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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Holy Cow!

Cows in certain religions and countries hold a sacred position. Switzerland has her own fetish with cows. Rightly so when chocolates and cheese represent the nation and they are both a cow's produce. Other less known Swiss cow obsession are the cow's descent festival and the cow fights
From September to October, some 300+ cows descend from the Alpine pastures after the summer months. They are all adored with flowers and ribbons, looking quite like a Christmas tree. Different cantons have their cow's descent over different weekends. You can check for 2014's descend.

I went early Oct to Charmey and the roads started to reek of cows some 5km away, i understood how skid marks got its other connotation. There were traffic congestion as cars gave way to these tiara adorned divas. 
We slowly inched our way up the winding highway and eventually arrive at the mountain village which was the starting point of the descent. Yodelling and the sounds of Alphorns were heard. Country folk were decked out in their traditional costumes putting up a show. Various booths offer local products, arts and craft.
Mr Woody had a stiff one
I had the BEST caramel candy ever. Made on the spot, pipping hot, it was buttery  and crispy.
Move over M&Ms, this is the real deal! It melts not in my mouth, not in my hands!
On the other spectrum of the beauty queens, we had the royal rumble. The Herens are a special breed raised in the Valais area where the females are known to be aggressive. A clash of the udders, they fight to be the queen of the herd. It is a fight where there is little (or no) blood, but a lot of dung. 
You pay 20 CHF to stand or 30 CHF to sit. 
Set in an ancient Roman amphitheater found in Martigny, a testosterone filled audience filled the pews. The farmers lead their cows out in pride and the gamekeepers in red tees are individually responsible in leading a cow to lock eyes with another. 
When their eyes are locked, they will either start locking horns and intimidate or they could simply turn away, disinterested. I wasn't expecting to be sitting the whole afternoon because there were plenty of anti-climaxes when the cows start grazing instead of wrestling but i ended up sitting for a good 4 hours entertained!
The Heren farmers are milking the cows with such competitions instead of the liquid white stuff. 
They treat them like pets really, the prized cash cows. They give them a pet on that turf of hair on the top of their heads and a treat in the arena if they did well. 

I'm guessing like apples are treats to horses, bread are treats to cows.
Not sure if the rouge colour is from wine. Drunken Cow Fighting Stance?
These are definitely unique things to do in Switzerland.


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