"At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service." ~Mr. Fred Rogers

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Buffaloless Buffalo Farm in Photos

Welcome to the Lipovyets Buffalo Farm! This is the farmhouse where we stayed.

(I don't think you're going to have any objection that this post is a little photo heavy. Click on any of them for a bigger view!)

Yes, you read that title correctly, there were in fact no buffalo at the "Buffalo Farm Workcamp". In short, the farm is in the process of moving from the original site to the site where we worked. The original site is in the village of Steeblivka where all of the buffaloes currently reside. Soon enough, but not quite yet, they will move to the Lipovyets farm roaming and grazing the mountainside. As you can see the horses have already been moved.

Talking with the fillies.

Life in the farm is simple...even more so than in Kolky. No water or electricity, and a gas stove that is only used in the case of emergencies. We slept in the farm house in the picture above in the "living room" on the floor. 

Where we slept in the farm house. Don't mind the mud patched
floors, lack of windows, or asbestos...just make yourself at home!

We cooked all of our meals from an open fire in cooking teams. I turned out to be one with the fire, handling my cooking duties really well.

The "Kitchen"

Makeshift shelves

Dish washing with a view

Water was a whole other chore and each day there was also a designated Water Team. Their responsibility was to make the 30 minute trek to "the source" where we would fill 1.5L, 5L, 30L jugs and bring them back to camp to cook with and drink. Usually we did the trip 4 times a day.

Each day, our group of 15 broke up into teams and went to work on different assignments. Usually if you were on the Cooking or Water Team, you did infrastructure work on the farm, collecting fire wood for our personal use, cutting wood for the winter, fixing windows and doors, cleaning, etc. Often there was a team picking plums, apples, and blackberries to be canned or made into jam.

The first few days I help Danny, a fellow Volunteer from England, construct this:

The "Petchka" or furnace

Clay was used to separate the bricks and a cement/sand/clay mixture went on the outside. Nothing like Danny had ever built before, but we certainly worked hard on it. I had an awesome time being his apprentice for two days! 

Cutting through the roof was the most difficult for two reasons: sawing upside down and the old rusty sheets of metal flying in your face. And watch out for asbestos!

Only in Eastern Europe are you instructed to stack your bricks like that...

Together we laid bricks on the roof and finished what we can only hope will a warm oven this winter.  

Made it through the roof!

After those days, I was on the road crew and pretty much stayed on the road crew for the rest of the time. Jon and I seemed to be the lucky pair that got sent out to the road each day, along with a few new people who only lasted a day or two. They eventually called us "The Road Dream Team" but I think that was to only keep us going out there.

When the rain comes, it washes out the road so we needed to devise a way for that not to happen. Luckily for us it happened to rain a few days, making our jobs of digging and working in on the dirty road even more challenging exhilarating!

The road less traveled

We dug the trenches and pools so the water sources that came through the cracks from up above would have somewhere to go. We maneuvered trees to help support the walls of the trenches. We even carved our own wooden steaks of of machetes to hold up the tree trunks.

Preventing the walls from caving to keep the trench in tact

Some of our handiwork

Road Warriors

We worked about 5 hours each day, and always took a long break in the middle of the day to avoid the hottest part of the day. The work was tough, but very rewarding, educational, and a lot of fun. My boots sure have seen better days, but nothing a good day out in a rain won't wash away.

Our weekends were spent exploring nearby (1-2 hour) towns. The first Saturday we went to Mukachevo to explore the town, get cell service, and hike to the top of the castle. The view was definitely worth the trip.

The beautiful town of Mukachevo not too far from Hungary

With Jon at the Mukachevo Castle

Sunday some of us went to the river Tysa in hopes to find buffalo. After searching for about an hour we decided we should count our losses and swim.

At least we made it to the rive...

River Tysa

After a few hours enjoy this amazing mountain river, we headed back to our transfer and guess what we found...


In all their glory

With their shepherd.

 They were absolutely amazing and exuded power and strength. I was quick and took a few close up shots and pet one of a little bit. Hopefully someone has a picture of me petting them!

Oh, hey there.

Other free time was spent relaxing by the fire, playing card, and enjoy the new international friends that came to the camp to Volunteer. I even got a little horse riding in!

Riding Kashton the only Stallion at the farm

Going out for a ride

 All in all, Buffalo Farm Workcamp was an awesome two weeks. Yes a little disappointing that milking, shepherding, and buffalo wresting that was originally promised didn't happen, but sometimes that how things go. I still had an awesome time, and really couldn't think of a better way to spend my last two weeks of summer. 

Living the good life

Most of the the Volunteers. Michel, the Buffalo Farmer (from Germany) is hanging upside down in the tree and his girlfriend and native Ukrainian Olya is in the back row with the red shirt. They have big goals and I was really glad I could help them out with their passion and love. Their hospitality was some of the best!

The SCI Group minus our friends from Ireland, Liza and Collin, and Renata from Hungary.
Countries represented: USA!!! (2), Ukraine (8), France (1), Poland (3), The Basque Country (1)

Now I'm relaxing in Kolky, enjoying some down time before I start teaching. Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 24th, is Ukraine's 20th Independence Day. I'm sure their will be plenty of celebrating! Thursday I go to school to help clean and prepare classrooms and Friday I have a meeting with all the teachers from the region (county). September 1st is 1st Bell! Wasn't it just yesterday that I was putting up pictures from last bell? Where has summer gone?

Yep...I think I'll have to go back!
Into the sunset, I guess...

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