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

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Moo-ooy Christmas!

Things are quiet tonight after days of Christmas/birthday fun around here on the farm in Manitoba. We heard from Victor today, he was out to the farm yesterday for the Thursday milk to sell, and says that there have been 3 heifer calves and a bull born in the last 10 days, so there must be more milk in the milk tank!

We had the annual Moonshadow Holsteins/Gringo Hogs Christmas party on Saturday night and since the boys were there with all the new girlfriends put everyone in a big family photo.
 The night before we celebrated our daughter's birthday, Sunday we did Garry's, then we all got together for breakfast and presents at 9 am Christmas morning and all the kids were here on the 26th (yesterday) for my birthday.

Christmas morning

The girls all made me birthday cards
Today we enjoyed unseasonable weather- it got up to the freezing point, and Garry helped the boys sort heifers from the field and sheds at the "buffalo farm" this morning (there used to be buffalo on the farm they just bought) and they brought ones close to calving to one of the barns on the home farm.
By tomorrow night we will be back in the deep freeze, unfortunately, -36 C (-32 F for American minds.) That's cold!

In the afternoon we went to Winnipeg to see the Hobbit movie and Garry managed to find two people he knew from Zaporosia at the mall, believe it or not. They are working with the orphans there and are home for the holidays with their young sons visiting family in Manitoba. Garry said they joked before he left that they would see each other at the St Vital shopping centre and they did!

Here's a photo I found online of our orphan Max taken at Christmas at New Hope Center in Zaporosia, it looks like Andrei and Verinika was there too, and Maria of course. Garry talked to her today and she says that he misses us.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Garry

I think  Garry had the perfect 57th birthday on Sunday. We went to the early service at Emmanuel, where he got to sing the Hallelujah Chorus with the choir (I could hear him a couple times he really misses singing with the choir here) talked to lots of people, drive to Winnipeg, stopped for teen burgers at A&W, read the newspaper.... and then he played basketball with the boys for the second time this week.

That's Garry on the floor, playing too hard, no injury
Then home again for presents, cake and Eagles football on TV and they won too.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Back in Canada

 Garry made it safely back to Canada on Thursday, after a few adventures along the way. Saturday morning he was awake at 4 am- one of the blessings of traveling from Europe, it feels like it should be mid-day, he washed up the dishes, made coffee, tried to check the internet (the wi-fi was down in the house) wrote a biography for the program for the presentation he's giving in January at the Eastern Manitoba Holstein Club forum, and cooked himself eggs before anyone but me was awake.... I tried to go back to sleep, since my clock has been reset to closer to 6 am now, but gave up and wrapped Christmas presents.

What adventures? Well, he took the overnight train to Kiev Wednesday night after talking to his English group in Dneproprjisk, where they gave him more presents, including a new wallet, because his is falling apart- I guess someone noticed when they were paying for milk that he sometimes brings to class for people who ask.

Anyway, he got to Kiev at 7 in the morning and didn't need to be at the airport, about 40 km away until afternoon for his flight, so he decided to go see the protests downtown. He put all his small bags into his large suitcase, and left it in a locker at the train station, but he did keep his passport and put it in his pants pocket, and stuffed his wallet (the old one) in his coat pocket. Then he went to the the Metro (subway) bought a couple tokens, and got on a packed train.... and somewhere before he got downtown, his wallet was gone. I guess he checked out the protesters anyway, but he phoned Victor to see if he had any ideas on how he could get from the train station to the airport since he had about 10 grivna on him, and a token to ride the Metro back to the train station, and the bus to the airport costs 40 grivna now (twice as much as 4 years ago).

Victor the the rescue! He called someone and they picked Garry up at the train station and took him to the airport in plenty of the time for his flight. There he ran into a young woman we know from Zaporosia, who does mission work with orphans. She was returning to Boston for Christmas. When he told her what had happened she gave him 20 dollars American, so he was able to buy a sub to eat in Toronto, before his flight to Winnipeg.

He was supposed to land a half hour after midnight, so I had checked into a nearby hotel after spending some quality time shopping and eating with Seth and Jonah who are doing exams at the university this week. I got a wakeup call for midnight (or 00:00) in case I fell asleep. I checked the flights online just before 12 and discovered his was now coming in at 1:20 am, so I waited until then to go down in the crisp -23 C night to start the car and  after the engine warmed up a bit, drove down the street to the airport. That late on a cold night, they don't chase you off from the pickup area, so the car was warm by the time he got out and found me, his bag was the second last one to hit the baggage carousel. It was -25 in the morning when we checked out at 8:30, got breakfast and headed home after stopping in Steinbach to get him a new bankcard, his new credit card should be here before Christmas, there were no charges on it when I phoned to cancel it after getting the message that he had his wallet stolen.

 Only problem is he has two wallets to choose from, because I bought him a billfold while I was shopping with the boys, because I didn't know that he had already gotten one as a gift in Ukraine, complete with a grivna coin in- because in Ukraine you can't give an empty wallet as a present.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Almost ready

Garry tells me the barn is more winterized, they have built the straw wall for insulation inside the back and side wall, I believe all the retrofitted doors are done also. They have gotten more land to rent from people in the village and are trying to get it all plowed. They are plowing up the rest of the filed next to the barn for the trade school now. He told me he had been worried that they had planted too much winter wheat, but there will be plenty of land to plant corn on now.

 Garry had a terrible cold with a fever last week, but he seems to be feeling better now. He even went to the ballet and saw the Nutcracker performed by the Moscow ballet company on Saturday. He hung some Christmas lights on the fence after I left, and even though I haven't got a photo, he says they are still there, one of the neighbors told him they look romantic. He told me it was snowing there today (Monday) and there was at least 3 inches when he went to bed.

Garry has not packed his bag yet, but he will be flying home to Manitoba on Thursday, in the crazy world on time zones, he will fly out of Kiev on Thursday afternoon and still arrive in Winnipeg shortly after midnight. Of course he will have to get the overnight train to Kiev Wednesday around 11 pm, he has a ticket, and hopefully there are no travel problems with the protests going on in Ukraine about (not) making closer ties with the European Union.

While I was assuring people at church in Steinbach on Sunday that he was well away from any of the protests, he was at a rally in downtown Dnepropetrovsk where people were chanting "stand up Dnepropetrovsk" and posted a photo on his facebook page...

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Hello all! Yes, I did arrive in New Jersey and all airport  moves went smoothly, even the one on Thursday- Thanksgivnig Day when I drove to Newark airport with my father to pickup my son Josh and wife Krissy and then proceeded down the (Garden State) Parkway to my sisters for dinner/  It was the last century when I was in NJ for Thanksgiving - maybe 1997?- and it was nice to be able to spend this holiday with my parents again. My brother-in-law Bob cooked a delicious stuffed turkey and we had all the traditional Emley family dinner items to go with it

I have talked to Garry several times, even said hello to both Maxs on video chat. Maxim Rudei told Garry this morning (last night before I went to bed) that he does not need to go to Canada now because he can see me every day. It seems that they have plowed up about 60 more acres they were about to rent and could get more if they can only find Pitlock. They did have to do some front end repairs to one of the Belarus tractors this week, but are ready to plow more land if they can get it.

Garry and Victor carrying milk into his church
The weather has turned cold, I had to tell Garry where I stashed the mitts, and they are working to finish that barn door insulation project with snow in the forecast this week, he hopes to finish it off today. Garry (I typed Harry accidentally, funny if you know many Ukrainians call him Harry... some call him Jerry and find it funny if he says he has a brother Tom, because the Tom and Jerry cartoon is popular here) has been busy with his normal routine of teaching, leading his English book club, breeding cows, and now selling milk on Thursdays with Victor on his vacation in America until the end of next week.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Updated stories.... a little background information

Writing this while waiting in the Winnipeg airport for my flight down to New Jersey to visit my parents for almost 2 weeks.

Jonah (our baby) is 18!
Talked with Garry on the phone yesterday, he called for Jonah's birthday - yes, once again I am in Canada while Garry is still in Ukraine- so the plowing is finished (unless they get another 50 acres to rent for next year, Maxim says they should be getting some new land to rent.)  Thursday it was balmy and warm there while the snow was blowing here in Manitoba! However, he tells me that there is cold and snow in the forecast for next week over there, so they will need to get the door insulating finished and build the winter straw bale insulation wall in front of the cows, like every other winter.

Before I left Garry spent another two hours at the PRIVAT bank with Victor and finally got his insurance money to pay for the car repairs. It may even be enough to cover the 30 dollars for the new glass for the passenger window which Max installed before Garry drove Victor's family and me to the (Kiev) Borispol airport on Tuesday afternoon. They are off to visit cousins and friends in the US for 2 weeks. We had some excitement on the trip a flat tire and a policeman actually gave Garry a speeding ticket in the village where we finally found a sheeno montage to buy a new spare tire.

So I have debated on telling this story for the last month (I wrote it weeks ago- it happened right after Garry's parents left), Garry tells me he still feels safe in the village, although maybe a little less so. The boys have asked me why it wasn't there, because Garry told them about it over the phone. Garry says it makes the village sound bad, and would make people worry, but it really happened so..

Mid-October 2013

 You might think that power outages are the most exciting thing that happens here, but last Sunday evening we heard a story about life in the village that makes you think that it is not the laid-back, old-fashioned place in my photos.

I think I mentioned during the summer that someone has "taken over" the old collective farm in the village, they seemed to be going through legal channels to remove Pitlock - the former head of the collective farm who took over it as a private business at some point- from his assets. Pitlock has been under house arrest in the village for most of the summer, from what we understood of what was going on, for misuse of... or something. You may remember last year during the bad drought summer Pitlock did not pay everyone in the village he rents land from all that was due them for their shares. So people thought new guys in charge couldn't be any worse, anyway.

They have had guards in place at the grain storage in the village, and have been trying to find all the stuff that is on the books as having been part of the collective. (Thus the misuse of property) This part makes some people in the village nervous as Pitlock sold some things to people but didn't hand out any paperwork, and they don't want to lose their stuff. A couple weeks ago they let Pitlock's farm workers harvest some corn fields so people could be paid their shares for the year. However, they are not letting him harvest the sunflowers and the crop is going to be lost... the longer it waits in this wet fall, the less seeds in the heads, they drop out onto the ground. Rumor is that Pitlock took out a loan to plant his spring against his John Deere combine., which is about the only thing that he still has control of other than his house, in the village.
The farm workers are out of luck too, as they were supposed to get paid for the summer's work after harvest.

Anyway the story- or one of them- is that last Saturday Pitlock won a decision in court and his "guards" went to the grain storage to talk to the other guys guards around two in the afternoon. They refused to vacant the premises based on this information. Sometime during the night there was a shootout and one 25 year old man was killed from the city (some say he worked for Pitlock), afterwards the Pitlock home was also had the windows shot out and the big mean dog there was killed. No one is living there now, and at last report, Pitlock had been arrested. There were apparently a lot of police in the village that night, somewhere on the other end of the village, not too far from the girls house where I took this photo recently.

Are we any less safe here? Garry doesn't think so, we are not on their radar, although the barn we have started remodeling for the trade school was part of the collective, we did purchase shares from people in the village to buy it and have paperwork for it, although we are still trying to "buy" the land under the barn! It is said that nothing in Ukraine is really safe if someone really wants to take it...

Since I wrote this, there have been new developments, it seems Pitlock is back in charge, at least for the time being, his sunflower fields were finally harvested, and he has been driving around the village, but it seems this battle for control won't be over anytime soon, and everyone in the village are giving up on their "free garden plowing" that is supposed to be part of their share payment and hiring our guys or another farmer to plow their gardens for the winter.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

One of these things is not like the other...

the new plow

the "old"plow

Last year I wrote about how Garry had bought his own plow instead of borrowing one, you may remember this because I tried to help him put it together and the big metal wheel fell and broke my big toe. Two weeks ago, Maxim Rudei finished plowing village gardens

(for the time being, we have people coming in the yard almost every day asking about getting their gardens plowed- the people in the village seem to be the losers as the guy who has run the old collective farm for 8-10 years has been dueling with a new company that is trying to take it over this year, no one is plowing the gardens, which is part of the rent they get for their share)

and decided we should buy a second plow so he could use one and Andrey the other (we have two tractors, one has a loader attached, but you can still use it in the field) and they could get the fall plowing done faster. There is more than a hundred acres to plow, including the corn field that was harvested.

Garry and Max phoned the implement dealer in Zaporosia that they bought the plow from last year. Garry thought the price seemed high, so they looked through the pile of brochures he collected at the farm show in Kiev the week before, and they called the company that made it in Odessa. They price was less, even with shipping, and they would have it by Wednesday... but the bus it was on broke down, however eventually they did get it by the end of the week. They took the back seat out of the van and drove to Zap and picked it up (it sort of came by mail).

They had it assembled in minutes... last year it took days, the parts didn't seem to fit well. Maxim tried it out and announced it worked like fire! Why the difference, if it was  the same plow?

When Max called the company the lady he talked to said that that dealer was passing off an inferior plow that was made to look like their plow as their product, and we had bought one of the imitation ones. No wonder it was so hard for Garry to find any good parts when he tried to assemble the first one. You can see it is all bigger and better metal even in the photos!

Another quick story with the same theme... one day last week Garry was called to go bred a cow in a nearby village. The older lady said her cow was in heat the night before. Garry put his arm in and felt feet and told her the cow was seven months pregnant, and he could not breed her. She was upset about having to pay for the ruined semen (100 grivna) and sure her cow was not pregnant. She even phoned to say that the cow had calved in July so he was wrong. Garry and Max decided if that was true, she must have the wrong cow.

Marai heard the story from Verinika, who lives in the same village. Not willing to believe Garry the lady had paid to have a vet come out, who also said the cow was 7 months pregnant.... later that day when the village herd came home the mystery was solved and the village was laughing at the lady who did not know her own cow... her cow came into the yard, so the one she had tied in her barn was not hers, which was why it was pregnant!

So it goes to show you should always check if you have the real thing!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mennonite heritage tours

You may have noticed we have many visitors come here, sometimes friends, sometimes relatives, sometimes through our mission, sometimes even strangers!
Polo is always happy to meet our friends

 This week we had two sets, Canadian friends who live in Ukraine Monday and Tuesday and one hour after they left Wednesday Adam from Kirvog Rog - he's with the EFCCM orphanage mission group there- Rays of Love came to see us with two visitors to see the farm and trade school and spend the night- well until 5:30 am, when they left for the airport in Dnepropetroesk.

We sometimes get people who are on one of Victor's Mennonite tours. Before we came to Ukraine, his mother lived in the summer kitchen and visitors stayed one side of the house, it was a B&B! So a few times a year Victor has people come for a Mennonite tour to find their roots, he will use the information they have to locate the village their ancestors lived in. Some villages are still there with some of the old houses standing with people living in them, like our Nikolipolia -the German feld (field) becomes pol in Russian, (in Ukrainian it's Mikolpolia) some villages have new Russian and Ukrainian. Some were flooded when the dam was built in Zaporozhye even.

I cook breakfast or sometimes an evening meal for them and get the spare bedrooms ready for them too. if you ever want to find your roots Victor has a website It has some things that are out of date, since his mother is no longer cooking, but I can make some Ukrainian food, and many North American things you may be wishing for. Victor usually stops for the afternoon meal and maybe the evening one, if the day's tour is long.

Night at the ballet...or what happened to the new GPS?

Sometimes Garry should listen to me, but he thinks he knows more... and is less worried than me, more trusting, the kind of person who never fills the gas tank until the light is on, the needle is below E..... really he is not just a glass half full kind of guy, but a what do you mean, that glass is full! when I say it's half empty. Normally this is fine and all works out but, we'll get to that later...

We decided to go to the ballet with Maria, Garry's translator for the trade school/Russian teacher, and got tickets for Romeo and Juliet, well, really Tanya bought them for us (and refused to let Garry pay her for them) Saturday Mas... Maria (we keep forgetting to call her by her preferred name after calling her Masha for years) came to the village on the one o'clock marshutka bus (it is at least 1:20 when it arrives, though, the morning one she takes on Thursdays is faster and always here for 9 am) and worked with Max B on his lessons until 3, when he and Garry hurried to feed the cows because Garry had decided to take Max along to the ballet. I asked if he'd be able to get him a ticket, and where would it be because our seats were in row six. Garry was sure it would all work out.

We all got dressed, and left about 4:30, the ballet would start at 6 pm, and Garry needed to stand in line to buy a ticket for Max. He parked on the side street (4 lanes and tram track, it's a big one) near the Opera/Ballet Theatre and locked the doors before hurrying away. I asked if he wanted to move the new GPS off the front window and put it away in the glove box, but he said no, a few days before he had complained when I had taken it off because it was hard to clip back in the holder and would get broken.

Maria and her lovely vintage purse
Anyway, it was a pretty nice night for November, but Garry said Maria and I should go inside with our tickets, while he went through the other door to the box office to buy Max a ticket while he waited outside. We checked Maria's coat, and stood around waiting for Garry and Max (he had the camera, so I couldn't even take a photo of her in her dress with the black velvet embroidered purse her grandmother (who is 92) had taken to the Bolshoi ballet- either in Moscow or St. Petersburg, Masha can't remember which. It was Masha's first time at the ballet. She went to a concert at the one in Zaporosia and says the building there is more beautiful inside. This production was by the Dneproetroesk Ballet.

Garry and Max came in about 10 minutes before the start and we found our seats. Garry had told the lady selling tickets he wanted the best seats, but she still pointed out several choices, before selling him ones that turned out to be in the middle of row 7 for 200 grivna (ours said 70 on them for slightly to the right side of row 6 ) Apparently you want to buy them early for the ballet! Why did I say tickets, when he was buying one for Max? He has been talking about random acts of kindness in his book discussion classes, and while he was standing the ticket line, a rumor went through the crowd that the cheapest tickets to be had were 100 grivna  ( it's about 8 grivna to a US or Canadian dollar if you are wondering) and he had noticed the lady with a little girl behind him counting the bills in her purse, so he bought 3 and ripped off two and handed them to her. She refused to take them, so he handed them to the little girl and walked away to find us. I think the lady was surprised to find that they were sitting with Max, he seemed to be chatting with the  ladies on both sides of him before it started.
Maria, Max B me and Garry dressed for the Ballet

see how fast he is? 

We enjoyed the ballet, and got someone to take our photo at intermission. My favorite dancer was playing the bad guy like every other time we go... I guess Romeo has to be blonde, maybe. Maria really enjoyed it, I snapped a couple of sneaky no flash shots during the second act.

Everyone was taking pictures now, so flash on!
Afterwards, Garry helped Masha retrieve her coat, it helps to be big to get to the front of the line, and we went out to the car.

Where we discovered the new GPS was gone, along with the passenger window.... well it was more in tiny shards on my seat, really. Garry cleaned it up a little, before we went to dinner.
The good news? The old GPS was lying on the dash still, and the charging cord to plug into the cigarette lighter was on the floor, so we don't have to buy a new one. If he does, he'll make sure it can be removed easily to be put out of sight when parking in the city.

Oh, no!

We ended up eating a few blocks away, Garry had parked to go to the Turkish buffet restaurant but the buffet dishes were looking empty or sad (the poached quail eggs on rice dish especially), so we ended up a couple blocks away at a nice Italian restaurant instead.We did not bother locking the car.

Max was a little impatient waiting for our order to come, he says he prefers Mc Donalds and would never want to go to a fancy restaurant again, even when I told him girls on dates would like restaurants like this. He really does like the Royal Cheeseburger (it's a quarter pounder) and hates sitting and not doing something.

Luckily it was a warm night, Garry ran the heat on the way home as the wind flew in and around the inside of the van. Sunday morning he taped it over with big cellophane tape for the drive to church, Maria had stayed overnight and we went to church in Zaporosia with her and then to the basketball game with her and her friend Marina. Garry picked up the new window on Wednesday, now we just need to get it installed before driving to Kiev and Tuesday.

Sometime the ref gets in the way ( we buy seats under the basket for $4)

I think the cheerleaders do rhythmic gymnastics 

Maria and Marina
and Ferro (the Zap team) won the game too.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Now on to plowing!

Yesterday Maxim Rudei was able to get a different combine, and the field was all combined and the dry corn put in the rented garage "box" that the guys cleaned out last week, with the exception of what they put in the precepts (wagons) and one truck to bucket up in the bin. They drove in with the wagons at nine pm, having finished in the dark. I think Garry said they got about 70 ton, but don't quote me, I am always having to fix numbers in the blog which I forgot that I heard him mention... they just don't stick in my mind like trivia does. The temperature was about 20 C, and sunny so it was a fine day to combine, once he got the operator here. Garry and I had to go into Dnepropetroesk to  meet Victor and do some stuff for our residence cards that need to be renewed yearly. Max had to find a way to drive into Molozharinah to pay the guy before he would drive to our field, but he managed it, Victor had a call from him while we were waiting at the police station.  The forecast was 90% chance of rain for today, so it was a good thing it's finally finished, now all they need to do in the fields is finish the plowing before winter.

Maxim has been very busy plowing gardens this fall, it has taken days to do them all. (More about that in a post to come.)

It was not raining when Garry left for Molochansk, to get his semen but it was raining lightly at 11 am.  Max  had some guys helping empty the truck, two guys handing buckets up to him to empty into the bin. He must have put the precepts under cover, maybe at the trade school barn; since they are not anywhere in sight.

While I was in Canada, Maxim was driving the van in Zaporosia when some car turned into him and caused some damage to the front of our vehicle. Garry was very excited that the insurance company of the other driver had agreed to pay the damages (minus a deductible). However, he had gone to the bank that was supposed to have the money three times in the last couple weeks trying to get the money, and he took all the stuff (letters, numbers and of course , his passport) with us yesterday so he could try with Victor.
The headlight is cracked, bumper and 1/4 panel dented
 Previously, he had gone with Maxim on a day when the bank lines were very long, it must have been a day to pay some bill or maybe get paid, so he gave up. Then he went with Maria one day, and was told he didn't have enough information for the bank, maybe they had paid it to the guy who had hit our car? Unfortunately, the bank was still unable to find it again yesterday. Victor called the insurance company and found out they had taken the money back because Garry had not picked it up in time... now he must go back to the office of the company again to restart the process of getting money to fix the car.

Adventures in Cow Breeding

Cow breeding has turned out to be a good way for Garry to help people in the village, and it turns out other villages. He started breeding cows artificially when we got our herd, and bred a few cows in the village that winter, more when the last live bull in the village was eaten. Most calves, both males and females, end up as meat (and faster growing calves are dinner sooner), because cows in Ukraine often milk for ten years.When the first calves were born, people were thrilled with how big they were and how fast the half-Holstein calves grew. This meant more people wanted cows bred by artificial insemination the next year.  He uses Canadian semen, he first bought it from the Ukrainian-Canadian Dairy Commission people, but now he buys it from a company in Molochansk (see the post about our Mennonite tour/semen buying trip this spring.) This morning he is there, getting some more semen, because he is breeding a lot of cows this fall.
Most cows in the village are red, but the black  ones are AI bred
He has created his own competition, some people in the villages use a real live bull to breed their cows and heifers, and the most popular ones are half-Holstein bulls from cows Garry bred.

One man had him out to breed a cow for him because he had to get rid of his bull because he was getting troublesome as he gets older, so he wants a replacement for him. Apparently he was making a good income breeding cows for people with his great bull. Garry buys inexpensive semen, and charges about what it costs to breed the cows, which is less than the going rate to use a bull in the village. There is one village with no bull right now so he goes there more often lately.

Max and Andrey really like jam
Yesterday morning -while I was making grape jam (Garry has a bad habit of complimenting people's fruit when he is breeding cows, and then they give him some to take home, on Monday he bred a cow in some village and told them that they had such a nice bathtub full of grapes sitting outside on his way to the barn, and when he got back he  gave Maxim Boradin a bag of purple grapes to carry in the house to give me " so I can make more jam"-
 Garry was off in the fog to breed a cow, this happened to be at a place near the river, he says it is as far as he has ever gone to breed a cow. He says it is a nice little country place, owned by a wealthy man who decided to move out of the city. The fog was even thicker by the river, he said. I assume the guy came and picked up Garry and the semen tank, since that is the way it normally happens, that way he doesn't have to try and find a place, although sometimes he goes a village in our car when he has been to the place before, or watches for a a lady standing out on the street waiting for him to come. Garry had been there about six weeks before to breed a cow, this time it was a heifer to breed.

They had Garry check the other cow to see if she was pregnant, since Garry is not a veterinarian 42 days is a little early for him to tell, but he told them she probably was.  He now gets people who want him to tell them what is wrong with their cow if she is not getting pregnant, or if they have not seen them in heat (showing signs that the cow is at the right time in their cycle and ready to breed.) He would rather "preg check" them when they are 3 months along, much easier to say for sure. A few weeks ago he was breeding a cow in different village (he now breeds cows in 4 or 5 villages) and they asked if Garry could check their neighbor's three cows, because none of them had been bred yet. Garry asked if they had been bred in the last 2 months, and the people said no, so he decided that they could have injections of hormones to bring them in heat, since they felt like they were in the part of the cycle when this would work. Afterwards, they thought one had aborted a calf... which is why he had asked about whether they had been bred, it is hard to tell if they are less than 3 months pregnant! He said that when he went to breed the cows, the one they thought had aborted seemed to feel too normal to have aborted, so he thought she had not lost a calf and had a good chance of becoming pregnant.

Garry's pet peeve at the moment is people who have moved out to the villages from the city and get a cow or two, but have no idea how to care for one. They don't know all the things that people who have grown up in the village and around cows know, like how much feed you need to put away to keep a cow all winter, so they have skinny starving cows in spring, who are barely milking, and not pregnant because they didn't know they should have a calf yearly so they will give more milk again. Of course it is difficult to get an undernourished cow pregnant, so they are not very successful in becoming self-sufficient and enjoying inexpensive village life.

Now that fall has arrived he mostly is breeding cows in people's cattle sheds, but in the summer he sometimes bred cows in fields where they were grazing with that village's herd. The owner would (try) to catch the cow and tie or hold her while Garry stuck his arm in her and placed the semen through her cervix with the metal breeding rod. Ukrainian cows are very quiet and used to people catching them and putting a rope around their horns to lead them around, although no cow likes something new, and sometimes getting them secured and getting the semen inside the cow would take a while.

If you are wondering, Garry does all this talking about breeding cows in Russian. One of the things his Russian lessons this year have focused on is things to say about your cows in Russian. Many village people speak a mixture of Ukrainian and Russian, so he has to tell them he only knows a little Russian, and they go on from there.

 It used to be that people wanting a cow bred would either come to the house, or phone Maxim Rudei and he would tell Garry about it. Now some people have Garry's phone number and call him and he has conversations about when and where he will breed their cow, entirely in Russian. We still have people who show up at the house, looking for Garry to breed their cow, now if he is not here, either Andrey or Maxim Boradin will talk to them. A couple weeks ago I was the only one in the house (except company)when an older lady showed up at the door, with a guy behind her- he was her driver, people who don't have a car to pick Garry up in will hire someone in their village to go get him- she talked for while, and I finally heard two words I know "inseminate corova" and I told her he would be back in "adin chas" (one hour). Garry told me when he rode with them to the village he couldn't understand her either, she was speaking Ukrainian but the driver spoke Russian to him, and told her to also.

Sometimes when we are in the city Garry will get a phone call from Max asking when we will be back, because there is someone wanting a cow bred. Last week we were in the city and Garry got a call from Max and said we should be back in an hour and a half. When we got back as the sun was setting and a thick fog had rolled in. Garry was hoping that the people had not waited but the guys had an address for them, maybe it was somewhere he had been recently and easy to find.... maybe even the man who he had bred a cow for the week before, who had said he'd have another to breed soon. If so, I think Garry was hoping to avoid a wild ride by driving himself. However, when we got back about 15 minutes later than planned because there had been a traffic jam in the city, there was a familiar ancient white Lada.

About ten days earlier, when it was rainy, an old man with a very old model Lada, came to pick up Garry to breed his cow in Petropol. Usually when a person (generally a man, but not always) with an old Lada comes to pick Garry up, they drive very slowly and carefully to their place and back, with the semen tank in the back seat. This car had no back seat anymore, but a nice spot to wedge the tank in so it stayed upright.
Garry climbed in the front seat, and the man backed out of our driveway really fast... and started up the street in the village about 90 kph, running over a cat and splashing water from a puddle on a babushka pushing a baby carriage. When he reached the highway, he didn't slow down, zooming down the fast lane, passing cars at 130.... before he reached the road into the village of Petropol, he turned and flew across a field and pulled up to his house. They returned just as fast. Garry decided to be clever and told him in Russian " I am a very busy man, maybe next time you can drive faster."

I was very relieved when Garry returned home safely from breeding the cow on that foggy night, however he said the man actually drove slowly because of the fog.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

We almost got the corn combined...

As you may have read Garry has been ready to combine the rest of his cornfield for more than a month now. Either it is too wet, or Maxim has been unable to locate a combine, they were all busy with sunflowers. Last week Garry told me there were two possible combines, if the weather was good, that could be here soon. Sunday we saw combines working out in the fields. Yesterday's predicted rain held off, and Max told Garry this morning there would be a combine here after lunch.

the arm-strong method of emptying the truck

 It arrived and made a round or two before Garry got there and sent it away. It did not have a header for corn, but one for sunflowers and knocked down more plants than it was harvesting. Victor picked the wrong day to come as he is helping Garry, Max B and Andrey unload the truck into the bin upstairs in the barn from the truck where they put the corn that was combined before they stopped. Now we have to wait for the "better combine" one with the correct header to harvest corn. At least there is a little (like a ton) to feed the cows.

Getting ready for winter ...on a lovely fall day

The roses seem to agree with us!
Monday was warm here in Ukraine, Garry and I were walking around in t-shirts (not so much real Ukrainians, but they are getting used to crazy Canadians who don't dress according to the calendar) I took some photos of the guys working on the second of the retrofitted barn doors, they finished the first one on Saturday, so I even have some pictures of the completed product also.
Garry is even wearing safety goggles! 

Andrey is in charge of fixing the metal parts

the finished door, they are re-building it's mate

one that only needs one side done

Andrey sparka (welds) like his brother Maxim

 These doors are the ones the heifers in the barn yard have been sneaking through to get into the barn and run around in front of the cows, so they got done first, and have wood on both sides. The ones in good repair will only get stickloplast (Styrofoam) and wood on the inside, instead of a Styrofoam-filled wood sandwich.

The biggest problem on Saturday was getting the heavy door hung back on the hinges, but Garry said it went much faster and easier yesterday!

The babushka next door was talking with Max while he worked

While Andrey and Garry worked on doors in the morning, Max B was forking some manure on Garry's driveway flower bed, so next year's flowers will look even better. This year his four o'clocks and marigolds looked really good until the apples fell off the neighbors tree and the cows going out with the village herd started looking for them, knocking his flowers around as they walked (or ran) through the bed.

Here is the new heifer calf that was born last week, her mother is a skinny white cow Garry bought in the village as a heifer, she was afraid of the other heifers when he brought her home, and even as a cow, she is too timid to eat, it looks like she may not make any milk this year, but she did have this nice looking calf!

After they went out for lunch, Garry came in requesting a camera, for a photo of the cat up a tree at the neighbor's house (apparently they heard a cat fight and this guy fled up the tree) - if you look closely at the big photo I think you can see the bigger cat halfway up the tree, which could be why this one is at the top!

While I was outside I took more photos, so here are some fall photos.

Doves in a walnut tree

School bus taking kids home

Neighbor's chicken making themselves at home

Apples still hanging on

That's where all the chirping is coming from next door!