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Extract from the article "Creation of the Earth",  Zoriy  Balayan,

Literary newspaper 1978 No. 07 (Feb. 15)

    You fly over the eastern part of Armenia, pressing your cheek against the cold porthole, you look down and you never cease to be surprised: the lunar landscape - and only below the scorched orange highland slowly crawls, completely strewn with black, white, red stones. Often striking are even circles framing the tops of the mountains. They, these circles, are millions of years old. Once they were the craters of volcanoes. Once upon a time, the earth hummed and roared here, throwing out to the surface a myriad of those same black, white, red stones that turned everything around into a lifeless desert.


    For thousands of years, this territory of Armenia has practically not been cultivated by man. And not only because the attempts were futile. What was needed was confidence in the future, without which a person would not take on a task that depended on many years of exhausting work. Such confidence finally came to Armenia, which is sometimes called Karastan - the country of stones. The lands located in the lowland part of the republic, in the Ararat valley, were also not land as such. Salt marshes. I had to choose the lesser of two evils. There was no equipment for clearing stones, and first they had to take up the salt marshes, which the outstanding soil scientist V.V. Dokuchaev called "smallpox of the earth."

    For the development of saline lands around the world, a rather complex set of measures is being carried out, leading to the healing of the earth in the literal sense of the word. Talking with employees of the Republican Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry, I once caught myself thinking that here they treat the earth as a person.  


    Professor G. Petrosyan says that the treatment process should not be delayed, otherwise we will not get the desired effect. And having received the proper effect, we must not forget that we are dealing with a weakened body. Hence the logical continuation of many years of health work. For example, in the first year of agricultural development, winter wheat is sown. Then alfalfa is cultivated for three to four years. In a word, long
still working on every square centimeter of the earth,
to get the most land.


    The costs, of course, are enormous. In monetary terms, they pay off in years. Morally, immediately. The very work of healing the earth, of creating it, is already a conscious pride: you create a piece of Rodna with your own hands. For a synonym for the motherland in any language is the earth.

Today, the Ararat Valley provides more than 60 percent of vegetables and fruits produced in the republic. Once upon a time, Armenian refugees did not dare to settle in this, as it was called half a century ago, the dead valley. Now, leaving Yerevan in the direction of Echmnadzin and Hoktemberyan, it is hard to believe that an endless row of vineyards and orchards has grown on the former waste land.


    In the first years of the struggle against salt marshes, the question of clearing the land from stones was raised in parallel. And some areas were cleared of them even when there was no tractor in the village. And only in 1967, 32 detachments were created in the republic, each of which, in essence, was a combat unit, designed to fight with stones.


   In Soviet Armenia there are about forty administrative districts. And, perhaps, Talinsky is considered the most stony. I have repeatedly noticed that, approaching this area, the passengers, as if by agreement, fall silent. They silently look at the stony desert that is not intimidating in its appearance, stretching towards the horizon. Sometimes it seems that the unknown ocean has frozen petrified at the time of the storm. And already somehow  

miraculously, a tiny green garden by the road or a village framed by vineyards seems to be a miracle. If it were not for the huge pyramids and barricades built of stones around the orchard, around the village, around the vineyard, it would hardly be possible to believe that these islets-oases were created by human hands. Precisely because I can’t believe it, I would like to tell you how I practically created these same islands covered with greenery. At least give a list of works on each square meter.


   First, a special ripper passes through the field in order, so to speak, to stir up the earth covered with a stone shell. It goes through three times. It passes crosswise, Then the rooter moves each block from its place in order to pull these stone-stumps, stones-teeth out of the ground in which they have lain for thousands, and maybe millions of years. Then the collector - all machines or attachments to an ordinary tractor have a name corresponding to their purpose - piles the stones into one pile, into one mound. As a rule, they choose a place that will never be needed now | to a person. With a planting rogue, the machine takes out stones from the deep layers of the earth. The collector mainly picks up large stones. Small ones still have to be carried out by hand. Then comes planning or leveling. Looking at it from the outside, one might think that people are preparing a football field for the game. Planning, as, by the way, and all processes, is carried out three times. Then comes plowing with a five-tooth plow. One detail: when they were preparing for plowing in the Talinsky district, I was sure that this was the last step, that the land was already ready, so to speak, for delivery. But what was my surprise, if not to say annoyance, when I saw how on the eve of the already almost cleared field was again covered with thousands and thousands of stones. They came up from the ground to the surface like a potato after a potato harvester. And just like potatoes, they are harvested only by hand. After the third plowing, the ground is still littered with tiny pebbles, but they are no longer touched. They - it's been known for a long time - protect the earth. They do not warm the evening dawn with their warmth.


   I looked at the healers of the earth, and it seemed to me that my eyes were busy with the harvest. In fact, it seems that people are harvesting ... stones. I thought: but still it is interesting how many tons of stones each hectare “gives”. It turned out, on average, a thousand tons. This is an average. It happens, and up to five thousand tons comes.


   What gives such a land, which in the future will be spoken of as a riddle? In the lengthy article “Reserves of the mountainous republic”, published ten years ago in the newspaper “Selskaya Zhizn”, the areas where viticulture is brisk are listed. The list did not include the Talinsky district. Today, the winegrowers of the region provide the republic with more than ten percent of raw materials for the manufacture of world-famous vintage cognacs. Dozens of types of agricultural products will be shipped by Taliners outside the republic.


   Sixty years ago, flows of refugees poured into the Talinsky district. Ninety-year-old collective farmer Petros Avetnkovich Ovenesyan recalls: “We chose these stones because there was freedom, there was Russia, and with it salvation. We knew that it was impossible to live here. We thought we would leave this place by next spring. And so they built temporary houses. Healthy firewood was burned, and rotten wood went under construction. But now a new government has come. She gave us faith. The collective farm united us. We were united by organization and technique. And everyone who got there survived. Every single one."  

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