A chance encounter in a small village populated by ethnic Armenians, Russian and Georgians lead to a friendship with a beautiful family. The village is situated in the Samtskhe-Javakheti mkhare (province) in the southeast of Georgia that borders both Armenia and Turkey.
The climate is harsh, and a significant share of its territory is covered by high mountains. Locals say, the winter lasts more than seven months with lots of bad weather, that is why almost everyone has cattle and hay or work at the farm. During the winter months, most villages off the main road are completely isolated from the outer world. The local economy is dominated by small-scale agriculture and the farmers are mostly engaged in cattle breeding. During Soviet times the collective farms (kolkhozes) in the region were renowned for their cheese. Some cheese was even exported to Moscow as “Swiss cheese”. Today, however, the large-scale manufacturing of dairy products has been disrupted, due to poor technology and problems of transportation. Most farmers produce only milk and sell to local small-scale cheese producers. The high production and transportation costs do not make it worthwhile to produce other cash crops. Pesticides and fertilisers are almost non-existent, which makes agriculture extremely weather sensitive. Thus the land is used as pasture or for harvesting hay. There is also a lack of local factories to process agricultural products. Most small-scale farmers do not have access to modern technology and are totally dependent on renting machinery or simply on manual work.