Recently we met with Josef 'Peppi' Schlatter – one of our local hay suppliers – to talk about everything and anything and of course about hay. He runs an alp meadow high above the village Fließ at 1,700 meters above sea level. Only once per year in August he harvests the species-rich and tender alpine grass with the help of his children and grandchildren. This hay makes our hay surfaces ALMWIESN and WILDSPITZE, in all their variations, so unique.
At unharvested meadows the tall grasses fall down and just stay there. This prevents the growth of other plants and raises the risk of avalanches in Winter, because the snow just slips over the grass carpet.
The reason why mountain meadows often aren’t harvested is pure and simple: due to the great expenditure of time and physical effort it isn’t profitable (anymore) for the farmers.
Due to the ingredient Coumarin the hay smells that pleasant and aromatic. When the grasses dry the Coumarin evaporates and the now transformed hay is even more digestible for the animals then fresh grass.
Sometimes, when collecting the hay, the alp cows watch closely at the fence because they desire the delicious fresh hay.
Peppi also remembers his childhood and how he experienced hay harvesting as a child. It was like a summer vacation for the family. And so he stayed in the mountains with his siblings and father, while his mother took two hours march each day to the valley and back again to take care of the animals. He himself has always enjoyed the time at the alp meadow.
There are only a few weeks left until the this year's harvest. Peppi hopes for stable weather because the grasses and herbs needs up to three dry and sunny days until it is dried at the alp meadow.
To be continued...