Swiss Cow Parade – Alp Abzug by Deborah Hoffmann

During the summer months the farmers take their cows to their alpine pastures where the grass is rich. They have proper stalls and cheese-making huts and are preferably close to a stream for milk cooling. They have their own cable lifts of a large sturdy box for moving items up and down the mountainside, like a sick calf and milk containers.

This is why you often see girls and mothers doing the haying on the hillsides near their farms in summer.
In the fall they have a cow parade down the mountainside and through the village and back home to the farm. The farmers are all dressed up in their black hats with ribbons, red vests and black leggings with white knee socks and silver buckles on their shoes.

With fancy cow-bells and flowers in the cows horns, it is a colorful sight to watch the homecoming. Often the family children and goats with flowers and bells take their places at the end of the line, to see that there are no stragglers. Along the way, farm families come out to greet them and offer cider and apple brandy to keep the farmers jolly. There are often alphorns along the way to welcome them back.

On the days when the Alp-Abzug happens in different areas there are announcements on the news and in the Internet.

The farmers want to be settled at home before the first snows, but they love the freedom of living on the alp. They often have young volunteers coming to help the farmers and experience this unique way of life.

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