The strong will survive, or: how modern nomads do their job

It dawns. 190 horses and 50 cows break off a low voltage fence and go into the unknown. They?re looking for green grass and water. They don?t know property rights nor borders, so hungry after the long winter they scatter all around. You have to catch them up and turn them back. The herdsman?s day begins.

During his primary and secondary school Marcin used to be a top student. Yet, his friends and family couldn?t convince him to study medicine. He chosed environment protection studies. But then, after passing all exams he decided that he didn?t need a ?magister? title and he resigned from taking the final one. He came back home, to his ?postPGRlands?. PGR you once called the huge state owned farms established during communist times, the Polish kind of kolkhoz. They were closed after ?89 are now areas of disastrous unemployment and poverty. Together with his father Marcin got a job there ?at horses?. Here you can see the shepherd, with the horses.

About a dozen years ago a local farmer bought this area in order to realize his dream of having lots of horses. It appeared, that one doesn?t need any special skills to breed them. It?s enough to have money to buy fallow land and pay two herdsmen 800 PLN (200?) a month. You don?t need any farms or stables, as horses and cows can survive winter without them. Do they all? Well, pity, if they don?t ? it is the law of nature. ?Those, who worked before us, sometimes had to dig three holes a day for the animals that died and during the winter half of the herd was gone. We lost only three horses since November?, Marcin says, a ?Russian? cigarette in the corner of his mouth. ?During this time 20 foals were born. Three of them I put out by myself?, he says with pride and adds that, because of the owner?s will, the animals haven?t seen, and won?t see a vet.

 The modern nomads move in a tractor that carries a primitive cabin in which they sleep. A wise dog Ator and two 13 years old truants, who love horses, accompany them. They all stress, that they are doing the job of their dreams. Some difficult moments happen though.
 ?In the winter we had to sleep in the cabin, when there was 17 degrees freeze outside, but I wanted to quit the job because of something else?, confesses the ex-student of environment protection. ?A mare was so weak, that during delivery we had to take the foal out using a tractor. In the morning cows approached her. They felt blood that was full of minerals they were deprived from during the winter and they started to lick, then pinch and in the end bite her pudenda. We couldn?t do anything. Herbivorous cows bit a horse to death! It isn?t pleasant, too, to draw out a horse from an irrigation ditch, because it is not strong enough to do it itself.?

 After dusk Marcin takes a plastic beer bottle and pours some rye moonshine, a gift from a neighbor. ?There is no boredom in this job, there?s always something to do?, he persuades. ?Loneliness is not a problem, too. When I lay for some 5 minutes, I fall asleep, because I?m so tired?. ?And when I stop working here?, a herdsman reveals his plans, ?I?ll bring some foreign capital here. I?ll tell John, a Dutch farmer I worked for, that there is plenty of land for sale and I?ll work for him.? But when he is asked to compare Dutch and Polish way of farming, he has no doubt ? the closer to nature one is better.

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