Saturday, November 22, 2008

Russian Places

St. Basil's Cathedral is one of the most colorful and most photographed churches in Russia. It is located in the southeast corner of Red Square and was built in the mid-1500's when Ivan the Fourth (Ivan the Terrible) was

Cemeteries in Russia appear to be filled with much ornamentation. Basically the burial plot has a seat with a table for the bereaved to be seated and drink tea and to mourn. Many of the stones have photos etched into them. Both live and artificial flower arrangements adorn the gravesite.

The scaffolding surrounding the church in the photo is there for restoration. The church was likely bombed by communists to prevent citizens from worshipping there during Soviet times. Volunteers come from all over the world to assist with restoring the many damaged churches.

Many of the markets are open air temporary markets. When one wishes to try on a garment the vendor supplies a curtain for you to stand behind.

This artist is with his stand of lacquered boxes. They show excellent detailed art work with various scenes and then are covered with finishes that make them quite beautiful.

This house is where Ivan Turgenev wrote many of his world classic novels describing life in Russian villages during the middle 1800's. It is now a museum along with the estate with virgin timber. I was able to tour it in July, 2008 when I stayed at Chern, south of Moscow.

The twin churches of St. Jacob and St. Dimitri are located on Lake Nero, in Rostov, another of the Golden Ring Cities that attracts many tourists. They were used to store military equipment during Soviet times and are now being restored.

Whenever I leave Moscow to go to a farm assignement I go by train. Sometimes it is an overnight train lasting about 12 hours and more recently it has been about 4 to 5 hours and much closer to Moscow. The trains are not air conditioned and are rather hot in summertime. When I go for the longer trips I have a sleeper car and meals are provided.

Russians love to eat ice cream! This is an ice cream kiosk near the hotel where I stayed. There were three such kiosks at the intersection. All the ice cream cones are pre-filled at the plant and sealed in cellophane. It is tasty!

This photo shows part of the Vologda Kremlin located at Vologda on the Volga River. It was a monastery and was the seat of government in earlier times. It has many museums located there today. Vologda is known for its fine lace production made from flax grown in the region.

This is a scene at the open air flea market in Moscow with three women dressed in native costume. These women sing there everyday the market is open. Artists bring their work there to sell mainly to tourists. The vendors love to haggle on price and it can be entertaining.

When one gets hungry for American food in Russia. No fear! McDonalds is located in all the larger cities. Usually there is a long line. The food is very similar to that found in America and the prices are too, which makes it quite high priced for Russians.

This monument shows the two monks who developed the Cyrillic alphabet for the Russian language. The alphabet has 32 letters with each having its own sound. Many letters look similar to the English letters but may have totally differing sounds. There is no "S" in Cyrillic, but rather the letter "C" has the sound of "S". The letter "P" is sounded as "R". It takes some getting used to, but I can read quite a bit of Russian now.

This is the eastern side of the Kremlin as it is seen from the Moscow River in downtown Moscow. There are many churches located in the Kremlin. Red Square is located within the Kremlin and has two churches on its site. The walls surround it and have many sentry ports where military guard and protect it.

The Volga River starts near Tver, northwest of Moscow, and runs to the Black Sea. Many tour ships provide tours for visitors around the world. During summer there are lots of people touring the Golden Ring Cities which were founded over 1000 years ago. Many monasteries are found in the Golden Ring Cities and were important in bringing christianity to inland Russia as trade developed.

The Tolga Monastery is located near Yaroslavl and sits on the banks of the Volga. It is surrounded by walls with sentry ports for protection to defend against invaders. Most of the gold and valuables were stored in the monasteries in early times. These buildings were used as a prison and tuberculosis sanitarium during Soviet times. They are now being restored by nuns.

This is a scene inside the Tolga Monastery showing a meditation chapel, some of the beatifully kept grounds and churches.

This banner is on the bridge over the Volga River at Yaroslavl and depicts the 1000 year anniversary of its founding in the year 1010. The city is preparing for lots of tourists during the celebration and has much renovation going on. There are many colleges and universities located in Yaroslavl. I have stayed there several times as it is near the center of all the dairy industry. There are many services available for dairymen that are located in Yaroslavl. As word gets out that I have been to a dairy farm and made new recommendations the sales staff carry this information to other farms. When I was there in April, 2008 I trained at least 18 different staff from industry in addition to the farm staff.

The city of Uglich, founded in 937 A.D., sits on the Volga River and is another of the Golden Ring Cities. Several churches are seen in the back ground along the river. This was the site where Dmitri, the young son of Tsar Ivan the Fourth (Ivan the Terrible), was found dead from a dagger. His body was taken by foot to Moscow for burial (about 150 miles) and each time a drop of his blood touched the soil a new church was built. More than 60 churches were built as a result between Uglich and Moscow.

Sunset on the Volga in July was a particularly beautiful sight and caught my eye as we were winding down a long day.

These photos represent sites away from dairy farms where I was able to tour museums, churches, monasteries, markets and monuments.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Russian Faces

Teaching ration formulation and developing feeding strategies with the chief zootechnicians is one of the main things that I do at the dairy farms.

This young zootechnician is shown feeding whole barley and oats to a young calf. Prior to my visit they would not feed any grains to calves until after they were weaned from milk and then it would be finely ground into flour. They thought that calves would not eat grains since they did not eat the flour and it took some convincing to get them to try feeding whole grains to the calves.

This chief veterinarian and I are making an electrolyte solution to administer to a calf with diarrhea.

Vladimir, a zootechnician, and I are shown here near the end of a week where we worked rations and evaluated forages. This dairy also fed out over 6000 dairy bulls each year in addition to milk production.

This is a field of spring oats and hairy vetch that will be used for green chop and silage. I am shown with the director and the zootechnician evaluating stage of maturity and readiness for harvest.

Alexi, chief veterinarian, and his staff were receptive to learning new skills and had many questions.

The management team, including the director, zootechnician, agronomist and the economist, at this farm is shown here upon completion of work after one week.

The executive director of Sparta Dairy Farm is shown here with Anna, my interpreter, in this outstanding field of oats. Each evening as were taken back to our hotel he would take us on a different road through the more than 13,000 acres of cereal crops, including rye, winter & spring wheat, winter & spring barley, as well as some corn for silage. The soils south of Moscow are highly fertile and productive.

This is the professional staff at a Druzba farm consisting of a mating specialist, chief veterinarian, zootechnician, inseminator, and calf raiser in front, while another calf raiser and I are in back.

The director and his chief zootechnician is shown here with me as I gave them gifts at the conclusion of my work. Gail made the wall hanging of Holsteins. Ivan, the zootechnician, is shown with a Nebraska Cornshusker tee shirt!

Galina and Anatoly, zootechnicians, are shown here outside the conference room at the dairy farm. On the wall many photographs and plaques are displayed showing awards presented to the farm when it was a collective farm.

Vladimir,zootechnician, and
Sergey, chief veterinarian, are shown here outside the building where I stayed on the farm.

Nikolai, director, and Ovatina, veterinarian, are shown here with gifts at the conclusion of my work with Rodina Farm.

Ivan, Chief zootechnician, is shown here at his desk. His sense of humor and desire to learn new things were refreshing and stimulating.

These photos represent just some of persons that I have worked with on dairy farms in Russia. Some are directors, others are staff members (veterinarians, zootechnicians or inseminators) who care for calves or cows. All have received me well and have expressed sincere appreciation for sharing information with them. They have been willing learners and have asked many questions, and have been gracious hosts. I return home more enriched than before I left. It is my hope that they have learned well and can make significant progress in their own efforts to become more successful.

In some photos staff are shown with gifts that I have presented to them. Many of these gifts were hand made and quilted by Gail. The brightly colored wall hangings of Holsteins have been great hits. Sometimes I have taken a few tee shirts with Nebraska on them and they have been popular as well. Gifts are presented at the last session on most farms.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Small village life

Gardens are typically located near the edge of villages and are tilled by hand, unless horse power is available. Most are surrounded by fences with a small house, known as a dacha, located within the compound. It is common for an older relative to stay in the dacha in summer for protection and to oversee the garden daily, while other family members come on weekends to work and to get away from the city.

Churches that were bombed during Soviet times are being restored all over the area just north of Moscow. In other regions, there were no churches when people were moved into communal living.

This church was just constructed in Bobrava village and is the first one to have been built there. It sits in a beautiful pastoral setting surrounded by fields of alfalfa, sugar beets and a mix of other crops in some very fertile soils.

Markets are set up in the villages at least once each week. I purchased a linen shirt from this vendor. The shirt is very cool in summer time.

We are enjoying a shashlich in the woods near Rostov. Irina, Alexander's wife, is shown here with Walter, another volunteer--veterinarian from Virginia, and Marina, my interpreter in May, 2008.

Alexander is shown here grilling pork on a portable grill. We ate it with some good rye breads, pickles, chips and finger foods. Irina fixed tea and added some wild strawberry, wild raspberry and mint leaves, which we had with a purchased cake.

This photo shows Anatoly, Tatiana, Inna and Rita in their home. They invited me for tea and refreshments and gave me a tour of their gardens and other outbuildings.

This house is typical size in many of the villages. This one is in much better repair with recent painting, than many, and has a satellite dish prominantely displayed for connection to the modern world.

Many of the villages look more like this one with little color and no signs of recent paint on houses. All houses are fenced to keep a small poultry flock and have a small vegetable garden with little grass. Most have some flowers to provide color in season.

Open air markets are common in most villages and usually are open one day each week. They are like mobile Wal-Mart as one can buy food, clothing, supplies, hardware and kitchenware and bicycles or automotive needs at them.

It is common for many of the farms to provide 1.0 to 1.5 tonnes of potatoes to each employee when they harvest the potato crop. In this photo the director's wife and mother-in-law are shown with the potatoes they have picked up and bagged in the field. Families can use the potatoes for themselves and share with other family members, but few can sell any since nearly everyone in the village works at the farm and has lots of potatoes!

Every village has a monument to recognize those who lost their lives during the second World War when millions of citizens and military were killed. Population in Russia has been restored to pre-war levels, but the high death rate and low birth rate still allow a significant population decline today, that is likely to go on for decades.

These photos represent a glimpse of what it is like living in a small village in Russia in early 21st Century. Many of the villages show signs of going years without much needed repairs and upkeep. The houses are very small compared to ones found in the U.S. Most are surrounded by fences where a small poultry flock is kept and fresh garden vegetables are grown. Larger plots are located on the edges of the villages where most vegetables, like potatoes and cabbages are grown in large quantity. Little food is stored in the houses and most Russians go to the market daily for fresh produce. Many markets are supplemented with open air markets that are held once a week, where many food items can be purchased.

As many of the out-of-date dairy farms are closed down, or merged into more efficient ones with modern labor-saving technology, more small villages will disappear from the countryside. Small village life is disappearing in Russia similar to what small town life in the U.S. has been doing as people migrate to larger cities to find employment and better housing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dairy farms in Russia

During Soviet times dairy farm workers were paid based upon the amount of milk produced or the amount of body weight gain produced in calves. This photo shows the collection tanks mounted on platform scales to weigh milk which has been transported via pipeline from the cows. It is then co-mingled into a large stainless steel cooling tank prior to pickup and transported for processing.

Most cows are housed and tied in stalls with feed brought to them several times each day. In nearly all barns pipeline milkers are used, however some still carry milk to the tank by hand for cooling. Most cows have horns.

Most of the barns consist of four rows of cows and hold about 200 milking cows with 50 cows in each row. The barns are made of concrete and some have a metal roof while others are concrete.

Women do most of the milking on Russian dairy farms. Each woman is responsible for about 50 cows, including dry cows. Upon completion of milking the milkmaids then care for newborn calves and feed calves until weaning. When cows go to pasture in summer they are grazed as one large herd and then each milkmaid sorts her herd out as they return to the barn for milking.

This photo shows a herd on pasture with a portable water tank and salt tank that is moved to follow the herd from one plot to another. Milk production is highest during summer as forage quality is quite good at that time. Most of the pastures consist of cool season grasses, like timothy and orchardgrass or brome grass mixed with white clover.

In winter time all cattle are housed inside. This barn houses heifers that are pregnant and they are allowed to go outside to eat hay from big bale feeders. The heifers also are fed a mixed feed with silage and small amounts of grains inside the barn. Heifers shown in this photo are Yaroslavl breed and have black hair coats with white faces and black around the eyes. They are hardy and mature slowly into deep bodied cows with lots of body capacity and strong feet and legs.

Most dairy farms are in varying stages of adopting new technology, such as free stall housing with center drive through feeding systems, like shown in the next photos. This technology makes labor much more efficient and allows cows to be handled in groups with less labor.

I have demonstrated use of dehorning paste in young calves to prevent horn growth on all of the farms that I have consulted. It is catching on rapidly and I now see many farms using dehorning paste. Whenever I started in 2006 none of the farms were using it. Suppliers now carry it in most regions of Russia.

Many of the older concrete Soviet-style barns have had little repair and have significant structural problems, even though cattle are still housed in them. Barns like this one will be abandoned when new barns are built. In other cases older barns will be remodeled to accomodate replacement cattle.

This older concrete barn was wide enough and tall enough to facilitate renovation into a free stall complex with drive thru feeding areas. Many of the Russian dairy cows are being crossbred with Holstein semen from Canada or the U.S. In some cases Holseins have been imported from Holland, Germany or Denmark when herds have been expanded.

This is a native bred herd of Yarolsavl cattle and do not produce large amounts of milk, except during summer when they are grazed. A herd like this would likely produce about 2500 liters of milk per cow per year, or 5500 punds of milk.

Attached are photos of dairy farms in Russia showing housing, feeding programs, milking techniques, storage of milk, and other general dairy farm photos taken when working on more than 17 dairy farms for up to a week or more, at each farm. These farms have ranged in size from over 400 cows up to 3000 milking cows. Many of the farms have multiple locations situated in small villages where cows are housed in tie stall barns.

Cows may or may not be allowed to graze during summer, from the end of May to late September. The old Russian style concrete barns are rapidly deteriorating, after years of little or no maintenance. Some are being remodeled into free stall facilities with drive through feed alleys. In other cases they are being abandoned altogether and new modern barns, similar to those in the U.S. are being built. All of the older facilities require large amounts of physical labor. Most of the milking and rearing chores is done by women.

Most of my work has been with those dairy farms that are in the process of expanding. All want to adopt new labor-saving technology and provide more comfort to the animals, increased milk production and greater labor eficiency. I work with a variety of issues, but mainly work with nutrition, feeding and management.

Typically, Russian cows have relatively poor quality forages due to late harvesting of silage and hay crops. In some of the better soils corn silage is grown. The growing season is much shorter than here. During summer time normal daylight hours are much longer than here due to being so far north. Corn grows rapidly whenever it has 16 to 18 hours of day light. Silage is stored in horizontal silos and may or may not be covered to preserve it.