A beautiful journal by Denis Balibouse with an excellent video of making Gruyere over an open fire as it has been for centuries. Read on!
May 10th – La PoyaLa Poya day is a joyful one: the men sport traditional jackets known as Bredzons, the loyi a leather bag that used to contain salt and milking grease and a finely carved and personalized wooden stick. The cows wear their special bells. Friends come along to help guide the herd up to the pasture. I’ve been told that we’ll leave at 9am, as there is a railway line to cross and, given that trains are on time in this country, you can’t be late and make the cows wait in front of a barrier. The cows are as excited as the men: they’ve been indoors in barns for the winter and now they can smell the fresh grass and feel the warmer temperatures.May 28th – No production so farI call Jacques’ wife Eliane to check if I can come and take pictures of the cheese-making. She tells me that they haven’t yet started production, as unseasonably cool temperatures and heavy rain are still forecast. Snow covers the fields in the morning and the cows can’t walk in the mud — they even refused to leave the barn for three days. The grass they have eaten isn’t growing back. Jacques will reluctantly take the herd back down the next day — the first time since 1960 that farmers have had to do this, according to the older people in the village. He must buy some bales of hay and he’s not happy. On the way back down the cows keep their heads lowered. Only the oldest makes an attempt to follow the path to the other pasture instead of back to the barn. Everyone is quiet.