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Meet the skating babushka of Baikal- Lyubov Morekhodova, her surname means The One Who Walks on Sea

By The Siberian Times reporter
12 February 2018

This time of winter sees the remarkable grandmother, 76, gliding across the ice on the world’s deepest lake on skates made in WW2.

'I started skating when I was seven.' Picture: Boris Slepnyov/Kopeyka

She maybe a pensioner, but Lyubov is far from retired. 

She needs to skate to check on her cows when they walk too far from the house where she lives alone. 

Her steel skates were made in 1943, and they’ve been going strong ever since. 

Lyubov became a Russian internet sensation when her friend Alexey Vaskov filmed a short video and posted it online. 

Days after she was inundated by journalists inviting her to come to Moscow’s federal TV channels. 

But the limelight is not for her. Olga Igosheva and Boris Slepnyov from Kopeyka newspaper visited Lyubov in her hut on Baikal shore. 

Lyubov became a Russian internet sensation when her friend Alexey Vaskov filmed a short video and posted it online. 

Bailkal is the place she loves, and her first name means Love.

She was born here, in Shara-Togot ulus on the shores of the mighty lake. 

Her father Nikolay was a forester, mother Fiona looked after the house and their seven children. 

'I’ve always been going long distances on skates,’ she said.

'I started skating when I was seven.

'My Dad made the skates by cutting a metal saw and inserting it into pieces of wood which I then tied to valenki (traditional felt boots)….

Lyubov skating


Putting skates


Lyubov skates


Lyubov skates

Her steel skates were made in 1943, and they’ve been going strong ever since. Pictures: Boris Slepnyov/Kopeyka, Alexey Vaskov, Current Time

You won’t see competitors at the Winter Olympics skating like this but in the Siberian cold - which can dip to -50C - her 'steel horses' are warm and effective.

'I don’t like modern skates, they wobble around my ankle and feet get cold. 

'Valenki are always warm. 

'I was even competing in these skates with my fellow factory workers.’ 

She worked for 42 years as a technology engineer at Kuibyshev factory in Irkutsk, and retired here - to her old family home - with her husband. 

He died in 2011, and since then she has been alone, resisting calls from her family to move back to the city. 

She keeps an eye on cows and when she can’t see them for long, she puts skates on and goes on ice to shorten the distance to a nearby hill. 

'I sit alone in the kitchen. I sit and look at this,’ she said of Baikal.

'It gives me happiness, a good mood, and then I always think, if anybody sat next to me, they'd say: 'What a beauty, what incredible beauty’.'

She wakes up 5.30 am, and starts her stove, feeds the cows and lets them out to graze.

Lyubov has four dogs, a cat, two hens, two roosters, two calves, five cows and two bulls. 

The wind is luckily so strong here at Baikal that it bares hill sides so cows have access to grass all year around. 

Then she feeds her dogs and worries that she can’t afford anything better than a ‘soup’ of potato, mixed fodder and dry dog food. 

Her sons, grandchildren and nephews come to stay with her in summers. 

Lyubov Morekhodova


Walking with cows

She wakes up 5.30 am, and starts her stove, feeds the cows and lets them out to graze. Pictures: Boris Slepnyov/Baikal Info, Current Time

She has taught all her family members to mow grass, rake hay, chop wood and set up nets. 

Her drinking water comes from Baikal - of course! 

In winters she gratefully receives help from nearby neighborhood, when men come to make an ice hole for her. 

She has to bring water in buckets, including for animals, and every days she goes down and up the hill, with two full buckets of water, up to ten times. 

She keeps an eye on cows and when she can’t see them for long, she puts skates on and goes on ice to shorten the distance to a nearby hill. 

She refuses offers to go to Moscow and reacts to her unexpected fame in a very reserved manner. 

'Just what do these people want from me? I am minding my business and not touching theirs. I’ve got no spare time at all, and they are inviting me to Moscow!

Chopping woods


Taking water from Baikal

'I am not scared at all here, I don’t even know what I should be scared of.’ Pictures: Current Time

'I don’t even watch TV, perhaps only some days in the evening. 

'And anyway who will I leave my animals to? And what if they ask me something, and I won’t no what to answer?'

She is very talented in embroidery, she loves macrame, crocheting and weaving from beads. 

Some of her works, whenever she dared to take them to Irkutsk, won prizes at local competitions.

'I am not scared at all here, I don’t even know what I should be scared of,’ she said.

'The only unpleasant thing here is drunk tourists on ATVs who forever manage to break something. 

Lyubov and her embroidery


Embroidery


Lyubov Morekhodova


Lyubov's house

Some of her works, whenever she dared to take them to Irkutsk, won prizes at local competitions. Pictures: Boris Slepnyov/Kopeyka, Current Time

'They killed two dogs and turned my boat upside down.

'But I realise there is little I can do about them…. In the summer, when there are lots of people.

'I tell them: 'Pick up your litter, tidy up after yourselves. Don't leave litter, it all ends up in Baikal.' 

'We live a happy life here, me and my animals. In summer I get to see all my relatives, and in winters I am way too busy to get bored.’

Comments (13)

Does any one have her contact?
Pedro, Lisbon, Portugal
26/04/2018 16:01
0
0
I wish she was my Babushka. She's a peng ting.
Al Jeffery, Syria
02/03/2018 17:24
3
1
Lake Bikail is so beautiful. You have a lively life there. In 2015 when I visited Listyvanka it was a lovely December day and only 15 belie 0. Your cows are beautiful
Patricia Gothard, Laguna Woods, California USA
25/02/2018 18:21
4
2
Hardy and sturdy like your ancestors 24 millennium before present!May you safe and happy for long!
姚剑申, 巨鹿/中国
20/02/2018 20:45
12
1
It's real love toward town ,animal and nature also.it show how we can enjoy our life alone.
Salute to Lyubov.
Sachin Kumar. , Delhi, India
20/02/2018 10:59
10
1
I agree with everyone's comments and just wanted to add one more thank you to Lyubov for your love of nature. i would love to live on Baikal and I would be happy to help you tell the drunken tourists to pick up their litter and stay away from your animals. I hope that people will help keep a watch for your safety, not from the wonderful world that you are so fortunate to live in but from the humans who do not realize that you are the treasure taking care of one of Russia's great treasures.
Pamela K Tetarenko, League City, USA
18/02/2018 07:22
7
1
Amazing story about human spirit, care, love, survival in harsh environment.And I also love old people.They are treasure to be kept and included in our lives and our society.
Saša, Canada
18/02/2018 07:02
7
1
Jocelyne, i think you could be right. they just adapted to the cold and wear their natural, longer grown, - fur coat-.
http://selomoe.ru/korovy-byki/monbelyardskaya-poroda.html
amazing though the old lady. a real Russian -Babushka-. may she live and enjoy life for many more years.
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
16/02/2018 16:25
9
1
So much talent, energy, tenacity! Such an inspiration! After seeing her on Facebook, I had to learn more.
Thank you for your wonderful story, Lyubov! We would all love to sit at your kitchen table, enjoy the view, and
learn more. But wait! There's no time for that. Lyubov is on a mission! Continued good health and much happiness!

Merrie, North Dakota, USA
Merrie Rolland, Grand Forks, ND USA
16/02/2018 07:36
11
1
What a beautiful strong independent woman...God Bless you richly for choosing your lifestyle and living it to the fullest...
Ozzie Finley Sr, West Virginia, United States of America
16/02/2018 05:01
10
1
Lyubov Is inspiring on so many levels. It would be an honor to know her. I wish her continued good health and happiness.
Stephen, Olympia, WA, USA
14/02/2018 05:31
11
1
What a talented lady in more ways than one; and to the drunk tourists, "Behave Yourselves".



"Happy New Year", Lyubov.
Jaker, Dundalk
14/02/2018 01:28
11
1
Wonderful wise ladies, they are in the true. Ready for olympic games in skating !

What kind of cows are here? They look like "Montbéliardes" from Jura mountains but with longer "hairs" ?


Jocelyne, FRANCE
13/02/2018 19:59
13
1
1

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