As for me and my house we will serve the Lord....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday morning...hey time changed!

Sunday morning as he comes in from the barn – “Garry you are late- it’s after nine” (time to leave for church)” No, it’s after eight- time changed- I was wondering why the ladies weren’t done milking when I went outside at seven- time changed.” “Why didn’t anyone tell us?” “Oh—Victor did on the phone yesterday, and Andrei when he phoned about church being on Karl Marx today”(it’s election day in Ukraine –for local government, and the building where we normally meet is a polling place). “But you didn’t tell me...........”
Victor is spending the weekend in Kramatorsk- He went with Doreen and the Bellamys – Orben and Trish have been giving family life seminars in different churches. Doreen is moving into an apartment there so she can start her English teaching ministry. So he did not make his usual milk run out here last night, but we are dropping plastic cans with 104 litres of milk off at his church so it can be sold as it has for the last month. Max and Garry load the giant jugs in the back of the car before getting dressed for church, after feeding the cows (after the ladies milk). It’s a good thing we bought the Lada 111 Universal –it’s a hatchback so they fit in nicely upright. (It’s called that so you can put anything and everything in there)You can see Garry and Jonah carrying one into the Baptist church in one of the photos.
We had a nice visit with Doreen on Thursday night when we went for groceries (the day we finally got the car back from the final paint-repairs.) She was at Metro getting a printer and a few things for her apartment. We went over to Dafi (the mall) and had a snack and talked for an hour. Doreen and I had blini (stuff rolled in a thin pancake- mine was chicken, mushroom and cheese and she had a dessert fruit one.) Garry was hungry so he tried the new Chinese place at the food court and some sushi rolls (while Chinese food is rare-sushi is very popular- the in-thing- in Dnepro.)
Saturday morning Garry and I arrived at Metro at nine am- we were going to try Puzata Hata breakfast there- but it opens at ten. So we bought a case of paper towels for milking, and a six-pack of paper towel rolls for puppy clean-ups- we missed that aisle on Thursday, and headed to McDonald’s for Mc Muffins, hash browns, large coffee for him and large orange juice for me (three times bigger than the coffee)- almost like home.
After we got back I had a great time watching the Flyers beat Pittsburgh- the poor Penguins- they were shown losing again in the evening before college football live and again after the World Series game was over this morning. The 8 pm Eastern baseball games come on a 3 am (the next morning) live here. They show them twice more that day too. Meanwhile, Garry was off for his last load of the ten tons of alfalfa. When he got back and unloaded we had taco salad (Metro did have some imported nacho chips in stock.) Maxim was busy doing some plowing- he had borrowed a plow from someone in the village- the garden was too wet to use the disc. Before he was done plowing other gardens, he had a flat tire on the tractor- there’s a photo of them working on getting it off the rim so Max could take it to be patched. We saved Maxim some pizza- I made 5 last night (that’s one per person, but I did not eat a whole one.) MacGyver was putting out an oil well fire in last night’s video—with dynamite from an abandoned mine, of course- Lots of explosions.
I have included some photos of things we saw on the way to church- a man walking four cows down the middle of the road in the small town of Nova Swit on the highway, the construction on the road by the new gas stations going up (the police were there catching speeders- someone put up a 50 km sign there.) Church was upstairs on Karl Marx (the premier downtown street) – it’s where they used to meet before the present location- I took a photo of the praise band (excuse the blurring- they just don’t stand still when they’re singing), attendance was good and it was warm in the room (in February we met there and it was cold) no overhead today so I couldn’t sing- I can follow along in Cyrillic(Russian alphabet) normally- Garry was singing though. His Russian has gotten so good that people try to talk normally to him in the village- then he gets lost- if it’s easy stuff, he’s able to communicate. Tonya was our wonderful translator again today for the service.
After church we found phone cards to buy, got lunch at Puzata Hata,(where we saw a bridal party infront as we walked up- in photo)then tried to find the boys a new TV (the one in their room went out to the summer kitchen for the ladies.) We also got the puppy a collar so he can stay outside sometimes, in the dog house Seth built for puppy #1 with the tie-out chain I brought from Canada in August for puppy #2.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Taco Friday

Today we had tacos for lunch and I made the tortillas from a recipe I found on the internet. Last year we had tacos a couple times a month, but we haven't been able to buy taco shells at Metro (which was the only place that had them) since spring. We had tried the thinner but similiar turkish-style that is used for lavash, but it breaks when you try eating them. They were tasty- tortillas just like ones from the store! Except fresher, it was so good to have real tacos that you could fill, roll and eat without them falling apart. I have resorted to making a number of things from internet recipes- things that are not found here- I make bagels often, and have made donuts, and even soft pretzels.

Maxim missed lunch as he was milking, but he was very happy to go pick up Yana from the train station afterwards- no milking for Max tonight! Garry and Maxim got two more loads of hay before lunch/milking and then Garry picked up one more load after enjoying his tacos. Garry had to get the boys to give him a hand looking for his pitchforks before lunch- he dumped the load of hay with them in the top of the load. Luckily they found them - a little easier than needles in a haystack! Garry picked up scoops of hay with the loader and the boys looked- they even got both forks back unbroken (and the tractor tires were safe too.) Two more loads in the morning and then the barn will be full, the last loads have been first cut hay as the second cut alfalfa is all gone, the first cut is not as nice.

I have sad news to report today- one of the puppies died today- fluffy little Marco. Last night I thought she was better after having been sick the night before- she was throwing up and had bloody diarrhea. I was expecting her to be ready to eat this morning, but she was down and trembling. She was a real cutie, lots of personality, that's her on Wednesday in the photo. The boys say that she had eaten part of a dead bird outside when they were out with the puppies the other day, we are thinking it could have been poisoned. Her brother Polo is fine, gobbling down the puppy chow. So hopefully nothing happens to him- it seems that us and Ukrainian puppies don't work out well for the little guys.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

homeschooling 'R us

School days, school days....
I have been going to post about our everyday weekday routine...that is the boys’ everyday routine. This year they are once again doing mostly the same classes, as it is easier to coordinate- we need less materials that way. Homeschooling was a big change for the guys- mostly what they miss is school sports.
They do not mind Mom as director. Last year we used SOS (Just like the Duggars- is an advertising slogan- from the TV show 18 kids and counting) which was recommended by the Manitoba homeschool coordinator as easy for packing for foreign travel- as long as you don’t mind Christian material.(funny-I am sure I mentioned we were going on the mission field to him) It runs off CD’s, and mostly grades itself- well the multiple-choice fill in the blanks part anyway, cutting down on teacher time. They just work their way through the lessons- it puts them in a schedule for them to get done on time (you set the schedule at the beginning of the year) The only problem I have had is I need to review all the quizzes and test wrong answers –not just the essay questions I am supposed to grade, and give them partial credit (90%) for correct but misspelled so that the program doesn’t recognize it – it gives them 5% off for misspellings.
Last year we bought the grade 9 curriculum so they could both work on it. I had tested the boys for Saxon Math before we bought it and they were disappointed to test out a year behind the year they were in- I told them not to worry, as they are good math students, it was just what they had been taught so far. So Seth was going to use this math, and I bought Jonah the Saxon pre-Algebra book. The rest of the SOS was fine- but we tossed the Algebra course and got workbooks that Seth had to hurry through with Garry’s help after we came home at Christmas time. The problem was that is hard to learn math with multiple choice answers!
So this year we ordered the SOS English 2 (grade 10) program, Health and Old Testament (Jonah enjoyed learning something new with the New Testament program last year- he’d never studied Bible before) For history we are reading from a number of books and textbooks for Canadian History, with once a week discussions and monthly projects. Our favourite class last year was biology with the Apologia book we got from Garry’s sister Maryann (she used to homeschool her kids- they have graduated now) We even bought a microscope and did the dissections, the boys loved it, and it was through (with a creation bias of course- but taught everything I remember from college biology-that's university for you Canadians!) So we ordered Advanced Biology- The Human Body and Chemistry for this year on CD from them, so it was lighter to pack- although Seth says he really preferred the book form. I did get some reference books for Anatomy, and we print stuff out. We decided after the first month to focus on biology first and do Chemistry the second half of the year.
Math is going well, both boys are doing Saxon this year- I bought the teaching CD for Algebra 2 for Seth, which is working well for him, it teaches lessons on the computer with a whiteboard-voice format, and then he does the questions in the book, I correct it and then he can go over the incorrect ne with the CD to figure out what went wrong. It is working great. Seth fills his exercise books with all his show your work precision. Jonah is envious because I did not spend the 50 bucks on one for Algebra 1, so he has to read and figure it out with the text. Do not feel too sorry for him as he is the biggest reader in the family- and get his math done in half the time- no work showing for him- maybe some scribbles in the corner of the page- numbered one to 30 with answers- mostly figured out in his head. If he starts having problems I will make him do it like the rest of the students in Manitoba and show his work.
The boys spend a couple hours on the computers in the morning, then work on math, experiments together in the afternoons, we have regular Biology chapter reviews with Mom and tests for biology and math once a week. You can see the boys taking their last biology test in the photos.

cold wind and more

Another gray day--sometimes a little drizzle this afternoon, and a cold wind is blowing the leaves off the trees. This morning Garry was picking up walnuts since they are easy to see on the wet leaves, and I found a few reddish-brown apples under tree at the edge of the yard- I had never noticed it was an apple tree before- I thought that the apples were all gone when the yellow ones finished a couple weeks ago.
I spent the day making grape juice from the last of the grapes and a nice bean soup for lunch- nothing like soup on a gray day. The nuts are blowing off the tree at the back of the yard- the one that is in many of the photos of the barn that I took as the barn "grew" and changed since spring. The boys took their daily walk to the store to buy bread, just before lunchtime, you can see all the pets greeting them as they come in the door.

Garry took care of getting some cow trainers made and put up on one side of the barn- he is hoping that the cows will stay cleaner and it will help the mastitis problem we are having- along with the new teat dip and individual paper towels for udder washing that the milkers started using a couple days ago. Yana's return from vacation is delayed- she is supposed to be back Thursday now.
He and Maxim did a little work on the shed today- Garry made some metal brackets for Max to weld on the posts (you can see him welding- looks like he's in the trees, but he's on a ladder) so Garry can get the wood up for the sides. He also cut the door in the back- he got tired of walking around- he had decided to put one in so it would be easy to get to the door we use to go in the house from the shed. We will be parking the car in there this winter- last year it was in a drift half the time in the driveway to the left of the house. We will need to have the right one clear for the milk buyers and other barn traffic anyway.
The guys closed the doors from the outdoors to the haymow- still not painted- but they will keep the wind out- if you look closely in the photo you can see the flap over the ground floor doors blowing up with the wind. The builders are supposed to be back- sometime- to weld it down along with a couple other spots. There is some job not that far away that they are supposed to do, and then they will come. Hopefully before winter gets here for real. Garry plans to stack some nice square straw bales along the inside of the side walls for insulation- the ladies are worried it will be too cold.
Victor had to come take the boys to their dentist appointments today- the car is nt finshed- the hood is still off. Tommorow, tommorow.... hopefully because we need to get to the grocery store soon! They both got some new wires and have sore mouths.
Dasha came with Victor and while he was gone, she watched TV (I let her use the remote- she checks out all the channels) played with the kittens and puppies, made friends with the calf and helped walk another new heifer home (the one we heard about on Sunday) before sandwiches and helping with milking so she could help Victor bring milk home for her Grandma. Maxim got a phone call before dinner- Yana says another day...we are beginning to think she's not coming back on Friday either.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

On a slightly wet roof

This morning dawned a little gray and gloomy, but Garry started work on his roof right away. Maxim was getting a load of beet pulp, since they were running low. The boys gave Garry a hand with getting the steel on top of the framework so he could start screwing it down. The puppies ran around, fuzzy little Marco decided to chase the neighbor lady's chickens when she saw them down by the grapevines. Polo trailed after her, helping with the barking, but she is definitely the braver pup.
Garry was finished by noon, except he needs one more sheet of steel for the roof (a half would have done the job) so it will come when he orders the steel for the sides of the machinery shed. He had considered using the asbestos roofing that is so common here in Ukraine, but steel, while more expensive, has the advantages of being lighter, the snow will slide off better and it just looks nicer! At least he can get the machinery out of the rain now.
We had guests for lunch- the big farmer that we bought the three milking heifers from had arranged to bring his vet around to preg check the cows with a portable ultra-sound machine. This visit confirmed that all the cows Garry had preg-checked were pregnant and the ones he thought were open were- and that the cow that was in heat last week has a problem, and probabally won't get pregnant. Lucky for her, she's milking good. Garry is going to have the vet out once a month.
It was so damp out that the laundry I hung out at 9 am was just as wet when I took it down at 3- so I hung it on the rack inside. By four o'clock it was drizzling and water was trickling down the gutters into the cistern.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Garry was hoping to get the roof on his shed today. Unfortunately the steel and additional wood was not delivered until later in the day--really later, after dark. Jonah and Seth helped Garry unload the truck (in Ukraine the delivery guy only drives the truck- with the exception of when we bought the fridge- they had a guy who looked 20 carry it in on his back from the road) They took a flashlight out, somehow Jonah cut his hand when a piece of steel slipped- he says fortunately his right hand- he's a lefty- maybe half an inch long. Now Garry will have everything to get that roof on in the morning.
Maxim was busy milking (the third time of the day)- he's really ready for Yana to come back from vacation- she'll be back on Wednesday.
Since he couldn't do his roof, Garry found a few things to keep busy with today- He went and got two loads of hay- the last one by himself when Maxim was milking at noontime. The farmer has decided to sell Garry another 10 (or 15) tons of alfalfa. Garry plans to fill the third of the barn that was supposed to be heifer pens with hay now.
Before they left for the first load they repaired the side of the wagon, and before they pushed the loads in, Garry built some pieces out of wood to go on that side of the barn- the way the barn was attached to the cement on that side left a gap of about a foot- an overhang that would let in a lot of cold air this winter. You can see them in some of the photos.
Tonight Garry milked a cow after he got done unloading the truck- he went out to the barn- apparently Maxim didn't think he could milk a cow by hand. She only gave 3-4 liters.
Yesterday he did something else by himself- went to look at and buy a heifer- the one in the photo I took this afternoon after Maxim and his friend Maxim walked her here. Garry discussed the price for an hour in Russian- mostly with the babauska, before they agreed on a price. Garry started at half what she wanted for her, he was told she is out of a Dutch bull, he even went out to the field (with the village herd) to look at the heifer's mother (he says she was a regular black cow)- and finally agreed to buy her for more than the others he has bought (but quite a bit less than they wanted.) She is pregnant already, and looks like a Holstein- so worth a little more.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday in the village

Slow day today- the guys got in from the barn and after eggs for breakfast Garry, Seth and Jonah and I walked down the street to the renovated Mennonite church in the village. There is a small congregation that meets there. Most Sundays the pastor leads a Bible study-like service around a table, with acapella hymn singing. Of course everything is in Russian. We have attended a few times when there was a special service (with an English speaker) or we can't get into the city to attend at Morningstar, like today. The car is still being painted and is not back together so we can't drive it yet.
Today most of the verses were from 2 Corinthians, with some from Isaiah and Matthew- we try to figure out where they are by listening or peeking - Rosa likes to point out which song we are going to sing next. There is often one hymn that sounds fsmiliar- today we sang Showers of Blessing in Russian. Besides us there were eleven adults and one girl who looked about ten there today. They are always happy to see us, and try to talk to us, we get many hugs and handshakes to welcome us.
After church someone talked to Garry about a heifer they were interested in selling. The boys headed home right away to check on their puppies. It was such beautiful weather (there had been frost to start the day) that Garry and I went for a walk to find the Mennonite sytle fence Victor had shown him in the village - it was past the school - turns out like the school fence it is made of bricks. We are thinking about replacing the wire (kind of chain-link style) fence directly in front of the house. The since we had walked so far, Garry took me to see the other old Mennonite gravesite in the village.
We bought some bread and ice cream on the way home. We saw the strangest thing - a raven (or crow?) flew over landed on a walnut tree by the road, plucked a walnut off and flew away. Last year Garry had to work fast at picking up the nuts in the yard because these birds would peck them open and eat the nuts out. As you can see I did not have my camera with me today, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wrapping up the week

I just spent ten minutes trying to log in to do this post---someone's changed the log-in page---which wouldn't be a problem if it didn't come up in Ukrainian (I think- maybe it's Russian--so I'm guessing what goes where, or if I made a mistake typing the password) For some reason where your computer is dictates language until I log in.
Got a little kitten climbing my leg. Garry fell asleep on the couch around 8 pm, after pizza and McGyver Night- he was watching Michigan State play football. I should be sleeping so that I wake up in time to watch the Phillies at 3 am.
The puppies are trying hard to fit in- they spend most of their time in Seth and an Jonah's room, and are using the puppy pad- most of the time. There's a tile floor in there, and we'll stock up on paper towels when we get to town. They have decided that this is home- I took them outside for a walk and they took off barking after the neighbor's dog. They must already know the role of the village dogs, protecting their yard. Polo came back as soon as I called them but fluffy little Marco chased it halfway across the yard before she turned and came back. Looks like Polo is going to be bigger than Marco- she's a ball of fluff that likes to stand on her back feet half the time.
We will be going to church in the village in the morning-- the car has not been put back together yet, so we can't drive anywhere (see the post from earlier this week for a photo.) Garry got his hair cut last night- one of the girls in the village is taking a hairdressing course in Zaporosia and has cut his hair a few times when she is home on weekends.
Garry has finished pouring cement for the walls of the pit today, and worked on getting more boards on the roof of the machinery shed. Basically the same as yesterday, except they moved manure to the field today. The boys helped for a while this morning, as Maxim is helping with milking.
Yana has taken a vacation- she left on Thursday - it's her first in 2 1/2 years of milking cows. Max is milking 5 and Luba is milking the rest of Yana's cows along with her regular ones. Since they milk three times a day, it has cut into the shed building time. Garry has mentioned that since we got cows there is less time for other things- even though he's not milking, feeding and bedding the cows takes up time, so they don't get started on other things until nearly 10 am.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cats and Dogs (and walls)

Took a cute photo of Mooska's baby kitten in the house last night- it climbed up on the spinning wheel. The boys often bring it in to play, some afternoons Mooska carries it to the door and waits on the stoop for someone to open the door. After spending most of her days outdoors since spring, she's thinking that the house is warm and a great place to hang out. She is even tolerating Needles, Jonah's kitten. Needles has turned into a very healthy-looking kitten since getting that needle from the vet a couple weeks ago. The cats may decide it's a little too busy in here, since just before dinner Andrei(the neighbor who painted and helped out in the summer) came over with not one- but two puppies from somewhere in the village. Last Sunday Garry asked him if he could find one. They have became Marco and Polo for the time being, with Jonah claiming the short-haired one and Seth the long-haired- more collie-looking one(Marco).
Last night we got some rain, but by mid-morning the sun was coming out. Today was busy as Victor had the wood Garry needed for the rest of the shed delivered and came with Doreen around eleven am. Doreen has just come back to Ukraine and is going to teach English in Karamatorsk (spelling guess) She was here last fall one day while visiting to say goodbye to Ukraine- she taught English in Dnepro at the university a few years ago- but decided God had other plans for her and she was coming back to Ukraine. She was excited to see the changes here- last year I was still "camp cooking" in the summer kitchen as the reno was progressing- now we have a real home- kitchen and all! I even found a cake pan for her to take for her apartment- I have bought a glass one and don't use my sqaure silicone one anymore (I still use the rest of the set a lot- loaf, muffin, round and bundt cake pans- they were great to pack in the luggage when we came.)
Doreen toured the barn before dinner- she liked the taco casserole so much she took home the recipe- I tried it out because it uses taco ingredients but no tortillas- we have been unable to find taco shells for 5 months- they used to sell imported ones at Metro. After we ate, she washed dishes (I love company) and then we went out and took some pictures when Garry called Seth and Jonah out to help put up the back wall for the machinery shed. With the beams up, you can see how big it is. Jonah said "this is little" -it was much easier to put up than those beams in the barn for the haymow! You can see Doreen talking to Garry in one photo- we were enjoying the warm afternoon sunshine.
Afterwards, Garry built some cross-beams and stuck them up- tommorrow they will square them up and nail things down. Garry took down his form in the pit this morning and he and Maxim cut it and made one for the short side- they will be making cement to fill it in the morning.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

rain and sun

Tuesday was drizzly in the morning. Garry took a couple photos when he went to the Vettenka in the village (aptenka is drugstore- this is the animal drugstore) to get some mastitis treatment. Garry and Maxim finished cementing the last piers for the shed, and Maxim went to spread "a din" - one- load of manure for someone in the village- of course it was eight instead of one or two. After lunch the rain started to come down for real, and Garry and I headed to the city- he dropped me at Metro for groceries while he went downtown to the bank. I snapped a photo as we passed the road construction - they are building a gas station. It rained for the rest of the day.
Wednesday was kinda of drizzly in the morning but turned into a beautiful day. You can see the leaves have really come off the walnut tree in the photo of the barn- combination of last week's frost and yesterday's rain. About 15 C today - much warmer than lately. Garry was busy pulling his form down in his pit and putting it back up on the other side ( he decided to leave them on for two days since the weather is so much cooler now) He and Maxim got the cement made and filled it up before lunch.
Garry was hoping to get the beams up for the shed today, but it didn't happen. Maxim got a few brackets welded on as you can see in the photo, but Maxim spent most of the afternoon walking a heifer home that Garry bought. They were supposed to pick her up on Tuesday afternoon, but Garry got Victor to call the lady to say it was too wet. Since they couldn't find anyone to drive the heifer here, Maxim had another long walk from another village- getting home just as it was getting dark.
Meanwhile Garry had a cow in heat today - she is the open cow- bred in September before they came here. Obviously not her first time either, so we really needed to breed her today. Victor called around- no AI available- so they took her over to the neighbor's little bull and he managed to do the job- hopefully she gets pregnant - she is giving 18 liters a day, better than her friends but many of them are calving in a couple months.
We are car-less for a few days as parts are getting painted from the repair on it. Since they took the parts off and it was sitting in the yard (as in the photo) the guys decided to put it inside the barn- it may rain before the pieces are dry and back on!