Before we went down to the forest to work yesterday, I had opened the upstairs terrace doors, so that the rooms could air out a bit. That has the extra advantage of letting the dogs outside, while we can still know exactly where they are!
I was checking my email, when the dogs began to bark furiously. That may (or may not!) signify visitors or trespassers, so I went out on the terrace to check it out.
To my surprise, a man and his mule were on our track. It was clearly Pedro, who had been collecting firewood from his land, which is adjacent to ours; his land has no road access. We permit his family to walk or drive on our track in order to do what they need to on their own land. It doesn’t do us any harm, and it saves them going the (very) long way round.
Anyway, said man was colllecting some of our long grass by the wind turbine, and shoving it into a large sacko. He was obviously collecting it for his rabbits, which most people around here keep as a source of meat for the house. (We’ve been encouraged to do the same, but I just can’t see killing fluffy bunnies for food!)
This brought to mind a couple of things that I believe will gradually disappear from Spanish rural life:
- Raising and killing rabbits, which is very common even in the middle of town.
- Keeping mules and using them for work in the countryside.
Mules are still common, but only with the older guys. Much of the land here is mountainous, and difficult to reach by car (if they even have a car). So for years, mules have been the main source of real muscle power here. They were usually kept in town, in stables under the main living area of the house. This does still occur, but not as frequently, and the town hall is hoping that eventually all farm animals will be kept outside the main town area.
Also, most of the countryside can now be reached by car or truck, making mules less necessary. It’s a shame though – mules are quite magnificent – they work hard all day, don’t need much care, and are loyal as long as you treat them well. They have all the stubbornness and personality of people.
The mule shown in the photo belongs to our friend Manuel. His name is Sevillano (because he was born in Seville, of course!). Our dog Max is shown in the photo, too. Max looks so happy because he absolutely loved that mule! Not sure how the mule felt about Max, though. RIP Max.