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Story and Photographs by Knarine Ghazanchyan | Program and Training Coordinator | Heifer Armenia
Translated by Emma Sargsyan | Media Coordinator | Heifer Armenia
It’s been almost a year since the family of Armine Sargsyan and Sargis Karapetyan received a cow from Heifer Armenia through one of its most famous projects, Peace to our Homes.
The cow, Khumar, gave birth to Bzho on January 6, the day when the Armenian Apostolic church celebrates Christmas. As Bzho was growing up, her mother became extremely productive, producing more than 2.5 gallons of milk each day. The Heifer program helped the family, who live in the village of Arpi, very much. The two animals gave the family fresh milk, curds, matsoun (yogurt) and sour cream—food the family could not afford in 2010.
Armine is extremely careful with Bzho and Khumar, and she spends a lot of time making the barn comfortable for Bzho, cleaning it and providing the animals with plenty of feed. She always provides them with grass, water and fresh air. Armine heeded the advice Professor Abrahamyan gave during his lessons. He repeatedly mentioned the health benefits of fresh air for animals. And healthy animals guarantee high-quality fresh milk on your table every day!
During our latest visit with Zemfira Harutyunyan, the village program leader, we made sure that in addition to checking on the animals’ health, we talked to Armine. She is starting to gradually recover from a severe depression she went through when her two sons joined the army, one following the other. She was not upset that they joined the army, but became depressed because the situation on the border with Azerbaijan has become very tense and dangerous recently. The cows provide a positive distraction for her and bring joy and hope into her life.
In any village in Armenia, the work begins very early. When it is dark outside, the work is in full swing. First the cows should be milked and then they should be taken to the field. On hot summer days, the shepherds take the cows to the hills of Jermouk, more than 6000 feet above the sea. This is the place where the cows gain weight and produce extremely high-quality milk. The cows return back to the village in the fall. The owners of the cows have an arrangement with the shepherd that stipulates that they get the milk and dairy products right from the hills.
Indeed, we say that our Armenian cows go to the hills for a vacation, where they rest and gain energy for the winter.
However, Armine decided not to send her cows to the hills this summer. She felt she should have something else to do apart from the work in the garden, something she liked very much and that could distract her from worrying about her sons. So this summer, Kumar and Bzho stayed at home, enjoying Armine’s care.