I'd love to one day be able to use some of our land for hay or lucerne which we'd feed to the animals over the winter months. At the moment though we've concentrated on the main house garden for vegetables and use the rest mainly for grazing the horses and donkey. Our neighbour also grazes her cows on 2 of our plots occasionally.
For the last 2 years we have bought most of our winter feed from the village corporation the same as most of the Bulgarians that live here. Everything is ordered by the decare (1000sqm's) and there are different procedures for different crops. It's a lot to get your head around when you've been used to phoning a farmer friend once a week to deliver round bale haylage as we used to do in the UK. But it does make me more aware of the work involved in hay making.
This morning I've been out with Neville - another ex-pat in the village, to check on the first cut of lucerne. It's looking a bit thicker than last year which is great as we had a poor crop in 2009. Hopefully it will dry out and the rain will stay away for a few days until we can get it lifted off the field. That's when the hard work starts as we have to turn, stack and load the trailer. We should get 3 cuts from the lucerne but have decided that we won't have it baled this year as it does cost almost a leva a bale and that money would be better spent on something else.
Being out in the fields working next to the villagers is very reminiscent of older times, days before big machinery came along to do the job for us. It's physically demanding but everyone gets on with it. For me it's quite humbling, everyday there are people out with scythes cutting grass, horses or donkeys pulling carts laden with it, all to be taken home and dried for the winter. It's something you just don't see in the UK now but still very much a part of life here in rural Bulgaria.
The people here are so resilient, physically strong and hard working. They don't moan or find excuses not to do things and they can teach some of us a lot about life.