Monday, August 20, 2012

Switzerland Days #5 and #6

Day 5- We got an early start and headed up to the Mani's mountain farm for breakfast and to watch Marianne's father make cheese.  The house is several hundred years old with a cheese cellar and a fire pit in the kitchen.  We had a typical Swiss breakfast with VERY fresh milk (still warm!)  Matias and Violet got to ride on a pony that the neighbor girl had brought up.  They have cows, goats and pigs (who eat the soured whey leftover from the chesse making process).  To make the cheese, they heat the milk over a fire in a huge copper pot to the correct temperature.  Then they add cultures to it to form curds and stir with a rake to break them up.  Then, hours later, they scoop up the curds in cheese cloth and strain out the liquid.  The cheese is pressed, turned, pressed, brined and aged.  And DELICIOUS I might add!  They make 2 wheels of cheese a day- this is a labor of love...especially in a mountain farmhouse with no electricity!  Matias and Violet got to "help" split some wood- it takes a lot of wood to run the fire and split wood is stacked all over Berner Oberland!

Lunch was pork and cervelats (sausages) cooked over the kitchen fire by Beat, cucumbers and tomatoes, chips and bread.  After lunch we all took a coffee and then headed home.  To end the evening, Marianne, Matt and I played a rather epic game of Settlers of Catan: Trails to Rails, and enjoyed a bottle of wine and a chocolate bar.  Okay, I'll be honet.  Bars.  It was so interesting to see how people live- life here is so different in so many ways, but we could totally imagine what it would be like to live that life.  We now see what Marianne means when she said that spending childhood summers up on the mountain was in some ways a bit lonely and boring, but in other ways a total wonderland for kids.  Our kids have picked up a touch of German- Danke and Salut Grossi (hello Grandma which they say to Marianne's lovely Grandma).  They are also speaking gibberish, thinking that they are being understood.  

Stirring the milk
Standing at the door to the cheese cellar

This mountain looks totally different from Baederalp- lots of woods!

Saying hello to the cows and pigs

As Swiss as a...John Deere.

LOTS of wood to be split.

They hang up the bells that the cows wear on their walk up the mountain .  Our favorite bells had a plaque that said "Miss Protein 2010".  Love it.

Matias watched this for a long time.

Larissa and Violet riding
Scooping out the cheese curds

Putting the curds into the can see the whey pouring off the end of the table.

pressing the cheese to get the whey out.
Day 6- Today Beat and Anita joined us for breakfast and then we all piled into the (rather full) van, picked up their nephew, Thomas, and drove to Ballenberg.  The best way to describe it is like the Swiss version of Colonial Williamsburg.  There are old homes from all over Switzerland set up like an outdoor museum.  One house is old, but renovated to be quite modern inside- meant to encourage people to restore old houses rather than build new.  One had clothes and instruments on display.  There was pottery, woodcarving and ropemaking.  There were animals and frolicking foals.  We got to ride in a horse-drawn carriage- a big hit with the kids.  Lunch was weinerli and pommes frites (of which Beatrice was a big fan).  The highlight of the day was the working water wheel-powered saw mill.  With constant running water and many trees, it makes a lot of sense!  We have seen another mill like this in Michigan, but they had a much harder time collecting enough water to run it.  They had to dam up the river for a long time, and even then had a limit to how long they could run the the water supply is constant.  We made pizza for dinner and took in a bit of the London Olympics.

On the horse drawn wagon

The "old modern" house

This red house was covered in tiny wooden shingles- beautiful

Eating in the treehouse

I like pommes frites

Violet and Thomas went through the "enchanted forest"
Anita with a sleepy girl...have we mentioned how much we love our Ergo baby carrier?

This "museum" house looks JUST like all the other houses where we are.  It was hard to tell the museum from the rest of the neighborhood!

Thomas was such a trooper!

Using a wench to roll the log onto the saw

Sawing through the board

This is the water trough that feeds the water wheel

The boys were particularly interested in the saw mill
Funny ducks...I like the one in the middle with the ponytail

1 comment:

  1. I'm finally getting around to reading all of these posts! SO cool that you got to watch him make cheese :)


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