Jan Gawlak's Shepherd's Hut in Zakopane
Against the magnificent panorama of the Tatra Mountains, perfectly visible from Zakopane's Olcza, Jan Gawlak has been pasturing around a thousand sheep for the past 15 years, which belong to breeders from various – even distant – localities in the Podhale region. He himself keeps more than 70 sheep. Previously, he used to graze in the neighbourhood of Poronin. 'I took over my shepherd's hut from my father-in-law Józef Fedro, a well-known shepherd from Olcza, at whose house I used to be a shepherd's helper and an apprentice', Jan Gawlak points out. Now the shepherd's hut focuses mainly on making oscypek. 'Everything must be done in order to keep these shepherding activities alive. There are only three houses in Olcza with sheep', he deplores. As the stubborn highlander emphasises, shepherding is the foundation of the local tradition and culture – just like the oscypek, which accompanied the sheep grazing on mountain glades and pastures. This is why Jan Gawlak puts all his heart in preserving the knowledge about making oscypek, which is passed down from generation to generation in his family. Perhaps that is why, for many, the sheep cheeses from the shepherd's hut in Olcza are undoubtedly among the best in all of Małopolska.