Three-step agriculture practice
The three-step agriculture practice is still upheld and preserved in the Montafon. This fact is one of the reasons why the pasture drives have remained almost unchanged for a long time. The farmer follows the feed with his cattle for the entire year. From the first level, the stable in the valley, he brings the cattle to the Maisäß around the start of June. This is about two walking hours above the permanent settlement at 1,200 to 1,400 meters above sea level. If the feed stocks also run out there, the animals will be handed over to the Alpine master. He leads the cattle to the high Alpine pastures where succulent herbs and meadows await.
The decorated animals come down from the Alpine pastures into the valley
The festive culmination of the farm working year in Tschagguns
High spirits at the reception
The weather conditions and grass growth determine the exact date of the pasture drive. Humans and cattle alike set out on their way home into the valley around mid to late September. In their baggage, they have the last stick of butter, Alpine cheese and Sura Kees which is produced directly on the Alpine pasture from fresh milk. When the procession reaches the last few metres through the village roads, they are joyfully welcomed under the admiring eyes of spectators. “It is an incredibly good feeling when so many people welcome you. As an Alpine master, it makes me very proud of my work,” says Markus, describing his impressions during the return.
A folk festival in honour of the cattle
In the past, farmers presented the Alpine masters and shepherds returning home with must and schnapps. They did this to show their gratitude that their animals returned from the Alpine pasture to the stable in good health. The Alpine summer was then celebrated with plenty of liquid at a cosy get-together. It is now celebrated in a bigger way, but with less charm. Village fairs and farmers’ markets, live music and cheese tastings frame the arrival of returnees. Markus and his colleagues will be setting off again next spring in order to send their cattle into the lush mountain meadows of the Montafon Alpine pastures.