06 Dec 2007
The buildings are decaying. The paint is fading away and the sheet metal roofs no longer stop the rain. These buildings were part of the Communist farm collective system of the former Soviet Union. It was the centerpiece of an aggressive farm policy where all were to work together in fulfilling the government dictated quota of products. However, this policy resulted in a significant decline in production causing famine and starvation among the farm families of Russia. Today, these buildings and rusty machinery are little more than grave markers for a failed system.
The farms of Bashkortostan are now based on a free market economy. They are very productive but no longer labor-intensive enterprises. Huge tractors, pulling five-bottom ploughs till the rich black soil. With a roar and a cloud of dust, new combines quickly harvest vast amounts of wheat. By the middle of September, most of the wheat has been brought in from the field and hauled to grain storage facilities. The wheat straw is packed in large round bales or stacked in piles for use later.
Sugar beets are well adapted to the local growing conditions and are processed in early October. Sunflowers bloom in late August. Ready for harvest in September, their seeds are a favorite snack food in Russia.
The growing season is short in Bashkortostan but the days are long enabling the crops planted in the spring to quickly sprout and grow to maturity. Rainfall, for the most part, is sufficient; however, in some areas the yield is improved by using large sprinkler irrigation systems.
The way of commercial farming has changed over the years since the break up of the Soviet Union but the small towns and villages appear much as they did a century ago. The vegetable garden, an integral part of each home, is tilled and planted in the spring. Potatoes, cabbage, carrots, squash and tomatoes are staples to these villagers. Fertile soil and frequent rainfall along with time-tested methods of growing, harvesting and preserving these crops are part of the culture that will sustain the residents through the long cold winter.
The lack of meaningful employment opportunities in these villages has left an aging population. Young men and women most often leave their homes for better opportunities in the cities.
In the past, there was hope that village life would never end. But now, watching a child calmly walking to school passing the horses and cows grazing along the quiet main street, villagers wonder about their grandchildren. Are they happy living in a crowded apartment in Ufa? They know that their children and grandchildren will never return to live in this village.
Yet, village life in Bashkortostan is prized as the heart and core of Bashkort existence. Cultivated for generations, the deep sense of hospitality and friendship found among villagers gets lost in the busyness of city life.
Where do those remaining go from here? The road is dim; the pathways uncertain and little time remains.
Prayer Next Menu
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
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