Alejandro Torralvo turns 23 in September and will blow out the candles with the tranquility that gives him dedicating himself to his great passion: the trade of goatherd in the town where he was born. The young man from Extremadura, originally from Guijo de Santa Bárbara (Cáceres, 290 inhabitants) grew up among “the best little animals” and always wanted to follow the family line: both his grandfather, Primitivo Torralvo, who died at the age of 95, and his father, Florián , 70 years old and his uncle Ángel, 65, have dedicated themselves to it. “My first memory is seeing my father saving a kid that suffocated with the placenta during childbirth,” he recalls excitedly. The young rancher was bored in class and never wanted to get a high school degree. At the age of 16 he completed an intermediate degree in forestry, at 20 he took an agriculture course and a year ago he fulfilled his dream: taking care of 300 goats from the family inheritance. And he has not been satisfied with the pasture of a lifetime: he has modernized by geolocating his herd with a GPS. The technological goatherd from Extremadura is clear that young people can and must reinvent rural jobs: “Technology offers many possibilities and we must take advantage of them.”
The invention that has made him jump to fame in his region, the “creation simple but useful ”of which Torralvo boasts, is a battery-powered GPS that he has placed on his goats’ necks to better control their movements. The idea came about three years ago, when a livestock association brought in a founder of a GPS company who gave a talk about the potential of the invention. “Seeing that this possibility existed, I wanted to try the experience”, sums up Torralvo. The device sends a signal to the mobile with two objectives: save time and quickly locate your herd.
The millennial assures that the mechanism is effective and that it has never failed him. “I have saved time, the most valuable thing in this life.” In addition, he highlights how technological support has humanized his work: “It helps me to get to know my cattle better and to identify their habits with more precision”. Thus, the farmer knows “by heart” the best times to feed them, when they are closest to the corral areas and when they are further away than necessary. For Alejandro Torralvo, working in nature is like being “in an amusement park” and his eyes shine when he talks about the future in the countryside: “Young people have the opportunity to modernize the jobs of our grandparents. The advancement of technology allows us to contribute to their persistence ”.
Torralvo says that another of the novelties that he is incorporating into his work, unlike his elders, is that of monitoring everything by mobile phone and abandoning the paper definitively: “I note the births, the number of babies, the food they require … . ”. In his first year as a rancher, he has had unexpected success modernizing the family tradition, but he is not going to settle: “If we want rural jobs to survive for many more years, we have to reinvent ourselves.”
The smallest of the Torralvo family regrets that all his friends have moved to the city and left him “solino” in the village. The twenty-year-old defends residing in the countryside and criticizes that only the big cities are looked at: “Some think that staying is a failure and when they have the opportunity to leave, they cling to it.” Alejandro Torralvo assures that he would not change his job “for nothing” and that he is completely happy, but confesses that he misses having people his age around. In summer it gets more crowded and the “town” is revitalized, he explains, but during the course loneliness suffers. The enthusiastic entrepreneur speaks nostalgically about how he manages the isolation typical of his profession: “In my grandfather’s time, there were many goatherds his age and the workers made pineapple …”.
The young rancher insists that no one has forced him and that it was his “best decision”, despite the warnings of his mother, the 60-year-old Paula Gutiérrez, who wanted a “less slave” job for her offspring. Alejandro Torralvo defends himself before his mother, but understands that many people his age give up: “It is a very sacrificial job,” he admits without hesitation. The restless Extremaduran wakes up at seven in the morning and does not rest until night. This rhythm, he admits, cannot be tolerated by just anyone because of the physical wear and tear it entails and, sitting in front of the block where he spends his days, he warns: “To the young people who want to come, I recommend that you think twice.”
His routine is based on milking the animals, feeding them, and caring for and pampering the herd. Summer is his favorite period because he enjoys “like a child” when he goes to La Garganta, a green landscape with a spectacular waterfall of crystalline water. In winter the cold gets worse and everything is more difficult, but there is no storm that slows Torralvo, who considers the countryside as his best school: “Nature teaches me the value of effort and the reward of work.” One of the keys to improving the job, says the young man, is to make the most of the rise of new technologies.