Katie Moore
Katie Moore

Our Adventure to Sergiyev Posad

Written by Katie Moore, a Clemson University Junior

On Sunday, February 27, 2011, Miles, Marie, Maxime, Katie McKee, Max and I ventured by train to see the famous Russian Orthodox monastery located in the town of Sergiyev Posad. We decided on Friday night that this was an excursion we must partake in since it's one of the most historical sights in Russia. Accordingly, we were extremely excited to embark on our expedition and were eager to wake up early and go.

Sergiyev Posad is roughly 1.5 hours outside of Moscow by train. I couldn't have been more thrilled to take a train because the traveling would allow me to see the countryside of Russia; a nice juxtaposition to the city we have been living

-	The Moscow River frozen solid.
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The Cathedral of the Assumption in Sergiev Posad. Construction was complete in 1585.

in. I cannot say that I was disappointed, because the further away we got from Moscow the more enchanting the scenery became. Russia is fraught with birch trees and snow, and so the setting created was picturesque and reminiscent of a Tolstoy novel. It took all I could muster not to jump out of the train and play in the woods. An interesting fact about trains: soliciting is not prohibited. It was entertaining because throughout the first thirty minutes of our train ride there were consecutive salesmen trying to sell anything from sunglasses to rulers. It was very different from the United States.

Once we arrived at our location, a short ten-minute walk brought us right up to the monastery. The monastery, The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, is the most important monastery in Russian and pinnacle of the Russian Orthodox Church. According to our pseudo-tour guide Max, the monastery is a prominent pilgrimage for Russian Orthodox members and is famous for it's inability to be overtaken during wars. I can see why, there were enormous perimeter walls encompassing the entire monastery. What stood out to me were the beautiful architecture and colors of the buildings. It seems that

-	The Moscow River frozen solid.
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The Church of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Construction was complete in 1699.

Russians, in an effort to make up for the dreary weather of the winter, paint their building with elaborate colors because the vibrancy of the churches was stunning. However, there was a disparity in the color schemes of the buildings as some appeared bold and bright and others were cool and elegant. I joked that they seemed to mimic fire and ice and I think it's a pretty accurate statement.

It was definitely interesting to see the monks walking around in the snow. The men wore long black robes, a square hat and had full, long beards. All over the grounds, there were groups of people circling a single monk. It gave the impression that they were preaching or giving spiritual advice. It was interesting seeing the devotion the Russian Orthodox people had to their religion and traditions. Before entering the monastery, the people blessed themselves (performing the sign of the cross) multiple times, a practice that was repeated upon exiting a church as well. I enjoyed the trip as a whole, it gave insight into the religion of the Russian people as well as a visual treat with the magnificence and beauty of the location.

Also in this Issue...

  • Just Point and Smile and Everything Will Be All Right by Marie Vogler
    "We have actually managed to have entire conversations with one party speaking Russian, and our party speaking mostly English infused with a little Russian. Hooray for hand gestures, facial expressions, and drawings on napkins!"
  • Gorbovo Dairy Tour by Karlie Tucker
    "The Gorbovo dairy uses Holsteins crossed with a local Russian breed. This allows the animals to survive the harsh Russian winters, where temperatures commonly fall below zero degrees Fahrenheit, while still maintain high production levels."
  • Month of Slush by Miles Atkinson
    "The slippery black ice is disappearing from sidewalks, but being replaced by equally as slippery dirty snow-mush. We are seeing a transition from the omnipresent grey and white of winter to the solid brown of early spring."

Gorbovo Dairy Tour

Written by Karlie Tucker, a Virginia Tech Junior enrolled at Clemson University for Spring 2011

Karlie Tucker
Karlie Tucker

As a part of our international program here in Russia, we are to take weekly excursions to agricultural businesses and other points of interest. This gives us an opportunity to see another aspect of Russian life and compare what we observe to similar businesses in the United States. This past week we ventured two hours outside of Moscow in order to tour a dairy operation.

The Gorbovo dairy is one of sixteen privately owned dairies in its region, but it is the only one to remain profitable, most likely due to the use of vertical integration. We had the opportunity to witness the various aspects of the operation and gain a better understanding of Russian agriculture. Our first stop on the tour was the agricultural center of the operation; the barns and fields that the cows call home. The Gorbovo dairy uses Holsteins crossed with a local Russian breed. This allows the animals to survive the harsh Russian winters, where temperatures commonly fall below zero degrees Fahrenheit, while still maintain high production levels.

Maksim M., Guillaume, and Maksim V. preparing to practice some amateur figure skating.
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During winter months the cows are kept indoors.

The milking cows are kept in one barn, while the other barn is for housing the heifers and young calves. For the ten days following birth, the calves are kept in separate boxes to facilitate easier feeding by the farm's two workers. They are kept warm by heating lamps, and they are bottle-fed. After the ten days are up, the calves are sorted into groups of similarly aged calves and weaned onto a diet of mixed grass hay silage with grain supplement. When the calves reach a year old, the bulls are sold and the heifers retained as replacements. Gorbovo uses artificial insemination with Holstein sires to improve genetics, so there is no need for bulls.

During the summer months, the animals are turned out in the fields to make use of the natural pasture. Ungrazed pastures are cut for hay silage and stored for use during the long winter months when confinement is necessary for survival. Along with producing its own silage and hay, the dairy also processes its milk. With around one hundred milking cows, the level of production is high enough that the dairy was able to form a cooperative of sorts with two other farms in order to produce processed milk and dairy products. A variety of milk types are produced along with several types of cream and yogurt, among other goods.

Maksim M., Guillaume, and Maksim V. preparing to practice some amateur figure skating.
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Calves are kept in individual crates for the ten days following birth. This allows easier feeding and monitoring of their health.

The processing center pasteurizes and packages milk in both bags and cartons, sour cream, curds, and a variety of Russian dairy products. The entire manufacturing process is done in house, and a chemistry department ensures a quality product. Every batch of milk is tested for fat contents, with the higher fat percentages going towards milk products.

These goods are sold at their processing center, local stores, and even some grocery stores on the outskirts of Moscow. While these products cannot compete with national brands, the integrated system allows for the farmers to see greater returns for their products while also maintaining quality control over what is produced. This unique approach to dairy farming has allowed the Gorbovo dairy to stay in business. This is different from most American agricultural businesses, which do not pursue a system of vertical integration. The majority of American dairies, that I am familiar with, sell their milk without completing any processing. The value-addedness of the Gorbovo dairy allows the production of a competitive product while ensuring higher prices for the farmers. Perhaps American farmers could benefit from a similar system of selling processed goods to local markets.


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