- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
421

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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FROM THE BURÉYA TO TRANSBAIKALIA
421
is 141 feet above the tunnel. Here everything is frozen
from the surface down, and only a thin layer thaws in
summer.
It was a more picturesque and varied country that
wc were now entering, with more hills and valleys than
wc had had before, and wc went on interminably
through the forest, over heights with upward gradients
and cuttings, and over lofty embankments more than
60 feet in height, in the most glorious moonlight until
late in the evening, when wc reached the station of Oldoi,
where wc stayed the night. I walked up and down in the
moonlight for a long time in front of the tram with the
engineer in charge of machinery, who had lived for three
years in this district at Taptugåri station, farther on.
He told me much about the life here. The soil is frozen
hard everywhere, and may thaw in summer to a depth
of about 6 feet at the end of July. But they can force
good vegetables on the thawed layer in the course of
the short summer. Potatoes come up about June 10,
and in the early part of August everything may be
frozen ; but in that short space of less than two months
things grow quickly. He had sowed three poods of
potatoes in the middle of May, and had dug thirty poods
(9 cwt. 2 qrs. 19 lb.) in August. In the same way with
beetroot ; he had sowed beetroot on about seven square
yards in May, and got about five poods (1 cwt. 2 qrs.
12 lb.). The horses here are left out all the year round
and have to feed themselves ; but there is hardly any snow
in winter, so they can easily find grass, even if it is dry
and stiff. It is cold, and they get thin, as may easily
be understood when they have to stay out at night
with a temperature of perhaps -40° or —50° C (—4o°
or —58° F.) ; but they put on flesh again in summer.
There is the curious point about the cows that the
calves are not tåken from them. They give no milk

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