The first heat of summer is burning down on the hilly, structure-rich landscape south of Rostock. The wandering shepherd of Gut Wardow is currently staying in the middle of nowhere with his flock of Pomeranian, Texel and Suffolk sheep. Not even the noise of the next busy road can be heard, only the cud-chewing of the animals which has a very calming effect.
On the pickup lies a 500-litre barrel filled with drinking water for the sheep. The animals drink water two or three times a day in summer, depending on how much dew was on the pasture in the morning. The sun is blazing and there isn’t a natural water source nearby.
24-year-old Marc, a trained Agricultural machinery mechatronics technician, changed his career two years ago and now he looks after Wolfgang Grimme's herd of sheep and Bisson at Gut Wardow. Right from the first trial work, we noticed that he has a knack for these animals. "You can't be afraid of bissons , because then they feel superior and if a bisson thinks it has to show you who's boss then that's anything but fun."
He also has a special relationship with his animals and that is immediately apparent. As soon as he moves into the flock of sheep, the first ones come for a cuddle. They literally press themselves into his legs, turn their heads to be cuddled in the very special places and they never leave his side. His favorite sheep - "Eumel" and "Mini-Marco" - are two rams that run with the flock all year round.
The sheep have an area totalling 80 hectares at their disposal, which they graze throughout the year. These areas not only belong to the Bioland Farm Gut Wardow, but also from neighbouring farmers who provide ecological land, and they are grateful that their land is naturally taken care of by the sheep. Marc moves the animals from pasture to pasture and they stay as long as there is food and then they move on.
A DAILY ROUTINE
The daily routine is determined by the animals. They are given water in the morning; they are also checked to see if any of them are looking sick and need help. Most of the time this is not the case, but this is the care that clocks Marc's daily routine around the clock, 365 days a year. In the morning he looks after the sheep, at lunchtime he helps on the farm and in the afternoon, he devotes himself to the bison. A working day like that is quickly filled to the brim and if someone breaks the fence or the equipment then the animal would break out and this would mean more work for Marc and purchase a new equipment.
"I - Wolfgang Grimme – always work in the shed on weekends so that the guys can have time off. And of course you do something like that, because working with the animals particularly is incredibly satisfying work. They give you an awful lot in return. Sometimes they can also get on your nerves because you can't control them, they have a mind of their own. But that's the beauty of it. And that's why we made a conscious decision not to sit on the tractor with the plow behind it and pull our tracks controlled by GPS, but we simply find it exciting to work with living creatures that feed us and that we treat with appreciation."
WHY GUT WARDOW?
Wolfgang Grimme - owner and managing director of Gut Wardow KG - is originally from Holstein - west of Hamburg. Eleven years ago, he took on the Gut Wardow project and bought a large park with an old house on it. "What would you do as a person from Hamburg," he says with a laugh, when the opportunity arose to buy agricultural land with very good conditions; he decided to bring life to this land himself, instead of just being a landlord.
Gut Wardow has been practicing year-round grazing since 2012. This means that the animals are outside all year round. They started by keeping chicken the "Les Bleus" breed - called Bresse chickens in French - in mobile pens. Then the sheep were added, because the Wardow estate includes areas that can only be optimally grazed and maintained by sheep. They deliberately chose the rough-wool Pomeranians because they wanted to keep something original that belongs to Pomerania and Mecklenburg. Since there are also wet areas where the sheep suffered from there are bacteria - the water Bisons were also brought in. They are predestined for this.
"ONE MOTIVATION WAS THE CLASSIC PROJECT THAT WAS TO TAKE PLACE HERE IN OUR VILLAGE. NAMELY, THE 30,000-ANIMAL FATTENING HOUSE FOR SOME POOR CREATURES, WHICH IS NOT UNCOMMON IN MECKLENBURG AND WHICH WE THEN GET OFFERED AS CHICKEN MCNUGGETS AT MCDONALD'S. IT WAS IMPORTANT TO US TO SHOW THAT THINGS CAN AND MUST BE DONE DIFFERENTLY, BECAUSE THAT IS NOT A SUSTAINABLE AND SENSIBLE CONCEPT."
THE GREAT DESIRE
Wolfgang Grimme wants to offer products that meet high quality standard in addition to the ecological and regional aspects. In addition to sheep's wool, this also applies to his meat marketing. He does not want any more ewe premiums from the country, but rather a certain mobility and flexibility in the regulations, so that, for example, slaughtering can be done in smaller groups again. Because at the moment he has to drive his animals God knows where to be slaughtered. The slaughterhouses are all industrialized they need a large quantity and there aren't that many sheep left, sadly. The last big slaughterhouse in the area has stopped slaughtering sheep, there are a few small artisanal operations, but they are also too far away. All this means that the animals are driven as far as Husum or Boizenburg for slaughter.
"If what we do only works because State gives us money, then we should rather think about producing products that have value and convincing the customer that he has to give the Euro for it so that all those involved in the value chain can also live from it."