Vass Éva – farmer

by admin on 23/09/2019

Eva Vass pouring plums into a kettle with boiling water.

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When we entered the courtyard of Mrs Vass’ property, we were almost immediately invited into her kitchen where she served us home-made apple cake, but which she called apples with cake. The unavoidable pálinka and coffee were of course also served.

While we were able to eat so much apple cake as we wanted, Mrs Vass told my guide about how she ended up being a farmer. Initially, both she and her husband had full-time jobs, but they were also part-time farmers producing for themselves and their animals and they brought their children to the fields. They gradually expanded and both they and her mother sold farm produce on Saturdays. She worked in a bank and quit 2 years ago becoming a full-time farmer,while her husband worked in a factory. The breakout occurred because of the local council, which organised monthly events where they got lots of help. Before they quit their jobs, they went there 2 times a year, but now they are going there monthly.

There is a lot of hard and wonderful work and it’s become a lifestyle. Their sons are now 25 years old and they will soon graduate as agricultural engineers.

There was a plum festival in the village 3 weeks ago and a 85 year old woman who was always working was stirring the plum must, a job which takes 14 hours to make good jam. Now, she’s dead.

They have 4 cows, 2 stay in the village and 2 are in the mountains. They will come back in October. I suppose they pay a fee to some shepherds to bring their animals with them like we experienced at a sheepfold in the Tarcău mountains.

A selection of farm products for sale

Having introduced themselves, we were invited outside to to see their products. Although exaggerating, it seemed there were berries, fruits and vegetables in all sorts of places, together with glasses of jam and bottles of syrup.

Another selection of farm products for sale

Big plastic milk churns, having a volume of about 50 litres, were almost filled to the brim with vegetables, various plastic containers were full of blueberries, apples and so on. In the middle of the courtyard, there was a big metal tank with an apparently homemade machine, which was stirring a boiling mixture of fruits. Next, Mrs Vass emptied a tub with de-seeded plums into the mixture. My guide told me that she was making plum jam. One tub was full of tomatoes and another was almost full of red peppers, while two aubergines were being heated on an open gas flame. In fact, they are growing more than 20 types of fruits and vegetables, selling a little of everything.

De-seeding plums by hand

A young woman, who we were told was a relative and who was studying in Budapest, was de-seeding plums by hand. Only family members are working at this farm and they aren’t able to produce more.

When we had apparently seen all their products, we were invited to go with father and son in their car, first to get an overview of the village, next to go to the family’s orchard. Having crossed rather rough and steep roads, we could the see the village surrounded by meadows and forests. Next, we went up various steep roads to get to the orchard, which was surrounded by a high electrical fence because bears like to enter the orchard. In fact, Mrs Vass’ husband used to stay in the orchard from dusk till dawn and he had a radio turned on, pretending that there were several people inside.

We passed lots of apple trees in the orchard, but they also had some plum trees, 700 all in all. The plums were sweet like honey! They were also growing vegetables. Actually, it was a tranquil, secluded and lovely place and we were invited to eat as much apples and plums as we wanted.

This autumn had been dry and it was a good harvest for plums and apples, but not so good for grapes, apricots, blackcurrant and raspberry.

Since they have cows, they have to do haymaking, but they are also collecting herbs for making herbal tea at the same time.

When we came back to the house, Mrs Vass invited us to have lunch with them, but I felt embarrassed getting so much and returning so little that I asked my guide to say no thank you. Later, I met a young woman who told me that this was common among Szekler people!

At least, we were offered several glasses of jam, which I accepted with relish.

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