Vista Alegre Baserria Month by month in the farm
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January 2022 PDF Print E-mail

What happened on the farm in January?

The New Year got off to a rather a bumpy start. Fires are always

bad news and we lost our hay barn full of alfalfa, hay and straw

bales on the first day of the year. Fortunately the prevailing wind

took the flames away from the rest of farm buildings (cow barn,

dairy and farm house) and we suffered no animal or human ca-

sualities of any sort. On the down side we lost forage and one

piece of farm equipment and there is structural damage to the

barn itself that will need replacement.


There are also many hours ahead of cleaning, trying to avoid the smell

of burning and charred materials entering the dairy and tainting the

cheeses stored there and of course, we will dedicate time to thanking

all those people who voluntarily joined us to contain and fight the fire.

Burning bales of dry forrage are notoriously hard to manage due to slow

combustión caused by their very tightly packed material. A neighbouring

farmer helped us move the bales to an open field but we had be con-

stantly vigilant to make sure any flames from the burning bales didn’t


We are particularly grateful to the organic farmer Juan

Luis from Calasparra, Murcia, who agreed to divert a lorry

load of alfalfa he had ordered and had it sent to our farm

so we could cope with the loss of stored forrage. Our heart-

felt thanks.


As everyone is aware, the newest strain of COVID, Omicron,

has caused a new wave of  health and economic problems world

wide. The virus visited our farm and dairy in January and two of

our work team had to isolate themselves. We also had to suspend

deliveries to several shops that were also closed due to COVID.

During 2020 and, particularly, 2021 the prices of all our inputs (bottles,

yeast cultures, yogurt pots, feed stuff….)have been going up, some, we

feel, due to pure market speculation. Thus, some prices have gone up

5% but others have risen by 16% (plastic bottles) ore ven 50% (glass

bottle tops). Some prices have risen gradually over the last two years

and we have done our best to absorb them without raising our prices to

consumers, but others have risen dramatically in the lst months of 2021.

Our suppliers insist that both the cost of raw materials themselves for

making bottles, for example, and shortages of bottles, paper and yogurt

pots themselves for example, are to blame. They have also underlined

the fact that the prices they are quoting us now will no longer  be fixed

for any length of time but will change with every order we place. We

have thus, sadly, put up the prices of our dairy products, something we

have desperately been trying to avoid given current economic conditions

for the population in general.

Recipe of the month: Savoury Swiss role

This is rather a fiddly recipe with many different versions, but the

end result is well worth it.

Cake base

4 eggs

90 g sugar

120 g flour

1 teaspoon yeast

Sea food filling

250 g boiled and peeled prawns/shrimps

10 crabmeat sticks

Seafood sauce

Soft cheese (Philadelphia, for example, and we have a recipe for

the homemade equivalent of Philadelphia, labneh,  on our web-site,

monthly update for August 2014).


All or a choice of: olives, cherry tomatoes, shrimps…..

Seafood sauce / labneh

Beat the eggs and sugar and then carefully mix in the flour and

yeast. Put grease proof paper on a baking tray and then add the

mixture. Bake at 180ºC for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin

turn brown.

Whilst baking, dampen a tea towel and spread out on a work sur-

face. When the cake is taken out of the oven, turn the tray upside

down over the tea towel, then carefully remove the greaseproof

paper that will have ended up on top of the cake. Roll the cake with

the help of the damp teatowel and leave to cool.

 Peel (if not already peeled) the prawns/shrimps, chop into biggish

pieces and mix with bits of crabmeat and seafood sauce.

Unroll the cake and spread a layer of cream cheese/labneh and then

add the seafood mixture. Roll up the cake again.prawns/shrimps,

olives cherry tomatoes…..

The roll can be kept in the fridge covered with foil or clingfilm.

Some of the Spanish Minister for Consumer Affair’s (Mr. Garzon)

comments about large intensive livestock farms published recently

in the Guardian newspaper have aroused much interest in the mass

media and there are many debates on different forms of livestock

farming both in the dairy and the beef sectors. We have spoken on

quite a few radio programmes interested in getting to know a farm

that has opted to reduce its dairy herd, convert milk production to

organic standards  and build a dairy for direct sales of dairy products.

What was the weather like?

January started with more rain, 150 litres to be precise, but the rainy

weather gave way to many days of sunshine, albeit with below freezing

morning temperatures (-1.4ºC) and frosts with one or two rainy/cloudy

days now and again .


The frosts were bad news for some of the trees and shrubs, such as

this elder (Sambucus nigra) that had begun to leaf with the unseason-

ably high temperatures we had at the end of December.

We saw this UFO shaped cloud at the start of the month.

What did the cows eat?

The sunny days the dry cows and heifers were able to graze. We

gave the milkers dried forage, grass silage and a little feedstuff.


Flower of the month. Cornus sanguine Dogwood


This species has no forage value but its berries attract birds that might

otherwise feed off orchard fruits and the shrub is therefore often

planted on farms. Here we find it mainly in hedges.

We do not only know about the presence of wildlife on the farm when

we see actually one species or another ….

This photo is evidence of the presence of wild boar, annoying in that

they dig up patches of turf in pastureland looking for worms for example

but, obviously, cause havoc for grazing.


A similar upset is caused by moles, whether in the pastureland or in

allotments where their tunneling frequently kills off plants.


This is possibly a marten footprint but there is really insufficient

detail to positively identify the owner.


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.

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