Monday, June 30, 2008
But also make no mistake; we still have some animal management practices that can arguably be criticized, and individuals that function outside the accepted rules for animal care. Animal welfare in Canada is regulated and improving. There are federal and provincial regulations for transportation, management and humane slaughter. There are local chapters of the humane society with inspectors, and in our case the Farm Animal Council (FACS). However, all are based on the premise that animals can be used for food, for work, in recreation and for companionship, which the animal rightists challenge as being unacceptable by their lights. It is more than vegetarianism; it puts animal’s rights on the same plain as those for human protection in the most advanced societies.
And, make no mistake, the objective of these well funded activists; supported by a gullible public which believes their false publicity, will not stop short of total disruption of our livestock industries. Governments are helpless to halt them except when they commit violent crimes. But you and me, we can expose and denounce their false message
Your feedback is welcome. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. C.M "Red" Williams, Prof. Emeritus
Department of Animal & Poultry Science
University of Saskatchewan
6D34 Agriculture Building
51 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A8
*reprinted with permission
Saturday, June 28, 2008
First of all there are far fewer of them in Ukraine and it is more of a challange. Secondly perhaps they need someone to notice them, too.
In Dnipropetrovsk yesterday I saw three.
Friday, June 27, 2008
From TAKO to DAFI is easy to drive, regardless of traffic. All right hand turns. From DAFI to TAKO is impossibly difficult even in light traffic. I loaded my stuff in the wheelbarrow and pushed it out the door, headed for the car, much to the delight of the sales clerks and Tanya's chagrin, (I did offer her a ride). Tanya followed about 10 minutes behind so no one would ever guess we were together. Though she wished she had a camera.
She has been laughing at me ever since and has told everyone the story.
She also wants to know why $100 is a good price for MY wheelbarrow but too much for HER shoes.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Our marriage is full of love and laughter. We tease each other mercilessly. We are never too busy for a kiss or a hug. “I Love You” in either language is promptly returned. I promised to keep her in roses, champagne and chocolate. Roses have been replaced with annuals and perennials for the garden and innumerable houseplants. We have dropped the champagne for Inkerman (Crimean) wine and she tells me I am better than chocolate. I don’t even care if she is lying.
The funny thing is that each of us loves the physical characteristic the other hates about themselves. Anyone who has seen a side profile of me knows I have Dunlop’s Disease. My broad mind and narrow waist changed places years back. I wear the same size pants “as I did in University” but no one has seen my belt buckle in decades. I hate it. Tanya says it is good for a man to have a Puzik (belly). (Tummy rumbles are called puzik muzik) She says it makes me look good and she pats it and calls it soft names in Russian.
On the other hand, she worries that her Popochka (butt) is too big. As far as I am concerned unless it is two axe handles, three cans of tomatoes and a plug of chewing tobacco wide, a good behind is never too big. She is about 1½ plugs of tobacco shy of two axe handles so I think hers is wonderful. I pat her popochka in public which makes her want to kill me.
So we are in Kansas Clothing Store in ZV to buy some summer clothes. They bring me a couple of shirts size 6X (European size). Buttoned and held out flat they look as wide as the mainsail on Captain Hornblower’s ship-of-the-line. When I put them on, they fit. Snug.
Tanya finds a pair of beige shorts she likes and wants to know if they have them in her size. I spot a rack of girls’ blue-jean shorts. The first pair has no leg at all. Cut off square with the seam. Young teenagers in this style look all legs, like a young foal. I ask the sales girl if she has those in Tanya’s size…
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Kryvyi Rih is a huge iron mining and smelting centre with non-ferrous metals as well. If you want to see the extent of the mines, mills and smelters, Google Earth will give you an idea at Latitude 47°54'30.32"N; Longitude 33°24'24.32"E. Then kind of scroll around.
Saturday Andrei, Tanya and I drove to Kryvyi Rih to buy a deep freeze. Which is to say Andrei drove. KR is the most confusing city as it has only one street that runs the length of the city but it is not continuous. You have to know where the turns are and of course there are no street signs. The first stop was a wholesale store for shops and restaurants. They had several deep freezers but they were the sliding glass top kind for ice cream etc.
Then we went to several large stores which sold stoves, fridges, washers, etc. Only one stand alone freezer, a small upright with drawers and shelves. So we bought a paper and found another wholesale company that had several chest type freezers. But it was 2:00 pm and they were closed for the day. Come back Monday. So we did. Andrei and I drove back today, which is to say, I drove and he navigated. 2650 UAH for a 6 cu ft (215 litre) chest freezer. In Canadian dollars it was just over $600. Don’t tell me what it cost in Canada because I don’t want to know.
The high water has disrupted other habitat. The local pharmacist was telling Tanya that her folks have a house by the river/marsh. The other day her father got up and saw, curled up by his wife in the bed and both sound asleep, a snake from the marsh. He took the snake back to the marsh only to have it return and curl up under the refrigerator. All it wanted was a warm place to sleep.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
We needed a microwave. Tanya said it should have only two buttons: "Make Hot" and "Open Door". I found the ideal unit for her and brought it home.
It had many bells and whistles including a heating element along with three or four coloured buttons for various functions that no one ever uses so why they add them I have no clue.
If you ignored the junk, it was simple. One big button/knob. One push for 30 seconds, two for 60 and so on. It starts automatically when the button is pushed. The door has a handle and no button to push to open. If you want to get accurate, you can turn the knob and time increases in 5 second intervals but then you have to push the button to start it.
And just for me, it has a reminder bell every 60 seconds after it stops heating, until you open the door. No more thrice-heated and still-cold cups of coffee. Life is good.
Lynniec is currently in California on business but I KNOW she will email me when she gets back and tell me all about her trip. She is researching crime stories for a Regina-based TV production company. This apparently includes lunching with FBI agents and visiting Alcatraz. Cool. The Rock! USA has Alcatraz. We have Newfoundland. We win.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Hayfield June 2nd, Raking and Stacking June 7th
Haycocks and Hayrack June 13
Friday, June 13, 2008
Never ask your wife what is the Russian word for “pumpkin” when she is wearing an orange house dress with green trim.
I hate traffic circles or roundabouts. They scare me. I am never sure what to do as I am never sure what everyone else will do. Virtually every where in the world, anyone entering must give way to traffic already on the roundabout if there is a risk of collision. That maintains an uninterrupted flow of traffic as much as possible.
However, where people drive on the right-hand side of the road (i.e. normal places, not Great Britain, Australia, or Japan) people entering the roundabout are on the right and people in the roundabout are on the left. It is a universal driving rule that drivers on the left yield to drivers on the right at uncontrolled intersections. Unless there are yield signs at the entrance to the roundabout, it is a series of uncontrolled intersections and left hand yield rules. In Ukraine there are no yield signs, of course, so traffic in the circle must yield to incoming traffic. I am going to get killed.
Russian Proverb (from Tanya)
A woman with a steering wheel is like a monkey with a hand grenade (i.e. you know what is going to happen, just not where or when). Personally, I fit that proverb too. Especially in Ukraine.
Yesterday we went to Dnipropetrovs'k to shop. Stayed over at Lena and Roman’s and came back today. We have had four days of +30º weather and the crops look great. Some of the wheat and barley is starting to turn and Tanya says the combines will roll in about three weeks. The canola is done flowering and all podded out. Most winter crops are tall thick and even boding well for a bumper harvest at least in this area. Early sunflowers are over half a meter tall and late planted are at least 15 cm. Corn is 20 to 30 cm and with this heat should really take off.
Tanya and I went first to METRO which is a Costco like store that requires a membership card to get in. As it turned out, only companies registered in Ukraine are eligible for this membership. There is one other company like it called MegaMart. Guess what? They gave us a day pass to Metro, even though my “company” is Canadian registered. A retailer turn down money? Never! But like any other “bargain” store, you better know your prices. We bought a few groceries and a few things for the house.
AND AN ELECTRIC GRINDER!! I now have two (count them, TWO) power tools having acquired a drill last fall for my birthday. No more rasping away with a file trying to keep the hoes or shovels sharp. And no jokes about dull hoes, please, though I think it was Janis Joplin who said “You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.”
Then we went to TAKO which is our favourite Home Depot like place and filed up the rest of the car with “stuff” for the house. More garden hose, more pots for more plants, two more chairs for our front steps/deck/patio.
Today we went to Rainford, a big grocery store and found Brown Sugar for about $9 per kg so bought two. The clerk wanted to know what it was used for so I said for cookies and puddings and such. Next, I have to find baking soda and molasses. Our last stop was at DAFI (the Dolphin) Mall for lean ground beef.
We also found gelatin (like CERTO) for all the jams we have to put up this season, starting tomorrow. We had previously bought 75 kg of sugar in readiness for production. We already did 8 litres of strawberry jam. We bought 48 jars (700 ml) on the way home. Tomorrow we pick cherries as our trees are loaded with red cherries and black or sour cherries.
Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy…?
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The problem in some peoples’ minds is the percentage of the national vote and the number of seats won does not usually correspond. This is because Canada is a multi-party country. We have the Natural Government of Canada (NGC), the Conservative Reform Alliance Party (CRAP), the Consistently Losing Party (CLP) and the regional Party de Dunces de Quebec (PDQ). If the votes were perfectly distributed, theoretically a party could win every seat in the country with about 34% of the votes.
Parties can and do win majorities with less than 40% of the national vote and parties that routinely collect 20% of the vote don’t even elect enough members to form the official opposition. This is because of how votes are distributed between constituencies. If they are evenly distributed, a party could win double-digit percentage of the national vote and not elect anybody.
So the cry, mostly from supporters of the CLP, is to go to a proportional system of election so that the party which gets 20% of the votes has 20% of the seats in the House of Commons. People who espouse this nonsense should live in a country where it is in effect. Like Italy…or Ukraine. Actually Ukraine has the best/worst of both worlds. Half the Deputies in the Verkovna Rada are elected by proportional system and half on a constituency basis.
So here is how it works. The parties form lists of all their top people and rank them so that the heavies are assured a seat unless the party polls less than e.g. 5% of the national vote. These people, especially those closest to the top of the list, are answerable to no one and could care less as they are guaranteed a seat. There is no way to get rid of them. The constituencies are contested by nobodies. Cannon fodder. Bench warmers to back the unassailable big guns from “The List”. Write to your Deputy to complain? Why bother.
Apparently Ontario held a referendum about proportional voting and, thankfully, it was soundly defeated. Would that it stays buried in the dung heap of history forever.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Some dogs take naturally to the game of “Fetch”. Not these dogs. Throw something and they look at you like “What? You didn’t want that anymore?” I bought a ball for them to play with and they tore it apart, which is what they did with their rubber pig and rubber duck. What they really like is beef bones to chew so I buy them at the market on occasion. Mostly they try to tear each other apart. Volk rules the “kennel rooms” and the yard. Bobik challenges Volk every step of our daily walks. The other day Bobik had Volk by the leg and Volk had Bobik by the lip. Lip hold won.
As my oldest daughter can attest, I have no idea how to raise dogs to be obedient and all that stuff. Mostly I just want the dogs to come when I call and not play in traffic. If I had it to do over, I think I would have settled for that with my kids as I had no idea how to raise them either. The kids turned out pretty good in spite of my best efforts. Maybe the dogs will too?
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
He and his wife are among my “three generation” friends. Which is to say our parents were/are friends, we’ve known each other most of our lives and now our kids are friends, too. I can list a few but will surely miss some so commentators (my kids) can fill in. A cattle and wheat farmer south of Alsask, a pharmacist in Winkler, a teacher in Leader, a senior manager in Calgary, a honey farmer at Shellbrook: examples of families with very close ties over three generations.
Three generations of friendship says something about closeness of spirit. They are good people. I miss them.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Walking back we pass a number of houses along the road, all with dogs who kick up a huge fuss as we walk past. One house has three dogs. The big dog is chained up but the two middle size black dogs have the run of the yard. Whenever we pass they hit the gate with a thud, yapping long and loud. Some days I hear someone in the yard yell at them.
A few days ago, we had walked passed quite a ways and they were still yapping. I heard a gunshot, small calibre like a .22, then silence then four more shots and absolute stillness. Next time we walked by, no dogs. Only one dog at a house farther on. And the next day, no dogs again. I’m thinking “Uh-oh”.
Now, I’ve wanted to do that myself a few times to a couple of yappy mutts I own but wouldn’t wish it on anyone else’s dogs. I was quite relieved the third day when we walked by to find all back to annoying yapping normal. No idea where the dogs had been or what the “shots” were about.
At one of the houses a girl of about 12 is baby sitting three little girls. They quite often come out to see the pups who of course love the attention, so one day I took their picture. The two middle girls belong to the woman who did most of our wallpapering, Tanya says.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The story goes that one summer day a man got on the mini-bus to go to the city. A woman on the bus said “Dobri dien, Victor Ivanovich”. The man said, “I’m sorry, I don’t recognize you. Please bend over”.
So the woman bent over, presenting her broad backside, where upon the man exclaimed, “Ah, Galina Vasylovna, Eta Ti! Dobri dien!”
Sunday, June 1, 2008
She was only the Bootlegger's daughter, but he loved her still.
She was only the Colonel's daughter, but she was rotten to the corps.
She was only the Farrier’s daughter but every horseman knew her.
She was only the Gardener’s daughter but she knew where to plant her tulips.
She was only the Grounds Keeper’s daughter but she was a dandelion in the grass.
She was only the Herbalist's daughter, but she always had thyme on her hands.
She was only the Huntsman's daughter, but she was deer to us all.
She was only the Librarian's daughter, but one look from her spoke volumes!
She was only the Mathematician's daughter, but she knew all the angles!
She was only the Meteorologist's daughter, but you could never tell whether!
She was only the Minister's daughter, but you couldn't put anything past 'er!
She was only the Mortician's daughter, but only one cadaver.
She was only the Photographer's daughter, but she waited for her prints to come!
She was only the Shoemaker's daughter, but she gave him her awl.
She was only the Welder's daughter, but she had acetelene legs.
The garage door is made of steel plate with an angle iron frame hung on heavy hinges. It is lined with Styrofoam and covered on the inside with 5/8 particle board. The key was missing from the old lock so we could only lock and unlock the door from the inside. Our neighbour Zhenia found an identical lock for $10 and bought it for us as he was concerned about me leaving the garage unlocked in the daytime if we went into Zhovti Vody. Security is an obsession here. People without a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out, will have a high fence and a guard dog to protect it.
The lock had two steel deadbolts that took four turns of the key to drive fully home. The key was a 5 ¼” long skeleton and made from three pieces of metal.
Tanya said “Don’t do it yourself. You’ll just break it and then the door won’t lock at all”. I ignored her and went ahead anyway, knowing in my heart she was likely right. Saturday seemed like a good day. Zhenia was home to bail me out when I got into trouble. I cut away the particle board, unbolted the old lock and pried it off. There were four bolts holding it. They were not drilled through the door but were spot welded to the inside of the steel panel.
Tacked is the word. One broke off as I tried to straighten it. I have seen some good welding in Ukraine but only consistently on pipe joints. Good welding seems not to be so much an art or science as an accident. Whether it is the quality of the metal, the rods and welder or the technique, I don’t know. Most of the welding looks like something my father did. He was a self taught farm welder who, in the words of John Graham, our local blacksmith, could “put a few gobs of weld on it”.
Zhenia came to see how I was doing, just in time to take his angle grinder and remove an extra flange on the new lock. We slide it onto the three bolts and tightened them up. The two steel deadbolts didn’t line up with the holes in the angle iron. Three hours of fooling around trying to shim and file our way to freedom and we did what we should have done from the beginning. Cleaned all the old welded junk out of the way, drilled four new holes according to the template and we were home free. Why we didn’t do that in the first place is a mystery.