was born in Brno, the second biggest city in the Czech Republic, in 1979 - a time when the communist regime allowed no private farming. I have always felt close to all living things, especially livestock. So I was constantly looking for ways of meeting real horses, cows or sheep - even if it wasn't always easy.

No one in my family farmed, so the only solution was to visit our family friends in the countryside where I - a city child - could delve into the mystery of farming. Pitchfork in hand, I devoured information about breeding horses and milking goats. Many people predicted that my enthusiasm would be short lived, and told me I should choose a more refined occupation - but I felt bound to farming by an invisible but intense tie.

I decided to be a farmer. During my studies at school and agricultural college I wove dreams of having my own farmhouse. I met Ludek, a young man who encouraged me in my plans, and we married. He gave me our first sheep as my 19th birthday present. We called it Alberta, and it came for walks on a lead along the city streets with us.

 

We were searching for a place in the countryside where we could settle down. Finally we made our home in the tiny village of Pejskov - in an empty former piggery - and we have been restoring it for five years while our small numbers of horses and sheep have slowly grown.

The horses give rides to our guests - who come to enjoy the natural beauty. The sheep produce milk, from which I make a wide variety of organic dairy products, especially cheese. Both the horses and the sheep spend most of the year out at pasture, where they are happiest. Many other domestic animals live on our farm - dogs, pigeons, chickens, parrots, guinea pigs and rabbits - much to the delight of the mainly urban children who come to visit us.

Our farm is self-sufficient and makes enough for our modest subsistence. We are grateful to be creating a life for ourselves that is in harmony with nature - and to be able to share it with others.

Julie Krocova

 
         
         
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