Sheepfold near the village of Budesti in Maramures

by admin on 18/06/2013

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Having passed the picturesque village of Budesti in Maramures and driving on a gravel road for some kilometres, we arrived at the dwelling of a group of shepherds. Since they were outside looking after their animals, we could at least see that these guys were very practical, having made chairs and tables using trees from the forest in order to make life a little easier. Actually, they were residing at a sheepfold, which we had passed on the way to their house. Approaching on foot, we were met by a bunch of rather fierce livestock guarding dogs, and all we could do was to wait until one of the shepherds arrived. Having been “liberated”, we could finally approach the sheepfold.

The sheepfold was located in a lovely place, being surrounded by hills and forests, and situated on a meadow. The shepherds were busy milking the sheep and a few goats, while one guy made the sheep enter the shed where they would be milked. Having milked all the animals, they brought the milk in cans and poured it into a large wooden barrel. Heating the milk and adding rennet, the milk was ready to be separated into cheese mass and liquid after about half an hour. Lifting the cheese mass out of the barrel and putting it into porous pieces of cloth which were hung up, the compressing of the cheese mass which were always done in the small dairies we had visited, was replaced by using  the force of gravity only.  After having made the first set of cheese, they poured the remaining liquid into a big pot and heated it on a wood-fired oven.

After lunch, they stirred the liquid continuously until a thin layer appeared on the top. Having removed it, it was time to get hold of the ricotta cheese. That is, re-cooked cheese. Having placed all the ricotta cheese in a porous cloth and hung it up to dry, the remaining liquid was poured into a round trough where the dogs hungrily slurped it up.

In the end, the shepherds let out all their animals from the enclosure and started bringing them to the lovely hills surrounding the sheepfold.

Next to the enclosure, there was a primitive hut made of sticks and plastic in which one of the shepherds would sleep at night since wolves and bears are certainly able to attack their animals.

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