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

Friday, April 25, 2014

And the rodeo begins...

The two Ukrainian fighter jets that flew over the village on Wednesday afternoon (Garry and Maria were outside and saw them, one was painted yellow and blue, I heard them flyover indoors, reminded me of growing up near the Air Force Base in New Jersey) were not as exciting as the cows coming down the street at seven am. That's right today, not Saturday as we thought,  was the first day out grazing for the village herd!

I guess we should have closed our gate! 
 This year Garry decided not to put any animals out with the herd. We have had some out in previous years, but the new barn will soon be ready to move some heifers in.

One year we put pregnant heifers out with the group, last year we tried sending dry (not milking) cows but the problem with either is everyone else has just a couple cows and they have the same ones out with the herd everyday. After the first week, they get used to the system and are easy for 2-3 people to herd for the day. However, ours would calve and stay home and then we would put a different cow out who would try to run home all day, causing extra work for the people with the herd that day or even week while she adjusted (one or two never did adjust and were kept here because everyone was tried of chasing that stupid cow!).

The lush green pastures that the cows will enjoy today will dry up to a few weeds in the middle of summer, and our cows know there is a nice barn with good food at home. The village herd grazes community land and sometimes harvested fields as the season progresses, but when it is dry, as it normally is here in the summer, there is not much for them to eat.

 So even though Garry enjoyed participating with the neighbors in herding the cows, we won't be putting out 8-10 animals a day and taking our turn with the cows. There is a list of people at this end of the village (there is a second smaller herd at the other side) who have cows, and you are responsible for taking care of the herd for as many days as you have animals going out with the herd. There are a few people who work for people when it is their turn for about 100 grivna a day, so for the last couple years, except when the students did it, we would hire them, because it is how they make a living. We normally had to bring them lunch for ten days too. I am sure that Yana and her mother will be glad to not have to chase our cows out and and be here to try to get them back in the barn every evening. (Seth and Jonah did it the first year- look in posts April / May 2011.)

Now we will just have to remember to close the gates so the cows don't run into our yard, which is trouble for the people chasing them in or out of the village everyday, from now until the snow flies.
Garry to the rescue, chasing them back out to the street

Today there were lots of people going out with the cows, and more protecting their roadside flower beds and guarding the gates, since there are young animals out with the herd for the first time, and even old cows get excited about getting out for the first time in the spring. Today they will be coming home early, so they don't get too much green grass to eat (they can get diarrhea) but by the end of the first week, things settle down to the normal routine, and the herd will be out on the street by 7 am and coming back at 7 pm for evening milking.

A little rough-looking after winter

For the last week or two, some people have had their cows tied out to eat grass, they get pretty skinny over the winter. We have seen people out cutting grass, or going over to the barn where vegetables are stored by the grower next to the trade school barn, to fill bags with discarded cabbage leaves.
Lady with a couple bags of cabbage leaves on her bicycle

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