Farmers in the Wilderness

We’ve been here since my childhood. At first I came here with my grandparents and parents. Then, after marriage, I came with my husband, parents-in-law, children, and my husband’s brother and his wife. We are a big family, and we continued this job. We, the brides, milk the cows. Formerly, my late mother-in-law would help us. This is the filtrated milk, and this is the sour cream. Here we filtrate the milk, and separate the sour cream. We would stay on this same street. My father’s house was a bit farther. As kids, we all would play here, in my father-in-law’s house. There were many kids then, some 100-130 kids of my age, unlike now. They are in Russia, while we don’t go anywhere; we like what we have. In 1995-96, here, in the mountains of Vardenik, there were 520 families. After that the number went down gradually. Now there is almost no one. All those ruins once were houses. People would live there, sometimes two kin families would live in one house. We continued this mountain lifestyle. We have seen this since childhood, and learnt what our parents were doing. So we continue everything their way. It’s 55 years, since I have been here. Now I am 77. I have children and grandchildren. They are in Russia, so it’s only me and my 85-year-old husband here, and my disabled daughter, who is 57. We work and live, what else can I say. We had so many pictures of milking the cows of the Kolkhoz, and working at the sheep farms. I worked everywhere, but with honours. I have 9 cows, dear It’s only me working, but I can do everything; I milk, I make the cheese and the rest. Just I am a bit sick. There are so many stories with this place; my feet were on all these hills. There were many people here formerly. Now it’s not bad here either, people respect each other, and life goes well here. We come in late May and leave in October. People here are lovely, everyone respects each other. The hardest part is my little kid; if I were alone, everything would go easier. We have a lot of cattle, herds of sheep, horses, etc. Thank God, everything is good, I have great sons, who are married, my ‘boss’ [husband] is well. So we love each other, and had a good life, thank God. Musicians would come here, we, the girls, would sing, dance, till 1 o’clock in the night. Those were the good days. Come here, she’s shooting. Arman, don’t look at the camera… Hey! Stop! Don’t bombard! Only two at a time! Our traditional way of lavash … We have been coming here for 10 years already. It’s not that I don’t like it, but I would like to enter a university, and learn… but I don’t manage. We come to the mountain every year. Of course, it’s pleasant, that I am with my parents every day. But I don’t manage to go to study. My father says, that I should go to Yerevan and study, get married some day. I say, that it’s not the time yet, but he says, that it is. I say that that 17-18 would be better. -How old are you? -I am 15, turning 16. My brother says, that it’s early, but my dad says, let her get married and leave these barns. Now I milk 3 cows because my mom is not here. When she comes she won’t let me. I am trying to achieve something, also helping my parents. I want to become a designer, that’s my dream.

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