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Miguel Ramón Manzano with his livestock in the Alpujarras Rafael Vílchez
The shepherd who left school to keep sheep in La Alpujarra
La Alpujarra, Granada

The shepherd who left school to keep sheep in La Alpujarra

Miguel Ramón Manzano was born in Bérchules 41 years ago and currently grazes his 600 sheep in the municipality of Cádiar, in the heart of the Sierra de la Contraviesa

Rafael Vílchez

Friday, 9 February 2024, 20:23

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Until a few years ago animals were part of the landscape of the Alpujarra. Now the lack of generational replacement and the scarce added value is diminishing livestock farming which used to be so common in the area. Miguel Ramón Manzano Toro, born in Bérchules 41 years ago and for the last few years a shepherd in the Sierra de Cádiar, is one of the few who continue to carry out this demanding work in this region. Miguel inherited from his father Francisco (now deceased) the jobs of shepherd and farmer. His mother's name is Matilde.

Miguel Ramón has a sister and a brother. Miguel Ramón was able to go to school. He even attended the nuns' school in Órgiva, but as he did not like studying he returned home to devote himself entirely to shepherding and agriculture, harvesting tomatoes and beans. For the last fourteen years this shepherd of 600 sheep has practised transhumance, moving with his livestock in an area of Albondón and lately he has been grazing on a farm he bought in the municipality of Cádiar, in the area of 'La Magaña'.

Miguel Ramón would like his son to take up another profession when he grows up "because the work of a shepherd is very hard"

Miguel Ramón owns four cattle dogs and three mastiffs. Now, in winter, at seven o'clock in the evening, he locks his herd in their pen. On more than one occasion he has had to deal with wild boar. In the Bérchules area he has also had to treat several sheep for viper bites. The shepherd lives with his partner and his six-year-old son who already loves shepherding. Miguel Ramón would like his son to take up another profession when he grows up "because the work of a shepherd is very hard". Miguel Ramón earns his income by selling the lambs. For each lamb he receives about 70 euros.

"Being a shepherd involves a lot of expenses. The most tiring thing about being a shepherd is that you have no holidays or days off. No matter how hot or cold it is, you have to get up early to start tending to the livestock." Miguel Ramón was attracted to sheep farming, his father's profession, from an early age and, as he still loves working in the countryside, he continues with great pride and professionalism. Since Neolithic times, sheep farming has been one of the main ways of life in the Iberian Peninsula.

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