Beiträge

Autumn Traditions and Time Travel – part 2

I met Hartl once more at his breathtaking lake side farm early in the morning while the dew was still glistening on the grass and the fog was beginning to lift revealing the mountains once more. After our long jeep ride up the mountain passing several groups of hikers heading up Bodenschneid in this perfect wandering weather.

We arrived at the Alm early that Sunday morning and Anna and the other Hirteren (herders), Sennerin and farmers were calmly preparing the cows for their festive procession down the mountain, through the town and back to the farm. It is rather amazing how calm the cows remain even once they have received their large ceremonial bells and the head pieces. The calmness is attributed to the care and calmness of the Sennerin and her many helpers. If the humans remain calm, the animals follow suit…for the most part. They are animals after all and can be very unpredictable. Like humans each animal has it’s own distinct character.

Looking timelessly beautiful in her Trachten (traditional clothing), hair braided in the traditional way and decorated with Edelweiss. It was very obvious Anna was leading this show and with pride, as she should be. Very few famers in our region had a successful season this summer due to extreme weather. Once all the selected cows received their decorations, and everything was put just right, Anna began to lead them home. Of course the cows had ideas of their own and ran in different directions but through the skill of Anna and her many helpers the cows were once again quickly organized and down the mountain, through the forest they went.

Their journey took the group along ancient wandering forest paths of which I can only imagine hundreds of years of farmers traveled before. For over two hours they negotiated these mountain paths cheered on by the many hikers and cyclists they passed until they reached the edge of Schliersee and we on the homestretch to the picturesque farm in Hausham.

Once everyone had entered the farm and the cows were brought once again into their lush green pastures the business of deftly removing the decorations began. They are removed quickly and with care even if the cows seem to have difficulty giving up the pretty decorations. Part of the history of Almabtrieb as being a way to give thanks for a successful season but also it is important to hang the decorated bushes, head pieces, on the outside of the stalls to continue to bring the herd good luck.

The Baurernhof or farmhouse was situated with the mountains in the distance and was truly spectacular. Hartl and I were given the great honor to join the family and all the helpers in a magnificent meal on the sun soaked terrace surrounded by the delicious scent of warm vine tomatoes ripening. For this time traveling wanderer it was a life long dream.

If you would like to visit Rainer-Alm
http://www.bergwandern-für-senioren.de/huetten/index.php?gebiet=2&huette=213

For a wonderful farm house vacation or amazing cabin in ski season:
http://anderlbauer.schliersee.de/unser_hof/unser_hof.php

 

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).

 

 

Autumn Traditions and Time Travel – part 1

We met at dusk on the evening of our first meeting.  Leonhard “Hartl” Markhauser of Fischhausen, a local farmer, and his father Joseph “Sepp” Markhauser kindly collected me and then drove through the dark foggy forest to meet Anna Deutschenbaur the Sennerin, herder and cheese maker for the Rainer-Alm. Anna met us at the door of her cozy wooden cabin on that chilly night and welcomed us inside. The smoky scent of a fire burning in the ancient wood stove coupled with gentle clanging of bells from the cow stirring sleepily in the stall attached to rear of the cabin was entrancing. After a quick tour we settled down to begin learning about each other and how to make the paper decorations that are affixed to the individual head pieces (Buschen), which the lead cow wears when returning to the valley.

The 23-year-old Anna, caregiver by trade, has been able for the past 2 years to take a 4 month break in the summer to perform her role as the Sennerin for Rainer-Alm. Rainer-Alm is located 1240m above Neuhaus and Fischhausen. Her Alm Hütte or mountain cabin has no electricity, no TV and no Internet. She is kept busy with making her many varieties of delicious cheeses and butter with only a radio and her 2 young frisky cats as company. We were blessed to enjoy a platter or Brotzeit of these beautiful cheeses as well as some local smoked pork. I have to admit her dry aged mozzarella with herbs was a favorite as well as her chili spiced Alm cheese.

On our second meeting Hartl and I once again hopped into the jeep and drove up the mountain this time stopping along the way near the top.  From there we rambled up a washboard side of a hilltop pasture to gather Almrausch a very important plant for the Almabtrieb tradition. The Almrausch or Alpine Rose is used in bunches to decorate many head pieces and also to cover the leather straps on the harnesses which hold the head pieces . This plant is a variety of rhododendron and it is approximately a three inch sprig of new growth which is picked and when perfect will have a rich green color. It can also have a  slight reddish blush and resembles a rose bud pattern.
Proudly armed with our bags of Almrausch, the result of 2 hours of picking while gazing way down the mountain on our picturesque Leonhardi Chapel, as it was aglow with the setting sun, we returned once more to Rainer Alm. On this visit we selected the best of the Almrausch and gathered them in bunches for Anna to affix on a rope the circumference of the belly of her lead cow. While our hands were busy we chatted away about the local traditions, the state of affairs with the other farmers and their herds and of course…the shocking price of beer at Oktoberfest.

Upon leaving the ever gracious Anna and the Hartl who I now call my time traveling guide, we finalized our plans for Sunday when we would meet for a final time as Anna leads her herd of 2 milking cows and about 20 young bulls back to the valley and to their home farm in Hausham.

If you would like to visit Rainer-Alm
http://www.bergwandern-für-senioren.de/huetten/index.php?gebiet=2&huette=213

For a wonderful farm house vacation or amazing cabin in ski season:
http://anderlbauer.schliersee.de/unser_hof/unser_hof.php

 

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).