Today we will tell you another story from Vidin region, in particular from the village of Drenovets, Ruzhintsi municipality. The village is located on the banks of the river Lom. The altitude is just over 100 meters, and the climate is characterized by warm and relatively dry summers, while the winter is quite cold.
Here, the Aneta and Milen Assenovi family have chosen to build and develop their family farm. Seven years ago, the two returned from Sofia, where they lived and worked, to engage in dairy farming in their home village. This is one of the few herds in NARMS, which, due to the restriction on the minimum number, has not yet received any subsidies for animals under selection control and despite the misconceptions in the country manages to move forward and successfully breed purebred Simmental!
Today, Aneta will tell us why they made this unusual choice for young people, how they manage to raise their 3 children and already over 40 purebred animals without subsidies and on their own.
– Hello, tell us about yourself and your husband in a few words.
– Hello, my name is Aneta Assenova and together with my husband Milen we are from the village of Drenovets. I am 35 years old and he is 37 years old. We were in Sofia for a while, but then we decided to return to the village to raise animals.
– Why did you make such a decision? Usually people are looking for a way to escape from a village and settle in a big city or even in another country.
– He decided so, and I followed him. He wanted to raise cows for milk, specifically the Simmental breed, which has been his great weakness for a long time!
– Did he easily convince you to return to the village and replace secular life with a barn? When and how did this happen?
– No, it was very difficult for me, I admit! However, when there is love, a woman is able to follow her husband everywhere. This happened in 2013. Since 2014 I have been a registered agricultural producer.
My mother-in-law used to look after the first animals in the yard of our house and when he “narrowed” us we bought this barn, which is in the yard of the former cooperative farm and… more cows, of course. The barn was an old and unmaintained building. We had to work hard to adapt it for normal animal husbandry.
– How many animals are there on the farm at the moment?
– 43, of which 10 are under 1 year of age, 7 are heifers and 26 are dairy cows.
– How do you raise animals?
– During the cold months they are tied in the barn. Then we let them graze in the meadows around. Before I gave birth to Mimi, I personally grazed them. Milen milks all the animals himself.
– You make great efforts to raise purebred animals and produce quality products. Do you realize it under good conditions?
– We have been working with an extremely correct partner for years – MILCCOM from the town of Lom. Purchase prices are good and there are no delays in payments! This is very important because, as I said, we still do not receive subsidies and irregular payments for milk can be disastrous for us.
– You have been a member of the Association for several years without receiving a subsidy. What is your motive?
– This is right, because the number of cows was below 20. We receive administrative assistance, valuable advice, and very high quality seed. For my husband, animals are extremely important and he raises them with great love! He wants to do everything right and breeds them only with elite bulls. We hope that this year we will receive a subsidy for the first time, which will be a huge help for us. So far, we are only able to cope on our own and it is very, very difficult for us. Milen buys only quality feed, which is not cheap at all, and keeps the cows getting everything they need to stay healthy and feel good.
It may sound strange, but we don’t raise cows just to make a living. This is a vocation for my husband. He would do anything to keep the animals well and to have an elite herd has been his dream for a long time. Sometimes this even happens at the cost of a lot of sacrifices on our part. Just today we had an argument with our eldest daughter, who is unhappy that everything goes to the cows, and she wants to repair her room. But, there is no way without deprivation. I guess my colleagues understand this very well. When you have a farm, every penny goes to it, and if you do things right, compromises with our lives are everyday!
Our animals are wonderful – very well looked after and we are very proud! When we returned to the village, at first I didn’t want to see them at all, but over time I got used to them and fell in love with them.
– Do you help your husband on the farm?
– Not at the moment, because we have a 6-month-old baby and I take care of him. Before that I was close to the farm. Now our eldest daughter cancels me and regularly helps her father.
– Where does Milen’s great love for animals and specifically for the Simmental breed come from?
– To this day I do not know, but even in moments when it is very difficult and he wants to sell everything, he moves on. He used to tell me that he wanted to give up because it’s really very difficult – there is no day off, we miss children’s holidays and birthdays, but only a few hours later he comes, shows me pictures of the animals and tells me “Look, Annie how beautiful they are! I can’t sell them! ”
They can’t wait to have only red ones with white heads lined up next to each other on the farm. We still have two black-and-white ones left from the first ones, but we watch them from calves, they give milk and we don’t remove them.
– Do you manage to take time to rest?
– Last year my mother stayed with our eldest daughter for three days to take care of the animals and we went, supposedly, to rest…, but it was no break, of course. It was something scary! We went to the sea with our younger daughter Mimi, who was 8 months old at the time. We were on the phone the whole time. There is nothing you can do from afar and it was a “break”! This has been for us for the last few years. Then we sent the bigger one for compensation 14 days at sea with her classmates.
– How long will you last at this pace?
– I do not know. There are no workers and Milen actually does everything himself. I don’t know how he survived.
– Do you plan to improve something on the farm to make your job easier?
– We hope to build a central milk pipeline soon. This will make Milen much easier
.- If you now return to the moment when Milen asked you to follow him to the village and raise animals, would you agree?
– I think not! This issue is very complicated, but in Bulgaria it is very difficult to be a farmer and we were not prepared for what awaited us. Sacrifices and compromises are commonplace, subsidies are insufficient and help is out of nowhere. But, we have already started and we will not give up. Milen has put his whole heart into this farm and is really trying to do everything right. I hope that at some point it will become easier and we will receive adequate help.
– What would you wish to the young people who have now set out on your path?
– Arm themselves with patience and be prepared that they must give themselves completely to the farm if they want something to happen. To forget about privacy. If they are not ready for this, it is better not to get caught!
– Thank you, I wish you success and be healthy!