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

Friday, August 31, 2012

The rain finallly came...and the brewers' grain

That rain that would have saved the corn crop two months or so back finally arrived this week. Sunday we went to church and it seemed that everyone was still on holidays, there weren't very many people at church and we brought back most of the milk Garry took there. He had forgotten (and I didn't hear) that the week before everyone was invited to a wedding on Sunday after church downtown. We went and it was a lovely ceremony in Russian the only language the bride and groom share, I was told. The groom Izzy is from Nigeria and speaks English, we have seen him at Morningstar since we moved here. The bride was tall and beautiful in an ivory strapless gown, and is from Angola, she speaks Portuguese. They met here in Dnepropetroesk while in medical school, and got married in the language they share. I am sorry that I did not have the camera to take a photo of the happy couple.

Monday we went to Dnepropetroesk to go bowling- really to buy paper towels for the ladies to use while milking the cows- Garry forgot we were supposed to buy them on Sunday. It was 40 C as we were driving away from bowling, and we hit a big thunderstorm right after Garry stopped to buy some cold Pepsi (which is harder than you think- every store has 50 kinds of beer in their coolers, but hardly any have cold sodapop.) It poured, and some small hail hit the car as we approached Heroes of Stalingrad (street.) Of course the streets had lots of water on them, because drainage is a little underused (or broken)  in many places, so the downhill parts of the city become huge pools of running water whenever it rains hard and fast. The water hides all the holes .....   that you normally see to drive around, so doubly harzardous driving, with some loss of control by drivers as they hit the puddles.

When we got back to the village, Garry was disappointed because it had not rained here yet. It did give him a chance to drive at and look at the field of millet he planted last week, and he was excited to see tiny plants up in rows all over the field. We did get one storm in the evening, but not as much as he hoped. I pointed out there was rain in the forecast for the next couple days, and when he got up to go feed the the cows on Tuesday, it was raining. In fact here is a photo of Garry when he came in from feeding the cows...
a smiling soaking wet guy

and it rained more...
Garry changed out of his wet clothes and sat inside looking over material for teaching his dairy classes for the trade school, and checking out the window periodically when it would start pouring and raindrops were bouncing off the cars, even flooding the front yard at times. Garry was happy that he got to fill the water cistern for free with rain water off the roof for the first time in a year.

Garry decided we should drive to Zaporosia for the afternoon- I had been making taco sauce in the morning, we picked up tomatoes on our way home on Sunday from one of the fruit/veggies stands along the highway.


Our trip to Zapporosia

1944-1948 That's WWII

We stopped at a monument that we must have driven past hundreds of times without seeing it, but it caught our eye a couple weeks ago driving out of Zap. Turns out it is a WWII memorial, complete with eternal flame, and a grieving mother stature, and about 2,000 names and three heroes names on the tablets to the side. Very well maintained, it was just starting to rain when we got there
She's holding a branch of oak leaves.

 The names under the star are the heroes 

 On the corner of the park was an old gun (maybe anti-aircraft?) tires intact, painted silver, bolted to the ground, it seems to be a popular kind of WWII momument, because there are a lot of tanks and guns bolted down like this in Ukraine.

By the time we got to the middle of the city, and sat down in Mc Donalds for lunch- mmm.... french fries and hamburgers; it was pouring out. For those of you who don't like eating at Mc Donalds- I am sorry, but spend a year living in Ukraine and you'll love the taste of home!  It is the only hamburger joint that has come to Ukraine, and they love it, and so do all the Americans and Canadians here, when they are a little homesick, it's as close as you get unless you have big bucks to spend at one of the TTIFs in Ukraine (there is one in Dnepro)

Mc Donalds is packed for lunchtime
Then we drove around trying to locate a botanical garden we found on the internet, we saw some parts of city we had not seen before (and more rain), but finally gave up when we drove past the "central market" and walked through and bought a half dozen peaches- they weren't quite as good as the ones we bought in Crimea, they had tasted like fresh New Jersey peaches right off the tree. We walked past where they were selling meat and milk. Had to get my umbrella out as it was raining lightly, so we headed back to the car and drove to the city mall and did a little grocery shopping and found some hardware Garry was looking for to make a set of harrows to get ready to seed winter wheat next week--after the fields dry out!

People selling milk under a roof at the market
Main street has rose bushes planted in the meridian 

Power's out and more rain

Tuesday evening it was still raining and the wind had picked up, the ladies were busy milking when our half of the village lost power- a tree had gone down knocking down a hydro (telephone) pole. Did you know that they are square and made of cement here, by the way? Garry went out with the little battery powered lantern we took camping and looked for the problem- strangely when it first happened the barn was without power but the house had power for about 5 more minutes. Then no one had electric, so Garry had to drive to the gas station because his can that is supposed to be full to run the generator was empty (the guys 'borrow it" when their scooter is empty). So when the ladies finished evening miilking, he turned off the generator until morning, when he put it on again for milking and cooling the milk in the tank. It was still raining, and rather cool, only 14 C in the morning, and most of the day.

A job no one wants on Wednesday morning- herding the cows all day in the rain!

Garry did not look as excited about the rain when he came in dripping for the second morning in a row from feeding the cows their corn silage and brewers grain (both have to be brought inside the barn by wheelbarrow from outside.) Mid-morning he was headed to the gas station for more gas so he could start the generator up later for milking, when he saw the brewers grain delivery truck drive past him. It was supposed to come on Tuesday with some old stuff since there was no new beer brewing yet. They got the truck backed in and over to the pits. Garry and Andrei jumped in with buckets to get rid of some of the rain water inside before they dumped the feed into the cement pits, it was still raining as they did this
Look right near the level of the hay rack, you'll see the water coming out

Garry took off his shoes and socks and rolled up his pants to his knees, before jumping in and letting the muddy water fly out of the pit. When the load started to dump out Garry was really happy, as you can see in the second photo, a big cloud of steam rose as the brewers grain sloshed in to the pit, because it was fresh stuff, the brewery is making beer again. The truck left without getting stuck in the driveway, a bonus!

Shoes in hand, Garry watches the steam rise with Andrei
Garry had the generator running again for the afternoon morning, as the rain slowed up some later in the day. It was off for several hours, good thing I don't need much light to crochet, I am working on an afghan for Garry to stay warm this winter. We played Racko with a candle until almost seven- the cows from the village herd come home at 6:30 now, with the rain and getting dark earlier. Garry turned on the generator because the ladies would be milking soon. Andrei said he had just past some men looking at the power lines, but Garry didn't think they would have it fixed until the next day. I happened to notice lights on next door just before eight pm, so Garry went and turned it off and put us back on the power grid.

Thursday was cool and partly cloudy, they were selling brewers grain all day it seemed to people in the village, since there wasn't any to sell last Saturday. It will be next week before they are in the fields I think, the ground is really soaked. Too bad this didn't happen a couple months ago...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Not a Lada

What's that car???
Quick, is that a Lada? We recently found an article by a fellow non-Ukrainian living in Ukraine, entitled 50 ways to tell if you've been living in Ukraine too long, or something like that, on the internet.

When we were driving back from Crimea Garry suggested a new one- being able to tell what kind of old Soviet car you are passing on the highway. He can normally spot the non- Ladas, the similar-looking Mosvee (Moskovitch) and  the Combi, and the Zaz which was made in the city of Zaporosia.

We found an original model Zaz parked on the street in Crimea. It had only a driver's seat in the front now, but was still being driven. It looks just like the yellow one that is on a post outside the factory in Zaporosia.

This car says it is a Daewoo-Zaz, must have been made around the takeover?

Shiny new cars outside the Zaz plant, they are labelled Daewoos now.
Dratted car registration stickers get in the way!

Is that Italian saying Lada guaranteed quality?

A Moskovitch Combi (rather like the Lada Niva) 
Sometimes it is easy, to tell but some brands models were made to look like the others. The tiny tail lights can be problematic, often at night they don't look red, but white on some cars, so you wonder which way the car is coming down the road! Since they don't always work, some drivers add reflectors to the back of the car for those times to make them more visible, in the bad photo of the blue car above you can see some.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The rest of our Crimean trip

So here is what happened on last week Friday when we headed toward Garry's planned cable car ride near Yalta. We took off before nine am, heading toward Sevastopol (pronounced Se- vas- tow-poll in Russian) and decided to take the GPS's advice on finding a point of interest, following the British lady voice's instructions we ended up in a parking lot after a u-turn up the street. We walked up following other tourists and discovered our fortress was beneath an Orthodox church/monastery, so we didn't have to pay but we did have to don wrap-around skirts before going through the gate, I was wearing my hat, so I didn't grab a married women scarf for my head too. Garry and I were both wearing shorts, both improper dress. We really wanted to get to the fortress at the top of the hill, but explored the church a bit, it is like the one in Baktchisarai, built into the limestone mountain.

Garry asked a couple people for directions up to the top, there were a couple groups touring the grounds, and a number of workmen doing restoration work. We finally realized we had to go through the cemetery grounds and climb a path that followed a wall behind the buildings.
climbing up looking into the monastery garden- see the beehives?

almost to the fortress


That's me in the purple skirt

we walked around the site

  We were all alone, still wearing our skirts, and enjoyed exploring what looked to be a number of tower ruins, and walls, along with some stone Garry thought might be rejects from the surrounding quarrying work. There were a number of old cave rooms and stairs leading down to the monastery, and even an old graveyard site near one of the towers.

Garry in his gray skirt checking out the rubble

Stone has been mined on the back side of  the mountain

grave stone

 Garry walked the whole mountaintop, while I enjoyed the seagulls and peaceful atmosphere. We were rather surprised when some of the tourists from below turned up in marshutka vans for the rest of their tours. We headed back down on foot, returned our skirts to the rack, and bought a fridge magnet to add to our collection.

We aren't alone anymore!

Next we headed to Balaclava because Garry wanted to check out the old fortress there. We had gone there nnd toured the museum inside the old cold war submarine base the first time we went to Crimea with the boys. We followed the GPS's directions, which led us astray- trying to go down a pedestrian walkway. We ended up at the wharf, thanks to the GPS, when we couldn't turn the way it wanted to, going down the strip with the stalls selling stuff on one side--and the water on the other. Garry parked in the only spot he could find- right in front of the tour boat dock. We got out and took a boat tour first, it turned out to be the one hour tour, a ladies voice told all about the sites. The water was a little rough because it was windy, we got splashed by spray a couple times on the way back. The ride was nice with a good wind to cool off, since it was a hot day.
the boat in front of our parking spot

leaving the harbor

passing the entarance old hidden submarine base we toured with the boys

This si when we stopped so people could jump off

Can you tell it was windy?

We were quite surprised when the boat anchored for about 15 minutes so people could jump in the Black Sea- they climbed back up a ladder- explained why so many passengers were wearing swimsuits, I guess! Garry was wishing he knew about it, he would have worn his and jumped in. I wonder if the two hour tour just stopped longer for swimming!

Starting the climb up

Garry took this a little higher than I climbed I think

Me getting some sun while Garry climbed up

After we got back to the dock, we walked up to see the fortress. Well I walked to just past the first lower tower, Garry walked all over the hill while I did some sketching and got a little sunburnt sitting on a rock. I took a little tumble as we went back down, scaring the female tourists from leaving the safe sidewalk and steps part of the climb, for the steep trail.  but no real damage as I landed on my bottom.
Garry took this out a window in one of the towers

Garry climbed to the top and walked around the walls

I don't (want to)  know how he took this shot

Renovation underway at the top tower, check out the top

 The ruins are Genoese, the city was known as Cembalo in the 14th century. There are signs that the Greek were here in the 7th to 3rd centuries BC, but no ruins like there are in nearby Cheronoses (Sevastopol) where we toured in March 2011 with Garry's brother and the boys.

they have moved soldiers here form other places in Crimea

Some Dutch names on this stone- DeVries

Then we climbed back in the car, still hoping to find Garry's cable car ride that day. We stopped for a few minutes at a large cemetery for the Germans killed during WWII in Crimea. A group from Germany has moved about 40,000 from over 300 sites to this well maintained place with the names carved into the center tablets.

 The GPS led us astray trying to find the cable cars when we neared Yalta- it would help to know what they are called in Russian, really. We ended up getting room at the Alupka Hotel, where we have stayed before and getting a very late lunch- almost 4 pm at the pirate inn, Karamba. We asked the girl at the desk about the cable cars, but decided it was too late in the day, we'd try it the morning.

 However, we slept late after Garry was up sick all night, so decided to head home after breakfast- Garry had mostly tea- and  a walk in our favorite park to see the sequoia tree Garry found while staying here a couple weeks ago.

the Vorontsov Palace from below

a sequoia tree - planted 150 years ago?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday hay and feed report

 Here it is Saturday already, Garry has been raking hay this morning, and when he gets back from a meeting about the trade school, he plans to get it baled up. No brewers' grain sales today, the beer factory has been shut down for two weeks, the last load they bought came out of a tube. Garry got Maxim to phone, it seems that beer production may start again on Monday, so Tuesday is the earliest they can get a new load.

 Unfortunately, they never brought Garry any loads of brewers' grain to bag up in tubes like last year, so it doesn't look good for feeding our cows or the rest of the village's cows this winter when the beer factory has its month long holiday shut down. Last year we fed and sold to people in the village out of several tubes during January that Garry put up in July. That is one reason why Garry is trying to get more hay or silage put up for the winter.

Garry went out to stack bales on the wagon on the first load - the good alfalfa - but hurt his back when they hit a bump, so he stayed in the house while Maxim went out to bale up the weedy field of hay. It is about 100 degrees again today, it has heated up the last couple days after some cooler weather, so the A/C is on in the house again.
Look at all the nice bales!
Garry says that they got 120 bales, and will likely get as many bad. er weedy ones. There are no bad bales anymore, because of that new baler he bought this spring. It didn't break a bale today- he says it has made only 3 or 4 broken ones since they started baling this spring, all nice solid bales, that don't fall apart putting them in the barn like the ones from the old baler. He is very happy with his new baler.  It is so hot out that they are going to put the rest in the haymow in the morning when it is cooler.

Polo is our only dog now. Last week when we got back from our trip south, we found out that Donna the puppy that Max and Andrei found in the snow last winter, had given birth to 5 puppies. Since Max has been working on his house to move in soon, Garry told him to take her over there to protect it, so she and the puppies, and the doghouse Seth built went there a few days ago. Two days ago Maxim took Mint over too, because Donna wouldn't come out of the doghouse. Once she saw Mint, she was happy and bouncing all over. They have been tied up so they could see each other since spring, when they got in trouble for chasing (killing) some of the babushka's next door's chickens.

Getting ready to head back to the city on bicycle

We had some visitors over the holiday weekend- yesterday was Ukrainian Independence Day, a friend from church biked out from Dnepropetroesk yesterday. They are heading back late this afternoon, hopefully they make it before dark.  They toured the barn and camped out by one of the ponds outside of town. 

Part two of our "Rest" in Crimea

the next place we went swimming after the cliffs

Last Saturday we were driving back from our vacation or rest in Crimea (all English speaking Ukrainians call it a rest, I am not sure why, many terms are British, but I think they use holiday, like we sometimes do in North America.) Right about now we stopped at a little cafe for soup and kartoshka free (french fries.)

You can see Papa Lenin right over the big horse's shoulder
In part one, camping on the cliffs, we were driving away into another rainstorm when I stopped the story. We headed into the village, past the stands we drove past a couple days before, but the fact that it was early morning and water was running down the street meant few were open for business. I took a last photo as we left town, they seem to be keeping the grass cut around their Lenin statue in a unique way, as you can see.

We drove about 85 km over to the city of Yevpatoria, where the town signs proudly proclaim it is 2500 years old. Garry manged to find his way through the city to the highway on the other side, in spite of a traffic holdup at a circle because of a train. We drove along the beach front for quite a while, we stopped there with Victor the first summer we were in Ukraine, the beach is covered with little flat stones, like river rock. 

We had decided to head to the area where we went to the beach with Stacy last year on July first, because the beach area had been so nice. On the map it looked like we could drive along the shore from the north to the city of Katcha, but it proved impossible to actually do. It was an interesting detour, we saw some vineyards, picturesque coastline- as you can see in the photo; and behind barbed wire, what looked like old defence positions along the shore. We came to a fence along the only road we could find going south, so had to return to the main highway.

Along the bumpy dirt road that turned into a fence-  
We finally did get there from the south, and Garry followed some signs to some seaside condos, where he rented one for three nights. We were on the top = 6th floor, and had a spectacular sea view from a balcony.
We ate at the seaside restaurant while we waited for the cleaning lady to clean the place before we could get the keys, a small pizza for 20 bucks, we only had tea there for the rest of the stay, I cooked on the hotplate in the little kitchen- it had a big fridge, microwave, but just a one burner hotplate, and we had pots in the car. for camping. 

After much needed showers and a nap, we set out to explore the city on foot. We talked to a tour seller who had a little English and found out that it used to be a closed city in Soviet days, and the air force base is just outside of town, she said the planes were not out that day because of the stormy weather. Kind of explained why it was so hard to get to, didn't it? We did see some fighter jet planes, helicopters and some bigger planes over the next two days. The city is proudly celebrating it's 100th anniversary this year, we just missed the circus that was there on the weekend. 

We found the Heroes Park and walked through it, there were a lot of big gold busts there.

We found a place to buy Garry a razor, enjoyed a hot deep-fried cheboroots (like a fried pies filled with cheese or meat, ours were cheese. After we got back, it rained, and it was nice to be inside a dry building instead of a wet tent! 

We did enjoy a beautiful sunset that night 

You wouldn't believe what we saw the next morning, we woke up early and I was enjoying the view of what we assumed it the city of Stevasopol to the south when I spotted a fin in the water. I called Garry to come look and we were watching dolphins for the next 15 minutes, swimming in pairs, with their fins and tails popping up in the water. There seemed to be more than one pair. 

Stevasopol in the distance that  morning
We have seen dolphins on city sign and statures in Crimea, but did not realize that they really are in the Black Sea until we saw them. People tell us it is really unusual to see them from shore, they are normally in the deep water.
Sorry I didn't grab the camera until it was all over.

We did enjoy some time on the beach, paddling around in the water on Thursday, and Thursday evening when we walked downtown we found a great place to eat shishlik.

 It was good, there was lots to eat and it was cheap. No wonder you could hardly find a place to sit.

 Garry said it reminded him of a BBQ place in the US, you went inside ordered and paid, told them your table number (which was taped to the top of plastic folding tables in a park. Then you sat on the plastic chairs until they brought your order to you, drinking whatever you bought to drink. We had Pepsi, but most people were drinking beer..or vodka and juice to chase. We ordered potatoes, but I couldn't finish mine, they were rather like scalloped potatoes. The shishlik meat was pork, a really tender, served with thin-sliced raw onions and a few tomato slices. Friday morning we headed further south, to see what we could see, and ride the cable car up Al-Petri Mountain.