Newsletter 2014

Our work for saving rare domestic breeds in the Carpathian Mountains has been expending. We are building new farms and helping people to start a self sustainable farm live. The year 2014 has been inspiring and promising for people and animals alike.

At this moment 28 buffalos, ten horses, four rabbits, four chickens, three cats, three dogs and one cow are living on the Arc and Rescue Station Saldobosch. But, there is more going on: first of all, Linda and Michel were very happy to welcome Alisa from Zaporishe as a permanent farm member. Also, Colia and Igor can be seen as the inner circle of our small community. Together with them we are managing a network of farms in the Carpathian Mountains.

Most important for the survival of the Carpathian Buffalos are different male lines, to ensure a healthy breeding. Preferably, the bulls are kept in different places. Until now, we were able to distribute five pure blood Carpathian Bulls to five different farms. The herdbook for the Carpathian Buffalos is held in Steblivka, together with the biggest group of Buffalos. The breeding bull now kept in Steblivka is called Romka, he comes from the Maramuresch line of Carpathian Buffalos.    

Our newest project has its center in Romania close to the village Miercurea Sciuc. Together with the Szekler people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sz%C3%A9kelys) we started a project to support self sustainable family farms.

Additionally, we are assisting local buffalo fans to build up a comfortable Buffalo farm for 20 large animals in a romantic valley, including a cheese kitchen, basement and maybe even a restaurant.

Upsetting this year was the experimental pig shepherding we undertook. Our partner “Pan Eko” is employing two shepherds to take care of 300 White Mangaliza pigs on 200h of grassland. Taking him as an example, we wanted to provide the same for our pigs. We started our own shepherding on the farm territory and planned to let the pigs out to the buffalo fields later. But, our area is a mix of forest, gardens, ponds, buildings and many small biotops, that we experienced as barriers for humans as well as animals. This fragmented landscape transformed the pasturing of the highly intelligent pigs into a challenging adventure. Electric fences could also not help us, since the pigs do not respect them at all. In the end, several attacks of the big boar against our volunteers, as well as the aggression the pigs displayed to freshly introduced pigs, made us dislike the “pig-pasturing project” more and more.

Besides the time consuming work, rumors appeared in the village: whenever wild pigs were seen, our animals were held responsible for any damage and we blamed for letting them free. These developments made us finally lock them back up in their paddock next to the stable and give back full responsibility to Igor again.

The positive news about the Wool pigs are that the population in Zakarpathia is so big again, that we cannot even count the numbers anymore. People accepted the breed and are keeping them again.

 

One of the newest achievements this year, are our new touristic offers: we are now organizing riding excursions to the mountains and in the area and giving riding lessons to local people. Our new breeding stallion Tibor proves to be a very calm and reliable animal and we are looking forward to his offspring next year. He is now leading a herd of six mares, two fillies and one colt. All of them showed themselves from their best sides on our first mountain trips: calm, endurable and surefooted. A true pleasure.

All in all, we are having now a good working routine, starting early in the morning with milking five buffalos, before they leave with our shepherd to the fields of the Tysa river. Continuing with bringing out the horses to their pastures, making cheese, yoghurt and breakfast, sending away our milk products to Lviv, cleaning the stable, feeding the remaining animals and finally cleaning house and cheese kitchen, before the first tourists arrive.

Alisa is guiding the tourists on the buffalo fields, while Linda and Michel are making excursions to the mountains to find individuals of a rare cattle breed or small mountain ponies. Sometimes we have even time for visiting our partner farms, to exchange animals with them, or help our local partners like Valery and Igor, until at five o´clock, we have to be in the stable again, which has to be prepared for the milking buffalos return. Milking in the evening then takes about two hours and afterwards, we are able to enjoy the calm evenings on the beautiful farm Saldobosch.