Video: Fall Harvest in Western Ukraine I
This is footage taken in late September, 2005 in the town of Pidhajtsi (pop approx. 4,000) in the state of Ternopil in western Ukraine.
These people are gathering the remaining corn stalks in their fields after having had completed the fall harvest. They will use the stalks as windbreaks, i.e., as protection against the strong, bitterly cold winds of the Pre-Carpathian winters (Pidhajtsi is in the foothills that climb up to the Carpathians of southwestern Ukraine). They will place the stalks either directly alongside the outside face of the walls of their home, or will line the fences around their home with them.
Others who choose not to use the stalks for wind-breaks merely burn the stalks in the fields. Throughout the harvest season, the hillsides are dotted with small fires burning--quite a sight at night.
Heating and insulation are a major issue in Ukraine today; the traditonal, mud-and-clay walled homes of the East Slavs were much better insulated than the more modern homes built in the region since the turn of the 20th century or just before. Ukrainians have among the highest per capita consumption of natural gas in the world. Their winters are bitterly cold, but their more moderny homes are very poorly insulated. The Soviet government found it easier to build cheap homes and to burn lots of energy to heat them; this is the legacy still badly effecting all of Ukraine today.
Notice the little girl in the footage. She was fabulous!
For more info about the people of Western Ukraine, especially vis-a-vis poverty, subsistence farming, low wages and unemployment, see comments to last post.