Vista Alegre Baserria Month by month in the farm
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March 2021 PDF Print E-mail

What did we do in March?

Flower of the month: Cherry (Prunus avium)

Although cherries are now very common and there are multiple

cultivars, the origin of this species’ name points to from where

cherries were thought to have first been exported to Europe.

The English word cherry derives from Old Northern French or

Noman cherise which itself derives from the Latin cerasum,

 referring to an ancient Greek region, Kerasous (Κερασοῦς) near 

Giresun in modern Turkey. The fruit has been consumed through-

out its geographical range since prehistoric times. The cherry

trees on the farm are generally grafted and produce a range of

cherries from lush red, to dark black fruit. These are cultivars of

sweet cherries Prunus avium, whereas cultivars of the other

main, more acid cherry species (Prunus cerasus) are not present.

We carried on clearing vegetation from around swallow holes, mainly

hazels and brambles that spread rapidly.

We also cleared brambles from along some fences. As the photo

shows, a considerable swathe of land can be lost to grazing if we

do not periodically cut back brambles.

At the start of Spring we close off part of the pasture near the

heifers’ barn in order to get a hay or silage crop. We leave the

steeper slopes for the heifers to graze.

We have finally started getting the allotment ready for planting.

We take whey from our dairy upto the heifers, although we also give

the pigs and calves some aswell, turning a potential waste product

into a resource.

Recipe of the month: Triple cheese dauphinoise

Butter , for greasing

500 ml milk

300 ml  double cream

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp vegetable oil

200 g bacon strips

6 large potatoes, thinly sliced

Cheese: choose three different sorts of cheese, varying in taste

and texture, for example

50g mature cheese or cheddar, grated

50g parmesan, grated

50g gruyere, cubed

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 160/180C. Grease a shallow baking dish (more or less

20x 30cm) with butter. Pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan,

add the garlic and potato slices and bring to the boil. Remove from the

heat and leave to cool a little.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the strips of bacon. Cook on a low-

medium heat for 10 mins until they become crispy. If the bacon is very

fatty there is probably no need to use oil.

Cover the base of the oven proof dish with a layer of potatoes, remo-

ving the garlic cloves as you go. Spoon over some of the cream mixture

, a little of each cheese and  some of the bacon. Season well and re-

peat until you have used up all the potato. Pour over any remaining

cream and scatter with the remaining cheese. Keep a little bacon for

topping later.

Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 1 hr. Remove the foil and cook

for a further 30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through (insert

a skewer or knife to see if done) and the topping nicely browned. Sca-

tter with the remaining bacon and cook for a final  5 minutes.

What was the weather like?

The weather was very mixed again. We had some cool, cloudy,

damp days and also some days with high pressure systems in

which the dawn temperature dropped to 0.3ºC and we had light

frosts and midday temperatures reached 25,50ºC. We

collected 66 litres in the rain gauge.

What did the cows eat?

The cows grazed whenever the weather and the ground were

sufficiently dry. We also gave them freshly mown grass and a

little feedstuff and silage.

We spotted this rather unusually named moth, the Hebrew character

moth (Orthosia gothica), which refers to the black shape on its wings

which is similar to the Hebrew character “nun”. This moth can be

spotted during march and april and some of its caterpillars’ sources

of food are present on the farm: birch (Betula sp), buttercups (Ranun-

culus sp), hazel (Corylus sp), oak (Quercus sp) and hawkweed (Hie-

racium sp) amongst others.


We also saw this butterfly which could be a Lasiommata of some sort.


The warm weather at the end of March means we saw the first

snake of the year, this viperine snake (Natrix maura)


Quite a few of our customers return glass milk bottles and

yoghurt pots for sterilization and re-use. Unfortunately we

have to throw a certain percentage away due to breakage.

We put in a request for a glass recycling container and the

local authorities delivered this container in March.

Regards COVID none of the Vista Alegre team has received the

vaccine yet but on the upside no more shops have closed due

to quarantine. A growing number of people are ringing to request

visits, but we deem the situation to risky still. The Basque Go-

vernment Education scheme Egin eta Ekin includes secondary

school visits to farms to see in situ how working farms are run.

As such visits are currently out of the question the scheme has

organized video conferences and we took part in one on the 24th

with secondary school pupils from San Viator, Sopuerta. We must

say they had some very interesting questions.

The quality of our milk


Optimum result

Farm result




Fa tcontent









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.

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