Let’s see where did I leave off? Oh yes, we are in Krinau. Here it is almost two months later and we are still at the first organic farm, sorry folks — things have been nuts here, I’ll try to squeeze more time in for this story. Anyway, on with the tale.
Tues, July 22nd
Monday I went with Felix, our host, and Philip to pick up butter. We drove to the Toggenberg Valley and up to a mountaintop farm. The view was spectacular as we drove up the narrow winding road. We arrived at a secondary house which the family used near their lower barn when they came down from the Alps. It was small, but quite cozy, with all the modern appliances. We were invited to share a cup of coffee while the our hostess, a short squat woman with a warm and friendly demeanor, bounded down the stairs and returned with a huge tub of paper-wrapped butter.
I thought Felix was going to purchase a months worth, but in fact, he bought a whole years worth! Do you have any idea how much butter that is! Enough to give the cleanest arteries a fright. 😀
Today I helped transfer sheep. This was truly an experience. She put boards down on top of the fold-down rear seat and literally picked up the sheep one-by-one and put them in the car. Then she and drove up another mountain in another valley with three bleating, wobbly, sheep in the back of her car.
Lisbeth and family in tow on our first mountain treck
First we went to one farm and picked up another sheep and then we went on our way to the final destination for all but one. At the first farm I noticed that the sheep blindly followed the owner right to the car. Well, actually he walked them to the holding area where he picked out the one with the right number on her ear-tag and then Lisbeth picked her up and put her in the back of the car
with the other waiting sheep. My job was to make sure the others didn’t get out of the car while she put the sheep into the back. I was later told that this young sheep farmer was the area butcher.
We expected to pick up just one, but when we got there we were told that the lady who we were to transfer the sheep to had ordered two. So we repeated the process of transfer and confused about this unscheduled addition, off we went.
Down the mountain and then through a neighboring village we wound our way with sheep bleating and bouncing around on the wooden planks that were quickly turning black with feces which made the foothold even more precarious for their already wobbly legs to maintain.
When we finally arrived at the farm and unloaded the sheep that were to remain we were informed that the extra sheep was for us to take home. However, because Lisbeth is as strong-willed as she is well-built for farming life, we left with just the one we had come for. After unloading the sheep which were to be used for breeding we led them into the barn and then guided them into the holding area. The other sheep didn’t accept them and so they quickly leaped the barriers and we frantically chased after them and put them back only to repeat the process a second time.
Once securely placed, they were then moved to a scaling area where the sheep farmer woman pulled out a bathroom scale and after weighing herself, picked up the sheep, one-at-a-time and stepped on it. In this way she was able to get an accurate weight for the sheep. I never knew why that was done but I am sure it had something to do with an equal exchange.
Swiss Alpine sheep
All that done we headed down the mountain toward home with just the one addition to the family. This sheep was a young male that would be raised for meat. When we arrived back at the farm the two mothers who were left childless by the transfer were joined by this young unwanted stranger. Neither of the two mothers wanted to accept this interloper and so would butt him away at every opportunity. This meant that he might jump the fence and so we had to take turns standing guard for the first couple of hours. Felix and Lisbeth kept watch that night and by the next afternoon the adoption was complete.
Our evening was spent visiting the only friends of Felix and Lisbeth, a couple who had allowed their sheep to graze the hill behind their home up until the day of transfer. Roland was a retired math teacher. He played the cello and had just arrive back empty-handed from mushroom hunting in the Alps. It seems the only thing he brought back with him was a cold.
They were very gracious and we enjoyed our visit with them. When they informed us that they were not locals but he had been appointed headmaster of the school and church after only one year of residence we were curious and glad to receive this news.
We asked how so short of time before such a lofty position and the reply was that they merely informed the townsfolk that they wished to be involved and make Krinau their home.
This was just what we had hoped would happen for us. Now we just needed to find a place to settle down and dig our heals in.
Terrific news to end an eventful day.