We are finally back from our glorious Weston Price farm tour trip to Switzerland. I am still overwhelmed as to all we saw and learned and am unsure as to the best way to share our pictures and experiences.
I’ll just dive in and show some highlights from each day, and certainly with the huge amount of pictures and topics I will have to post multiple times to cover each day we were there.
When we had made our way the first day to the youth hostel, where we stayed for several days, we were able to get raw milk morning and evening from a dairy next door.
This was our view of the garden from our hostel.
The dairy was a small conventional dairy run by a mother and son. They milked twice a day, at 6 am and 6 pm, about 25 to 30 head of gorgeous Brown Swiss cows.
Their heifers were allowed on a small meadow next to the barn during the day, and it was a lovely reminder to the past when I came to Switzerland at 18, that all the animals wear bells on their necks.
I immediately fell in love with the way they stack their wood against the barns and houses.
The cows remained in the barn all day. The farmer cut the fresh grass in the meadows and brought the grass to the cows in the barn. This keeps their meadows clean and it is more efficient for the farmer. Luit regretfully says that the Swiss learned this from the Dutch. They do use every square inch of grass land and everything is perfectly manicured.
Our dear farm tour guide, Judith Mudrak, is a Swiss native and a tireless advocate for traditional dairy practices in Switzerland which call for raw milk, more natural grazing outdoors, artisan raw cheeses… and she says that regulations for requiring cows to graze outside for longer periods are increasing. She has written a book in German on the history of raw milk and Swiss dairy practices called Milch ist nicht gleich Milch.
There are many farmers which do not let their cows out of the barn at all, but that trend is changing in Switzerland. Even still, this cannot even begin to compare to the massive factory dairy farms in the US which produce the majority of our milk. Most US farms have hundreds to thousands of cows which never see fresh, green grass at all, are milked three times a day and are lucky to live to the ripe old age of four or a geriatric five. Dairy farming is a hard business no matter what the size, and even though all the farms in Switzerland might not be ideal, the majority of them are still smaller family farms with cows that are personally and lovingly cared for.
In the evening they were let out onto the meadow to graze all night and their bells softly chimed during the night outside our open windows. The churches also rang out, every 15 minutes with hourly chimes every hour. At 6 am, every morning, bells would steadily ring for quite a while, calling the faithful out of bed.
The dear mother did not speak english, but would fill our bottles with raw milk from that evenings milking, which was still warm. We had access to a tiny shared refrigerator in the hostel which we could use to cool our milk, but some of our group preferred to clabber their milk and drink it that way.
If we got milk in the morning at 6:30, she would draw it from the bulk tank and the milk was already cold.
She charged us 1 Swiss Franc for about a liter of raw milk.
Raw milk from Switzerland?
How much? FedEx?
It’s for me and my Beagle!!!
Ammon H. And Missy
What an interesting and wonderful post. I truly enjoyed reading this 🙂 Really hoping that when I visit the valley I’ll be able to find raw milk and pastured meat, currently doing research but your article helped a lot 🙂
Jamie: Impressive blog. Nice pictures from the trip!! Fun to read about the cold smoker. Will come back for more later. THANK YOU for moments of fun and interesting information.
Haha! YOU were the fun one and certainly the most interesting person we have ever met. Natanielle and I so enjoyed you both and I hope you are well, and that Anne is enjoying the beach in Spain. Looking forward to pictures of Sarah and Norway.
Lovely, lovely photos and stories. Glad you are home safe. Looking forward to all the upcoming posts! (no pressure, haha!) My husband’s family is from Bern but I have never seen pictures. incredible!
Wow, that is great they are from Bern. We went to Bern on our last day, and so that will be my last Swiss Tour post, and who knows when THAT will be! 😉 My internet is so crummy, I’ll probably have to go to town now and then and work in the library.
I lived in the canton of Vaud for four years, and your pictures bring back some memories of the beautiful countryside and good food of Switzerland. It really is a remarkable country, and I learned a lot (not enough) when I was there.
What a dream it must have been to live there. The food truly was shocking to us, in that everywhere the freshest and most delicious artisan foods, cheese… were available. wow.
Beautiful Tressa! I lived in Bern for 24 years, moved back to Portland in 2011. I drank raw milk regularly just like in your photo’s from the farmer up the road where I lived. Beautiful and picture perfect, clean and pristine. Your journey warms my heart and makes me long to go back to a simpler life in Switzerland. The culture really embraces pure whole fresh foods as the base lifestyle. Thank you for sharing this……..
It was a joy to meet Tressa on this trip and I am a great admirer of her incredible website and business Salt, Fire and Time. How wonderful that you lived in Bern for so long. We adored Switzerland. – Jamie
Thank you for this opportunity for me to learn some bits of information I hadn’t learned on the tour itself! I am delighted that you took such copious notes! The education continues!
Oh Sandrine, we had such a wonderful time getting to know you! xoxo- Jamie