Saturday, November 04, 2006

First snow of the year…

We are currently being blizzarded right now in Pinsk. I don't remember having snow quite this early before, though the temperatures and barometers and such had this one pegged.

Now I like the snow as much as anyone and I don't mind taking my morning bike rides through some white powder now and again, but this particular early snow is going to play hell with out farm. I mentioned that we have pretty much buttoned up everything but for a few details. Well, one of those details was the plowing of our field with a tractor and that we had not gotten that done before the ground got all frozen and covered in snow is looming pretty large right now. Now it is not like we just missed the boat on this one. We had planned from the beginning to bring in a tractor again to plow the field for next year. (The reason for the tractor and not a horse and plough was that there were a lot more weeds that a plow and horse would like.)

But actually getting the tractor to show up turned out to be a problem- isn't it always? We called the guy who (eventually) came out at the beginning of this year. But though he had told us in the spring that plowing again in the winter would be no problem, when we called a couple of weeks ago he answered our request with a cryptic "I have problems in my life and so I simply cannot plow your field for you." That phrase really had me going for a while. What the hell does that mean "I have problems in my life"? For the life of me I could not understand why a guy who rides a tractor for a living would tell a potential client this sort of thing. "I have problems in my life…" That's a real one.

But it got me to thinking: Had I said or done something to offend him? I don't remember that I had. I mean, we did pay him, though it took a bit of work to hook up to do so. But then again, he was the one who set the schedule as to when he could come out and refused to give us any notice about it so we could be there. And because I was not there to point a spot out I wanted plowed, there was a meter-wide section that now gives us magnificent and thick grass. But then also, when discussing money, he had mentioned to me something about being a strict Christian and how everyone around us in the village were Christians as well. This conversation came just after he asked me if I was Jewish, a thought that at the moment didn't seem to me to be more than mild curiosity. Was this anti-Semitism? Is he a Hugo Chavez man? Could be.

After he gave us his oblique no, we needed to look around to find another tractor-ist. During our phoning we found out that our problematic tractor guy was pretty much THE go-to guy in the district. This seemed to create an issue each time we told people that he wasn't going to do it. We even had a lady in another district ask us right after we said that we already knew of THAT guy, if we didn't have any trees on our land. How could she have known? Are we THAT popular a point of interest? OK, I understand that word travels fast in these parts, but if the problem was the extra work of avoiding our trees, why could he just have said that?

In any case, after about 12 calls we found a guy who has just bought himself a new, 92 octane tractor and he agreed to come out. However, the day he wanted to come out was Saturday, which was today as I am writing these words, and I didn't want to do this on Saturday because, you know, I am trying to be a little observant these days and so I try not to do too much work on Saturdays (It is after sundown right now which is why I am back at work.). So after a couple of phone calls, we put the work off until Monday. Now, during this phone call, we also had an interesting issue come up about how much we would pay him for the work. He wouldn't actually tell us his price, but when we offered the normal rate he told us this would not be enough. Difficult. I counted exactly seven times that Tanya needed to ask him how much he had in mind. Finally he offered a price and I countered five thousand rubles less, purely out of spite I am sure. His final words were "We'll see" Am I paranoid here, or could there really be a tractor conspiracy going on in southern Belarus these days? But then again our man did warn us that it was going to snow. And of course along with arguing price with the guy, I glibly offered to bet him against the weather. He didn't take the bet but I am sure he got a good head shake out of the deal.

So now we don't know. It is possible that we just let the field go for now and try to bring in the tractor again next spring. This is not the best alternative, but as we planning a more moderate planting for next year than we did for this, it will not end up being a tragedy- have I made any other brilliant statements like that last one lately? Hmmm.

More soon…