Just as bloody clashes between opposing clans are an ever-rarer occurrence in Crete, the shepherds’ way of life itself is rapidly vanishing, too.
The tradition of animal herding is becoming obsolete: there’s better money to be made opening a little beach resort or a hotel, and Greece’s inclusion into the European Union is making it harder for independent shepherds to survive.
“Our cheeses used to be popular not just in Crete, but the whole of Greece, the whole of Europe, even. A lot of our cheese-making traditions are at least a thousand years old! But now that Greece is in the European Union, cheese-making is becoming more and more regulated. We used to make cheese in the mitatos, leaving it to mature between rocks and in cool caves, but now, we’re told it’s anti-sanitary. Anti-sanitary! They want us to buy these massive cheese maturing machines and refrigerators, but not only we can’t afford them, our recipes would have to change. The feed for sheep, goats and mules is more and more costly every year. Oh, Greece is killing us… The tradition of herding sheep will
end with us. We’re the last generation of free shepherds in Crete, and that’s
just how life is”, - Pavlos says quietly.