Time to Go Home!
Cattle Homecoming from the Almenwelt Lofer
Maria and Martin Wimmer from the Götschen farm in St. Martin take us along on their traditional homecoming from the Almenwelt Lofer.
“Actually I used to sell shoes,” laughs Maria Wimmer, while the light rain outside patters on the window, “but a few years ago I came to Pinzgau for a season as a dairymaid. I very quickly fell in love, not just with the landscape, but also with my now husband, Martin.” High up on the mountain in her rustic and cosy hut, the 30-year old farmer's wife from the Götschen farm in St. Martin is making use of the rainy day for preparations for the yearly cattle homecoming and explains what brought her to the Salzburger Saalachtal from Garmisch in Bavaria. “I always wanted to work in nature and with animals – so I've achieved my childhood dream of a life like Heidi. And I love goats. I already had my own little herd which came with me to the Götschen farm when I married Martin.”
But soon the 4-year old cow has also got used to it and now there is almost no stopping her. All of the herders quickly move into position – nearly every cow has a herder because family and friends all help out here. Every helper takes their own decorated herding stick and Maria quickly fastens the festive flower arrangements to the hats. Then at Martin's command they set off on their homecoming parade.
Nearly 12 kilometres lie ahead of the procession which becomes larger and larger the nearer it comes to the valley. Numerous hikers and onlookers join the parade and accompany Maria, Martin and the herders home with the cows. Marching in front of everyone, Ricki the lead cow, already knows the way after many alm summers. At the Gasthof Loderbichl the homecoming festival is already in full swing. The decorated cows are greeted with joy, people take photos and wave. Maria beams, “Everyone is delighted when we come. It's simply wonderful when our work on the alm receives such recognition.”
The highlight for everyone is the Farmers' Harvest Festival in St. Martin. Here the cows walk right through the middle and the festively decorated Pinzgau cattle are a wonderful sight especially for the tourists. After two and a half hours, the homecoming parade eventually reaches the Götschen farm in St. Martin. The cows come into the field next to the farm straight away and are freed from their headdresses. At the farm, all of the helpers are invited to a little farm festival with a snack, coffee and cakes. A toast is raised to a successful alm summer and a good homecoming parade. Maria, Martin and the helpers happily move on to the Farmers' Harvest Festival in St. Martin while the cows contentedly graze on their home pasture.
By the way, did you know …
- that the cows themselves know the time to leave is approaching as soon as the autumn nights become cooler.
- that the wearing of headdresses for the homecoming parade only takes place if the summer on the farm and on the alm was free from accidents.
- that the work on the alm does not end for the farmers after the homecoming - afterwards the alm pasture has to be cleared of overgrowth.
- that you can taste the fresh alm herbs in the milk.
- that the lead cow proudly leads the homecoming parade.
- that the headdresses, bells and bell decorations are prepared over countless hours throughout the entire summer.
Date: 11. September 2021
Distance: 12 km
Walking time: 2 ½ hours
Participants: 12 dairy cows, a few goats, numerous helpers and lots of onlookers