Vista Alegre Baserria Month by month in the farm
Main menu

December 2020 PDF Print E-mail

What did we get up to on the farm in December?

Although the one thing that is really influencing work on the farm and in

the dairy is the evolution of the Covid pandemia, we want to start our

monthly summary of what has been going on during December with re-

ference to other aspects. We just hope that everyone on Planet Earth

can enjoy a better 2021 and that we can all learn from the problems

that came to a head in 2020, very many pre-COVID but exacerbated

by the pandemia.

What was the weather like?

The weather in December was very varied and included some “extreme”

conditions. We collected a total of 505 litres of rain in the rain gauge,

but 250 of these were collected in only eight days, from the 5th to the

12thand a further 160 litres from the night of the 27th to the 31st.

 Precipitation in the form of rain on the farm was in the form of snow on

the hills.

Both minimum and maximum temperatures fluctuated quite dramatically:

dawn temperatures varied from 1.8 to 13.7ºC, whilst maximum tempera-

tures even reached 17ºC. Thus the conditions were generally very mild

for this time of the year except for a few colder days. We had superb

sunrises on the drier, sunny days

and these mornings often gave rise to a typical view of fog in the

valley bottom.

Recipe of the month: Caramelised shallot dip

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 large shallots, finely chopped

Salt and ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon vinegar, preferably apple cider vinegar

1 ½ cups natural yoghurt

1 tablespoon sliced chives, plus a little extra as garnish

Bread, chips, crisps or crackers for serving

Heat oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add shallots and season gene-

rously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally and reducing

heat if needed, until shallots are golden brown and tender, 15–18 minu-

tes. Let cool slightly.

Mix shallots and vinegar into yogurt in a medium bowl; season with salt

and pepper.

Stir 1 Tbsp. chives into yogurt; divide among bowls and top with more

chives. Serve with chips, crackers or bread for dipping for dipping.

What did the cows eat?

In December the cows were given alfalfa, peas, hay and a little

feedstuff. The dry cows and heifers were able to graze outside

once the rainy weather stopped. In fact the rain has transformed

the valley, fields now having abundant grass.


Four bull-calves were born in December and we are once again

crossing our fingers for she-calves.

Flower.... of the month?

Walking around the farm we are seeing a growing number of plants in

flower completely out of season. Here are just three of the six we

have seen just this month.

Moon or ox-eye daisy Leucanthemum vulgare. This would usually

– used to – flower between June and August


Primrose Primula vulgaris March – June


Common honeysuckle Lonicera pericyclamenum June – October

Quite a few people have enquired about the impact of Brexit in the

dairy particularly bearing in mind that one of our team members is

English (a British citizen to be specific). The English member of our

team has been living in the Basque Country  since 1988 (and pre-

viously in Madrid) and has managed to change her residence status

and driving license within the stipulated time frame (albeit with some

difficulty in the latter case). As we do not export our dairy produce

to the UK (in fact 99% of our produce is sold within a 100Km radius)

we do not have to change any particular documents in that area

and do not expect any big change in our market perspectives due to

Brexit. Lastly, none of our regular inputs come from the UK (bottles,

paper, yoghurt pots, etc).

We took part in an on-line morning workshop in December organized

by the Enkarterri Rural Development Association (our local area) as

part of their ongoing push for innovation. In this case two ladies

addressed us, one talking about innovation in “novel” foods in gene-

ral whilst the second told us about herown experience developing a

new technique to lengthen the shelf life of perishable foods both in

homes and in shops. There are quite a few new enterprises in the

area, such as gluten-free bakery products, new or improved uses

for sheep’s wool, etc. and these workshops aim to facilitate inter-

change of information and experience.

As we mentioned above, COVID is conditioning work and life on the

farm, as in every walk of life. We will obviously be doing an end-of

year accounting of how our market has changed through 2020 but

it is already clear that sales in fairs have plummeted whilst sales in

some small shops have actually been higher and with fewer fluctua-

tions than other years. Most annual fairs and some monthly or weekly

ones have been cancelled until further notice. We don’t actually go

to many fairs but one or two have been very important for our sales

in the past. The huge annual Santo Tomas fair that takes place in

Bilbao every 21st December was cancelled for the first time in years.

 The weekly farmers market in Bilbao was cancelled between March

and April and then resumed with much stricter rules. Sales are lower,

amongst other things because, logically, we cannot offer people

cheese to try and they are therefore less inclined to buy. In general

input costs in the dairy have risen due to new costs such as face

masks, gloves and gel. However, as we keep pointing out, our situa-

tion is very privileged compared to that of people who have lost all

business since the start of the health crisis.

The quality of our milk


Optimum result

Farm result




Fat content









Somatic cell count



Presence  / absence antibiotics




Special corner for schools: visit our special corner for schools for special information about our farm and the farm dairy. There are resource materials for teachers. In this corner you can find out how to arrange a class outing to our farm.

Copy left: With due regard to both constructive criticism and respect, the information posted on this website may be used freely for socially orientated and solidarity minded projects in order to further food sovereignty.