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

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cat's life

Jonah's cat Needles mostly comes indoors to eat and then runs back out but last week he decided to sleep on the sunny windowsill, next to the pepper seeds Garry started recently--they just came up--- for some reason he thinks he fits in the bread basket!

Farm update

OK, while I have this great internet at Doreen's I'll do another quick post! Look for more blog posts soon, we are getting the antennae put on top of the house so the internet should work better - its 3G but...

 On Wednesday the heifer calf streak ended at 11 when Garry pulled a bull calf from the cow (actually it was a heifer) that had gone down a week or two ago. She had been doing better since they put her in the pen instead of the stalls, we'll see how she makes out now that she has calved.
A rather unusual looking calf born this winter

Garry says that we are up to 95 animals- cows, heifers and all those heifer calves that were born this winter!
Of course there are only 38 stalls for milk cows and those are full of cows who are milking, the dry cows are all in the heifer pen now. In fact, for the first time they will dry off a cow who is still milking early because they won't have a stall for her, since so many first calf heifers have freshened recently.

We are making more milk than ever, about 750 liters each day, and still about to sell it all, although the price is lower than past winters. It is a bad economic winter, even though there is not a lot of milk for sale in the markets, people are not paying more due to lack of disposable funds- milk is a luxury for most Ukrainians, not a staple.

Garry is excited that there should be about twice as much land to farm as last year, he is planning what crops he can plant in the spring. He has bought fertilizer to spread on the 50 acres of winter wheat, and just bought a spreader on Wednesday to put it on with - he went to Dnepropetroesk to buy tires for the car before our trip and discovered that the Dnepro Farm Show was on, much smaller than the Kiev one, but local dealers to talk to. He got there before Victor did and was able to talk with people at a number of booths about their products, in Russian of course.  He hopes to get the fertilizer on early in March.
The fertilizer for the wheat

The chopper in pieces

He has been working on fixing up the chopper, he brought back some parts in his suitcase remember, they are working on it in a "Box" a shed that has compartments people in the village rent. They are going to try making some parts, it has a lot of worn out pieces on it now. A good project to work on indoors in the winter.

Anyway, we will be back toward Dnepro about 2 this afternoon, hoping to get past the really bad parts of the trip with all the holes before dark... and see what's been happening back in the village. Maybe a new heifer calf...

The Metal Thieves

Garry was just back in Ukraine, the second Sunday in January, when he got back from church late that afternoon (after going to dinner with Doreen, who was returning through Dnepro) he discovered that a drama had unfolded in the village that day...

Here is his facebook update that day (Garry hardly uses facebook, so it was a important event.)

The neighbors caught two guys stealing our metal fence. They had already sold some of it and had another trailer full. We have impounded their car in our yard untill they repair the damage. They said they thought it belonged to someone that owed them money and were really sorry that they had taken it. Now we are plus one Volga.t ...)

To explain a bit, the "barnyard fence" over at the barn we are remodeling is made of metal railroad tracks (I was confused when I read this post as our fence around the home barn is a woven wire fence) One of the neighbors was cutting up wood behind his house while Garry was at church, and Max was in Zaporosia at his church) and decided to go investigate. He got five more neighbor guys and they snuck over to the barn site on foot across the frozen pond and captured the car of the guys cutting up our fence (we have documents for the fence, like the barn.)
The thief in black hat, signing the agreement

Fix it or we will call the police (basically)

These guys had bought the metal that the guy (former collective manager/farmer) stripped out of the middle barn last summer, that's how they were there (unlike the barn door thieves, the were not from our village)
 At this point, 6 weeks later the guys have gotten the vodka back from their car, minus the six bottles that the neighbors negotiated with Max as their reward, but their car is still in Max'x future father- in-law's yard, waiting for them to finish repairing the fence.

A week or so ago they rented this van from someone in the next village so they could start welding on the fence....they welded one day and did not return until one day this week. It sat parked in our yard for all that time.

the green van parked in the dusting of snow one day
When the guys showed up on Thursday to take the road, Maxim was checking what the guys had welded the day before, they had tacked some round pipe in the place of the railroad tracks, but not very well, Garry told me you can push it off, so it won't keep a cow inside, the guys will have to try again before Max returns their car. Unfortunately when the guys showed up for the road, Max had removed the barricade that he and the neighbor had built on Sunday to slow them down if they returned--- they had put some block of cement on the road and dug a trench around the property.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A long day

We are in Kramatorsk visiting Doreen, we had planned to leave home at noon yesterday when classes were over but that didn't happen....

We woke up early - even before the students arrived to milk at 4:30. Apparently Garry's lecture on good employees being on time was very effective, now just not tall Maxim shows up very early  but all the boys... somehow we were were awake at 3 am, Garry went back to sleep for a while  but I discovered that the Flyers game was on live on the Russian Hockey channel and watched the third period, they were up by two goals and just managed to win after the Penguins tied it up with 2 minutes left, with the Flyers scoring 30 seconds later. Near the end of the game the boys arrived, Garry had unlocked the door early, when he got up at 3, but there was a great amount of bag rustling noises....they keep their work clothes at our house and change in Andrei's room. I popped my head out of our room during a stoppage in play and discovered that Sasha and Maxim K were on the morning shift.

We were all ready for our trip, as Garry left to teach at 9 am, he told me to put everything in the car so we would be ready to leave as soon as my class was over, he'd pick me up at the school. However,

(to continue, I accidentally published this before we went for a walk)

I finished teaching, and no Garry, so I walked home (it's a short walk) and went in the Garry. I had opened the gate so he could back the car out. His computer bag was there, so he had come home from class. His little suitcase was still on the bed unpacked, so I packed it for him and threw it in the car and tried phoning him again. Still no answer.

Finally I got through to him. He, Victor, Maxim and a few others were over at the traade school barn property. The people had returned to take the road, so he would be back soon. He had already talked to the lady from church we were picking up in Dnepro to go along to Kramatorsk (her son is the pastor there) and told her we'd we later.

Take the road ... you thinking...what?  How?  Yes, the road going up to the three barns was apparently sold to someone by the guy who had them before and they had come back to get it. Three guys with two cranes had shown up on Saturday last week, but they had been scared off by greater numbers of questioning people, yesterday there were twenty people working quickly to pull up and remove the big slabs of cement that are the road to the barns. One guy flashed some paperwork with blue stamps at Victor, Garry phoned different authorities,  but of course, by the time the officials, lawyers, get things in motion, it will all be gone (like the end of the day today) We just have paperwork for one barn, and a few other things there, not the entire site. We hope to have the paperwork done for the middle barn among other things by next week, as we are buying it... and Maxim has caught people over there taking stuff,,, like the big doors off the middle barn in the past month. Why not, Garry doesn't own it?

This all started with an incident that happened during the first week Garry was back while I was in NJ. I'll tell you about it in my next post.

Anyway, I started reading a book on the couch while waiting for Garry, I was starting to doze off when I noticed it was 1:20, I phoned, and he said he was coming now. So we left about 1:30 for our hopefully 4 1/2 hour drive to Kramatorsk . We found Luda at an intersection in Dnepropetroesk, and after a slow trip down to the river, the traffic on the left bank was better, we were through the city and onto the highway,

Then it started to rain a little, then snow, it was just over freezing, No windshield washer fluid, stop at the gas station for some. Better visibility through the window, misty snowy outside, but not bad, not too many potholes at first.

Then after the city of Pavlgrad (I think) the road was horrible, more holes than road, traffic was going about 20 Km per hour, weaving all over the road, still snowing a little, sticking to the road...

Eventually it got so there was more road than holes again, still snowing and getting dark as we left the highway to Donetsk to take the smaller roads to Kramatorsk . Still snowing, misty, almost drizzle at times. Thanks to Garry's driving and the GPS, we made it arriving about 7:30 ish, then had to find the church in the dark, where some of Doreen's English class was still waiting to meet us.. we had a late dinner and a good sleep on Doreen's couch/ sofa bed last night!

Our afternoon walk in Kramatorsk...

Doreen and Garry lead the way

Inside the post office

Crossing the street- you see many ladies with a bag and a cane

Someone upgraded the play area by the apartment

Sunday, February 17, 2013


That's right on Tuesday morning the guys we surprised to find a heifer calf running around in the heifer pen! It seems we pull every calf because Yana sees them calving but this heifer tricked her and calved during the night. That is eleven heifers in a row now.

The whole group except me - someone had to take it

Yana with Sweta during our evening tour of Kiev

Maxim trying out a 4 wheeler at the show

its a Lamborghini tractor...

Sweta, me Garry and Maxim B at the park
Yana and Maxim came with us to the Farm Show in Kiev.(Max took his brother's place) with the students - for more see my trade school blog. they really enjoyed it.

My legs were sore for two days from all the walking we did, at the show and even more while touring Kiev in the afternoon and evening, our train left to return to Dnepro at 11 pm. It was easier to sleep in the bunks on the way back after all the walking!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Coming and going

Garry has been a busy boy, between teaching the students to milk and keeping up with stuff on the farm. Thursday he gave the students a test on cattle judging and feed rations before my English class. On Thursday evening he was very excited to report when he came in from the barn that the heifer that calved had the tenth heifer calf in a row! The two boys who were helping milk (Sasha and tall Maxim, I think) were excited to see their first calf born, now everyone will want to see one even more than before.
Garry is going over the cattle judging reasons part of the test with Nika

Andrei is behind Masha, Garry's translator

Muddy yard - Sasha is shoveling brewers grain to feed the cows

On Sunday tall Maxim went to church with us, it was his first trip to Dnepro.

Tall Maxim pouring a bucket of milk into the tank

Yana is helping teach the students, that's Alina putting on the milker

 The trade school students

Learning to milk.....

This cow is saying "who's that back there?" (Vadim)

Nika's parents are excited that she is learning to use the milkers, they hope to get one.
 She is one of our non-orphan students from a nearby village.

The weather has continued to be spring-like (by Canadian standards anyway) with the temperatures being 10 degrees C some days. It has been overcast, a little rainy, and muddy outside in the yard. However, there is snow in the forecast for Tuesday, when we are taking the overnight train to Kiev with the students to see the Farm Show there. I should have photos for you later this week.  Andrei, (pictured above) our Max's brother will miss the trip to Kiev, he is getting his shoulder operated on tomorrow. He hurt it while we were in Canada.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

what's happening?

Sorry I haven't been blogging this week, I am still totally out of whack on sleeping, and I have been trying to get back on schedule...rather unsuccessfully in the last week, I have been waking up every night around 2 or 3 am, whether I go to bed at nine pm or midnight) and can't fall asleep again until after 5 am, and then I sleep in late, some days. You get the idea.

 I have seen the second half of two Flyers games, some basketball and several history channel shows. The history channel programs are in English, the hockey channel is in Russian, although it is American or Canadian feeds for the NHL so the titles for stats are in English. One interesting thing I have found on this channel- several of the ads they are running to say the NHL is back feature clips of Bobby Clarke, one with him winking with the Stanley Cup, one with a quote from Bobby Orr written in Russian starts off with Clarke and the Broad Street Bullies and features a lot of hits and smashing glass. There is one which features only two voices in English and one is Gene Hart yelling "Bobby Clarke!" so I guess they still remember him from the old series against the Soviet Union team in the 70's.

Last Sunday we made it into church even with the snow (see previous post)- Garry was prepared for the drive- he wore jeans, had a hat, mitts, and a shovel and tow rope. After church we went to Lena's English class, the one that meets at a movie theatre, if you look close in the photo, you can see Garry's haircut he got before I arrived in Ukraine- if you saw him in Canada, he was not getting an expensive 14 dollar haircut, he was waiting until he was back in Ukraine!
Driving in Dnepropetroesk last week Sunday morning (Jan)

Garry telling the story of Jonah (and the big fish) 

Meanwhile Garry has had two more heifer calves- one last Tuesday evening while he was at his Bible study in Dnepro and one he pulled on Friday-- that's nine in a row for those of us keeping count. We now have 93 animals on the farm, its getting crowded out there. They are having trouble selling milk, the price is down in the market, mostly because people can't afford to buy it. Which means the people who buy our milk and sell it are not buying as much. Garry has dropped the price of milk to 3.7 grivna for a liter, so we can sell it. Normally we get the best price in the winter when there is less milk for sale, but not this year. One day we had to sell some to the milk truck that comes through the village.   Max has found a couple people in the village who normally sell their own milk in the market and are buying some from us because they don't have enough for their customers from their own cows. Interesting they want it warm, so the milkers have to put the milk for these people in cans in the morning while they are milking the cows so that their customers will think it is fresh when they go to sell it, if it comes out of the cooler (milk tank) it must be old, since it is warm when it comes out of the cow!
Driving on the highway this past Sunday morning (Feb3)

Driving this afternoon- Tuesday (the potholes are growing)

Last week's snow has became this week's mud, but the sun shone today so hopefully things will dry out so Polo can come in the house without leaving muddy footprints everywhere!