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

Friday, July 29, 2016

Wow, it's over...

We finished our three weeks of teaching, it was like a marathon, and we are relaxing tonight.  Garry is hobbling around, thinking about everything he needs to get done on the farm, and all the other things that need doing before he leaves early next Saturday to catch his plane in Kiev Sunday. This Saturday (tomorrow) is Denis Dantsev's wedding and we are invited. Then I fly out on Sunday (arriving Monday afternoon) and I still need to pack and finish cleaning up some stuff here at the house. On Monday Garry is driving to the Sea for some relaxing time with our friend Clay, he plans to return on Thursday but that doesn't leave much time for the farm.

 The guys are still baling straw there is more hay to do and it looks like they need to start turning the big corn field into silage.

 The building is finished to store grain in, the crew from Zaporosia put the doors on this week. The guys will need to pour to cement sometime on the part of the floor that was not done before.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A little rain

Garry was surprised when we drove home on Monday afternoon after teaching when there was some water in some of the potholes as we drove in to the village. We had stayed in a hotel in Dnepro overnight after attending a football (soccer) and there had been a five minute shower mid-afternoon, but when we got home we found out it had rained for a couple hours in the village Sunday, although some of our fields had received more rain than others, it will be good for the corn.

This morning as we left for teaching English at 6:30 am Max was busy raking hay in the alfalfa field across the highway. Garry stopped and gave Max his coffee, because he thought he'd appreciate some since he'd been out there for an hour or more.

They have been busy mowing hay and discing up wheat fields as they get the straw baled up. The straw pyramid is growing again by the barn.

When we got home this afternoon, we were surprised to see that the guys had been baling the hay and it was raining raining on them, even though the sun was shining a kilometer away (in every direction). The guys were laughing because the corn field across the road had not got as wet on Sunday as some of the other fields but it was getting wet now.

Monday, July 25, 2016

What's that bird?

When Garry and I went out to the bee hives on Saturday, I finally got a photo of a bird I have been trying to get a pic of for years, we often see them when going out to the fields in the woods, but never seem to get close enough to focus the camera before they fly away. As you can see they have a very unusual head, and a distinctive wing pattern. My quest will continue to get closer before they fly off, a very shy kind of bird.

and then he flew away...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Maybe... crop report

It's looking like the rain last week saved the corn for now, but with the temps going up this week as we finish our last week of English teaching, Garry will be checking the forecast and praying for more rain to save the corn crop again before he leaves for a couple weeks at home on the seventh of August.
We went on an extensive crop tour looking at all the corn fields Garry could find on our way home from Dnepro Saturday morning (even some that weren't ours along the highway, that were planted earlier than his). Since I didn't have the camera, I only have photos of ears from two of our early fields that Garry picked. In spite of looking like they have been hit by frost with brown leaves on the tops and bottoms of the plants in those fields (because of the hot dry weather before the rainstorm), it looks like they may make cobs, and not need to be turned into silage if we get more rain...

The wheat is all combined, they had to wait a couple days after the rain for it to dry enough, but Garry and Max are pleased with the results, the better fields yielded 60 bushels to the acre, the poorer ones did 45. Not bad considering that it was planted so late because of the dry fall last year and the fungus this spring.

Hoping to have more land in wheat this fall so we can plant less corn since winter wheat almost always is a safer crop to grow in Ukraine than corn. The sunflower fields look like they could be our best crop ever, and won't need to get more rain. Next year Garry hopes to plant more sunflowers, they are a good cash crop, and have a better chance to perform well with less moisture.

Max has been busy delivering as much of the wheat for shares as he could this week (they get three ton each year, along with a portion of sunflower seed, straw, and sugar.  A couple landowners wanted to weigh their own instead of taking the combine weight by the truckload, or didn't have a place to put it yet. Everyone has had their straw bales dumped in front of their home, and many have asked Max for their giant sack (120 pounds) of sugar if they make jam. Now to sell some wheat to pay the people who take cash instead of products and pay land taxes for the village which have risen from 250 grivna last year to 800 this year, except registered shares which even more- 1200.  No one will want to make things official, apparently they think it will mean the big farmers will pay more taxes.

The storage shed should be finished soon, I didn't take a photo yesterday, but the front is done  now with the doors to still be put on, and then we'll need to get he cement poured on the empty part of the floor.

Garry went out to check on the bee hives around noon.Victor has not been out since his injury, so Garry was checking if they had filled the frames he and Max put in last week.
   He did not get stung, although I was wondering what would happen if a bee flew up his shorts. The yellow hive needs to have some honey removed, its so full they are building honeycomb on the ceiling.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Just another day

Garry says the rain soaked down about four inches into the ground. He is more hopeful it will help the 25 acres of  later planted corn that is just tasseling now. He thinks it was too late for the early corn, it may shoot new silk and fill the cobs more, but they look small and twisted right now. Chance of more rain on Friday, it didn't rain today, but we had a another shower yesterday.

Work continues slowly on the building...
and we have our Ford Transit back to drive, but after all this time and money, we still do not have a working air conditioner in it!
Every morning we see these cows going up the side of
the highway, one day they were on the crosswalk
 Garry forgot his wallet this morning, so we switched drivers before getting to the checkpoint, just in case since I had my licence with me. However, my perfect record on not being pulled over for random document checks is intact. Garry was pulled over again yesterday to show his licence, car passport and insurance paper. I think it did startle the two women we had given a ride to when we got on the highway as we left the village, but a free ride is a free ride. I drove until after we let them out when we got to a bus stop in the city... well, all the way to Mc Donalds. where we celebrated our lack of flat tires with Mc Muffins today, before the annual Canada day, when every one wears red and white.

Yesterday we got to the institute ten minutes before the start of classes, after re inflating a tire on the front of the Mercedes before leaving the yard at 6:15 am, getting stopped at the checkpoint, then having the tire blow out the sidewall in the fast lane a couple kilometers later. Garry tried pumping it up before noticing the damage, and then put on and re-inflated the spare with the prophetic words I don't think it will last... maybe two kilometers later we phoned Max, after it went flat. He borrowed his father-in-law's Lada, and brought a tire from his old VW van. Half an hour later, he found us, and after few tries (three) convinced them that even with washers under the nuts, it was still going to lock up the brakes on that side,  he drove us in to teach, with the bad tires in the trunk to get fixed. Around noon he picked up Garry and he drove the Mercedes, with a new tire, the rest of the way to Dnepro so we had a ride home.

We hurried home because there was supposed to be a Mennonite tour group coming at four, but Garry took a much needed nap since they arrived closer to six pm and stayed for about 20 minutes or so since they were behind schedule. They did see the "old barn" and Garry told them a bit about what we do here. With the rain earlier in the day, it was a muddy walk up the driveway to the barn.

Garry with some of his 12-15 year old students

Us with my class, everyone loves my cowboy hat-
but I had to get three years of dust off it last night!
Today we brought Priscilla Sayer home with us to see everything, we stayed with her and her family the first year I taught English in Ukraine in 2008. Garry had to drive back to Dnepro to pick up parts for the milk tank, the agitator that stirs the milk broke.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A little rain

Today as we left the building after teaching and lunch, it was still hot and muggy but some clouds were overhead... the kind that look like there could be thunderstorms. Today's weather had a chance of them, but the general light rain and cooler weather system is supposed to arrive Tuesday.

Garry has been hoping for a significant amount of rain. The first corn planted, the fields that started tasseling a couple weeks ago, has three or four dead leaves at the bottom of the plants because of the hot dry weather. Since it has not gotten up to the cobs, he is hoping it will make a comeback. The later corn that has just started tasseling will be in good shape if it rains.

We had to make a stop to buy a water pump, the one at the new farm stopped working today, Max had phoned Garry around one. We were already planning to stop at Nova Lenya (like Home Depot) to buy a couple of scoffs (wardrobes) for the new grad student apartments (right now we are getting two apartments ready, and hoping for the electric hookup soon so they can move in), since we are still driving the big Mercedes van and they are so tall- 2.5 meters. That's right, still no sign of getting our vehicle back with a fixed air conditioner, it didn't get finished Friday, they don't work at the shop on the weekend...

 It took some time, first we talked to a couple people (store employees) about how to buy the scoffs near the door, without much success; apparently we needed to find the scoff department, so we looked for the furniture to assemble section, but first Garry hunted down the water pump. He decided on one, and told the guy we'd be back when he had it boxed up, and continued our quest for the scoffs...

We found them, and ordered a couple, after looking at all of them. Garry even walked one of the ladies over to the ones at the front... nope, they had none of those, but we finally selected one model. One of the sales ladies noticed our interest in stools and stoles (chairs and tables) and we picked out two matching tables with four nice actual stools instead of chairs for each apartment  since they are very normal here, and looked sturdy. Garry went to pick up the pump. When we got back, there was the alarming sight of them taking the display model apart. Only one in a box, apparently. We switched our order to one like that and one like this - doors with out mirrors on one, so we could get them in boxes, without having one taken apart. I selected some garbage cans, then he found a faucet we need for one of the showers -it seems a few small things have walked away from the work site.

Eventually a couple guys brought the boxes of scoff pieces. At one point in time one of the ladies walked past- they had seated us in a couple of office rolling computer chairs while we were waiting- and said it would be ready by X time and Garry asked if it would be savonya illy zaftdra (today or tomorrow), she smiled and assured him today. The guys helped push the carts- we had three at this point- to the checkout...

...where the checkout girl counted and scanned and searched everything, checked out our chek from the furniture department which listed everything we had selected there and the prices (the last time we shopped I had to buy one piece of tile on one transaction because it had one of those cheks from the tile departemnt, so it had to be separate from the other stuff we bought) which became one charge on the credit card, then she scanned everything else onto a second receipt and charge.

 Of course, as soon as we walked through the end of the checkout, there was a security guard, with one hand out for the receipts. She then proceeded to remind Garry to get the guarantee on it so he took the second receipt over to the desk, and they stapled it to the guarantee and stamped it. Meanwhile she checked every box and number on the furniture order  Then she wanted the second receipt, which Garry had placed in the pump box. One of the guys helping push was even rolling his eyes as she checked every single trash can, every tiny bag against the receipt. Never know when the people spending big bucks might try to sneak an extra trash can or trowel out of the store.

Finally we were free to go, and the guys helped load the stuff in the van, in the rain. We didn't get that wet and Garry drove home checking out the amount and depth of puddles. He had decided that there was less the further we got from the city and  by the time we got to the village, it hadn't rained much and had been over for a while. We drove past the new shed, the crew is back working on it today, the steel arrived but seems like it was slow progress on the back wall today.

With the rain in the forecast, Max had found someone to start combining this morning as the guy we've been waiting on was still working on his own wheat. They got fifteen acres done before it rained, looks like it is doing 60 bushels to the acre.

When Garry tried to drive out to check on the the fields, he was surprised that it had rained more than he thought because he nearly got stuck with the Mercedes . Some of the corn was knocked down, but luckily the wheat was not. Now for the front to come through and give us some gentle rain, With any luck the car will be done by tomorrow afternoon.... maybe.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

- Our days=Summer English Institute and then back to the village

Just as we get on the highway
This was the first of three weeks of teaching at Summer English Institute, we left the house around 6:30 every morning Monday - Thursday in our Ford, which still was waiting to get the air conditioner fixed,since  due to various reasons, we couldn't drive the Mercedes until Friday. Unfortunately, it was not fixed and back that night as expected... On Monday, I hope to see it with working A/C for the first time in two years (and ride in it to Dnepro on Tuesday). Yes, you may remember it has been six? maybe seven weeks since it went to get fixed while we were in Hungary, but they did have to get that part from Germany.

Some mornings we have to check on the cornfields to see how the corn is looking (Garry is hopeful, there is possible rain in the forecast for early next week) and we normally stop at MC Donalds for breakfast, since we have lunch with the other teachers when class is over at 2 pm.

The Mercedes has A/C, although someone in the front seat gets a wet foot every time you turn a corner, so our drive home was more enjoyable Friday than on the previous days. The temperature has been 38 C some afternoons, (100 F) so it's like you are baking with the windows open and the hot wind blowing!

Ira getting off at the train station
Two mornings we picked up someone going to Dnepro on the highway as we left the village and gave them a ride. On Monday it was a mother with a boy around nine, and on Wednesday we took our Ira, who was off to visit her family (even though she grew up in the orphanage she has a mother and two older brothers and two younger sisters, she'll be gone two weeks) and picked up the girlfriend of the guy Garry ran over last winter (she works at the hardware store in the village, so Garry talks to her often. I had no idea who she was).

Garry's fellow youth teacher, our friend Stacy at the front of the classroom

My last period class
This year Garry is teaching in the youth division with 12-15 year olds, and having fun with English games and  then reading and discussing stories, while I have the adult groups- my classes are about slang this year.

Garry was excited to follow the progress of the building every afternoon when we got home, but the guys ran out of steel on Thursday and the roll that was delivered on Friday was the wrong stuff so the crew went home for the weekend,  He is hoping they start working again on Monday. The plan is that someone's supposed to start combining the wheat then, so I guess the building won't be ready in time to store it.

See Garry? It's a really tall building!

Today we went to the annual picnic- to eat way too much under the hot sun. There was a big turnout of students past and present. I made timbits (donut holes)to bring and Garry even cooled off and swam in the river.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Rain, please! says the cornfields

Look! a family of turkeys on the third street in the village
 This morning on our way to teach in Dnepro, Garry drove around-  quite literally since the road he'd normally take there had some machine blocking it (yes, the one making the metal for the new building) to see how heat stressed the corn is in the big field near the "new barn" .

It didn't look too bad after a cooler night, with a little dew on the ground. However, the top leaves are starting to curl after a hot day when we drove back around at seven pm- that's when we saw the turkeys.
No rain until next week in the forecast and
we just got a few drops out of last week's promised rain

Grain storage building

The crew arrived Monday to put up the building. That didn't take long at all after the concrete was poured, did it? They brought their own cots to sleep on, but Max spent time on Monday getting the water and septic working so they could use the front apartment the graduated guys will be moving into. Max's mother-in-law is cooking dinner for them. On the way home from our first day of teaching English we had to stop and pick up some supplies for Max to connect a few pipes. We got some caulk, but he had already caulked the shower when we got back. The other bathrooms will need doing anyway.

They needed a place to set up the machine that makes the roll of metal into the pieces for the hoops of the building (remember it will be a Quonset-type building) so they decided to set it up right on the side road... you should have seen the four cows that normally go home down the side road coming home with the herd run past the machine which was working when we took the photos tonight. They may not give much milk tonight. Someone put an old cupboard at the turn off from main street, I guess it has kept cars from running into the machine so far.

They also needed a place to assemble the pieces of the building.  The potato  bugs have eaten the plants up, so Garry said he thought they could dig the potatoes in the group home garden right next to where the building will be and use that space. Garry and everyone (like ten people) dug potatoes for a couple hours, I think. Small potatoes, and he said the potato bugs had been eating the potatoes that were near the surface, so I guess they will be eating potatoes now. Tuesday the crew did not get much done by the time we returned from teaching (we are gone at 6:30 am and return around 4:30 pm). They were having problems with the machine.

first the metal goes through one way
However, they seem to have gotten it going today and we went over and took some photos around 7 pm. Hopefully they will be able to get all the pieces made tomorrow (or even tonight) and get the road open again.

it comes off of a roll 

then they send it back through and it looks like this...

When its done they carry the pieces over 

to make a set of three

Here's the guy crimping the new piece on

 Once all the pieces are put together in sets of three, a crane will lift them into place and the crimping machine will seal them together, creating the building.  

Garry checking out the finished hoops

close up

it really needs a lot of space to build it

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Crop photos

The new Lenin-less Zap sign
Yesterday we took some photos in the fields, but first I'll show you some I took some while we were driving to Zaporosia for lunch. We actually went there to pay for the part to fix the air conditioner in the car, the guy needed to pay for it so he could put it in the car Monday; but we made it an early lunch at our favorite fast food chicken place.

Short notice of road work crews, but they have  repaved
 a lot of  Zap highways in the last year
 There were combines in the wheat fields along the highway, We will wait a week or so to do ours in case the new building will be done in time to store the crop.
city goat herd grazing, the owner was right behind them

Saturday is wedding day and these bride are getting photos by the fountain

Lots of sunflowers in bloom now, these are along the highway, our field is further down the page. Now if we could get some rain this week, the crops would be really happy.
On top of a Lada ...

Now for our crop photos... the corn continues to grow

It's really that tall boys!

pollination time

Ready to combine?

lots of fields of pumpkins this year in the village fields 

Home again, Fence and gate recently painted, students on grass optional