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

Monday, November 28, 2016

Over there

Here's a picture of one of the wheat fields before I left Ukraine last week. It is the greenest one, there is one near the highway where the headlands are just as green but the middle of the field is not from the road. It is growing but was planted a week later because of rain, so it looks kind of funny. Maybe it looks better now, its been warm. The field in the photo was planted where the corn silage came off, so you can see the cornfield that was combined late behind it. Garry tells me that will be the last field plowed, and part of it will be left unplowed to spread manure on this winter- or to pile it on anyway, and move it around in the spring before working it up for planting.

Hopefully the plowing is nearly finished, Garry says spending 2000 grivna everyday for diesel fuel to fill the tractor for plowing will not be missed. They should get done soon, they were ahead of last year and the colder weather helped get them back in the fields after the wet weather made it too greasy (slippery). They were doing the rented fields in another village when I left (farthest from home), and then just this field close to the barn to do when they finish over in Morrosnika.
the storage shed

They sold some of the first corn they harvested from the shed before I left. They will use some money to buy fertilizer for spring planting. It comes in big totes that they store in one of the sheds. They bought some already that they spread on the fields where they will grow sunflowers next year before working it up, trying something new to improve yields.

 Garry says they have had a number of calvings this last year, one difficult one where the calf died before he could get it turned the right way and born; it was a big calf with the head back, so the cow could not have it by herself. However, he says there is a really cute red and white heifer calf in the barn that was born on Sunday.

I am sure Garry is working hard this week, since he is not teaching and he had lots of things to finish before he flies home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Flying around

.I arrived in Manitoba last night to icy, snowy roads south of Steinbach. Good thing Seth did not pick me up, someone had flipped their car south of LaBroquerie.

Trip was fairly uneventful, Garry and I enjoyed an afternoon/evening hanging out together in Dnepro- eating out, even bowling (he was way too good for someone who has not bowled in more than half a year, and can hardly walk on one ankle) and spent the night at the RoadStar hotel (if you are ever in Dnepro, it's nice) and he dropped me off around 5:30 am at the airport after going through Mc D's- coffee for him and sausage Mc Muffins for me- for my 7 am flight.

Flight took off a half hour late for Kiev and it seemed I spent the rest of the day sitting in planes or hurrying thorough airports. I didn't even have time to buy stroopwaffles in Holland as I hurried to my gate- my tickets said the boarding time was when I was standing at security waiting for an extra check on my computer bag, behind three people who had liquids in theirs apparently because of my power cord,(I was holding my computer in my arms as it had come through the other side of the rollers, with my other bag). Then it was shove everything back in the bag and race to the gate which was at the far end of the terminal. In Toronto, my gate was at the far end on the terminal after customs and security and transferring my bag took about an hour, but I did have time to buy a hot chocolate and bagel at Tim's and carry it along, then eat it and boot up my computer and go online after getting to the gate, since I had been scheduled for two hours in the terminal.

So now I have lots to get finished before Garry arrives in three weeks, paperwork for my permanent residence card (some days I really wished I had gotten Canadian citizenship before we became missionaries because I have to get a bunch of document to show why I have not actually been in Canada enough over the last five years and that I am accompanying a Canadian citizen abroad) check that everything for his operation on December 20th is still set and get ready for Christmas; while he tries to get everything finished in the village so he will feel ready to leave for two months so he can get his ankle fixed.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Warming up... or saving gas

Work has resumed on the insulation project, the guys are covering the rest of the summer kitchen (or Little House's) outer walls, while the man who did the school/apartment finishing has come to start the first layer of the stucco on the main house.

 Today it is cold and dry, but with all the wet weather we've had recently it's still too wet to get back to plowing. You can see some ice on the edge of the puddles in some of these photos.

He putting netting over the insulation with a cement layer, later there will be a layer with color.

Better make the tea and cookies for the guys before we leave for Dnepro, it;s Friday and we need to be there for English teaching and SEI follow up, like every week.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Or maybe housebound with visitors?

Sunday afternoon while Garry was teaching English, I drove the car (the van was fixed Friday, but one more thing needed to be done apparently, I have not been told if it had anything to do with what I am writing about now) out to the road along the river with Sasha, who had come to church with us and had decided it would be more interesting to go with me to Lena's English school than walking around downtown Dnepro in the rain.

 I talked to her students about Canada's Remembrance Day (what Americans know as Veteran's Day) which had been on Friday, I had found a word find to print and we made poppies to wear by folding squares of red cardboard.

Sasha even liked it, because Lena always has one of her students translate into Russian so even the beginner students can understand everything.

Then I drove back to park where Garry had parked earlier, there was a spot open along the street near the school he teaches at, the rain had been falling steadily while I was talking and there were some big puddles on the highway along the embankment, but I didn't notice anything wrong with the car.

Garry came out, started the car and said the power-steering wasn't working, and then decided he would drive to Victor's house because we wouldn't be able to drive home to the village. By the time we arrived at Victors the heater/defrost had stopped working. The belt was loose and so Victor drive us home in the blue van. Garry had hoped to drive the mission car home, but it is waiting for a part from Germany, that has been three weeks coming.
The cats were happy to see us

So we were home by six pm, with a bag of groceries I had bought but no cell phones. Garry's had been left on the dashboard of the car in Victor's driveway. We had used it to phone Victor and Garry always tosses it there when he has to use it while driving instead of putting it back in his pocket. I thought of it as we got out on the road to leave the city, but we thought mine was in my purse, so we didn't make Victor go back. Unfortunately, mine must have fallen on the floor of the car, it was not it my purse or pockets when I hunted for it in the morning, so we had to rely on the internet for communication.

Victor drove the car to a garage on Monday and got the belt fixed (although one that bypassed the AC, oh well its winter) but had discovered a radiator leak. He had found our cell phones and said he'd bring them out on Tuesday when he brought Daryl and Molly to visit.

Meanwhile, Garry was underfoot all day Monday, trapped at home, because the Mercedes van was not it the village, Max's brother Arteom had driven it home to see his parents for his birthday; and of course with his bad ankle he can't walk far. He was out to the "old barn" (the one in the yard) to check on the springers (cows close to calving), and see how the student workers were doing, watched some stuff on the internet, helped me clean house, and really missed his wheels and phone.

In the afternoon there was a knock on the door and Garry was excited to see Victor Penner with one of his Mennonite tour groups, five people from Canada and the US here to see where their ancestors had lived. Garry was talking to them outside for a while (I had to get him for a minute to double check that I understood Yana, who had come to the kitchen door with some of the milk money and wanted to get paid her salary while he was outside). Then he told me to put on some coffee while he toured the barn with his guests and they came in for coffee and more chatting about what we do here.

Before they left they asked what size shoes Garry wore, and he said 50 (European) and told them how it is hard to find shoes to buy  big enough for him here (size 14 US). He asked if Garry could wear 51, because they had brought a nice pair of work (or hiking) boots for a son in Kiev but he had said they were too big when he tried them on and they were in the car.

One rubber boot and one gift boot on

Garry is so happy about these boots because he says he can walk down to the classroom or the shop in them because they provide support for his bad ankle, which he did more than once before our visitors arrived on Tuesday around one pm. Now he has work boots and rubber boots. He ordered boots for when he goes to help milk (his had walked away over the summer) on the internet with Maria's assistance and they arrived last week. Yesterday he picked up the rubber boots that they had ordered for the the boys in the same way, because all but two boys needed boots to wear for work.

We had a nice visit with Daryl and Molly, who Garry likes to introduce as his boss, since Daryl is the European director for EFCCM, the mission organization we serve with. We had talked about having an early American Thanksgiving dinner (they are originally form California, but have been Canadians for years) but with no car, I did not get turkey breast to cook, so we had a meatloaf main dish with Victor when they arrived.

There was some snow falling Tuesday night when Garry went out to check on his cows, in the morning there was none on the ground but some sticking to the trees and the neighbor's roof. We walked down the street to show Daryl and Molly the finished school apartment building, they had seen it under construction in the spring.

Unfortunately, the car was still not fixed, Tuesday evening. Victor changed garages after the first one had changed from do it Tuesday to maybe Thursday and it was finished Wednesday evening. By that time we had cancelled our Wednesday night English group (Garry will go next week there, after I leave for Canada) so that Max could drive the group home parents and students to their Bible study in Zaporosia with the Mercedes. Garry used the Mercedes van to drive Daryl and Molly back to Dnepro after lunch Wednesday to catch their bus back to Kirvoy Rog at two o'clock. I refilled Bear's house with straw, all I put in last month has come out, I think it catches on his chain. He seems quite happy back in our yard since September, hanging out with Polo, I had to buy a new collar for him. his broke last month, not sure how many people he scared when he was loose, but he came when I called him.

Garry will go the Dnepro with Victor this afternoon to get the car when he goes to sell milk. I need to get busy and organize the house (like buy some cat and dog food and kitty litter to  get stocked up for months and make sure Maria knows where everything is)  for the time we will be away in Canada while Garry has his ankle fixed, since I fly out on Tuesday morning.

Now for your amusement, I had to buy a new vegetable peeler after my plastic handled one broke while peeling the quince Garry brought home last month, I finally got one for less than a dollar last week, complete with amusing English translation.

# 1 Rule for life- never fall from a high place and collision with something hard!
Made you smile, I bet. Even though we can't use it on bricks, it did peel the carrots I bought it for.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The price of milk

Today we raised the price of milk to our milk buyers to an all time high - 6 grivna a liter (about 24 cents US). We have been telling you for two years that the price of everything we buy has risen dramatically here in Ukraine, but the price we can get for our milk has not really changed, so what is different?

Last week Max got a phone call from the truck that buys milk in the village offering six grivna a liter to come and buy our milk, so the regular buyers who come with their cans in their vans were notified that they should pay that much if they want the milk. Of course it will be much less work for our workers if one truck comes to pick up all the milk, but we gave the regulars a chance to keep buying milk for the same price, since some of them have been buying our milk for six years.

We we wondering if the market price had gone up because one of the buyers, Katya had come to the house last week complaining that Yana (our milker lady who has become barn manager) wouldn't sell her enough milk. That often means that the resale price is more profitable, but with so many dry cows in the herd right now, everyone has been cut back to share the production equally, so we weren't sure until the phone call.

It is likely that the price is rising because there is less milk for sale now in Ukraine.  Now that it is fall there is always less milk made because production is seasonal here, with most of the people in the village with one or two cows only selling excess milk to the trucks in the summertime. In addition, after low prices for the last two years, many people with a few cows have decided to sell their animals because they have not been making a profit from the milk.
Yana in the new barn 

Last month, after moving to the new barn, Garry thought that we would stop selling small amounts to people who used to come in at any time of day to buy a couple liters for drinking or cheese making at home. Instead they decided that milk will only be sold to people (except the big buyers) during the afternoon milking (around one o'clock) for a higher price than the others pay- eight grivna closer to the market price (which did not change today).

Cleaning after milking, you have never seen a cleaner parlor

Here's a few pictures for the dairy farmers to see of the new barn set up, the equipment room, and milking parlor. It has been winterized since I took the photos last month, so you wouldn't see the outdoors around the compressor if you went there today! The wall that was removed to put the milk tank inside the milk house has been insulated and re-caulked to get ready for winter, too.

Same milk tank, new hot water heaters

compressor, vacuum pump

The red and blue containers are the pipeline chemicals
for cleaning. 
Before milking, each cow's udder is cleaned with an individual use cloth. They are washed in the washing machine in this photo and used damp to wipe the cows. They are microfibre, we bought some at Nova Lene that are sold for cars, and they get very dry during the spin cycle, in fact they are stuck all over the washer drum when you open it up.
milk going in the tank, we could use a cover with a hole
for the line to stick through yet

The dry cows (ones not milking and getting ready to give birth)  are in the "old" barn here by the house and Garry and Yana both check on them several times a day. I addition a couple of students are working in the barn, cleaning and feeding each day, so they are watching for something exciting to happen while they are there. Yesterday morning when Garry checked on them before we went to church, he came in and said one cow was leaking milk, and when we got home last night Yana stopped in to say she had a heifer calf while we were gone. She also said the water wasn't working in the old barn and she had come to the house to get a bucket of water for the fresh cow.

Yana likes the curly hair on the new heifer calf

 Garry went out to see and was pleased that all had gone well and the cow had already cleaned (expelled the afterbirth or placenta).He also got the water working again in the barn, by jiggling the control, luckily because we need a new flashlight.. This was the second fresh cow this month, and there are about ten more cows due to calve this month, so we will be making more milk to sell soon. Of course, Garry says that there are ten more milking in the barn who are giving very little, so they could/should be dry.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Busy week

The second year girls  with me and their new Canada Mitts 
Since we were teaching this week, it was busy as usual. We switched our teaching days a bit to make a trip to Kiev on Thursday to see the Farm Show there. Normally we teach Monday through Thursday, every other week in the morning with class for the second year students on Wednesday afternoon, all but one of them are going to Dnepro three afternoons a week to get a normal grade nine certificate. Garry sometimes drives them, but one of the group home dads has taken over most of the driving for this in the Mercedes van.

So we switched Thursday and Friday around for classes and left for the farm show in our van shortly after the alarm went off at three am, picking Max Rudei up as we left the village. That's right, no students, just our farm manager, so he and Garry could hunt down the stuff they were interested in without wondering where the students had gotten to (that trip will be for the show in February).

We didn't hit too many potholes driving in the dark and got to Kremachuk and went through the Mc Donalds drive-thru around 5:30 am. We could only get plain sausage (my favorite- I had one) or Fresh McMuffins. No eggs until 6 am when the lobby opens we were told, so Garry ordered three of those with chicken instead of sausage (he only ate so Max had the extra) - they have lettuce tomato cheese and lots of mayo for a real Ukrainian style treat. They had coffee and then Garry was driving again, although he had Max take over shortly before daylight. The drive went pretty well, in spite of the rain that started falling; only twice we heard a bang and felt the bump from a bad hole but we had no flat tires. We got into the outskirts of Kiev around 8:30 and parked the car near Mc Donalds and the Metro (subway) stop so we could miss some of the traffic.

We got on the subway in the correct direction, decided we needed to switch from the green to the blue line at the Golden Gate stop and counted stops before we crossed the river so we'd know where we had gotten on so we could find the car again! The subway goes over a bridge over the  Dniper River so you see daylight then, car traffic is often backed up there, but the subway flies along.

We got out at the correct station and instead of walking like we do with the students, we got a taxi (Garry would be walking enough on his bad ankle). Turned out we should have brought the letters that came in the mail about the show, we had to pay 30 griven each to get in (about $1.30 US), but soon we were landyarded up and inside the (very) warm building. By the time we were halfway around the show we were carrying our coats with our brochure collection.

Garry wanted to find a few things there, and was pleased because by the time we'd walked all the booths he'd found pretty much everything he'd been looking for. He found info on drip irrigation, which he is considering for a small field near the irrigation pipe, some cheese making equipment from Israeli (we need to raise more money for that and it would have good to find more than one supplier, but there was one) and a corn planter monitor, which he really wants for next year, they had problems with unplanted rows this year.

Trying to find the field for irrigation on google earth
Watch for more photos from the farm show, I took some on my phone and I have misplaced it in the bedroom.

We had quite the time getting home, rain that was mixing with snow, there were big puddles everywhere on the road; making hard to see the holes in the darkness that fell by the time we were driving more than an hour it seemed... and then  a flat tire.

While they were out fixing the tire, right on the road because it went flat on the causeway just before a bridge, they turned the motor off and the car wouldn't start. They had to inflate the tire and drive to find a better place to change it (turned out it had a nail in), after it rolled off the jack while they were trying to change it. Luckily Garry and I did not have to push the car far in the cold rain before it turned over for Max. Then while they changed the tire in a cafe parking lot, the engine started making a funny noise, it was a problem with the bearing on the pulley for the AC compressor I was told, the guys managed to bang the thing that caused the problem out from the spot that was making it rub on it. Garry said it was a good thing he put some tools in the car and I had my little flashlight in my purse.

The guys were getting wet and cold, so they pumped up the heat and it was slow driving with the rain but soon we were  back to Kremachuk and going through the drive-thru again, they had hamburgers and I had a chocolate pudding orange flavored McPirogue (pie), they are seasonal and unbelievably tasty, if you can believe it. They fry the pies here, so its like when we were kids..  Unfortunately, we had more car trouble in the rain, about 20 minutes later the car engine died and the lights went black. Max pulled all the way off the road, and I hunted in my purse for the flashlight so they could try to get it going again. Turned out the ground cable had snapped on the battery. They pounded on the wire to get the plastic off, after Garry asked if I had a knife in my purse; I said maybe a plastic one from Mc Donalds and they actually used it to finish stripping the wire, they used the tools to remove a bolt and then re-bolt the wire to the frame. We were relieved when the car started up again. The guys were really wet and cold by the time they finished and and they really turned up the heat to warm up and dry out. Garry said every car that went past was hitting a pothole right were we had stopped and it had water in it.

We were even more relieved to make it home around ten pm. Max said he'd take the car in to get fixed in the morning and pick up Masha  to translate for the morning classes (they took both vans, Artome brought her to the village. We had to drive the Mercedes when we left at three pm, Max was still in Zaporosia.

Friday morning we had classes and ate lunch with Masha, then Garry got everyone working in the afternoon before we had to take off for Dnepro for our English classes. We stopped in for Garry's favorite street food around 6 pm (sharuma) and ran into some black guys who were just finishing eating who spoke English. Nine times out of ten, they say they are studying in Dnepro, almost always medical school, but these guys said they were working... they were acrobats in the circus! They would have a performance Saturday at four pm, if we wanted to see them. When we went to the circus years ago with Seth and Jonah here we had seen an acrobat act called the Kenya Boys that we really liked, so Garry said we'd go.

Max Rudei, his wife Yulia and their little girl Vika went with us, and we had a fun time, I even snuck a couple of photos (they announce you can't but who understands Russian... Ukrainian... it's my story, and no, the usher ladies didn't catch me, so I didn't have it use it. We had some cotton candy, which Vika didn't trust, she didn't want to ride a camel or anything during intermission either.

The Kenya Boys- limo with fire 

Blues brothers? trampoline act

intermission when you can pay for your kid to ride a camel or pony
(Vika did pet a camel, but that was it)

or pay to get pictures with the monkey or clown 

trapeze act, good thing they had safety wires they missed once

Lazer and bubble finale

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I almost did a blog post over the weekend

Saturday night
I almost did a blog post over the weekend... really, I did. I always try to put one up over the weekend, definitely one or two a week, but it just never happened. I spent all day Saturday on guests and cooking for the annual school Thanksgiving dinner, which happened that evening. I was in charge of cooking the 8 kilo (16 pound) turkey Garry found to buy at the market on Thursday, plus a couple kilos of turkey breast... just in case it wasn't enough meat. I also made a couple sheet cakes, a salad and two big pans of stuffing, because Garry said it isn't Thanksgiving without stuffing... and then I opened a couple jars of pickles, just in case.

pumpkin pie

Luda at center with some of her girls
However, we had plenty of food since everyone brought potatoes and other side dishes and desserts too. I did forget the camera, so I had to steal a couple photos off of facebook. As you can see we even had flowers on the tables, which Garry made out of some sheets of chipboard and the desks. Everyone had fun, our two wet students were out for the weekend and made an apple pastry with Max's brother Artom at his house that looked beautiful but was black on the bottom. Everyone was saying it tasted wonderful and were laughing at the bottom (and not eating the black part.) Luda made pumpkin pie squares again this year.

The house insulation project continues here at home. They are still putting the insulation on. It tends to be noisy, there's lots of tapping, banging and drill noises.  Garry has finally brought enough home. Yesterday afternoon he managed to get eleven bundles into the van with three bags of glue and all the groceries I'd already bought while he was teaching English. He was going to buy six but the salesman said that if you bought ten you got one free. Garry says then it is the same price as it was before, because the price just went up 10%.

Gas prices have really went up in the last two years, so all of Ukraine seems to be going energy efficient if they have money to do so. Next the stucco will go on and then the color layer, I am guessing Victor will choose white, but we haven't asked yet.
Victor wants to keep some of the Mennonite charm of the house, so we plans to leave the corners of the house brick and maybe restore the shutters on the two front windows.

Monday morning it was so warm outside I wore just my sweater to walk down the street to teach English. This morning it was still warm when I walked down at eight am but it was raining lightly when I finished 50 minutes later.  Polo walked with me as always, he comes in and naps or helps teach English. The students think Polo knows more English than they do.

By midday the rain was coming down in earnest, and it was feeling much cooler out. Some people would say cold. Garry decided to drive Maria back to Zaporosia this afternoon, she was going to take the bus, but was happy to not stand in the rain this afternoon. Her 96 year old grandmother passed away last Thursday and so she's not staying overnight here like most teaching weeks so she can help out at home. Garry drives in and picks her up while I am teaching in the morning so they can teach from 9-11:30. Then we have lunch before the 1:30 bus comes through the village.

Garry wanted to get a piece of plastic pipe to fix his rain collecting system off the house roof so it falls in the cistern, (the original was broken by the insulation crew, I think) and buy more giant band-aids for his leg. Yesterday we had to change it three times, but he says it feels less weepy since I applied antibiotic cream the last couple times we changed it, so hopefully it will be all healed up before I leave for Canada in two weeks.
Even the doves look wet and cold

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cleaning alfalfa seed and other Wednesday things...

Garry was feeling so good Wednesday he spent most of the day out of the house, supervising he claimed, but I suspected working, since his leg felt so good. He wanted me to get some photos of the grad students cleaning the alfalfa seed that they combined at the beginning of September in the field where they left a few acres of alfalfa standing so the bees could make more honey from the blooms.

rubbing it through the screen

separated seed (mostly) falls through the screen
Max found a screen that they could use to make a box to separate the seed from the husks. The students spent the day separating the loose seed from the chaff? husks and bagging it up and then bagging up the husks so they can be cleaned again later to break the remaining seed out so it can be planted in the spring.
the good stuff

big stuff that stays on top

the stuff that will need to be cracked open
the grain storage shed

the work crew got diverted mouse catching
they are going to feed them to their house cats

There is less land to plow up everyday,,,
plowing corn field yesterday afternoon
the old alfalfa field is plowed
We had to go to Dnepro to get Garry's injury checked at the clinic. He had an appointment for four pm.
Pigs going for a ride

a little traffic by the market

 We were there ten minutes before four and out by 4:06. The doctor wanted to wait until Thursday to remove the drain (which did happen today). He is continuing to feel good, the doctor said he can come back on Saturday. The only day we don't need to drive to the city...

Then we had a little dinner in Dnepro before drove down the highway to Kanyatchea - they changed the name from Dneprapajisk - this summer, (Victor tells me his 80 year old mother has always called it that, it was the old name) everywhere in Ukraine they were getting rid of all Soviet references, that's why it's just Dnepro now instead of Dnepropetrovsk and lots of street names have officially changed too.

We had our bi-weekly SEI follow-up group meeting. We read stories from Chicken Soup for the Soul and discuss them and enjoy tea, cookies and candies they provide. There were a few snow flurries just as we arrived and it was a wet, slushy ride home, The snow was collecting a bit as we left the city, and coming down pretty good, but became mixed with rain before we got home in the village.
Leaving the city