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

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Looking over at the babushka's house on Wednesday
Winter has arrived! We are getting ready to depart to real winter in Canada next week, but have been getting everything ready for winter here. In the last week we have had a dusting of snow several times with flakes falling a few days and nights, and sometimes drizzle,  with temperatures around or just below freezing.

Friday evening there were some snow flurries falling in Dnepropetroesk when we went there for Garry's last book club night until January. On the way home we saw a few more snowflakes and some drizzle hitting the windshield.

Saturday morning and there was a nice frosting of snow over everything, maybe an inch, with flakes still falling, as you can see on Polo's head. Bear is snuggled in a big pile of straw in his doghouse these days.
Bear is out of his house for dinner

It's 2 pm now and the snow is falling faster, there is 3-4 inches on the ground now! Good thing Garry has no where to go until church tomorrow morning...

Yesterday a guy came to fix some tears in the canvas of the barn, he was supposed to be back today with another guy to finish, then the guys can get busy making the straw walls for insulation inside the barn that they make every winter. Even the students got winterized, Garry and Maria took them shopping for warm winter coats, shoes, hats and gloves for everyone who needed them for working in the barn or for good.

Monday, November 24, 2014

All Garry does is drive...

We realized that in the last two weeks, there was only one day that Garry did not drive somewhere... either to Dnepropetroesk, or to Zaporosia, or to Dnadniprapejisk, even nearly to Berdansk last Thursday afternoon (almost 300 km round trip) to see about replacing our student Valara's missing passport (all Ukrainians over the age of 16 are supposed to have an internal passport on them, which is used as an identity document) and our trip to Kiev for a conference about working with orphans the Friday before last (for more about that, click on the bird photo.)
entering the city of Dnepropetroesk... again

Of course this week won't be much different, since there are so many things to do before we leave for Canada in ten days (we will be home about a month for Christmas this year) although he is hoping to not leave the village today!

My name is _____ and I want to see your documents

Chances are that he will forget to turn his lights on before getting to the checkpoint one day, there is a law that came into being in Ukraine about two years ago that you have to have your headlights on in the daytime from Oct 15th- April 15th, and our car doesn't have lights that come on automatically like we do in Canada! Even if he does remember every time, he still gets pulled over for random document checks, even when we drive by the same police check everyday!

Here are a few things we did over the weekend:

Friday Garry was really busy, he was up early as normal, when Maxim Boradin came running in to get him, a heifer was calving and she was down with milk fever. It took quite a while to get the calf out and get her fixed up with IV calcium and dextrose. Then he had to change and throw his very dirty clothes in the washer to get ready for the rest of his day. The students arrived at 8 am to see the cow that was being turned into dinner and see all the real parts of her that they had been studying about in anatomy class. It was really cold Friday morning, so they were glad to look at parts inside. Maria had stayed overnight to translate for Garry, but she looked away as they killed the cow. (you can SEE more about turning a cow into dinner if you click on the birds.)

Meanwhile I moved tables around in the kitchen and put soup into the crockpot, so that lunch would cook while my kitchen was invaded by cow parts. The rear quarters came into the kitchen and Garry went to deliver the front ones and the liver and heart to the two group homes. Then he cut up meat with some of the students, ground hamburger with the electric meat grinder and I packaged it and put it into the freezers, which were working overtime, until 4:30 pm. That's when he and Maria did the student payroll and figured out how much they got paid this week (there are deductions if the student misses their scheduled work shifts, which is always debated - but I switched with ____!)

Nastya came with us to Dnepro for Garry's Friday night class
Garry's English Mere Christianity group meets Friday at seven pm in Dneprotreosk. Driving after dark makes it more challenging to see the holes and pedestrians (I never can understand why Ukrainians like to wear so much black at night.)  Nastya, one of our trade school students,  came with us hoping to get her lost phone back from the friends she stayed with the weekend before. They refused to come meet her, so it seems they were not her friends and are keeping her phone.

We got home around ten o'clock after dropping off Nastya at the girls house. Maria had gone with us to help her with the phone, so she spent the night again, and went home for the weekend, with some meat.  I had a nice surprise, Maxim Boradin had cleaned up the kitchen and put everything back into place.

We stopped and bought more bags to freeze the drawer full of hamburger in the fridge, since I had run out before we left. I stayed up until midnight double bagging all we had done before, and then washed out my veggie drawer Garry had turned into a hamburger drawer.

Saturday morning we were up early, Garry had to doctor that sick cow again before we were supposed to leave for Dnepro for the day, two of the girls were going to visit friends in the city and he had told them we would pick them up at eight am when we dropped off the front quarter of the cow and the meat grinder at their house (the group home mother didn't want it on Friday afternoon.)

We were a little behind schedule because it was a cold windy night and the diesel motor in the van didn't want to start. Garry finally poured hot water over the motor to warm it up. Then we had to drive to the other side of the house to get the meat that was hanging under the shed. I had to go get a knife for him because he and Maxim B couldn't untie it to carry it over to the back of the van.
Heifers in the barn

We finally got the girls meat in, and then we went to get the hammer drill Victor wanted to borrow, so we could drop it off at his house in the city with some meat and pick up the empty milk jugs to fill on Sunday. The drill was at the "new barn" - the remodeled trade school barn, so I finally got a photo of the heifers inside it. Then we had to go back home because Garry had forgotten his good basketball shoes and he needed then for our English class visit that afternoon. Finally we got to the girls house to drop the piece of cow off and pick up Julia and Karina. We made arrangements with them to meet and bring them back after our concert around 8 pm.

 We dropped the girls, went to Victor's and then Garry dropped me at a mall while he went to a men's meeting at church. Garry picked up more medicines for the heifer that was sick, since she was still having problems that morning and he used up all he had on hand.

He met me for lunch at the mall, and then we headed to the English class we were visiting that afternoon at 2:30. They had a special activity planned for Garry, they went to a nearby school to play basketball and then we had lots of cake and cookies to eat.


One of the billboards commemorating Saturday's memorial

 We visited with the class until 5:25 and then headed over to the opera house, we had tickets for the requiem concert there. Saturday was the commemoration of the Holmodor, the starvation famine of 1932-33, so the concert was in honor of it, it was impressive with the ladies in the choir in long white dresses, the men in tails and a full orchestra, of courseWe went to church in Dnepro as usual on Sunday morning with the car loaded with milk and milk products for Victor's church, and the jug we donate to our church. Then we ate lunch and headed over to the English class we visit monthly, for our 2 o"clock talk about houses and wise and foolish men. Afterwards we headed home and were watching this lovely sunset at 3:45 in the afternoon- its dark by 4:30 now!

 After steak and potatoes for dinner, tried to watch the Eagles game on the internet and phoned Jonah to wish him a happy birthday. It is amazing to think that our baby is 19 now. I had Polo wish him Happy Birthday on facebook, too.

 One of the main reasons Garry would like to drive less is the rising price of fuel. With the grivna going from 8 to one US dollar to nearly 16 in the last year, gas prices have risen in same way, like most imported goods.

Garry is happy that the fall plowing is finally done, since it was costing 1500 grivna a day to fill the tractor with diesel. We are laying off two people (two Sashas, actually)  for the winter, but paying them a little each month, since it will be very difficult to find a job now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Winter has arrived

On Monday morning and afternoon it looked liked this outside, as the next door neighbor- yes, the babushska, was busy once again, raking and burning leaves.

I am trying hard not to take too many cold and sinus pills this fall but I am stuffed up often from all the smoke, it seems burning things is the number one hobby of villagers (and even city dwellers) across Ukraine, and even more so in the fall!

Tuesday morning we woke up to an ice covered world... the rain continued for most for most of the day, later it was really just rain, but the grass stayed icy. There was a good layer on the windshield, Garry three hot water on to melt it so he could see, after trying to defrost it for 15 minutes.

 The girls arrived for classes before 9 am (on time means you get candy, the boys did not get any.)

We gave them a ride part way, we were going to the highway to drop Andrey off to catch a marshutka (minibus). He forgot his cellphone so we had to turn around, he's going home to visit his folks for a couple days. Garry drove to Zaporosia at one o'clock after classes and the highways weren't bad, all the traffic melted the ice.
Andrey heading to the bus stop at 9 am
Luckily the students had helped chase the larger heifer calves over to the barn Monday afternoon, and the guys put the bred heifers in from the pen when it started raining that evening, so everything was dry inside. I was going to get some photos before classes but it took too long to drive Andrey to the highway, the village road was a sheet of glass, so we didn't get over there. Garry went later in the day.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A quick look at Wednesday

Wednesday... and the guys got the tractor back together with a number of new parts, about 200 dollars worth I think. They did go with the more expensive imported parts, and after it was back in one piece they tried it out and it wouldn't go into high range. After looking over the diagrams they decided they must have put a gear in backwards, so they split it again today (Thursday) to get to the gear and turn it around.

Wednesday is the day the students work in the afternoon, and the boys were over at the new barn, where there were a few things to do to get the barn ready to move the small heifers from the barn here to there. Garry worked on getting a pen built for them to live in this winter, and a feeding area that the could eat from, and not escape through. He is getting anxious to get everything done so all the cows and heifers will be in the barns, since the wet weather is overdue (fall here is normally cool and wet.) By the middle of the afternoon, everything was ready and Garry, Max, and the milker ladies, with the assistance of the students spent about a hour moving, pushing, chasing about 22 small heifers...large calves ... down the street, got them to turn the corner onto the side street and over to the new barn. Some of the students were afraid of the calves and none had experience moving cows, so it was exciting. I got a few pictures as they heading out of the driveway and down the street. Garry says one of the most difficult parts of the process was getting the calves to leave the pen and barn they have been living in.

The girls were bagging up the mookooka (sunflower by product made when the oil is pressed out of the seed) that did not fit upstairs in the bin when it was delivered. It had been sitting in front of the barn since Monday afternoon. Turns out little Julia is the strongest one of the girls, she could move the full bags around.

Mookooka- the gray stuff (corn silage behind)
 We had to start feeding it this week when Garry could not get anymore brewers' grain delivered, sooner than expected. Every year during the holidays it is unavailable when the brewery shuts down for 6-8 weeks.

Tuesday Garry and I spent the morning on an emergency trip to Molachank because he ran out of frozen Canadian semen for breeding cows on Sunday, and Maria was unable to get anyone on the phone until late Monday afternoon. We saved Maxim Boradin about 37 grivna because we dropped him in Zaporosia for his English class, and picked him up at one o'clock on our way back.
This is the orphanage Max B grew up in in Molachansk 

 We had a little trouble locating a bank machine to get some grivna out in Molachansk, because Garry was about 50 grivna short (we pay cash for almost everything here) He wasn't worried because he had used one there before, but it was closed. The lady at the office was able to tell him where there was one, and after Garry waited in line a while, he could go back and pay and then head over to the old horse farm where they keep the semen. They were ready for us, but Garry had to talk to the accountant on the phone, because when she recounted the money she said it was 100 grivna short (about 6 dollars). Luckily we could give it to them there before they put the semen in our liquid nitrogen tank and not go back to the office to pay.

Garry was behind these people to use the only working ATM machine in town
The grivna has been falling fast this week against the dollar - up to 16 to 1 now

Garry managed to breed a couple cows Wednesday before we headed out to Dnepropejisk for his English class around 4:30 pm. It is already dark at that time and we had a safe trip both ways, but not without a few exciting moments, like when that car on the side of the road opened its door with no interior lights on and we just saw the guy and door as we went by... and when Garry had to slam on the brakes for a car cutting in front of us and the bottles of milk he was bringing along flew off the back seat and banged into the back of my seat.

We went to the mall there and grabbed some burgers at big burger and Garry reviewed his lesson. He was doing the same one he did on Friday in Dnepropeptroesk, but had been too busy to look at it all day. We headed out to the class 20 minutes before seven, and were on our way home by 8:20, after selling interested students some milk. More students there had read the chapters in the book than on Friday, and they had a few questions and a good discussion about the law of human nature.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Quick look at today, Saturday - updated

Fall plowing is not done yet... and the tractor is in pieces as you can see. They hope to replace a problem bearing, but had to take the tractor apart first. Maxim Rudei and Sasha the tractor driver have been working on it all day, it has been apart since before lunchtime (that was chili, now I am making pizza for Saturday night dinnertime.)

There is the cab over there

and there are some more pieces

Garry takes a look before going to pick up the part in Dnepro that
Victor is buying and Garry will bring back for the guys to put in

As soon as Maxim and Sasha figure it how to get the bearing out 
 Meanwhile, Max Boradin is feeding the cows corn silage. Andrey Rudei is using the tractor, the one not in pieces; to chop cornstalks and bring them back to the barn- the heifers and dry cows will be eating them this winter.

Max B takes a few minutes to show a new student how to clean the cows with the currycomb. The student who helps with milking in the  afternoon is supposed to stay until 4 pm and clean up, unlike the early morning and evening shifts when they leave when milking is finished.
Max is showing Kolya how to do it fast (he does everything fast)

Garry is taking the breeding supplies out of the back of the van
He was in a nearby village this morning breeding a cow... and one further away last night

and he's off to the city again... like every day this week..
and it was a teaching week
 Update- Monday morning, and Garry and Max are off to Zaporosia to pick up more parts for the tractor, they are replacing all the bearings in there now, something about pieces of metal and and whether the bearings are made in Ukraine or Belarus- it's a quality issue. Apparently max has gotten lots of advice on how to fix it from other is the village. Garry is buying more screws and things for finishing the doors at the other barn too, he never has enough screws, I think he's bought a truck load of screws this year! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Back to work

Last week we got back into the regular routine before starting teaching this week at the school. We teach every other week. Garry starts at nine am and teaches until around 10:30, when I take over for 45-60 minutes with English and he goes back to teaching about feeding cows or whatever until  12:30, when class is over for the day, Monday through Thursday. Friday is a work day for the students.

The boys house is getting the roof finished
 If I start something early for lunch for the two of us, plus Maria, (Garry's translator/assistant who eats lunch with us before taking the bus back to Zaporosia) and Max Boradin and Andrey (who live with us) like most days... and Sasha the guy working at the barn everyday who gets dinner as part of his wages since spring) on school days it is often soup, and sometimes it is soup or some other quick one dish meal (sometimes I do manage meat, potatoes and veggie and or salad with bread (no Ukrainian meal is complete without bread) put together in the hour before they finish class, depending on what's in the cupboard and fridge, because Maria's bus comes at 1:30.

Then, like today, Garry is often on the go with some trade school related business. Yesterday it was taking one of the boys to Zaporosia to get his registration changed, today it is going to Dnepropetroesk with Karina, Yulia and Valera to pick up yet another prospective student, a 20 year old guy from Kirvoy Rog (the girls went because they know him, so it will be easier to find him at the bus station and Valera wanted to go along). Garry was heard to remark that he hoped this one was normal. We are getting a number of guys coming to see the school with mental handicaps (to use an old-fashioned term), but really can't accept them because we do not have the resources to deal with them, as much as we would like to help them. The truth is life is bleak for them in Ukraine, on the street they are taken advantage of and care facilities for adults are like prisons.

Most of the Friday night group in Dnepro

and with Garry,  a family too!
Last week Garry started up the Summer English Institute followup classes in Dnepropajisk (every other Wednesday evening) and Dnepropetroesk (every Friday). He is working on a book club theme again this year, discussing two chapters a week from CS Lewis' book Mere Christianity. He had more than 15 on Wednesday and I took some photos of Friday night's group.

So with the farming and the teaching, Garry is keeping busy, and I have a few things to do, including writing a couple times a week...
which reminds me, did I mention that before class met on Friday we squeezed in an hour of bowling at the mall and finished five games and I won a couple of them? Garry had never lost more than one game to me, and we normally finish 5 1/2 games in the hour, but we were moving and got to through the second frame of game #6.

Speaking of farming, we have a guy plowing now, he has 100 hectares to get done this fall, it costs about 1500 grivna a day for fuel for the tractor, plus his wage. He used to milk the cows, but Maxim Rudei switched him to tractor driving this spring, instead of Max's brother Andrey,  because he was so good at it (interesting fact, he likes bread fried eggs and ketchup to eat so Max's wife Yulia normally makes his field lunches, mine are too fancy) although Yana says he is really good at milking also.

One thing we see with the grivna dropping against the dollar, gas and diesel prices are up dramatically from last year, making farming more expensive. Imported goods went up a lot, and meat prices have risen at the store, but not milk products, since they were mostly exported to Russia, and that is closed now. So the price we get for selling milk has not increased, although we are selling the 650 liters we are making daily.

Grocery shopping is more expensive, and heating, so Ukrainians whose wages and pensions have not risen are not able to buy as much with their money. This has led to some problems; last week the babushka next door gave 5000 grivna to a con artist who promised her a bigger pension if she gave him money "for getting the paperwork done." Later that day she realized she had made a mistake and called the police.

The guys are working on fixing the roof on the barn, too

Garry's next project, fixing the parlor up and installing the milking equipment

The cement work is finally finished in the barn, including the stalls
Garry plans to fill this alley with chopped cornstalks this week

The doors still need the steel on the outside, but getting closer to done
heifers are still outside and eating chopped cornstalks 
Hoping to get the roofing projects finished and a few gates and doors over at the trade school barn finished before the rainy season finally shows up next week.

Normally fall weather is cool and wet here, but we have not had much, so the heifers have stayed out in the lot. Garry is thinking the barn will be ready for them to go inside when it gets wet and mucky in the lot outside. The winter wheat will be better next spring if there is some moisture in the ground.
the winter wheat is looking good