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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The old year ends

Well, here is is December 31, 2011 already...looks like it will be a white new year here in Manitoba as the snowflakes are falling fat and fast outside. Dinner plans are set for the second annual pizza cook-off- since last year we had trouble eating them all. So far opinions are divided- one pizza per cook or Noah's suggested ten- the boys can freeze them for dinner(s) later in the year,

Garry booked his flight back into Dnepropetroesk yesterday when the passports- visas arrived in the morning mail, just in time, he'll fly out Monday morning, ready to get back to Ukraine and busy working on the new project. I will follow in about two weeks with the rest of the stuff. I still seems strange to be leaving Seth and Jonah here, but they are out of school for the Christmas holidays until the 9th so they can hang out together at the farm. Both seem to be happy with the decision to stay here and go to "real school" Seth is excited about the writers club he joined, and Jonah is enjoying living in Morden, walking to school and hockey and wrestling, along with his classes. He does think that his sister makes him clean (vacuum) too often. Seth has been pressed into milking duty living on the farm, so Jonah may may have it easier than he thinks!

Seth and Jonah un-stuffing their stockings...

We had a wonderful Christmas- the boys bought us a new camera, I am looking forward to getting some close up pics of birds for the blog for next year! Meanwhile here's some of Christmas morning in Manitoba.

Granddaughters in a box! The girls are enjoying playing with all the clothes I crocheted for their dolls.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Twas the night before...

Christmas and all through the house, lots of creatures are stirring...
but not a mouse!

There are four cats in here, with Jessica's Thundercat arriving on Thursday evening for Garry's birthday, kicking off the household's holiday season....

The stockings are hung by the door, already stuffed, and waiting.

The children are not nestled, snug in their beds, they are going outside to milk instead.

Well, Seth and Luke ...Jonah milked this morning and afternoon, so he hopes to go to bed.

When they come in at 2 am- I hope there's no clatter, or too loud chatter. It got rather loud earlier today when Jonah showed Luke his new wrestling the living room. He joined the team at school.

The tree is still standing, the presents piled 'round it, although the cats have pulled some ornaments from it.

Garry sang with the choir tonight, he misses it when we are in Ukraine. It was the Christmas Eve program, and what a delight, it was beautiful to hear O Holy Night.

The grandgirls are hopefully sleeping so they will be ready to come back in the morning, they ate way too many candy canes this evening.

I have a thing or two to finish before tomorrow, so I'd better get back to work ...

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas wherever you are!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Warmer weather

It was 11 Centigrade today in Dnepropetroesk, according to a friend's facebook update! It's not that warm in Manitoba, but the forecast for this week has highs of plus 2 and lows of -12, which is pretty nice for Manitoba in December. Last week we drove to Steinbach and it was drizzling Wednesday evening. Garry was going to choir practice, he's enjoying singing again.

Garry talked to Victor on Friday- he has been unable to get Maxim's number to work- then he had no more fresh cows to report- Ossa had calved a few days after we left. However five cows have calved, since Garry called, with three bull calves over the weekend , and on the 19th, two heifer calves! Zera (or Zeritchka) the first Heifer we bought last year (see end of August 2010- or early October when she calved the first time), had her second calf a female -YEAH and surprized the ladies because the first time that they milked her she gave so much milk that she overflowed the bucket! Our buckets are pretty small, they hold about 12 liters, but this was the first time a cow had done so since we started using them. We'll have more milk to sell now, with so many fresh cows.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Last week we attended the Manitoba Milk Producers meetings in Winnipeg and Garry spent much of our time there talking to fellow farmers about what we are doing in Ukraine. After church on Sunday he heard from someone who happened to be at one of the exhibitor booths, that people really can't understand what would make someone with a large dairy farm in Canada leave their children in charge of it and go off somewhere to spend money on a farm with no expectations of making a profit on the project.

This Sunday we were at our home church in Steinbach and got to participate in the services, answering some questions during the sermon about our time in Ukraine as part of the advent sermon series. If you have half an hour to listen, you can hear the audio of the sermon - Re-gifting Love on the church website at - Garry answers three questions and I answer one.

We got to church around 8:30 am, set up my computer with a 4 minute video about what we've done this year, participated in the prayer meeting before the first service, reset the computer so the video ran on a loop, and attended the first service, the traditional one with the choir. Garry was so excited he promised to come to choir practice on Wednesday as he misses singing in the choir, it was one of the reasons we joined this church when we moved from Ontario in 1997. We answered the four questions near the end of the sermon, got many hugs and handshakes, and talked to many people we know, and some that we had not met about our project between the first and second service time, during fellowship time in the gym.

Then we went into the second service, which had already started, sang praise songs in English (instead of Russian- both are worshiping God for us now- but it feels like home) and listened to the sermon again- it's actually the one on the website- I can tell because Garry and I did not say exactly the same thing during both services.

Then we talked to many more people as they were getting ready to leave church and went out to a restaurant with two couples, one we didn't know who had invited us for lunch and one we do know from before- Garry played on the church softball team with him. More conversation- both woman had been to Ukraine on summer mission trips before. What an uplifting (and slightly exhausting day- I had woke up at 3:30 again- my body is resisting the change from Ukrainian time!)

So it was three o'clock before we were back at home- we had left in Noah's car around 7 am! It is the family joke that the only car we now own is the LADA in Ukraine, so we are the ones borrowing cars from our children. Someone hit a deer with our Madza Protege last year, so it was written off by the insurance last winter, and has not been replaced.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


That's right, we've been home for a week now. Garry thinks of the village as home, but for me it's the house on the farm in Canada where most of the children are. Don't worry. it took me years of marriage and four or five kids to not cry when I heard I'll be home for Christmas on the radio because I thought of home as my parents' house.

Anyway we left the Porters apartment in Kiev at 4 am last Friday morning as you know, here's a photo I took from the guest room about 3:300 I was so excited I woke up early. It was frosty as the plane took off in the dark at 6:45 am.

Then we flew into Amsterdam (drizzly) on Ukraine International Airlines- it's strange we flew KLM but were never on one of their planes- then Delta to Minneapolis (clear) and then Winnipeg, where we could see snow in the fields as we approached the city.

We have had some trouble with jet lag, it is mostly just the time change between here and there has us waking up at 2 or 3 or 4 am because it is way past time to get up in Ukraine! It's an eight hour time change.

However we have had a great time with the family. Here are Luke- who picked us up at the airport, and has grown more at age 20 to be the only one of the boys to be as tall as Garry- 6'5"- Jonah, and Seth checking out Micah's new Futurama monopoly game. They played a couple nights, mostly after Garry and I headed to bed early like 7 or 8 o'clock! Jonah was over here the first weekend, I took him for a doctor's appointment the first Monday to get him iron levels checked again, and them drove him back over to Morden to our daughter's house to get back to school. Christmas holidays start on the 22nd, so they should be here for Garry's birthday dinner.

Sunday we when to church in Piney to hear our son Matthew preach, and went to dinner with all the boys and Matt's family and Josh's finacee in the states after, the church and his house are right at the US/Canada border. The next day we sent our passports away to get our new Ukrainian visas processed.

Garry and I saw lots of fellow farmers at the milk board meeting in Winnipeg, where Garry talked a lot about what we are doing in Ukraine to many people, we may get some more visitors next year. He even got to play basketball with the boys in their mens league in Winnipeg, they won the game, and he scored twice in overtime.

We have been getting to know our grandaughters again. Luckily Keziah, seventeen months old is not shy. She loves to play with the boys kitten, and doesn't talk much/ I did hear her say stop! while chasing it when she was here with Havilah, who's three (picture) Xaris was at kindergarten that day.

Friday night I babysat at their house while Matt and Kari went out to her Christmas party. Kari works part-time as a dietian for the health board. Xaris was showing me how well she can count, now that she goes to school; but it seems little Havi has been learning too- when Xaris said 38-39- what's next? Forty! her sister answered. Then 48,49- 51! Very close Havilah...

I thought I was over jetlag when we got up at seven the next morning, but I started this blog post Sunday morning at 3:30 am! Garry talked to Victor on Wednesday, I think, and the overdue cow Ossa had a bull calf back in Ukraine. He tried to call Maxim a couple times but sometimes it is hard to get through on the phone from here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

We made it to Kiev...

It's 5 am and we are checked through and sitting in the departure area at Borispol airport (Kiev) and there is free Internet! The plane will board in an hour or so, so I have time for a blog post since I charged the battery back up last night at the Porters apartment. Asparrow is hopping around under the next row of seats, I guess they have gotten into the new terminal F now, we used to watch them fly around in terminal b.

Garry was busy before we left with meetings about his new project with the dairy for the trade school. looks like they have hit another bump in the road as far as getting the old dairy barns at the old collective. He opened the first tube of brewers grain and it looks good to feed- in fact they are feeding it now and will be selling it as soon as the last pit is empty. Garry put up the tubes for the holidays since they quit making beer around December 20th and so there is no brewers grain to buy until sometime in the New Year. Garry says we have 4 months in the tubes at the current rate of use (including what we are selling to people in the village.) We had to raise the price when the cost went up recently, but we are selling more than before. This may be explained by a recent new customer telling Maxim that the guy they bought from before has raised his price to 4X ours.

We went bowling on Tuesday with Victor, who said he had bowled once before, the first game he almost beat my score, I was finally over 100 on the third game where we only got in 7 frames. Took me a while to warm up- Garry was bowling well the the whole time, and Victor got a few strikes.

Afterwards they decided to go buy two new pulsators for the milking machines. You may remember Garry upgraded the the pulsators when he bought two more machines in July. So now the four 100 dollar pulsators have been replaced by the two old ones, they had put back on earlier and two new 6 dollar pulsators. The fancy ones did not shut the vacuum off all the way when they were supposed to be resting, which was a problem- it works on/off so the milk goes into the bucket but the cows udder gets a chance to rest so the blood can move in and out of the teats while milking. Turned out the simple ones made in Ukraine do a better job.

Wednesday evening we attended the ballet in Dnepropetroesk and took Maxim and his girlfriend Yulia with us to see a Ukrainian ballet, The Night before Christmas, the story has young lovers, a witch, a priest, a devil, some Cossacks, the Empress - Catherine I think- and a lot of pretend skating on the pond. The company is off to tour it in China for a couple weeks. Everyone enjoyed it and there was nearly a full house, since it only had one showing before going on tour.

We got home about ten pm, and Garry had to go to the barn and breed two cows before packing his carry-on bag. I had packed the big suitcases the week before since most of the stuff in them belongs to Seth and Jonah, they were sitting by the bedroom door waiting to go out when we got up at 4 am to go to the train station.

We waved goodbye to Max in front of the train station- he was driving the car back to the village, and sat in the grand waiting room for a while before we could get on our train. It pulled out of the station at 6:30 and we read, chatted and tried to nap on the six hour ride. Looking out the window made you queasy since we happened to have seats facing the middle of the car, which is sort of like sitting in the backwards facing rear seat of the old station wagon! Mostly you just see trees, and the occasional village, railroad crossing guard house or maybe city anyway.

WE arrived in Kiev about 12:30 and carrying all the luggage up about three flights of stairs was exhausting! We had originally planned to store the luggage there and do a little sightseeing before heading over to Daryl and Molly's apartment for the night. Since I had forgotten to write down the directions to their place from the METRO stop, we stopped at the cafe there since it promised wifi so I could copy it off the email. Garry had some chicken and veggies and I had a bowl of soup before we tucked the computer case away in one of the big suitcases. Garry had found the luggage storage after we arrived while I rested up at the top of the watched the luggage.

After carting the stuff down one flight of stairs, we decided this is crazy, let's just get on the METRO and take the subway over toward the apartment, which is what we did, sucessfully switching lines and getting all our stuff onto the trains- we even got to sit down on the second subway car. Nere's the view of the stairs we carried the luggage up out of the METRO, before pulling it over to the McDonalds. Check out the handicapped ramp on the stairs with the baby carriage going up it.

We hung out at Mc Donalds with our 2 suitcases, and three carry-ons- first outside by the playstructure and inside as it got dark (and colder) until they met us after their Russian lesson to take a bus to the apartment.

Molly made some tasty taco salad for dinner, and we played a game before heading to bed. We had ordered a taxi for 4 am, which got us to the airport in plenty of time to get through the check-in, and into the upstairs waiting room. Garry tried to take a nap, while I started this blog post (accidently pushed publish when Garry wanted to check out the Eagles game online before we got on the plane to Amsterdam- which is why its now longer, proofread and has photos!)

I'll put up some photos later but we did make it to the Winnipeg airport about 20 hours later.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rumour has it...

As we get ready to leave for Canada on Friday we have found out that rumours are flying on both sides of the Atlantic. Every year we return home for Christmas and to renew our visas for Ukraine, which needs to be done every year, and you have to leave the country to do it. Maxim says he has heard two different rumours in the village- one that we are going home to Canada to stay, and the other that when we go another Canadian will come to take our place. Our son Josh told me a couple weeks ago that he heard that there was a rumour going around Manitoba that we are coming back home to run the farm there because the boys are in trouble (farming apparently). As far as I know this is not true, as much as I would like to be home with my family for longer than a month.

Garry has been busy finishing up things to get ready to run easily while we are gone. Maxim will run things with Victor's help, and Yana and or her parents will milk the cows and feed the dogs and cats outside. Max will have to deal with the two cats indoors, and Box appears to be going to have kittens while we are gone. I told them not to let her outside.

There are calves to be born in December, Ossa (pictured) and another cow are getting really close to calving now. Garry has no worries after Max delivered that big backwards bull calf alive while we were in Donestk - the little red heifer that had it is doing better now, the first couple days she gave only enough milk to feed the calf.

The barn is much warmer after the straw wall and plastic went up on the cow side as seen the photos, just like last year. It has been warmer the last few days outside anyway, highs just above freezing, lows of -6 C, although the wind was blowing last night, Garry said the top of the brewers grain pit was black this morning, instead of frozen on top like last week, today it was covered in dirt that had blown off the village gardens.

Friday we had another cow abort her calf, I believe she was about two months from her calving date, which sometimes means a live preemie, but it was dead. That makes four, and Garry has become concerned that we may have a disease causing the problem. In Canada (and the US)we would vaccinate the cows yearly for a number of dieases that can cause abortions. The trouble is we don't know which are a problem here in Ukraine, although we'd put money on it over the possible causes Garry heard here on Friday. So far, the causes of abortion include: eating too much brewers grain, eating frozen brewers grain, and the barn being too cold. The last one would cause real problems for Canadian cows who live outside in the winter, I'd think.

Since the village herd quit going out to the fields, our heifers that went out everyday have been going outside in the barnyard during the day. It saves on straw and they get out of their pen and run around and nibble on the spoiled silage the guys dump over the fence for them. They get their real food inside, since they come in every night.

On Saturday morning Maxim made a sign with the hours we will be selling brewers grain and corn silage on the weekends, since it is dark shortly after Andrei starts selling on the normal hours. People had started showing up at all hours again, Max says this way Garry can tell them that we are not selling now, it is written on the sign.

Today the new windows Max ordered for his house were installed, he has ired some guys to work on the inside this winter, so it will be ready for his wedding next year.

Yesterday Garry saw Needles the cat (he is inside only when he wants to nap) catching a mouse outside. Max says that today Mint the dog had a mouse, playing with it forever, digging it up when it escaped underground, chasing it around the precept (wagon) tires for half an hour. If Mint would only learn to stop chasing the babushka's chickens.....

Monday, November 28, 2011


Sunday morning there was a dusting of snow on the ground as we left for Dnepro, with the Lada loaded with three 50-60 liter jugs, one smaller jug, and 19 liters of smetana (sourcream) in glass jars and kilos of cottage cheese in plastic bags, filling three boxes sitting across the back seat. Victor sells these after his church, a lady across the street processes the cream and cheese for him, from our milk. She gets the milk warm right after milking in the morning a day or two before Victor needs them, and separates the milk, makes the products- the cheese is made with the skimmed milk, and the leftover whey is fed to their pigs.

Garry got pulled over by the police at the highway checkpoint on the way to church. The policeman said he was speeding, but Garry said he was goinfg the posted speed. He told us that the snow had made driving dangerous, and there were two cars off the highway ahead. he raod was wet, but there must have been some black ice earlier, because we saw first one banged up car with four guys standing next to it on a straightaway, and a second really banged up one loaded on a towtruck just past a curve.

We dropped off the milk, cream, and cheese at Victor's church except for one 60 liter jug we carried into the building where Morningstar meets and set it down in the hall.
We had a surprise when we walked into the room where church is held- it was warm- almost hot. Normally everyone is wearing both sweaters and coats for the service, since the building is as cold in the winter as it is hot in the summer. They had gotten a huge electric heater to use for the services this winter.

Since it was the first Sunday in Advent the first candle was lit during the first hour - the praise and worship time. We will miss singing in Russian next week when we are home in Canada. It got so hot in the room that they turned the heater off at the front of the room at the beginning of the sermon, but it cooled off enough that it was turned back on before it was over. Misha showed slides of his trip to Israel after the sermon. I was really wishing I had not worn my wool sweater, it was so warm. I guess there will be less sweaters at church this winter, although it felt really cold when you stepped into the hall. We said goodbye to many of our friends, since we will be gone until January.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ballet and bridges

Here are some pictures from the ballet- Don Quihote started at seven pm but had two intermissions, it was a good thing we bought a program for 4 grivna (50 cents) we even figured it out in Russian when the curtain went down for the second time without any curtain calls. It was 10:30 by the time we got back to the village.

Garry's favorite part was the dream just before the second intermission because he likes the traditional ballerina outfits.

The lead dancers were really good, and it was a well-done show. We bought four tickets for The Night Before Christmas on Wednesday evening before we go to Kiev, we are bringing Maxim and his girlfriend Yulia to the ballet.

I had forgotten to use the bathroom before leaving home- it's the first rule of going somewhere in Ukraine, because you never know what kind of toilet you will find, even when you are paying to use them. The ballet did not charge extra for the facilities, but the toilets did not have toilet seats (just don't quite sit down) Garry said the mens room was full of (cigarette) smoke when he went in, the ladies room just had lots of hair fixing going on before the show.

It was better than the Meteor on Wednesday, since we had been in the city all day we hunted up the bathrooms on the lower floor and they were "squatties" the old Soviet norm- they flush but you crouch or squat over the porcelain hole - they are raised with places to put your feet - I can never decide if you are supposed to face the door or the handle on the wall.

When we toured Odessa I paid to use a squattie, which just seems wrong. McDonalds are one of the best places to use the bathroom for free, some of the malls have really shiny North American style ones (with toilet paper in the stalls) that you pay a grivna or two to use- one has a turnstyle- you buy a ticket from an automatic machine you put in to go in, most pay toilets have an attendant- they give you some toilet papers squares to use. You should always carry some tissues with you, because some places don't have any!

There were no frozen water bowls this morning, a combination of warmer weather (-5 but windy so it felt colder) and the straw wall being finished in the barn. They have a little more to do before we leave next week.

We went to Dnepro and visited two English classes, we talked about Thanksgiving (in honor of the American holiday) in the first class- here they are putting words in alphabetical order.

Then we got a little lost finding the second class, we had been there once about year and a half ago, but finally got there about a half hour late with a little help by phone to get Garry to where he knew how to find it. The roads can be really tricky because so many sections of the city are blocked by huge factories, it can be hard to get where you are going. The second class was all planned for us we had a great time with the students, playing games and eating cake.

Then we headed for the village and had a real surprise- we had driven around the bypass on the highway for the last time this morning,( see photo) because they were sending the traffic on those single lanes over the one finished overpass bridge! We got home at 6 pm and I made pizza for dinner, and we watched more of season three -Lois and Clark (it's not quite the same without the boys.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Driving to Dnepro and its cold outside!

Wednesday evening we went to Dnepro in the evening to watch Zaporosia's Ferro pro basketball team play against the the Dnepr team. Interesting that we first drove to Zaporosia; not because we didn't know where the game was, but to take Yana to the bus station to get a ride, her mother apparently passed us on the road, when we got there, she was almost back to the village on a marshuhka. Garry thought we were picking her up and dropping her off in the village on the way back toward Dnepropetroesk.

The game was played at the Meteor arena, there is way more seating for fans than in Zaporosia, as you can see in the picture; however I couldn't see the names on the back of the players. We know most of the Ferro players after watching three games in Zap, but I like to try sounding out the American players' names on the back of the jerseys, since they are written in Russian. The cheerleaders here had less outfit changes, but they had pompoms at the beginning of the game, and real cheerleader outfits. Too bad we weren't cheering for the home team, Ferro got down by 16 points, almost caught up in the second half but ended up losing by ten, I think. Garry says 20- maybe it was 15...

The Dnepro cheering fanatics were interesting, it was like we were at a Futball (soccer) match with the chanting, flag waving, drum beating, sirens, horns (the last two mostly when Ferro had the ball) and sparklers and flares they lit up at one point of the first half- one was thrown out onto the cement behind the playing floor. When Ferro was introduced before tip-off rolls of toilet paper flew out of the Dnepr fanatic section of the stands, landing on the court, so that game was delayed a few moments for clean-up.

When we drove home we were surprised to see a new flashing light up arrow at the constuction diversion on the highway. They are working on the new bridge even in the dark now, putting down pavement, so we were wondering if they had another accident at the site. We saw a truck that had overturned its second trailer going around one of the turns of the bypass, but we think that there have been worse accidents where cars missed the turn and went straight in the dark into the construction. Garry is thinking they are going to have one side operating soon, so traffic will go into one lane (hopefully) over the new overpass but continue straight on the highway.

Thursday morning the thermometer outside read -14, and there were a few frozen waterbowls in the barn, but nothing major was froze. Maxim did some more winterizing of the barn, welding new hinges for the haymow doors so they could be shut for the winter, and starting to build the straw bale wall on the cow side of the barn. Garry built more wooden pieces this fall to close off air flow into the heifer side of the barn- you can't build a bale wall on the inside of the barn there- the heifers would eat it. Last winter there was hay piled at one end, so there were bales on part of that wall. Friday morning the temperature was only -12 but more waterbowls froze up! Today they plan to finish the wall and put up film used silage plastic to seal it off. It worked well last winter.

Garry and I went to Dnepro late Thursday morning to do some shopping to prepare for our trip home - we fly out of Kiev next week Friday!!! first stopping to get some paint since Garry wants to finish painting his entryway (he doesn't believe it could be too cold) some stuff at Metro- we are stocking up on dog and cat food and kitty litter for when we are gone. Then Garry stopped by the dairy commission office to find out about soil testing, before we went bowling and walked through some of the markets to do some Christmas shopping, and bought sharma for lunch at a stand near the art market.

We walked through the new mall downtown, it opened about 6 weeks ago PASSAGE (pronounced pa-sa-oge) It's right across the square from Mc Donalds- in the summer they put up a two-level carousel between them. We rode the escalators up and down and
window shopped at the GAP and some other imported stores- there is Lacoste, Marks and Spencer even Claires and a Hello Kitty store. -

We had a snack in a cafe downstairs- Garry had coffee, but I had to try the DR Pepper, which I had never seen here before. It had a sticker with Russian on, so I think it may be a small shipment. Of course it was served with a straw and a lovely Coke glass, but was a little fizzy since it was warm and had no ice. Not unusual, since cold drinks are considered a source of sore throats here.

We needed to be at Tanya's class for 4:30, our last stop was the Central market, where we bought a couple Christmas presents before turning the heat up in the car for the drive over there to warm up - it was warmer than the morning, but around freezing, and we were walking around outside... we had a traffic backup at one corner- the road was a little icy there from a nearby watermain break and look wht happened..

Our last stop was at a school on the other side of the river where Garry played basketball for a short time, because he has a problem in his knee, and seems like something loose in there now causing a problem- not the knee that had ACL surgery- the other one. So he limped down the stairs, and we drove through Mc Donalds for cheeseburgers on the way back to the village. Strangely, the flashing light arrow had mowed to the other side of the construction zone, I guess that decided it was the more dangerous side, and they didn't get two!

Garry is walking with his leg straight most of the time now so it doesn't hurt, he doesn't like walking on stairs. We were back to Dnepro again Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, I'll share some pictures later; but when we drove back to the village there was a working flashing light at both ends of the construction zone- maybe they should have got those in April when they started!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

outside our door ...and happy birthday Jonah

Yesterday Garry and Max went over to the village mill, and took a few photos. Most of the activity this time of year is crushing sunflower seed for oil. Here is the flour mill (some of Garry's photos were too dark) He says most of the people were bringing in bags of sunflower seed to be crushed or picking up their sunflower oil. I think the mill gets a percentage of the oil for crushing. Most of the oil is put in 5 or 6 liter empty plastic water jugs and taken home for use in the village kitchens.

Here is the seed going through a second crushing machine, the one in this photo. The stuff falling out the bottom is called mukaka and is used as cattle feed, as a top dressing. Garry says that they get 40% oil from the first crushing and 5% when they crush the seeds again.

If you keep a close look out the window or look out the door of Garry's new entryway, you'll see all kinds of things coming in the driveway to the barn.

Today's weather forecast for Kiev on the internet gave us a laugh this morning- it said 0 C and smoke! I think that would work most days and most places in Ukraine- the last two days in the village I have had smoke creeping inside the house from burning leaves.

This morning Maxim took Yana, the young milker lady to the hospital to get checked out, she has an infection on her face. Her father has been here helping milk, while her mother has been at their home, so now Yana will go there, and her mother will come back to milk. They have been rotating so one is there to take care of their animals she bought, and two are here to milk the cows, since Luba left.

When Maxim got back, he just had time for a cup of coffee when he went outside to help Oxana's guys load up milk in the yellow van. Garry tells me that they have some pictures inside the van of our barn, the milk tank, and the cows in the stalls to show the customers where the milk comes from, to prove it is high quality. Maxim says every one knows that milk bought from babushkas (grandmas) a few liters here and few liters there is not so good, and now they have proof of their better milk.

After Max left, Garry walked down the street to bring home a heifer he bought while I made brown sugar biscuits for breakfast. It took him a little longer than he thought but the biscuits were still warm when he got into the house. He tells me that he is trying to buy heifers ready to breed.

If you are wondering about the chubby little heifer heading into the barn- like if she's old enough to get pregnant- she's 18 months old (most cows calve for the first time at 2 years and it takes nine months for a calf)- he says this black heifer is a Belarussian cow and is almost as big as her mother. Garry says we have two other ones in the barn already. Most of our cows are small compared to the ones at home in Canada, but these are even smaller.

Here are the two remaining baby ducks that were born this fall. Remember how they kept escaping and then went to live inside the summer kitchen with Yana? They are now in the barn. Yana shut the remaining big ones in the chicken coop. I think they might be happier (and warmer) all together.

While I was waiting for dinner to get done- it took longer to heat up frozen squash parmasan than I thought- Garry and Maxim played mini-table tennis on the coffee table- a horse and wagon came in the lane, followed by a second wagon pulled by two horses, a dappled gray and a white, they were here to by corn silage I think. Max says that the farmer has six horses and does all his work with them.

A few weeks ago I talked here about how Garry bought some old bricks from the neighbor who has been remodeling his house (for our entryway). Misha took down the walls facing us this spring, and they were rebuilt with thick light weight cinder block size brick that is supposed to be good insulation, and then covered that with new bricks. Here is the before and after- (I was looking through some photos from March and found one of their place- I think I was getting one of the tulips in front of our house)I bet Jonah and Seth wouldn't even guess its the same house, and they looked out the bedroom window (on the other side of our house) at it everyday for two years!

It's November 23rd, and Jonah was born on a Thursday afternoon sixteen years ago. I know he enjoying all his science classes back in Manitoba but I am really looking forward to seeing him and the rest of the family in one week plus one day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Circus and other fun

Sunday morning and Maxim was back just in time for us to go to church. He had his older brother and girlfriend here for the day, he dropped them off at the train station in Zaporosia before he went to church Sunday evening. Apparently the long-haired yellow kitten they found in Nikopol (there is a large city with almost the same name as our village) while getting the car fixed Friday morning also made it onto the train to Kiev. The motor mount broke while Max was driving home with his girlfriend and his brother Ruslan and his girlfriend (she`s in the photo by the calf hutches holding her new kitten) so they had to have repairs made- I heard something about hitting a big hole in the road. Maxim says now the whole car is like new.

We went to the early show of the circus- so we could take some photos and video for Seth and Jonah- when we go home on December 2nd we can show it to them- almost like they were here for their birthdays (not really, but I am pretending) Jonah will be sixteen on Wednesday, and I really miss him and Seth, I am really excited about flying home to see all the kids and our granddaughters, too.

This month`s circus featured one act we`d seen before, but a few new things- and elephant act and a real flying trapeze act (not the one in the photo- this is the opening circ`d soliel-like one) The circus had pretty full audience too. Garry walked around during intermission while they put up the net for the trapeze act, while I watched the seven or eight year old boy sitting at the end of the row eat his cotton candy by burrowing his face in it. I was almost laughing. Before the circus started kids were getting their picture taken on top of the elephant, or buying balloons or toys that light up in the dark, then the band played and the lights flashed around and the show began...

....first the flying act, and then the elephant made it`s first appearance - as a barber giving a shave to this guy- in this photo he`s getting a rinse to finish (he was chosen from the audience, but looked a lot like the guy putting the kids on top of the elephant for the photos.)

Monday we had the Kiroy Rog orphanage team in for soup for lunch, cake, and tea and they even got to check out the barn. The girls thought it smelled, Garry said (that was when he come in from feeding the cows this afternoon and I told him he smelled like cows- which is not a bad thing because I like the way cows smell!) They had visiting Canadians who are heading back home after a two week visit here I think. They are planning to come back on a part or full-time basis to work with the ministry there. Sorry- I forgot to take photos today.