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.