Life of a Cheese Farmer

A true farm-to-table experience visit a local dairy farm in the lush green hillsides of San Sebastian to meet local dairy farmers who are bringing back traditional Basque cheese making. Learn about the symbiotic relationship between the locals, their loyal sheepdogs and the latxa sheep who have been bred in this region for more than a millennia.
Margaret Carpo Shepherd

basquecool

 

Understand how these farmers make a living off the land and care for their local resources. Sample the locally produced Idiazabal cheese, fresh dairy products and enjoy a traditional lunch of roasted lamb on the farm. This is what life is like on a cheese dairy, given the modernization of the dairy industry, few authentic small farms remain, but thanks to the perseverance and hard work of these humble farmers, visitors can partake in the simple pleasures in life, to know exactly where their food comes from and see life from a different perspective.

Our farm’s story begins with Mikel who one day decided that working in a factory from Monday to Friday was not for him. After talks with his wife Inma, they embarked on a journey to take back their roots and exchange city life for the freedom of life on the mountain. Mikel began training at a school for shepherds; he found a mentor with decades of experience in the mountains and purchased a herd of latxa sheep. Traditionally, Laxta sheep are managed by moving the flock to mountain pastures in summer when the ewes have finished lactating, with cheese-making taking place on the farm. It takes many years of experience and knowledge to manage a herd. Shepherds also depend greatly on their expertly trained sheepdogs to maneuver and direct the flock. It is an art to watch them work together.

Inma who came from a family of shepherds did not hesitate to support her husband, and since day one has played an active part of this family business. While Mikel cares for his flock, Inma makes artisan dairy products daily, from fresh milk, like homemade cottage cheese, and curds, to the highly prized and carefully regulated Idiazabal cheese. Her specialty in the kitchen is making delicious savory and sweet dishes from sheep milk. Be sure not to miss her mouthwatering croquetas and smooth silky cheesecakes.

Kepa and Ainhoa also play an important role at the farm. Both are responsible for revealing the secrets of cheese making from the beginning to the end. "Our workday begins at seven the morning until ten at night, seven days a week, three hundred sixty five days a year. This business knows no rest, vacation or holidays," says Inma. Despite the hard physical work and long hours, the team at the dairy is happy and proud of what they have accomplished and graciously share their day, their meals and their knowledge with visitors like one of the family.

Read more about San Sebastián


Details & Reservation

Where: 20 min from San Sebastián
Experiences: Guided visit of cheese farm dairy
Learn how cheese is made
Cheese tasting
Shepard dog demo
Traditional menú of roasted lamb
Transport from San Sebastian
Book in advance: Yes

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