Saturday, April 30, 2011
The heifers and cow are back and after a bit of a rodeo to get them back in the barn, they are secure for the night. In a week they may know where to go.
No rain has fallen today-still looks like it could rain (at 7 pm). Garry and Maxim got one of the two fields planted in corn- the one across the highway.
Maxim and the boys are gone to Zaporosia to church- a little late- with a can of milk. They missed buying last week with Max going home for Easter.
Here is the little heifer calf born yesterday morning- we've lost track of the male /female ratio but it must be improving!
Saturday April 30th and it's the first day of the village herd going out to the field. After much discussion, Garry decided that he would put some dry cows and heifers out with the herd.
Maxim delayed leaving to get the corn planter until after the cows headed down the street. Garry got the boys up to help, and they got eleven dry cows and big heifers- including the pretty white heifer that jumps fences- out to the street and were waiting for the rest of the cows to come up the street when I when out to get a few photos. Apparently the first day the owners all go to the field and discuss what the schedule will be for the summer- last night they decided that Garry would do this if his foot was OK, so Max could go get the corn planter (he is going to get instructions on how to use it- set it up in Russian) Of course they will be using Russian out with the cows, but as Garry says he has not learned Russian just how to communicate in it, so he can handle this one (besides most of the neighbours know what he knows.)
The guys marked our cows with white paint on their rumps, so we can find them when they come back. One of the neighbours tied plastic ribbon around their heifer's horns.
Soon our cows could see other cows coming up the road, a couple ran up the road to check out the other cows, some kept eating the green grass in front of the house under the maple trees. The herd came up the street with lots of people chasing them along, rounding up the strays- one small heifer jumped in everyone's little wire flower fence - including the babushka's next door- she was out by her gate, like most of the village- except Misha- who had a number of four-legged intruders in his yard as the gate was open, so the chasers were busy chasing them out. The smaller heifers are the most trouble since they are scared, and ran all over. The older cows have done this every spring for years, so they know where to go, even after a long winter in the cow sheds.
Seth and Jonah headed out with the herd, but not long after I come inside, Jonah came to the gate leading a smaller red heifer by the neckchain. No photo- recharging the camera battery now- Polo was at his heels, and a few minutes later, Polo came through the gate again. Finally Polo trotted happily in the gate again with Seth. I had no noticed him or the other dogs in the cow chasing confusion, but he had gone along. They tell me that this one heifer ran back in the wrong direction fast, so when Jonah finally caught her (someone on the street slowed her down) they brought her back. Seth laid down in the grass until Polo came back and licked his face. Jonah put the heifer back in the empty pen in the barn, after it enjoyed chasing Needles the cat down the driveway toward the equipment shed.
No rain yet...we'll see if the the 100% chance happens- I may have to water those transplants again. It is overcast, maybe Garry will get wet.
Nope he's back. For a coat- cool for a t-shirt- and a bowl of cereal. He says there are about 90 animals out in the field, and a dozen people still out there (no meeting really) and someone's heifer (not ours) jumped in the pond when they went over the bridge. He went back out to the field with the car, his sweat shirt and snacks in his pockets- he says it seems like sunflower seeds are the snack of chioce in the field, and he'll be back at lunch. Only a few drops so far- none you can see.
We'll see if anything gets planted today. Or the milk tank gets empty- didn't happen yesterday- they may put the leftover in cans this afternoon to sour it for the Oleg who likes it warm, like they did on Tuesday afternoon, so there is fresh milk in the tank again. What a luxury it is to have a milk truck come take all your milk in Canada every second day!
The fruit trees are starting to bloom in the yard- the wind today blew alot of blossoms off on to the ground. Yes that is a dandilion flower.
The tulips have changed fast- here they are on Tuesday and Thursday in the same patch (I planted them the first fall we were here)Today the narcissis started to bloom.
The orange flowers are the first to bloom in front of the summer kitchen. The ladies dug it all up this spring- one big lupin and the iris and these guys survived, maybe a lily.......and my rose bush....
I have started working on one of the beds by the grape vines, near the tulip patch to plant in perennials I guess.
These sad looking tomatoes and peppers are the ones I transplanted in the garden yesterday- Garry brought the little bare rooted guys home from the market- it looks like they may mostly make it. Rain in the forecast for Saturday so I planted two more rows of beans, beets and cucumbers to go with the stuff planted before- if we get a good amont of rain we won't be able to walk in the garden for a week.
No corn planted yet- they couldn't borrow that 30 year old corn planter until Saturday morning- and the forecast calls for 100% chance of rain in the morning.
Garry is limping around after stepping on a nail this morning while taking the forms off the cement walls in the brewer grain pit. Ouch... He then went for a meeting with the mayor with guys from the Mennonite Brethren project- they would like to build a trade school in the village and are looking into the old collective buildings for a 200 cow dairy to support the project- which Garry would set up and manage. Lots of meetings, not much progress yet in getting control of the building site.
Friday, April 29, 2011
We are still here- internet went down for a couple days, so I was unable to blog- and did catch up on my sleep after staying up all night to watch the Flyers game seven victory (sadly 7:30 pm EST is 2:30 am here.)
Tuesday the milk tank was emptied and washed – I think Garry hopes to get it empty again today- Friday. As Garry says, all the milk in the tank is as old as the oldest milk in the tank. The lady milk buyer hoped to be back today with the repaired van. One of the buyers has already complained that the milk is too cold for him to make sour cream/cottage cheeses out of.
Thursday Garry’s dental work was finished, and the dentist office only wanted 12 liters of milk to buy- seems like Garry can forget about taking some in after this. Victor says milk drinking season is almost over- people stop drinking milk when the strawberries are ripe. Maybe cold milk will help change Ukrainian habit. One of the ladies from the village who come in to buy a few liters of milk was very excited to see the new milk tank. She told Garry that the cooler was wonderful- now there would always be good tasty milk.
Wednesday Garry and Maxim took some time to work on the concrete walls for the third brewers’ grain pit. There was a problem after the last load of brewers’ grain came- the wall of the original pit fell down (it was not as strong because the original pit was going to be a single instead of the row of cells we now have- with all the weight of the grain pushing again the empty space it collapsed.) Luckily no one was in there when it happened- now that that pit is empty, they cleaned out the rubble and put the forms in and mixed up cement. As you can see they had to use the wheelbarrows to move the cement around to fill the walls, instead of the easy tractor way. Max is using a piece of rebar to make sure the walls are completely full- no airpockets that become holes in the wall!
Garry is selling more brewers’ grain to people in the village to feed their cows, pigs, and they come by tractor, motorcycle with cart behind, cars with trailers, or even young Andrei comes on his three wheel bicycle with a big pail to get some for his parents’ animals- he makes a couple trips- they live across the street and three houses down. He charges a little more than we pay- but less than the truck that comes through the village now (Garry says we were selling it first- so we aren't putting anyone out of business) The cows have not gone out to the community pasture yet here in the village, so sales may slow down in May.
The trees are coming out in leaf (not quite all of them- but more everyday) Garry says you can see the difference from morning to evening when he was cultivating. They have been discing and cultivating fields to get some corn planted today. Yesterday Max was cultivating while Garry was gone to the dentist and had more tire problems so they were fixing it when we got back (I was grocery shopping) Garry did finish cultivating the field across the highway in the evening (the one he planted last August in the hope of getting something to feed the cows- but there was no rain so it didn’t grow.) It is a strip between the road through the field and a winter wheat field- the winter wheat fields are emerald green carpets now. He finished cultivating and got back around 9:30 – I was teasing him he’s normally asleep then!
Monday, April 25, 2011
Today we had visitors... this morning around 9:15 Garry phoned me and said there are some people here and we'll be in for tea in ten minutes... and said no you aren't! I was in the middle of sweeping the floor, there was a pile of dishes to wash, everything was scattered all over......and I was just started cleaning for the company I was expecting for lunch! (after a lazy weekend)So I raced around for 15 minutes before calling him back with everything cleaned up---except the dishes---with everything on the table in the arch room for tea. So the first thing Garry did was lead them (4 Ukrainian women and a man) into the kitchen where I was just starting the dishes and said come on sit down with us for tea. The boys are outside feeding the cows- you've got nothing to do....
Anyway he had a lovely talk with this family- about farming and English teaching- two of the daughters teach English- from Dnepropejisk while I made the boys eggs and they got a little schoolwork done... and I even sat down for half a cup of tea.
After they left I got started making stuff for lunch. Doreen who has been teaching English in Kramatrosk, came out with Victor in the van along with her visiting niece, and Natasha from Morningstar Church and her dog- they are staying with her for a for days- before taking the train to Kiev. Doreen brought the main course- shake and bake chicken- so I just made salad, rice, and some crepes and cherry sauce to have with ice cream for dessert.
After lunch we hung around the house watching the dogs and kittens play while Victor and Garry did a little work then our guests toured the barn and tried out Andrei's bicycle- as seen in yesterday's blog. After Garry and Victor helped Oleg load up milk they walked around the village with Garry.
Garry did not get much done today- he planned to disc up that field with the sunflower stalks on and actually started on it early this morning. He got quite a surprise when he went across the field the first time as he came back he could see something near the trees. It was blankets and like 10-15 young adults sleeping under them in a row- he said when he was 10 meters away two of them woke up and got up. He went to work at the other end of the field and wondering if any of them were the ones from Easter morning with the six-pack.
Tuesday Maxim is supposed to be back, Seth and Jonah can't wait as they are helping feed the cows- twice a day sometimes. Jonah did the brewers' grain again today- he says that it is a long way down now.
Luba is supposed to be back tomorrow also- which is good- here's her son milking Sunday morning- he got a blister on his hand (he had not really milked before he came this week) so today Yana got two of the wives on the street to help her milk. They did eight cows each.
We had a lot of milk in the tank-as you can see-- with the holiday no buyers came since Saturday (except Oleg 2 around 4 today) Still haven't heard from the lady buyer- and we seem to be taking a price drop, we'll let you know what happens next. You can see how Garry loads up the milk buyers now- Oleg has large plastic barrels that hold 300 liters and Garry uses the pump to fill them - he puts the end into the tank since the valve for the bottom has not come yet and Oleg holds the other end in the barrels. Little Serosia was watching too he came with Andrei on the bike.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Easter morning... and as Garry was making his morning pot of coffee a neighbor knocked on the door- two of the heifers had escaped the barnyard and the yard and were trmping through the neighborhood gardens (all freshly-planted this week.)Good fences make good neighbors- unfotunately the heifer have figured out how to get over the tall fence! They have been locked inside the barn until those electric fence post get here.
People are going by dressed up to take the bus with their Easter baskets to the village with an Orthodox church between here and Zaporosia. The baskets have bread, eggs and sometimes wine or vodka to be blessed by the priest for Easter dinner. The boys are helping Garry feed the cows since he had to chase down heifers this morning. Then we are heading to church with 100 liters of milk for Morningstar, Victor's church will have no milk sales today since it's Easter. They called from the church in Zaporosia last night, since Max did not arrive with milk (Garry was too busy chasing heifers yesterday to bring some) so they told everyone the cows were off work for Easter and there would be more milk next week.
Jonah stayed home sick but Seth came to church with us. The auditorium was decorated for Easter as you can see. Victor G was leading the service today and was wearing a traditional Ukrainian-style shirt for the occasion. Pastor Andrei spoke on Thomas after the resurrection. The church was very full today, and the Sunday school did a little skit about the three trees (one becomes the manger, one the boat when Jesus calms the storm and the third the cross.) There was also a baby dedication today, so by the time the milk jugs were empty after church we drove through Mc Donalds and headed home (the cows needed feeding again.)
Garry even planted his first row of sweet corn in the garden when he (and the boys) finished feeding the cows.
Here are some other images of Easter-
It is the biggest holiday of the year for Ukrainians, according to Victor Dantsev. These youths were going by with their six-pack (yes those are 2 liters of beer) when we left for church this morning- they were passing by our gate as Garry went to open it and called out the Easter greeting of Christo vas Chris! to him.
There were a number of people picnicing this afternoon in the trees in front of the apartments as you leave Dnepropetroesk.
You can see the willows are turning green, and the forsythia was blooming in front of Mc Donalds.
Here is Andrei the neighbor boy with his little brother riding on the front of his remodeled bike. He rides it all over the street and tends to be on two wheels as he turns corners fast- usually without his brother on the front then!