The strength of small big steps: transhumance yesterday and today
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«[...] About the beginning of this autumn 2013, one day during lunch at home, the daughter Antonella who was with us together with her daughter Claudia asked me to tell her something in writing about my past. After thinking about it for a while, I felt that Antonella had all the reasons for her request and I decided to answer her positively and so the idea was born to write "The memories of my life" to my children, having then all expressed the same desire. At this point, of course, I began to think about what I had to tell and how, since it was a long and serious thing. But then, reflecting on it, I decided to tell the events that happened in my usual way as I remember them, far from any paradox [...].
In spring we paid a visit to the sanctuary of the Incoronata and went back to the mountains. It escapes me to remember precisely the coupling of the years and seasons with the countryside and the mountains, where we ran the company in 4 or 5 years, but I think that in order, we spent the first winter in a countryside called the Murge. , near a town called Gravina di Puglia, where the herds graze, mostly stony pastures, stones that came out of the ground in an almost sharp shape and then in another countryside that I don't remember. Then for 3 years in a row in the municipality of Manfredonia (Fg) in Posta Rosa or Giudea, a campaign where we had been years back. I was now a young man and I liked Posta Rosa even more; in autumn, when we arrived, so to speak, a feast of prickly pears from India and there was so much other fruit at our disposal that we could not finish it; and the pastures were wide and comfortable. Once the lambs were weaned, the sheep were milked in a small corner called a ford, because the animal had to be placed in a tight spot and undergo milking. There were several milkers, myself included, according to need; sometimes even a dozen; milking lasted about 2 or 3 minutes. Milking took place by letting the milk go down from the udders, squeezing them with the hands into a wooden vat of about 15 or 20 liters, then the animal passed into another quiet enclosure. Behind the ford there always had to be a person to push the sheep to enter; milking was done morning and evening and so was the packaging of the product; the collection of the ricotta was different from that for the cheese, because while the curd was shredded and left to settle, the ricotta came from the so-called "scasciato" milk, that is from the whey and once cooked it was not minced but it was collected directly with a large spoon and put in rattan baskets; the baskets were placed on a sloping table to collect the second production whey which was excellent food for dogs, sometimes enriched with bran or wholemeal flours. My brothers Giuseppe and Achille had become champions in product packaging, given the long work they had done over several years, so I too began to take a lot of practice. In these years our company made a remarkable development in products and sheep capital [...].
We had a dozen shepherd dogs: Tancredo, Orlando, Corsaro, Lilla, Comizia and others, the eldest and oldest, Tancredo, was a phenomenon for the hated, in the summer on the mountains he was always with his nose up for to smell the proximity of the wolves, of which he was a great connoisseur and the others quarreled, as if there was a great envy between them and Tancredo, One April morning we found him dead of old age under the cart, much to everyone's chagrin [. ..].
After winter, in spring we paid a nice visit to the sanctuary of the Incoronata Madonna and at the end of May we returned to the mountains and so did the other years. In 1938 instead of Puglia we went to the Roman countryside to spend the winter, near Cisterna, a large countryside where I was a cheesemaker, that is, I took care of the packaging of cheese and ricotta. In practice, the milk, about 150 liters, was poured into a large iron container, called the cauldron and heated to about 142 degrees and the right amount of rennet was poured into the last part of the stomach of the ruminants there is a liquid called rennet, which makes the casein lattices of the milk aggregate) and rested after shaking it well for 15-20 minutes until it became curd.
With the same stick with which the curd had been mixed, they continued to mix to form curd again; then with his bare arms immersed in the bottom of the cauldron he squeezed the grains and then pulled it out into pieces of different sizes and placed them in rattan baskets or in wooden circles, depending on whether it was Roman or Apulian cheese. I was 19 at the time and it was right to entrust myself with this task as it is an important and responsible job for the success of the product. Before leaving for Abruzzo, we paid a visit to the sanctuary of Divino Amore. At that time we began to see the first cars, recently built [...] ".
Rocco di Matteo, The memories of my life, February 2014, published improperly. Rocco di Matteo was born in Macchiatornella di Cortino (TE) on June 15, 1918, he is lively and full of the will to live. My father. Photos and drawings of the memo follow
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