Back home now after a fantastic trip to Europe! I learned so many things about housing, energy and sustainability at the conference and during my travels through France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Over the next several months I will continue to share with you the innovative and interesting things I saw and learned during my time in Europe.
And now for a side note, not necessarily a sustainable idea, but something I pondered on my journey through Switzerland……
Switzerland is a beautiful country, and as we drove through the countryside I couldn’t help but notice that the cattle grazing on the hillsides all seemed to have a bell hanging around their necks. When we crossed the borders into Austria and Germany I didn’t see any cows with bells. I found myself wondering why the cattle in Switzerland have bells, but the cattle grazing freely on the hillsides of Germany and Austria do not. It is easy to deduce that a cowbell is a way to keep track of freely roaming livestock, but why didn’t I see them on other animals or in other countries?
Further research and inquiries revealed that most of the cows in the alps (Germany and Austria included) were probably already on their “Alps holiday,” while the ones left behind were the milk cows. At the beginning of the summer cattle are sent to the Alps where they roam about during the summer. At the end of the summer they come down from the Alps and are adorned with fancy necklaces and hats made of flowers. This is called Alpabzug and you will find similar festivals in Germany and Austria. What a fun time to visit! You can learn more about Swiss cows in this interesting article – “Why Swiss cows wear bells” – by novascotiamiss.
Look for more notes from my European adventures and time at the European Network for Housing Research Conference (ENHR 2013).
ADDENDUM: I had the opportunity to experience Almabtrieb in Austria, Viehscheid in the Allgäu region, and Alpabzug in Switzerland. Very cool! Read about it.