Saturday, February 8, 2014

Irati horses (which are mares)

Tourists always refer to them as beautiful and wild horses, when in fact the vast majority of them are mares. The mares can have foals, which is where the farmer wins money, while with one horse can cover many mares. 
This is the Burguete race, race own this place, perfectly adapted to the environment. They are a cross between the native breed Jaca Navarra and French shirehorse.
This one is a horse. The other mares are his harem
Today it is used for meat, but until recent years  they were the transport or to be mounted either to pull a cart, or for various field works, such as plowing, turning the grass, freight transport...
Maybe you look awful eat such a nice animal, and it is because we become aware of its existence. The steak on the plate is anonymous, and does not give it. The same right should have chickens in a cage.
 I respect completely vegetarians, but for the people who is not, think about that is an animal that always lives in freedom, eating much healthier than us, and thanks to them, a part of the population can continue living in these valleys and we can continue watching them run down the mountain.
From the nutritional point of view, their meat is exceptionally good, which has more iron, low in fat, and completely organic.
Their numbers have dropped considerably because unfortunately, in our valleys when a farmer retires, it is unusual to be replaced by a younger.
They are usually grazingin the freeland or communal land of the Aezkoa Valley and in the neighboring community of Garazi Valley, now in the French state, with which valley there is an agreement between Navarre valleys for more than 500 years ago to not put doors in the pasture,and above those imposed borders the animals can graze on either side.
His great strength allows them to graze most of the year in the mountains, and they are only carried to the villages when too much snow falls and so they cant continue grazing. On those occasions, will be consuming the hay collected in the late spring and stored by the farmer in the hut
Orion,  Ibiaga pass(Aezkoa)

When the snow melts they take advantage to eat the grass that appears below. That is the reason why in this photo are seen near the road where meltwater flows more easily.
 5 February 2014

If you go now, or until June approximately the hair will see the winter, much longer and thick, the soft, fine hair that usually have June onwards. 
When cold is passed disturbed and itches. Therefore they are often seen scratching more than usual (actually all animals scratch) to remove that hair asap.
Can you imagine what it must be, that will itch any part of the body, ye might have hooves instead of hands? 
They can use wooden posts (which is why sometimes you will see them with wire, because just you pull) or stones (those of Cromlech, funerary monuments of the iron age, often have grooves around for it), in trees, and sometimes they scratch each other.

Those with necklace and Zintzarri (Zintz,means hanging, and harri, stone) which in Spanish  said Cencerro: cowbell  (the word, a basque word, is very old, that does not refer to metal, but the stone!) Are somehow the pack leaders, and others tend to follow them wherever she goes. Also sometimes they are easier to cherish. If you ever want to get close to them, do it from the front, they should see you, with outstretched hand, and very slowly. You can whisper something, and have patience. If you see that doesnt work, better leave them quiet.

Spring is a great season. Food, good Temperature, foals, ..

They are the last remnants of  the large herds that since humans learned to domesticate  in the Neolithic, graze the highlands of this part of the Pyrenees. It is possible, though not desirable, that the new generations do not  know this, because if farmers dissapears from these valleys, these animals will disappear too, and with them, all the prairies. We'll have more forest, in an area where it is abundant, but we have lost a landscape, high biodiversity, and a part of our history.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Irati  (Aezkoa valley)Navarre

¿Is not looking like Fangorn? (The lord of the rings)

It's time to water, floods and snow, and although it seems there are not many things in the forest that can surprise us, just with a little look will see that it is not true.

 Erlan stream (Irati)

 Today has again started to snow, but the truth is that until now there has been few snow and water that have fallen considering that January is usually a cold month and abundant rainfall.
In the  Erlan stream(Irati-Aezkoa) I found this specimen of Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), already in bloom, amidst the riverbed, so that we can already suppose that after the rain and snow of the last days it will be under water .Be the first sometimes has its drawbacks!

This plant is often used for colds, bronchitis, asthma and other lung illness, and for that reason it was introduced in the Americas.
But surely the queen of Irati at this time is the Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) who is now in flowering, when winter is getting worse.
As I talked about it in previous entries, I do not want to  bored you repeating the same data.

Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Elsewhere in Navarra, more southerly, some Mediterranean plants also begin to bloom or they will in the next weeks.
Which I present you here, is a rare plant in Navarra, and is not common in the Mediterranean area too.
His name is Sternbergia colchiciflora and their presence in a little mountain of Navarre has been discovered recently.

Sternbergia colchiciflora, 13-1- 2014

Although the cold January is no friend of mushrooms, there are always exceptions, and have the opportunity to see saprophytic fungi (that is, that feed on dead wood,), colorful,
as these:
 Red peziza(Sarcoscypha coccinea) on mosses and lichens.

Turkey tail (Coryolus versicolor)