Wednesday, 17 August 2016

A Slice of Alpine Life


Next time you are tasked with the job of cutting your lawn consider the plight of the Austrian farming family
Whenever there are three consecutive hot, sunny, completely dry summer days, the farming community have to cut as much alpine meadow as possible on both the mountain slopes and in the valleys - this makes the precious winter fodder for their cattle. When the weather forecast is right the sounds of mowing in the Alps can be heard echoing around the valleys; on the second day the grass is lifted, turned, thrown in the air and made into furrows; on the third day the now dry alpine hay is gathered in to be safely stored away in barns. There is no shying away from the job, if the weather is right then the task must be done.
Depending on the location it is quite a feat to observe. The higher the meadow the harder the task.
This was taken half way up a mountain from a chair lift - it was much steeper than it appears - my camera lens zoomed down from on high
On the second day the hay is drying nicely; on the third very hot day we spent the morning walking but decided to return to the hotel and seek some shade on the balcony with our books. However, not much reading was done as we watch the extraordinary antics of a farmer and his family
A large tarpaulin white sheet was dragged up the mountain slope - mainly hidden from view by the tree
The farmer used a blower and rake to collect the hay together
I couldn't catch the next action as the tree blocked the cameras view - the farmer piled the hay on to the tarpaulin and made a large haystack. To our atonishment he then pulled the tarpaulin complete with haystack down the mountainside backwards - as the load gathered momentum he ran faster and faster, still backwards! - we watched with our hearts in our mouths until he reached safety at the bottom of the mountain - the whole process was repeated several times until all of the meadow grass was safely gathered in.

Job done - at least 6 little truck loads passed beneath our balcony on their way to the storage barns - the aroma of good hay smells sweet which this did.
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Some of the village decorative details that I admired

41 comments:

  1. A very interesting and beautiful post Rosemary.
    Have a wonderful day.

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    1. Thank you Marijke - hope that you are enjoying this lovely summer weather too.

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  2. Still much handworks there, here you only see machines on the fields.

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    1. Yes, their mountainous terrain makes life very difficult for the farmers in the Alps.

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  3. What extraordinary green grass on those hills and meadows, and no wonder it can be turned into precious winter food. I have never heard of this procedure before, but it looks fascinating, and a good example of working with nature. In Australia a crop is sown to obtain plentiful hay in this way. The village is so beautiful, it looks unreal to my eyes, like a film set!

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    1. Wandering through Alpine villages does rather resemble being in a film set - clean, fresh, historic and with lovely colours - it is a delight.

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  4. It's SO beautiful there! And clearly involves a lot of hard work by alpine farmers.

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    1. My impression was that they work extremely hard and it is beautiful.

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  5. Such great photos, Austria is a beautiful country! A farmer's life is hard all year round! I mow our yard which is about an acre, but flat, can't imagine doing a hillside.

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    1. I would not have believed that he pulled the haystack down the mountain side if I had not seen it with my own eyes.

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  6. I remember the window box pelargoniums and alpine scenes from visits to Switzerland. So very picturesque.

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    1. The flower boxes seem to have an extra brilliance in the mountain sunshine.

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  7. Hello Rosemary, Even English-speaking people know enough to "make hay while the sun shines," but usually not on such steep slopes! The flowers and hand-crafted decorations on the houses (no pre-fabricated plastic monstrosities) make everything look timeless and well cared for.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - that is exactly what I should have called this post - why didn't I think of that? Everything is well cared for, all of the grassy areas on the mountain sides look like bowling greens.

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  8. What a fascinating post and I do love your photos of the houses and the decoration. xxx

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    1. Thank you Lyn - the houses and their decorations are fabulous.

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  9. Beautiful photo's of the Austrian countryside Rosemary. I never realised what a though job cutting the grass in Austria is. Hope you had a lovely holiday?!

    Enjoy your evening!

    Madelief x

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    1. It was a perfect holiday Madelief - hot sunshine, lovely food and surroundings, and lots of walking.

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    2. I could easily live there Rosemary! Seeing the natural beauty of the countryside, and the exquisite pristine villages tucked into the alpine meadows, seems perfection in this crazy life. Would only go forward up the hills though, leaving the backward runs with haystacks to the hardy Austrians!

      Thanks for sharing your lovely moments, I can almost smell the fresh cut grass from here!
      Mary -

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    3. It is bad enough walking down mountains facing forwards - how they run down backwards I do no understand.
      Glad you enjoyed the lovely moments Mary

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  10. Dear Rosemary, It was in the Alps that we first noticed the grass cutting machine. It also converts to tilling the ground. We just had to have one and, now when it needs parts, we have a good excuse to go to Italy.
    Thank you for the beautiful photographs.

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    1. Dear Gina - as you know they have some very cunning devices to cope with their difficult terrainn - glad you enjoyed the photos too.

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  11. Such a beautiful place, the buildings are delightful and so colourful. The hay making looks like hard work to me, I always think of the story of Heidi sleeping in the hayloft :)

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    1. When we first went to Switzerland many, many, years ago our beds had duvets which were new to us at the time, and the mattresses were filled with freshly cut Alpine grass which were extremely comfortable and smelt lovely.

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  12. I enjoyed hearing how they harvested the hay....and I could almost smell it. The other pictures are just lovely.

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    1. Austria is a lovely country to visit

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  13. Very informative and interesting post a well as beautiful photos from the austrian mountains !

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    1. Thank you Jane, it is lovely to have you back again

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  14. Dearest Rosemary,
    One wonders why they are not more mechanized in collecting the hay as now it is very time consuming for young and old alike!
    But you are right about the smell of fresh mowed meadows, we enjoy that when we bike through the country and to me that is pure summer.
    Love the photo with the all red trailing Pelargoniums best; what a beauty that is.
    Also that steeple of the Church amidst the green meadows.
    The handwoven wooden fence is also standing out; what old family traditions they managed to pass on.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - they do have a lot of intriquing mechanical aids but the very steep slopes present them with problems which can only be solved by using humans.
      There are so many lovely things to both admire and enjoy in the Alps.

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  15. Dear Rosemary, wow, cutting the alpine meadows is really quite an undertaking. At least now the farmers can use some modern equipment, but in the old days when all the grass needed to be cut by hand with a Scythe, oh my, what a job!
    Love your snapshots from the Austrian village. Everything seems to be so lovingly taken care off with an incredible amount of attention to detail.
    Austria is such a beautiful small country. I can really imagine to spent my vacation there as well. Not going to happen in the near future, but I am happy for you, that you got to do it!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Austria has been one of the return to countries that we have enjoyed visiting since our sons were small. Then we used to do lots of walking to the tops of the mountains, but bow we stick to the valleys.

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  16. wow am kind of speechless right now how beautiful place you got to live dear such a heaven you are true the fresh hey smells so pleasant

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    1. Thank you Baili and I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing these photos of Austria. It is not a country that I live in but one that we like to visit.

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  17. Hay cutting is certainly hard work, even with tractors. I once had a summer holiday job helping to cut hay on steep mountain sides in Germany, but of course I didn't do this for long compared to these alpine farmers. The compensation for me was working in such a beautiful place; I imagine the alpine farmers must feel something of this, too.

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    1. Most of the farmers came into our chalet hotel in the evenings after haymaking for a drink with one another and to be convivial. I suspect that they were grateful for the weather and very pleased to have gathered the hay in for their winter store

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  18. This is a great look into the haying process on a steep slope. How lucky you were to sit and enjoy it! Austria is such a beautiful country. All those village details show the care that goes into making life there lovely.

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    1. Austria is certainly picture perfect and a joy to visit.

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  19. Wonderful - wonderful photos of most beautiful places.

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  20. I spent a few holidays In Austria as a child and vividly remember the haystacks all lined up like soldiers in the fields. It does look so steep gathering the hay in your pictures, it was so interesting. Sarah x

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