Economy

Crop farming is evidently backward compared to animal husbandry in Khevsureti. The mountainous relief of the region deprives the locals of the possibility of providing families with sufficient cereal crops. Barley and rye planted in the rocky places make supplies scarce to live on for a year. That is why there is a necessity for economic relations with the plain which have always been a matter of major importance. It is impossible to solve the problem of the bread supply to Khevsureti without active participation from the capital or neighbouring regions based on the flatlands. Animal husbandry has always been the main source of income for the Khevsuris. Through realization of dairy products they could purchase grain crops, salt, wine, tableware, tools, etc. From this point of view, a special mention should be made regarding the Khevsurian cow, its place and importance in the everyday life of historical Phkovi. The Khevsurian cow is small in size, sturdy, capable of enduring severe climatic conditions and is easy to feed in winter; it produces plenty of high-caloric, fatty milk. Sheep breeding in this area has always been an occupation of auxiliary character. This can be explained by the remoteness of Khevsureti from winter pastures. For this reason, it is characteristic to the Khevsuris to keep not numerous flocks of sheep, so as to be able to afford winter feeding in the mangers. Sheepcote, as a rule, was arranged in the area adjacent to the cattle shed. Typical dwellings in Khevsureti generally were designed so that they were comfortable both for humans and for cattle. The first “floor” of the earthen house with a flat roof was an area for the household and cattle. The second “floor”, cherkho, was the place where men lived, and the third “floor” was allocated for a barn for thrashing and storing grain. In spring, after tilling the fields and sowing the grain, the cattle were driven to the summer pastures up in the mountains, where the covered enclosures had been arranged for livestock. The dairy cattle usually were driven to comparatively low localities, while the dry cows were sent to the grazing lands high up in the mountains. Later on, having mowed corn, made hay and reaped harvest, the nomadic (known as memte, i.e. “mountaineer”) families left the highlands and returned home.