There is not much industry or agriculture in this little village where my roots are from. There used to be, but that was many years ago. From the four little grocery stores I remember, only one remains; only one meat market and the pharmacy is left. Thankfully, there are two bars/coffee houses and two restaurants, a bakery and a tobacco/general store. For all the other creature comforts one must drive the multitude of switchbacks down to the costal cities. As the population dwindles and ages I’m not sure how many of what I’ve seen this year will survive. I truly miss the hardware store!
There are a few adventurous souls who are attempting to make the land profitable and are working very diligently to keep this little niche quaint. The one I met this year is Davide. He is a 24 year-old, 6th generation goat herder, who is spearheading his family farm.
When I go on my daily walks through town I can always hear the cowbells that are around the necks of his 200 plus goats that roam free on the un manicured hills, which are melting back into the earth like frosting on a hot summer day. It is a simple sound that harkens back to when the terraces were tended and toiled by my ancestors. I can imagine them hearing the same resonance of the iron bells throughout the valley.
Archaeologists have found evidence of people using these bells to track goats, cattle and sheep dating back to more than 5 millennia. Our town, in Sicily, was found in 1100 AD when livestock and farming flourished, and I’m confident that then, the hills echoed even more.
Davide, said that the reason he is doing this is to carry on the tradition of his ancestors and make it better. Not only does he have goats, but also cows, pigs, sheep and horses, which fill the barns. He is one of 6 children and hopes to pass his family’s legacy to future generations. The next item on his agenda is to build a government certified dairy farm, for his cheese and milk production that overlook his paddock, opposite the river.
Davide was born into this life and even if the profession is not as profitable as others he will continue on, because of tradition. I know how much I enjoy my little urban garden and I truly believe that farmers are those who love the land, the fresh air and have the freedom to work diligently at what they have passion for.
Cutlines: Above: Have you ever truly looked at a goat's eyes? Right: Davide with two of his goats. Below: Two hundred goats move about the paddock and try to stay away from me! Also, it is a strange site seeing goats herded through the main street of town.
Davide with his grandfather Antonino and the dog.
All Photographs © 2014 Santa Fabio
Detroit People & Commercial Photographer