Firstly, I would like to apologise for not writing any blogs for a while and secondly, for my very belated yearly roundup…
2019 has been a year of change in so many ways for Melanya and I have learnt, just because you embark on one idea, doesn’t mean you have to stick to it forever… Back in 2018 we decided to call an end to rabbit farming, as even though I immensely enjoyed caring for the little bundles of fun, realistically they took up a lot of our time for the amount of meat they produced. Rabbits eat a sizeable amount of food, and with many predators around, they needed to be kept safe which also meant supplying the provisions. My large garden and the surrounding fields, contained all the plants they needed for a well-rounded diet, but someone had to get it for them! In truth it only amounted to about 1 hour every day, and I enjoyed the excuse to go rambling, searching out their favourite dock, dandelion and mallow leaves, and climbing trees to prune a few branches for them. I had become very fast at skinning and gutting, but the look of horror on guests’ faces, when offered for dinner something that had once been cute and fluffy, meant they were rarely on the menu! So breeding was curtailed and the last rabbit went in a pot in March.
Another reduction in hard physical work was born when we had a borehole drilled in our garden. After taking the plunge to ensure we never ran out of water again in the long, hot and dry summers, a whole new irrigation possibility happened. After measuring delivery quantities and being sure the house had plenty, we were able to install hoses and sprinklers to an automatic watering machine. Through trial and error we prevailed to bring an end to the labour intensive watering can approach! My greenhouse had its best ever year, with the ground being soaked overnight, while we slept, avoiding the fast evaporation of daytime watering.
Being independent from the village water system had many more benefits besides the lucky plants! No more restrictions on household water usage, no more clock watching on showering time or wearing all our clothes before finally using the washing machine! I understood why the villagers still used outdoor soak away toilets, but when we began renovating Melanya in 2007, we started an epidemic. Even though there are only a handful of residents, the old mountain-spring-water-delivery system, couldn’t cope with the extra demand for more showers and washing machines. So 10 years later, being last-but-one in the line, we did the decent thing, and sorted our own supply from within our land.
We still had the chickens of course, but unfortunately a persistent fox began plaguing the sleepy village. It was assumed that a female with cubs must have made her den nearby, as she was frequently seen in broad daylight, taking huge risks to snatch a meal. I lost a hen and a cockerel, and later 3 more birds, so restricted my remaining gals to a smaller enclosure and extended the perimeter fencing in height. This didn’t deter the fox and when I heard a commotion I ran out to scare off but the trapped fox couldn’t get back out. It was so close I nearly grabbed its tail but am glad I didn’t or the snapping jaws would have given me a nasty bite! A few more walls of death before freedom was found and the scare meant it didn’t return. Instead it began preying on the neighbours chickens and reduced flocks so much, that the ‘free range chickens’ were only allowed to stretch their legs on supervised watches. I knew it wouldn’t be long before the wild creature came back to mine so I adapted the empty rabbit hutches which already had a more secure and roofed pen. I made it as fox-proof as I could but sadly the crafty fox found a way in.
It has always been a battle to keep chickens in this remote location, right on the edge of civilisation. The closeness to nature brings more dangers, at both ground level and from overhead. Hanging CD’s around had vastly reduced the number of Golden Eagle attacks, but they are only deterrents on sunny days. Luckily Bulgaria scores very high on the sun index and the challenges are worth it because the eggs are so tasty. Now I know what needs to be done before I stock up again, but I took advantage of being animal-free to spend time travelling and visiting more beautiful places in Bulgaria as well as much needed time back in the UK.
Finally and with heavy hearts, we have decided to put Melanya up for sale. They say good things never last and even though I wanted to live out my life in this house, unfortunately it is not meant to be. We want this house to have new owners who will love it as much as we did. Whether it is to reap the rewards of the self-sufficient organic garden and fruit trees, continue the guest-house or simply to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery, we know we have paved the way for others to take over easily. With the fully furnished house split into 2 apartments, and a wonderful website receiving regular enquiries, a couple could hit the ground running. Tourism is increasing in this area and the new road makes the journey a breeze! Plenty of marked walks, swimming or fishing on the river below, only a 2 hour drive to the beach in Greece, and 4 proper seasons make this a fantastic opportunity. Other foreigners have settled in the village and the residents will be sad to see us go but always welcome newbies with open arms.
So for those of you who have the dream to live a different life, fancy escaping the rat-race, or just want a holiday home in an area of outstanding natural beauty, this is just what you are looking for. Going back in time to where cows still roam freely combined with modern perks of the fastest and strongest internet connection in Europe, Melanya really is a slice of heaven. Check out specifications on our website and tell your friends!