Moheda means thick scrub area, which is exactly what the farm originally was when my grandparents bought it; a hill covered by holm oaks, cork oaks, rockrose and scrubland. Little by little, with the help of the sheep that my grandparents introduced when they bought the farm, the ecosystem known as 'dehesa' (fenced pastureland) was created.
We're committed to the environment and we use natural grazing and fertilisation of the land to conserve the dehesa ecosystem, that is unique in the world and recognised by UNESCO. We also try to optimise the use of resources, such as water and food. For this, our sheep-breeding sheds have wells, and the rest of the flock takes advantage of the water from the ponds that naturally store rainwater on our farm. Our flock's average consumption of water and food is highly variable during different times of the time of year, but on average a sheep eats approximately 4 kg of grass per day and drinks 4 litre of water. All the manure produced at the warehouse is incorporated into the soil as a natural fertiliser.
The sheep graze freely throughout the year in the dehesa within a 1,020 hectare area. The pastures grow naturally, and the sheep also enjoy acorns from holm oaks and cork oaks in the winter months. The climate is mild, with rains that allow the pastures to grow all year round. In the lambing season, we feed the ewes that have given birth with hay and oats to ensure that we meet their nutritional needs and that they can produce the best milk so that our lambs grow up healthy and strong.
We're based in the province of Cáceres in Extremadura, in the heart of the Sierra de San Pedro in the Valle de Castellanos, one of the poorest areas in Spain. With our project we're helping to create jobs, both in the care of the livestock and the use of the forest mass of cork oaks and holm oaks, from which we obtain firewood from pruning remains, and cork from the cork oaks.
We manage our flock according to the three periods of mating that the sheep have throughout the year (period in which the sheep can become pregnant), which last forty-five days each. This means that we can control the birth of our sheep and divide them into three small flocks to give them the attention they deserve:
__Flock of impregnated sheep__, which after an ultrasound scan are found to be pregnant. These sheep are brought closer to the farmhouse as their delivery date approaches. As they have spent forty-five days with the males, there may be deliveries for forty-five days. When the ewes have given birth, they are taken with their lamb to the lambing sheds with straw and hay, sheltered from the cold and provided with plenty of food, until the lamb grows up and they can go back outside.
__Flock of unproductive sheep__, made up of ewes that did not get pregnant and ewes that have finished raising their lambs. These sheep graze freely on the farm and are mixed with males three times a year for forty-five days.
__Rearing sheep__, which have been selected to continue to carry forward our flock. These sheep, in addition to what they find on the farm, receive supplementary feeding at all times so that they reach adulthood healthy and strong.
For the production of our wool and blankets, we follow a meticulous process that begins in the field:
__Respectful sheep shearing__: Once a year we shear the wool off of our sheep. Professional local sheep shearers come to our farm just before the summer months to do this work. It takes a lot of skill to make sure not to fluster or disturb the sheep or damage the wool during this process.
__Sorting and washing__: During the shearing we will separate the wool according to its fineness, length and resistance. We also sort its depending on the part of the sheep’s body it was sheared off. We send the wool to wash to remove the fat or dirt from the fields. Location: Guarda, Portugal.
__Spinning and weaving__: Using a mechanical process and after the washing threads are spun, which are later used to make the blanket. We do not color the wool, hence it keeps its original ivory white colour. Location: Val de San Lorenzo, a province of León.