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

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Countdown to departure

You can blame my lack of posts lately on facebook's Words with Friends, Garry recently started playing after some of our sons in Canada invited me to play, and he is on the internet way more now. We are also down a computer, I am bringing my giant HP back so Noah can put the old stuff on the new computer I am getting, the motherboard is gone in it. He tells me that he may buy one at Black Friday shopping in the states.

Garry has been up at 3 am the last two days, and going out to plow until about 8 am, when Maxim takes over for the rest of the day. Max will still be plowing next week from what I understand. He finally got everything lined up and welded back together on the center of the three bottom plow on Sunday and finished up all the gardens he had to plow Monday morning. In case you are wondering there are no trip-bottom plows for sale over here, and the cast iron broke when it hit a small thing- there are not any stones, the new repairs are all steel, so this should be the strongest one now.

Today Garry came in at 8 am, showered and packed a lunch for his fieldtrip to see a demonstration farm with the students, it sounded like they enjoyed the trip although a few were feeling carsick by the time they got back to the village around 4 pm- they made the trip in Victor's van. I'll get some photos up later this week on the trade school blog. Then most of the students came to our house at six pm for pizza, salad, and in honor of American Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie with whipped cream. They also played UNO with Garry, they all want a set for their houses now. Garry was ready for bed by 8:15 a couple of the girls helped clean up, and everyone was gone shortly after, walking back to the houses before 9 pm.

Our bags are mostly packed for our flight tomorrow afternoon, we'll land in Winnipeg at 6 pm Saturday, after overnighting in Frankfurt.

Friday morning- Garry went out to plow at 4 am this morning, he had some problems, it was so cold the ground was frozen he had trouble getting the plow in the ground. Yesterday when Maxim got there they put 40 liters of fuel into the tractor, but he'd only used half as much today. The sun is out so it will warm up, Max will pow the rest of the day. They just got another 5 hectares to rent for next year- and plow before they finish plowing. It is about 400 dollars for fuel to plow that 5 hectares. We are spending alot of money on fuel for the tractor this week, and we just paid for a delivery of feed that came yesterday afternoon. Soon the farm will be making money, instead of spending it.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Garry's bad day

You know the old saying "if it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all?" That's the way Garry's day seemed to be going on Friday, at least when it came to getting an afternoon nap, or his Russian lesson.

Garry started taking Russian lessons again, with Masha, who translates for him at the trade school. That way he pays part of the her salary for teaching him Russian. I went with him once, but we agreed that he would get more done with out me there. Garry speaks way more Russian than I do, anyway, but now he is learning all the verb tenses and practicing writing.

He had not squeezed them in earlier in the week, with making silage, and company, so he had planned on Friday morning, when Masha is not busy (she does an English lesson on Fridays with the students in addition to the lessons I do with them.)

 However, he had to run into Dnepropetroesk after feeding the cows in the morning, because the ploog (plow) broke while Maxim was plowing gardens in the village on Thursday. People had been calling Max for weeks now about getting their garden plowed, and he has been telling them "tomorrow", but the guys kept finding other things to do, until Thursday. One of the group home gardens was to blame for the damage, there was something buried there that broke a chunk off the middle one- it's a three bottom plow that they bought this summer-- and Garry when to pick up some things so Maxim could fix it, including a drill press, which Max was very excited about. I think he got it fixed today, there is several days of fall field plowing to do yet, and some more gardens, I think.

At ten am I was happily watching sports centre on the satellite TV, and crocheting, when everything went off...bad sign, Fridays tend to be what we assume are scheduled maintenace times that we don't know about, the power will be off until three or maybe five in the afternoon, while a crew does something at the power staion in the village.

I had pulled up all the window blinds for more light, it was not a very sunny day, and rather cold outside. Garry's flowers got frosted good this week, although the petunias are still hanging on out there, in spite of all the locals wearing their winter coats. You hear all kinds of things with no television on, creaking house noises, crowing roosters, people driving through the village honking their horns while talking about what they are selling or buying over loudspeakers, and of course, dogs barking!

So when Garry got home with his treasures, he had to look into getting the generator going so the ladies would be able to milk after lunch. Which normally means getting the gas can filled at the station on the highway, because it always seems to get magically empty if he fills it in preparation for power outtages. Garry decided to lie down for few minutes around 1:30 before he had to go to his Russian lesson, and he was wishing for a nap.

Everything was going alright, although the generator had a few stops, and suddenly went out before the ladies were done milking...unfortunately, Maxim decided to use the grinder on the plow, and it must have overloaded it. Then they ran around tryig to fix it. At first I still had power to the house, it was just the one light fixture turned on, so I could see better, since I was still trying to crochet, and it was a rather fine stitch to pick up...I was looking forward to finishing this particular Christmas present, as it has been time consuming!

I was enlisted to hunt for a working nine-volt battery for Garry's voltage tester, because the battery was dead when he found it to try to figure out where the problem was, because there was no power at the barn for the milking machines. He unscrewed the back off it three times while we tried different batteries in it... we need a new battery in the smoke detector, by the way...

Around this point in time was when Masha phoned, because at lunch time Garry had rescheduled his lesson for quarter after two, and he was late...I answered because he had left his cell in the house, so we cancelled his lesson for the day, hopefully he gets some in next week before we leave next Friday!

Garry didn't think they sold the batteries in the village, they are an unusual item here, so he was trying to improvise a tester, while Maxim drove down to the village hardware store to see if they had one, they did, and as an added bonus, he found an electrician and they finally located the problem, one of the three phases had burnt out right in the plug on the generator, and the motors out there in the barn are three phase. We would have figured it out if we had tried all the burners and the oven on our kitchen stove, as it runs different things on each of the phases.

So the ladies could now finish milking with generator power, but none to the house, so I crocheted by battery light power ( the light was fading outside as 4 pm approached) and Garry laid down on the couch, and got a 15 minute nap, before there were people at both doors for him, one of the students checking how much brewers grain the heifers should be fed, and Yana about driving into Zaporosia. Garry was snorong, and had a little trouble talking to Sasha, ther was some confusion over a wheelbarrow full or a shovel full a heifer, but Sasha persisted until everyting was clear, because he said a wheelbarrow was a lot to feed them. Garry was more awake when talking to Yana, who said they would be ready leave as soon as the cows came home from the village herd and they tied them up.

Garry decided that Friday night pizza could be delayed until  Saturday night, and I went with him to Zaporosia, along with Yana and her sister Natasha, who has been here milking for about ten days--I had not even noticed she was here because Yana, her sister and her mother Genia , who normally milks for us look so much alike. 

First we drove most of the way down the main street, Lenina to take Natasha to the autovaxhall (bus station) we got there a few minutes after five (yes it is really dark by then!) and Yana went in with her, and came back out to report the marshutka (little bus or van) was leaving soon toward Tokmak, we had timed it well.

 Then we drove all the way back down Lenina, and discovered a traffic jam approaching the bridge over the dam, we made our way slowly onto the dam road, Garry was sucessful in choosing the best lanes as we merged from 4 lanes into 2 over the bridge, and it turned out the right hand lane we were in was the best one, three cars were the problem in the left hand lane, having had a minor fender bender, they were sitting there waiting for the police with their flashers on. We left Yana at the hospital to visit Peter, her husband, who had his shoulder operated on on Thursday, and went back over the bridge to eat at our favorite restaurant, the only Chinese one we have found. Dinner was tasty, and spicy. Garry decided not to try the same direction over the dam, so we took the bridge over Hortitsa Island instead, and picked up Yan an hour and half after dropping her off, and drove home. It seems the doctor plans to keep him in hospital for two or three weeks, although he walks out to the car with Yana.

 We unlocked the door, discovered the power was back on, and sat down to relax in front of the televison. Soon there was a knock at the door. It was Yana, something was wrong with the vacuum pump that powers the milking machines. Garry went out to see... the motor was running backwards. How could something that was running correctly in the afternoon run the wrong way in the evening? He called Victor, who was trained as an electrician. So it seems when they were servicing the power plant today, they must have switched a set of wires around, which would not affect anyone with normal one phase power, but made Garry's three phase motor run backwards! I got to hold a flashlight while Garry, after cutting the power to the barn, switched a couple of wires around in the box. Then he turned the dwesti-dwaset (electricity or literally 220) back on and Yana could finally start milking.

I finally finished the last stitches of the crocheting project before we went to bed, after putting out all the spare cats and Polo who had come in the door with all the people coming and going.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Another silage pile?

Yes, Garry and Maxim have been busy this week creating another silage pile. Maxim mowed some alfalfa and the rest of the "free volunteer barley" field from before on Monday, since the ground has finally gotten dry, with the exception of a few giant puddles that are muddy spots now. Garry said there was as much there as in the field he planted of prusso millet.

There was a 40% chance of rain last night, luckily it did not happen because they did not get many loads finished on Tuesday afternoon, because a  link broke on one of the chains on the chopper. Maxim went to buy a new link this morning and it took a while, because the first place he went was closed for some reason. Garry was happy to  finish chopping, because he had to stop often to clean out the hood, it was dirt plugging things up.

Maxim dumping another load on the new pile today

He said it would be good to replace all the silage they fed already, he hopes to start feeding more brewers grain so they feed less silage, it looks like they may be able to buy more now, even with it being more expensive, it will still be a good buy.

You may remember I mentioned Yana's husband in the post about driving to her village last month. He is in hospital in Zaporosia after falling off a roof and injuring his shoulder among ather things. Seems like it was pretty bad. He was operated on today, and Yana went to so him after milking this afternoon, to bring money for the doctor. Health care in Ukriaine is free, but you pay for everything used in treatment- even the gloves for the doctors and nurses, and a little cash to the doctor and or nurses helps get things done faster.

Today was the last day we were responsible for herding the cows, and my last day making super lunch/dinner for seven or so, seemed like I had been making food for two in September but lately both Maxim and Andrei had been showing up for lunch time (Andrei had been eating with the other trade school students) plus feeding two students and one herder in the field, something hot --somedays (when I was really busy- teaching days or Sunday) this was soup, other times meat, potatoes,ect, plus bread, water, hot tea, cookies...

I may have more time to write blog posts in the next ten days, if I finish off operation Christmas crochet, the family are all getting something crocheted by me for Christmas this year, and I have a couple to finish yet. Ten days until we fly away to Canada, starting to make lists and pack stuff up.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Busy week

It seems it has been a very busy week. Every morning, starting Monday Garry has walked out to the field with the cow herders. It is our turn to watch the cows, for the second time this year. Time is growing short, the days are shorter-- time changed her a week before it did in Canada, so the cows return from the fields at 4 in the afternoon instead of 7.

We are responsible for 10 days - which is how many heifers and cows they we sent out to the village herd in the spring.  Garry decided that he could send out a bunch of new cows, since we have so many dry ones now. We had been down to only four going out, since the herders hate it when we put a new dry cow out. Everyone else's cows have been going out all summer, so they know what to do, so new cows are a pain, they don't know where to go, and try to go home all day!

Since the students at the trade school are supposed to learn how to pasture cows--it is on the list of things they are supposed to learn for their certificate--- Garry decided they could go out in pairs for the day to get experience. We hired a teenage boy from the village to go with them, when it was our turn earlier in the summer we hired three guys, but Max liked this guy better, no drinking on the job.

Today Masha, who interprets for Garry, went along to see what it is like and took photos with my camera, so here's a peek.
One of the Maxim's chasing our ugly dry cow

They were grazing near one the ponds

Katya is not afraid of cows anymore

Some students are going more than once, since we have ten days. Some of the girls were afraid of cows, and the director was afraid they might get injured, but so far everyone has had a turn, and they really enjoyed it; even Sasha and Katya, who were out on Tuesday when it poured rain for hours.

 Garry said they were smiling when he brought them lunch, standing there in their free President Yanacovitch raincoats. They were excited for hot soup and bread and tea, which they ate in the rain. I have been busy this week since I am responsible for making lunches ---even on Wednesday when we had to go to Dnepro-- I packed up everything but the soup, which was in the crockpot for Maxim to pack up and take out to them.Some days, like today I make something more like dinner, instead of soup. Saturday may be warmed up leftover pizza.

It's pretty wet outside we really got soaked on Tuesday

Smiling faces on the herders as they come back
Thursday when the cows were coming home, Garry was packing the car full of milk cans for Victor to sell, we drove to the Metro store and exchanged them in the parking lot. Victor had our passports with the new stamps in - we are set until until November 7th, 2013. Luckily for us Victor had his Metro card with him, Garry forgot his wallet with ours in--it is like Costco, you are a member with a card, and I wanted to do a little shopping because we had invited the students for pizza tonight.

Too many students had plans, so we had only the other Maxim, Andrei and Masha for pizza tonight. They played UNO with Garry afterwards, the guys liked the spicy "Garry-style pizza".

I am not sure who won but it was very fun

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It's a girl! calves and breeding cows

 After several more bull calves - here they are in this hutch, I am not sure why they are all in one as Garry built the second three calf hutch last week to prevent this, since the point of hutches is to keep calves from spreading diseases by mouth contact, yesterday afternoon Garry pulled a heifer calf out of the heifer the ladies were ready to stay up all night with on Friday night, they were worried that she was close to having her baby and didn't want problems. He was happy to see a female. it seems every cow he breeds for other people have heifer claves, but not so much here.

It seems like every time Garry got home last week, there was someone here wanting him to breed a cow. The week before, no cows to breed, then he thinks no one wants him to breed their cows. On Monday when we got back from Dnepropetroesk and picking up Sweta (the new student- see trade school blog for her story) he was looking for someone coming to breed a cow when we got home. He had gotten a phone call from Maxim, who was away for a couple days this week to help out his familywith cutting wood to heat their house. Everyone in the village calls Maxim when they want to talk to Garry. Sometimes they just show up at the house for breeding cows, though. Even I know what "Inseminate carvova" means in Russian.

Garry was also expecting a visit from John Wiens, on his way back from the airport with some Canadian guests (we went with them to the basketball game Friday evening) so he was looking to get this cow bred when we got back. A lady showed up and he asked if she wanted a cow bred, figuring she was the one Max had called about. Then she asked how he bred the cow, which is a little too difficult for him to explain in Russian, so he phoned Maxim and had her speak to him. It turned out she wasn't the person Max had called about, he showed up shortly after, so Garry went and bred that guy's cow in the closest village (the name means something like frost) before we had our company in, and then drove off as the cows were coming home from the field down the street around four pm to find this ladies house- hopefully before dark-  and breed her cow in the village where Vitaly's farm, the big dairy farm is, Molazahorrina. It is the first cow he has bred in that village, which will lead to more trips there I am sure.

Tuesday, when he spends most of the day teaching at the trade school, he had a cow to breed again, often the person wanting a cow bred shows up here in a car and takes Garry, the semen tank, and his other smaller pieces with him, he has to take the breeding rod, assorted plastc pieces, including a long glove, and a thermos cup of hot water for thawing the semen at the coreect temperature, because it may not be available at the house where he is breeding cows. Then they drive him back, if the person wanting a cow bred doesn't have a car, then they phone and talk to Max, or hire a neighbor to come get Garry. When he started breeding cows in Pervy Mai, over a year ago, often the same man would show up in a Samara (made by Lada, a hatchback with a more powerful engine, they are very popular in the villages) he discovered Garry would sing along to one of the songs on his CD player, so he would make sure that song was on while driving. Many of the "older people" love American music of the 70's, since rock musican was not a career choice in the CCCP, they listened to our music.

Then just as we were getting in the car to drive to Dnepropetroesk Tuesday evening, for our English Bible study (Garry is leading it, we are reading CS Lewis' book Mere Christianity)a man showed up with a friend who had a cow in heat from the village of Petropol (Peter's field which is on the way to Zaporosia) Since he really didn't have time to go with them right then,  Garry asked when the cow came in heat, and told them she would be good to breed in the morning, and made plans with the guy (whose cow he had bred a few days ago) to pick him up at 6 am to breed the cow.We got home at ten pm (no flat tire this week, thankfully) and Garry had to go check on the milk tank for the ladies, which they were having problems turning on, luckily nothing was broke, he got it on a went to bed.

The guy drove in prompty at 6 am and Garry went out. When he returned he said it was all for naught, as he was trying to put the breeding rod through the cervix, he realized she felt like a pregnant cow and stopped. So he could have stayed in bed longer, as he was going to his last teacher certificate class in Zaporosia, and had to leave at 8 am to pick up other teachers (since English is not a required course for the program, I didn't have to go).
 It turned the cow had been bred 5 months ago (and pregnant) by a vet who breeds them the traditional Soviet style AI. Unlike the way Garry was taught, where you put a gloved hand in the cows anus to guide the metal rod through the cervix of the cow and push out the contents of a thin straw of thawed semen, this method uses blobs or pellets of semem, also frozen and kept in a liquid nitrogen tank. These blobs are placed right in the the vagina of a cow in heat, and then the cow is encouraged not to push it out for a half hour or so- often when Garry breeds a cow the owner will want to keep her from lying down or pinch her back to keep her tail up. Garry would never make it breeding cows this way, it is for people with small hands!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Three weeks to go

Just three weeks from today we will be landing in Winnipeg! However there is still plenty to do, we are filling up our calendar with last time before we leave items, visits to English classes, going to basketball games, seeing friends, and hopefully --getting the fall plowing done. It has contiued to be too wet-- two days of dry weather has been followed by heavy rain today.

We went to Zaporosia last night for a pro basketball game, and went out to eat after with the Wiens and a visiting couple. We had to chase a few preteen boys out of our seats at the game, seat filling is a popular thing in Ukraine, you just wave your tickets at the them and say "Malchicki, maiah moosh e druges billets" or  "Boys- my husband and friends tickets" once Garry came in with the other couples the boys found other seats, some of which they were bumped out of ten minutes later. Zaporosia Ferro won the game with the famous Randy Cunningham(sorry my brain went Philadelphia Eagles there) Culpepper (of the youtube and ESPN sportsnation dunking video) flying high for a few breakaway dunks.

No photos of that, I didn't take the camera. However, I did bring it this morning when we drove into Dnepro on a three-fold trip,1- go bowling,2- pick up the empty milk jugs at Victor's house, and 3- buy some plastic pipe for Garry's connect the other eavestrough downspout to the cistern project. As you can see, it rained heavily all the way from the village to the mall.

Duck weather

Lots of water on the highway and pouring rain!

this truck was throwing up some water

Raining downtown too!

Rain over - but lots of puddles left!

Lots of traffic around the central market

Turning toward Victor's street- the little market is busy too

Garry tying down his plastic pipes

No rain, so he installed them this afternoon

Finished---maybe it won't rain now?

Yana getting ready to chase in the cows

Polo and Needles taking a closer look at the gutters

The dry cows coming back from the village herd at 4 pm (time changed)