Trades and traditions

People of Mountain range of Andujar Natural Park

Crafts of the mountain

 

The works developed in the Sierra of Andújar are the result of the needs of its inhabitants. Most of the knowledge in the use of the resources of the Sierra was learned from parents or neighbors, and they have been transmitted throughout the different generations. Many subsist today in the economy of the Park.

Hunting The main current use of the Sierra of Andújar. 

The livestock The Park hosts several fighting Bulls ranchs of first national level. 

Beekeeping The industry of wax and honey has been implanted in Andújar since the 15th century. 

The charcoal In the nineteenth century, in Andújar lived more than three hundred families of wood cutting and carrying.

Agriculture In the Park agriculture has always been a minority and for family use. 

The vine The country residences in the area continue to call "vineyards". 

Cork Although its exploitation has declined a lot there are currently 9 farms dedicated to cork. 

The collection and use of aromatic plants The most collected and used is rosemary. 

The pineapple industry The remains of pineapples are also sold to obtain biomass.

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Natural Park

Crafts of the mountain
The hunt

 

Hunting was for many centuries one of the main activities in society, as it was the main source of food, but with the passage of time and the evolution of livestock, it became an economic and sporting activity.

In the Sierra there are two types of hunting, big game and small game. The big game is currently dedicated to the deer, the fallow deer, the mouflon and the wild boar, although in other times lynx, wolf and bear were also hunted, the latter now extinct in the Sierra. The small game is dedicated to hunting small pieces such as partridges, rabbits, wood pigeon, quail, turtle dove etc.

Already in the first decades of the eighteenth century, hunting began to be practiced by landowners and nobles who owned large estates and meadows. Thus it was giving way to the conversion of hunting to a recreational activity that is currently the main advantage of the Sierra of Andujar.

Crafts of the mountain
The livestock

 

The physical conditions of the Sierra explain the limited agricultural use and its traditional livestock vocation. The cattle present are mostly sheep, goats and bovine, although the breeds have varied throughout history according to the needs of the farmers and the profitability of the final sale. Between the races that occur at the moment in the Mountain range they emphasize the merino and segureñas sheeps, the chaste goats and the fighting bulls.

The bull of fight is very implanted in the Park, where it is calculated that they exist around 400 units. The natural environment has favored this circumstance. The most renowned herds in the Sierra de Andujar Natural Park are Flores Albarran (of the oldest), Sorando, Hermanos Ortega, Arauz de Robles, German Gervas, Hijos de Valenzuela (who have renovated the breed). Three years ago, Samuel Flores took his livestock to Albacete (with the name of the mother, Agustina López Flores, and that was the property of Los Alarcones). At the time, the one of Marqués del Puente was extinguished

These farms are serving as a tourist attraction because they have been included in the Bull Guide and, in addition, visitors from other areas who come to know the charms of the Sierra de Andujar Natural Park, are amazed with the existence of these breeding bulls, which are then fought in the most important squares in Spain.

Gallery Livestock
Crafts of the mountain
The beekeeping

 

Throughout the 15th century, in the Sierra of Andujar, beehives were introduced whose production was destined for sale and transformation in Andujar, which became one of the main production centers for wax and honey in Andalusia, and possibly, all the Iberian Peninsula.

 

Between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the beekeeping activity reduced its production considerably, due to a spectacular increase in livestock use of the forest. The descent supposed that of the 40,000 hives that came to be in the seventeenth century in the Andújar term, only 8.159 remained in the middle of the eighteenth century. In the middle of 20th centiry, the apicultural development of the Sierra was similar to what we find today.

Apicultura Parque Natural Sierra de Andújar
Crafts of the mountain
The charcoal

 

The use of mountain range wood was for centuries one of the main resources for its inhabitants, being the second in importance after livestock. The wood was used to obtain firewood and charcoal that was used for domestic households and furnaces, especially baking ovens, also called baking bread, and pottery kilns, lime kilns and tiles. It was also used for the manufacture of agricultural implements, household goods and for the construction of huts or houses.

The clearing of the arboreal vegetation served not only for the use of the wood but also to prepare the land for its later agricultural use. In the middle of the 19th century, in Andújar, more than three hundred families lived on the felling and carrying of firewood. The clearing was carried out by the whole family. The coal miners were installed temporarily in the farms, for what they built "huts" or houses and reserved space to be able to have animals or a small orchard. The furnace was installed next to the huts to make charcoal.

 

The preparation of firewood for the ovens was complex, it was necessary to remove the strains from the ground, cut the trunks and thick branches and transport and store it until use. The kiln was built with stones and branches, with a capacity of between 100 and 200 arrobas. When the coal was cold, it was piled up and put into seras for transportation. The work of monitoring the furnace required the permanent presence of the charcoal burners. This process was done in autumn and winter because the law prohibited doing it at another time of the year. The obtaining of stickleback was faster than the one of coal, but also it was necessary to construct a furnace.

Carboneo Parque Natural Sierra Andújar
Crafts of the mountain
The Agriculture

 

The clearing of the land for obtaining coal left the Sierra free for agricultural use. What was most grown was wheat, barley, oats, rye and chickpeas. Peas, lentils and hemp seeds were also grown. The crop was for family consumption, for sale or feeding of animals.

Crafts of the mountain
The vine

 

Vine cultivation emerged in the Sierra of Andujar as a substitute for wheat, giving rise to a consumer wine of great acceptance among local people.

The increase in vines occurred around the sixteenth century and in the eighteenth century the largest extension of vineyards in the province of Jaén, some 4,643 hectares, were located in the Sierra of Andujar, but, the production of wine in this area never reported great economic benefits.

This crop was produced in several of the farms of the mountain range known today as Las Viñas de Peñallana or, simply, Las Viñas, on the road from Andujar to Puertollano (Ciudad Real). In these estates the houses were built next to the cultivation areas and had a winery and wine cellar. Even today, some maintain these constructions. These houses are called "vines" and their inhabitants are the "vintners".

 

The main reason why vine cultivation was reduced in the Sierra was the attack of phylloxera, but also by the abandonment of the Sierra and the conversion of the area of ​​Las Viñas into second residences.

Nowadays, there are very few vineyards that maintain the cultivation with the wineries and cellars. The only company that is dedicated to the production of local wine is Jose Luis Navarro, who produces wine registered as "Viñas Tintas Capellanias".

Vides Parque Natural Sierra Andújar
Crafts of the mountain
The Cork

 

The cork oak is part of the natural ecosystem of the Mountain range and has been used by the different inhabitants of the area over the centuries providing another important resource: cork.

To extract it, a tree recovery time is required, around eight or ten years, so that the sawyers and vintners had to take into account the state of each tree or each plot for its optimum use. Cork was formerly used for the manufacture of hives, but also for sale. The extraction was a manual work that required some skill to avoid damaging the tree.

In the twentieth century this activity occupied enough people, but like many other trades in the Sierra, was declining with the passage of time, among other causes by the decline in the number of cork oaks. Currently there are only nine farms in the mountain range Andujar that extract cork.

corcho parque natural sierra de Andújar
Crafts of the mountain
The collection and use of aromatic plants

 

The Mediterranean forest is characterized by the presence in its undergrowth of aromatic plants that throughout history have been used as culinary condiments and medicinal remedies, among other applications. Among all the species that grow in the Sierra the most collected was the rosemary, but also the lavender, the marjoram, the thyme, the rue, the jara pringosa, the pennyroyal mint and the chamomile.

The collection of these plants required knowing the forest and the areas where they grew, as well as the best time for collection. Depending on the final destination, it was dried or filtered to extract oils.

Vides Parque Natural Sierra Andújar
Crafts of the mountain
The pine nuts industry

 

The modification of the landscape derived from the reforestations, made possible the appearance of a new resource for the population of the Sierra, the pine nuts trade. The large area reforested with stone pine, approximately 12,000 hectares, was a great raw material for obtaining pine nuts. Pineapple picking was a fundamentally manual process, especially in its beginnings, back in the 60s, which required not only physical effort but also some skill.

 

But not only was profit from the sale of the pine nut, but the remains of the pineapples, once extracted the pine nut, were used as fuel in Bailén ceramic kilns. Currently, the remains of pineapples are also sold to obtain biomass.

Piñas Parque Natural Sierra Andújar
Traditions and products

 

From the mountain range of Andujar their pasture was used for livestock, their rocks, wood, cork, honey from their bees, aromatic plants, mushrooms and pine nuts. However, today, the use that is made of it is mainly tourist and hunting, having lost most of the traditional uses. Some of the trades have already disappeared, such as the piconeros, coal miners and miners; and others are in the process of disappearing, such as stone cutters and pineapple pickers.

The Sierra was the only way of life for its inhabitants, used as a house, pantry and place of work. According to the main trades of the inhabitants of the Sierra, we can deduce the way of life in this environment. Let's start with the feeding of families.

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Natural Park

 
Traditions and products. The feeding of families
The bread of the house

 

Making bread for family consumption was one of the tasks women performed, but obtaining it was not easy. Most of the families had a bread oven attached to the house, which shows the importance of this food. Given the difficulties to obtain flour, many families chose to grind the wheat in their own house or in another farm in the mountain.

Pimientos Parque Natural Sierra Andújar
Traditions and products. The feeding of families
The cheese

 

Most of the families had sheep or goats whose milk was a fundamental complement in the diet. With the surplus milk cheese was also made for own consumption or, in some cases, as a product for the exchange or sale. 

Traditions and products. The feeding of families
The slaughter

 

A very important part of the feeding of the families were the products obtained from the slaughter, normally of pigs that were raised in the house. Most of the families had one or several pigs raised expressly for that purpose.

The feeding of the pigs could vary depending on the season, coming to use acorns of the oaks and various plants that were collected in the bush. Sometimes the families took advantage of the wildlife of the Sierra to do the slaughter, mainly the deer.

Matanza Parque Natural Sierra Andújar
Traditions and products. The feeding of families
The orchard

 

Like the killing, the work in the orchard was common in the families of the Sierra. Most of them had a plot of land for gardens, from which they obtained a good part of the products for food. This work was normally intended for women in the family. Melons, tomatoes, onions, garlic, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, zucchini, watermelons were planted in the orchard. Orchards were often located near water sources, springs or rivers. In this way they were assured of irrigation for the whole year.

It is noteworthy how common was the cultivation of tobacco in the Sierra, because most of the families reserved a hole in the garden for their cultivation, either for their own consumption, or, in some cases, for trade or exchange of products.

Pimientos Parque Natural Sierra Andújar
Berenjenas Parque Natural Sierra Andújar
Traditions and products. The feeding of families
Wild plants in the diet

 

Families also took advantage of much of the wild fauna and flora that occurs in the Sierra. Among the most used plants stand out those used for stews, such as wild bean or watercress, purslane or wild spinach, vinegars, campion, garlic leek or garlic porro, milk thistle or asparagus wild. In addition to these, were also collected: plants used to flavor, such as rosemary, oregano, fruits such as strawberry trees, olives, rose hips or tapaculos; and the acorns of the oaks, very used to make flour.

Setas Parque Natural Sierra Andújar
Traditions and products. The feeding of families
The use of mushrooms

 

Associated with the pine plantations, there was the development in the understory of various species of mushrooms, which served as a food supplement for families.

Its collection was never very abundant, especially because of the fear that existed to poisoning, so its consumption was reduced to a series of known species. Especially the níscalo whose use for food spread rapidly among the people of the Sierra and which is considered as "exquisite delicacy" in the town of Andújar. It also consumes the bullet, called pheasant, which grows beside the rockrose or pine; the criadilla or potato of earth, cagarria, bonnet, perigallo, blue foot and wild champignon.

Setas Parque Natural Sierra Andújar
Traditions and products. The feeding of families
Hunting as a food resource

 

Another resource most used for feeding families was the hunting of wild animals, such as the rabbit, the hare, the wild boar, the partridge or the deer. Rabbit populations were very abundant at the beginning of the 20th century, but from the second half of the century they suffered a significant decrease due to the introduction of diseases. The rabbit was a product coveted by the inhabitants of Andújar, because with it an appreciated local recipe was made, the rabbit in guilindorro.

Other species used to complete the diet were small birds such as thrushes, blackbirds, pechuguitas (robins), mojinos (blue-necked rabbits), etc.; hunted mainly with ribs. Some families who lived near a river or lagoons could also feed on fish.

Traditions and products
Folk medicine

 

At the beginning of the last century there was no current medical and pharmaceutical development, so that most families resorted to home remedies, whose knowledge was transmitted from generation to generation. The remedies were used to cure diseases or ailments of both people and their livestock.

Traditions and products
Other uses of plants

 

Wild plants were not only used for feeding or making remedies, but had other interesting uses, such as the development of tools with wood or its use for leather tanning.

Traditions and products
Other stories of life in the Sierra

 

The relatively isolated life of the inhabitants of the mountain range of Andujar implied that they had to be as self-sufficient as possible, organizing among themselves and taking advantage of all the resources. The organization of the houses and the farms was a good example of the needs of the families, since they used to have winery, press, stables, chicken coops, orchards, water wells, and everything necessary for subsistence.

 

This geographical isolation meant that children could not go to schools, located in the main towns, because of the distance and because they helped in family work. For this reason, some people took charge of giving classes taking advantage of the hermitages built in Las Viñas. Sometimes, it was the mothers who took time to teach their children to read.

But it was not all work, it also reserved time for rest, for dances and meetings of neighbors and friends.

Traditions and products
The end of life in the Mountain Range

 

The second half of the twentieth century brought many changes in the lives of the inhabitants of the Sierra, which meant the abandonment of traditional practices learned from their predecessors.

The old trades of the Sierra, charcoal burners, cattle ranchers, vintners, miners, etc., belong to a past time, among the reasons to explain the end of traditional trades is the rise of commercial or leisure huntings, to the detriment of agricultural uses, which were more economically beneficial for the owners.

The benefits derived from big game encouraged the owners of farms to transform the exploitation towards the management of preserves for game species. Although sheep or goat herds were progressively disappearing, the cattle ranch has been maintained until today, since companies in this sector report high economic benefits.

This change had various consequences on the landscape and ecology of the Sierra. The abandonment of the clearings to produce coal and prepare land for agriculture allowed the natural vegetation to recover little by little.

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