Tales about Aviation, Coaching, Farming, Software Development

Granja Caimito - The story so far

Every large undertaking will inevitably pivot at some point. Rarely do ventures go as planned. This article is about reflecting where we started, what happened and what might be the new direction of the project.

By the end of 2017 we purchased 45 hectares of Dehesa land in Andalusia, Spain. There have been a few blog posts about this new venture here on the blog but mostly the journey got documented on YouTube as Project Granja Caimito. About 6500 subscribers, at the time of this writing, to the YouTube channel find it interesting.

Between then and now we’ve had a herd of up to 50 head of cattle, several times some 30 pigs and also flocks of 30 chicken and 9 sheep. We have eaten meat from our own animals and continue to have a freezer full of high-quality meat that’s not available in a regular supermarket. Today we have four horses and 8 big dogs around as well.

The land changed significantly and we have a lot more trees and other plants than before. And still the journey has just begun.


The initial thought was to buy raw land and develop it instead of buying a single-family home near a metropolitan center. When you buy a regular house with a garden you acquire basically a liability. That’s pretty much the same as when you buy a car. None of these things are really an asset because they require constant maintenance and therefore expenditures and do not produce anything. They do give you a benefit but the moment you stop their upkeep sooner (car) or later (house) you will lose the function the provide.

Plus there is a ton of dependencies and in times of crisis (think about what happened to many people during the pandemic) these dependencies can become a real problem. Once you run out of income all the services that you’ve been taken for granted can and will get turned off. It’s not nice to sit in a fancy home in the dark and cold. Or the nice car that ran out of gas.

We also wanted to buy our piece of raw land in an area where there is nothing of interest around and likely very few other humans. So we looked at the map of Europe and eventually decided on the piece we bought in Spain because we happen to speak Spanish amongst other languages.

You might ask “why with nothing of interest around?” and the answer is: safety. Not that I am overly pessimistic nor do I expect civil unrest or much worse a war but anywhere where a lot of people live in a small space the likelyhood of something unpleasant is a lot higher than somewhere out in the woods. At best one has to cross a river or a deep valley to get to your place or at least a 4x4 vehicle should be required.

Another related aspect is that in a rural place with few people around there is fewer rules about what you can and cannot do on your own land and so there is more freedom to enjoy. The other side of that coin is that you are responsible for everything and nobody will come and help. You need to lift your own weight but that’s something I like in general.

Currently the people in the villages here in the Valle de los Pedroches face a serious problem with the public water services. What comes out of the faucet is bad water and people cannot drink it nor use it to bath if they have sensitive skin. The municipalities are trucking in water to help out but it’s a critical situation. We on our land have several shallow wells and do not face the issue at all.

To be on the land

2018 was spent to built some basic infrastructure and a temporary house including a small solar system to have some electricity. And I can report that we all are very glad to have built a house instead of using our Mongolian yurt or an RV or camper van. We would have been miserable the whole time as the temperatures here can be extreme. In winter it is wet and can get down to -15º celsius while in summer it is very dry and can reach 42º celsius in the shade. Most of the time there is a temperature swing of 20º between night and day. Our temporary house with air conditioning and all the amenities of the 21st century is serving us well up to today. We are about to build a real one now.

It is actually about restoring a damaged ecosystem

As we were trying out different things with plants and animals we learned that our piece of land as well as the vast landscape all around it is actually pretty damaged. Damaged from decades or more of abuse and extractive practices where the benefit for the human exploiting the land was more important than being a good steward of the land. There are many reasons for that and the space here and now isn’t big enough to go further into this. However, I do understand why things are the way they are.

To us that meant we could not simply start with some sort of production to offer a product. We first have to restore the land in order to eventually be able to sell the surplus once it emerges.

Can we derive a long-term income from it?

We thought about potential income or at least food from the land before we purchased it. However we didn’t really know how agriculture or ranching actually works. Or how to approach customers. It’s not like as you could roll up to a supermarket and sell them your fresh produce or meat on the spot.

As you can see by looking around on this website, our income does not depend on agriculture and so we can afford to learn from our mistakes and failures and over time we should be able to derive an income from the land and it’s very likely going to be some niche product/service and certainly not from a commodity. There have been some successful experiments with direct sales of ham and hot chilis in the shop over at caimito.eu. I am especially happy about the pricing slider where the customer picks their own price based on the value of the product as they perceive it.


Between early 2019 and 2023 we all learned a good deal about things that were unknown to us in the beginning and we did have a few severe failures. Everything around animals and plants or systems wasn’t really an issue but instead we had people problems. Problems with people we hired. I don’t intent to disclosure details here although I did mention a few things in the YouTube videos. The issues mostly revolve around motivation of the people you hire and not everybody likes to be part of a team but instead prefers to draw a salary and work as being told instead of contributing to a venture with their own creativity. That’s perfectly fine for a factory worker or similar but it does kill a venture easily.

A project such as ours was supposed to offer an opportunity for learning, personal growth and building up something for the benefit of the whole group.

So we stopped that.

Instead of trying to build a team we have now switched to the concept of crew which means we hire experienced people for something like a specific journey (as on a cruise ship or airplane) and there is no long-term commitment or learning required.

New phase

Now in 2024 we have entered a new phase for our project. It continues to be an effort to restore the ecosystem on our land but we have put our focus on things that matter to us personally while still putting things in motion for some long-term income without jeopardizing the ecosystem restoration effort.

This is the story so far.

If you are interested, follow along here and also on YouTube to watch what we do in our videos that are made and published frequently.

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