A highland fling

our wee adventure on the Black Isle

Almond rustlers!!


Last year it was rumored that olive rustlers were about. The hot gossip in the campo was that ‘somewhere’ near Seville a group of “Romanians” had rustled 70,000 kilos of olives in one night. “Watch your olives” we were warned. “You could lose your whole crop in one night”.

If you gave it a little more thought, you would know that a) it would not be possible to harvest (by hand) that many olives in one night, and b) it’s always “Romanians” who are blamed, although you never actually see any around! But it was a fun story nonetheless. We did not, however, post guards round our farm. And surprise, surprise, no olives were stolen.

Last year, we did, however, have our walnut crop rustled. We had been watching the walnuts, waiting until the nuts were ripe and ready to pick. Down we go one day, and to our horror, they were gone – nary a walnut to be found.

Was it the dreaded “Romanians”? No, almost certainly it was walkers. As we live right next to the Sierra de las Nieves national park, we get loads of walkers on our land, mostly because the footpaths are not well maintained, and our track is. I don’t actually mind the walkers on our land, as long as they respect the land, and don’t mind the dogs barking at them! But all too many of them are arrogant and selfish. Over the past few years, they have stolen walnuts, tomatoes, lettuce and melons. They have stolen firewood to be used as their walking sticks. They have trampled through our olive grove, taking a few with them as they go. And they threaten to report us when our dogs bark at them when they are trespassing on our land! We get a bit cross sometimes.

This week we had planned on collecting our almond crop. It had looked to be a good year for almonds (often, the trees don’t produce much). And they are soooo good for Christmas baking! So down the track we traipse, only to find the almonds…mostly gone. And big footprints (human variety) all around the trees. And the trees are right next to…you guessed it…the walkers’ path.

Manuel says we should put signs up asking people to please respect the land. But you have to figure that anyone who is prepared to steal an almond crop, will not be the type to take any notice of a polite sign.

Author: Ann Larson

One-time IT executive who lives on a 22 acre olive farm in Spain with husband Kenton and 2 boxer dogs. We make Yunquera Gold olive oil, and soap and skincare products from same. We aim to make natural, fresh, and handmade products at affordable prices!

5 thoughts on “Almond rustlers!!

  1. How sad for you. Too bad your mighty watchdogs wren’t on the loose. How is Fitz doing?


  2. Hi Anne
    I’m very sorry you had your walnut and almond crop stolen. I know how infuriating it is when people take your produce. I’m surprise you blame walkers though. Do you really think that someone walking the Sierra de las Nieves would want to be weighed down by even a couple of kilos of walnuts or almonds? What on earth would they do with them? Have you tried shucking a crop of almonds with a couple of stones? Nothing is more calculated to get you to decline the life of Neanderthal man. Bruised fingers, shattered nuts. . .You and I know what organisation and sheer physical work it takes to even harvest a crop, let alone steal it. The habit of blaming Roumanians for everything (including the theft of babies) obtains here too, but your habit of blaming holidaymakers (I assume these are the walkers you refer to) is not far from that mark. I would look closer to home however uncomfortable that is. My crops are often stolen piecemeal by children sent by their mothers on the basis that its “only kids” so I won’t confront them.
    I don’t think it matters whether you mind walkers on your land or not. I don’t think there is a law of trespass in Spain and anyone can walk anywhere, though foriegners don’t understand this. The custom is to mark you land with whitewashed stones, not with fences, though fences are now increasingly common. Of course people should respect the property of others and no one has the right to steal or damage what belongs to other people.
    As for the presence of large intimidating dogs on one’s land, it is simply not “costumbre” in Spain to do this. Large dogs are normally constrained by chains and muzzles. Rightly so in my opinion. Dogs guarding their owners’ territory is very much the custom of foreigners.


    • John, you sound increasingly cranky when you’re online, is all ok?

      Yeah, I know walkers have the right to walk on the land, John, but they do not have the right to interfere with the land.

      The reason I blame walkers is that we have no close neighbours, and that the trees are right at the bottom of our land, which adjoins the national park. Very popular with walkers. No road nearby, and the track is chained, so no one can drive through. A bit obvious then.

      The “large intimidating dogs” are our pets, and much much less likely to bite than the little snappy black dog that runs around our campo! All the Spanish around here know them and like them, it is walkers with sticks trying to hit the dogs that I mind…


  3. John, have another G&T and a sit down mate, maybe a pot shot or two at some kaffirs ! This unseasonally warm weather is getting to you.