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

Friday, June 23, 2017

Still here and there

Our grandson likes to follow daddy on the bench at church softball

I am still in Manitoba for a few more days, been busy with a number of things, getting ready to teach English  a week after I get back, hanging out with the kids and grandkids, rearranging the house.  Three Four (I forgot Max is home from university for the summer) twenty-something guys have strange ideas on ideal living- the kitchen couch is back in front of the stove "where you (they) can sit and watch your (their) food cook."
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This week was the annual French farm tour days, on the first day it started pouring as the picnic lunch was about to be served, so it moved inside the new gym. I helped stuff take home bags on day one- full of promotional items from ag groups. Yesterday the sun shone, so they ate and played outside after learning about dairy farming. Highlights for the kids? Trying to hand milk a cow and feeding calves with bottles.
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The help eats too, I am wearing a purple shirt

Manwhile Garry is busy in Ukraine with his hay (really straw, that's what's going under it) shed building project. There were photos of them making posts in the last blog post. The students were digging  post holes on Wednesday. I heard that they had half the posts up on Thursday and were putting the rest in today. I don't know when they were getting a crane in to lift the rafters in place, but Garry has promised me photos, so I will update this post when I get them.

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Garry in a better field
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The difference between a field that was plowed vs. disced last fall
The better (taller, greener) side was plowed

Meanwhile he is still wanting rain. I was talking to him earlier in the week while a thunderstorm rolled in, but he thought it was going to miss them again, Lightning, thunder and a few big rain drops. He told me that they were going to do something new- fertilize the irrigated corn field by adding it with the water this week.

Apparently there was a good rain last week, but that only fell on half the fields. We have had no significant rain since March he tells me, so the corn fields that did not get rain are looking really bad and the ones that did look good in the morning before the hot sun beats down and curls the leaves. He says the corn is shoulder high in those fields.  Sunflowers look a little better, they are more drought tolerant.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Here and there

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Me with the youngest two granddaughters, 5 and 10 months old
While I have been hanging out with the kids and grandkids, doing the Winnipeg  ALS walk in memory of my mother (5 km with a broken toe- I ran into a coffee table two days before), going to Havilah's ninth birthday party and watching the boys play church softball, Garry has been busy in Ukraine.

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoorSunday he was helping with testing for the Summer English Institute, he is still buying that used 9 passenger van (I saw an email with a red one, but I haven't heard if that is the one yet) and picking and freezing the peas while I am gone.

Apparently now that first cut hay is done, they are working on building the hay straw shed. The rafters were built when the building team was here in April, but he had been too busy with planting, spraying and school to get the poles up for the shelter. It looks like the students are nailing boards together to make the posts in these photos, and painting the bottoms that go in the ground.

 This year there will be no straw pyramid over at the new barn, the bales won't get rained (if it does rain) or snowed on, and will be better quality. We actually feed a good deal of straw in some of the rations, so its good to not get spoiled by moisture.
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Thursday, June 15, 2017


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I am guessing that the rain did not amount to much, since it looks like they finished baling the last three loads of alfalfa from this photo Garry put on facebook. That's (from Left) Anton, who joined us in March to learn about dairy farming- he was with another Christian organization that had cows, but didn't know how to care for them. At center- Max Rudei and his youngest brother Artom, who is the main tractor driver and in red Nikolai, one of our grads, who has become the skid steer operator, and normally cleans the freestall barn with it every afternoon. There were a large number of current students and grads loading wagons and unloading hay into the mow of the old barn this past week, including Karina, Leila and Vika, along with many of the guys.

He told me that there were three more to do Tuesday morning when it was raining before I flew out of Kiev, and there are three in the photo. I have not talked to him since I left Ukraine. The internet is not great here at the farm and I have not gotten through when I tried to phone.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rain and refreshment

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We found a canola field full of poppies on the drive
We seem to be suffering through one of the driest springs since we started farming in Ukraine. Normally it is July before I start writing about the lack of rain. Garry keeps telling me I don't need photos because the fields look so bad. Although a really good rain would really help the crops recover and get growing...  without one soon we could be looking at one of those total crop failure years, with the exception of the irrigated corn field, which would become silage to feed the cows over the winter. He says the first sunflower field they planted looks pretty good, but really shows the need for some water in the lower leaves now. The last field is not bad, it came up better than some of the others because Garry reset the planter to plant deeper- where the moisture still was -to sprout more of the seed.
The wheat is ripening, the fields are looking more yellow than green now; and the barley field will become hay sometime soon too. The corn and sunflower fields are sprayed for weeds, so we have spent a pile of money, and are hoping, wishing and praying for rain, so it's not all for naught.

Yesterday it was raining in the morning when I talked to Garry but he described it as little more than a sprinkle with a couple hours of light rain. What he needs it the gully washer thunderstorm we saw in Berdansk over the weekend when we were at the sea for our English Bible study retreat. We had a lovely time of retreat and getting into God's word with a lot of food and a little sunburn mixed in.
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When I arrived in Manitoba last night for my two weeks at home, it was in the middle of a thunderstorm, and it poured for the entire two hours Seth drove me home, with huge puddles in the roads. Wish I could send it your way Garry. Of course I woke up about three hours after getting to sleep after not getting much sleep on the 17 hours in planes plus the overnight train the night before to get to Kiev, so I have borrowed Jonah's computer, which seems to have moved into my living room, to finally update the blog.

I had planned to write one in the couple hours I was in the village before leaving, but we drove to Dnepro about two hours after getting back so Garry could pick up the rest of the car money at the bank. Someone is looking for the used van in Denmark, I think, that Garry wants to buy and he should be driving it by the time I am back in Ukraine. It will be a nine seater, to drive students places.

Meanwhile, Garry Victor and Max were busy with a different harvest yesterday, the first honey harvest of the year. They were working in Victor's new honey room.
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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Irrigation, hay and other farming news

Bales that went up into the mow around noontime
As you can see, this week we are in the midst of haying season. Today more loads of alfalfa went up into the barn.

Last week they were baling the wheat (I was wrong they did not make it into silage). It was a bit tricky to bale up, it was slippery and broke a number of bales the first day as the strings were being tied.

Garry will be up and out on the tractor in the morning, raking hay so they they can bale tomorrow.
Garden getting a good soaking
 We have had the sprinkler going on the garden again the last two days, I picked a few Chinese peas pods we ate on Monday, and I should have more to pick and turn into stir fry tomorrow (Wednesday). If you are wondering Maria planted the onion rows in the center of the garden.You can see her six potato plants the regrew after the frost.  We had several rows that finally sprouted beets and carrots after we watered it a week ago.

The water was turned on for the corn field last week. It was not on when we stopped on Sunday but I got a couple photos.

The black things are filters, they are cleaned out everyday. They keep dirt out of the system that could plug them up.

Garry says some of the other corn fields are looking a little wilted since we still have not gotten more than a sprinkle in the last month. It could very well mean that this could be the only corn we harvest this year if it doesn't rain soon.

 Garry wanted to see if the field had gotten wet enough to got more corn to grow in the field and was very pleased to see some more corn has popped up in some of the bare spots in the field. The ground was just too dry to sprout the corn.
Look baby corn up!

The green is the top honey maker now
 Today Victor and Garry tended bees for a while. First they prepared more frames to put in the boxes since they were running low. They have to put new wires in the wooden frames to hold the sheets of beeswax.
I brought their soup outside to eat under the trees, as they were finishing the frames, and we reminisced about how we ate outside all the time the first summer were were here in 2009.

Bee water station
After we ate, I carried stuff inside and they tended the hives. Garry got a bee sting for the second time this spring, a bee got in the glove he was wearing!

They tried to start a new hive today with some not yet hatched frames of workers and a queen from the busy green gang. They also checked the other hives and were happy to report that the bees that Garry and Max caught have settled in and the queen is laying now.

When Victor checked the yellow box that they left, he reported that the new queen is not fertilized and laying eggs yet. He says they will check on them again next week to see how they are progressing.
Garry's own hive and the dark green one they captured

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Bee days

 As you have seen in the blog, we have been expanding the honey business this year, Peter built new bee boxes when he was here with the cheese building team.

A few weeks ago the new bees arrived that Victor had ordered and were put into the new boxes.

Victor is out here several times a week tending the bees, and recently he got a book to wrote down details about each hive, so he could remember what they do. He says that is what his father did. His father was the beekeeper on the collective that Victor grew up in. One of the things he does when he checks on each box is hunt for the queen and look for extra queens and remove them. It is always interesting to see him and Garry trying to spot the queen in the piles of bees crawling around as they pull out frames from the boxes and then slide them back in.

A few days ago Garry and Max caught the swarm, as seen in the most recent post. Victor thinks they did come out of the first box in the line, the yellow one, but not the group that took off earlier. He says we have to wait two weeks to see if the queen of the new group starts laying eggs.

 The yellow box has no queen at the moment, Victor says there is a new one getting ready to hatch out, so the hive that had been making lots of honey is stopped and waiting for their new queen to emerge and start laying eggs.

Since they are hoping to prevent more swarms escaping, on Wednesday morning Garry helped Victor move the busy green group from their old box into one of the new ones with a second story on top. They had stored lots of honey like the yellow group had before they swarmed. The way it works, the queen stays in the bottom box laying eggs in the frames and is prevented from going to the top, the top box is where the workers make honey, and the beekeeper moves the frames as needed to keep things in balance.

Garry has found a bigger shirt to wear for beekeeping
Garry has been learning all about beekeeping  from Victor and has even got his own hive to take care of. He gave his a second story, even though though he says they are not quite ready for it yet.

Wednesday morning before Victor came he was getting frames ready to go into boxes, putting new wires into the old cleaned wooden ones, so they can put new wax sheets in them.

Garry was watering the fruit trees while he was working, because we are still really dry. Tuesday we had a few drops of rain as there were thunderstorms around us, but we missed getting enough rain to do any good.

After they finished with the bees they saw this hedgehog coming to get a drink where the water drips from the connection pipe in the yard.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Catching bees

Tuesday Garry was back on the tractor while I was in and out of the house watering the garden. I kept having students show up looking for Garry, they couldn't seem to get their heads around the fact he was out in the field. He did get finished mowing hay by one pm, and Artom finished spraying the rest of the wheat so he could get back to driving tractor instead of Garry on Wednesday morning.

Garry had a few things to do in the afternoon, meeting with a pastor friend of our new translator, out under the walnut trees. That's right we have hired a new translator, Nellya, a single lady closer to our age, we hope she will be able to be a group home parent as well, because Luda decided to leave us to start over in western Ukraine with her adult children.

Garry had noticed a lot of bees flying around while he was outside (with the new hives there are more around) but around four o'clock he came in the house, because he had found a swarm of bees on one of the apple trees in the yard.  He was upset that he couldn't call Victor because his phone book had somehow disappeared on his new phone, he only had a couple of numbers, and none of the important ones.

Max cutting the branch they were on
Luckily I figured out how to find Victor's number (I have only Garry on my phone, and we gave my other phone to Nellya to use a few days ago, she didn't have a cell) I turned off airplane mode which was on, and then it was there. I hurried after Garry who was ready to go with Max and get them, so he could phone for more guidance on catching them.

Here are some photos I took with my phone of them catching the bees, Victor will be out today to see them, we are wondering if it is the rogue group that broke away with the old queen from the yellow box that he had noticed the day before while checking the bee hives. That box had a new young queen in now.

Garry and Max were in the protective bee hats, shirts and gloves and had a pail of water and a little Ukrainian broom, Victor had told them to wet the bees to calm them and had a ladder and the rechargeable circular saw to cut the branch off the bees were on. They had the old green box that was empty to put them in under the tree (that was the one the hive that died over the winter was in).

sprinkling water

 First Max climbed the ladder and used the broom to sprinkle water on the bees, then he used the saw to cut the branch and held onto it at the same time. Then he handed it off to Garry, while a small clump of bees fell off on the ground, but he stuck the branch on the box and got as many bees in as possible.

Handing over the bee branch
into the box

 The audience they had gotten of people working in the yard had moved further away when the branch came down (the cats stuck around) and the bees were buzzing around but they got most of the them in and closed most of the top of the box, they left a hole that the rest of the bees used to join them.

Twenty minutes later, all the bees had settled down in their new home. We left the box there on the ground. Victor phoned back after seeing the photos on facebook to say they should be moved around dark. Around eight pm, as dusk was falling I helped Garry move the box into line with the rest of the bee boxes, so all the hives will have safe traffic patterns home.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Still working on irrigation set up

It's Monday (and now Tuesday) and Max is still welding bits and pieces of the irrigation system together, I am not sure when we will have the water on out there. Apparently some parts that were screwed together leak a lot so he is improving it.

The only rain over the weekend lasted about 10 minutes early Saturday afternoon, there were some puddles on the road because it poured for five minutes, but the garden is so dry I put the sprinkler back on it this afternoon. This morning we realized some seeds that had never come up finally sprouted after we watered it well a couple days ago. Garry and I hand weeded the last section of garden and found tiny carrots and beets up under the weeds.
 The peas are just starting to bloom today. I replanted part of my green bean row, they came up last week but about six feet has no beans up, with one lonely plant at the end of the row. I ended up with 8000 steps on my fitbit Monday and that was just cleaning house and gardening!

The black parts are the filters
Sunday evening I got some photos of the irrigation line work in the field with my cell phone around 6 pm.

 The little drip lines all need to be attached to the big hoses. However the special tool they ordered to do this did not work very well, if I understood correctly (sorry no one translated for me, so I sometimes guess the parts I don't understand).

We had gone out there after our tour left. (I only got one photo that afternoon, but I downloaded some from them to show you),
 They had a good time, I think, some drove here in private cars, but most came in a bus his English school hired for the day. They were earlier that we expected, so I was not quite ready so Garry did a little village tour down to the classroom while I cooked the last hamburgers and put them in the oven to stay warm and set up the cheese room tables for our salad master class.

We did the classic American potato salad they had requested, plus my favorite coleslaw, they sliced cabbage and were surprised to add chopped apples and mayonnaise with orange juice. Several told me that they never have cabbage salad that is sweet like this, but they liked it.

 Garry and some helpers started a fire and cooked some hot dogs and brought out the burgers, fixings and tuna macaroni salad to the cheese house and everyone lined up to fix their plates and eat. After that most of the group walked over to the barn with Garry to see the cows milking and pet the calves.

 When they returned it was make your own ice cream sundaes in the shade under the trees and then the hands on brownie making class for those interested (more than for salads) while Garry showed his bees to some of the others.

Then they got to eat some brownies I baked in the morning, I went inside to start baking, with some cleanup volunteers (I had a couple help clean up the meal while the rest went to the barn, too). They played some games in the yard before leaving. We are still eating brownies, that they mixed up since they left before they were done.

We had so much leftover food that Garry invited the guys in the field to come eat when they were done. I had gone to bed before they arrived around 9 pm, but Garry did all the work (I got up and helped find things in the fridge as it was jammed with leftovers). They had microwaved hot dogs and lots of salads, followed by ice cream sundaes and brownies.

Since Max is busy trying to get the irrigation set up finished and Artom is spraying the wheat again, Garry spent Monday mowing wheat (not all of it, they are leaving some for harvest, that is what Artom is spraying) and then fixing the  PTO on the tractor so he could mow more. They don't think anyone else is up to the job of mowing, apparently both tractor's PTOs are damaged from trying to grind wet hay in the TMR. He is missing a skid off the mower, which was making it more difficult to mow, no one is sure when it fell off, and they don't know if they can get one in Ukraine. This morning (Tuesday)  he hopes to finish with the wheat, then he will mow more hay down.
 He also bred cows for people in the morning before mowing and after he got back, but he said if he had realized that would take an hour to do it he would have said no, he was so tired when got back to the house after ten! He did say at least they had a nice car to ride in. On Sunday besides (or between?) church and the English school tour he bred six cows, two in our barn and four for other people. It's the season with all the village cows having gone out to pasture a couple weeks ago.

There's the guard house that Dima was improving on
The first year guys were impressed with taking turns staying in the little house overnight for the new guard job in the field to watch the irrigation equipment, we'll see how long that lasts (the excitement, not the job, it will be all summer). Garry gave Dima the job of fixing  up the "house" in the yard (it was one Victor's father had used for staying by the bee hives) but he improved so much, adding a wooden floor and actual glass in the windows; that Garry was worried it would be too heavy to load up to take to the field!