Trip to Veliki Novgorod & farm week 2 highlights

The highlight of the week was not farm related, but a kayak tour on the Volkhov river in and around Veliki Novgorod. The trip came after an otherwise disappointing Friday, as Russia celebrated the start of school and the corresponding ‘day of knowledge’ meaning there was no alcohol sold in any shops (bar restraurants and bars with beer on tap … you guessed it, no on tap beer in our village ;o). Very healthy evening ;o) On the positive side this allowed us to leave for novgorod fresh and early on Saturday – a 3h drive (200km) plus 30min waiting due to construction work.

Kayak trip: Lisa had helped to book the kayak tour albeit we weren’t sure it would go ahead by the time we arrived in the city. Then all went super smooth. We met two guys from kayakvn.ru on a parking lot near one of the feeder rivers flowing into the volkhov. Very friendly people, no hassle with documents (none require) and all in EUR20/day per person including pick-up. We followed the feeder for 30mins until it flows into the main river. Stunning views of the Novgorod kremlin emerged. As we paddled downstream, many churches, bridges and other landmarks followed.

The city was founded in 1158 and has a beautiful historic centre. Only afterwards the usual concrete blocks emerge before very quickly the scenic Russian countryside takes over. Kayaking has to be on of the best ways to do sightseeing here. Freedom pure. Altogether, we spent 4 hours (15km) on the river before we landed in the village khutin. Very pretty indeed and as Nikita from the kayak shop explained later, a pretty rich one too. The amazing local monastery plays a good part in that, but also the proximity to the town center (15min drive).

One night in Novgorod: There are days where all things come together. We had such a day on Saturday. Given the long journey home we decided to stay for the night and booked ourselves into hostel Yaroslav. Walking distance to the Center, only 500 rub / night and super friendly staff. Once checked in we already heard the music from a concert in the Center. Some mostly screaming Russian pop star was on and we enjoyed the athmosphere of the free gig with shashlik and a beer.

Afterwards we headed to an irish pub and watched Italy getting trashed 3:0 by Spain in the RUSSIA 2018 qualifiers. i guess the Guinness revived us a fair bit and so we stopped at a boat club (Fregatte) on the way home. Turned out to be fun and so we didn’t leave to early. Jan was busy talking to some locals via google translate, I practiced my spoken Russian with some good success. Fun night.

Lada niva on strike: by the time we got up and had lunch it was past midday on Sunday. Going home turned out more difficult than expected. We had left the lights on and the battery was dead. Pushing the car didn’t work though wee were stuck. Thankfully the hostel staff helped to ca a taxi with a starter cable and all worked out well yet again. Cost rub200 … Not bad. 

Farm week in review

Monday: Jan and I started the day with some early morning fishing at 6.30am before dealing with our normal farm routined. The afternoon kexxtone session turned out rather lengthy and caused some minor injuries from resentful cows. By the time we had completed our weekly report it was 8.15pm.

Tuesday: we continued with blood tests, helped moving and sick and very heavy cow, delivered some meat to evelina’s parents is staraya ladoga on a day where my russian wasnt up to speed (i thought we all gol for a meat dish instead), enjoyed more fishing and welcomed richard back.

Wednesday: Interesting day as a dairy farm consultant as well as a Finnishdairy food/supplement provider visited and i survived without problems my first police stop. After fishing we treat us to a beer at cafe britannia and at home with vlad and roman – the new project engineer for the milk farm. Good evening all in.

Selective Consultant insights

  • Hoof trimming: on the farm there is a specific hoof trimmer to keep the feet healthy. Incorrect trim can cause lameness while a good treatment can heal. The idea hoof is 5-7mm thick on the bottom and 7.5cm long towards the tip. He trimmer has a template to check thencorrect size. Problems found were either a too short trim and/or some ulsters in the hoof overlooked. The latter are treated by cutting it out and adding a block to the hoof so it doesn’t stand in the mud, gets air and doesn’t carry full weight either. Normal lame rate in a herd is 2.5% to 31% (our farm being at the very low end) and is the 3rd biggest reason for reduced output after reproduction & mastitis (udder inflammation). 90% of lameness stems from claws (rest upper limb) and mainly back & outer claws. Most commonly you find white line disease sole injuries and foot rot. If the cow can’t be helped (as was the case with one), it becomes a cull case and goes to the slaughter house. Receiving advise from an outside clearly causes some friction judging by th faces of some employees during the consultants lecture. Change isn’t always easy. 

  • Manure analysis: not exactly my favourite though important. You basically collect a Liter of cow shit and put it through a three stage sieve to separate smaller from larger content (just like shaker test). That then gives insights on digestion, Fibre fermentation, appropriate feed mix, acidosis (excessive acid in body fluids) etc. We found that some cows maybe overhead (esp. low/medium cows) and costly feed might be wasted. Hence, rations will be reviewed. 

Thursday: we helped the vets to deliver vaccines to young cattle and listened to the consultants conclusions. In the afternoon i stopped for a tea at the students house on the farm where evelina & lisa life. To my great surprise there was a turtle (evelina’s pet) and i had the chance to admire her handicraft skills for a moment as she finished off a blue elephant. After work we headed to volkhov for dinner at a sushi bar (very average) and to see the hydro power station.

Friday: a bit boring to be frank after we quickly completed the routine tasks and helped the vets again. Need to look for some new jobs next week. As mentioned above, first September celebrations meant no end of the week beer in the one pub we have here … scandalous! ;o)

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