We have moved from the town to the countryside, to living in a mountain village on the western edge of the Alps. We started our move on the first day of June. After a wet and cold May the farmers were making the first hay. To the visitor haymaking has a picturesque air. Now we are aware of how much effort it consumes.
On the flat meadows of the valley bottom the grass can be cut by a large machine drawn by a tractor. On the slopes a smaller tractor must be used and this can become a dangerous activity. In awkward places a small mower is pushed and requires strength to turn. Then the cut grass must all be turned. Only older people are to be seen doing this by hand and they can work on slopes we would find difficult to walk on. The tractor passes again to pile the hay into ridges from which it can be picked up and taken for storage.

The may must be stored and the village resounds with the tractors trundling to the haylofts. Then muck is spread over the meadows. The heaps of straw from the byres must be liquified. The farmer is not content with whatever plants will choose to grow but sews a selection of seeds then rotates the meadows to a crop which can also be fed to the cows during the long winter-times in the byres. The cows, the machinery, the feed must all be housed. The houses are attached to the wooden structures needed.

At the end of the day, if the sun is shining, you can sit outside your house and admire the view, or you can go out and cut a patch of grass and talk to passers-by.

aaj@bluewin.ch 18th July 2002