Goats monument in Don Cossacks town

Goats monument in Don Cossacks town

The Goats monument may seem strange to a newcomer, but any city habitant knows the meaning of this monument.  As a joke we can say that this is a monument to the goats who defeated the Soviet regime.

In Soviet Union everyone was obliged to work. There were no private enterprises. All businesses were owned by state. Even agricultural collective farms didn’t belong to their employers as you might assume reading the title “collective”.

There was no unemployment in Soviet Union. You could easily get a prison sentence for not wanting to work. Any private initiative was punishable. 

Sometimes even a suspicion of trying to get “unearned” income was sufficient for prosecution.

One of my friends got 5 years in prison for  buying 20 pounds of butter.
 He was asked to buy it by his acquaintance who was preparing a wedding banquet for his daughter. (The butter was a scarce commodity in the 70s of  the 20th century in Soviet Union). My friend was caught  while trying to send the butter to another city, where his acquaintance was living. My friend was sentenced to 5 years in prison for “preparing the speculation (resale to benefit)”.

The main source of income for local Cossack women was knitting goat fluff scarves.

The delta of Hoper river (a tributary of the Don river) has long been home to a unique breed of fluff goats.  All attempts to acclimatize them in some other areas still fail. These cossack goats have very special down. Their fluff is a type of cashmere.

Products from goat down were an integral part of Cossack way of life. Goat down shawls were used as blankets for newborns. Every Cossack was obliged to have goat down socks during military campaigns. Even wet goat down socks keep your feet warm. Goat down shawl was an indispensable attribute of each Cossack woman in severe winters in Don Cossacks lands.

Don Cossack shawls were famous in the USSR no less than Orenburg shawls. Price of good Don Cossack shawl often exceeded the average monthly salary of a Soviet citizen. At the same time experienced craftswoman could knit 4-5 shawls in a month.

So for most Cossack women knitting was the main source of income. Many Cossack women perceived  their obligatory employment as a nuisance. Your can imagine the quality of their mandatory work.

Local Soviet leaders were well aware that while the locals have such a source of income, you should not even dream of any victories on the way to communism. It was hard to motivate a man when his wife’s income exceeded his salary 5 and more times.

It was impossible to ban women knit scarves in their spare time, so all efforts were directed at combating goats. Local Communistic party committee has even issued several decrees to combat goats. A restriction on the number of goats in household was introduced by decree of local authorities, it was forbidden to graze goats on public lands (all land belonged to the state in the USSR and so was public). To buy bread to feed the goats was seen as a serious breach of the law too.

 In the heat of speech one of the local leaders of the Communist Party bluntly called goats the worst enemies of the Soviet regime.

Years passed. Long gone Soviet Union. And goats still graze in the meadows. This monument can be called a monument to the winners goats.

New Don Cossack. The first visiting of Church.

New Don Cossack. The first visiting of Church.

My ancestors lived on the Don river within 300 years. They proudly named themselves Don Cossacks. They grew up wheat, bred horses, took part in wars, gave birth to children. On Sundays they went to church.  And so till 1920 when going to church became dangerous. I well remember how my father was warned that he gets fired from work, if his mother (my grandmother) did not stop attending Church.

It is good that everything comes to an end sooner or later. Now our children can decide for themselves to go or not to go to Church.

I long treated religion skeptically (communist upbringing has not passed in vain). I was christened late, at the age of 30 years. It’s interesting that  I came to religion under the influence of the senior fellow workers in the research nuclear center.

 I can’t call myself an exemplary Christian, but I am the Don Cossack and I’m very glad that my children have returned to the old tradition and take pleasure in visiting Church. I hope that in our cruel time the belief in God will help children to remain the real people and will hold them from the bad acts.