Life in the countryside
Families that live in the countryside are likely farmers. Since independence, the family has likely bought the land they live on and are working hard to make payments on it. In some cases, close friends or family members may have pooled their limited resources to buy the land, so they must make all the decisions as a group. Life is not easy in the countryside. The people are very poor and would flee to the city if they had the money to move and felt they could find an apartment. The father makes all the decisions regarding the farm, although he also searches out advice from neighbors, experts traveling to the area from other countries, and the grandfather. Today he likely is looking at raising animals, fruits, vegetables, and grains that will make him the most money. Chances are the father is trying to save money to buy new farm implements, as his old Soviet-style implements are becoming out of date. Although he might prefer a nice new tractor and other equipment of his own, he is likely sharing equipment with other nearby farmers.
Although the farming community is centered around a town, reflecting the Soviet collective agricultural system, father will head into a larger town once every few weeks to bring in foodstuffs that he will trade for money. He might trade some foods directly for items such as radios, televisions, or even a new kitchen stove. Chances are, when the family was much poorer just six to 10 years ago, father had taken the radio and television to town and sold them, so now he is working to replace them.
The mother will spend most of her time taking care of the family. She will clean the house, make the meals, take care of the children, and also help out on the farm. It is likely she has a personal garden that she uses to raise vegetables for the family. She also might have a milk cow or milk goat that she uses for the family’s milk. If the family is small, the mother also will do some of the daily farm chores, such as feeding animals or helping plow the fields. Mother has to plan her day carefully. Water is not always available, nor is electricity. As a result, she fills up water jugs whenever she can. On days when the electricity is running, she will catch up on sewing with the electric machine she has had since she was a little girl. Once a month, Mother might venture into the nearest city. She probably takes a train. Mother likely has a male escort, such as a brother or brother-in-law. She will be dressed very conservatively. In addition to shopping, she will visit church to say a quick prayer and perhaps light a candle for a deceased relative or a relative that is working in Russia. In this case, she will make sure her head is covered.
Grandmother and grandfather probably live in the same house. If they are in good health, they will help with the household and farmwork. If they are not able to help, mother will see to their needs. If the grandparents do not live with the family, they likely have a very small apartment in a nearby town. Mother would stop by to visit when she went to town.