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Spain – Mountain, Meadow and Plain (Spanish Cows)

Last week I was in Spain, not specifically on a cow hunt you understand…however…

Cow Warning Sign

Cow Alert

Cow Sign Salamanca

Cow Sign Salamanca

Today the sky is a sweeping wash of high cirrus clouds. It is bright and there is a slight breeze. I make sandwiches for the journey and take my coffee to the clay tiled terrace to take in the view. Goat bells jangle softly in the distance and a chorus of dogs are barking down the hillside. I can hear a rumble which may belong to heavy machinery behind the chatter and song of the birds. This house stands on hills and slopes above a wide plain. The Sierra de Gredos mountains are behind, hovering above in deep granite folds.

The plain stretches for 50km until it reaches a parallel set of mountains, now hazy and gray. It is the end of a baking hot summer and the land looks parched and dry. The reservoir, which sits in the middle of the plain, is barely more than a puddle, its exposed sandy banks telling the history of its former level.

View across Spanish Plain

Sierra de Gredos Spain www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comSierra de Gredos www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comView over Spanish Plain www.thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.comAs I walk through the meadow, the bleached stalks of the grasses splinter and crack underfoot as crickets and grasshoppers scatter. A few days ago there was a couple of days of rain. I look closer, and beneath the parched and brittle surface a new bloom of tiny green seedlings cloaks the ochre earth.

Dry Meadow Spain

A stony track leads us into the hills and even though it is late afternoon the sun is fierce and hot on our necks and shoulders. The heat releases the sticky perfume from the swathes of Cistus which clothe the hillsides and the air is full of it, sweet and aromatic. I have been told that in May it looks like snow because of the white flowers. I imagine that scene, the papery flowers unfolding day after day, until just like snow, they melt and disappear. In amongst the Cistus are squat lavenders, blue gray leaves needle thin and the skeletal remains of their purple winged flowers standing proud above.

Track in Spain

Around here has been gradually colonised by people, pantiled roofs peeping out from between the scrub of Broom and Oak. Mixed orchards of figs, cherries, pear and pomegranate stand alongside vines and olive groves. Yesterday a neighbour came with her brother to harvest the grapes to make the wine and gave us two bursting bags of their own dried figs which they do by turning regularly in the hot summer sun.

Spanish Home Dried Figs

On our way back we stop by to say hello to the cows. I wonder if those bells bother them.

Spanish Cows

Spanish Cows

Spanish Cows

Spanish Cows

Spanish Cows

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Is there anything cutier than those little calves? I think not!

    October 14, 2012
  2. Beautiful! I love the photos too. How is it that cow’s seem to wear bells everywhere but in the UK? When Sue lived in Leytonstone, in a house which is now under the A12, she would sometimes wake to find cows from Epping Forest in her garden. We are going to Spain soon, to Toledo. I’ll look out for beautiful vacas.

    October 14, 2012
    • That’s a great story – was it Wanstead Flats? Bob remembers tower blocks and cows…

      October 14, 2012
  3. Charlotte #

    Beautiful pictures, lovely cows – I wonder what breed they are?

    October 14, 2012
    • Thank you! I wonder as well, but as you know this question was totally beyond my spanish!

      October 14, 2012
  4. beautiful pics Sarah. Looks a lot like California. The cows look so dressed up with the bell straps. I imagine the sound must be annoying for them with their every move.

    October 15, 2012
  5. Thanks Craig. I guess that’s why they shot those westerns there. Shame I never made it to California on my travels, maybe one day…You would think wouldn’t you that the bells would make them go a bit insane…but they seem contented enough. Or maybe they’re just good at putting up.

    October 15, 2012
  6. Beautiful photos. Thank you for the post!
    About six years ago, friends of ours gave us a small, blind Jersey calf, knowing that we’d look after her. Ice Cream’s eyes were beauitful, huge and brown and as deep as lakes, but they would never see. She was easily lost and would walk into fences, struggling to find feed and water, so we came up with the idea of putting a bell on Ice Cream’s herdmate, Capuccino. Ice Cream quickly learned to follow the tinkling bell and tagged after Capuccino wherever she went. Eventually, she learned to navigate by herself and Capuccino wore the bell for years until it dropped off somewhere in the pasture. It never bothered her, and it may just have saved the life of a small blind calf!

    October 16, 2012
    • These bells are bringing out such lovely stories. Go Ice Cream!

      October 16, 2012
  7. Beautiful beautiful. When I call the goats for milking in the morning, I’m sometimes not sure if they’ve heard me because they’re often out of sight. So I wait a couple seconds… and then… I hear the faint jingle noise that tells me they’re on their way. It makes me smile every time!

    October 24, 2012

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