"The wool and the snow" | "La lana y la nieve"

I´m reading a book called “The wool and the snow”, by Ferreira de Castro, one of Portugal´s 20th century literature classics.It was published in 1947 and tells the story of Horácio, a young man who is a shepherd near Manteigas, a country town near Portugal´s Serra da Estrela. This region is historically known for its wool industry and bitterly cold weather, which are the backdrop to the portrait of communities who lived in great hardships and worked extremely hard to make a meager living.

In the book, an interesting procedure, directly related to the production of wool, is described. Since most of us, urbanites, have probably never seen or heard about this, it was surprising for me to learn that ram´s horns must be shaped in order to protect the animal from piercing itself and others. The author describes the process, which appears to be painless for the animal: each horn is inserted into a boiled potato, still hot from the pot. The warmth and humidity contained within the potato soften the horn, which is then flexible enough to be reshaped, so that it does not pierce the animal´s eyes or neck. Who knew that? Not me, certainly!

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Estoy leyendo un libro llamado “La lana y la nieve”, del autor portugués Ferreira de Castro, uno de los precursores del neo-realismo y un clásico de la literatura del siglo XX. El libro, publicado en 1947, cuenta la historia de Horácio, un joven pastor de un pueblo serrano del interior de Portugal, conocido por su producción lanera. En el libro se cuenta no sólo su historia sino que también se describe la vida difícil de su gente.

A pesar de mi pasión por el tejido y por la lana, la verdad es que como urbanita que soy no sabía que A los carneros jóvenes hay que amoldarles los cuernos para que no lastimen. En el libro describen el proceso: con cada cuernito se pincha una papa hervida. La humedad y el calor de la papa suavizan el cuerno lo suficiente para que se vuelva flexible y se pueda cambiar su forma. ¿Quién hubiera dicho?

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2 comments

  1. I Knew that, sorry… lolol. It´s obvious because I am from Portugal and I live near Serra da Estrela, they do others things that we don´t imagine… they are great people, one day I will show you some pictures of there… Thanks for talking about our culture, that is amasing. kisses
    Sónia

  2. Billy says:

    Olá Sónia!

    Obrigada pela visita!

    Eu também sou portuguesa, o meu pai até é de pertinho do Fundão, mas eu desconhecia totalmente estes hábitos! É o que dá viver na cidade… 😉

    Um beijinho e até breve!

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