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

Friday, September 30, 2011

September 30th

It's September 30th, a special day for me- twenty six years ago Micah was born on my father's birthday. I am going to phone my father (Micah got a facebook message.)We were farming in the Catskill mountains of New York state when Micah made his appearance. He was two weeks early just so he could arrive for Grandpa's birthday. Last December when we were home, Micah demonstrated how he could still do a famous stunt of his childhood.

Garry was up on the computer this morning, he has been letting Maxim feed the cows in the morning since he hurt his knee Tuesday night. However his knee was feeling better today, so we walked down to the post office so I could mail a letter to Canada. Unfortunately, went we got there, the lady told Garry that they did not have enough stamps, and we'd have to return tomorrow.

While we were downstore we stopped at the new store so Garry could get some foam for the new windows that were going into the summer kitchen. This store opened in August, it has hardware, furniture, wallpaper and curtains for sale. The milking ladies are very excited, now they will have all new windows. We are also putting a new furnace/hot water heater and some new radiators in the summer kitchen this fall, the one that heats both houses is in the summer kitchen and needs to be updated.

These goats seem to be eating the bushes near the store closer to the house, we stopped there to pick up bread on the way back to the house. The store has all new people working there, there abacus that used to be used to total purchases is gone, now there is just a calculator.

Maxim had started the windows when we got back, so Garry went out to give him a hand. In fact, Garry felt so good he picked up a bucket of walnuts in the yard and helped feed the cows this afternoon.

Pumpkin seed harvest

Here are some pumpkin seeds we bought at the market last week to eat. Garry has been interested in the pumpkins grown by many of the small farmers in the village since we moved here two years ago. He found out that they were growing them for the seed. This year he has gotten to know some of the farmers growing them and how they process the seeds after harvesting.

The fields get rather weedy, but the pumpkins grew pretty well this year. In the fall the farmer goes out with a tractor and a v shaped "plow" to rake them into rows. A few days later they go out to the field in the morning with a machine that breaks up the pumpkins and separates the seeds.

Guys walk along and throw the pumpkins into the machine behind the tractor, and the seeds come out into a bag attached to to the back of the machine. The full bags get stacked in a wagon. The farmers thought the crop looked good this year, but the pumpkins are only yielding 200 pounds of seed per acre this year, only half of what they had last year. Pumpkins are worth about a dollar each for the seed in them.

The broken pieces of pumpkin are left in yellow rows in the field. You sometimes see people out picking up the pieces of pumpkin rind to feed their cows and pigs. I assume that the they are gleaning, you see people out picking up stuff left on the ground after sunflowers and corn are harvested in the fields.

The full bags are taken back to the village where the farmers have made different things to clean and dry them. First they put the seeds in a big tank of water and wash them. The pieces of pumpkin goo sinks and the seeds float, so they scoop the seeds off the top with a sieve and put them back into bags, and bring them to the dryer. The dryer is like a big furnace, that blows air through the bin of seeds.

This is a injector pump from an old tractor which they rigged up to squirt fuel into the furnace. The vacuum cleaner is being used to help suck the exhaust air out. Our visitors last week commented that they could smell pumpkin cooking while walking in the village, it was the smell of the seeds drying.

While the seeds are being dried, they rake the ones on the top so they can dry evenly. You can see Maxim doing this in the photo when he and Garry went to take photos of the process. Maxim did some welding for these guys on their drying furnace.

The seeds are dried for 14 to 16 hours and put back into bags to sell. There are two different types of pumpkins grown, smaller yellow ones that yield more seed, and larger blue/green ones that have less seed, but the seeds are worth more. The large seeds are worth 3 dollars a kilo when they are sold.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

visitors...and limping

The "big baby ducks" are trying to figure out what Momma Duck is doing inside the pen and how to get inside to visit!

Tuesday morning Peter and Alice left us to start their trip home to BC and since she had the sheets in a pile for me, I even got them and all Victor's white guest bath towels washed and dried in the sunshine. The towels have German on, special for people on Mennonite tours.

Garry went to get a loaf of bread for lunch to go with the soup yesterday and came back with two from the second store. He said the closer store had been closed all day for inventory. A lady asked him how much something cost and she complimented his Russian. He really can talk to people, I admit he far surpasses me, I can understand a bit, but he talks to people!

Last night Garry went into Dnepro to play pickup basketball again. He spent an hour cleaning his shoes with dishsoap and a comet-like product yesterday afternoon, since he wears the basketball playing ones for everyday use often (he can't buy shoes big enough here). He said the guard always checks the gym floor after they play for dirty spots and makes someone clean up before they leave, and he was sure his shoes were to blame last week.

While he was gone one of the close neighbors came and knocked on the the door around 7:30 and asked for Garry. I understood he had a cow to breed, so I told him he was in Dneproetroesk and wouuld be back at divid (which I hoped was nine- I always panic and forget what I know when I have to talk) The man came back at nine, but Garry didn't arrive home until ten. He showered and went to bed shortly after, mentioning that he had tweaked his knee near the end of basketball.

This morning Garry was limping badly, hopefully rest (not that he did alot of that today) helps. Maxim did all the chores, although Garry did go breed that cow this morning. Maxim was surprized that it would still work, since the cow was standing last night, but everyone here wants Garry to breed tham as soon as possible. Hopefully this one gets pregnant this time (it was her second service.) He also went and took more photos of pumpkin processing, so maybe tomorrow I'll tell you all about it.

Some guys were supposed to be coming to look at the barn, apparently they want to build one just like it. They came while Maxim was getting his hair cut (there is a girl in the village who cuts Garry's hair- Maxim uses her now that she is a professional- she graduated from her course this spring) Garry limped out to show them around. When Garry and Maxim came inside before lunch Garry was telling me they drove a new black Lexus, and I think Max said that they wanted to buy Garry too (to run their farm.) He has offered to consult for them, they have bought 100 baby calves this summer but have no facilities yet.

Meanwhile me and my aching head (my sinuses are all plugged up and trying to explode- the ragweed pollen/smoke combo I think) were trying to get ready for visitors for lunch. The Nickles (they are missionaries in Kirvy Rog who work with orphans) had phoned the night before to ask if the could bring their parents, who are visiting from Canada out.

After taking two tynenol sinus pills at 11 am I was feeling better (normally one cold pill does the trick) and made some spicy stuff to go on rice. They had a scenic tour on the way here thanks to the new GPS they bought, but arrived by one and we had lunch, and a nice cake they brought, lots of talk and a little farm tour. If you look carefully you can see Garry limping. They had stayed here when it was Victor's bed and breakfast when they were in Ukraine a few years ago.

Here's everyone checking out the baby ducks- we have been at five for two days now, after a striped one was gone Sunday and a yellow one on Monday morning. The little fellows keep escaping from Momma Duck, and disappearing. I caught one who had slipped out the door of the coop after they were shut up Monday evening, and put him back. I hope these are the smart ones.

Tonight Garry is soaking his sore leg in the tub, hopefully its feeling better in the morning, we'll see. He says it isn't swollen, but he is having trouble straightening it when he stands up. I am sure we won't be going bowling this week now. He's supposed to go look at a manure spreader to buy sometime tomorrow with Maxim. It's about 60 kms away, Victor found it while touring with Alice and Peter.(we just sold the old baler so we've got money to spend.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Sunday drive...

Monday morning and I am going to hang out laundry today...but it's still in the washer...even on the "fast cycle" it takes an hour to run, so I decided to work on a blog post.

Needles the cat has decided to wander inside while the door was open- Victor's guests are leaving for their tour of the day. Last year Needles was Jonah's sickly kitten that one of the village girls gave him when Seth was gone in the summer. He got better, but was in the house all the time until this spring, when he decided that outdoors was nice (right after we got him fixed so he's not running around fathering kittens) and now he comes in every morning, eats some catfood, has a nap in one of the chairs and usually slips out the door and you don't see him until the aext morning. I assume he's going to be indoors most, or all the time aonce it gets cold or wet out. Now Polo has come in and he's sleeping under my feet. He knows he's the special dog, since Mint get tied to the dog house all day, and some nights too. Somedays I wish he didn't think that being the special dog means he needs to climb on my lap and lick my face, but I guess he misses Jonah, who used to let him do it.

Sunday we took Peter and Alice to church with us at Morningstar, after dropping off the milk at Victor's church. Afterwards she asked if church was always four hours, but I told her it was really only three. They enjoyed the praise singing and we were lucky that our friend the Nigerian medical student translated for all of us. He has a real gift for languages. We went to Puzata Hata for lunch and they had a place to take your picture outside at the one downtown, so here is Garry and I as Ukrainians! Thanks to Peter for buying lunch and taking the picture. Then we walked around at the central market before heading back to the village. Garry was supposed to be back by 3:30 because Johan Wiens was out with a crew doing video for the trade school/dairy barn project that Garry is involved with.

Sunday drive

When I was a kid, we'd often go for a Sunday afternoon drive. Not to visit someone, but to see what we could see, and so I thought I'd show you some sights along the road, all of which we even saw on Sunday. If you don't know, calling someone a Sunday driver is a bit of an insult- it means that you drive slower than other people, because you are looking at the scenery with time to spare, unlike that driver wanting to pass them, in a hurry to get where they are going. Of course if you are Garry you drive fast and watch the scenery.

As Seth and Jonah could tell you, most Sunday mornings we see a group of bikers that we call the pelaton on the highway as we drive to church. We used to see some with a chase car with Ukrainian triathlon team painted on the side, not sure if this is the same group.

For all farmers (everyone knows why they drive slowly down the road, they are checking out everyone else's crops) here's a winter wheat field turning a lovely green. Many of them are not this nice, it must have gotten that rain just right.

This week we saw a harvester in one of the pumpkin fields just outside the village. I plan to do a blog post soon about this interesting crop, Garry has visited some pumpkin farmers, and watched them processing the seed this fall.

This photo has a story, for a long time I have been going to take a photo of this sign we drive past everytime we go to Dnepro to add to my Soviet photo collection. You may wonder why, because until last month there was a hammer and sickle on top of that post. It seems that for Ukrainian Independence Day (August 24th) someone took it off and painted a nice Ukrainian flag on the rectangular part of the sign. It only took twenty years I guess.

Here's one for Stacy, who said she'd like to own one of these cars, its a Moskvee or Moskavitch, and this is an old one with an older licence plate (the next photo has and older one) and the name was in Russian too.

Whenever we see a car like this one (and we do a few times every month) I think of going with my dad in the early sixties to get my great-grandfather's car inspected, I can remember that it was exciting climbing in the back seat for this trip in Pappy's car, I think it was two-tone blue. I wasn't in school yet, so before 1964, and I don't remember what kind of car it was, but it looked very much like this one! Round headlights, big curves. Even though it looks like it could be from the 1940's Garry tells me that this kind of car was made until the 1980s. Like the Lada, they just kept making the same model for many years.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wedding views- updated Saturday afternoon

Since Saturday is the most popular day to see bridal parties here in Ukraine, just like at home, I thought I'd show you some photos I've taken this month with a wedding theme. Starting with these decorated cars, from Kiev, I took these last month when I came back.

As we passed this group in the park one of the guys sent a cork flying through the air from a bottle of champagne, and started to pour.

Official weddings take place at a government run wedding office, and can take place any day of the week, I believe that the bride and groom get notified when they have an appointment. Sometimes the celebration will follow that ceremony, and there is up to three days of celebrating with an elaborate dinner at a restaurant with many courses. Many of the evengelical Christian weddings take place at a later date in a church (maybe weeks later) with a reception after, and they consider that the real wedding.

It is a favorite tradition here for many photos to be taken, at parks and other landmarks. When we were in Uzgorod last summer we even saw a bride and groom come out of the dungeon (with torture chamber) at the castle!

A custom in Dnepropetroesk is for the bride and groom to come to this bridge going over to the island (where we went last Sunday) and they bring a lock with their names and the date on, fasten it to the bridge and throw the key into the river... your love will last because you can't unlock it.

There are even a few big hearts hung under the bridge.

Finally last week Saturday as we drove home we passed this wedding party in a limo, and this guy, we assume the groom was standing up with his head out as they drove about 80 km an hour down the highway. That was a first- I have seen them stand up in the limo as they drive slowly through the village honking the horn (a welcome change from the people selling stuff blowing their car horns all through the village streets.)

Update- I knew I should save this post for today!but the uploading of photos was going so good last night I published it anyway. anyway these photos had to go with this post!

Garry and I spoke at Lena's English class across the city by the river today, afterwards we decided to cross the river and go to Karavan (super shopping centre) it's a two story mall, laid out very much like a typical American or Canadian one. Karavan has a beautiful glass-sided skating rink that the food court area overlooks and after one group left (you rent your skates and go for 50 minutes if I remember correctly) and the zamboni cleaned the ice, this bride and groom hit the ice with all these small skaters, it looked like the bride was their teacher for skating lessons and they had rented the ice that hour for some interesting wedding photos. Everyone looking out on the ice was getting a kick out of the sight of a bride on skates.

the chopper update

As you read this week the chopper arrived back here from its trip to a co-operative farm a couple hours away. The guy that brought it back said that it was too slow, so he didn't think they would want it next year.

Garry and Maxim were getting it ready to chop that hay (and mostly weeds- that's why it went back on the ground instead of feeding the cows) a few days ago when the discovered that the control box that powers the electronics- you mount it inside the tractor- did not come with it. At first Garry was sure he had seen it when the machine came back, so they hunted around first, in the shop, near the machinery, finally Maxim phoned the guy from the other farm. Late yesterday afternoon Maxim went out the the highway to meet a marshchutka with a guy from that farm who brought the control box. This morning Maxim went home for the day (he returns tomorrow morning) because he has relatives visiting from Moldova there, they leave on Saturday, so this morning after breakfast, I went out to give Garry and hand getting the chopper hooked up and the hay header on so he could chop this afternoon.

The first thing Garry had to do was switch the tractor from using the three-point hitch to the drawbar. Our North American tractors have both available to use, but here he has to switch to the drawbar to pull the chopper. The first thing was to take off the arms for the three point hitch.

Then he has to fasten the drawbar part between the two remaining pieces, so he sat on the ground holding it up,

he told me it works better if he puts the pins closer to him in first, then the ones closer to the tractor. He told me he can do this changeover much faster now, it used to take him at least 30 minutes.

The final step is to tighten these turnbuckles, so they do not loosen and have parts fall off, and get lost. He said they had this happen a number of times last year when they first got the tractor, but now he knows to take the time to make sure it's securely fastened. He said the parts are always in stock at the tractor parts store, so he assumes that it is a common problem here, because there are not a lot of parts in stock.

Then he went to put the PTO shaft together, and it seemed to have lost its bumps and was smooth and square (unlike when it left.) Although it went together Garry said it banged around alot when he was chopping. He's not what happened to it that could have come back like that.

Garry found the control box in the shop, luckily Maxim had not left in the car when he got it last night, since he took off in a hurry when Garry said he could go home this morning. Garry then hooked up all the wires and put the control box in the tractor, with the use of a number of wrenches.

There was a little problem and some smoke and some melted insulation on these wires
when Garry hooked everything up, but eventually everything worked just fine. The tractor at the other farm had a different voltage setup, 24 instead of 12.

Finally Garry drove over to the hay header and matched up the two parts, so he could get the pins in to use it. Then he was ready to go to the hay field, although he waited until after lunch.

Garry came back once with a broken chain, he had it fall apart again in the field and figured out the cause- someone had put something together backwards while it was gone. He was finished chopping the ragweed back into the field before 4 pm. His eyes were a little sore, the pollen is a problem here in the late summer and fall. Then he had to feed the cows and get the heifers in the barn at 6:20, with Maxim gone he has all the work to do himself.

Here are Victor's guests Peter and Alice, they spent the whole day with us in the village, walking, reading and relaxing, they even checked out the barn and milking this afternoon.
Tonight it is the smoke creeping inside from the many fires from garden and yard cleanups today that is making my throat sore.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Duckling escape!

This morning it was a lovely warm day and our guests decided to hang out some wash before they went touring with Victor. I heard the ducklings peeping, and walked over to the pen, two little balls of fluff were heading through the grass toward me. They keep slipping through the fence and heading for people- I think they are under the impression we are the mother instead of Momma Duck.

I went to put them back and called Garry to ask "where is Momma Duck? I have two in my hands and one is there in the pen, where is the rest and Momma?" It turned out these little guys had escaped from the coop at the back of the pen. The ladies had shut them inside the night before, and must have not let them out and the three escapees found a spot to slip under the door. Garry let Momma and the rest of the babies out, and I got them a bowl of water to drink...or swim in, as the case may be.

Later in the afternoon, I ended up putting a number of boards and bricks around the bottom of the fence to cut back on escapes as I caught one little yellow fellow several times! Mint is loose tonight so hopefully the little guys stay inside the coop until they are let out in the morning.