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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Headline news

Here are the highlights of the last couple days. I have been busy, so haven't had time to blog...I should be getting my test for English class ready, but I think I'll head to bed after this, I'll have a little time in the morning to prepare it. I just put the photos Garry took of the cows the students were juding in the barn the day the news crew came. If you missed it, check out the trade school blog for the link to the video. The pictures are nice even if you can't understand the words!

Garry ended up getting a big delivery of brewers grain on Friday after all, a big truck load of "bagged stuff" from the man we used to buy it from. He even decided that tey could sell some on Saturday at the new price 4 grivna a kilo (to reflect the higher price of buying) and they hardly sold any on Saturday. Thinking is the higher price was the deciding fator, and most people had found something else to feed to replace it when we didn't have any for sale. No fears the cows are happy back on the higher amounts to eat again, as the pit is still full to the top- it was overflowing when it was delivered.

Sunday evening Garry brought home some of the prosso millet to measure- no photo, but it was a foot tall, and should be growing more as we had a nice rain today. The alfalfa field is also growing nicely, Garry is thinking that they will chop it at the same time and turn it into silage together.

Monday we were getting ready for our new B and B guests that Victor was taking touring this week, when we had other Canadian guests. These people had met Garry last summer and were on a mission trip working in the city of Nikopol and dropped in- on their one day off. We had tea and chatted. Two of the ladies, sisters,  were born in Ukraine in a nearby village and their Mennonite family left in 1943 when they were 2 and 4 years old.

After lunch our visitors we were expecting arrived, two couples from British Columbia. They are my favorite B and B guests, they insist on washing dishes!

Yes, if you are wondering,  I am still limping around, and soaking my foot/toe in salt water. Maxim has been plowing with the new plow since yesterday and says it works great. He found a way to get the wheel on. He took it off the braket, bolted the bracket in place and then reattached it! A safer and easier method to get the bolts lined up and bolted tight!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Sunday in the village

Sunday morning we did not drive to Dnepropetroesk for church, because we had been invited to the service in the village, it was the yearly Thanksgiving service.

  The verse on the whiteboard is from Luke- "The harvest is big but the workers are few" 
The pastor joked he would take a photo and that was it

The singing was with accordion

The second sermon (there were three)
 There were about 60 people there, some visitors from others places. Garry and I sat in the third row, it was held in the big room we use for school, and there were many harvest themed decorations.there were three sermons and many songs and poetry readings also.
The children sang and recited also


 It started at 10 and was over around 12:30. We did not stay for the meal after, there were so many people there.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

In the news

Zaporozhye orphans learn from Canadian farmers

Have you ever wondered where to go orphans discharged from the boarding schools go? Where do they learn? Do the normal paid work? Where to live, after all? Who needs them?Statistics disappointing: Many of the children have alreadyin youth drink too much and fallinto prison, and the girls go to the bar ...Appeared, some people who still care about these issues.And, furthermore, these people find a way out.

Check out my latest trade school post for the rest of the text from the newspaper- - it is in Russian--but thanks to google translate-- it is changed into English. Just click on the birds  photo  to the right to find it. There is a link to a news video from the television station INTER about the trade school there also. It is in Ukrainian, but the pictures are nice, you can see Garry and the students in the classroom and judging cows on the farm, and the students eating lunch at one of the foster parents homes.

Friday, September 21, 2012

and then it was Friday morning...

Garry was trying to get the holes and bolts lined up
 I am limping around today, my injured toe hurts, but it hurts less if I keep my weight on my heel (see yesterday's post for more on my misadventures with the cast iron wheel in the photos.) My upper left arm is pretty sore and mostly red and purple, it's going to look really colorful for weeks, I bet (I bruise easy to begin with.) Glad to say my right hand is feeling fine, just scratches on my wrist. So I will lie on the couch with my foot up and crochet anyway. I turned down Victor's offer of a trip to the hospital this morning, I wouldn't have gone if we were home in Canada

 Garry was able to get the part almost attached to the plow- two bolts started-  with Andrei's help last night after my accident.
I was standing on this side holding it while Garry banged with a hammer

Maybe I should get safety crocs...the edge of the wheel hit right at the bottom of my big toenail. My fake crocs weren't damaged, just my toe!

Garry had to get up at 6 am when his small load of brewers grain arrived, but then his bigger one didn't happen so he had to drive over to Molozaharina this morning to buy a wagonful from the big farmer there. So last time he got 17 tons, and had two ton left from before- was supposed to last ten days, it was closer to two weeks. This time he got 10, instead of the same amount as expected (and no leftovers in the pit) so the cows will be getting less brewers grain to eat, he can't get any more for two weeks. We may need to purchase some moocooka (sunflower meal) to get more protein in the ration.He drove to Salone to pay for the brewers grain in the wagon and pick up some salt and lime to feed the cows- right now they are feeding ground grain instead of the grain from the mill with it mixed in already.

Garry was getting ready to dump his load in the pit around noon
He drove to Salone this afternoon to pay for the brewers grain in the wagon and pick up some salt and lime to feed the cows- right now they are feeding ground grain instead of the grain from the mill with it mixed in already.

It was a good day until...

 See the bright sunflowers Garry brought me last night! He is always good at picking free flowers for me. I don`t get nearly as many in the winter, I have noticed over the years...

It`s another beautiful day, perfect weather, not too hot or cool (a little cooler in the evenings, but no danger of frost yet) I am sure Garry would prefer a little rain falling on his fields, but yesterday when we drove to town there were combines working all over, mostly in sunflower fields.
Really empty!
 As you can see Garry is supposed to get some more piva travina (brewers grain) on Friday. They still can't buy enough to sell any, last week Saturday they closed the gate, the for sale sign has been down to two weeks, but cars with trailers were stopping and driving away empty. Maxim tells us that most people were buying it to feed their pigs, not cows, but they need to feed them something with the small amount of grain they recieved for their shares this year. Last week Wednesday it was really sad to watch an older lady come in the driveway pulling a tiny wagon with a bucket and big canner pot on and have to go away empty.

 Garry has been able to source a few tons once a week or so since the guy they were buying from told them he had been cut off, just enough to still feed the cows some, but not as much as they were getting prevouisly, he is still working, with Victor's help to find a new source, even if it costs more for the future- like this winter.
the two heifer calves- the one standing was born on Wednesday
Garry reported that the streak is broken, after two girls, there was a bull calf born this morning. All three were out of cows calving for the second time, and they seem to be milking well already.

I was interrupted while working on this post - I started it around four oclock, walked outside to give Garry his phone, and staying to help him with something after Victor drove  away with the milk he sells in Dnepro on Thursdays. It was a you can see from my 3 am facebook post a few minutes ago.

Super ouch! I tried to help Garry Verhoog assemble his plow, and we accidentially dropped a very heavy wheel thing on my foot hard, it looks like my toenail is a goner, may have broke my big toe too, plus bruised up my left shoulder and right wrist where it bounced off before falling to the ground...
See the big metal wheel thing he was trying to attach ?
  Yes the plow was turned over so the wheel dropped down three- four feet onto my toe...Garry was very sweet trying to help I spent the rest of the evening with my foot up, and him waiting on me, after he wrapped my toe with bandaids to hold my toenail on, resting on a bag of ice, oozing a little blood.  I was surprised to go to sleep after more Advil around 11 pm, but I woke up a while ago my toe (protected by one of Garry's big wool socks) was throbbing and my shoulder hurt too, so I decided to finish my blog post. 

Oh, and click on the birds to check out the day at the trade school on Thursday...exciting photos and post added earlier in the afternoon, before hurting my toe!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What we've been doing lately

Teaching, hosting, buying plows, checking on the crops, bowling...

Garry with a giant puffball mushroom

Garry and I are both teaching Tuesdays and Thursdays at the trade school, Garry in the mornings and afternoons and I am doing an English class inbetween, before the lunch break. We are up to eight students, and I have a few extra ladies sitting in in my class. 

 Stewart from Saskatoon arrived on Saturday, he was on his first trip to Europe and came to Ukraine to check out his Mennonite roots, among other things. He was unique- our first B and B customer who drove into the yard, he had rented a car in Kiev and drove to Odessa, over to stay with us, and then back to Kiev today to catch a plane to Italy (he made it, no problems) I took a photo before he got into his car this morning to head off on the highway toward Kiev. He went for a walk every evening with Garry around the village.

 We parked across from this building when we went bowling last week, it is the home of the Cotton Jazz bar, but I never noticed walking past it on that side of the road that it is one of the buildings with an old facade, but the top floor is all new, if you check out the dates on the front of the building- 1897-2006. It looks really cool from across the street!

Look this time our names were in Russian
We have been bowling several times this month, last week I beat Garry one game, he tried to take a photo of my winning score, but he was too slow and it rest for the next was the second game, you bowl by the hour, and we get 4 plus games in with the two of us bowling. Recently I have been bowling better, today we had two games where Garry only won by two pins, but then he had a 160 in the third game, and I barely broke a hundred!

Garry decided to buy a plow, he and Maxim went to a couple dealers, and arranged to have one delivered, it is a Ukrainian made one, cheaper, but it will be ours instead of borrowing one! Andrei was checking it out yesterday while Garry was assembling it, and he assumed it was used because it is very rusty looking. It came on a truck in parts.....

well actually these parts came on the second trip the truck made to the village. The first time Maxim and Garry rejected it because looked so bad, all the shares weren't even set the same distance apart, and had holes in. They phoned the dealer and they agreed that they could return it and pick out the parts they wanted for the plow. It turned out the parts closest to the door had been loaded on the truck from the pile that people buying plows had been sorting through....they picked out the ones they wanted and the ones left were pretty bad looking. They got some better ones but then Garry noticed a few smaller parts were missing, so they said they would get them from another place on the way. It arrived shortly after Garry did while he was discing up a garden for someone, after breeding a cow...he has been breeding cows almost every night lately.
Garry assembling his plow parts

Maxim, Garry and the rejected plow pieces in the truck

Sometimes here- one of ours or one someone brings a cow to the gate. One evening a guy brought one, and said he'd bring her back in the morning to be bred again. Garry said she really didn't need to be bred twice as she seemed to be in a good heat, but it turned out it was the idea of the babushka that owned her, so she was back in the morning. He bred one a couple weeks ago, the owner wanted to know what was wrong with the cow, she had been bred by the bull twice already. Garry said she seemed fine and in a good heat, he should have lots of business if she gets that one pregnant. He bred one in a village where the guy had two cows and sold his milk in the market in the city. He told Garry that it is extra work when he has to herd the cows (in their village herd) but he can make as much money as working at the gas station on the highway.

He bred one cow in the village where the owner proudly showed him two heifer calves from when Garry bred his cows last year, so it is just our cows having bull calves...wait, we had another heifer calf tonight!

Tonight Garry went to check on his prosso millet field and you can see it is getting tall, he brought a piece back to show me, and a bunch of little sunflowers for the table. It is almost 10 inches, or 25 cm tall now. The winter wheat is up. On Monday they were cleaning the manure from the barnyard and hauling it away past the wheat field, when they noticed the village herd was grazing in the green field! Maxim and Garry had a talk with the people herding the cows about keeping them out of our field. Lucky the millet field is further away!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Harvest time

This morning I saw a wagone go past the house loaded with bags of onions and a few guys on top of the load. Garry tells me it looks like a bunch of kids are skipping school to pick onions in the vegetable growers' field. He figures they get paid by the bag, and only work until the crop is in.
What's that? Onions!

I took this photo when we were coming back from Crimea last month, there was a field full of orange mesh bags of onions- we assume left out to dry- amazing sight as you drive past on the highway!

Looks like the pumpkin (seed) farmers are starting to push the pumpkins into rows for the harvesting machine- check last  year's blog for more details on pumpkin seed farmers.

Maxim taught Yana to drive the tractor to bale up the hay the other day, I don't know how many bales they made, but Garry says it is really green (in color) Andrei was just back from trade school and was feeding the cows. Look for  blog post soon about Maxim's house reno, it is coming along, Garry has been helping lay tile floors and make cement for the huge cistern the guys dug to hold water for the house.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Trade school opening

Check the other blog for a post about the trade school, Garry had his first day of teaching today. We are teaching on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Maxim's brother Andrei is a student and he thought it was cold in the house this morning, so he and Garry were running the heater part of the airconditioner when I got up...and turned it off, it's not that cold!

 Which is why I can't explain his outfit for today's official opening day of school-- that's him on the right side of one of the two Maxims that are students (yes, we now know five Maxims. at least...)

Photo fun- or on top of a Moskvi ...

That is a cement mixer on top, parked at the grocery store

you can see Dnepro is proud of the rocket factory

Rear engine (see the vent) reminds Garry of his first car- a Corvair
Garry is very excited about his cup holder, he got it last month 

It's the little things...

Garry was so happy to get this cup holder, he has been loking for one for three years, ever since we bought the Lada. There are no cup holders built in (its a 2009) ...and Mc Donalds gave it to him for free with his BigMac Menu (meal) at the drive thru.
It's the old Moskvi version of a station wagon

They may drive an old car, but they have a new couch! cushions piled in the back seat

Took this today in the village

Garry says he has seen very few policewomen in Ukraine- here's one

In front of the mall in downtown Dnepro, this high heel is made of stainless steel pots and lids

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rain makes a difference

Here are some recent photos to show you what the recent wetter weather has done here in the village and area. The grass has made a real comeback, from brown everywhere to green. Here are some cows staked out on the cloverleaf on the highway near Nova Swit  enjoying actual grass to eat...a month ago they were there everyday with some dry brown weeds to munch on.

Coming up all over- little baby marigolds!
Strange, but true facts: Garry had planted seeds in his new flower bed this spring, some came up, and he planted some bedding plants. He watered them constantly (except when we were in Hungary and Canada- they looked pretty sad when we returned!) and they were just hanging on to life when the rain arrived, now after a couple weeks of regular rain, the petunias and marigolds are making a comeback. The really strange thing is dozens of little marigold plants have come up from the seeds he planted back in May! I don't think they will get a chance to bloom before the frost arrives this fall, but there they are!

The milker ladies planted morning glories after the guys finished the new fence- they dug them up from the flower bed by the summer kitchen where they have self-seeded  for years and they have really taken off with the rain.

Garry tells me his crop of millet is about 4 inches tall already, it has been cool, but it is supposed to be warmer next week, which should get it growing even better.

 Which is why I am suffering from smoke...having an allergy to smoke is not what you want in the village. Right now, everyone is cleaning up the weeds in the garden and yards, and they set them on fire in a nice pile in the evenings, which smokes and smoulders all night, filling the outdoors with nasty smelling smoke....which creeps into our bedroom around the plywood in the window the air conditioner vents through...
it better be hot enough that we want the A/C on, because there would be less smoke sneaking in with the windows shut...sadly still a little smoke, because the window in our bedroom is a little warped.

Back to crops  

There are 60 acres of winter wheat planted, and they may plant more as they are trying to locate some rye seed (rye will be a good spring crop to chop for silage) and have not found any to buy yet. 
Garry tells me the seeder they borrowed this year is much nicer than the one they have used for the last two years to plant with, most of the parts worked without trouble. The wheat should be up fast, it rained again a few hours after Maxim finished planting. Saturday Max finished working up the 
small field where the rye- or more wheat- will be planted next week

The millet is growing, and the hay is growing back, in fact they cut some on Saturday, the part of the field that was mowed earlier for the last cutting has grown back nicely. They will be feeding it as they go, the lack of brewers grain means that they will change the ration and feed more hay now. They got a small- six ton - load this morning, which will need to stretch for at least 10 days. This was from a new source and cost, with delivery, about 250 a ton instead of 150. They are still working on getting a new source,  and what they will be filling the ration with with less brewers grain for the winter... and what the cows will be eating if (and when) they can't get any...
Even the new seeding is green and the alfalfa is growing (not the weeds) 

early sunflowers, brown and dry

later sunflowers look bigger and better (and greener)

It seems one crop has done OK in Ukraine this summer, some of the sunflowers were combined in August, and have come close yielding a ton per acre hecacre, Garry tells me now or 400 lbs. an acre but just the good fields, most are running 100-200 pounds per acre- a normal year's yield would be 1000- and the price is good, so not bad. The later planted sunflowers may have been helped by the rain. They are not dry enough to combine, but the ones that were planted early are. The big hybrid sunflowers look better than the ones with small heads, for sure.

 The pumpkin seed farmers are not looking at a good year, there aren't very many pumpkins in the fields and they are small ones. To make it worse, the plants have started flowering again after the rain, and I don't think they will make viable pumpkins to harvest for seed...the story of every farmer, what might have been, if it had only rained...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Farm update

They fill the wheelbarrow six times with corn silage 
As you can see the short corn did not chop very well.

That cute little red calf is # nine bull of ten calves born!
Last week when Andrei was gone (he and his older brother Ruslan were putting new windows in their parents house, they live in a village about two hours from Nikolipolia) Garry was feeding the cows a lot, so one afternoon I went out and took some pictures.
Tuesday morning Max came back to change implements

The rain last week really got the new seeding of prosso millet growing, Garry tells me. He checked it out when they started working up the nearby field to plant the winter wheat. He had hoped to use the cultivator with the harrow he put together behind it, but when Maxim tried it on Monday, they had to come back and switch to the disc. Disking takes more fuel to run the tractor, but the weeds had grown too big for the cultivator to work well. Tuesday Garry took over working up the field while Maxim went to the plant to pick up the sha-neat-sa (wheat seed). He ended up sitting at the plant for three hours while they waited for the office to confirm with the bank had received the payment, even though he had the paperwork to say that it was paid for. Business in Ukraine moves slowly, we have found.
Wednesday morning, waiting for drier ground- morning glories climbing the fence

There was a thunder storm Tuesday night, so the wheat planting had to wait a day so the ground could dry out a little, Maxim is doing it today. Garry says he has been told September 15th is the optimal time for planting. Last year only the wheat that was planted early got a good yield, it was in the ground already when we got the only rain of the fall. This year there is enough moisture in the ground already to get it up.

Right now there are about 30 cows milking, Garry went out and pulled a calf Wednesday evening when Yana came to the door and the smaller feet did turn out to be a heifer calf! He says it is not 2 out of eleven, but one out of one! So 100% heifer calves this week. There will be more cows and heifers (first timers) having calves this month. Garry tells me there will be 38 milking soon.

Right now we are making 500-600 liters a day, some we sell ourselves on Sunday and Thursday when Victor comes out (Garry sells it if Victor is busy) to the farm and goes to some apartment blocks and sells it. We get about 60 cents a liter for that milk, most is sold on the farm to people who re-sell it and make products- heavy smetana (sourcream) and low-fat cottage cheese from the rest. We only get about 30 cents for this milk, and sometimes the buyers miss picking up milk because their vehicles break down, or are short on funds,  so they get credit and catch up someday as they can. Right now they are behind and we are buying seed and fuel for planting, so funds are getting tight. Good thing bull calves are worth 125 dollars!

A new big problem seems to have arisen today- the person we have been selling us those big 27 ton trucks full of piva travina (brewers grain) for the last two years has had a falling out with the brewery of some kind- management change, we don't know- only that we can't buy any from him because he can't get it) There is enough left to feed our cows through the weekend if we don't sell any- they sold four tons to people in the village yesterday- but this is bad. We need to find some to buy somewhere and to be able to get it this winter, when less beer is made, or change our feeding big-time. We may even have to sell some cows or heifers, if we don't have enough  to feed them this winter (I did mention that brewers grain is a large part of what we are feeding the cows- the heifers are getting only brewers grain and straw right now a good diet for them, but we'd have to buy something to feed them instead, and buy moocooka (sunflower meal) to substitute for the protein in brewers grain.) Plus we won't be able to sell it to people in the village, who have come to depend on it, and need something to feed, with all the shortages from the drought.

Garry and Victor are trying to come up with a new source for brewers grain, for right away and all winter...tracking down some leads. You can't just drive to the plant and talk to someone in charge of selling it, you have to tell the guard who you have an appointment to see, so they are trying to find a way.