Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Salt for Goats

For the second year running, in an attempt to reduce the amount of helicopter traffic, our local community organized 'La Foulée du Sel'.  Along with about 50 other 'sherpas', Rémi and I helped carry up 400 kg of salt up to the alpage and summer grazing grounds for goats and sheep.
We were joined in our efforts by Papy Bob (my father in law), Tatalow (Natalie my S.I.L) and a little later on, Léo - my nephew.  He turned up just at the right time, when Rémi, after a one hour sprint up hill (he though it was a race!) was starting to 'whine'.
the children each got 1 kg of salt to carry, the adults a little more...
the only way is up! and up... 950 vertical meters
then up some more!
Léo & Rémi
Papy Bob, who, after carrying his bag of salt all the way up, forgot to drop it off and carried it all the way back down again! by the way I forgot to mention that he is 79 yrs, and fit as a fiddle - two fiddles even!!
The alpage is a new building as the original was beyond repair, but the cheese cave, where all the dairy products are stored, until being brought down to Chamonix, dates back to 1811.
Alpage du Pendant
electricity free fridge
The major problem they have here is water!  up until recently water was drawn from the glacier melt via a system of cleverly hidden pipes.  Unfortunately the glacier is shrinking, to the extent that it is impossible to make laying more pipes a viable option.  They have a rain water storage tank but this year are having difficulty filling it.  Every year approximately the same volume of water falls on the alps but not always at the same period, thus for the moment the alpage has no reserve of water for the coming summer months.  So we may soon find ourselves as water carriers, maybe all that salt wasn't such a good idea after all!

Long long ago before wax paper, the shepherds used these leaves to wrap the cheese.  I bet the health and sanitary people would break out in hives if they did that kind of thing these days!
they also make good hats!
Finally we met up with the 'working gals' who had come over from another mountain, where they had spend the spring.

And well, how cute is this sheep dog!
puppy love!


  1. looks like you had a wonderful time, all of you!
    i miss the alps! we'd go visit and hike regularly as a family but now that i live i the states i don't get to see them often enough.

  2. What a great adventure! Papy Bob is an inspiration :) Fun post to read!

  3. oh wow emma! this was so facinating to read, what a wonderful thing the community is doing. i really loved this. the hike looks stunning, well i mean the scenery, but i would have loved to go up that mountain too. well done all of you!
    papy bob is amazing, the goats so cute and that puppy!

  4. What a wonderful post this is. Wow! That's a good hike, and such pretty surroundings. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a fabulous community effort, Emma!!! I would have loved to be on that queue!!! (Too funny about carrying the salt up AND BACK!!!) Thanks for sharing!!

  6. This was so interesting to read about. The goats are lovely and it's wonderful that everyone joined together to hike up the mountain. Wow, papy Bob is fit and that dog is too sweet.
    Take care

  7. How environmentally friendly of your group!
    The picture of the whole line up of you reminds me of "The sound of music" for some reason. Looks like quite an adventure.

    Oh, and ps: my rug will probably be rectangular because I don't know how to crochet round things. I can only do straight back and forth. I am a VERY beginner.