One of the advantages of living in a house that is built into the side of a hill is that we have a good view of the road (which was once a dirt track when we started the project) and, therefore, able to observe whatever is going on at different times of the year in the surrounding fields. Everyone has odd pieces of land all over the area that are used to grow crops and are happy for animals to graze and manure the plots. One of the local shepherds can be seen every day with his small flock of sheep who graze in the meadows or on strips of grassland before these are ploughed and crops are cultivated.
Below our terrace and retaining wall is one such small piece of land where sheep graze. The shepherd sits or stands in the shade with his dogs. It is the custom to offer a coffee or a glass of wine to passing neighbours and my husband stops his work in the garden to have a rest and talk to his friend, the shepherd, before he moves off to nearby pastures.
From the front window of the upstairs kitchen I watch the shepherd move on to a field across the way. It's quite boggy there because the water runs off the hills, but the land makes good pasture. The sheep are kept for the production of pecorino and ricotta cheese and for meat.
Above our house there is more rough land that is not cultivated, but individual horses graze there.
The horses are used for trekking in the mountains. This lone horse is a regular and sometimes comes and eats the bramble hedge.
The strip of land below the house was ploughed up at the end of October. The grapes had been gathered from our vines leaving a few table grapes. Now the bare vines will need pruning.