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

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The weekend

Friday morning Garry was busy trying to get the corn planter working correctly. He is not impressed with that monitor he bought this winter that he found at the farm show in Kiev, it does say whether it is planting seed, but not most of the other things one in Canada would about what is going wrong with the planting. One box was planting it's row of corn very, very deep until he fixed it yesterday. He's not sure it it come up, hopefully it was not doing it for all the fields! They are almost done with the corn planting, except for the field that will be irrigated.

Sunflowers will be planted next, the temperature has risen to a low of 10 C (50 F) and  high of 24 (75) now, I planted a big part of the garden in the last two days. Lots of beets and carrots, if we don't eat them, the students will. Some Ukrainians are even running around in their shirtsleeves and shorts. The older ladies are not, they are still wearing coats.

Saturday morning Garry was over at the barn, checking on milking and collecting some of the extra milk so he could make cheese. He was hoping to get milk that was still warm so he wouldn't have to warm it up before making cheese, but they had already cooled it in the milk tank.

Just before seven am, I heard a commotion out on the street and realized that the village herd was going out to the field for the first day. I snapped a couple of photos of the people and cows through the front window. As you can see, the cherry tree is blooming in the front yard.

Since Garry was busy with the planter yesterday morning, he did not get the Mercedes into Zaporosia to get the alternator fixed. We had to cancel our meeting for SEI at 7 pm, since it ends after dark and we can't run the van with the lights on until it's fixed. However, we needed to go to the bank and Garry had his other class to teach.

Box posing with the phone
He also bought a new phone with Victor's help, it's his first smart phone. The last phone he bought about 6 months ago broke. It is making a big black spot on the screen now (and was never very good anyway, it was always turning off in his pocket). The salesman tried to get him to buy a J5, but I talked him into the basic Samsung model. He's still figuring out how to operate it.

 Tonight Karina and Vika stopped in, apparently Karina's phone broke, so Garry said she could use his old one until she can save up for a new one. She helped him do some stuff on his new phone, after we switched it to Russian from English.

This morning Garry spent most of the morning making cheese, it went better than Wednesday night, and it was bigger, he had 80 liters of milk instead of 20.

buckets of milk all over the kitchen turning into curds and whey

There's the curds

I planted several rows in the garden while he was spilling milk and whey all over the kitchen... I mean making cheese.

We needed to leave for Dnepro by 12:30 because Garry had to drop me off to teach my English classes before he went to his. Before the Ford burned I would drop him off and then come back before he was finished with his classes; but today we had a new plan, I took the bus back to the center of the city where his class is with the help of the teachers at the school to find the right bus and where to catch it.
It was a little slower than driving- 45 minutes instead of 15, but it worked,(and only cost 25 cents) and for the second time we were home long before sunset.

Both days we had to turn the lights on as we approached the police checkpoint, and shut them off after so we didn't get pulled over. Only one more day and the October to May daylight headlights on the highway law is over for another year. We had retrofitted the Ford to turn the lights on when it started, but the Mercedes does not have that feature. The students who go to the evening school in the afternoon, remember to ask him if they are on after they got stopped 3 of 4 times at the checkstop one week with Garry driving them.

Box never touches food on the table, but water from a vase of flowers is irresistible. She dips her paw in and licks the water off.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Some days

 Looking at this beautiful cake we got on Monday night for visiting an English class in Dnepro you'd think all was right with our world here in Ukraine. We help people, everyone is appreciative and even give us gifts.

The sun is shining, last week's snow has melted, today the guys were even able to get back in the fields... but it's not always wonderful.

Thursday evening is when we go to Zaporosia for our English small group meeting, and we are planning to go tonight, if the Mercedes is working. It wouldn't start earlier today, so Garry was trying to fix it for the second time this week. If Max was here, he'd fix it, but he's on that well deserved holiday in Turkey until Sunday (we have heard that they are having a good time there.) Yeah, March 30th when the van burned wasn't a good day either. We are hoping to get a replacement sometime soonish.

Garry came into the house yesterday and said that there was two days of hay left in the mow to feed and two weeks of corn silage. While he was in Canada for two months for his ankle surgery, someone changed the ration and fed way too much corn silage for it to last, so they have been feeding brewers grain and more hay to the cows. Now it looks like they will be getting fresh cut alfalfa to eat in their TMR for a while.

Garry had planted oats early this spring as a cover crop with the new alfalfa seeding, mostly so it could be cut for silage to replace the corn silage, but it looks like all the first cut hay will be feed fresh or as hay before the oats are ready to cut. If you are wondering, yes, they did plant that seed they harvested from the alfalfa fields last year when they left some flowers for the bees, Max bought some additional seed from the place where they got it cleaned, because it wasn't quite enough to plant the field.

The oats were affected a bit by the snow, but it should grow out of it, a week after the 8 inches of snow and the temperature is back to 20 C (72 F) and rising. The mature alfalfa fields were 6 inches high before the snow, so there should be some to start cutting anyway. There are 63 cows milking at the moment, and nearly 60 dry cows and big bred heifers that Garry and some of the students chased over to the barnyard by the free stall barn for the summer from the barn here. Now there are just some small heifers left in this barn.

 We should be milking 150 cows by fall. That is part of the reason we are running out of stored feed this spring, there are more cows than last year, and they did not make more corn silage than the summer before (and they used too much to feed heifers while Garry was gone). You can be sure that next summer they will make twice as much.

The 63 cows are making 1100 liters of milk a day, and it being spring, the price is dropping. The milk buyers say they can take the extra milk, but only if they pay less. One milk buyer has fallen way behind in how much she has paid for the milk she takes- like a couple hundred dollars, which does not help when we are paying all our normal expenses plus buying seed, fertilizer and fuel to run the tractors for spring planting. Thanks to CMRF we are planting one 20 hectare corn field with drip irrigation lines this spring, so we'll have one good field even if   when it doesn't rain this summer.

The cheese plant equipment is not quite ready to use yet, Max was working on welding the big vat last week. It will be helpful to have the option to process the excess milk into cheese instaed of dropping the price to sell all the milk. Yesterday evening Garry and Victor used 20 liters of milk to make a practice batch of cheese in my kitchen. Victor stayed over because he was teaching beekeeping today.

fresh cheese

Beekeeping class was today after I taught English (last week we decided to have English every week, so 8 classes in two weeks instead of 4). .

No one got stung (except Victor after the students left)

In Victor's honey room
The peas and spinach I planted in the garden with Marcie before we went to Egypt are up and it looks like every seed sprouted. The onions Maria (Masha ) planted in a square in the center of the garden while we were gone are up too.

That's the other thing that happened yesterday, Maria told him she was leaving that night with Samson (Kolya) the student she fell in love with while we were gone for Christmas. The day before he thought she might leave over the summer since they wanted to get married. She has promised to come translate for his classes for the rest of the year (next month), but she was Garry's assistant and did a lot of the student and staff communication and planning for many parts of the program, and was the contact person for new students and organizations for us. So we are trying with Victor's help to get things organized. Two weeks ago, Garry had to let a group home parent go, so we need to fill two positions over the summer.

But, hey, the sun is shining and the big May 1 holiday is on Monday. We are even taking two days off from school like the rest of the country. One of the students worked up a schedule for work today (one of Masha's jobs). He did miss my English class doing it, but its a start, I guess.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sunday after Easter

 This morning I decided not to take my camera, then I realized it was the Sunday after Easter, so I got my phone turned on to get some pictures as we drove out of the village.

We saw people on foot and cars parked by the cemetery. There had been a burial the day before, but that's not why all the people were there.

Luckily almost all the snow we saw when we drove in on Friday has melted. There is still some in ditches and in the shade on the edge of fields, but now it looks green instead of white.
As we got to Dnepro (we were going to Morningstar this Sunday) there were more cars parked on the shahzah (street) as we entered the city.

The Sunday after Easter is when Ukrainians visit the cemeteries to visit their family graves. They bring food, candy and drinks to leave on the grave,

Often they have a picnic meal at the gravesite, in fact, some have permanent  tables and benches for this reason.

 Since we were early for church and nearby we went for a walk in the big cemetery with our student Masha, who came with us to the city today.

We saw some large memorials, most were recent, but a few dated to Soviet times. I discreetly snapped a couple photos with my phone. That means I did not take one of the family with their meal spread out on the table at one gravesite we passed.

There were vendors selling real and plastic flowers and other things people might want on the way in.

We saw an Orthodox priest walking around with a group of people. Victor thinks this day is an Orthodox tradition. Someone once told Garry that this is the day that the dead can taste vodka, so some is poured onto many gravesites.
Plates with food and drink with the flowers 

picnic table at this site

Many orphans used to run in and take the food off the gravesites, it was one of the best days of the year, we've been told.

After the service we were introduced to a new English speaking family, originally from Poland, I think.

After a quick lunch of sharma at the bus station enroute to the English class we were visiting, we spent and hour talking about storms and trying tongue twisters.

Then we raced off to meet another new English speaking couple for coffee and tea at a cafe. At 5:30 we were off for one more stop to buy a new meat grinder to get that hamburger made and frozen after a few false starts yesterday,

Masha had quite the day out, and she really enjoyed it but she complained everyone was speaking English.

 It was well worth buying the new meat grinder. I was finished before midnight.
Then I did this blogpost... good night!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Video of building project

Click on the bird picture to go to the trade school blog and check out a 3 minute long video of our recent build,

Friday, April 21, 2017

Still cold

Still cold out there, just below freezing at night, just above during the day. Thursday morning I took a few pics as I walked to class.

It was cold enough that the puddles had ice on them and the snow crunched underfoot.

The spring flowers look frozen, and the flowers have fallen off the fruit trees, the cherries were just starting to bloom, the apricots had been blooming for a week or more.

Andrey may be regretting his recent haircut as he walks to work

I was a little worried when this dog snuck up behind me barking on my walk, I yelled at him and backed up for a good twenty paces before taking this photo and continuing to school.

After class someone must have put him where he belonged, I did not see him. By that time (9 am) it had warmed up a little and water was running across the road in places.

Not sure they believed we were having our regular test after cancelling classes
on Wednesday but we did!

Later  in the day we drove into Zaporosia and the highway had been plowed, most of the snow in the city had melted already by evening. There were some branches on the ground in places. Apparently, the road we normally take out to the highway was not open on Wednesday, it still had some piles of snow for Garry to drive through, since it was one-laned in places.

Friday morning more snow and rain was turning the village into a slushy mess.One of the neighbors stopped in, it turns out we are the last house going down the street with power. Ours came on Wednesday afternoon, their house is getting cold on the third day without power. We ran an extension cord over so they can run the circulating pump on their gas heat.

 Looks like we have a few stray village dogs in the farm lane and I think I see why, someone has dragged away one of the cow bones.

11:15 am, we'll be heading into Dnepro soon, Garry is supposed to see the doctor and we have our English classes tonight. Still wet and snowy out.

9:30 pm. Back home. On the way into Dnepro it was snowing hard at times- like someone was throwing snowballs from on high. Lots of branches and some trees down in the city. It was slushy everywhere when we got into the city, traffic was moving slower than normal.  Some places the snow is mostly gone, but some minor streets had big piles on the road yet.
Eventually, around four pm it stopped raining and or snowing, and it was quite foggy for most of the drive back to the village.

The doctor seemed to think Garry's foot was normal for the surgery recovery, but they are going to try a couple things to help with the numbness and swelling, and do an ultrasound next week.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Snow and other problems

Tuesday I went along with Garry after lunch to take the second year students to "evening school" in the afternoon. Victor is working on our Ukrainian resident documents and wanted us to come along to the office with him in downtown Dnepro in case they wanted to see us.

Right after we ate our chicken pot pie for lunch with Maria, Garry got a phone call and had to go over to the "new" barn to breed a couple cows before going to Dnepro.

While he was gone to the farm, there was a knock on the door, it was Victor Penner with a Canadian Mennonite tour group. I explained that we needed to leave soon, but we talked for a few minutes and took some photos (one man on the tour from Alberta is a reader of this blog) and we discovered their interpreter was Maria's teacher, so they took one of them too. I handed out my info sheet I printed up last fall when we had a number of tour groups. Sorry to say I forgot to ask if anyone wanted to use the bathroom while they were here, and it was too muddy to take them for a quick barn tour.

When Garry returned he had Leila with him, he had picked her up walking this way in the rain which was mixing with snow. We put the water jugs in the van to fill in Dnepro.

 Garry was listing off all the things he needed to buy while we were in Dnepro to fix things at the farm and a hot water heater for the boys house (they have three- one for each bathroom and one sprang a leak, likely from the salty well water). We stopped and picked up the rest of the students by the "new house".

We drove to Dnepro in the rain which was mixing with bigger snow flakes and ice pellets and dropped the students off for classes. Julia (some of the grads go to get the better diplomas too) reminded Garry that they would be done at 4 not 4:30.

The wall we sat in front of for an hour or so
Then we phoned Victor and drove downtown to meet him. We ended up sitting in the office while Victor went into cabinets (offices) and back out to get one more thing copied for about an hour and a half or so- the last time he had to run back to a bank that had issued both receipts for payment in Garry's name instead of one for each of us. Victor kept our documents now there is one more office he needs to visit before everything is done.

We then drove back to pick up the students and even went inside where they were in the computer room. The snow was starting to stick. Garry decided he could get all the stuff he needed and fill the water jugs on Wednesday when he went back to Dnepro. Victor had made him an appointment for an x-ray and doctor visit for his ankle.

Garry bought a bunch of bananas so everyone had one to eat on the way home- only fair because they had fed us"jack" cookies on the way there. They come in wrappers- chocolate covered wafer cookies, the students think it's funny because they have the same name as Jack Stefanyk from BC.

When we woke up in the morning there was no electricity in the village and a lot of snow. About eight inches of wet snow. I don't think the tour group went to Molachansk today. All over the Dnepro- Zaporosia regions there were down trees, heavy snow and no power because of down lines.

Garry went over to the new barn to breed a cow around six am and didn't come back until noon. The snow continued to fall for most of the morning.

There was no electricity for the first time at the barn and the plan to milk with the generator and vacuum from a tractor did not work as they had hoped. They ended up milking ten cows and then turning off the system to drain the milk out and then repeating it again with the next ten cows.

 Since the highways were covered in half a foot or more of snow, no milk buyers came either, so they had an overflowing milk tank by the end of the day.

Garry also discovered his cow that he'd found with a DA that had looked better yesterday after they rolled her over on Monday to untwist her stomach was looking worse, so they decided to slaughter her. That's why he was carrying a cow leg with Max when he came in the door at 12:30.

 The sun came out in the afternoon, but Garry did not go to the doctors as planned, he spent most of the afternoon with Max trying to fix things at the barn.

We didn't think it would happen today, but the power was restored by late afternoon, around 4:30. Yana with Karina and Julia's help were separating milk to make cream and cottage cheese out of some of the excess milk.

Tomorrow I'll be grinding and freezing hamburger meat.