A highland fling

our wee adventure on the Black Isle

There’s no such thing as a free lunch

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When I first moved to Spain and started life as a farmer, I had the comment from someone back home in the US of A that “oh, now you’re a farmer you must be rich”.

Now I don’t know about where you come from, but here in Spain, or at least in our little corner of it, small farmers are not rich, and do not get rich!

There are subsidies to be had, however. Nothing huge, none of the horror stories about farmers getting paid to let fields go fallow. (a good tactic in the “Dust Bowl years”, but hardly necessary now!)

When we first bought our land, we were taken to the local olive co-op, to register our trees. We presumed this was to obtain subsidies, but didn’t take it any further.

Yesterday, a lady from the provincial government showed up to count our neighbor’s chestnut trees. Yes, that’s what I said – she is physically counting every tree! Why? Well, the guy has applied for subsidies for them, and she is checking the reality of what he has now versus the last topographical map they have of his land. (their topographical maps are so accurate that even the furniture on our terrace could be seen!!)

She then asked us if we had chestnut trees on our land. Well, yes, we do – about 100 of them! She then asked if we wanted to apply for the subsidies – in which case, she’d count our trees while she was here.

The answer is no, we don’t want subsidies. Never have, never will. Not that the money wouldn’t come in handy, of course it would! But as soon as you start taking money from the government, they want something in return. They want you to fill in all sorts of forms. They want to know all about you and what you do. They can tell you what to do with your land, what you can grow and what you can’t. And you have to do all these things, because if not, they can take away those subsidies.

So no, we don’t want any money from the government, thank you. We’d rather stay as we are – slightly poorer, but independent!

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!

One thought on “There’s no such thing as a free lunch

  1. Good for you, they are intrusive swines as I am finding out myself as, due to my UC, osteoporosis due to meds given for it and empty sella syndrome I have been on disability for awhie and th forms are ridiculous and they really DO want to know even the amount of radiators I have in the house. I could go indy like you but I feel that 30 years work has to amount to them helping me till I can sort an alternative career and get moving again.
    Welldone guys, nuff respect !!