So we just spent 2 weeks in Gopegi, Basque Country (in Spain) at a farm called Padura.
It is a new farm, just started last year, and the family who built it really give it so much love and care.
The husband and wife, Miguel and Peggy are amazing people. Peggy is always reading about how to do things better/live better for themselves and for their farm. And Miguel is always at the farm, even when the weather felt like it could snow any second! They were even kind enough to take time out of their evening to give us Spanish lessons- twice!! We still can't believe how much we learned just from those 2 lessons alone... muchos gracias!
Also, Miguel makes a mean chorizo tortilla... honestly one of the best we've tasted. It was completely different from all the other tortillas in that it was ooey gooey inside. He used extra eggs to allow for the gooey inside. The outer egg/potato casing cooked to solidify the tortilla, but didn't cook all the way through, which gave it that most amazing, perfect, poached egg texture inside. yummy yum yum! (We are sorry to report that we were so hungry that night that we forgot to take a photo of the tortilla. Don't hate us!!)
In another house a few kilometers down from Gopegi is where we actually stayed. P&M's daughter, Maite, her boyfriend Ari, and their 2 other friends, Mickey and Nerea, all live there. It was a beautiful old stone house with its own grounds for a small veggie garden, chickens, and even rabbits (so sad we didn't see them give birth. We missed it by like a day!). At the time, and old family friend from Germany, Feli, was also staying there so we were definitely a full house!
(We're so sorry we don't have a photo with you, Maite!!)
Every morning we wake up with some coffee and bread, then us, Ari, Mickey, and Feli head over to work on the farm and the others go to their jobs as well. Because stone houses aren't exactly known for their insulation, Rachel is usually always cold so mornings were horrible for her. We would all leave the house wearing so many layersm which we would immediately shed as soon as we started working.
The great part about a large farm (and a new farm at that) is that there is so many things to do. One minute we are spreading hay on the ground, then pulling leeks out, then re-arranging tree branches into equal "cheese" slices (A little joke we have with Ari. Hehe)!
Some of the work was harder. We definitely will probably not want to prepare the land for another single garbanzo bean- we prepped and planted at least 1000 meters of rows of garbanzo beans! But others were peaceful- watering the plants inside the greenhouse, or pulling weeds around the mint plants, constantly smelling that summery aroma.
One of the hardest tasks was definitely pulling out leeks. The green portion is mostly what sticks out of the ground, but its the white part, buried deep down in the earth, that is edible. It was so difficult because we had to dig deep before we could attempt to pull the leek out. But sometimes those suckers like to make sharp turns and not grow straight! So when you use your tool to dig, and then you hear that earth-shattering c-r-a-c-k, your heart mourns a little because you know you've just damaged the veggie. And we tore into A LOT of veggies (although Joel would like to argue that he didn't)... We definitely have a new appreciation for those gi-normous leeks in the market! Unfortunately, we ate so much while we were there that Rachel doesn't think she can eat another one for a while!
It wasn't all work and no play though! We definitely dabbled with cooking (and eating!) some of these amazing foods that we were working with.
The family recently slaughtered their own pigs and they made amazing chorizos and morcillas (black pudding).
Then Joel made a simple dinner one Sunday night using their leeks, potatoes, etc... It was definitely a big hit.
And one night, we were all in the mood for a little pasta so decided to make some lasagna. Mickey made the bechamel, Feli cooked the pasta and Joel made the meat/tomato sauce. It was the *BEST* lasagna any of us had ever had :) It took every ounce of will power to reserve some slices for Maite and Ari! Haha
So every day, as we close the gates to Padura, we felt fulfilled that we not only accomplished something, but helped create and nurture something that could possibly be around longer than the rest of us.