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Alps celebrations - taking cattle up to the high fields...

Alps celebrations - taking cattle up to the high fields...

May 2nd, 2004, 06:02 PM
  #1  
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Alps celebrations - taking cattle up to the high fields...

I just found out early-mid June is when the Swiss traditionally celebrate taking their cattle up into the high fields of the Alps - which will coincide with my visit.

ironically, the same friends I am visiting, I also visited in Germany in the fall, just in time to see the celebrations of bringing the cattle DOWN from the Alps.

so it would be funny to see this celebration in reverse!

has anyone witnessed this? they really go all out, the cattle are decorated, the people are dressed up... good fun.
flygirl is offline  
May 2nd, 2004, 06:19 PM
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Do you mean sheep? there is what is called a transhumance.
cigalechanta is online now  
May 2nd, 2004, 07:00 PM
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nope, cows. moo.
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May 2nd, 2004, 07:04 PM
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OH!! BOO HOO! I thought it may be the same. I never heard of cows being moved. Love this forum, I learn something new every time.
cigalechanta is online now  
May 2nd, 2004, 08:14 PM
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Yes indeedy I have been there and it is a fun celebration. In Lauterbrunnen, for example, the cows take over the town for a short period. They are dressed up in their finest parade outfits The really big winners from years past have headdresses that look to me like Christmas trees. The other cows have bells of various sizes. The bigger the bell the more prized the cow.

When this whole mob starts moving along the street, you can hear them for miles as the clanging bells echo off the sides of the valley.

It is quite a spectacle as the loads of cows are brought into town and taken out of the trailers, dressed for the parade, and then herded along the streets, and then up the paths to the high pastures.

The cows move very slowly, a little faster than glacial ice, but they get there. Traffic stops while the cows are moving because they have the right of way for as long as they need it.

The farmers are usually running along with sticks and shouting this high pitched yell that only Swiss farmers can make. (I tried and failed humorously.) Some of the herds are escorted up with dogs. The dogs are fun too because they are skilled at what they do and seem to do it with great gusto.

I once stood on the path leading down from Kleine Scheidegg to Wengen and watched a single dog, slightly assisted by an arm flapping farmer, put a whole herd into the barn at milking time.

The dog was running about barking and nipping at heels. One old bossy, who obviously had a long standing feud with the dog, kept sweeping her horns at him. He just danced out of the way and kept after her. As slow as she was, there was no way the dog was in any danger. I am sure he had dodged that big head for years.

When the final cow was in the barn, the farmer shut the bolt. At least he had the good sense to pat the dog on the head for a job well done.

It is great fun. I wish I was there with you to watch what is a very Swiss event.
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May 2nd, 2004, 08:53 PM
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Transhumance is the moving of livestock, not just sheep. The celebrations are wonderful. It's really nice they can make a celebration out of something that should be plain old hard work. Something about the human spirit . . .
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May 3rd, 2004, 12:51 AM
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The really interesting events are the "cow fights" in the Valais (perhaps in other cantons as well) which happen prior to the "move" with the winner being designated the "queen."
 
May 3rd, 2004, 03:22 AM
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They do that also in Austria. I have been planning to go hiking in Tiroli, and I would like to do that when the flower-decorated cows come down. So, if they go up in June, when do they come down?
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May 3rd, 2004, 04:19 AM
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In Switzerland, the cows come down in mid September. I am not sure how the exact date is determined.
We were there last year until September 16th. The event took place shortly before we left, but I do not recall the exact day.
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May 3rd, 2004, 04:37 AM
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Hi flygirl,

Yup, I've seen that cow-parade in Gstaad & in Grindelwald. Last June in Zuoz, I missed it by minutes as I was dressing in my room. It's a great moment -- one of those "pinch me, I'm HERE" times.

s
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May 3rd, 2004, 05:12 AM
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We were driving in the outskirts of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in late May several years ago---and the whole world stopped! The cows were being driven up to the high pastures, through the streets, queens for the moment. It was a lot of fun.

Regards,

Jinx Hoover
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May 3rd, 2004, 10:52 AM
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flygirl, we had an outage here for a few hours and while waiting for the power to return, I thumbed through a new book and surprise! In September, in Alsace at Munster there is the spotted brown cow and munster cheese fete. It seems the combination is because the herders were fed bread and cheese on the journeys by the locals.
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May 3rd, 2004, 11:00 AM
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was Cousin It there? yuk yuk.

We saw our cattle tour in mid September, in Bavaria. such a pretty pretty day. it rained early but got it over with and was nice later!
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