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

Sunday, January 30, 2011


This morning we made the drive in to go to church and deliver 150 liters of milk to Victor's church first. Next week we are supposed to bring another 100 for our (Moringstar) church, with production still rising. Church started at ten, and it was strange to realize that the praise songs in Russian are sounding familiar, many people greeted us after the service ended around 12:30. Thanks to our interpreter today, one of the medical students from Africa (Russian is not his first language either)we understood most of the sermon and prayer requests. We went to the boys other favorite restaurant here- Puzata Hata (translates to - the big belly) where they have traditional Ukrainain food, before heading home to the village.

It’s 5:20 Sunday evening, and it seems hard to believe that a week ago the boys and I were in Piney at the International Christian Fellowship listening to Matthew preach on Sunday morning. Afterwards Seth and Jonah enjoyed swimming at the pool/indoor water park in Steinbach with brothers Micah, Matthew, sister-in-law Kari and the three girls. The boys love to play with their nieces (that’s all the boys from Josh down to Jonah) Seth tells me that 2 year old Havi tried to drink the pool water from a sprayer like it was a fountain. It is one of the most difficult things for me being so far away from my granddaughters here, I’d like to spend time with them every week. Unfortunately we can’t get Skype to work well enough for web cam talking, which might help. The girls call us “Grandma and Grandpa from Ukraine.”

Any way this afternoon Jonah was watching his favourite cable channel discovery science, one kitten is sitting on my leg watching me type, while the other is curled up on the radiator. The boys are off in their bedroom now (it’s the biggest room in the house with the exception of the kitchen/living room.) Garry has taken off to Dnepro to play pickup basketball. One of the girls (like 20 something) from church is playing with a girls team and they practice at a gym by playing pickup ball(he went a few times before we went home, but they had to find a new place to play) He says only a few people actually know how to play basketball. He went last Sunday night and had quite a trip there and back.

Apparently all this snow we have here fell last Sunday night. It was snowing when Garry left here, and the road was slick, he saw a couple cars go into the ditch, one went from the other direction right past him into a field (it’s a four-lane highway from here to Dnepro.) Garry says he wouldn’t have gone to play if he had realized how bad it was. It was worse after they were done playing, several inches of snow had fallen. One guy’s car wouldn’t start and so they tried to push start it but it slid and spun the wheels and he couldn’t engage the clutch, to go. So by the time Garry was in his car, he was wet and cold from trying to push the other car. It was snowing hard so visibility was really poor to begin with and then his windshield wipers were having trouble clearing the windshield, so he had to stop a number of times to clean ice off the wipers. He was very glad to finally arrive home at midnight after a drive that was more than twice as long as normal.

Garry was also glad on Monday morning as he looked at 6 inches of snow on the ground that he had already bought tickets for the train to meet us on Tuesday, since road clearing can be sketchy in Ukraine, and once the snow/freeze/thaw cycle gets going potholes are everywhere. The moment the big snow falls the train tickets sell fast, and he wouldn’t have been able to get those nice 2 person compartments for the trip from Kiev to Dnepropetroesk.


The little kitten has fallen asleep on my lap, so I guess I should move on the something new!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

over the top

This morning the house warmed up with the bright sun coming through the windows, and it even warmed up outside! The temperature rose to around zero, water dripped off the eaves and snow slid off the roof. As you can see in the picture, Needles the cat was fascinated by a large flock of crows on the street in front of the house. The big deep windowsills are also good for plants. I am not sure what they were eating but they were pecking away in the snow for about half an hour while the cat was on the alert in the front window.

Garry tells me he made a mistake the other day when I reported that the cows would go over the 400 liter a day mark, there were only 280 liters after two milkings, so the total for the day was only 391. Today the cows did give more than 400 liters with 428- impressive since the first day over 300 was 15 days ago.
Maxim was working on the block heater for the tractor but they didn’t get it on quite right so they will have to try again. Since the loader tractor is being kept inside the barn, it starts fine, so the other tractor is getting the help to start since it lives under the shed. Garry is hoping to get the manure spread as soon as both tractors are working.

Garry decided to turn on the cow trainers again today (cow trainers are supposed to get the cows to move back so they do not lay down in piles of manure.) After all Garry’s work currycombing the cows to clean them before we went home, he was very disappointed to discover that Maxim and the ladies had not brushed them while we were in Canada, and he had to start cleaning them up all over again. Ukrainians are not as worried about clean cows as Canadians. On Wednesday the visitor from Quebec with the Canadian-Ukrainian dairy commission said he would turn the trainers on, no matter the voltage (they are hooked up to an electric fencer power supply- the zap of power when they raise up to “go” is what makes them jump back) The fencers here in Ukraine are 220 volts (like all the electric power) instead of 110 (Garry is hoping to find something to step the power down) so the cows sometimes jump back so hard they get loose from their stall by breaking the chain tying them there.  Garry had the trainers on at times and off at others before we went home, so the cows would be encouraged to stand back in the stalls and stay cleaner. He is amazed that the cows will still reach up and lick the cow trainer bars over them- cows are pretty smart and you would think they would remember that those things hurt! After lunch he had to run out to the barn and tell the ladies to turn them off while they were milking this afternoon.

Garry and I took Marina (native Ukrainian missionary with the EFCCM) and her new husband Eugene (or Jenya) out to dinner tonight. We missed attended the wedding in December by a couple days, since he popped the question last summer- while our tickets home were booked in January 2010! Any way we had a lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant in downtown Dnepro, delicious food and good conversation.

On the way out of the village we picked up a lady walking out to the highway to catch a marshuka (vans that run regular routes) since see was heading toward Dnepropetroesk we took her along until she wanted to get out at a village halfway to the city-it looked like she’d be walking a ways- you can see it a mile or so off the highway. She insisted on paying him  5 grivina, and even knew Garry’s name. I think everyone in Nikolipolia knows who Garry is.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The odds are improving

Today the heifer-to-bull-calf ratio improved again! There was a new calf born and its a girl, with a little white spot on her head. I got Garry to take some photos this afternoon while he was outside. That's 3 heifers to 8 bulls born since October (mostly in December and January). The temperature inside the barn was at negative 3 degrees C (zero is frozen water temperature for Americans)but only the waterbowls at the ends of the barn were frozen this morning. The grain bin is nearly empty and they were hoping for a delivery Saturday, but maybe Pawnedelnik- Monday, so Garry and Maxim went to the mill this afternoon and pick up a few bags of grain to feed until then.

It's warmer in Manitoba than here (of course it was the other way around when we were there) and the cold snap isn't supposed to be over here until next week Thursday. The house kittens have taken to sleeping on top of the radiators, and as long as it took the bed to warm up last night we may have to join them. Garry just went outside to feed the cows their evening grain and says that there's nothing like a walk in the cold to wake you up! He is pleased that some of the fresh cows are milking 25 liters a day now. The truck came with ten more tons of brewers' grain yesterday.

In spite of the cold the kids in town are out in the after school with their sleds- the old-fashioned wooden ones with metal runners. Garry told me that you see people using them to pull stuff home from the store (summertime its mostly bikes and old baby carriages that are used for transporting goods if you don't have a car, motercycle, or scooter.) Garry took a picture of the boys across the road- you might recognize the older boy- Andrei worked here last summer painting, and his little brother Serosjia is four I think. They came in afterwards- the little guy loves to come play with the boys' nerf guns. He kept shooting Garry in the head with the darts until they had to go home around 5 pm.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What we will miss about Canada

As we have just returned to Ukraine from our visit home to Manitoba for 6 weeks, I have asked the boys to help me come up with a list of what they miss the most while living in a Ukrainian village. We have been here for a year and a half now, with the eception of our two Christmas visits home. For Jonah who (like his Dad) had been in Ukraine from January 27th 2010 until December 8th it was the first time he met his new niece Keziah- she turned 6 months old the Sunday before we flew back here. His brothers got to see the results of his three inches of growth in that time. Seth spent two months this summer at home in Manitoba (July and August) working with his brothers on the farm there. Luke who turns twenty in May asked that we send both of his brothers home for the summer this year.

Flushing the toilet paper - most places in Ukraine and in our house here you throw the used toilet paper intoa garbage can next to the toilet because the plumbing will plug up if you flush it like at home in Canada or the US, and you have to remember where you are for what to do with it!

Root beer and Dr Pepper yes they are among our favorite kinds of pop (soda) to drink and you can't find them here. The first year we returned home through NJ they told Grandma what they wanted was root beer to drink and greasy NJ- style pepperoni pizza to eat first, beacuse that's what they missed most. We can drink Pepsi, Coca-cola (no one calls it Coke here, and it has a slightly different taste than in North America) and that popular choice here- Fanta. You can mix cheery juice with Coke and make your own cherry coke.

drinking the tap water You don't know what a luxury it is to just turn on the tap wherever you are and drink it. Or brush your teeth, or open your mouth while showering! Here you drink water that come through the filter, and you cook with it and brush your teeth with it too. The city water is thought to be high in metals and who knows how safe it is otherwise, so we have a filter that runs slowly, and when it gets too slow you have to clean the ceramic filter and put in a new carbon one.

food variety While you can get pizza here its not really like pizza at home in Canada or the US, that's why we started pizza night on Saturdays when I make it myself as close as I can get to the real thing. Mexican is non-existant although you can sometimes get expensive taco shells and salsa imported from the US at the Metro store. However this fall I found a recipe on the internet for tortillas for taco making (iceberg lettuce is a sometimes thing too) so we can enjoy them more often. I also make stirfry (no Chinese restaurants, although sushi is popular) and bagels. The boys ate at Taco Bell and A&W every chance they got in Manitoba - here McDonalds is as close as they get to Canadian flavor.

living at the house that's Seth's number one- I asked him if he missed his brothers or their toys (its a gaming/movie/rockband/computer world in our house now that Micah, Noah and Luke live there) and he diplomatically answered both.

sportsSeth misses playing high school sports, Jonah loved playing hockey and would be in his second year of high school now (it is their biggest complaint about being homeschooled) Garry wouldn't admit it but he misses playing basketball in the Winnipeg mens league with the boys- he got in three games while we were home. He also misses watching NFL football although the new satelite TV service has a lot of baseball, college sports and hockey.

family...granddaughters number one for me, and even for Garry who was in a hurry to get back here the minute his passport showed up stamped with the new visa (he was only home a month) Our favorite people to hang out with our daughter, sons, daughter-in-law and of course, we'd like to see way more of our beautiful graaddauhters. It was really sad when 2 1/2 year old Havilah burst into tears when she was told to say goodbye to Grandma because we were going back to Ukraine. After I came to visit last August when the baby was three weeks old her older sister Xaris told her that "Grandma in Ukraine" was in every plane they saw in the sky.

coming things that we like in Ukraine that you don't see in North America.

Cold toes

It's cold here in the village, it's minus 20 C at 9 pm Thursday evening- I'm enjoying a cup of hot tea as I type because it even seems cold in the house- you need a sweater on- and here we are used to the balmy plus 20 (72F) that Micah keeps the house in Manitoba with the outdoor wood boiler. The boys got back to schoolwork today, and I'm sure we'll adjust to the time change soon. I made a pot of hot spicy soup for supper tonight.
Not sure how cold its supposed to get tonight, but last night Garry put a little heater in the milkhouse to keep it from freezing in there. The waterbowls were frozen for the cows this morning, but got working during the day and were still working when Garry went out to feed the evening grain an hour ago. The tractor is being kept in the barn again so it will start. I brought back a block heater for the tractor but it needs to be installed before they can use it.
Garry was excited to report that after 2 milkings today there was 300 liters of milk, so after the evening (3rd) milking he should have his first 400 liter day.
The puppy grew while we were gone, as did the two kittens who are still hanging out in the house. Mooska must have found a different warm spot, she doesn't seem to want to come in (it seems the milking ladies are feeding her and the puppy) Turns out somebody let Polo off his chain when I left and he runs around the barn and yard following Luba. However he seems to like hanging out in the house since we got home as you can see.
I forgot to mention that with the bombing in Moscow the airport in Kiev had a stepped up security force (never really noticed any before) but there were police patroling the grounds and terminals with german shepherd dogs and Garry said they were checking people's passports- in Ukraine everyone carries their passport for ID- one is issued when Ukrainians turn 16 for in the country, they have to apply for a different one for international travel. Since Garry had not brought his with him when he came to meet us, its a good thing he looks like a foreigner and no one asked him for his.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Getting back to the village

We made it home to the village about 7 am (it’s still dark then) on Wednesday morning in Ukraine. We ended up not trying a quick trip into Rome to see the sights on Tuesday morning (around midnight Winnipeg time)since I was feeling a little dizzy with an upset stomach, although I told the boys if they wanted to try it we would. They had slept a little more than me on the plane, since there was no seatback entertainment systems- they showed movies the old-fashioned way- the Social Network and one in Italian with English subtitles.
The guys decided to head through security after we had started to the exit. So instead we napped, Seth changed some money into Euros so he could buy some Sprite and Fanta to drink (he did look for water fountains first- but couldn’t find any.) They had eaten breakfast on the plane- red orange juice(you could have tea or coffee, but the juice was good) a warm half of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich and a croissant. It's always interesting find out what meal you get on different airlines, Alitalia had a very substantial dinner after takeoff. The boys even took turns napping on the floor behind the bench we found near our gate, so they were well-rested for the afternoon flight- you can see them sleep sitting in the phot of the termianl. The takeoff over the water was spectacular to watch- I even snapped some photos after the plane turned and headed over Rome toward the snow-topped mountains. Then we headed into cloud cover and drank our Pepsi and ate the flatbread snack (think large crackers) – the boys once again played DS games while we were in air (about a three hour flight to Kiev)
We landed as dusk was falling,(check out the cool snowy photo I took as we taxied around the airport) made quick time through customs, collected all our baggage around 5:30 and found Garry waiting just on the other side the arrival door in the new terminal. We took our two baggage carts through the parking lot to the old terminal to get a ride over to the train station (the airport is in Borispol – the train station Kiev, and it takes around an hour by bus or marshuka (van) – we ended up at the back of the van the bus that was ready to leave when we got there said it was too full to take us and our four big suitcases. So we got to the train station about 7:30 (the recent snow slowed down traffic – just like it did when we were leaving Winnipeg) and pulled the bags inside where I camped out with them while the guys went over to Mc Donald’s and we picnicked on the floor as people hurried by- you can see Seth enjoying his fries in one photo- it was his only real meal of the day. About eight we went down to track 11 to find our train.
This year we traveled in luxury instead of third class, we had two two-person compartments at either end of the car (also number 11) The padding on the benches was thicker and the sliding door to our little room locked (I wrote about our trip last January when we were in the end of the open 6 bunk per section cars, with the bathroom door by my feet, and people going in and out all night) This car held 18 people while third class ones must have 54 in.
Garry and I even had tea and coffee after the lady knocked on the door to say we were almost to Dnepropetroesk (the train continued to Zaporosia) around 4 am. You can see Garry got one of his dollar and a half haircuts in the village on the weekend in the picture of him with his coffee.
Victor met us with the car (turned out the timing belt had broke, it even got new sparkplugs- both of which in the Lada, it turns out, should get replaced after 30,000 Kms – it had made 69,000.) After an interesting drive back -it was dark, snowing a bit and we missed the turn into the village- it isn't plowed, although the highway was- and had to turn around and try again. The other interesting thing about the ride was the car lights turn off sometimes when you hit a bump, the switch needs to be replaced, and that had Garry fumbling around for the dashboard switch at least 20 times. I unpacked later this morning and even found my cell phone in one of the suitcases- I was up hunting for it the night before we left Manitoba until 1 am.

Garry wasn't kidding when he said the snow arrived on Sunday evening. Apparently the winter wheat fields were green when he came back two weeks ago and now all you see is snow. More than six inches and tonight the temperature is supposed to fall to -21 C, so things are going to freeze in the barn overnight (like waterbowls). This afternoon Garry drove me into Dnepro and we bought two carts full of groceries- the cupboards were bare. He had been too busy (or car-less) to do a real shopping trip since getting back. So now we are stocked up and ready for the winter season in Ukraine. The potholes watch will begin- saw a couple on the highway today.

Monday, January 24, 2011

on our way

When I talked to Garry last night (Monday morning in Ukraine) he said that he was glad he was not driving to Kiev to pick us up Tuesday afternoon, not just because the car isn’t working but because about 5 inches of snow fell Sunday night. He still hopes to get the car off to get fixed and pick up the “new” old Precept (wagon) he bought from the big farmer- it needs a few repairs before they can use it. The one we have been using belongs to one of our neighbors in the village that we rent land from. So far Garry has gotten one load of hay home- he hopes to get about ten this time, but it is more difficult to get there, get loaded and weighed and get home than in the fall (now with the snow covering the pile of hay to load- even more) so only one load a day now.
Micah and Noah drove us to the airport in Winnipeg this morning- it took a while even in Josh’s truck- Manitoba had fresh snow that had made drifts- even on Highway 1’s slow lane, and traffic slowed to a crawl even before we reached the city limits (it was just getting to daylight as you can see in the photo taken downtown). But we still arrived at the airport almost 2 hours before our flight to Toronto was scheduled to leave, since we left home at 6:30 am. The boys killed time with Seth's mp3 player and Jonah's nook (e book reader) while I read a book. Our flight is scheduled for a ten minute delay, but we have 3 hours between flights in Toronto before we head to Rome “overnight” departing 4:30 in the afternoon and landing at 7:15 am local time in Rome.
The plane took off about a half hour delayed but we hsve plenty of time to enjoy the free wi-fi since we made it over to the gate about an hour before boarding. The boys are hunting for some real Canadian food to buy before we leave. They had a breakfast snadwich at the Winnipeg airport, but I didn't buy them any food on the the flight- I did have to put three dollars on the credit card since they only had one set of ear buds in the bag, and I couldn't find any in my purse.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's a girl calf

When I talked to Garry late Saturday here- Sunday morning in Ukraine- he had good news- there was a heifer calf born on Saturday- bringing the numbers to two heifers and eight bull calves so far on our little farm. Its supposed to average out to slightly higher than 50% males statistically, so it's starting to come around- to 20%female now. Milk production is up to 385 liters a day, with about 22 cows milking and six more getting ready to calve in the next couple weeks. Garry tells me he has a new buyer to get some of this extra milk he's making, and he hopes to get over 400 liters a day since he got a delivery of Brewer's grain on Friday.
Unfortunately his car is not working- he thought that it was frozen but that's not it, although it is not getting fuel through the line. They are going to tow it to Dnepro on Monday. On Tuesday Garry is taking the train to Kiev to meet us and we will go back on the train Tuesday evening/night. It leaves about 3 hours after the boys and I land so hopefully we breeze through customs and leave Rome on time. We have 6 hours there the boys and I hoe to get out to see something of Rome. Right now I'm trying to make sure everything gets into a suitcase that's supposed to and they are not overweight!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More bull calves

In case you are wondering, while I am busy tying up loose ends here in Canada, I have talked to Garry on the phone, and have some new information to report- yesterday Garry had 3 cows calve. While this should help him in the making more milk department, they all had bull calves. I think we are at 8 bulls and one little heifer calf that was born while we were in Canada. Now there are only 8 dry (non-milking) cows in the herd.

Garry tells me his visitors last week when the power was out were Pentecostal and told him after the lights came back on the that of course they did because they prayed for the power to come back on. He told Victor that maybe they should get them back out to pray for heifer calves. In case you're wondering why it's better to have girls instead of boys- heifer calves grow into new cows to milk while bull calves grow into dinner. In other news the heifer calf he pulled for the neighbor that day was running around the next day- so he may get more villagers stopping in wanting help with calving cows (see the previous post for more about this).

Garry says the trucker is hoping to be able to get some more brewers grain to deliver soon, but meanwhile the sunflower meal he started feeding when he got back last week is starting to show results- the last three days the cows made 300, 311 and 335 liters of day a day, and there are 4 fresh cows to go into the sale milk soon, so he hopes to be at 400 liters before long. The weather sounds much warmer than Manitoba- about -4 C while is nearly -30 here. When I talked to Garry he was in Dnepro in the afternoon, getting his semen tank refilled with liquid nitrogen (that's how they keep it really frozen- of course in North America someone comes out to the farm to deliver the nitrogen and frozen semen.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lights out

I talked to Garry last night before going to bed- that way I get him first thing in the morning in Ukraine- and he told me that the power had gone out the night before while he was sleeping. He assumed that lines were down as there had been freezing rain falling when he went to bed. He told me that he woke up when someone was banging on the door around 5 am and had a terrible time trying to get dresses and get the door open as it was pitch black. A few of Maxim’s friends were at the door and recited a rhyme about New Years. Garry got the car started and drove around and put it in the barn so the ladies could see to milk. Luba told him he should give the boys some money, and they were still by the door when he returned to the house. It turns out it was Old New Year (did you know that Russia stayed with the old calendar for a long time in the Julian- Georgian calendar debate.) It was raining at that time, since it had warmed up overnight.

So I talked to Garry a few minutes ago, and it was almost 4 in the afternoon and the power had just come back on as they were trying to get water to give the cows - they had been unable to drink since 3 am, although they had about 88 liters of milk at midday – Garry says they are up to 280 liters a day with production going up on 18 cows since he started feeding some sunflower meal after he got back with the brewers grain still unavailable (they used the last of it over a week ago- but the guy who delivers it hopes to be able to get a load soon.)
Garry had visitors today- Victor brought out two couples from the left bank church who wanted to see the farm, he said they brought food with them, and Victor went over to the summer kitchen where the milker ladies live to heat some water for tea (they have a gas stove- ours is electric.) One of the guys from the village came over- one of the guys who did the drywall in the house- he had a heifer who was having trouble calving, and had been unable to pull it out (and all the neighbors had been drinking too much to help- since it was the holiday.) Turned out that it was a big backwards calf, Garry was having trouble getting it, so the visiting men got to help pull a calf. Amazingly it was a live heifer calf- hopefully both mother and calf make a full recovery from the ordeal.

So Garry will be able to relax after he finishes feeding the cows and his visitors go home in a house with lights, a working stove, and televsion, since he said the satelite was finally turned back on yesterday evening- just before he went to bed.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Here and there

Garry tells me that there is just a dusting of snow in the village, unlike Manitoba where the snow remains piled up outside. That's good news for us- we may not have to take the overnight train to Dnepropetroesk when we fly back in 12 days- Garry may drive the Lada to Kiev to pick us up! When I talked to him before going to my dental cleaning this morning (a little sore now) he was excited to report that he and Victor had been to see Nikoli Nickolias (I may have that wrong- but his name is something like that) and he had agreed to sell Garry more hay, as he had hoped, so on Monday he can start hauling loads of hay back with the wagon. This is a recent photo from the farm (I borrowed it from Victor via the web)

This afternoon I attended the funeral of a dear neighbour here in St Labre, when we moved here he was always ready tell us about the history of the area, and what a remember most about George is he was always smiling. We bought the farm here in 1997 from his son, and it was nice to see many of the family we have met over the years.

The service was almost entirely in French at the Catholic church in La Broquerie, which is much larger than the little church in St Labre, and I realized that it reminded me of attending church in Ukraine- except I may know more a few more words in French than Russian- still not enough to understand - just words I recognize and understand.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Phone calls

It has been hard to talk to Garry on the phone since Sunday evening there (morning here in Canada) the time difference is a problem- either one of us is sleepy or he's too busy to talk because he's doing something- I think he was feeding the cows when I called tonight (it was about 8 am in Ukraine) and yesterday he was in (this morning here) a store with Victor and couldn't hear what I was saying. I booked the flight back for the boys and I for two weeks from today.

Tonight I was in Steinbach for a short presentation to the jr high youth at the Free Church- I was a volunteer for this jr high group for about seven years before we went to Ukraine, and there was a great group of kids out tonight (only the grade nines were there the last time I was.) I really enjoyed the praise and worship singing- they go all out with camp-style motions and lots of bouncing for some songs. It's so nice to worship in English when you spend most of your Sundays trying to figure out what you are singing in Russian or Ukrainian (even though some songs are translations of English ones - it seems so different you just can't remember what the English words are most of the time.) I ended up coming home quite late as I kept talking to adults as I was leaving church about what we're doing- but that was a good thing!

I was hoping to have something new to write about, but I can tell you that on Sunday Garry met with some businessmen about going to th church with Victor and fed the cows after he got back to the village in the afternoon, as Maxim left to visit his family for next week, since he missed going home for the holidays as they had hoped when we left last month.

He said the cows looked good, even the sick one. One calved either Saturday or Sunday and had another bull calf (its one heifer and four bulls so far I think) but it went right away as one of the villager's cows had had a dead calf and they wanted one to replace it. The pets were all alive, but he told me that the puppy Polo looks grayer than he did before- we'll see in two weeks I guess. Here's a photo of Polo back in December.
Got through to Garry at 1 am here- turned out he couldn't hear anything when I called earlier- and sounds like all is well there, except the satelite quit working this morning- he says there was a message in Russian yesterday- maybe no one paid the bill while we were gone. Guess he'll watch his new DVDs before we get back for sure.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Almost there

Talked to Garry at 11 pm here in Manitoba- it was 7 am and he was almost to Dnepropetroesk on the overnight train (it leaves Kiev at 11(30?) pm and gets there in the morning- he said he even slept on the train some. (If you look but in last February's post you'll find my overnight train travel story.)
Not surprising since he had told me when I talked to him earlier in the day while he was waiting at the train station that he had been in the middle of a row on a full flight overseas and had not slept- but he did get an hour or so on the flight from Amsterdam to Kiev, as he had the only seat in an other wise empty row on that plane (he said it seemed to be the only empty seats on that plane so he was feeling lucky) I'm sure I'll get a full report on how things look at the farm for you as soon as he arrives back in the village and recovers from the trip.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

On his way

Garry is finally on his way to Ukraine- right now he is in the air between Minneapolis and Amsterdam. He will be taking the overnight train from Kiev to Dnepropetroesk Saturday night and arrive in Dnepro Sunday morning. He booked his ticket yesterday morning right after he picked up the mail with the passports in (finally- rejoicing is heard in the background), packed his bag and was ready to go. We had a nice dinner with the boys last night and the little girls who said goodbye to Grandpa.

This afternoon I dropped him off at the airport in Winnipeg after shopping for Noah's birthday present. I was going to take a photo at the airport but forgot as I dropped him off by the terminal door. Noah's birthday was today (also Orthodox Christmas in Ukraine) so the little girls were back tonight for cake and ice cream, along with Jess who drove over after school was out today. Seth and Jonah are off for a weekend youth retreat, so they missed out on the cake (don't feel too bad they are going to be sliding on snow tubes, skating and there is supposed to be a hot tub). You can see how good the cake was as Havilah is licking her plate clean in the photo.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Still waiting

This morning we are waiting for the lady to call from the local post office to let us know if our express mail envelope has arrived there yet. The last two days the word has been no, but tracking picked it up in Winnipeg for the second time last night (tracking had it in Winnipeg last Thursday- but remember the 3 day holiday weekend doesn't count) Garry had really been wishing he could leave on Tuesday right after playing basketball with the boys in Winnipeg. (see the photos- Monday night's team right to left- Josh Matt, Garry, Luke, Noah, Rheal-the only non-son, and Micah)

Now Garry has a cold, and weekend tickets are more expensive so we'll see when he leaves. He had a nice talk with Victor yesterday, the only problem at the farm is one of the cows- Marta (she was born in March) had a dead calf in her, they got it out with the help of the Saturday night milk buyer- he's a farmer- and she is on antibiotics now. Garry has spent two days calling Canada Post and is getting a refund on the 45 dollars postage on those express-expedited mailings, but he really wishes he was back in the village last week. At least the passports seem to be back in system now, hopefully we'll see them in a couple hours.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I know it’s January the 3rd but Canada Post is taking the day off for New Years so it’s good enough for me. That’s the reason why Garry is not busy booking his ticket back to Ukraine today-(or on his way/already there) it appears the visas/passports got to Winnipeg on Thursday afternoon but did not make it to Woodridge and the post office Friday so hopefully the envelope gets there Tuesday morning, and then he can hunt for a flight back.
So this morning he is giving the boys a hand with herd check (the veterinarian visit) and will get to play one more basketball game with the boys tonight. I took some photos this morning about 8:20 (this horizon just starts to pink at 7:30 am now) when it was -25.5 C. (it is supposed to be -17 in Dnepro today- hopefully the straw wall is doing its job, luckily the weather has it warming back up to 6 later in the week there).
Our new years eve family pizza cook off was a success except there was no winner- everyone was stuffed full of many kinds of homemade pizza and almost everyone saw the new year in while sleeping (either they had to milk the cows at 5 am the next morning or were recovering from being sick.) Our oldest son and family drove home about 9:30 only to discover it was about a blizzard south at their house, but they arrived safely. We did finally remember to take a family photo- this one is good except Luke has only half a face - it's like where's waldo to find him.

The roads were cleared Sunday morning and we went to church over in Piney- Garry couldn’t remember when he last heard Matt preach (he’s going through the book of John now.) Small congregation with the holiday weekend and snow, the church is right at the border and has both Canadians and Americans attending. Two-year-old Havi tried to help her mommy play the last hymn, Matt had to run up and grab her after some high note plinking during the second verse (she had looked so cute sitting next to Kari with her thumb in her mouth at the start of the hymn).