Alexander Inyutkin is an individual entrepreneur, head of farming-herding operation - he lives in Pii-Khem district in village Chkalovka, named in honor of once well-known test pilot Valeriy Chkalov.
The snow of this winter, 2012-2013 is deep, and to drive on a rural road that leads to the tiny settlement with a huge name was far from easy. The road is not used very frequently: only very few people remain, in the words of the vice-chairman of the Pii-Khem district agricultural administration, Alexander Mongush, there is no more than fifteen families. But that is already an improvement - ten years ago the village was totally deserted. Now people have started to come back, they raise livestock here - sheep, horses and cows.
At the approach to the village, on the right side, stone buildings with empty eyes, former cow barns of the former sovkhoz "Uyuk" can be seen, but on the left, in contrast, there are Inyutkin's solid wood sheep barns, new large cow stable and a small house for a guard. A bit further on, there is another house, also not large, but with modern plastic windows, where Alexander Valentinovich and his two helpers live.
Across the road from the house, there are three obviously older tractors, roller rake, mechanism for compressing straw, and a tall cart for transport of hay. In a closed paddock for sheep, there is a brand new wheeled tractor with a contraption for cleaning the area of manure. It is immediately obvious that Inyutkin is a real farmer; from the solid buildings, huge hayricks, well-fed cattle, and a clean and orderly house, even though only men live here.
Progeny with white heads
Alexander Valentinovich liked this place when he realized that his growing farm in Arzhaan village, where he lives with his family, was running out of room. And back then, in 2006, he built two sheep barns and a cow shed at the edge of Chkalovka, and moved his seventeen milk cows, seventy sheep and twelve horses that he had at the time to the new location.
He registered himself as a private business, hired a herdsman-guard, a milk-girl, and continued to live in Arzhaan, working as before, as a furnace man at the village medical clinic, while visiting his farm every day: he brought food, and helped the workers with the chores associated with growing numbers of livestock.
In December 2011, Alexander Valentinovich successfully defended his business plan in something that was new for Tuva - raising livestock for meat - and received six million rubles to purchase calves of a meat breed, purebred Herefords as well as farming equipment.
When the purebred livestock arrived at the farm, he had to move to Chkalovka as well, because the new work turned out to be very complicated and responsible, demanding constant attention and care.
Winter is an especially anxiety-ridden and responsible period. It is the season of lambing, as well as calving of both the native Tuvan cows and the imported Herefords. The sheep barn holds several dozen of lambs of various ages, there are young calves in the paddock, and the very young, newborn ones, are in a large, clean and warm new calf barn.
Here, in a specially penned-up area - the calf-pen - tiny Herefords lie down, stand and prance; they run out as soon as their mothers come into the barn. Each calf, as Alexander Valentinovich tells us, knows its mother and goes only to her. But there is one smart one, who manages to suck from his own mother as well as from a neighboring mother, and that is why he is the chubbiest one of the lot.
After filling up on mother's milk, the calves return to their half of the barn, because they understand: there is more straw, and it is warmer.
All the calves have the white heads and white stripe characteristic of the Hereford breed.
Passed out and got married
- Alexander Valentinovich, where did you learn all the farming skills?
- In childhood, from my family. I was born on 3 may 1961 in a village named Osakarovka, it is in the Karaganda region in Kazakhstan.
My father was a mechanic, he used to go to work every morning and got back late at night. Mother, Maria Stepanovna, worked milking cows at the farm. Both my patents were born in Kazakhstan, their parents were exiled there from the Ukraine during the collectivization years. There were five children in our family. The farm even though small - a cow, calves, pigs - was a job for us, the kids: herding, feeding and watering. I was the one to do most of it. Older brother Anatoly, when he saw how much I liked the domestic animals, often shifted his duties to me, his younger brother. So I got used to farming work.
- How did you end up in Tuva?
- I came here on vacation, it was in 1990. My sister Galina Valentinovna Kalinina was teaching at school in the Arzhaan village. I relaxed, looked around. Such freedom all around - steppes, mountains, pastures. One could keep livestock here. So I stayed, set myself up as a tractor driver at the "Uyuk" sovkhoz. And a year later I go married.
The story of how Alexander Valentinovich met his future wife was told us by Elena Krasinovna Inyutkina, physician's assistant-obstetrician of Arzhaan medical clinic, herself.
- Alexander Valentinovich came to our hospital with acute back pain. Back then it was only a 25-bed hospital. We gave him a pain-killer injection, and he fainted from it. I got very frightened, nevertheless, together with the ambulance driver, also a woman, we picked him up, even though with great effort, he is a large guy, and put him on the couch, and brought him back to consciousness.
Everybody was surprised: such a robust, large man, and he passed out from a simple injection. It turned out that he never had any injections before this. But later it was OK, he got used to it. The course of therapy went well, and afterwards he began courting me, eventually he offered me his hand and heart, regardless of the fact that I had three children from my first husband, who died tragically. The youngest, Masha, was only a year and half old at that time. The boys - Zhenya and Andryusha - were a bit older.
I agreed: he was single, I was a widow. And now we have been together already for twenty-two years. He treated the kids, and still is treating them, like his own. But the fourth child we had together - Valera.
Sasha is a good and caring husband and father. He likes to work and take care of the farm. He always looked for and found work to feed such a large family. Worked on the tractor and car, he was a watchman, furnace man at the medical clinic, and at one time he was involved with vegetable gardening.
A growing farm
- Alexander Valentinovich, why precisely did you finally decide on livestock breeding?
- Because after all, it is closest to me. As soon as I had a family, I got a little calf, my sister gave me one. My wife also had livestock. So that is how it worked out. Now out farm has 25 milk cows, 23 heads of young ones, 30 horses, about 200 sheep and 50 heads of purchased Herefords with 25 little calves.
- These are impressive numbers. Did you not have problems with realization of the production?
- At first - yes. The entire production - meat, milk, cottage cheese, cream - I used to sent to Turan - to the distinct hospital, but it was extremely difficult to get paid for it. Sometimes they would not pay for a year, so I began to sell to private individuals, mainly to physicians.
Now it has become simpler, especially with the milk. Kyzyl dairy opened a collecting point in Arzhaan, and people from the whole district - Khadyn, Tarlag, Chkalovka - bring and sell their milk there. It is cheap, of course, 16 rubles for one liter, but it is good anyway for everybody who has a lot of milk. In the summer, archeologists from Piter (Sankt-Peterburg) buy some of our milk, even though not much; their camp is not far from Chkalovka. Their chief Konstantin Chugunov sometimes comes himself, and he tells us about interesting finds and takes interest in our work.
- But how did you get the idea to raise the English Hereford cattle breed?
- I read in a newspaper about the program of government subsidy for farmers who want to obtain breeding stock of cows for raising meat cattle of Hereford breed. To participate in the program, one had to have suitable conditions for keeping the livestock and a business plan. I had the conditions, worked out the plan, and went to the Ministry of agriculture and food supply of Republic Tyva.
The contenders for this program came from various places of the republic. Ten farmers were successful in defending their plan: myself and nine other people from other districts.
In early 2012, for the money I received, that is, six million rubles, I bought 46 breeding heifers and four stud bulls in Republic Khakassia, at breeding farm "Sonskiy" in Shirin district. Four million went to that. For the rest of the money, I bought a tractor, a stacker, hay-mower, rake and pres--roller.
- And was the new cow stable and house for the guard also built for this money?
- No, those I built for money that I got from selling my old car. The government money was spent strictly according to the business plan.
Now my main task is to pay for those 46 breeding heifers.
- On what terms and how will you pay?
- I will pay with heifers which I got already at my farm from the purchased breeding stock. I have to pay 46 new heifers to the government by 2017; as many as I received. All the rest are mine. By the first of March, twenty-five cows calved; twelve heifers and thirteen bulls were born. I think that by this fall, I should be able to pay back ten heads of heifers.
- Herefords are an European breed, used to milder climate. How did they adapt to out Tuvan brutal climatic conditions?
- Beautifully. In my opinion, they feel better here that our native animals. Our cows already have the hair on their legs scraped off from the deep snow, but the Herefords are fine.
The Hereford breed originated in England, in 18th century. They have been raised with great success in Canada, Australia, New Zealand. They were brought to Russia for the first time in 1928, were acclimatized in Kazakhstan, then in Siberia.
Herefords, obtained by farming projects in Tuva, result from a population of Siberian selection, bred by our Siberian scientists, and the "Sonskiy" type is a part of this population.
This breed is also suitable for prolonged stay on pastures because they are very hardy, which is very important for us. But it won't work without a good fodder supply.
Things are not bad here as to fodder supply. Regardless of the fact that the grass was pretty bad this year, with my helper Yuri Vasilyevich Serdyukov, we managed to mow 250 tons of hay, so that both the calves and mothers can stay in a warm and roomy barn. And those animals whom we send out to the pasture for the day, get a good additional serving of hay in the morning and evening. So they are all well-fed and healthy.
Of course, not everything is perfect yet: there is no juicy food, so far we have only the rough dry fodder. I am thinking of sowing some oats next year and mow it when still green for food, we have already plowed 100 hectares, and they promised us the seed. So that should solve the problem about variety of fodder.
- So do you think that the experiment with breeding cows has worked out?
- It is too soon to say, but so far everything has been going according to plan. I very much hope and believe, that the meat breed will catch on in Tuva. And it is pleasant to think of myself as one of the pioneers in this useful work.
To give is more pleasant than to beg
- You have a whole herd of horses, they also demand care and attention.
- It is much simpler with horses. I raise them more for the soul. Sometimes I give one to somebody or other. I started with one horse, and now there are already thirty of them. They do not need any special attention or food. They graze for days by themselves. And the foals are with the adults - they are fine, healthy and cheerful. Sometimes we give them injections for parasites. A stallion named Synok leads the herd, he even looks for pastures with the best grass and protects the herd from wolves.
- You have three helpers living with you at the station. Are they dependable people, can you rely on them?
- Of course. They are all good, dependable people.
Yuri Vasilyevich Serdyukov is from the same village as myself, we mow and dry the hay together, and here, on the station, he is an irreplaceable help.
Petya Parshutin is also from my native country. He is an orphan, he was left without parents, went to schools somewhere, and now he came here - to live and work somewhere. I promised him a horse, a heifer and some sheep. But Alexei Ondar came from Tes-Khem district, he has his own livestock, which he herds, and at the same time he looks after my animals. He lives in the watchman shed. In the summer we have to hire milk maids, my wife can't do it all by herself. And she lives here only during her summer vacation. Elena Krasinovna has spent her whole life in medicine, she is a physician's assistant -obstetrician at the clinic, she is irreplaceable in Arzhaan. They call her day and night.
She has to take calls and do home visits. She has to go alone at night, in complete darkness. In Arzhaan, just as in all the other villages, there are no street lights. She is not afraid of people, but there are many dogs, and wolves howling near the village, and she is afraid of those. Before, when there were no cell phones, people would come to get her personally, and guided her themselves. But now they just call, and that is that. And she goes. She never refuses anybody.
She also services Chkalovka. She comes here on a bicycle in the summer.
- At all times, people who had a certain surplus, have always helped others who were less fortunate, or put their means into building socially significant projects. As a farmer, have you had an opportunity to be a sponsor, donor - a giving person?
- Giving is always more pleasant than begging, but so far there have been no such means to put significant contributions into sports or culture. But I always help out. I don't have any free cash, so I help out with livestock.
For the sports competitions, which are usually organized in Arzhaan in honor of Youth Day, I choose the best ram for the winning team. When in summer of 2012 they were building the Buddhist suburgan at the approach to Turan, I also chose several sheep for the workers. As the proverb goes, one enjoys what one has a lot of.
To feel like a human being, not like a screw in a machine
- What do you think, which one of your children will want to be your heir?
- It is hard to say. Daughter Maria got higher education, she works in Kyzyl as a pediatric stomatologist. Youngest son Valera is now serving in the army, and he has already old me: "Forgive me, papa, but this is not me." He dreams of a career in the military. Oldest son Evgeniy lives in Arzhaan, he works as a watchman at the clinic, and he has no interest in raising animals. But, possibly, the middle son - Andrei. Even though he lives in Turan and works with plastic windows, he very often comes to the station and helps me. He has his own cow here, pigs, sheep. So there is some hope for him.
It is hard work - breeding livestock, and young people now look for how to live more comfortably, cleaner, more convenient. And here, as you can see for yourself, the work is without vacations or holidays. From early morning into late night. I like it, but the kids - not so much.
- And in what is the attraction of this endless work for you?
- Because, most of all, I am my own boss. If I want, I get up in the morning, and when I want to, I have lunch. That is a joke, of course. I usually don't manage to have lunch no matter how much I would like to. And at night, there is often no sleep. A cow is calving - and you get up several times during the night to check up on her. Or a dog barks, you jump up to see if something happened.
I like it because I do what I thought of, what I dreamed of. And when it works out, you feel likea human being, not some screw that somebody is turning around as they feel like.