Although I was not interested in visiting La Selvatana, a family run dairy farm in Campllong Catalonia, Spain, it turned out to be an interesting experience. I now have new knowledge about agriculture and the role of gender in agriculture compared to my Pakistani cultural background.

The female cow consuming a mix of alfalfa and silage.

The female baby cows being treated like family.

Anna, the owner of the farm was very enthusiastic and explained to us the story of how she fell in love with the cows and moved from the city to the countryside to help her grandfather manage the business. Anna eventually inherited the farm from her grandfather and has been keeping after it with her family. Anna explained to us the importance of female cows and how they are the only ones who produce milk. The male cows are artificially inseminated and only useful for impregnating female cows so that milk production can occur. This was quite shocking to me as in my culture if anything is passed down it is usually given to the males. Seeing Anna inherit the farm made me extremely happy as I am against my culture’s belief for always prioritizing the males. I was also surprised when I learned that the farm is primarily run by Anna. In my culture women are primarily expected to cook, clean, and take care of the kids. I believe that women in my culture should be able to do anything they desire and not be judged when they are taking on the roles a man “should” be doing. Seeing Anna in command of the farm gave me a sense of joy as I am used to seeing males in charge all the time even though many women in my family can be far better if they were given the opportunity to lead.

This is where the female cows are separated into a group of 10 on each side to begin the process of milking.

The relationship between Anna and the 48 hours old baby cow.

 

 

 

During the second part of the day, we visited Casa de les Abelles in Sant Pere de Torello, where we learned about the queen bee and how she produces 2500 eggs in one day. This implies that the role of females in apiculture is extremely important, whereas in my culture women are not given enough credit for all that they do. The male bees are only good for mating with a fertile queen as they do not have stingers and cannot gather nectar and pollen. He explained to us the process of how bees produce honey and the role of flowers. He said, “Bees are the most important species on the planet” because without bees it would be very difficult for plants to reproduce, which means that many animals that live off plants would be in danger and then eventually humans would be in danger. This was really mind blowing to me as it had never occurred to me before how important bees are to the life cycle.

A bee hive formed by all female bees.

Ramon using a metal scraper to point out queen bee.

This experience made me realize how the role of females is far superior in cows and bees compared to the human society. I feel like we need to value women more and put our prejudices aside to acknowledge the ability of each gender equally. Especially in my culture I would like to encourage my family members to change this culture of diminishing the role of women and instead encourage them to take leadership roles by being who they are.