New year, new products

So 2017 has been and gone, far too quickly! It really amazes me how quickly life can get in the way of everything else….

But, what 2017 did bring was an influx of new products (they can be found on ebay.co.uk so please do have a look. (https://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/hungarynuts ). We now have an impressive tea ranges including yarrow, elderberry, speedwell, dandelion root, purple dead nettle…. and some interesting twists on our older ranges such as corn silk and apple, ground ivy and mint, plantain and cherry to name just a few. Its an educational time for us as we are learning about all the natural benefits of what grows around us.

Another exciting development in that our walnut butter is back. After underestimating the market last year and selling out within a few weeks we have got this years stock ready and waiting. Delicious, healthy and no added sugars or chemicals. By far our best seller at the UK Christmas markets in 2016!

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My personal favorite discovery was the amazing benefits of my homemade face masks…its a combination of local raw Acacia honey and fine powdered organic paprika powder. Its fiery, sticky, and if a bit drips in your mouth during application, safe and tasty!! It has tightening and rejuvenating properties, and the best bit is that you know there are no chemicals seeping into your skin. I personally love it, and hope you do to.

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Goats milk milk tart!

A favorite dessert back in South Africa is the humble ‘Melk Tert’…a lovely creamy custart and pastry pudding, usually topped with cinnamon. A real taste of home for me.

With our lives developing as they are, we have recently found ourselves slightly inundated with fresh goats milk. After making soft chevre, halloumi, feta, yogurt, I still find I sometimes have loads left and without the ability to freeze it I had to come up with a plan. So along came my version of Milk tart.

I made a simple pastry of butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs and blind baked it for about 20 mins. In a seperate bowl I mixed eggs, flour and vanilla. I put the milk, a blob of butter and a dash of condesed milk in pan and boiled it, then slowly added the egg mixture, mixing until it turned into a thick custard. I poured it into the cooled pastry and allowed it to chill in the fridge for a few hours. To top it off (and any South African will appreciate this) I grated half a bar of peppermint crisp chocolate on the top and served with a hot cup of tea. To say I was impressed is an understatement!

Thank you to my lovely chickens for the eggs, dear Narancs for all the fresh milk, and my mum for the peppermint crisp chocolate.

Sadly we devoured the lot before I remembered to take a picture, but maybe next time!

 

Worst blogger ever…

Well, it’s been far too long since my last post. This diary keeping/blogging is actually pretty tough while trying to keep on top of all the veggies, the weeding, milking the goat, bottle feeding the babies….and that’s all before I have had my first coffee in the morning!

But trust me, I am not complaining. Life is great right now. We have had our first harvests of spinach, sugar snap peas, broad beans and salad leaves. We are also frantically harvesting and pitting bucket loads of our cherries. We have made our first batch of cherry wine, put a load in the dehydrater for our winter supplies, made sauces and syrups and even have a cherry pie in the oven (many thanks to my lovely husband!). Even the pits get saved as you can make your own vinegar and liqueur from them.

Our biggest news right now is that we are getting about 3 or cups of fresh goats milk everyday from our lovely Narancs (Hungarian for orange). She had her little kid 6 weeks ago and is now needing very regular milking. I just love going out first thing in the morning and getting warm fresh milk from our friendly girl…nothing quite beats it in your morning coffee. I have also just attempted my first goats milk cheese which was just scrumptious.

Our two bottle babies are also doing well, sadly their mum was not able to nurse them as she developed mastitis so I have been playing mum for the last 5 weeks…it was touch and go for a while but they have bounced back-literally!

We have also started our brews for the year. Gareth had a go at making some medieval beer, and will definately be making more soon. We also have pea pod and accacia wine, dandelion flower wine and nettle wine on the go. As well as our 50 litres of cherry plonk! It’s very cheap and its great knowing what goes into it and that its all organic! The most difficult bit is learning to be patient!

 

Big hearts

The true kindness of people can be overwhelming at times. I have been inundated with emails of support and well wishes since the show aired in November, proving that there are good souls in this world who take time out of their busy days to send positive messages to people they don’t even know. I am slowly making my way through them all but it takes such a long time as each one deserves a decent response. We have had strangers turn up at our doors just interested in meeting us and seeing what we are up to, messages from some who want to help and guide us.
I was amazed while back in the UK at the generosity of some people, being given gifts such as electronic books, gifts for the local children and even a trailer! All these gestures go a long way and I am not sure how we can ever truly express our gratitude. We had a really tough time back in England with one thing or another, and meeting some of these kind strangers has really got me through it all.
I hope that one day we can repay them all with a place to stay at the farm if they felt they needed a break from the ratrace, and also for them to see how their gifts have made a difference not only to our lives but those around us.

Going home

The trailer is packed, the car is full, we are going home…well, nearly. First a quick detour to Derbyshire to visit Gareths lovely grandfather, and then the 24ish hour drive, and then finally, home.It feels like years since I was cuddled round our little log burner, sipping home made mulled wine (we added too much sugar while the grapes were fermenting which while a bit sweet for normal drinking makes a fabulous chilly evening night cap).

I have struggled more than I expected with returning to “normal life”. I was not mentally prepared for spending weeks on end sleeping in a frozen van with my two hooligan dogs. And then even when we were able to sleep in Gareths mums house I felt in utter limbo. The original plan was to do as many Christmas markets as possible, but within a week of being back Gareth recieved a job offer and decided to work full time for a couple of weeks. This comlicated the whole market plan as às you can imagine many farmers markets don’t look kindly on having your dogs tag along. Plus setting up gazebos, tables and displays on your own in the rain is no fun. Add to the equation that the van was our only transport and part of Gareths job was travelling around to different stores everyday, making markets fairly impossible some days.

By Christmas I had had enough, we were not making the money we had hoped for, I was stuck in a rut of wanting to do things but not having the money or means to do them, so spent day after day walking the dogs around aimlessly. They obviously loved it, nothing better in their eyes than a nice muddy run through the woods or along the canal, but I still felt lost. I think that even though we needed to raise the funds for another year on the farm, my heart was still there. I was desperate to spend a Christmas in our little orange farm house. I have spent all year fattening up the geese and we still had the crops to make a darn good roast. I would have loved to have joined our Hungarian friends while they celebrated the festive season.

Saying all this, it has been amazing to see all my friends again…some have been pillars of strength for me the last few weeks and for that I will always be grateful. This time back in the UK has also reminded me exactly why we made such a massive life change and decided to pack it all in and give a new life a go. It has reminded me of what is actually important in my live and that is happiness, acceptance and freedom, all of which I have found harder to achieve over the past few weeks.

I am so excited to get back, to start working on the house, planning the tasks for the year and just getting back to my quiet existence out on our little farm. Nem shok nap most!!!

How to make a living…?

It is always a tricky balance when you want to avoid the daily grind and 9-5 job but still need to have some money for food and bills. Luckily for us we have been successful with our vegetable growing over the summer but there are still items that we just can not produce ourselves and need to buy. This is a tricky juggling act between what we need, what we want and how much money is left!
This year was our first year of attempting to sell some of our farm produce at Christmas markets, and even though sales were good it still cost us a lot more money than we expected. After living a year on next to nothing it was a huge shock being back in England and having to buy necessities at extortionate prices.
It was a great learning experience but we will need to reassess where next years budget is coming from. As expected our walnut butters, jams and chillies flew off the table but the jewellery was much slower than we had hoped. Sadly I think it is too easy to get cheap and cheerful rings and pendants online for next to nothing, so the handmade, unique pieces that we were producing may have been a bit to pricey for the craft markets we attended.
Hopefully this year will see the completion of our attic which will provide more space for guests. We are hoping to open up the farm to anyone who wants to come and see how we do things, offering them the full hands on experience. I really believe this could be perfect for anyone who is thinking of doing something similar as they will be able to see what hurdles we have faced, give and receive advice and generally just muck in for a few days.
Sadly money problems have also meant that we are currently selling our much loved riot van…both Gareth and I are devastated but it looks like we have little choice as the van is just too juicy and we cant afford the diesel anymore. Holding thumbs that I can sell it to a friend who will hang onto it until we can afford to buy it back one day….

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The price of selling yourself

 

Today is a strange day for us at Hungary Nuts as we are anxiously awaiting the airing of a documentary about our ”new” lives. A year ago we agreed to allow Ben Fogle and a crew from Renegade/Channel 5 to come and stay with us on the farm and film our daily moves. It was a strange week and not one I would necessarily rush back into but I felt is was a great way to show viewers the reality of moving to a new country and trying to live off grid. The film crew were amazing, helping out with anything they could, and constantly assuring us that it was going well.

We thought it might be a fairly simple experience, just doing what we would normally do day to day, but of course it never happens that way. Having an extra 7 people in a tiny house (one of which was my mother who had never visited before) was fairly tough going, especially with the sticky mud that seemed to get everywhere!!! And it was ever so cold in February, especially with the crew in and out of the house all day, letting all the warmth out. Plus our two cats who had just been moved over from the UK and an over-excited muddy dog….I don’t think our house will ever be the same.

But that all said, I had fun and loved meeting such a well traveled team, who were brimming with advice and ideas. We laughed, we cried (well, I did) and we made friends. I really hope that we come across as who we really are and that we can inspire and show viewers the truth behind moving into the “wild”.

Jackson stuck in the chicken house

Sophie wielding a chainsaw

The mud!!!

The pizza oven in the making (Big thanks to Soph and Sean!)

Love this mad bunch

Every action has a reaction

What have we done?

We own a farm!

“you are very brave…”.
What people actually want to say is
“you are very stupid!!!!”
I have almost rehearsed the same explanatory reply to these comments…..
“a better life, live off the land, lower our carbon footprint, bill free …” If I need to explain myself too often I find myself thinking
” but why wouldn’t you do it?”
And why wouldn’t you, why not try something new and exciting and challenging and life changing? In the sun?! In a country you have never visited?

Sorry, let me take a step back

In 2015 we bought a run down farmhouse. With all our savings. In a country we had never even been to….
We saw the house on rightmove.com and instead of doing the sensible thing of going to visit the house we bought blind. It really is amazing how good some photographers can make a place look! On a dreary day early September we came face to face with what would essentially be our home. After taking the front door off its hinges (as the lock was obviously broken )I have a vague memory of doubting that this was our smartest idea, but it was a bit late to voice that opinion!