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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thanks for reading our blog Post # 668

I always say our blog, although I do the writing, Garry usually does the stuff I write about! We started this when we were getting ready to come to Ukraine as missionaries in 2008, to hopefully tell what it's like to live and work as farmers in another country and culture.  When I started writing I assumed mostly our relatives were the only readers. Our kids tell us they don't phone because they always know what we are doing... it's makes it harder for us to find out what they are doing, however. One Ukrainian told me he reads it to find out what North Americans really think about Ukraine. I may not quite be that honest, but I try to do posts about differences in life here, about farming that hopefully both farmers and city folks can understand and enjoy.
One of these is not like the others.... Canadians are never cold!

In May 2010 when the team from Steinbach Manitoba came to help build the barn I started posting more often and set the counter for page views.... we are almost to 45,000 for our page.

I was recently told our page is easy to view on mobile devices, so I guess we are mobile friendly!

Most of our readers are American or Canadian, this past week the Americans are way ahead, but often its Canadians that top the list. We have more Ukrainian hits every year they are always firmly in third place, but this week for example we have Russia, India, China, the UK, Malaysia. Some weeks we even had readers from Iraq.

Our most viewed post ever... 10 Things (we like? love? about Ukraine. 
My favorite? Ten Noisy Things in a Ukrainian Village - from our first summer in the village.

I started the Birds Eye View of the Trade School blog to keep those stories separate from the farming, and life stories as our focus was split in the last year. Occasionally, when I go back, I do stories about what's happening with our family at home in Canada, and the Day on the Farm in Manitoba series was one that gets lots of views.


The new seeder and flail chopper under the shed
Looks like Garry could have built the shed even bigger, it's filling up fast as you see in this photos of the twice as big machine shed. I am not sure if he could make it any longer, it is too the fence line of the barn drive now, and of course he made it a few feet shorter to leave the apricot tree!

What's that pile of brewer's grain doing there?

Supplies under the shed for the door project
 Last week the guy who sells Brewers grain in the village dropped a little extra off at the farm. They fed some to the milking cows and they gave more milk... so now we have bought some from him. Garry says the ration was a little short on protein, milk prices are good, so he can profit over the cost of buying some. The pits are full of nasty water from all the rain and lack of use, so for now there is a pile in front of the pits!

The guys are getting ready to winterize the barn, this year they will rebuilt the doors, several of the canvas covered doors are much the worse for wear, with holes in the fabric, they will be redone with wood covering the frames on both sides and Styrofoam board in the center for insulation, the ones that are still good on the outside will just get the insulation and wood on the inside of the doors. Of course they will be building the winter bale wall on the two walls like every winter to keep the barn warmer, so the cows body heat can keep it from freezing, most of the time anyway.
That circlur PVC thing on the milker is the pulsator

Garry recently bought a couple new pulsators for the milking machines. A new one in Canada lasts forever and costs a 100 dollars - a Ukrainian one lasts about a year and costs less than 10!

We are going to the Animal Farm Show in Kiev tomorrow with Maria (or Masha) Garry's translator and our 2nd year trade school students, Andrey and Max B. We drove almost there this afternoon, and are spending the night in a hotel, we'll see if we make it all the way back to the village after the show. Watch the birds eye blog for photos in the next couple days.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday afternoon in the village

Today I sent Garry into Church in Dnepropetroesk without me. Every other time I have gone to church here with a cough, I have a horrendous coughing fit during the service and have to go outside the auditorium, because I just can't stop. Plus I think that everyone there thinks I am trying to spread the plague... of course they all believe I got sick from not wearing slippers in the house, or eating ice cream, or a draft from a window, or not wearing my winter coat when it's plus 10 C.... that's in the 50s for you American thinkers.
To tell the truth I don't feel worse than I did earlier in the week, then I was stuffed up. now my sinuses are draining down the back of my throat instead...

Easy to find our van from the back now!
I got the dishes washed up, and was working on my Christmas crochet projects when... the power went out at 2 in the afternoon.... time changed last night, no more Daylight Savings Time for Ukraine, so it is an hour later, the battery is running low on the computer and I am unable to crochet because it's a little dark in here, it has been another overcast day here in the village.

The cows in the village herd came back at 4 o'clock today with the time change. It was someone else's turn today, we had done the last five, well we hired more people to herd.  Andrey only went for a day and a half with the herd, I think. People in the village need work. Garry returned home around 4:30, the same time the repair crew arrived in the village, an hour later it is really dark outside as they are apparently trying to find the bad transformer that blew, the ladies are miking so the generator is running. So we have a couple lights on at our house, but the rest of the village is dark. Garry phoned Max, who has the car now, so he can go get a can of gas for the generator, in case it runs out before the electric is fixed. Max tells Garry that the crew is working on the transformer by the church, which was the problem apparently. We'll watch for the lights to come on next door, so they can turn off the generator and go back on the line, when it's fixed.

I should have remembered that the power rarely gets fixed once it gets dark, it was noon on Monday- just in time to cook up some dinner- when it came back on! Tuesday night it went off just after dark around 5 pm, it was back on when we returned from Bible Study in Zaporosia at 10:30... we saw some guys with chain saws as we drove out of the village with Maria (who came for lessons) and Max B (who wanted to come to learn more about the Bible, and really enjoyed it, even if he only learned English in the last year.) 
Don't know if the chain saws were the cause of the outage or the reason it was back on on Tuesday!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall is in the air.... and smoke too

It's almost the end of October and fall is definitely in the air. I am on the couch crocheting and  Box the cat is crunching on a mouse she caught.... do you suppose I can get Garry to clean up the mouse guts on the rug when he come back inside? Fall means the little critters start scrambling around in the walls, I hear them when I wake up in the nights and she gets most of the ones that try to move around outside of the walls.

Looking outside this morning, I wonder is it foggy mist or smoky mist? This time of year in Ukraine it is normally a combination. The weather tends toward moist, not pouring rain, more like drizzle and fog and cool days. Garry is hoping to get a combine to get his corn combined this week, things are drying from the big rain a few days ago, and he heard that there is a combine working in the village. Yesterday, they did run low on grain to feed the cows, and instead of buying some they went out to the cornfield and picked a bags full of ears to see if the mill could grind them as advertised. They put them in one and a time, and with a lot of noise it did grind it up cob and all, so it will work for the moment. I told them they could do the whole field that way, but they just laughed! (it is 25 acres I think.)

Smoke to the right of the barn last week

The babushka next door watching her garden fire
Garry seems to have caught my cold, so I guess I can stop blaming the smoke in the air for my sore throat, stuffy sinuses and headache today, but it doesn't help me feel better. Everyone in the village is cleaning up their gardens and yards, which means big piles of leaves and weeds burning every evening. Driving home Wednesday night we went through a couple villages and some parts of the highway where the smoke was billowing across the road.

Maxim Rudei ( our original Max) has been busy working with the neighbor Serozhosia - the one with the big payloader tractor- cleaning up manure piles for people and spreading the manure on their gardens or whatever. They worked last week in some other villages, this week they are working for people in our village. Wednesday afternoon they were next door spreading Misha's pig manure.

Polo wasn't the only one who walked on the new cement

Checking the new cement with our company
Wednesday was a busy day, Garry and the two Maxims poured a new cement pad in front of the barn that morning, they plan to do another one soon so they can get the tractor from the silage pile to the barn for feeding without going through a mud bog when it's raining. They were finished by lunchtime, although I was not happy when Garry brought Polo indoors because he was walking in the cement as I was washing the kitchen floor. I was getting ready for the company  Victor was bringing out for lunchtime.

Then Garry came in and wanted me to grab the cash to pay for the load of cement (remember almost everything here is cash on delivery or sooner) and Box, who had been outside, ran in thorough the bit of cement he had put by the porch door to level the step, making little cement paw marks across the wet kitchen floor!

Last Friday night

I was amazed that the floor was dry in time to finish making dinner before Victor's van arrived, but we had a lovely afternoon talking before heading to Dnepropejisk for Garry's group meeting there. He is doing book clubs reading How to Win Friends and Influence People as a follow-up to the Summer English Institute we taught at in July. We go there every other week, and the group in Dnepropetrovsk meets every Friday night.

PS. Thanks Garry for doing mouse cleanup!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The tomato paste mystery is solved (edited)

Here in Ukraine I make tomato sauce from tomato paste for pizza, pasta, and whatever. I have bought a couple jars that say tomato sauce on but the stuff inside is too sweet for pizza. Generally I start by cooking some chopped onions, add some hot peppers and Italian spices (roughly translates as Italian weeds or grass from Russian) then some water (from a bottle) and a scoop of  tomato paste from a jar.

 Normally I use about half a jar with and an equal amount of water, so the rest of the jar goes in the fridge. When I came back to Ukraine a couple weeks ago, I was making pizza and pulled a jar of tomato paste out of the cupboard. I twisted the top. and no popping sound.... I looked inside and it looked like someone had stuck and fork in it, removed some and then closed the jar and put it back in the cupboard! Or maybe we had somehow bought it pre-opened? I scraped it out and tossed the paste in the compost bucket, washed the jar out to save for canning jam or pickles next year.

 We used to buy tomato paste in 500 ml jars that you pry the lids off because Garry saved them for selling cream in. I would close them with the plastic lids they pop on the ones for cream to save the paste for the next use. Then Garry decided the screw top ones were a better buy this spring when we realized how much jam we were going though, the guys (Maxim B and Andrey our Ukrainian students who live with us this year) love jam on bread for dinner when no one's cooking for them.

Sometimes Garry makes sandwiches in the sandwich maker he bought when our boys were here, and he will get the jar of paste out to go with meat, cheese and spices (hot pepper flakes) on his toasted melted sandwich pockets. Max and Andrey often make themselves a few when Garry is cooking them, like he was on Saturday night this week.

Today (Tuesday) I was making soup for lunchtime. I had some veggies and stuff in the pot and decided to add a spoonful of tomato paste to add some more flavor. I went to the fridge, since I opened a new jar on Friday, but where was the jar? I didn't think it could be used up, Garry just spreads a bit on with a knife when he makes those sandwiches, and there was at least half a jar. I had not washed or put away a jar recently, anyway.... finally I looked in the cupboard, there was the half full jar. Max B heard me yelling at the jar for being there and came out of his room where he was studying.

Now Max knows that open jars go in the fridge not the cupboard. He told me it must be fine, but.... it's not expensive, so I scraped it out and opened a new one. Ukrainians do not have the same food safely rules and concerns to begin with, and he was raised in an orphanage, so we have a few things to learn together. I thought we had covered this with jam goes in the fridge ( but the honey doesn't so I can see where this gets confusing ... )

In most Ukrainian kitchens someone cooks, and it sits on the stove until it is eaten, maybe hours later. I think that their stomachs must be stronger than ours when it comes to bacteria and food poisoning. Last year when we were attending birthday parties for the students, I would take a little of everything and hope for the best while eating in the very warm kitchen, salads covered in mayonnaise that had not been in the fridge I was sure... luckily we never got sick, and some of the special salads are very tasty.
 My favorite is the herring under fur coat which has salted herring under layers of shredded cooked beet covered in mayo, which is purple/pink colored and kind of a crust, here's a photo from the internet...
the fur coat salad

the olivye salad
Olivyea- Garry always eats this one which is like a potato salad with hard boiled eggs, canned peas, maybe cooked carrot, maybe apple, maybe pickle and lots of chopped baloney.

If you want to try to make some of these I found a recipe link for them!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wetter weather

Garry's family flew out on Wednesday and it was raining in the morning, so they couldn't do anything outside in the morning. Garry was all ready to get his dad to rake leaves, but instead they watched the baseball game replay (live they are on during the middle of the night, so they re-show them during the day) After dinner we went with them to the airport in Dnepro two hours before their 3:20 flight.

This Maserati was still parked in front of the airport that night

We were picking up our new overnight guests- the Porters, who were returning to Ukraine- from the airport at 8:30 so we had time to kill instead of driving back to the village. We went bowling first, traffic was busy going downtown, maybe because of the rain. We had a good time, one of the bowling employees even shook Garry's hand in greeting, he went twice while I was gone, and bowled by himself. I won the first game, and we almost finished 5 games in our hour (Garry threw one ball in the 10th frame), then we got ice cream at Mc Donalds to cool off before leaving Most City Centre mall. We then drove over the Robocha street to look for a bookstore Garry wanted to find. We found it, but they could not help him with the book he wanted. They sold mostly books for teaching English, but no one there seemed to understand English.
The biilboard on the right is for the movie Stalingrad

Then we went to the Dafi mall and bought movie tickets for Stalingrad in 3D and had a quick bite to eat at Garry's favorite new place there, the Oststree Wok (it means spicy-hot) before watching the 2 hour 15 minute movie. It was in Russian with Ukrainian subtitles (Hollywood films are always dubbed in Ukrainian, so we could understand more of this movie than the last time we went to one.) Lots of action and explosions, plus a love story of course. Then we picked up our guests and headed for home, in the rain of course.

Garry was disappointed that they were unable to find a combine to get the corn harvested before this rain came,but at least the winter wheat was all planted. The first field they planted was looking green on Tuesday already. He says the new seeder did a great job, no missed spots in the field. Hopefully when the rain stops falling and it dries out they will be able to get someone to combine. They may run out of grain before then and have to buy some for the cows to eat however, as the barley and wheat they saved is all ground and disappearing fast.

On Thursday and Friday it poured most of the day, making the ducks in the village happy. We drove into Dnepro on Thursday afternoon to meet Victor with the milk he sells on Thursdays, as he was driving the Porters home that afternoon. Garry ended up selling milk at the first place he goes, the apartment complex where Victor used to live. Saturday was more overcast, with peeks of sun and sprinkles and wind, so hopefully the weather is changing. However fall in Ukraine tends toward cool days with misty rain, so let's hope it gets dry soon.

Driving into the apartment block, luckily the rain has almost stopped

Garry selling milk on a bench

more in the car!
We met Victor after this and transfered the jugs of milk, sleevki (cream) and cheese (dry curd cottage cheese, I can't say it in Russian) over to his vehicle so I did not see the second place that he sells milk at. If Victor is unable to sell it, then Garry goes to the places and sells to the customers instead, this happens a few times each season, a good way to practice language.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Thanksgiving and

We had a nice weekend with Garry's brother and parents, they all went to the orphanage near Kharkov where John sponsors a girl and handed out presents he brought and played games with the kids on Saturday. They were very pleased with the highway, there is a nice road for a good way, I was told only 30 Km of "poor road."
Honoring teachers (it was teachers day last week)

Misha translating and Dad preaching

Garry, me, with Maria (his translator) his mom, dad and John

at the restaurant  Garry is holding his buddy Maksim P

We all went to Morningstar church on Sunday where Garry's father had been asked to give the message, with Misha translating for him. They congratulated him on still bringing the gospel at 82 years of age. It was a special Sunday for our church, as they celebrated the 19th anniversary of the church. Afterwards we went to dinner at Puzata Hata with some friends from church, before picking up a few groceries for Canadian Thanksgiving dinner, and heading home. That evening I baked pies while they played Rummykube.

A special Thanksgiving dinner

This is the first time we have been with Garry's parents for Canadian Thanksgiving since we moved from Ontario 15 years ago. John usually works holidays in the US, so he had not had Thanksgiving dinner in a few years.

 Monday we shared a nice Thanksgiving dinner at noon. Garry found a little work for his father and brother, grinding some grain. You will notice he did move the mill upstairs as the guys suggested, and yes they were white with grain dust and needed a shower before dinner!I cooked a small chicken - with stuffing the extra stuffing is in the foil packets, and a lovely sweet potatoes/squash casserole - that is our entire sweet potato crop in the pot in the photo- so I had to stretch them out some. The walnut, brown sugar topping really made the dish yummy after it baked for an hour.
The dust is flying from upstairs

This was what we saved for Andrey

Mooska was happy with the chicken carcass

After the dishes were done, the guys cracked more walnuts

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Busy week with Garry's parents

Buying plastic tablecloths by the meter
Garry's parents and brother are here for a two week visit, flying back to Chicago through Istanbul from Dnepropetroesk next Wednesday afternoon. Garry takes after his father, who never wants to sit still! Even on days when no excursions are planned, he keeps busy, picking up and cracking walnuts from the yard, where there are about a half dozen English walnut trees, or helping with the farm work. We have gone to the circus and visited some markets, Garry's mother even bought some blouses here in the village on Thursday, which is market day.

Garry's paents in front of the circus

Garry decided to buy a small hammer mill, so they can grind the "compicorn (ground grain) here in the barn instead of loading up up bags, grinding it a the village mill, then bagging it up taking it back home and then putting it upstairs in the barn in the bin.(check out last month's posts for photos) Garry and Maxim looked at few models, and they chose one to purchase and it arrived this week. Here are a few photos of the mill in action.
Garry's dad adjusting the mill

/barley into the top

ground grain out the bottom

Garry's dad pouring another bucket into the cart

 They are putting the compicorn into the new feed cart Garry designed and built, with Maxim welding the metal parts together. It can close up when not in use, so that animals who get loose from their stall or pen cannot eat a pile of grain. That is not just a waste of money, or a bellyache, it can be dangerous; they could die from something called grain overload, where too much grain in their stomach will become toxic.

Maxim is wondering if they should move the mill upstairs and grind once a month, because when the mill is working, a lot of dust flies, white powder will be all over the barn downstairs, he says. It is still under discussion. They cannot run the mill during milking, as it runs with an electric motor, and we cannot run it at the same time as the compressor for the vacuum for the milking machines, and the milk cooling equipment, not enough dweesty-dwaset  (electric power- it means 220, which is normal European current.)

John, Garry and his father with the team visiting the kids
This week Garry drove his brother John and dad to Donetsk to an orphanage where John sponsors a boy on Tuesday, they were gone all day, bringing stuff for the kids and playing with them, including shooting off paper rockets (see May 2012 posts for more on that.) They met a team in the city and followed them to the orphanage.  Today they are off to another orphanage near Kharkov, and his mother went along with them.

Sunday morning Garry's dad will be preaching the sermon in Dnepropetroesk at Morningstar church.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Better weather

Well, the village herd has continues to go out this week, even though they came back home one day very early! We really had only enough snow to melt almost as it hit the ground, and continue the soaking we have been getting for the last month. It has remained cold over the weekend, without as much wet, but not really sunny. Garry was hoping that they might be able to work the filed with the disc so it could be planted, but chances are looking slim that more wheat will get planted, I think.

Actually it did get planted, Maxim and Andrey finished planting that last field on Maxim's birthday October 10th!

Garry's dad and brother helped him finish his bin, and today (Monday) they finished the work on the machine shed. This nearly doubles the storage space under cover, and look how they planned carefully to keep the old apricot tree! It does have some of the best fruit, bigger and sweeter than the trees  in the front yard,
Maxim was working on tractor maintenance

garry and John on the roof

putting up the metal 

The apricot tree- there are slots in the overhang to fit it 

The new part is not as deep (to miss the tree) Garry's dad

Lots of space to fill up!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Made it back for company

Well, in spite of more than a hour delay leaving Minneapolis, I made my connection in Amsterdam for Kiev (there was a computer that had to be checked out before takeoff) and found Garry standing outside the door, reading the Kyiv Post when I walked out of customs with my luggage, around 1:30.

We had a good drive back to the village, arriving around 8 pm Tuesday. Fall is setting in, and lots of tractors out working fields, trying to plant winter wheat, or combining sunflowers as we drove. It has been a rainy fall and everyone is planting much later than normal. Garry said it rained almost everyday of the three weeks I was gone.
What is unusual about this gas store? Look near the till- Slushie machine-
 only one I've seen in Ukraine!

Fall foliage along the way

That's second growth canola

Slow down for that big hole on the bridge! Narrow bridge, too.

Big puddle

When we got back we met a couple Canadians from the Mennonite Brethren that Garry had invited to stay for a few days, Victor had helped them settle in a few hours before. Victor had also got the heat running, it has been a cold fall. I went to bed, Garry talked a while to our company, one speaks mostly French. The other had visited us before with John Wiens, they had driven from Moldova, where they had visited orphanages.

I got up at nine am and made breakfast, and then dinner before we hurried to the airport in Dnepropetroesk to pick up Garry's parents and brother John, who will be staying with us for two weeks. Thursday morning I did not do as well, Garry made muffins for breakfast, and all the guys and went outside to work on the grain bin he is making upstairs in the barn. Meanwhile Garry's mother and I slept in until 11 am!
Cows heading to the barn, snow is melting as it hits

At 11:30 the cows returned from the field with the village herd, because it is a not raining, but wet snow today, it will be the end of the year for herding, I think. Now it will be our turn in the spring, when the cows are more difficult, as they don't know the routine yet then, now they are very docile, and our turn would be coming up soon.

Wednesday the big field where the corn was chopped for silage was finally planted in wheat, Maxim and his brother Andrei finished it before dark. They planted on Tuesday also, Garry says the new seeder worked really well. The other field they planned to plant will probably not get done now, hopefully we have warm weather again to get the wheat seed out of the ground and growing.

This sweet pepper looks like it has a long nose growing on it.

Good thing Garry decided to pick the peppers yesterday there are some green sweet peppers, but mostly hot peppers to put in the freezer, a bucket full. He saved them for me to do, I thought he would have to do it before I got back.  Looks like the snow is melting as it lands, for the most part, so we'll see what happens. Garry has headed out to see Dnepro with the guys, while his mother and I stayed home to rest up, or catch up. Nice hot soup for dinnertime?