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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

No more hay please!

The last two days I have sat down in front of my laptop and logged on and not written a word... so today I have uploaded the photo I took of the button I got at the conference on our goody bag for inspiration. Lisa had made buttons for everyone and I really liked mine which reads I write A-Moo-oosing things. Garry's button said I milk cows.

OK, now to work, Garry has been busy with baling hay, he mostly works up in the mow stacking bales with the students, so everything goes smoothly up there. I took some photos on Saturday. Monday they did more before the picnic at the pond, and this morning (no dew again) they got an early start and by noon the haymow was declared full. The round baler man they hired is doing the rest of the field. Garry brought him out some food before we ate lunch. The students will be glad it's over for a few weeks, Sasha was telling me today that he is zelonie (green). His toes were green from bits of hay since he was wearing shorts and plastic sandals.
Ray's (from the Steinbach team) buddy was hanging out (in red)
We had another prospective student here over the weekend from Odessa. His name is Kolya, his nickname is Samson, and he helped with the hay on Saturday and Monday, you can see him up in the mow in one photo, over Artem (in yellow). He drove the other students a little crazy because he talked a lot and kept asking if they were saved, since he is a Christian. He had a train ticket back for Saturday at seven, the same day he arrived, but thought it was for Sunday, so we had to buy another one, so he stayed an extra day, since he wanted to do more bale stacking.
Garry and the crew (Max Rudei far left)

I do have a good excuse for getting no writing done yesterday, since I was making apricot jam most of the day Monday, and what a mess to clean up. As Garry said it's days like that (and having teams) makes us really glad we have dishwasher now. We have 16 jars of apricot jam now, I think it will be enough. There are lots of apricots on the trees yet, if you want some!

My sweet potato plants I've been watering
 Garry got the irrigation water working closer to the garden so I don't have to haul buckets from the front yard anymore. He's started watering the whole garden since it is hot and dry. There are some showers around today, so he's hoping for some rain for the corn and sunflowers, even better is it arrives when the hay is all baled.

Monday evening we had a school picnic at the pond, with a wiener roast chips and salads to eat and nearly everyone got wet swimming. Garry had inflated a big intertube from a tractor, and everyone wanted to try it. Maria even got a ride on it with some of the girls. I did not bring my suit, so I sat and read my book reader until everyone arrived. Lack of suits isn't a problem for the guys, some of them went in in in their boxer briefs!

We were surprised to see Valera show up in the afternoon, he has been working in a greenhouse and is writing exams on Wednesday to get into a trade school.
They are wearing boxers, Valera is on the far side
Garry and students - Svitaslav is sitting on top of tube
The fun continued until the sun set... Garry and I went home early at 8 pm

Friday, June 24, 2016

Hay today, hay tomorrow...

Garry says the best part of second cut is there is less to do than first cut. That's normal, and it is good looking stuff, so far it has not been rained on. Garry was hoping for a while on Thursday, since it was overcast in the morning and there were thundershowers in the afternoon forecast, but only a couple lonely drops hit the dust in the morning. Not that he wanted it to get wet and lower the quality but the corn and sunflowers could really use a drink of water to keep growing in the plus 32 heat this week (95-102 F). For a while, he didn't think the hay would get dry enough to bale but the sun came out by noon and they did a pile of small square bales that went up in the mow.

The hay left on the wagons last night went in the mow this morning, Garry had quite the crew of guys up there today, including yet another prospective new student who may join us in the fall, if we have space for him. He is not an orphan, but comes from a very large poor family (8 or 9 kids) close to the separated east of Ukraine and is interested in the program. You may remember that we had a few kids like that during the initial year of the trade school with John. Garry said he was a real hard worker.

They will have about four more loads to bale today, they keep cutting more of the alfalfa fields everyday, so there is some dry to bale a few loads. Garry tells me that the haymow is getting pretty full, soon they will have to hire the round baler for the rest of the year, because there will be no place to store the regular bales. Straw from the wheat fields will all go into the big pyramid stacks like the last few years.

Max's brother Artem standing on the bucket, Student grad Nikolai driving,
new student Svitaslav, milker lady Nastia's two little girls and student Vika
Some of the guys will be working on leveling the slag that was delivered yesterday afternoon for the building project. Last night when I went out to take a hay photo, the guys were bringing a large calf (several months old) over from the "new barn" to the "old barn" (the names crack me up since the old barn is the canvas one built in 2010 and the new barn is the remodeled Soviet collective barn more than 30 years old.) Oops, turns out it was one Garry had bought, he has a buy back policy on heifer calves from village cows he has inseminated since they are half Holstein and many people do sell him calves every year. It's an inexpensive way to expand the herd. They had tied her feet together, so she couldn't jump out of the skid steer bucket and hurt herself, so don't be alarmed by the way she looks in there, she's fine as you can see in the second picture.
Nikolai and Svitaslav pushing, Vika and the little girls watching

I did get a little work done on my grouting yesterday afternoon, I got too busy with freezing peas and planting sweet potato plants in the morning. We are also working on prepping lessons for teaching English for three weeks for Summer English Institute, starting two weeks from today. Garry will be teaching young teens and me adults (16 & over). Hopefully the car is actually done today so I can drive in to help with the last day of testing for it Saturday, because if we only have the Mercedes, Garry will have to go, no matter how busy he is, I refuse to drive that van.

Yana, who has milked for us since the start in fall 2010 and her sister Nastya were milking last night,  Nastya's  little girls were there too. Nastya took over when her mom retired a year ago.
They are all from a village a couple hours ride from here, often the ladies go back there when they are on their 10 days off (they are on a 20 on- 10 off schedule along with our third milker lady, who lives in the village). Yana bought a house in the village about six down from us a couple years ago that they live in when they are here, since one or both ladies are here all the time. They have some animals and a garden. It's the first time this year that the girls have come with their mother, but they seem to be happy to be here and have made friends with Polo, our dog. Garry tells me they have learned to say "Hello Garry" in English/

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Yet another building project

That's right, while we have two house projects to finish off, the guys have been busy leveling dirt beside the "garage" or shop building for a new build. It is going to be a Quonset type shed for storing grain. When Garry was at farm shows this past winter he found a company that builds them onsite from rolls of steel.

 Today the guys will be busy spreading two loads of slag (it's the by product of steel making, if you are wondering what slag is) to prep the site.

Why are we building this? The wheat will be ready to harvest sometime next month and it will need to be stored.
 Garry is tired of having to pay companies to store our grain (grain is worth more sometime after harvest than when it comes off the field) and really tired of not being able to sell it when he wants for (insert excuse here) whatever reason the guy comes up with. He has been trying to sell some of the wheat another farmer had stored for him this past year for almost two months now, to pay for this building; it is supposed to be sold now, but no cash has arrived yet. Earlier this spring the guy was willing to trade our wheat for supplies for planting instead of cash, so it will be so much easier to keep it under our own roof when decide to sell some for something we need for running the farm or school they can just call up a truck driver, load it up with grain to deliver it to the mill and get paid. 

Those of you who know how bad Garry's ankle is may wonder why he is walking, not driving, down the street yesterday morning.  

Or you may have guessed why, the car was not not ready, they hope  plan  say the parts will be in and the AC fixed and ready to drive home for Friday. I hope. 

They will also be baling hay today... and mowing down more. 

Hopefully the old Belarus will be fixed, they had it all torn apart yesterday to fix something that broke the day before. They had just fixed a problem with the new tractor they bought last fall. It's good that "anyone can fix and Belarus" and the parts are easy to find!

It's to the meter,
Now the electric company needs to hook it to the house!
In other news,  the electricity is getting closer to the new apartment/classroom building, and work continues slowly. The plumbing hook up to the septic needs to be finished, toilets installed, and some other cleanup and finishing in the apartment side.

I'm off to grout my wall tiles this morning, have to remember to take a pail of water for wiping the tiles off.  Garry had the girls start grouting their bathroom, but I hope to finish (and fix) it today, and get some of the other ones done too before it gets too hot.

 I did a few small floor sections that weren't tiled yet when they were grouting before, but Nikolai (who was painting outside) moved his platform in front of the door I needed to go in  when I had finished that yesterday morning so I walked home.

Garry finished the last piece of tile floor- near the door of the entryway to the classroom on Tuesday. I just have to tile two kitchen backsplashes. One is a repair job, Garry was installing the sink while I was in NJ and vibrated the big tiles off the wall while sawing the hole in the countertop. two broke.
Nikolai is painting the brick trim white 

Looks like I'll be making apricot jam this year, maybe next week. Some years there aren't any apricots because of cold weather when they bloom (they freeze or they don't get pollinated by the bees) and some years the ground is covered with ripe ones falling off the trees. It looks like that kind of year. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Back to work

Adam took this photo, if you look closely, you'll see both of us playing

After our conference we spent Saturday hanging out in Budapest with Adam, fellow missionary, relaxing at one of the famous thermal baths in the morning (interestingly they had a wave pool there), eating street food, then finding the "Flipper museum" and playing pinball for a couple hours in the afternoon. We spent all day Sunday returning to the village, since the airline only flies there every other day, Garry was anxious to return and told me we should have gotten an early taxi and flew out Friday. We had an hour and a half morning flight to Kiev (7 adults and 2 kids from our group) and took the train back to Dnipro mid-afternoon, where Max picked us up from the train station at 8:30 pm in the Mercedes van. He had taken ours into Zap on Monday to get the AC fixed as requested, but it was still in the shop, seems like the parts weren't the right ones, they say it will be done today - Tuesday. We'll see.

It will be great to have the air conditioner fixed, it didn't work all last summer, and it is hot already. Monday the temperature in the shade was 39 C (102 F). We had not turned on the AC in the living room yet this year until we returned home Sunday night at 9:30. It was hot and the house was buzzing with what looked like at least a hundred flies. We think a door or one of the unscreened bedroom windows must have been left open for a while when we were gone. Maria was around for a few days we were gone, and everyone keeps leaving the doors open when they come to one to talk. The house was closed, locked, and hot when we arrived; so Garry got the "conditioner" (AC) working while I found the fly swatters. Afterwards we phoned home, because there was a birthday party going on for our granddaughter at our son's house. We tried skype but had a few technical difficulties- they couldn't hear us so we ended up with the phone and the pixelated video, but it was fun to share a bit of their day.

 Afterwards I phoned and talked to my father for a while, I hadn't talked to him since a few days after I flew back from visiting him, because he was in the hospital for ten days with pneumonia and I couldn't get my cell phone to dial out to the hospital number, even though I could call Manitoba, and by the time he got out we were gone the week he returned home.

Monday morning Garry was up early to check out how things looked outside, since it was dusk when we got home at 9:30 Sunday night. He picked a half bucket of our pod peas that I had found a hand full of last week before we left, so I was freezing peas before nine am. We will have at least four stir fry dinners next winter. Actually there will be more peas to pick later in the week. I saved some for lunch, too. While I was freezing peas, student Sasha came to the door with a half full pail of sour cherries. The rest of the morning I squirted cherry juice all over the table and my shirt as I pitted cherries, and made a cherry cobbler for dessert. The rest of the cherries went into the fridge to be turned into jam later, while I got lunch ready. It was coming along nicely when Victor knocked on the door.

 Victor brought out company, Ron and Eva Koleba. Ron was the speaker at our conference in Hungary. They were missionaries in Dnepropetrovsk 18 years ago, and they are quite amazed by how much the city has changed. They are from Winnipeg, and joined us for lunch and then Garry took them on a tour of fields and barns and group homes while Victor did some work on the bee hives, I joined them so I could get some new crop photos to show you.

The corn grew while we were gone

There are pretty weeds in Ukraine

The sunflowers are growing too. Some of the smaller ones seem to be still mildewy looking under the leaves from the fungus, but they were all sprayed with the fungicide.

We found a blooming wild sunflower on the edge of the wheat field, it's sitting in a jar on the kitchen table now.

Buds are coming, soon there will be sunflowers

The hay will be ready to cut again soon.

I did make a batch of cherry jam later in the evening. Garry was busy for most of the day, catching up on everything that happened while we were gone.

Check out the other blog for more on what's happening with the students.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Sunday morning we took the train to Kiev to get our early morning flight to Budapest. We flew whizz air for the first time and packed for a week in our computer bags since they charge extra for carry on size bags, nearly the same as the flight. The tickets were cheap and the legroom was tiny, but the flight was only one and a half hours.
 We were met at the airport by someone with our name on a tablet for our ride to the conference center. We ended up traveling there without the rest of our expected group, who waited for the van and the travelers from Germany. We were in the back of a taxi with a guy going an hour past our stop in the front seat. At one point I think everyone but the driver was asleep!
The conference center was lovely, in an old estate with a grand house where we met and ate. The rooms were across the road, and while the mattress was a little thin, we had a cool breeze most nights, and the pool was nice too. We had most afternoons free, with sessions in the mornings and evenings. Wednesday it seemed to start raining every time Garry went outside but we had a good time renewing older friendships and meeting new people.
Friday we traveled back to Budapest and since our airline doesn't fly every day we met up with some of the folks for dinner at Subway and a boat ride on the Danube.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

New septic system

With the cows scheduled to move to the "new barn" a week from Monday, you might wonder why Garry had the students digging a new septic system for the old barn this week. If you wonder why the barn has a septic system, it is for the wash water from washing the milking equipment in the milk house, not the cow manure, that gets spread on the fields for fertilizer!

The plan is to make a small cheese making facility in the old milkhouse, so there will still be lots of milky water to dispose of in the future, and old one just doesn't work anymore, even though they got it cleaned out this spring.
Today Garry and Nikolai have been bricking up the walls with lots of helpers moving bricks by wheelbarrow from the reno house and passing bricks down the new 3 meter deep hole they dug.

Of course, we won't be milking cows here in the "old barn" any more, it will be used for young calves and heifers and dry cows, and the milk tank will move over to the new milkhouse. On Tuesday all the milking system for the parlor is supposed to be in place and ready to go. We waited a year and half to get the electric company approval and then get the transformer installed and hooked up.  It's taken six months after the electricity was finally hooked up to the barn, but this spring Garry finally got a company that would do it, and with some additional parts from Canada, at reasonable price.

The cows won't move for another week, because Garry and I are off Sunday morning for a week to go to Hungary for the EFCCM conference for European missionaries.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Those missing pics

Quit eating the wheat Garry
Last night the surface finally turned on and I tried to post from it, but was having problems getting the photos in the post, so I am trying it again in case the photos actually did upload.

They did.

We took these on Sunday afternoon on the way home from church.

Here are the bales still in the field

Garry checking out the new corn field by the highway

Looking at one of the sunflower fields

another one of the bales, as you can see the guy they hired
 doesn't have the best round baler

Our field on the right, someone else's sunflowers to the left
They sprayed for weeds and killed some of the smaller sunflowers

I think another pumpkin field, there are lots of them planted this year and they
are still small, maybe 4 leaves. Pumpkin seeds were a money maker last year.

wheat field as we follow the field road around
another as we drove slowly by the sunflowers