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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

While I was pics

Remember when I promised photos of Garry's round bales of alfalfa going up in the haymow? He took them but he never got them sent to me so I could share them with you ( I need better instructions next time...wait in December he goes with me)

I think I wrote about it in the updated crop and luggage report August 7, 2011. Garry had the rest of the crop round baled after the square baler broke. As you can see it was a very safe procedure - that's Maxim's brother Andrey riding in the bucket of the loader on the bale. Do not try this at home! They did get all the bales up there safely as you can see in the second photo inside the mow.

Of course Garry made some corn silage while I was gone- here's a photo of the neighbor packing the pile - he is really good at it because it was his job on the collective farm- he started work there at 16 because his mother was a widow. The pile is twice as big as last year- and you can see one of the tubes of brewers grain they made on the right side of the photo.

Garry also went to refill his semen tank with liquid nitrogen while I was gone and he took a photo of the lady pouring it into the tank. He also had to get more frozen bull semen- it is actually from Canada.

Garry has bred a cow (or several) almost everyday this summer here on the farm, or in the village or one of the villages nearby (as many as 10-15 kms away even.) He thinks that the village of Pervey Mai (First of May) must not have a bull, he has been there so often. A lady came yesterday and said he needed to come breed her cow for her as he had gotten her neighbor's cow pregnant. Tonight there was a knock on the door and he had to go just as I was putting the corn on the cob and stuffed peppers on the table- luckily it was close by- I just put the corn back in the water until he got back.

Last week Garry and Victor went to visit a man who has grapevines- all different kinds and brought home at least 10 kilos of different types of grapes- he is still eating them. The man is disabled and tends his grapes with two chairs moving one, getting on, then moving the next one. Garry said he picked and bought about 5 kilos (and Victor got 15) but the man insisted they needed more and got his helper to pick them more as a gift.

Garry also did some building while I was gone- here's the calf hutch set he built- with the new heifer calf and the preemie that's about two months old (the smaller one is the preemie.) Today the neighbor boy Andrei gave it a nice coat of white paint to protect the chipboard from the weather.

He also did some more work on his porch on the kitchen side of the house which is going to be the barn entrance so the smelly stuff has a place that's not in the front hall! It still has a few things to do yet (a door, I think it is getting a window, and I heard something about cladding it in brick to match the house, and a red roof.) I post more photos as all that gets done.

I'm back!

I have been back in Ukraine since Friday afternoon... but on Saturday evening when we arrived here in the village the internet wasn't working (for some reason it runs out on the 27th of the month normally- and it didn't get paid until today- Tuesday.)The pets were happy to see me- both Needles and Box were sitting on my lap- they were really excited on Saturday night when I went into the boys room and got out the extra bag of catfood (I am not sure when Garry ran out but everyone seems to have survived.) Polo jumps all over everytime I step out the door, I don't know how he could look more excited (if Jonah had come I would have found out I'm sure.)

My trip back A quick recap- the boys did not decide to come with me at the last moment (not that I really expected them to- they are excited about going back to real school in Canada- but I hadn't cancelled the tickets since we weren't getting our money back anyway!) Matt, Kari and the girls took me to the airport in Winnipeg around noon on Thursday after a few stops in Steinbach - we dropped their dog Bingo off at the vets to get fixed (he was one of Wiggles' puppies born when we were home in December- I picked up the three females that are still on the farm last week after their operations- the boys decided on no more puppies) then I went to the bank to get Garry's new cards validated (luckily they could do it after talking to him by phone in Ukraine- good thing he answered!) and picking up the parts Garry wanted for the chopper (yes more!)

They dropped me off and I was surprised when I was standing in line to pay for the extra bag to hear Xaris say "hi Grandma" so we had lunch upstairs at the airport before I went through security. The girls also enjoyed riding the escalator and the play structure at the other end of the second floor, before leaving. I hear that the older two enjoyed a movie with Daddy while Mommy went shopping with Keziah afterwards.

I was only 20 minutes late landing in Montreal and found the gate with no problems (even went online to check facebook) but we flew out an hour late for London (I sat next to very nice older ladies flying alone on both flights) in London we landed thorugh the mist and it was raining pretty good as I took a bus to terminal 5 (from 3) picked up my British Air ticket, showed my luggage tickets and receipt to the agent, went through security again (shoes off in London.) Then I stood in front of the screen waiting for it to tell me which gate to go to, chatting with an English speaking young Ukrainian man also waiting for the Kiev gate to show up - it said it would start loading at 9:05 when I got there at 8:57 - but it was 9:12 when it finally came up- luckily it a close gate! But after a stop at the bathroom that meant that I joined the line to get on the plane shortly after I got to the gate.

However we took off a hour late (or more) landing in Kiev an hour later than planned at 4:05 (there is a 2 hour time change along with a 3 hour 15 minute flight.) After we were on the plane they had to unload the luggage from the last flight and load ours before takeoff. Remember the rain- my red suitcase was rather wet when it got to Kiev! Luckily the blue one was dry since it was full of school books for the Bellamys! Garry was waiting when I got through immigration, (and was surprized by my red hair- he has been telling me that red hair would look good and I'd blend in better here) and we headed off to find the Porter's apartment where we were spending the night.

Next posts ( in the middle of the night when I can't sleep- will feature our sightseeing in Kiev, trip home and a crop report and yesterday's trip to where the chopper is now. ) I should go pick the peppers to freeze - the garden is looking a little dry but the peppers are very colorful.

Picked some peppers- made stuffed peppers for dinner and look the photos finally loaded! Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What's up?

Besides me at 3 am that is! I have discovered that the internet here at the farm is really slow when other people are up on the network. When I first arrived in Manitoba I was often up at 4 am doing blogposts, and here I am, awake at 3 am again. Lots to do, getting things set for the boys to start school here two weeks after I leave on Thursday.

I talked to Garry at 3:30 am when I woke up- he was waiting for the "big" milk truck to arrive since it was supposed to be there before noon (it was 11:30 am in Ukraine)He said it came on Monday but wanted to pick up 2000 liters and there was only a 1000 then-(I think -the phone connection is often poor- in fact I lost the line while we were speaking as normally happens- never get to say goodbye.)

He said that there was a fresh heifer but she had a bull calf. No new heifer calf to fill the calf hutch he built yesterday (I promise photos are coming when I get back - watch for them next weekend!) He said it has three pens - he couldn't do four like the ones he built back in Ontario because he couldn't find 2 by 4's long enough, Two stalls are filled already with the large heifer calf born last week, and the preemie from June.

In the last week Garry sold two different milk cows to the butcher- both had health problems. The kicking cow is still safe and happy- in fact she's better behaved with the machine milking- no more kicking over the pail of milk!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

less than a week

That's what I keep telling Garry - I fly out of Winnipeg next Thursday afternoon (landing in Kiev around 3 in the afternoon Friday)Garry and I have been conferencing by phone on the important change in plans- I will be flying alone (even though we will be losing out on two sets of plane tickets as the boys have half a ticket back and the other half a ticket that would bring them back to Canada in December with us.)

My head agrees with the idea that it makes more sense for them to start school here in September instead of when we return for the last semester. The boys are ready to do it- the plan is that Seth would stay here on the farm and return to Ste Anne where he did grade nine two years ago (Seth will be turning 18 on 11-11-11.)
Jonah will move in with his sister in Morden since he is 15 and we want him to really concentrate on schoolwork since he would like to become a veterinarian. We had looked into sending him to boarding school but this seems to work for everyone... although I was looking forward to having the boys around this fall in Ukraine, after they were here all summer.

So I have a few things to get done before leaving now to get the boys ready for school here... anyone want some never used high school home school material?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Garry's been busy

While I have been busy in Manitoba with camping and other family activities while Garry's parents were here, Garry was very busy on the farm in Ukraine. Thursday he cut some of the headlands on the cornfield where the sunflowers grew last year, and on Friday he and Andrei did more loads from that field before Maxim returned from his holiday at the Azov Sea. On Saturday they worked on chopping the field across the highway, and had 65 loads done when a chain broke on the machine.

Sunday morning they finished the last load of silage before church and now there is a very large pile of corn silage covered with plastic and ready to feed to the cows. He says it is twice as big as the one last year, and there will be the late corn field to turn into silage this fall yet. He tells me the plants in that field have not tasseled yet (that's when the fertilization takes place before the cobs grow.)

Last week he said it needed rain, but he said on Monday evening that it was a good thing that they had finished the corn silage harvest and got the machine ready for someone else to use because it was really wet and muddy outside. The forecast for the rest of the week is for more rain.

In other news- the first calf was born from the frozen Canadian semen on the farm. The calf was large (hopefully this does not mean all the cows that he bred for people in the villages will have trouble calving) but both cow and calf are doing well. The machine milking is still going well (no problems with the vacuum pump) and
he and Max followed through on letting Luba, the older milker lady go (she was not popular as she yelled a lot and sometimes hit the cows with her milking stool) She was very upset, but they found her another job milking with a place to live at the farm with 100 cows milking, so was happy afterward, he thought.

I am sure Garry will find other things to do for the next ten days until I return with the boys.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Here and there

The hay mow- about 2 weeks ago

I first called Garry at 2 am when I let Jessica's dog out and tried calling him late morning there- he was at Maxim's house in the village (they are fixing it up- it needs a lot of work) and saw a group of people with cameras around their necks and called out hello to them and asked me to call back later.

I went back to bed, and got up at 5 am. Talked to Garry again - early afternoon there; he told me that the people turned out to be a group of Mennonites on a mission project in a different former Mennonite village. They had come to Nikolipolia looking for the Canadian farmer someone had heard about, and they found him. He said that he took them for a walk around by the pond, and I assume toured the barn.

Garry had to hurry the call again- he needed to go help the ladies milk. The vacuum pump is fixed; so they are back to machine milking. He said that this morning was the third whole herd machine milking and took only one hour and 15 minutes (including washing up the equipment after milking). It had been taking more than four hours to milk them by hand.

Me and my four youngest sons

Meanwhile here in Manitoba I am still waiting for my suitcase- yesterday they said they may have it and might get it on a plane to Winnipeg soon. Good thing I have a few clothes here to wear (not as many as I wish.)

On Saturday I wore my outfit from the plane to Carrick Days (a nearby village) where our older sons, Matt and Josh, won the horse tournament. My daughter took this photo of me with the four younger boys- that's Jonah, and Noah on my left and Luke and Seth on the right.

What she said was "Mom you look so short next to the boys! Let me get a picture."

Got to go - clean up a little more since I am babysitting again today and little Keziah does not like videos like her big sisters. She kept Grandma from Ukraine hopping yesterday because she moves fast and gets into everything!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer Institute 2011

This year's Dnepropetroesk Summer English Institute is over, the nineteenth. It was one of the things that was started by our mission right after Ukraine became a country and was opened to the gospel. Since the students first pass a test to gauge their level of English, we don't need to speak Russian or Ukrainian- the teachers are mainly Canadians who volunteer (pay) to fly to Dnepro for the month of July; with the exception of Marina, who they are amazed to find out is Ukrainian.

This year the teachers were all returning from past years' teams, but we had a charming new teenage volunteer, Hailey (pictured) from Alberta, who was a helper. Many of our teachers are current or retired teachers in Canada, but not everyone. All of the students are 16 or older, many are university students, and a few teach English here in Dnepro. We would like to restart the Children's Institute, but need more volunteers. Maybe next year for the twentieth annual.

The students attend four English classes for three weeks for a minimal fee, with the goal to improve their English. Some classes focus on North American-style slang, idioms, Canadian history, literature, or conversation. There has been a very popular class where the students read and discuss a book from the Narnia series.

They are invited to join us for assembly mid-way through the day, where Marina leads a few praise songs in English, a ten minute gospel message, and door prizes (mostly Canadian souvenirs) then we let them go for a 35 minute lunch break. About 60-70% of the students come, the rest use the whole hour for lunch. There is one assembly that is all fun- one day is designated Canada Day and we play games and everyone wears red and white all day. I was told that I looked like Woody's girlfriend from Toy Story in my cowgirl hat this year. On the last day students who attend enough classes receive certificates at the final end of the day assembly, after all the goodbye class photos and gifts (each class buys the teachers a carefully chosen thank-you gift.)

This year my topic was relationships (we read a book and had discussion) Last year I did Music and Grammar. My three classes were wonderful as always- Here they are working, except for my second class- it's the final day class photo with them- look closely I'm in the front holding the gifts they gave me- including a calendar they had made with my photo from Canada Day.

The four years that I have taught we have rented space at a centrally located technical school and after classes are over at two pm the teachers gather at the cafeteria for the main meal of the day. Here is our favorite lunch lady in the photo- she has learned the English names for most of the food, and they proudly display a Canadian flag we gave them one year. On the final day we give each one a rose.

We have a few non-class events- this picture is from the Saturday picnic on the island beach in the river, we took an evening boat ride on the river, the photos below are of the party at the left bank church and many students volunteer to take the teachers sightseeing in the city, along with other one-on-one or small group opportunities. This year many teachers met with former students also.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Updated crop and luggage report

To update you I am trying to adjust to the time change here in Canada, while Garry is still eight hours ahead in Ukraine, on the farm. Air Canada has not phoned yet to say they have found my suitcase (and it's in Winnipeg.) I have enjoyed being with the kids, granddaughters and the pets at home. I have decided the best time to blog is early morning as everyone is sleeping- pictures load way faster when no one else is on Noah's homenet! I have done a little house cleaning and will get serious about getting stuff done on Monday, as Garry's parents are due to arrive for their yearly visit Tuesday.

I have talked to Garry about 3 am here most mornings, he gave up on the baler after it broke again Thursday after baling 200 bales of hay. Since Maxim is leaving for a trip to the Sea of Azov on Monday (his brother Andrei will remain to help Garry with chores) Garry got someone to round bale the rest of the hay and straw. When I spoke to him on Saturday they were putting the seventh and last round bale into the mow (he says that they are smaller, soft-core bales and not that heavy when I asked if that would be safe.) I reminded him to take a photo- however he says that Andrei standing in the bucket of the loader on top of the bale looks a little unsafe...we'll have to wait and see.

Crop report

The rain that has fallen lately is keeping the new cornfield growing, so it should make silage later this fall. When I took photos two weeks ago it was growing out of root worm damage, so some of the plants were leaning sideways. A few plants are much taller because they are from the original planting, not the replanting after the rain came. It will be a thicker stand of corn than the other fields. The field by the highway is the thinnest stand, but the ears of corn are big!

Garry has been working on getting the new blades (from Canada- thanks to Orban and his luggage) into the chopper since he plans to start chopping corn in a week or so. Since the later field will become corn silage, he will only chop part of the earlier corn, and the rest will become grain corn to feed the cows.

The last time I asked it was the corn field on the highway he was going to chop, since it is the field we bought, and would be easier to plow up after harvest. Combining the corn leaves lots of stalks which get tangled up in the plow, since only the dry ears are harvested; while the chopper cuts the stalks close to the ground and turns the whole plant into food for the cows. Since we got the other field without it having been plowed the fall before as is the custom, he is not worried about plowing it, since he plans to try to work the actual pieces we have rented next year instead of substitute ones as they should not be planted in winter wheat yet; he will locate them this month, before they are planted again.

Here are some photos taken at the same time of the the third corn field (the one that was planted in sunflowers last year) the kernels were just starting to dent when Garry checked. I sometimes tell him he will check all the cobs in a field someday on the plants he didn't dig up to check for sprouts or pull up to check for rootworms - and there won't be any left to harvest. While we were doing the crop tour the weekend before his camp he picked me a nice bouquet next to the field.

Garry also laid in a supply of brewers grain for the winter during camp week. The trucks would deliver it one day and dump it on the cement pad behind the barn to cool until the next day when the man who came with the Ag bag machine would turn then into long plastic tubes of brewers grain. They used the neighbor's payloader to fill the machine most of the time. There are a number of long plastic sausages back by the barn now.

Now Garry won't have to worry about what he's going to feed the cows this winter - He has purchased brewers grain, enough grain (wheat I think) to grind that is stored at the mill(for the whole year) already, plus there will be lots of corn silage (there's some barley/pea/alfalfa silage still) and a bit of alfalfa hay that he grew himself and there will be dry corn to combine that will also be ground into grain for the ration.

Last September Garry was walking back to the village with his new cows, wondering what he was going to feed them, (besides the corn silage he paid someone to grow) when he passed a field of alfalfa ... and found a farm to buy hay from ... but you can read about that in last year's blog posts.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Since Tuesday...planes buses and automobliles

A lot has happened since I uploaded those camp photos on Tuesday while I was freezing the rest of the sweet corn... about noon I bought a plane ticket to Winnipeg for Wednesday morning! I made some salsa (with Garry's help- we used the handpowered food processor we bought at a yard sale recently to chop the hot peppers, peppers and onions) squeezed it in the freezer and a batch of applesauce with the apples I picked up under the trees earlier (before I booked the ticket.)

I threw stuff into my suitcase (Victor added more for his boys- I think its candy) and Garry drove me to the bus station just before ten pm for my 7 hour bumpy ride to the Kiev airport. I was next to a large man with his shirt unbuttoned - with my computer bag on my lap and my neck pillow which I hoped would make it easier to sleep on the bus) he was the only one to get off before Borispol airport though- around 3 am in a downpour. Didn't sleep much - some sections of the road are extremely bumpy (worse on a bus.)

We got to the airport around 5 am and hurried off (once I got my suitcase- the driver insisted that my big red one at the back had to wait until he had gotten everyone in front of it handed out- in spite of the fact I was there first with my claim ticket.) I checked the departure board at the old terminal B - no flight to Vienna so I raced over to the new terminal for check in, pulling the big red suitcase, and carrying the computer case and bag.

Flight to Vienna at 7:20 was uneventful although I regret eating Ukrainian air's sandwich (kind of ham salad in a pastry- the English translation assured me it contained micro and macro essential elements and cellulose- I hope they were meaning fiber.)I had to stand in a line to exchange my Ukrainian air ticket for a Austrian air one before screening into the waiting room for the flight, was lucky to sit down. Lots of kids on the flight to Toronto, and I was toward the end of the boarding line when I was asked "traveling alone?" and a man returned with my Toronto -Winnipeg ticket and a business class ticket.

Wow now I know what happens on the other side of the curtain- it took the entire length of the movie to eat the meal (like six courses) Then I went to sleep- it was wonderful. Until I woke up sick, four hours from Toronto, and got to visit the lovely toilet many times! I am blaming the ham sandwich- I couldn't eat the pre-landing goatcheese with salad,(I did taste it- it would have been so good) and asked for a Coke to sip.

There were too many people on standby I was told at the Air Canada counter after customs in Toronto- I would have to keep my 11 pm departure - I had arrived at 2 pmI left my big red suitcase with the guy at belt number two and headed through security. I read a book I bought, updated my facebook status, checked the Phillies score.... even ate a plain bagel and hot chocolate at Timmies... around 8 pm I noticed my flight was delayed an hour and had changed gates again.

I bought a second book, moved to a new gate and spent the next six hours changing gates trying to stay awake... and watching the departure time change. At midnight(when 12:20 became 2 am) we were told we could show our boarding pass at Tim Hortons (the only thing still open) for a ten dollar voucher so I tried some soup and another bagel (a drink for the plane and a chocolate cookie- still tasty a day later as I post at 3 AM.)

By one-thirty we had been joined by people who had changed their 8 am flights for the new 2 am one to Winnipeg. They were as disappointed as the rest of us (students from a trip to London, mom with three kids, nice couple who had been to Ottawa, and so on) when after the people came off the plane we were told there was a mechanical issue ...after ten minutes we made one final move from gate 151 to 126 where a plane had just come in... we had to wait for it to be cleaned and checked and must have taken off about 3 am...landing in Winnipeg, where Jess had been since midnight for my supposed 12:30 arrival with her cat and dog for the trip to the farm.

I arrived at 4:30 am and it was very disappointing when the luggage carousel did not yield a big red suitcase with black V drawn on it for quick ID. It was getting light by the time we filed a report, told them we'd pick it up (try to explain that you can't express deliver anything to St Labre.)

Home around 7 am- finally

called and talked to Garry - middle of the afternoon in Ukraine- he was trying to get the chopper ready for corn silage, putting in the new knives. They had baled another 2000 bales of straw and broken the needles on the baler for the fifth time I think.

maybe they ordered the used ones they were going to get on the weekend before the broken ones were welded again. He says he is selling the baler and buying a different one for next year.

any mistakes in todays blogpost ar he faut of the weird new keyboard in the computer room- is it a gel one?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

camp (VBS) pics

Garry was pleased with the camp - here are some of the photos he took on Tuesday when there were 32 kids attending) there were 22 children on the first day and 48 the fifth day! He says that he needs more teachers next year- perhaps one for the older (12-13 YEAR OLD) boys... or maybe a different program for them than the younger kids. The children and teachers had breakfast and lunch everyday at the camp, just like they do at school in the village.

I didn't bring the camera down on Friday night (after the final day of teaching English I picked up a bunch of ice cream cones for the closing program at Metro on the drive home) but I didn't have time for taking photos anyway--- as soon as the kids found out I was doing facepainting I was surrounded--- all the older boys wanted Ukrainian flags (along with some Russian and Canadian ones) on their cheeks. The girls asked for butterfly ones and flags, I did some stars, hearts, spiders, dragons and flowers also.

I had a break when the program started, there were speeches, singing ... then I went back to the house and picked up the ice cream- I had crammed it in the freezer- after Garry handed an ice cream cone to all the kids, the parents and some grandmothers who came, the kids were back asking me for more painting. I learned the words for spider and star. (Spider was easy to figure out when the first kids waked his fingers down his arm.) Many kids had most of their arms covered with designs by the time the fireworks went off (something was a little off and there were like 6 giant fast ones instead of the 49 the box promised.)