This marks the final excursion of the program (insert sad face here).  I got to hang out with cows (which I love) and bees while learning about what it takes to provide organic products to the community.

The day started with a visit to the organic dairy farm La Selvatana in Campllong, Spain. Run by a farmer named Ana, it is home to only 170 cows compared to the neighboring farms that house more than 800 cows.  She chooses to have a small amount of cows to ensure they can be kept in good health and easily monitored.  The other farms may yield more production, but they usually practice inbreeding and overfeed the cows to meet that production.  Even back in America have I seen the various documentaries, shows, and news reports of how animals are mistreated and poorly fed to provide high amounts of product.  Ana cares about her animals and the products that go out into the community.  Similar to the owners of the wine and olive farms, she values quality over quantity.  After learning about how the cows are cared for and produce milk, I was able to try the fresh products for myself!  While I do not drink it, I could tell the fresh milk was delicious just from my group members’ facial reactions alone.  I did try the yogurt and cheese though.  I was skeptical because it was plain yogurt and I usually have fruit with mine, but it turned out to be so good. The same goes for the fresh Gouda cheese I had too.  Having fresh, organic food straight from the source will be greatly missed when I leave Barcelona.

An area for the cows to eat at La Selvatana. They are also able to roam freely outside.

Cows eating fresh alfalfa at La Selvatana. Their diets are closely monitored for their health.

There are male cows on the farm to help Ana know which female cows are giving off hormones so she can artificially inseminate them.

Next was a visit to the apiculture farm Casa de les Abelles owned by Ramone.  Continuing with the theme of treating animals with respect, Ramone allows the bees to go across the Pyrenees mountains to collect their nectar naturally. He built screens for the bee hives so he does not have to destroy their homes every time he harvests the honey. He also waits to collect the honey until they have produced an excess amount beyond their needs to survive.  Ramone could harvest how he wants for increased production, but it is all about the respectful treatment of the bees’ lives. Then I suited up in my beekeeping outfit and saw the bees for myself.  Even though I was protected I still had natural reflexes to flinch when I heard the buzzing around me.  Bees were landing right on my hands! I saw the bees on the screens and even got to see larvae in the combs.  It was a unique experience given that I will most likely never be that comfortably close with bees ever again.

Ramone showing us how he collects the honey from the screens. I was able to taste that honey fresh.

Bee hives inside of a tree trunk. This honey is not yet ready to be harvested.

Bee hive on one of the screens. Soon this honey will be ready for harvesting just as Ramone showed us.

This excursion reminded me of the importance that is treating animals with respect and in turn the community as well.  When the animal is treated well you can tell by the difference in the final product compared to places that value quantity instead.  I truly appreciate treatment of these animals and that there are still places that care about life more than money.

I love the cows!
Photo by Lindsey Miossi.