Jean-Pierre Guillermin

An udderly packed schedule!

There’s not much downtime when you’re rearing Hérens cows. Most owners work in a professional capacity full-time and look after their animals in their free time, for love. So there’s plenty to do whatever the season.

The game

Find out what the owners and their friends the cows get up to on a daily basis by playing our snakes and ladders-style game.

Find yourself a playing piece: a pine cone or a pretty stone will do.

Throw the dice to decide who goes first, and go to the green Start square :

  • If you land on a ladder then go straight to the top and place your piece on the square at the other end.
  • If you land on the rockfall square, then go straight to the bottom of it.
  • If you land on a turnstile, skip the next turn.
  • If you land on a Cheesy-Quiz square and you get the definition right, then go forward six squares.

The first player to reach the final Arrival square wins the game.

Cheesy Quiz!

In the list below, find the word in bold in the sentence in the Cheesy-Quiz square. Look for the correct definition from those given below (A to G).
1. Calving | 2. Brushing | 3. Mounting | 4. Mayen | 5. ‘Inalpe’ | 6. Regrowth | 7. ‘Desalpe’

  • A. When the cattle are driven up into the mountain huts to the high-altitude pastures.
  • B. When the cattle descend down from the Alpine pastures to the village in stages (from meadow to meadow).
  • C. ‘Mating’, when referring to the bull and the cow.
  • D. Combing and shining a cow’s coat using a metallic brush.
  • E. Alpine chalet with a building where the herd stays in spring and in autumn.
  • F. Grass that grows back after the first cut.
  • G. Laying down - in other words giving birth to a calf, when referring to a cow.

In Autumn

The agricultural workers are spreading manure on their fields.
In the cowsheds in the village, the calving season has begun.
The village dairy is getting ready to start up thanks to the milk from the cows who have now returned from the Alpine pastures.

In Winter

The calving continues in the cowshed, and the cows are shorn to make them easier to look after.
It is now getting cold. The workers put their tools and agricultural machinery into storage.
Until April the livestock farmers milk, feed, brush and check over their cows twice a day.
Over in the cowshed, the process of giving birth continues and the cows continue to be milked morning and evening. Dairy production is in full swing!
Cows are mounted in January and February.

In Spring

It’s springtime in the village! The beauties of Hérens get out and about for their beauty treatment: at last they get some fresh air and get some manicures done too (horns and hooves).
From late March to early May, the dominant animals of the herd will be taking part in their first cow fights of the queens for the year.
In April and May, the workers prepare the land in the village and the surrounding area to make them suitable for the cows. They spread the liquid manure on the meadow and make the meadows secure.
The cows from the different cowsheds get together with their friends, and gradually a hierarchy establishes itself. During late May and early June the herds from each cowshed make their way up to the Alpine chalets.

In Summer

The work does not let up during the June to September period. There is hay to be made, and the meadows around the village need to be watered. The livestock that did not go up to the Alpine pastures need to be cared for too.
At the end of June, it is time to drive the cows up to the Alpine pastures (‘inalpe’), depending on the grass there.
The cows remain at the Alpine pastures from June to September, and are cared for by a shepherd. The grazing grass can start to be cut.
The workers finish the haymaking, and the regrowth gets under way.
Workers finish handling the regrowth, and get ready for the cows to come to the mountain huts.