Well I heard a strange sound whilst in the garden yesterday; the bells from a herd of goats. That’s them in the distance looking out over our valley towards Belmonte. They must be being raised to produce the local caprino or chevre cheese. It’s an unusual sight because one of the things you notice (!) in Italy is the surprising absence of farm animals, especially in the Marche region. Around here it’s all arable farming – every scrap of land is used to grow olive trees, vines and a huge variety of crops, fruit and vegetables. But animals are as as rare as hen’s teeth. In fact as rare as hens, period.
Now that amazes me because the supermarkets and many local butchers are stocked full of meat. So where is it all produced? I know that the Emilia Romagna region is famed for its pig farms producing all that Parma ham and prosciutto though I’ve never noticed a single porker whilst driving through the place. There are supposed to be loads of sheep in Italy (pecorino cheese is hugely popular here) but they must still rear them indoors. And there are loads of buffalo bred for the production of mozzarella cheese, particularly in Caserta area near Naples. So I’m told. If they have cows here I’ve never seen them. Not one. Isn’t that weird? The land is clearly productive and meat and dairy consumption is enormous so where are all the animals? The farm in the bottom right hand corner of the picture has two donkies and a new pig farm has been established at the far end of the valley. But so far I’ve only managed to spot just four pigs in the field. It’s not likely to upset the pork belly market is it? Below are some shots of the far end of the valley with this little piggery in the far left. You can just about make out one or two goats in the whole of the rest of the valley but that’s about it. Can anyone shed some light on where the cow/chicken/sheep sheds are round here?