Tired of Winter
The winter has been long. The cold set in around November with the first snowfalls. March is the fifth month of winter and some are becoming tired like the little boy in the picture above leaning against the fence. January and the first half of February were unusual this year for their consistently low minus temperatures between minus 25 and minus 38 degrees; such heavy snowfall was last recorded only in 1964. They say that in the fields the snow reaches as high as a man’s chest making it difficult for the cattle to reach the grass beneath the snow. Despite the Altai New Year ‘Chagaa Bairam’ celebrations, the spring is still a long way off. Extreme cold and heavy snowfall has caused farmers great problems in saving their cattle.
Hay is produced locally on land plots attributed to private individuals after the break-up of the collective farms. Occasionally, extra bales are bought in if required, to feed the cattle through the winter.
The haymaking season in 2009 produced approximately enough feed for 3 units per head of cattle. It is estimated that the entire 2009/2010 winter will require 15 units of feed per head of cattle.
The situation is dire and with two and a half months of winter ahead small farmers are losing cattle. In villages in the Ongudai region approx. 250 head of cattle have already been lost.
The Ongudai Administration Reserve Fund has been drawn upon to import 3,567 hundredweight of hay and 120 tonnes of fodder grain which is on sale for no more than 4 rubles (8pence) per kilogram. Six bulldozers have been employed to clear roads to farmsteads and mountain passes.
Wishing the farmers in Ongudai an early spring. March beckons: 8th March is women’s day which is celebrated well in Russia and 14 March is election Day for regional deputies of the Altai Republic Parliament.