Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Almabtrieb- Austrian Cattle Drive

My friend Stella, who has since PCSed (military speak for moved), had a "Germany Bucket List" and on that list was to attend an Alpine cattle drive. Since she knows I'm kinda into cows (just a bit...), she knew I'd be one of the few people that would love to go. It was really last minute. Meaning I got home from work at 10pm, she called me, I slept for about 2 hours, woke up at 3am, and met her in Stuttgart. 

I honestly don't know much about the history of this event. From what I know, during the summer, the farmers let their cattle graze in the mountains, and in the fall, they bring them down closer to the barn for the winter. Over the years, this has become quite an event, somewhat like a harvest festival.

Throughout the town of Reith, Austria, there were several old-fashioned craftsmen showing off their trade.  Woodworkers, weavers, leather craftmen, keg/barrel makers, and of course the guy making schnapps (I guess that would be a distiller). He let us stick our fingers right next to the spout of the still, getting a chance to try some of the fresh alcohol. It was so good! They had flavored schnapps to try. I should have bought some because I haven't found anything as good since.

This guy and his son were decorating Lederhosen side-by-side. One of the cutest things I've seen.... like ever. For a brief moment, it felt like we had traveled back in time. Then the guy preceded to take a beer and texting break. So much for that! 

Three times during the day, the farmers paradied the cattle through town. The cattle wore hand-made head dresses. I'm guess these days, the cattle aren't really coming down from the mountains. In fact, I spotted a cattle trailer being pulled by a pretty new and nice truck. But it was still a nice homage to the past. 

After each parade, the cattle were put in a holding pasture where the tourist could also go and get photos. I got this shot of the ag youth organization that was helping with the event. Aside from the hats, they could fit in with any cattle fitters back home... standing around, shootin' the shit with a few beers. It's universal really.

Lederhosen and Dirnls were the common attire of the day. In fact, at the after party, it seemed like you weren't part of the cool group if you weren't in traditional dress. This kid in the photo above is so cute!

Each head dress was different; some with the farm name, others with religious pictures, some with initials or other personal messages.

Some cows wore some really big bells. I'm told the better the producer, the bigger the bell.

We also visited the church cemetery in town. All of the headstone were fairly new- less than 50 years old. Turns out people rent the plots. I'm not sure what happens after that- I've heard from some people the grave gets moved, other people have said they just put the next casket on top of the older ones.

A peaceful spot in town, just a block away from the wild after party. We stayed out until about midnight, but I was so tired, I wasn't much into partying. Plus I wasn't wearing the obligatory Dirndl. 

The next day we took a ski lift to the top of the nearby peak. I don't take many pictures, so I thought I'd finally post one. Does anyone else notice that my boobs are like in the middle of my torso? Victoria, you're letting me down, girl!

The rest of the photos I posted on facebook this time. Hope it works. 

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