Travelling north with our camper we visited Hans-Gerd and Ernestine on their organic farm. Years ago, I had unearthed her via internet several years ago. We went together to high school in Martin Luther-Schule (Odenwald, Germany). Since our class reunion in 2020 was cancelled, I had one more reason to get in touch with her. Ernestine always had had good networking qualities and I am, apart from that, interested in organic farming. We had not seen each other for about 15 years.
We were heartly welcomed by her in the next village, Santa Olalla del Cala, and followed her 4WheelDrive to the finca. It was a challenge to manage the 7 m long camper through 5 km of dusty roads, but we did arrive well at the parking slot.
Immediately we started to indulge in old times. Wow, how many details Ernestine still would remember. Now, I am updated concerning the lives of our former classmates. Thank you, Ernestine.
We were delighted to get to know Hans-Gerd and be able to listen to what he shared with us about his eventful life and so many trips all over the world that he had made. Finally, he decided to contribute – with the finca – to preserve the dehesa and to sustainable development. It’s a life project and further than that. We plunged into the joys and miseries of the organic farming on the finca.
Instead of traffic noise, we would hear the hoopoe sing and the nightingales in the bushes along the creek. We enjoyed a life in nature, among animals, wide landscape: it is beautiful here! The dehesa has its own charm and appeal. We really enjoyed the walks with the three dogs over hill and dale.
This year has been extremely dry, the same as the year before. Fall was poor in rain. This gives nature a hard time. It endangers the cork harvest and the workshops and seminars in the Training Center had to be cancelled due to the lack of water. The water levels of the dams are very, very low. The lack of water endangers the existence of many farmers in Spain. Most tourist might hear those news, but here, on the dehesa, you can really see it.
In only one week, we have learned so much about organic farming, breeding of Ibérico pigs, shepherding, transhumance. We have also learned to distinguish between a livestock guardian dog and a herding dog. While we were there, Hans-Gerd and Ernestine brought a new livestock guardian dog: a white mastiff puppy. The grow up with the sheep and live in the herd. They are the best defense against wolves in the mountains: now there are 13 livestock protection dogs on the farm.
My husband and I felt very good here, on the farm. We all love good food, especially if it is organic and sustainably grown. We just lived an overproduction of lettuce: so every day there was lettuce salad on the table. The lettuce here is very crispy and tasty. Some of the visitor’s palates do not appreciate that very much, says Ernestine. Many people are used to tasteless lettuce grown in conventional green houses.
We love it here. And we adore seeing that the rests of lettuce leaves or strawberries and mashed eggshells turn into chicken food. Their eggs, by the way, are very tasty and have a nice yellow yolk. Of course we could also taste the wonderful Ibérico ham. Delicious and unique.
For our trip to the north of Spain we got many good tips and hints for restaurants, cheese producers. We will work through them.
We are grateful and wish a lot of rain, nice guests and all the best for the future.
Monika and Andreas Poth
Here some photos: seen by Monika and Andreas Poth