We are teaching this week so Garry is busy every morning from nine to after noon with the students... and busy before and after teaching with everything else!
Monday morning at 5:30am, a lady from the village tapped on the living room window ...have I ever explained that people here are more likely to tap on your window than knock on the door? Makes me jump every time.
Anyway he was up on his computer checking the weather forecasts for here and Manitoba and the news and watching youtube videos, like every morning, and answered the door. Luckily I slept through that one. She wanted him to come breed her cow. Now that the village cows are going out to pasture everyday, he is keeping busy breeding cows in the village and elsewhere.
Monday morning he saw a cow in heat in our barnyard, and only knew she was black with big horns. Every morning after milking the cows are untied and chased outside for some exercise. Then the stalls are cleaned up before they come back inside after running around for an hour or two. This is the perfect time to see if a cow is in heat. When a cow is at the point in her cycle where she is ready to breed, the other cows will jump on her back and she will stand still. She will be running around jumping on other cows, who will stand still only if they are also in heat. Monday evening he asked the ladies, no one saw a cow in heat...
Tuesday morning, Garry was out working in his garden when he saw another cow in heat. He decided that it was time to use the eartags he brought back from Canada. I knew where they where, and his marker he bought in Kiev to write the numbers on with- a regular sharpie fades quickly.
Part of class that day was putting in eartags - it's like getting your ears pierced - and now anyone can tell which cow is in heat. It used to be Yana was almost always milking and she know all the cows by sight. Now the three ladies work 20 days on, 10 off (mostly, sometimes there is a sub) and there are twice as many cows, so sometimes no one knows which cow was in heat, if they were looking. Not to mention many of the cows are solid black or red!
So on Wednesday, Garry bred three cows in our barn, and six elsewhere! Some man drove him to the village of Choreney Yar (I think it means Black Valley) to breed his cow. He showed Garry the yearling heifer from two years ago when he bred the same cow and the twin bulls she had this year. They were very happy with having twins. Garry told him he should charge him double then!
While Garry was breeding the cow, the lady of the house was calling all her neighbors ( or the whole village, maybe) to see if they had a cow to breed, and so he bred two more cows before the guy drove him home.
Garry charges 150 grivna to breed a cow, but 200 if he has to drive himself. He and the semen tank squeeze into the back seats of a lot of cars, many are old Ladas. One time the drivers side door on one car wouldn't stay closed, so the guy had his friend kick it shut, after trying slamming it a number of times.
He got home to find a second man from the same village (and it's not that close, it's the one our original herd came from- read They're here) so he had another ride there, with a guy who said his heifer weighed 300 kilos, big enough to get pregnant. Garry had already thawed the straw of semen before he saw her. She was a lot smaller, but she got bred anyway. This time he returned home after dark to find two people nearly fighting over whose cow he was breeding next, a lady and man. I think it's the most cows that he has ever bred in one day, in Ukraine, anyway.
The tractor crew have been busy mowing hay this week and they are baling today. They started a 10 am and the first load was in the barn by noon, but then there was a problem with the baler... the knotter, I think I overheard Max Rudi telling Garry, but the wagons have been coming in fast since 3:30. Garry says they will do a thousand bales today anyway. All the rain this spring means a great alfalfa crop.
The male students are helping with loading and unloading bales and our friend (and Masha's) Marina has taken vacation from work this week to help. She lifts weights, and she helped bale straw four years ago.