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Being a Rhodope farmer

It’s worth taking a chance, while pursuing your dreams! The story of farmers Beti and Niki Vassilev proves that. They are the owners of the biggest herd of indigenous cattle in this country.
 The couple lives in the small Rhodope village of Gorno Pole, Madjarovo Municipality. Beti and Niki own a farm and a guesthouse there, called the Wild Farm. Nature fans know and love the place with its fresh air, scent of wild flowers and beautiful views. Its owners have become very successful entrepreneurs, but this success has taken years of hard work and overcoming of difficulties over many sleepless nights. Every new beginning is a tough one.
“Usually people breed cows with the idea to buy a flat in the city. We on the other hand sold my parents’ apartment in Plovdiv and bought cows,” Beti recalls. It all started end-90s, when the young couple decided to take a chance with a dream of success, without having a clue for the heavy economic crisis, standing at the door. They bought 16 cows and 8 of those died as early as the first month. “The reason lied in the fact that their breed couldn’t adapt easily to this micro climate here,” Beti explains. That is why the couple opted for the local Bulgarian gray cattle and Rhodope cattle. Their choice turned into the key for success:
Горно поле 2“These are Bulgaria’s oldest breeds, they are almost extinct and that is why I am proud to say that we own the biggest herd in this country,” Beti says. We have now some 450 – 500 animals. New calves are born everyday, but many die too, since wolves eat them. Everything here follows the laws of wild nature. The idea is that we try not to interfere, we let them give birth in the forest, just like wild deer. They hide their offspring for a week in the forest! Our guest can take part in all of this and help.”
Beti and Niki raise their 4 children in this small oasis among wild nature, far away from the dirty and polluted big cities. At the same time the young family knows for sure how to keep a guest in the small hotel – they offer unforgettable experiences among everything else. The Wild Farm is situated amidst one of the best preserved in terms of ecology territories in Bulgaria. “We can say that the Egyptian Vulture, a species, endangered worldwide is a sort of a pet, since the entire colony that nests in the rocks nearby eats manure from the calves in the farm,” Beti praises. So, it is obvious why foreign ornithologists often stay at the hotel too. 
“Horse riding is another attraction  – we have 4 horses and our guests may try to catch a cow with a lasso, just like cowboys,” Beti goes on to say. “They can also go and search for gold in the river of Arda in the village of Madjarovo, situated nearby. The children find it very interesting, when Uncle Strahil from the village shows them the technique of gold digging. They can also look for minerals and semi-precious stones.” Tourists can expect tasty food, but healthy too, since the menu of the Wild Farm consists only of meals, prepared with homemade bio products and herbs.
“Pumpkin, stuffed with veal – that is my specialty,” Beti explains. “Our veal is fresh and pink, with a color that you will never see in a store. We prepare sweet saralias, hens with katmi, rabbit pastry. We organize the so-called cheverme in the forest nearby – roasting of a whole animal on open fire. The veal cheverme is something very tasty.”
Other guest houses have opened doors in Gorno Pole, following the example of Beti and Niki. Thus the abandoned village is coming back to life step-by-step, thanks to the entrepreneurship spirit of the locals and the curiosity of tourists, who are eager for new adventures in the mountain.
English version: Zhivko Stanchev
Radio Bulgaria
Veneta Nikolova . Neverending story

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