Saturday, June 16, 2007
June 16 ~ Mountains above Sion
Today, we were in the Alps above Sion. We took a train, then a bus, then ended up in a little ski village surrounded by acres of grass for grazing cows.
The cows here have bells around their necks, acting as an old-fashioned GPS. Cows get loose, you stop and listen, supposedly, to find them. So, I'd seen a cow or two on all of our past day-trips (they ALL have these bells), yet it didn't quite make sense, since I could barely hear the cowbell. I figured, the cow goes over a hill, he's toast, because you're not hearing him after that. But, after today, I realized that when you get 200 of these cows together, the clanking bells become a deafening windchime-esque wall of sound (you can hear it in the video I've uploaded below). No way you're losing those cows if they stick together.
So, today we end up in these cow fields for what is known as "The Cow Fights". Bizarre sounding in itself, but even more bizarre to watch. I guess they have these cows that they've bred that have kept their territorial nature. Note, there are no bulls, these are all females. They are, however, the size of bulls, and have their horns too. So the farmers round up their own cows, about 150 in all, write a number on their hind legs, and let 'em loose on each other. They snort, growl, scrape the ground with their front hooves, then charge each other and lock horns. (It was a lot like a demolition derby. But instead of cars, there were cows, and instead of white trash in the stands, it was us, some locals and some Swiss farmers.) The cows push each other up and down the hill and a winner is declared at the end of the few days. We may have been the only English speakers there, as they all looked very much like locals. So I decided to get a video of the cow fight for y'all. Not much to look at, but very bizarre for female cows to act this way. Watch it here.
So after the cow fights, we had some Swiss BarBQue and took a hike up to an old dam. Got some sweet photos. The hike reminded me very much of the rockies, kindof the Targhee/Yellowstone areas. Photos below.
Self Portrait from the dam