I wake up early, but since I do not work in farming at the moment, I can get up a little later and so I enjoy listening to the birds. They start around 4:30am in the backyard. Not continuously, off and on, while I doze off a bit. Around 6:30 I get up, have my coffee and go for a little run. Through the flat land, where the potato plants are now coming up from their little ridges and I get familiar with more of the wading and meadow birds. I so miss the mountains and consider the possibility of going up and herd for a bit this summer. 

Zur Alp is what it is called, or: to the Alp, when the herd goes up to the Alp to stay the whole summer. This tradition continues in the Alp region, or in Alpine regions up until today. A few years ago I went up in Norway to spend my summer with a 100 head goat herd. 

Summer 2019, Norway
Alpine Grigio, Northern Italy, enjoying the Vineyard

No such thing in flatland, I figured, but it turns out I am wrong. Last weekend we ( a friend and I) had an interesting conversation at the farm where I get my organic vegetables. Besides growing vegetables they have a herd of Gascon cows, as part of their circular strategy. Originally bred in the French Pyrenees, the harsh climate and limited resources led to specific adaptations. They can survive and work hard in any condition. During the winter the cows are at the farm and the manure is used to fertilize the fields, but during the summer, the cows can roam free, not at the farm, but at an island in the Wadden region. An island that is managed by the local nature conservancy, Fryske Gea. How wonderful, the cows will take the boat to the island. No humans live on the island permanently, but monitor the cows from a distance. They return to the mainland at the end of the summer. Happy grazing!

Gascon, Friesland