Altay Mountains in Mongolia, Kazakh nomads photo Tariq Sawyer, National Geographic.
"This photo was taken on the first morning I spent with the nomads. Waking up to experience a harsh spring blizzard, I respected the family’s resilience to the subzero temperatures and freezing winds as they continued their daily routine.
I imagine, it might have looked like this when the shepherders and their flocks from Italy came over the mountains to Switzerland.
From the 13th century until 1897 Bergamasco shepherders from Italy brought regularly every year sheep across the Bernina Pass and the Bregaglia Valley to the summer pastures of the Engadine in Switzerland.
Around 1870 around 25000 to 40000 sheep were brought over summer to these very sought after pastures.
The Bergamasco sheep was a large, powerful animal and was the only dairy sheep.
The milk of the sheep together with goats milk and cow milk was made into 2 pound cheeses. The shepherders lived in alpine huts where they also made the cheese. The shepherd’s food was very simple, Polenta cooked in water with added cheese, If a sheep had to be slaughtered, because of an accident, they dried the meat, as it is still done today in the Saas-valley. The meat would be sold later in Italy.
Meat and wool were coarse-grained;
The wool was processed in Italy to coarse cloths and carpets. In autumn the herd returned to Italy mainly to Lombardy.
In the second half of the 19th century, the people started to rebel against bringing the sheep to their pastures, because of introducing epidemics and diseases. Also a lot of damage to the forest and pastures occurred.
The federal health measures and regulation of l.Juli
1886 put a stop to the Bergamasker shepherding , from then on the flocks became less frequent.
At the end of the century they disappeared completely.
Apart from the herds from Italy,
also German migrant flocks, mainly of Württemberg, were brought over summer to the Central Plateau and the Jura in a permanent migration, as no land was leased and payed for. The herds were moved on to Paris and arrived there every year regularly during the Easter week.
An article about a shepherder, Luigi Cominelli. You might have to translate this interview, with Google.
Please visit other shepherders, sheep, dogs and may be old fences!