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Gruyère! Cheese, that is!
We recently spent a full weekend in the Gruyères region of Switzerland just to learn and explore everything we could about this deliciousness. Over just three days, we came back with so much more love for the hard, yellow and extremely versatile cheese. We visited a dairy farm, then a Gruyère cheese factory, and ate tons and tons of the yummy goodness all weekend long while staying at the cutest and friendliest hotel. We’ve turned this into a three part series… Gruyère, It’s All About the Cheese, and this is the first installment. Stay tuned for Part II – The Making of the Cheese and Part III – Finally, It’s Time to Eat!
Our Swiss weekend in the Gruyères region of Switzerland started off checking into the Auberge de L’Ange. This cute little hotel is run by Paula who had run it less than a year, but was doing a fantastic job. She greeted us and immediately suggested we step into her fantatastic restaurant and get a bite to eat. We chatted off and on and she couldn’t help but notice how enthusiastic we were about cows and cheese and farms, well, and all of it. She walked us over to the locals table and introduced us to her family, a dairy farm owning family and we were immediately invited to come visit the farm and see the morning milking. No one has to twist my arm; we said we’d be there at 6:00 AM!
Oliver, Paula’s husband, woke up early even though it wasn’t his duty to milk the cows. He took us through the barn and explained the entire process of milking and much about the business of dairy farming. This is all new information for me, and even bleary-eyed I was soaking it all in!
This is Oliver’s barn where the cows are brought in and fed twice a day, milked, and taken care of in every possible way. On the exterior of his and many other Swiss barns, you notice their breeding medals and credentials. It looks pretty impressive. The calves were all pushing forward to see what was going on so early in the morning.
And this little girl just wanted to be petted and petted. To keep the dairy farm producing at the same rate, Oliver has to have 20 new female calves to replace the ones that are to old to continue. A cow will produce milk from 12 to 20 years, so they really want to take good care of them. And the cows loved him; this you could tell.
It is amazing how automated dairy farming, as all industries, has become. Each cow has a profile in the computer that keeps daily statistics on milk production as well as other pertinent information. When the cows come to the barn for milking, the amount of milk they produce is logged in, and if they provide more than a certain number of liters of milk they get some grain added to their breakfast of grass. They also know that they can go to the massaging machine and get a good scratching, then they can lay down for a nap or go back outside, their choice. It was so funny to watch the different personalities of the cows and see what they chose to do.
After our tour, Oliver took us up to the barn’s office where we enjoyed some more chatting and a coffee break. He got a twinkle in his eye when asking us if we wanted our coffee the “traditional” way or normal. My philosophy is “when in Rome…” so in he splashes some homemade schnapps. Wow! Good morning Switzerland!
Leaving the farm about 8:30, we learned so many new things about dairy farming, cows, and the hospitality of the Swiss.
Have you ever been invited into someone’s house or business while you were traveling?
Don’t forget to stop by next week and read Part II of Gruyère, It’s All About the Cheese – The Making of the Cheese
This post is linked up with Noel’s Travel Photo Mondays.