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

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pizza night

The stars finally aligned to have a staff and student pizza night this school year. Saturday nights the new house hosts movie night, Friday nights in August and September started out as Hip Hop Church night in Zaporosia and most of the students enjoyed going there with Max Rudei and the new group home parents. However, it has been moved to Sunday afternoons, leaving Fridays open for activities in the village for the group home families.

 Most Friday nights, Garry and I are not here, but in Dnepropetroesk for an English group, but it doesn't meet on the last Friday of the month, so we were able to invite all the students and group home families for pizza at six pm this week. I made a dozen pizzas, some people brought soda, we had some "gas water" (sparkling) I had accidentally bought, and everyone ate all they could.

Garry decided Vika (he blue coat) has a problem with not taking a slice from each pizza as it comes out. She had about five pieces on her plate but whenever he set a new pizza down, she'd grab another slice. She fills her glasses to the brim, too.

Of course, Nilolai, sitting next to her (making bunny ears over her head) told me he'd eaten 12 slices of pizza!

Polo has decided little Christina looks generous

 Group home mom Larissa told Garry that Valentina was working out at the barn, so he went and got her before the pizza was gone... we never mind a little cow smell at our house!

Afterwards, we had a little poppyseed cake for anyone who was still hungry after the pizza, and Garry decided we could play a game... no hands biting the apple on the string.

Garry took a turn, he wasn't successful either. I think Kolya got a bite out of his apple, but everyone who tried got their apple after trying a while, and everyone had a good time watching.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fall days

Monday Garry was busy with trade school business, after waking up early to watch the second half of the Philadelphia Eagles game (disappointment again). He was supposed to pick up Maria at 9 am to meet with Nastya, one of our students who left us in the spring, she was supposed to come pick up her things she left at the girls' house (she went for a visit with her father and never returned) but for the second time this fall, she was a no show. They waited 40 minutes, she was not where her phone was, so they gave up. They bought some items for the group homes- a big bag of macaroni for each house, and an iron and ironing board (both purple) for the boys' house, who had complained they didn't have one last week when I drove them second hand store shopping, and some rugs for the new house's bathrooms. (I asked what happened to the Canadian ones I brought back, but they were cheap, I'm told.) We are still furnishing the new house, it's getting close to being done, except the mattresses for the twin size beds, there are nine in the container from BC that has been sitting in Kiev for the last two months (they are sleeping on ones from our house and extra ones from the boys' home).

 Luckily, it wan't a wasted trip to Zaporosia, they were able to get Roma, who set up the computers for the school three years ago, to come back from the city with them, so there were four for lunch. Really luckily, I was thinking there could be company for lunch and I was just putting the dough into the pot for chicken and dumplings when they walked into the house around noon. We had picked up more computers that had been at the trade school the first year after moving to the new classroom, but needed to get them operating for the computer class today.

 Roma spent the rest to the day on trying to install the cow recording program Garry got from the farmer we visited with the students up and running and more in English on a computer here and 7 of eight computers working in the classroom. He is picking up some parts to get the last one working, a monitor and a mouse, and more to get them all to connect to the wi-fi, the next time he comes out.
I heated up a leftover pizza that they ate while I got some milk for Roma to take home and around eight pm (it's dark now at 5 pm with time changing) we headed to Zaporosia to drop them off, then home and into bed. Garry only scared me once when he didn't notice how slow the tanker truck in the fast lane ahead of us was going as we came up on it on the way home.

One of the reasons Garry was so late for dinner last night was just as they were finishing up with the computers, he had to help a heifer who was calving  in the barn yard over there. The calf was stuck with one leg back, calves ideally come out with two front feet followed by the head for delivery, so Garry had to push her foot back and straighten out her leg, and pull the calf out. Roma was impressed with the calf's arrival, and Maria with how beautiful the moon was as it rose, too.

Today he got back to work on the addition to the "girls' house" that he started a week ago. It's the only one of the group homes without a separate area for the group home family; so he is adding two rooms on the front side of the house for bedrooms that will connect to the room that is the group home mom's current bedroom, which will become a sitting room. That way there will be two bedrooms we can use for students, currently there are three girls in one room and the daughter is in the other. Garry hopes to pour cement soon for the foundation, and finish it by winter. They will build some trusses in the shop for it.

In between all these things he has been helping Yana and the students with milking one fresh heifer, who kicks like crazy when they try to put the milker on her. She calved on Sunday and is really big, almost Canadian-sized, even though she's just 50% Holstein. Yana says her mother  was a big cow for a Ukrainian cow, but she never bred back after having her. He says that now she stands still after the milking machine is on, which is an improvement.

The girls house- starting point for my walk
I went along with Garry this morning to take some photos of his project, and walked back home, taking some more photos in the village along the way.

It was a pretty nice morning for walking, I was wearing a fleece over my t-shirt. Most of the villagers were wearing coats, but that's normal, because it's fall. It was so warm that some people were not wearing hats!

We stopped at Max's house for something, he's building on an entry room

Some people walk their bikes to carry stuff

The crows are mobbing up this time of year
Everyone is getting ready for winter

The school, built by the Mennonites, still in use

 As I was walking, there was some barking ahead... many dogs bark at people walking on the road. The dog from the boys house barked at me. There were quite a few people walking or biking  today, but when I got closer, I saw the cause, there were little pot belly pigs running around. Maybe it was their yard I thought as I saw one  ducking under a gate, and they were going back home after escaping...  or maybe they had escaped from the direction they came from as they raced past me on the side of the road and they were breaking into someone else's yard!

It isn't that cold in the store,
but even the ladies working there are wearing hats and coats!
  Almost home, I stopped to buy a loaf of bread at the store.

 It used to be Seth and Jonah's job when we first came, they would take a break from studying and buy bread for the day mid-morning... and a Pepsi and ice cream bars. It's been four years since they when home to Canada to stay.

That reminds me, still haven't gotten that much rain yet. Garry got Victor to buy some tarps to cover the straw piles- trying to keep it from spoiling in case we don't have any to bale next summer. The weather is going to be cool and not that wet according to the forecast. So he is waiting to put them on until the big rain comes... if it does. The wind will tear them up, they will last longer in the plastic.

All the plastic "film" needs to be replaced in the windows of the "new barn" for winter, The stuff they used last year got so brittle that it shattered. Garry has some greenhouse plastic on a roll left over from covering the silage they will pull out the wooden framed and recover them this week.

They have been making some metal gates for over there in the new barn, the wooden temporary ones are difficult to move when cleaning the barn.

 Garry is still waiting to hear back from the guys who are supposed to install the milking equipment now that there is electricity in the barn. It's been three weeks, but nothing moves fast over here!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Rain, rain, come to stay

Well it did rain on Wednesday. Unfortunately just enough to get me wet walking home from my afternoon class! On the way there (just before four o'clock), the wind was blowing and it was sprinkling a little for the first time all day.  After class, it was coming down hard enough for me to walk with my computer under my raincoat, and cold enough that my wet jeans were uncomfortable by the time I got home.
 I had to wend my way through the village herd of cows who also looked wet and unhappy, they return to the village around 5 pm nowadays, with darkness falling shortly after six (changing tomorrow with the clocks falling back here in Ukraine.) Garry had gone off with the car in an attempt to get the tires fixed (he still needs to buy a new rim for one, we have had a run of flat tires, he had to change one in Dnepro at nine pm lat week Friday as we left the English club (the SEI follow up, we are reading stories from Chicken Soup for the Soul, every week but the last one of the month).

In the morning I got my feet wet and muddy walking to class- slightly manure-ry, too, I wasn't looking down enough and stepped in a wet, gooey cow plop in the way there. The village herd goes out to the field about 20 minutes before I leave for school.  Even though there were a few puddles on the road, Garry says he doubts it was enough to sprout the wheat. They were able to plow some gardens for people yesterday, and today they got back in the field and planted the last few acres of wheat, there are 47 hectares planted. Looks like the forecast is promising rain again, maybe even tomorrow.

Sunday will be election day here in Ukraine, I took a photo of a  billboard with one campaign's version of an attack ad. Seems like the only time all the billboards are sold is election time.

Yesterday we headed into the city early for the 7 pm class, hoping to go bowling, we haven't found time to go in weeks. Ten pin bowling (for Americans there is 5 pin bowling in Canada) is one thing we can enjoy together, I can win once in a while, so we both enjoy it. However, we were disappointed this time, the bowling alley at MoCT city shopping center was locked and papered over. This happened once about three years ago, hopefully it opens under new management like last time. We'll try Zaporosia next week while we are not teaching, if Garry is not too busy with his small building project. He has been working on the foundation for the addition to the girls' house. I was going to walk down and take a photo today but I got busy putting the English subtitles on the new story about us last month. A guy from one of our English groups sent me a translation of it, so I can share it with you. I can't say it's completely accurate portrayal of our work, but the reporters were here for two hours and they didn't know English, so things get translated a lot.

 Verhoogs on Ukrainian TV News - with English subtitles!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Still waiting

The forecast still says rain for today, but none has fallen yet at 9:30 am. Garry and Maria are over in the classroom teaching. This morning I let the students plug in the small fan heater during English, even though I didn't really think we needed it on, It is warm in there thanks to the wonder of insulation. It was a cold, windy walk over to the school this morning for my 8 am class, I think I need to find a hat for walking. I can always crochet one, this is the first time my ears got cold.

When I walked back at nine am, there were people waiting for the mini-bus to Zaporosia in front of the "new house." The house we bought to remodel this year just happens to be one of the places people in the village wait for the bus several times a day, on the corner of the busiest side street (the one I walk on to go to the new barn classroom).

As Polo and I walked home we saw a babushka walking down the street, she said drostvitchya  (hello) as we passed her, She was dressed for the weather with many layers, all the older ladies in the village still wear skirts, but with tights, pants, and  legwarmers she had a big black apron over that,  a yellow scarf tied around her head, a couple big bulky sweaters and a coat, and she was holding a skinny rope in one hand,  pulling a little wooden wagon with tiny wheels behind her, filled with a feed bag full of something, and a pail. She had to move to the side when a car passed by, but she obviously preferred the smoother center of the street.

Two new looking Belarus tractors with plows on went past on main street as I got to the corner, not ours, maybe they belong to the big farmer from Petrakovka who took over most of the land in the village last year.

 On Saturday, while the guys were fixing a part on the flail chopper at the shop, a number of men from the village stopped by to check out our new tractor. Garry tells me that one man who works for one of the smaller farmers in the village who stopped to admire the tractor complained that while we bought a new tractor with (some of) the money from this year's bumper crop, his boss spent this year's profits on a newer Audi car and they only have old junk tractors to drive, not even as good as our five year old tractors  !

Garry turned the heat on again at our house, he had it on last week when it was cold, then turned it off over the weekend because it got warmer out, and has turned it off and back on about every 18 hours since Monday. We really should have insulated the walls and ceiling in the house when we renovated, back when gas was cheap. The new house (group home) is still not hooked up to the gas line in the village, with all the insulation we used they are getting by with some small plug in fan type heaters, but Max says it may be January before they will hook them up. Maybe they will need to move in here again, if we can't keep the house warm enough.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hoping, praying for rain...

Fires are part of fall clean up in Ukraine
Sunday at church, Garry did something unusual, he made a prayer request during the sharing time, for rain.  It is so dry, it has not rained more than a drizzle in the two months I've been back here. We just missed some rain last week, it was raining 150 kilometers from here. There is very little winter wheat up in the area. Some farmers that planted it at the end of August after the wetter than normal summer had so little come up that they have worked those fields back up recently. A few fields have turned green, but even those have bare patches where no plants came up, especially on the headlands.

 Garry's guys had only planted 20 acres of wheat a week or so ago on the field where the sorghum was harvested, and he was trying to decide whether to plant more or not. If it stays dry (unusual for fall in Ukraine, where it is cool and wet right through November most years) putting seed in the ground would be a waste of time and money. However, we will have a lot of land to plant in the spring if we don't plant wheat, plus next year we will need straw and grain for the people who get goods instead of cash for rent, and straw to bed up our cows, too. Most people say October 20th is as late as you want to plant, although now some are saying the end of October this year with hardly any wheat planted.

For the last month, every time the weather forecast would call for rain in 5-6 six days, it would be gone when it got closer. Garry really didn't want to plant and just get a little rain, which might sprout the seed and not get the wheat up and growing, As time went by, he would switch from we won't plant to we should plant, even though he was worried it would turn cold soon and maybe it wouldn't grow. They could plant spring grain, but summer and even spring are normally dry, so the yields are not as good as winter wheat, which the moisture from winter snow.
This year's corn - there is some piled in the shop
Most people prefer wheat for their share, but a few took corn

Saturday they were chopping cornstalks and getting some of the land plowed and ready for spring planting. Some land had already been disked up, but it seems like the ground that is plowed in the fall grows better corn every year. The land is almost too hard and dry to plow now, we'll use less fuel in the tractors if we get some rain to soften it up, I'm told.

The new tractor

It's getting dirty planting now
Today is October 20th and rain was still predicted for Wednesday through the weekend (and hard rain Thursday) when Garry checked the forecast this morning. We had gotten up early to catch last night's Blue Jays and Eagles games (we got up around 3 am, (8 EDT) and watched both in bed, the baseball game on television and the football on the computer, two wins, although we did doze off a couple times!) He started trying to get the planter going before class this morning, hoping to get at least 50 hectares planted, and rolled with the cultipacker. I passed him hooking up the planter to the new tractor at the shop while walking to teach my 8 am English class, with my constant companion, Polo, one step behind me. It was overcast and cloudy all day, about 18 C (65 F), and you could almost smell the rain in the air.

Amazingly, they got finished a couple hours after dark, the guys were back around 8 pm. The field that had sunflowers by the highway was planted by lunchtime, and Garry helped move tractors around to the other field that sunflowers were harvested off before teaching his afternoon classes at two pm. I drove him around after we gobbled down the nice dinner I had cooked after class, leaving Maria (Garry's translator) in the house.

 First we went to the "box" (best description- rented storage in the village public works buildings) meeting the guys (tractorist Sasha and one of the students Valera) where the wheat is stored, then I drove him to the field to pick up the tractor and planter, he started driving back to the garage -which is what everyone calls the new farm shop, where he filled up with fertilizer and headed to Moroznika, the village where the other field is. I met him at the shop after going back to the house and grabbing some food for the two guys and followed him with the van and waited while he took a turn around the field planting the headlands before the second tractor with the wagon of seed and fertilizer arrived with Sasha the tractorist and Valera, his assistant for the day.

I wished I had brought the camera to take some pictures while I was following him, as he passed a horse and wagon that pulled off the road for him, since the planter fills most of the narrow two lane road, and twice he pulled off the road a bit when he met an oncoming car, so it could squeeze past. He just squeezed though the trees on the dirt lane on way to the field from the main street in Morozinka, a smaller village than Nikolipolia, but was part of the same collective, so we have some land there.

I walked home after my 4-5 pm English class, well Polo and I, first I got some bread at the store (the dog stays outside as he's told) and then we walked through the village herd on the street which was heading home at 5 pm. There were a few tiny drops of wetness while I was raking leaves and hunting walnuts in the yard until it got too dark to find the nuts around six pm. Hopefully this rain arrives tomorrow after Garry had the the guys hopping to get this wheat planted... and it grows before winter arrives!

Friday, October 16, 2015

This week tractors and...

Friday morning and Garry and Max Rudei are off buying a new tractor for the farm. Exciting stuff, they had some discounted ones in mind, but Max heard that they have some parts replaced with inferior parts, so they are looking at full priced Belarus tractors now, I think. All the corn has been harvested, and so there is money to spend on the new tractor Max has been wanting for a couple years now. The original tractor is getting a bit worn out, so they need a new one for the harder jobs so there are less breakdowns and fixing.

Tuesday we went on an excursion with the students to a dairy farm south of Zaporosia, there lots of photo on the Bird's eye view blog, just click on the bird photo in the right hand column.

Wednesday Garry got to get up early and go celebrate the new Ukrainian Men's Day holiday with guys from church. Traditionally it was celebrated in February, but that was an old Soviet holiday so October 14th which was an old Cossack holiday we've been told was chosen this year for Ukraine.
It is having trouble catching on, but maybe in a couple years it will be normal. Garry played paintball and went on a picnic.

When he got home we were soon going off to Dnaprapejisk for his every other week English class. We left later than normal, so no time for our usual dinner out at Burger Time, so we had gas station hotdogs on the way into the city, and lemon Pepsi (I had a couple sips, Garry forgets about my diet and buys my favorites!)

We have been missing sleep a lot of nights because the Blue Jays games start at 11 pm or 2:30 am and so we try to stay up or get up to watch the playoffs. We were up until three am that night watching a very exciting win.

 Every day Garry is checking under the tress in the yard for walnuts, he needs to beat the birds, mice and students to them, he cracked a few yesterday.

The students have a job up in the hay mow this afternoon, and so far I have found gloves and gotten drinking water for them.Polo came in with me and ate my soup while I was getting the water. I had set the bowl on the couch while i answered the door. Garry should be home soon, he said Max is driving the tractor home and one bundle of money was 200 grivna short, they counted it twice. (I had to phone about where he put the gloves) apparently we are visiting and English class at 5 pm (he forgot to tell me I guess) before our regular Friday night followup class. Good thing I printed out stories for it already, we'll be on the road again.

The microwave is beeping, I'd better get my second bowl of yesterday's turkey noodle soup. Polo had enough, hope no one comes to the door.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Little Sunday

 Sunday morning we were getting ready to leave for church when Garry's cell rang (his substitute one). Max was calling to say someone wanted a cow bred in the village, near the girls' house. Garry changed back into his barn clothes, and said he'd be right back... I did a blog post while he was gone. It took longer than he thought, apparently Garry's not the only one calling the new house the girls house, and then the man had two, not one cow to breed, and they weren't tied up at home, but staked out near the new barn. It's a little difficult to inseminate a cow on a forty foot chain, she keeps going around in a circle.
 We had thought village day was the day before, but nothing had happened. As we drove past the town hall, we realized it was Sunday this year, and things were just getting started there. We figured by the time we got home (maybe five pm, it would be over).
 I had the camera with me, I was  hoping to get a photo of the corn being combined on the way out. I figured we didn't have time since we were running late, but Garry said we could get a couple pics before getting on the highway.
The trucks waiting to load up

 This field ended up producing about 140 bushels an acre, the field closer to the new barn was better, 160. The employees are excited, this year will be the year we finally made enough money harvesting crops to buy a new tractor. It's been talked about for a couple years. Another Belarus, the older one can do the easier work for next year.

We turned into the McDonalds drive-thru (we had originally planned to go for breakfast, so we hadn't eaten) and discovered that it was just past ten. That means, a) no more breakfast and b) lots of cars in the drive-thru because they are no longer serving breakfast.
So we had chicken sandwiches for breakfast... and headed over to drop a jug of milk at Victor's church for the first time in months. It is a new way to do it there, a donation to the church from Victor, like what we do at our church.
 This interesting truck was parked near the church driveway, doing some roadwork I guess. That's the standard Ukrainian ten foot from the roadwork warning sign (on the highway too.)
Hide the broken house behind a big ad

 We were late for church bit they were still singing, this week was the celebration of the church's birthday, 21 years. There are decorations every year for the big day. This year they had planned an outdoor celebration, but it had been cancelled because of the cold snap. The big heater was turned on at the back of the room the church service is held in.

 Unfortunately we had to leave early too, because Garry has gotten himself a job Sunday afternoons teaching an English conversation class that begins at 12:30.

 I get to do some shopping and reading for a couple hours while he is busy teaching.
All the words you need to know to buy sweet things!

 When class was over we headed home after a stop at a bakery Garry sometimes goes to for donuts. Sadly these frosted beauties did not taste like donuts, since the cake part was rather dry, but they did have filling.
We made a stop to buy some small buckets for feeding calves, and hurried home to see how the corn was going.

The partially filled grain trucks were still in the field when we went past, but the combine was gone because the field was finished

Student Valera , Garry and tractorist Sasha
As we turned onto the main street we saw that village day was still going on, so Garry stopped there. They had some trampolines and blow up slide, some people were still dancing and having fun. Lots of kids and some of the students were happy to see us. It seems every kid in the village knows our names.
Valera showing off his backflips

 As the sun was getting low, we went to the second field, the better one; where they had gone to combine so they could finish filling the trucks. This year the trucks were sent by the grain company we were selling to, other years Max had to find trucks and drivers.

The combine driver had some sunflowers to do at home, but returned on Tuesday. he left the corn header parked by our front gate.

Cleaning pumpkin seeds
Every crop is a bumper one this year, the farmer who grows pumpkins is busy harvesting, washing and drying pumpkin seeds to sell. the last two years were very bad, but this year was a a really good year. They were washing the seeds outside near his house as we went past.

Garry stopped for a couple minutes as the village herd was going up the road ahead of us.

The village cows come home from the fields earlier every week it seems, now its around 5:30