She gave up her well-donated job as a teacher at the agriculture school. Just to build up a goatcheese farm. Anita Duhau now is living with 45 Pyreenian goats, two dogs and three cows, pigs, cats and some chicken. But most of all, shes is producing the best goat-cheese I tasted so far. Full of flavor, combining all the herbs the goats find on the grazing land around the farm. At first sight - pure idyll. But it's a hard job to bring out the most wanted chèvre in the Béarn.
In some way: Noah's ark
45 Goats, two dogs, two cows, a horse, several chicken and some cats. At first sight, the farm Pedronia looks some kind of arch. The fact, that you reach this resort using narrow lanes, climbing over hills in the pyrenean foothills, makes the cast away feeling even stronger. Only a small wooden sign shows the entrance to the idyll. Where Anita makes a living together with her flock of animals. Most of all goats. She knows every single animal by name, talks to them whilst milking them by hand. Twice(!) a day. All alone. It's the source of a very unique relationship between human and animal. And there's something magic, you can feel looking at them both. But you hardly can describe.
Endangered species: Chèvres pyrénéennes
The 45 goats are all „Chèvres pyrénéennes“, an old race located and adopted to the living in the sometimes very harsh weather in the pyrenean foothills. Impressive horns, long multicoloured coats - simply wonderful creatures. But in the 1980-ies they were an endangered species. Just a few animals have been left. The reason: They produce not even half the milk other goats do. But thanks to a engaged group of breeders and the formation of an association to preserve these goats (l'Association la Chèvre de race pyrénéenne) the population has been stabilized. Today there are up to 3.000 pyrenean goats listed.
Good milk = Perfect cheese
Located in the farmyard is the small cheese dairy, where Anita brings out different types of cheese of the fresh milk. This is where she acts outside the typical range. Anita likes experiments. Sometimes she mixes gota and cowmilk in one cheeese. Or she addes special herbs. She lets cream cheese come to age - which brings out a very intensive, strong taste. For sure - not everybodies favour - but it would click an aficionados tongue. Small and mid-size cheese wheels are produced. Anita sells them on local markets. And in some shops of „AMAP“ (Solidarity agriculture) und in wholefood shops.
Real old-style: Multipurpose farming
Ten acres around the farmhouse provide grazing land for the goats. In addition theres some space for grains, oat and beans. Goats, cows and horse are standing together on the same ground which includes also a little wood. This is an quite old way to keep them. In the first look a bit unusual. But it makes sense. Every animal prefers another type of fodder. The goats for example like bushes even more than plain gras. Which is the favourite to the cows. So in this way, every plant finds its accepter. The perfect use for this natural surface. Sustainability at its best.
Some time ago, Anita Duhau was working as a „Farm Teacher“. Since 2000 she's managing her farm 'Pedronia'. This was a conscious decision she made, saying 'Yes' to hard work with an insecure commercial future, and 'No' to a well payed, save job. Applaudable. From time to time, the only help she gets is an interested trainee. And just like the vacation guests Anita welcomes every summer they all get infected by the enthusiasm Anita shows everyday. And which you can taste in every single piece of work she makes. To not to forget the brilliant cheese.