Women and shepherds

They are women and shepherds, and although they know they are a minority, they fight for a profession that they know is tough but that they enjoy on a daily basis.

Today is the International Rural Women’s Day and we want to recognize the role of these professionals.

According to UN-Women, rural women suffer disproportionately from multiple aspects of hardship compared to men.

Can you imagine arriving at the supermarket and there is no food?

In these moments of health crisis due to COVID-19, society has been more aware of the importance of a key sector (the food sector) for our lives, but that it needs job improvements, more government support but above all social recognition.

During the months of confinement, the pastors have continued with their profession and have received requests from people interested in their work; where freedom is enjoyed daily.

Every day more urbanites are interested in professions that allow them to live more connected with nature, with a calmer pace of life and away from the noise and pollution of big cities.

We are lucky to meet a shepherdess who also left the city to dedicate herself to this profession in one of the most beautiful places in the Vall d’ássua; El Pallars Sobirá in the province of Lleida.

Anna Plana has been a pastor in Llesuí since 2010, surrounded by steep valleys, high mountains and a climate of very cold winters.

She started with 40 sheep and now has a herd of 500, a show of courage and perseverance.

Anna was trained at the Rialp shepherds’ school, which has already trained more than 130 shepherds, despite being a profession that is drastically reduced every year.

It is a profession of a slave, very demanding, the shepherds tell us.

But; Why does being a pastor attract more and more young people like Anna?

Anna, why did you decide to become a pastor?

After finishing the Rialp course, I decided to become a pastor because of the love of the mountains and freedom but also the solitude that the silence of these places transmits.

What is the most beautiful and hardest thing about your profession?

The most beautiful thing is to see life being born in the middle of nature while you run through the mountains. It makes you feel like the luckiest and happiest woman in the world.

Winter here is harsh, I had to get used to the long cold months and the snow. But the feeling of peace makes up for it.

What help and support do the people who dedicate themselves to this profession need?

Shepherd women and mothers; as in cities, they need to be able to reconcile their profession with their personal and family life. Help in this regard is necessary to have a more balanced life.

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your profession?

The luck that we pastors have had is that we have been able to continue our work; hanging out with the sheep daily.

The downside is that as lamb meat consumption declined, prices have also plummeted.

The production of cheeses, the sale of sheep’s milk or the use of wool are other means of income for these shepherds.

We were lucky enough to be able to attend a Xolla (sheep shearing) one day at Anna’s farm.
Las Xisquetas in summer you climb the high mountain (2000 m); And despite being sheep for meat production, they are sheared due to the high temperatures in summer. The heat of the fur and the weight of it causes them many problems.

It is a hypersensitive animal; so they are sheared with great care by a professional team that performs the task in record time to avoid any type of suffering or stress that could end them. Imagine how delicately the process is carried out.
It has been magnificent to be able to see how the herds move and see how such an ancient art is preserved.

We heartily thank Anna and all the sheepherders; since thanks to them we can manufacture our wool quilts and pillows in a traditional way, obtaining a sustainable product for the environment and totally ecological that comes from dream places.

And you, have you ever dreamed of being a pastor?

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