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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

TV and an excursion

We were on Ukrainian television news (STb) today at 6 pm!
Two of the boys who were milking tonight and popped into the house to tell us about it , they had seen it and were very excited because they made the final cut (the two boys walking into the house), The crew was here for more than an hour to get the three minutes you see. It is in Ukrainian, and you can only get Russian subtitles, but you can see us, the students, the barn, the classroom and a bit of the new group home.

Ira dressed in her Canadian stuff, she was really excited when she
found the shirt at the secondhand store on Friday
Max and family (wife Yulia and Vika)
Yesterday we went on an excursion with the students to Zaporosia, Victor and Max Rudei drove their vans as ours is still in the shop. Apparently the clutch broke, and sent pieces into the timing chain, the turbo and some valve which is supposed to come in Wednesday so we can drive places again! 

Vika wanted to splash in the water

Student Vika and little Vika

Everyone needs photos on their cell phone

Garry is still limping

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Not driving now

We are without a vehicle for a few days, as of yesterday afternoon. Shortly after noon I (Teresa) was driving over the dam bridge leaving Zaporosia after a morning shopping trip with some of the students. One of the second hand store chains had almost everything marked down to 19 grivna (less than a dollar). Maria, group home mom Larissa, and three of the girls were on this shopping expedition, I was driving because Garry really didn't want to spend the morning shopping. We planned to drive into Dnepro together after I returned home around one o'clock.

Everything had gone pretty well up to this point, Maria and Larissa knew where there were three of the stores, the girls bought bags full at the first two stores, one was excited to find a new Canada t-shirt. At the third, largest store no one bought much, except me, because I couldn't resist picking up a few sweatshirts and things for the boys. One of the girls needed a phone charger (everyone has a cell phone) and they found it at nearby phone store we passed on the walk from where I found a parking spot on a side street past the second hand store. It was in a fairly busy spot on Lenina (the main street in the city) and fairly far across the city, too.

When we got back in the car we had 15 minutes until Larissa's dentist appointment at 12:30. I turned around and hoped we didn't hit too many red lights as it was almost to the other end of Lenina. Maria directed me to drive around a long block because the dentist office is on a one way street. We were going down the narrow side street with cars parked on both sides when I heard a stop! from the back seat. Were we at the dentist? No. One of the girls was ill.
They all got out of the backseat, we hunted for napkins, and Maria climbed out of the front seat. I handed out some sofliki (wet wipes) I'd saved from KFC. As they were grabbing an open bottle of water for her, I saw a car coming up behind us. They wouldn't be able to get by, since the street was a narrow, weave through the cars randomly parked on each side one with barely room for two, so I told Maria to tell everyone to get out of the half-in/out of the car positions they were in, so I could pull up and let the cars by. The girls were confused, but walked up the sidewalk thirty feet to my new pausing spot. It seemed like ten minutes passed as they rearranged themselves, and we were finally ready to leave. Larissa had walked to the dentist,  Maria moved to the back because I said Ira might feel better sitting in the front seat, a good Canadian cure for carsickness.

We headed back to Lenina, the light was green with a car half out onto the street for the right turn we needed to make. I waited, and then they waved us around as the light changed. Now we had to wait to pull around them as traffic flew past on Lenina. I was so disgusted that I used my inner Garry telling me to make a right on red (which is only legal if there is a green arrow sign or light in Ukraine, and I didn't see one.) One of the girls was supposed to work at one (the sick one now that I think of it) However, Maria told me that one of the girls at home was supposed to start for her, if we weren't back. I told her we shouldn't be too late.

Now to go back over the bridge over the dam on the Dniper River, drop Maria at her apartment and getback to the highway and the village. We passed the big Lenin statue, and talked about his new shirt (Zap keeps trying to make him look Ukrainian, instead of taking him down, he had a white and red Ukrainian shirt last fall, recently he was dressed in a yellow and blue one.)

We got on the the bridge and I wanted to move out of the bumpy slow lane, since we'd need to be in the left lane anyway right after the bridge to turn to go to Maria's part of the city. The car next to us was riding beside us and not gaining, so I accelerated to move ahead of it. We hit a bump as I zoomed in front of him. The car stalled, lights coming on the dashboard, so I turned back into the slow lane, thinking it would be a simple turn the key and go... no, it turned over, several times, but nothing doing. Maria phoned Maxim. It would be a while before he arrived from the village. He told her not to use the flashers.

It was nerve wracking sitting in traffic, I watched the side view mirrors and switched the hazard lights on if I saw anything in the right lane, because we were on one of the curves on the bridge, and I thought we could get rear-ended. Since the right lane is so bumpy, most of the traffic is in the left one, so it is the occasional large truck, slow car, speeding car trying to pass, or someone like me, who didn't merge at the right time, and was stuck in the right lane. Luckily, they all successfully got past us, although one or two had to wait a minute. It was worse when an autobus went past, as they have to stay right because the of the overhead powerlines they are attached to, so they would be really close to us and slow up traffic and cause a bit of a jam, which often sends the speeders into the right lane trying to whiz by that bus, with us in their path.

The bridge vibrates incredibly when big trucks are on it, and you really notice it sitting still on the bridge in your dead car. I was feeling a little car sick by the time Max arrived. Max had Larissa's husband with him, they parked behind us, flashers going, and tried the car (it didn't work) checked under the hood, phoned a friend (mechanic from the village) and eventually towed it (I let Sergey drive it) across the bridge, turned around, went back across the bridge, and then up Lenina, turned left at Mc Donalds and went to where the mechanic from the village works. We watched him work on it for a while (possible fuel filter problem) It was 30 C (90 F) and we were invited up to the air conditioned lounge. Fifteen minutes later, everyone else thought it was a good idea, (I had understand the gist of what Max had told Masha and was ready.) The girls  bought cappuccinos from a machine, I enjoyed several cups of cold water, bez platna  (free!) and sat with my ereader, cooling off.
Max's van 

Eventually, the decision was made that everyone would go home in Max's van, as they had been unable to  get it going. Poor Christina had to do the whole work shift for Ira. In fact it's still in the shop, maybe it will be ready Monday or Tuesday. They can start it now, but its not running right, according to Max.

I got home in time to make pizza, the cats are eating dog food as we are out until we get to Dnepro, They don't stock cat food in the village stores. Garry walked down there to get some pineapple and salami for the pizza.

So we are taking Max's van to church in Dnepro in the morning, he offered as Garry was trying to figure out how we are going to get there. To top it off, Garry is laughing as the students now think I broke the car because of my bad driving.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We drive and drive

We spend a lot of time driving places every week. Normally we are home Monday evenings, but yesterday we drove into the city for a birthday party for Katya's son (she's one of our milk buyers) We followed Victor there and he translated for us although she and her son (who was 21 yesterday) know some English. What a lot of food we ate, and I really enjoyed meeting her mother, who is quite a collector and traveled the world when she was younger. The party was still going on when we left at ten pm.

Tuesday we are usually home also. During the school year, every other Wednesday evening Garry has a Summer English Institute follow up class in the city of Dneprapajisk, about a 40 minute drive from our village, thanks to a lovely by pass road that was built four years ago. This year he is doing the book the E Myth, about why small  businesses fail. He says it has applications for all of dealing with life.
Group photo last Wednesday

Every year a number of students come daily by train from that city to attend the three week session in July with the Canadians, and they were thrilled that Garry would come to them, because they had never had one in their city. This will be the third year going there. He has another follow up discussion group every Friday night in Dnepro also. This year we plan to read and discuss short stories in English.

Dnepro group last Friday

Thursday evening we are almost always at an English Bible study group in Zaporosia with other missionaries, which Garry really finds a time of spiritual refreshment. Saturdays we are at home eating pizza unless there is a special event.

Of course during the day, we are teaching classes every other week.   During our time off, we are often out and about, going for parts, and driving places, often with the students, This is a teaching week, but Garry had to drive five first year students to the village where orphanage/trade school they come from on the other side of Dnepropetroesk, so Maria and I are teaching the senior students for the afternoon. She is teaching her Ukrainian/ Russian reading/writing class, reviewing Garry's cow information with them, and I am doing English. Garry plans to be back in time to go to our evening Bible study, which was moved up a couple days because our friends are away for a time.

Friday I am driving Maria, group home Mom Larissa and some of the girls for a shopping trip to the second hand stores (thrift stores)in Zaporosia, they have some money and need more clothes to school and work. Second hand is what many of them say on the sign in front of the stores in English-  are all over the city, mostly for clothing. I have some donated t shirts here at the house, but for the girls we need small and extra small, or maybe medium. All I have is large and extra large, but maybe they will work for  some of the boys.

Almost every Sunday morning we drive to church in Dneproetroesk, often with a couple students along and a jug or two of milk to sell (we donate it to the church, who sells it). This past Saturday we drove a couple hours to see a waterfall with some guys from the church.

 The road got worse... many pot holes were swerved around.
about halfway there, we realized Garry had accidentally brought me on a men's outing. Sometimes things get lost in translation,( or when some speak English to Garry, I guess,)  but we enjoyed the drive, and saw a little water fall and it was interesting seeing where they were quarrying granite. 

Nasty pricker weed seeds

 During a stop we discovered you didn't want to get close to these pricker plants, Garry got some on his sock and my arm brushed one and they dived right into my wrist! Stung for a while and bled after I pulled them out!

This looks like where the car in front of us lost a hubcap... going through a big pothole... we found it and he stuck it in his trunk.

 Yeah I did not go over there, looked a little tricky (for short people) and I didn't want to fall in the water with my camera.

Me on a a rock while they were there
 After the picnic lunch and sharing in Russian the guys started a fire for shaslik, but Garry and I headed for home (successfully found our way  back to the highway, too)
Garry brought a battery powered saw

We stopped on the way back and looked over the side  at this mine and Garry had a lovely chat with the guard. He found out that they had been working there about 30 years and everything else he asked was a secret, except the abandoned one across the road was from Soviet times,

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Farming and the economic outlook in Ukraine

This post is for all our farmer (and farm business) readers out there. I find out we have more of you every winter when we are home in Manitoba at the dairy conference. Everyone asks how the farming in Ukraine is, so here is the scoop on this year. The price of milk is the same as last summer's price (keep reading to find out why that's not good). Summer is when the price is the lowest for milk (eggs too) because there are so many villagers who have excess milk from their one or two cows and sell it in the summer when there is lots of grass for the cows to eat, and more milk in the market means lower prices ( this summer there was was timely rain which made good grazing in the village pastures and lots of milk, until August, anyway.) The price is market driven, as in what it sells for at the markets (or bazaars) in the city, generally in empty pop or water bottles.

That's fresh and unpasteurized, Ukrainians wouldn't have it any other way, they want to make their own cottage cheese at home and other products. Although not all milk is as high quality as ours, since not much milk goes into a refrigerated bulk tank, and some sellers are said to water it down at some point in the chain. which is why all the talk of selling milk to the EU is hard to believe,  Traditionally the biggest market for Ukrainian milk was Russia, and that has been gone since they closed the borders to Ukrainian milk when the war began last year.

 Right now the price is just rising to eight grivna a liter in the markets, but it has been less all summer, so the people who drive here in the their cars and buy it from us to sell in the market pay us four grivna a liter (some of them get behind on payment when times are tough, so we have some IOUs that will get paid, when they start turning a profit). Any excess milk (mostly in the summertime) is sold once a week to a milk truck for three and half, to get the tank empty so we can wash it. We empty it a couple times a week, so the milk we are selling stays fresh.

The herd itself is looking better all the time, we have been calving out 50% Holsteins and even some nice looking 75% Holstein heifers over the last year. These heifers give much more milk than our russian-red cows we started with five years ago.
We hope to move the milk cows into the freestall barn in the next month, as soon as the parlor is ready (it needs to be assembled, now that the electricity is finally flowing into the transformer. They are coming to hook the barn to it Monday, the transformer had to "warm up" over the weekend.) Right now, they switch the cows in the stalls and the ones in the pen in the side at every milking, three times a day.

our transformer (they guys dug a trench for the cable Friday)

Economically everyone in the country is finding it hard to make ends meet, which is another reason for the low price of milk, people have less money to buy it. Everything has generally doubled in price, and imported stuff has skyrocketed. Last year the grivna tanked against other currencies, and although it has stabilized this summer to around 22 to a US dollar, (for years it was 8:1). It has really hurt regular people, fuel prices have doubled, and clothing, food, medicine but salaries and pensions have remained the same, and many people have lost their jobs due to the economy. Not to mention that electricity and gas prices are more than doubling, partly due to the loans Ukraine got, which demanded market driven pricing. Most houses in the village are heated by natural gas, but last winter when prices went up the first time,  some people were burning wood to stay warm (some got cut off by the gas company, literally the cut the pipe to the house). There may not be many trees left next spring.

So this year we do not anticipate making a profit from the dairy end of the business. We pay three ladies to milk the cows, plus the students.  Last year milk sales covered a lot of the expenses of running the school, but student salaries are about 27,000 grivna a month this year, since there are twice as many students. Then there are salaries for the group home parents and Maria too.

However, the good news is that for the first year we had a good crop of... everything in the fields because of the rain. Four good cuttings of hay! (two is as much as we have made other years here). On Thursday they baled the fourth cut on the field that was seeded last year; and it was beautiful alfalfa, over Garry's knees. The hay mow is full to the top, there are some round bales at the new farm, and high pyramids of straw outside both barns. Not only do we have lots of feed for the cows, there is grain to sell to cover the expenses of buying fuel for the tractors (at twice last year's price) and fertilizer (three times as expensive) for next year's crops.

They hope to get 50 hectares planted into winter wheat this fall; as soon as some rain falls, the ground is too hard to plow right now. Some of it will be planted where the sunflowers were grown this year. Yesterday the combine harvested the first sunflower field, they tried earlier in the week, but it had rained a little Monday and it was too wet Tuesday. Max thinks that they did three ton a hectare, and they took the truck right to Dnepropetroesk to the crushing plant to sell. (turns out it's 2.3 but still really good!)They hope the other field will be ready to combine next week.

The corn crop looks unbelievable and is drying down nicely now. They didn't have to harvest many acres for silage to get more than last year in the bunker, and it looked yellow because of all the corn kernels in it. I was teasing Garry it looked like real silage this year. Most years he starts chopping it because the plants are dying instead of ready.

 In a couple weeks they should combining the corn for grain to sell. They plan to feed more wheat than corn and sell corn and sunflowers, except what they owe for rents (there are 37 people who take crops and goods instead of cash for rent, they get 150 kilos of sunflower seeds, among other things) This year are feeding three times as much hay as other years and only buying a little brewers grain. Other years they have traded sunflowers for mucoka (the stuff that is left after they press the seeds for oil) to use as a protein supplement, but there is so much good alfalfa hay for the cows' protein needs, they won't need to this year.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Thanksgiving service at the village church (for Max)

Saturday when we called home, the boys were still trying to install the new dishwasher that came in (I ordered it before I left), they were trying to do it on Friday when I called to remind them that someone needed to get Max... apparently they need a part to hook the water up yet.

Garry talked to Max then; after the first week at university he was back at the farm for the weekend. He said he was going to learn to use the library this week. He sent greetings for everyone, including his church in the village. We got to deliver those in person, since it was the harvest service on Sunday. Everyone was happy to hear how Max was doing and sent greetings back. Here are some photos, hopefully he sees it because I know Max will enjoy seeing his church family!

Outside, nice new walkway in the churchyard

Getting the display just right

Impressive looking, right? Garry really liked the flowers in the gourds

The students are happy to see each other

Almost time to start

Church is filling up, about 40 adults 
Polo, dogs don't go to church! 

Singing hymns 

Polo snuck in, happy to have found us, but Garry carried him out. We had taken the car since we still needed to drive to Dnepropetroesk to bring milk and meet up with some people at our church (we had just found out it was Thanksgiving Sunday this weekend in the village on Saturday morning, and we usually attend it). Later in the service Polo got back inside -the door was open, since it's nice weather- but he carefully stayed away from Garry, hanging out under some of the students' feet instead.

Pastor Ivan

Speaker from Mennonite Brethren 
After the pastor's sermon, visitors from other churches gave some remarks or mini sermons, several ladies recited poems, and one little girl did too. Then it seemed every man there had some Bible verses to share and talk about, so we had to leave before it was over. Of course there was no way to sneak out so Garry explained, congratulated everyone, and gave them greetings and news from Max Borodin.(this was translated by Olga from Zaporosia, who happened to be there, so Garry didn't have to speak in Russian. She had offered to translate for us, but Garry said no, he could follow a lot of the service, even translated a bit for me!)

Then we raced off in the car, since it was 11:30 and Garry planned to go at eleven, leaving an excited Polo behind. We picked up an older man walking out of the village with some bags and going to Dnepro.

He may have regretted getting a ride when some black KIA SUV we didn't notice flying up behind us pulled in front of us, from the right. (We tend to drive on the left lane, since it is somewhat smoother, and watch for the really fast cars so we can move out of their way. Really, really fast, since we were late, Garry was going 120 Kph! ) This guy thought he would show his displeasure in us not getting out of his way by pulling in front of us... like two feet in front of our bumper and slam on his brakes. Several times... lucky Garry has good reaction time.

You only see it once in a while, but scares me, what are they thinking? Bumper cars at 120 kph? After five minutes, he remembered he was in a hurry, I guess, and he took off, intimidating other drivers into moving out of the left lane by flashing his lights. Maybe he should learn use his horn, we might have noticed him.

On the way home we bought veggies at a stand, so I could make salsa to can and freeze some peppers today. Tomatoes and peppers cost more this year than last but they are very expensive to buy fresh in the winter (and salsa is really expensive if you can find it, it's imported). 
Garry was busy working on fixing stuff at the group home today, and enjoyed tacos at lunch time and stuffed peppers and apple crisp for dinner, after my walk. It's fun cooking for two.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

New post?

Garry was just asking where my new post was... I guess I wrote three for the trade school blog. I'll try to get one up here in the morning with photos from the village church, today was their Thanksgiving celebration. Then we raced off to Dnepro to bring the milk there before church was over, among other things. Then we raced home because someone had phoned Garry about breeding a cow... but they never showed up at the house.

So check out the ones on the other blog, just click on the bird photo at right. You can check out the building for sale in the village, ready to sign up to come build next spring? We are closer to getting electricity for the "new barn" for the school, it should happen before the end of the month.

main street (Centralna) who are those people?

You'll never guess who the people I was trying to get a sneaky photo of yesterday are. They are there near the middle of the village almost every day with their display of literature. The Watchtower looks much the same in Russian or Ukrainian as it does in English.

 Some more quick photos in the village next.

Mail delivery? Tuesday through Saturday

The neighborhood kids hangout, or play structure 

The last field of hay was mowed on Saturday 9mostly they had to fix the mower, so they had two of them going. Its almost all cut, hope to get it baled around Thursday.

The ground is too dry to work up or plant winter wheat yet, hoping for some rain... after the hay is baled. preferably.

Everyone should have a motercyclewagon

Goat crossing to road to see what's on the other side
 I watched it squeeze under the fence

Lady coming home from milking her cow in the field midday.