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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter driving

Thursday night Garry went to play basketball and his drive back to the village was an adventure. Last week Sunday when we drove to church I noticed some sections of road that were drifting with snow, which makes two lanes into one. This is a real problem with the normal traffic, where the extremely fast cars (130-140 plus Km/hour) like to fly past in the passing lane, while the normal 100-110 km/h traffic has to use it to pass the trucks and the old Ladas that cannot drive faster than let's say 80 km. In the last two winters we have seen a number of accidents where cars have run out of road and hit someone else or the very large snowbank that the road turned into.

This is compounded with the poor visibility that comes at night and/or blowing snow, both of which were factors as Garry was driving home. Our Lada's high beams are terrible, they would barely look like very dirty low-beam headlights, and even in the the cities there is very little lighting. You really have to watch carefully for pedestrians at night, since most Ukrainians seem to dress in all black, and even if they are using the crosswalks, they aren't lit. I don't mean that they don't have big flashing lights to tell you someone is crossing, I mean you can't see anything walking across the road, since there is rarely even a lightbulb on the curbside.

Anyway, back to our story. Garry got out on the highway, leaving the city to come home after basketball, and discovered blowing snow. Since he knew that the road had unplowed drifts in places after driving in, he decided to follow a car going a moderate rate in the slow lane. It took much longer to drive home than normal, and of course he found traffic backed up behind one of the snowdrift/lane reduction-caused accidents. He said he could see there were police lights flashing where some vehicle was being loaded up and taken away, but traffic was crossing over on the other side of the highway and around the scene in the dark, with no help from the police, so he followed along. Remember what I say about driving in Ukraine- always watch for what the other cars are doing and be ready to react! Oncoming traffic on your side of the road, just stay in your lane! I am sure the other drivers didn't think anything of it.

Garry said he did see some plows out working on clearing the road as he was driving home, and apparently they really got to work, since the road was decent when we drove to Dnepro on Saturday and Sunday, with at least one a half lanes open in the drifted sections. In this photo you can tell how much snow was on the road before they cleared it from the residue on the road, it looks like there wasn't even one lane to drive in here! At least its cleared now, two years ago the banks stayed once they formed all winter, it was scary even in the daytime, with cars trying to squeeze into the open lane inches from your bumper at high speed, just in front of a snow bank.

Saturday Maxim was busy for two hours helping out the mayor with our tractor, trying to open one of the other roads in the village. We live on Centralna or main street, which is the only street (of three) that normally gets plowed. Maxim said he didn't use the loader, but would drive a ways to break though the drifts and a smaller tractor would plow behind him, and then he would drive forward again. The snow was so hard in the cold weather and wind we have had, nothing could drive through the road.

I took some photos on Saturday, when we drove in to Dnepro to visit an English class, go bowling (Garry had a 169 game, I only broke 100 once in 4 games), buy an electric oil filled heater for our bedroom, and get some groceries.

The road out to the highway is fairly cleared, but getting a little icy as you can see in the photo. Garry says it was easier to avoid the holes in the road right after it snowed, before it was cleared because the cars detoured around them, all you had to do was follow the tracks. It was a little exciting when you met a car, though. There is a bunch of snow at the end of the road where you get on the highway, so you have to get in the right set of tracks going out and coming back in. Everyone goes right on the highway and then crosses to make the U-turn from the left. When the snow falls, they don't clear the loop to go in on the other side- its a big drift so you just turn on the highway- half the cars do it when its clear anyway. It will melt in the spring.

Here is section of highway over that new bypass road they were working on all year- remember it was almost finished at the beginning of December when we went back to Manitoba? It looks a little snowier than our highway, less traffic uses it. Garry says there was a truck stuck in the snow trying to go through the entrance ramp when he drove to the city last week. He also says that he has never seen any of the lights turned on on the standards that were erected here or below on the bypass road. Maybe in the spring?

This -15 to -20 C weather is tough on truck traffic, they stall on the roads because the diesel freezes up while they are running, they don't have the cold weather additives that are in the diesel fuel at home in Canada. You also see some people changing tires on the side of the road in the cold. We had a tire that had a "slow leak" Garry was pumping it up several times a week before they decided to fix it. There were three small nails in it, and one in another. Garry says that lots of people are burning old scrap wood to heat their houses, and dumping the ashes on the road. He says they were very twisted burnt looking little nails that came out of the tires.

How do you like the new method of keeping the hubcaps on the Lada? Garry says the one on the other side looks better, when they fixed the tire Max hid the end of the zipties better on the inside.

Frozen pipes and heifer calves

Friday morning was cold again, but the guys had drained the water line the night before, so it was easy to get the cows water in the morning, all they had to do was turn it back on. The wind was not blowing as much, so the water was still working in the afternoon, cutting the workload, since they didn't have to thaw the waterbowls out again. In this photo, the main water line around the barn is the large metal pipe- the same pipe the black cow's chain is attached to, and the same garden hose type hose brings the water down to the bowl between cows (two cows share a waterbowl.) Both these things can get frozen water in them, or the valve on the waterbowl that the cows push to get the bowl to fill so they can drink will sometimes freeze, or worse stick open so water spills on the floor.

Saturday morning, someone rapped on our door just before six am and said there was a cow calving, so Garry hurried out to see. It was a backwards calf (calves normally appear front feet first) generally you want to get these out quickly, because they can breathe in liquid as they are born, causing problems. However Garry was excited, the feet were small, and he got this lovely live heifer calf out. I took this photo around 11 am when we were leaving for Dnepro, along with the one of her mother, who had just cleaned (the afterbirth came out.)

Yes, it was another black and white cow that gave birth to a red and white calf. Later in the afternoon a red and white cow had a nearly identical red heifer calf, increasing Garry's recent ratio to 10 bulls to 5 heifer calves- sounds much better than 10:3! It is supposed to get somewhere close to almost 50% girls. Garry is now sure the second Canadian bull that he bought semen from must be red and white, not just a recessive carrier of the red gene.

Garry turned the water on Saturday morning while the guys were still feeding the cows, and it was so cold in the barn that some of the water bowls were frozen before the cows got around to taking a drink. It seems like the cold weather will be with us for at least another week, so they will continue to turn the water off at night, like they did last year in February when they had the same problem. And thaw them back out in the afternoon if they freeze up. Garry was fixing a leaky one while I was taking photos.

Saturday morning there was no water running to the house, so Garry trying thawing various points in the delivery system, but finally discovered the problem shortly before we left for the city. The summer kitchen's bathroom walls were covered in frost inside, and the water was froze there. He put a little plug-in electric heater in the room, and the water was back on in our house before we got back. This year there is no excess heat producing gas furnace sitting in the nearby entranceway, since we put the new energy saving one in last fall.

Sunday evening we finally realized feeling cold in our house wasn't all the fault of the cold weather- somehow that furnace had been turned down, so that the temperature of the water in the rads was almost half! We had bought an electric heater for our bedroom, but it is much warmer in here now (Monday morning- its 17 C outside). Garry has run out of 1000 piece puzzles to do, he'll have to find a new indoor hobby, the last one was a real challenge, since I didn't bring the box with the picture, only the bag of pieces in my suitcase.

Saturday morning young Andrei (the neighbor boy) was busy (and rather cold) selling brewers grain to people in the village. Garry said people were lined up to buy when they started the regular Saturday morning hours. It was easier with the stuff already in the pit, most people shovel bags full to take home.

I am not sure what he and Maxim's brother Andrei where doing with the straw bales when we left for Dnepro. Young Andrei is the one in Seth's old camouflage coat- it was too small for Seth so it didn't make it into the suitcase to go home.

If you are wondering what happened to last summers' kittens, they are huge and happy living in the barn, as you can see, one of the toms is playing with the new puppy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Duck for dinner, and its cold outside

Yesterday we had duck for dinner. On the weekend Yana had brought in two dead-er dressed ducks for the fridge, and Victor took one home with him on Monday, but one was still sitting in the fridge. Garry had cooked one before I got back, and told me the guys liked it. He stuffed his like a chicken, but I marinated mine Tuesday night (while I was up at midnight, made the mistake of going to bed early) and baked it and glazed it. After I cut the meat off I gave the cats a thrill with a carcass to gnaw on- the baby kittens enjoyed it, as you can see in the photos.

After I got the duck in the oven, I washed up the dishes from the day before- they were on hold because we ran out of water in the cistern that supplies the house and the water truck had not come as planned on Tuesday, even though it was doing deliveries in the village, so no one got to shower Tuesday night either. It was here before nine am Wednesday morning, making everything easier, although the water was a little brown at times. It gets stirred up when it runs dry and you put more in.

I did make stuffing an hour before it was done, planning to put it in foil in the pan with the duck, but we had no aluminium foil in the drawer, so I cooked it in a pan, and made mashed potatoes with garlic and coleslaw. Max and Andrey said it was like a holiday feast.

What really sucks is I didn't bring back a box of foil from Canada, I had one but left it behind to save weight in the suitcase; because when the foil was empty the box must have been tossed. It was a Canadian box I had been refilling because the boxes here don't have metal tear strips and its really hard to cut your foil off on a piece of cardboard!

We are making about 500 liters of milk a day now, Garry hopes to be up to 600 soon.
Yesterday two cows calved, and both had red calves. Bull calves unfortunately. Yana was amazed because the mothers are black. I am sure the bull we were using is a red factor bull, two parents with the red recessive makes red calves. One of the the mothers was the sick cow who was in the pen the other day, she seemed to be better the last couple days, but after calving around noon (Max was late for duck dinner) she did so poorly that afternoon that they decided to sell her to the butcher around 8 pm last night. By 9:30 the cash was in the drawer- not a lot because she couldn't stand up again, but at least she didn't need to get buried.

Polo has been trying to stay in the house as much as he can today, it has been cold and windy all day. The kittens don't trust him, even though he just wants to be friends, as you can see. The reason he wants to stay in is the temperature- at 7 pm tonight as I write the thermometer reads minus 24 and the wind is howling. It's a little cool in the house, especially in our bedroom, which tends to be cold when the wind blows.

Unfortunately, the other place that gets cold when the wind blows is the barn. They guys spent hours this morning doing chores, thawing out the water lines took a while. While they were doing it somehow the little electric heater in the milkhouse got soaked with water and Garry brought it in the house to hopefully dry out. He went down to the village hardware store and bought the heater they had which was larger and more expensive than the previous model, because he was worried that the milkhouse would freeze up without one in this weather. Unfortunately before 4 pm, he was taking that heater back and trying out the old one, because the new one was so powerful it kept blowing the breaker.

This morning the guys wished they had gotten around to moving some brewers'g rain as planned- the tubes of brewers' grain were nearly frozen solid. Luckily when Victor phoned, we could get a load of fresh stuff delivered today, it arrived just after one while I was trying to finish up making soup for lunch. Here's a picture of the truck dumping it in the pit. You can see the mission car in the foreground, since Victor had come out to translate for the guests from a government farming office that had come out around 11 am for a barn tour. They came in for conversation, tea and some hot muffins I made before leaving, delaying the start of cooking lunch. Serving lunch was delayed because Garry had to go breed a cow for someone in the village, which turned out to be two cows, so it took longer than the ten minutes he thought.

I went out and took a few photos around 4:30 while Maxim and his brother Andrei were working on thawing out the waterlines again, because they had froze up again, and the cows needed to get another drink. It's tough for them to make a lot of milk when they don't get enough water to drink. Max was using the tiger torch to thaw the ice in the metal pipes. As you can see, the new puppy seems to be making herself at home in the barn, we'll have to get her a name I guess.

Garry is off in Dnepro playing basketball tonight, hopefully his knee holds up, it was sore after we went bowling last week. We'll see how many things are frozen in the barn tomorrow morning.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Inside the barn

Well here are those barn photos, taken right after milking. As you can see we had had a number of fresh cows (ones that recently had a calf) However I believe the count to be 8 bulls, 3 heifer calves and one freemartin. You can see why Garry wants to trade bull calves for girls! A freemartin is a female born twin to a bull calf. Almost all are infertile, because their female organs do not grow properly, there are supposed to be fertile females in 10% of female/male twin pairings, but I only know of one that ever had a calf... don't worry this doesn't happen in people, just cows.

The set of twins that was the marvel of the village shortly after Garry came home this month, are really like two bull calves. At home we grow the freemartins up and then when they are old enough to breed, they get turned into steaks after the vet checks them out and says that they are infertile. However, no one here had seen twin calves before, they are much rarer here in Ukraine. I think they are all hoping for two calves for the price of one now.

Check out our cute little red calf in the pen. She was racing around while I was taking photos, her mother is one of the red cows in the barn. The cow lying in the pen had trouble getting up on Saturday, Sunday they were going to put her in the pen but she got up when the tractor got close to her and walked there. She seems to be feeling a little better today, hopefully she's back to normal soon.

Garry sold a three week old bull calf for about-correction 140 dollars on Friday (he added on the milk fed to the price) It was supposed to get traded for something that has not happened yet, and Garry decided that the guy could get the next one born instead, so there would be more milk to sell. Last week he drove 4 bull calves down to Yana's parents place in the back of the Lada- the day before he picked me up at the airport- he says he plastized the rear really well first and tied the calves up. It didn't seem to smell when we put the suitcases in anyway.

Garry tells me that they are feeding the cows at two in the afternoon nowadays, and getting the corn silage inside the barn for the next morning's feeding- you can see in on the other side of the gate where the calves are; along with a scoop of brewers grain in the bucket of the tractor to feed in the morning when it is still dark. parking the tractor inside means it will be warm enough to start and the brewers grain isn't frozen. Since its supposed to be cold later this week they are going to move some brewers grain from the tubes into one of the pits. Right now only 4 inches around the outside of the stuff in the plastic tubes is frozen, but when it gets to -20 at night a lot more freezes. It stays warmer in the pit in the ground, less surface area.

Maxim and his brother found this little black puppy yesterday afternoon shivering in the snow and she seems to be enjoying life in the barn today, although Polo and Mint seem to be ignoring it for the most part. Maybe it can be Max's guard dog at his new house when it grows up.

Winter wonderland

Here are some kids walking home from school today, it was tough going with several inches of wet snow making the footing slippery. That was a report from Garry when he walked to the store for bread at noon, before it started snowing harder. The thermometer was right around freezing so the snow was melting off the roof with water dripping off the eaves, but don't worry it's supposed to get colder this week.

This afternoon I finally went outside to take some pictures in the barn, and decided to show you the driveway the guys shovelled out this morning when Victor came. The driveway that goes through the grapevines has to be done by hand- you can't get the loader tractor into it from either direction. Out by the road the gas line is too low to drive the tractor under, and the yard is set up so you can't go through the back yard either. Sunday evening it snowed some more and the wind blew the snow into three-foot high drifts.

This afternoon around 2 pm the snow was falling in blobs, we have at least four inches now! The camera got snow all over it when I took these around 3 pm- I had to dry it off before popping up the flash in the barn, just from walking out one door of the house and snapping pictures around and walking up the barn driveway (plowed with the loader tractor- we paid the gas company to raise the line over that one) and into the barn.

You can see some of Maxim's projects while we were gone. He screwed some red steel siding to the big gate on the barn side and made a second small gate there- the idea is one for cars, one for walking and both to get really big equipment into the yard.
He also found an old cattle trailer and welded up some new sides for it- and someone painted it blue, looks pretty bright against the snow.

Garry and Maxim went to breed a cow in the village while I was out there- Max was moving the car while Garry walked to the barn for the semen in the photo. Garry tells me one person in the village requested Maxim breed his cow after Garry got back because he thought Max had gotten one pregnant while we were in Canada. When Garry was breeding the cow the owners asked if he would be willing to trade the two-week-old heifer calf they had from another cow for a bull calf. Of course he said yes.

When I got to the barn,the ladies were just leaving the barn, having finished the second milking of the day and were heading back to their house, the summer kitchen. As you can see the laundry they hung out earlier didn't look to be drying very fast.

Mint is happy to be running all over again, there are no chickens to chase now, with the snow the neighbors have them all shut up in the coops.

The snow did slow up so we drove to Zaporosia to meet Marina and Masha, two of Garry's VBS teachers for dinner as planned. The road out to the highway was two tracks, the highway was mostly slushy with a few bumps of snow to drive through, but Garry had no problems driving. The girls translated the menu at the Chinese restaurant for us, and we had a lovely variety of dishes, although Garry had to request the rice before he would start eating the main courses, our sizzling dish was not sizzling by the time it finally arrived. We had a wonderful time, and a safe drive home after dropping them near their apartments.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quick note

It's 1:30 am so I'll make it fast. As you can guess I have not adjusted to the new time zone yet! Last night I went to bed at midnight and slept through to around 7 am, so tonight I thought I'd try it again. However, I started looking at Garry's 1000 piece puzzle and the hours got away from me! This is the before photo, taken when Garry went to bed, there are about 70 pieces to go now.

Today was brewers grain selling day, and business was brisk. They put 5 scoops into the pit with the bucket loader to sell this morning. Right now they are still using the stuff that was bought and bagged (with an ag-bagger) back in the summer. This time of year the supply is low and unavailable due to the holidays at the brewery. The last couple weeks it was too muddy for people to drive to where it is in the tubes in the yard beside the barn and today it was too bumpy, because the mud has frozen with big tractor tire tracks in. Garry tells me that more people are buying now, they sell twice as much as in the summertime.

Tonight I made sushi for the first time. The boys at home- Micah and Noah- make it often, so I thought we'd try it. They came out a little fat, but tasty with cooked shrimp and fake crab and shredded carrot for filling the rolls with the wasabi and so on for taste.

Last night I did homemade pizza after our trip to Dnepro, so Garry is getting spoiled now. Except for cooking his own breakfast, since I have been sleeping in, he's so nice.

Friday we went bowling, got our photos done for our new visa documents, dropped them off for Victor to get the paperwork started, picked up the empty milk jugs there, and checked out the new kitchen he's putting into his house. Then we got groceries, since we were a little low on stuff. Last night it snowed a bit again, today it felt colder because the wind was blowing, but not really cold (says the people who live in Manitoba.)

The kittens are starting to climb, so its a good thing the puzzle will be done soon, I have to put my yarn away befre I go to bed. Trying to find the best substitute for my missing crochet hook, I pulled the scarf I was working on apart after working on it a while. Now there is a big pile of extra yarn until I get bck to where I was. For some reason the part I redid with the steel 6mm hook looks closer than the plastic 5.5 mm did to the part I did in Canada with the steel 5.5-- the one security took away in Vienna. I am sure Xaris or Havi will never know the difference when they get this scarf.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I am here..

Still recovering from my trip home, since I had trouble sleeping on the overnight flight from Toronto to Vienna, even though I had an empty window seat next to me. It was bumpy with the seatbelt light on most of the way, and I have trouble sleeping in a car. For me, it is too much like trying to sleep in the car when there is turbulence on a plane. Garry thinks I have control issues and think that being awake means I can fix any problems that occur, however I think sleeping in the car makes me dizzy most of the time.

Anyway I ended up taking a nap when we got back to the house after Garry picked me up at the airport, it was nice being almost here when I landed, though, instead of having to get home from Kiev. There was no snow, but the tree branches were all white with hoarfrost, contrasting with the dark trunks. Sorry, no photos since the new camera was buried in the back seat in my carry-on.

That was Tuesday, Wednesday Polo came into the house for the afternoon and jumped all over me before settling down for a nap. I had already been welcomed home by Needles (who's back in the house when he wants, like this evening) and Box, and got to meet her three kittens. The black one is the climber- he can get up on the chairs, I have started calling him Black Box, but we'll see. The other two are striped, but one has a little brown spot in the middle of it's forehead. Black Box has just climbed up my pantleg to my lap and is trying to get on the laptop now. Now he sees that Box is nursing the other two kittens so he is climbing back down.

Garry has been doing jigsaw puzzles since he got back, with the occasional help from Maxim and his brother Andrei, who is back helping Max work on his house. He has glued a big water Greek seaside scene to a piece of cardboard and is working on the really hard one I gave him for Christmas last year- a 1000 piece Canadian flag made up hundreds of tiny photos.

I have only been able to put a couple pieces in, tonight I went back to crocheting, after finding a new hook. Security in Vienna insisted on taking my metal crochet hook out of my carry-on, so I am missing the 5.5 mm of the set Garry gave me for Christmas! Lucky I had a plastic one the same size with the others in my checked luggage. They told me they could mail it for 17 euros, so I hoped I had another one.

Box jumped on my lap when I got the crocheting out and insisted on having her head rubbed like in the old days before she had kittens. This morning- Thursday- there was a nice white coating of snow, although it is much warmer here than Manitoba! I hear that the big freeze hit when I left. Tonight I sort of have the house to myself, since Garry has run off to Dnepro to play basketball. I will try to get some photos out in the barn tomorrow. So in a week or so it should feel like bedtime at the right time for me. The eight hour time difference takes me a while to adjust to.

Monday, January 16, 2012

On my way

I am sitting in the airport in Toronto, waiting about 2 1/2 hours for my connection to Vienna, where I will connect right to Dnepro. I have been so busy this week finishing projects and saying goodbye that I have not done a single blogpost! Since Garry left two weeks ago I got to celebrate Noah's birthday, and babysit or play with my granddaughters more than a few times- one day we made puppets, as you can see in the photo. Yesterday I drove out to Morden to say goodbye to our daughter Jessica and Jonah, who is living with her while attending high school.

This morning I got to say goodbye to Josh and Noah about 5:30 am before milking time, and a hug and promise to email from Seth, who was getting ready for the school bus when Micah drove me to the airport. We got to Winnipeg in plenty of time, although there was a lot more traffic than when I drove in with Garry on January second, since it was a holiday Monday.I paid for my extra checked bag and the nice agent didn't care that it was just a little bit heavy- I must have stuffed in too much stuff after it weighed in on Thursday at the vet clinic eight pounds light! I always seem to leave that Russian history book I want to read behind, maybe next time!

Garry has had a busy week, when I talked to him one day he had taken the new highway - the one they were building an overpass for all year on our highway between Dnepro and Zaporosia. The road crews started in March and they were still finishing it when we left on December 2nd, the last couple weeks they worked almost round the clock to try to make a deadline. Garry says the new shortcut cut his trip to refill the liquid nitrogen in the semen tank to about the time it takes to drive to downtown Dnepro, instead of a half day to go there and back. This way we avoid driving through Dnepropetroesk and it gets to the other highway really close to the old bull stud where Garry buys the Liquid nitrogen- I had a post in September about when we drove there, that shows the lady pouring it into the tank with a steel pail.

On Sunday he told me he had to sweep the entryway of the house, because people kept coming to the door to wish him a prosperous new year by throwing in wheat, and there was grain all over. On the evening before he had little girls coming to the door dressed up and then reciting a rhyme, and he would give them money, because he had no treats to give out. In case you are wondering - it was old new years from the Julian calendar, celebrated in the Orthodox church. The holidays never seem end in Ukraine, it is about two weeks of celebration, things will be getting back to normal when I get there.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Off-line for days

Garry has been unable to get on the internet since he got back to Ukraine. His laptop, which we had left in Ukraine, has a on/off button that has been causing me problems for the last two years. Sometimes you had to push it five, ten, fifty times to get it to turn on. Last spring when the boys were using it for their schoolwork, one day it must have been about a hundred- with a twist down and to the right which Jonah discovered worked better the summer before. That day we printed out the grade reports just in case, since the boys were almost done with homeschooling for the year! I have just been leaving it on, with the exception of power shortages, although it seemed to work better lately, when I had to turn it back on.

Maxim was always turning the computer off with the button when he used it to check his Russian facebook, and I guess he was still doing it, because when Garry got back, he couldn't get it to turn on. He took it into Dnepro and got it fixed for 50 dollars he told me on the phone. However, since Maxim went home to his parents that same day- Wednesday, Garry was unable to go pick it up when it was fixed on Thursday, so he was still unable to check his email.

I called Garry Saturday morning (today) afternoon there, and discovered he was in Dnepropetroesk, waiting at Dafi (one of the malls) for Victor to pick him up to go back to the village. He had his computer, but the battery had gone dead about the time he had gotten into hotmail. It only lasts about an hour normally.

This morning Garry said he woke up at 3 am- he says he thought he heard someone knock on the door and he couldn't get back to sleep, so he drank coffee, watched TV, and then feed the cows at 5:30. At 7:30 he walked out to the highway and caught a marchutka van into the city around 8 am. He went to Victor's church for a Ukrainian Christmas service, which he said was like regular church with more singing, and lasted two and a half hours. Garry said he enjoyed hearing Daniel (Victor's 17 year-old son who visited Manitoba this summer) sing, and Dasha, his 11 year-old daughter, also sang and recited a poem. Victor had to drive some older ladies home after church, which is why he was at the mall, waiting for Victor to pick him up.

Garry knew he had a ride back, since Victor was planning to come out to the farm this afternoon, because the empty milk jugs were at his house from when he sold milk on Thursday, and needed to go back to be refilled for Sunday's church milk. Garry tells me that we are selling milk for 4.5 grivna per liter and I think 6 or 7 on the church and Thursday milk. The people in the village with milk to sell are getting 5 grivna now, so it must be selling for at least 10 in the markets.

Yana is back at work this week, her face infection she had just before we left had put her in hospital, so her parents had been milking the cows. Garry says the cows are doing well and Maxim found and fixed (welded) up and old cattle trailer during the time we were gone. He also told me that it snowed about two inches on Tuesday, but it melted away and it rained/drizzled all day Thursday, so it was muddy outdoors.

In other exciting news, Box had three kittens while we were gone. Maxim is trying to convince Garry that Needles is catching mice and is happy outdoors, so four cats are plenty in the house (like three little kitten count as cats!) Look at the photo at the beginning of this post, where Needles is trying out the Box we made for Box to have the kittens in, and tell me, does that look like a cat who is planning on staying outside? He does like to go outside and that's fine, but I don't believe he wants to stay there. I am putting my foot down on this one, since Garry mentioned that the cat tried to come in on Wednesday but Max chased Needles away from the door. I'll tell Maxim when I get back if I see him doing that it won't be the cat outside the house!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Manitoba farm tour

Garry went out with the new camera we got for Christmas to try videoing in the barn, here are a few photos he took while he was out there. He wanted to show it to maxim I think, so here is a preview for everyone. I may have to go out with the video camera to tape instead as the indoor video looks pretty dark, the stuff outside looks great, so I assume its a lighting issue. It was December 31th 2011 and the boys- Seth and Jonah- the ones who were in Ukraine were milking in the parlour that day.

The dog is Rolo, one of the puppies that was born last winter when we were home for Christmas, I took these photos Sunday morning (January 1st) when it was snowing, trying out the new zoom.

Garry made it there

After a long goodbye- in the photo Havilah is talking with Grandpa- Garry is off- our visas arrived in the last mail possible, before the New Year's holiday on Friday December 30th, so he booked his ticket that morning for the morning of January 2nd (the ticket for the first went up in price while he was on Garry has made it back to Dnepropetroesk.

For the first time he flew right into Dnepro instead of Kiev, and he said he was feeling fine when I talked to him a couple hours after landing. He made it back for the missionary Christmas party today, he'll get to the farm later, so I can phone again for a complete report about what happened while we were gone on Wednesday.

His first plane from Winnipeg to Toronto was an hour late, but he had a longer layover- 5 hours there anyway, he says they left Toronto late but made up an hour so he was into Vienna early and had three hours before the flight to Dnepro. The only hitch was his luggage - he had some trouble with his vacuum pump parts (for the machine milking system) that was his checked luggage and customs. Victor came through to interpret for him and after 15 minutes and a few grivna (luckily he had some in his wallet) he was on his way.

We had a good time ringing in the new year here before he left, we had the family all together for the second annual pizza extravaganza on New Years eve. Garry even stayed up until midnight, playing Rummy-O with some of the kids- Luke, Seth (pictured) and Jonah were milking the cows, since all the regular employees were off that night.

This year I made dessert pizza to finish off the pizza eating- we did had some leftovers, with Jess, Luke (assisted by his younger brothers after the afternoon milking was done) making one, and Micah and Noah, and myself making two regular pizzas. Jessy also made an exciting mini-pizza for the girls, where Havi chose the toppings.

Keziah wants a drink! she's pretty good at climbing and finding as a younger sister

Sunday morning the wind (and snow) was blowing like crazy so we went to Matt's church. We enjoyed hearing Xaris sing The B-I-B-L-E during the offering, then 3 year old Havilah, who stood next to her sister while she sang, also sang it with the microphone without practising beforehand with their mom Kari who played the piano for them, Havilah missed started one line, but Kari circled back on the melody and Havi restarted where she left off and finished it. Too bad I forgot the camera, they were adorable.