evaluate my priorities.
I'm not going to be checking out of the internet but certainly trying to improve the quality not quantity of time spent online

One of the Joys of being away was reading using my 1st generation kindle which samm lovingly gave me one Christmas. The beauty of the device is that it is just an e-ink reader (it can read books out too which is great as I get travel sick if i try to read) but has no other major feature. This means I'm not distracted by other things and I can focus in on the details. The only downside to kindling is that I remember written works by layout and relative position of important text within a paragraph in a book. Depending upon how I move around in the document, the kindle unhelpfully reformats and changes the layout for me. This slight disadvantage is overcome by the ability to make and remove notes so If i jot something down in the book, I'm not remind of my stupid thoughts for the duration of the book's life.
I'm now trying to convert long web articles onto my kindle. The process isn't tricky just a few steps. First, i  save the web page, then opening it in Sigil and resave at as an epub file. this is  then covert to mobi within calibre which can be automagically sent to the kindle. This enables me to enjoy, read and return to short Web-essay with out the need to check my facebook status every other second.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

First Grain Harvest

Very exciting day today as I've harvested, by hand, our first oats. The photo doesn't look very impressive but the wheelbarrow is full of organic oats on their stalks. The oat seed were from taken from the Rabbit feed and were then planted in an unused piece of rotovated land just to see what will happen. The biblical sowing technique worked but it made harvesting very hard as the random pattern combined with weeds meant that it was easier to uproot the whole crop then attempting to swing a scythe or sickle.
I'm not going to thresh the harvest but feed everything to the rabbits who will have a field day munching through this.  Overall, this has been a success and I will be dedicating more land to growing traditional farm food including alfalfa, sunflowers, oats to help lower our animal feeding costs. In order to realise this, I'm probably going to have to invest in a small seed drill to ensure straight lines of dense crops which will reduce weeds and hopefully improve yield.

Monday 1 July 2013

Thinking about Defeat, death and new life

Following on from my tweet today about mediation (here), I been thinking about defeat and bouncing back from this post. I'm not sure how I am coping with failures, how I (if I) pick myself up after another problem, set back or defeat. Maybe I'm too much of a scientist and not enough farmer, too analytical and not enough "next season will be better".

Today as I was preparing to repair my internal fence for containing Goats. My friend pointed out that the potatoes which I thought I have killed in spectacular style, with lack of water would actually produce new potatoes. Armed with a garden fork and shovel, We dug up our first potato harvest which were 100% organic free-range spuds. They were really tasty boiled as part of our lunch. 

This was definitely a seizing a victory from the jaws of defeat

Friday 28 June 2013

Wild oats

Whilst setting up the washing-up table for the end-of-term party at the farm, I noticed we have some wild oats growing  These must be seed from where we milked our goats which we borrowed for a month last year. The oats are actually ripe, taste similar to the rabbit food oats and are 100% organic, free-range and unintentional. I hope our planted oats grow similarly

The Wet April has paid divends to our Sunflowers, corn and fruit trees. Our roses old and new also love this weather

Friday 14 June 2013

Samm's Grandfather

Whilst online, Samm discovered what her maternal grandfatther got upto in WWII. The article below is from

Monday 10 June 2013

Well Blow me down

This evening as we were leaving home to take Crunchy (our new house dog [until she gets better]) to the vet, a little storm kicked in and there was a crash. On closer inspection when we returned with bandaged dog (, it seems we were very fortunate/lucky/protected. The mulberry tree has completely toppled but didn't take out the house or our new perimeter fence. There is slight damage to a neighbouring tree but all is relatively OK  What was more amazing is that I was butchering three neighbours' goats under the shade of this tree at the weekend. A slight wind could have resulted in the dispatching of an Andy as well.
It looks like I will be chainsawing firewood for the foreseeable future.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Cake and lots of it!!!!

Today I had a surprise when I went to church. Today, we thanked all the lovely people who work in the various different groups which serve our church as schools are ending in the next few weeks. I was dragged up to the front and was given a small present which was lovely but then I was ambushed by Zoli Bacsi and others who appreciated my weekly guitar bashing and all the other bits and they gave me a MONSTER CHOCOLATE CAKE AS A GUITAR!!!!!!!! This was a small gift showing their appreciation of me! They obviously prefer a slightly fatter Andy :) I am feeling very very very very very very loved and wanted and a bit tubby after munching some of this lovely baked product. So thank you all lovely people (, It made my day :)  Nagyon Köszönöm mindenkinek és puszilak is!

Thursday 9 May 2013

Upgrading the Chicken's housing

A month has flown by and the chicken have now grown so much that their initial boxes are too cramped. 
So using the remains of old Computer boxes which we used to move here, I've built a little run for them in our boiler room. The glass jar with lamps in them are Zoli's great idea for keep them warm. The chickens can snuggle up next to the jar and feel the heat. Also, the specific heat capacity of the glass is higher then the air and less susceptible to cooling  
At the moment we have 18 chickens - 10 bigger meat chickens, 7 laying chickens and one random chicken which a friend swapped out for a weak chicken when we picked them up from the shop. The birds which we have identified as cockerels belong to the meaty group. This isn't a great loss as Kakaspörkölt is very tasty. The birds  aren't fully fledged this should happen in the next few weeks and then they will be unleashed into the jungle which our garden.

Monday 22 April 2013


Wedding season is approaching and I'm bored with the suit thing and am itching to get hold of a kilt and free my legs.
The big question is where do i start? I've a dinning Jacket, dress shirt and bow-tie but the rest is a bit of a mystery too me. So, internet where do I start? Any suggestions for Tartan, online shops, must have bits and all that Jazz? What is the price of a starter's kilt? Any hidden tips?
Help Me internet, you are my only hope

Monday 25 March 2013


We currently have a freezer full of unsmoked Home-made sausage - Hurka (below) and paprika sausage. Sausages are approximately  200g each at  500 HUF. They are available as a pair (below) or single. These sausages are made from our home-reared pig, contain only meat and seasoning and are very tasty.  Email/twitter me to arrange purchase

Thursday 17 January 2013


My post-Christmas thoughts have been drawn to waiting. At the moment, Hungary is rather damp and warm but in the next few days, a snowy carpet will descend from the heavens and the sandy soil beneath our feet will resolidify and all my farm-based work will stop until spring.

I've learnt lots about life, living in Hungary but waiting is the hardest thing of all to study. A workman coming at 8 am can be from 6 am to 2 pm; having a vegetable patch and only being able to look at it; looking at rabbits wondering if they are pregnant; Wondering what I should do this month/year; should I wait for opportunities or should I try and make something happen; waiting for things in faith to become less shadowy and more clear.

I'm not any better at waiting just trying to enjoy the journey