Beiträge

Schliersee…So Much More Than Cows

After several years of obsessively photographing the various local Almabtriebs, this year I was sent a very kind invitation to come and experience another lovely local farming event. The Schafprämierung, in english we would call it a sheep “Best in Show” which, also included goats. This event is held each year in Tegernsee at Kohlhauf-Hof.

Sadly, after many years of great weather, this year the event received a complete soaking due to the remnants of hurricane Maria. Though the weather dampened everything, animal and people alike, it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the farmers and young breeders.

Despite the weather, the atmosphere was a festive one. Of course there was a small local traditional band playing and the air was fragrant with hot homemade stews, sausages and lamb steaks. Never to be forgotten at any German gathering, an entire table of delicious homemade cakes. Local vendors set up booths and sold various hand made products like  cattle bells and sheep’s wool items.  An amazing weaver from Miesbach brought her traditional Bavarian style loom carpets while women carded and spun wool. For the children a class was offered on felting wool and they really enjoyed.

Representing Schliersee was Franz Leitner (junior). His families beautiful farm, Kirchbergerhof is located in the  Fischhausen part of Schliersee. Franz was showing his magnificent Alpine Steinschaff. Through this event I learned In 2009 the Alpines Steinschaf was named “endangered livestock breed of the year” so its cultivation and care are very important to the breeds survival. It was great to be there in support of a fellow Schlierseer.

What stole my heart were the happy faces of the young breeders, Jungzuchter, who were showing their sheep for the first time. Watching the connection of these young children and their much loved and trusting sheep was precious. The joy of the parents and grandparents who could share their passion for animal husbandry was written all over their faces. These traditions of local farming if not taught and shared might one day might sadly die out. Sharing and teaching them to the younger generations helps to keep the traditions alive. Their joy just fills you with pride for this beautiful alpine land and its people.

I am sure there were technical aspects of a Schafprämierung which were very important for the health of these local breeds but for me it was the joy of community that I most took away from the day. The excitement of seeing the results of the years hard work, breeding and caring for these sweet faced creatures. The sheep were definitely the stars and their personalities shined through. Many of the sheep tried nibbling on the serious judges aprons causing them to break from their important stoic roles into warm laughter.

 

 

The judges took great care to check each animal thoroughly for particular signs of good breeding. The health and care given to every animal was judged accordingly to a strict standard.

 

Unfortunately, although I was properly attired for the weather, myself and my camera encased in gore-tex for protection I ended up getting soaked to the skin which sadly brought and end to my visit.

 

 

For more information on Schafprämierung and events:
http://www.alpinetgheep.com/news-bayern.html

To learn how you can stay at the beautiful Kirchbergerhof farm:

http://www.kirchbergerhof.info/frame-index.html

 

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

 

Da summa is außi -The Summer is Over

After a long peaceful summer with the cows dotted lazily about in alpine pastures we are reaching the final climax of a successful season. There is such peace and tranquility in these days filled with the long golden light of autumn.

As the many tourists begin to head back to their homes and sometimes stressful lives, a calm sets on our land here in Schliersee. Daily life and Bavarian traditions return once more. Though the animals on the mountains seem blissfully unaware. I am sure somewhere in their DNA their internal clocks are ticking away their time of freedom under the great big sky is ending.

Soon their farmer will return, one last time, to guide them on their long journey back to the valley and the familiarity of their farms. Their big day of celebration will soon be upon them and  their joyful reunion with the other animals from the farmstead.

To wander in these final moments amongst the cows and they lay about like lizards sunning themselves accompanied by the tinkling of the bells as they groom. I can honestly say there is a feeling of serenity that takes over and you just can’t help but smile.

At this time the swallows dash about gathering the last of the insects for fuel for their next journeys. Everything on the mountains seems to preparing for their next adventure. With the shorter days and cooler temperatures signaling all that the big change is near. Some may call it as the last breath of summer.

In each season here in Schliersee, from the mountain peaks to the shores of our green lakes there is magic to be found.

 

 

 

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

 

The Great Debate…To Pick Up or not to pick up…that is the question.

It’s a constant discussion amongst dog owners here in Schliersee, ”Why exactly do I have to pick up after my dog when all other animals are allowed to defecate wherever they wish?”. Are the reasons simply cosmetic or a real environmental concern? Do the dog droppings somehow affect our precious cheese production? Isn’t it just considered fertilizer like the cow and horse manure?

 

After asking many of our local farmers for the exact reason dog owners must be vigilant I decided to do a bit of research on my own. It’s very important for us dog owners to not only be respectful of our farming neighbors but for us all to live in harmony. Making sure we carry a couple biodegradable bags is a small price to pay for keeping everyone happy and healthy.

 

The parasite Neospora Caninum is the concern when dog owners carelessly forget to pick up after their dogs. This infection naturally leads to the development of neosporosis which is spread through dog droppings. Dogs can become infected with neospora through eating raw meat. And if cows come into contact with the parasite, it can cause them to abort. One farmer told me that if cows eat dog faeces it makes the milk and cheese taste foul.

 

So the long and short of the great pick up debate, yes, it is very important you remove and properly dispose of your dog’s waste in a biodegradable pick up bag. Sadly I have noticed a lot of folks are unwilling to walk to the next trash can or dog waste station. We wish Schliersee to remain a dog friendly vacation spot, so please be aware while walking your dog and clean up accordingly. Schliersee and the surrounding areas have made this job easier by installing more designated dog stations in and around the towns and lakes.

 

 

For more information on Neospora:

 

https://www.fginsight.com/news/news/neosporosis-in-cattle-farmer-issues-emotional-plea-to-dog-walkers-after-cull-scare-20648

 

 

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

 

Eisheiligen and Spring’s Folkloric Lesson

A bitter spring snow storm is a great reminder of the importance of listening to certain local folklore. One of my first homes in Germany was a cozy garden apartment and I spent many a day puttering around the garden with the my landlord’s elderly father.  He taught me many wonderful folk stories and many I still follow to this day.

One evening while we raced about finding containers and blankets to tuck in and protect our new little plants from the dropping temperatures and icy precipitation I was reminded of one very important lesson I was taught those many years ago. Here in Germany there are weather saints called the “Eisheiligen”, who dictate when you should begin your spring planting.  They serve an important purpose because it is easy to get lured by beautiful early spring sunshine to start plotting and planting your garden. Especially after a long hard winter.

The Eisheiligen are so important here in Germany that they have their own calendar which tells you when it is safest to plant each year. Not only do they have a calendar but they have names and their particular date which are as follows for 2017:

Termine 2017

  • Mamertus – Thursday, 11. Mai 2017
  • Pankratius – Friday, 12. Mai 2017
  • Servatius – Saturday, 13. Mai 2017
  • Bonifatius – Sunday, 14. Mai 2017
  • Kalte Sophie – Monday, 15. Mai 2017

For European farmers and gardeners 20-25 May seems to be the magical date deemed safe enough for animals to come out of the barns as well as seedlings to be planted. I have always wondered about this because many times people believe the first day of May to be the beginning of frost free time. But if you get the chance, you often see safe inside neighbors garages abundantly planted flower boxes waiting for the right date to be put out on display.

Creating those amazing flower boxes is an article for another day. Right now, as I sit here watching the snow fall I think I will put another log on the fire and go find my warm winter clothing I obviously put away too soon.

 

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).