Alpine ascents: From May
Alpine descents: Middle of August to middle of September
Unlike the alpine descents, which arrive in the valley in the late afternoon, the ascents to the alpine pastures take place in the early morning hours. The ascent to the alpine pastures is led by the white, hornless Appenzeller «Gäässe» (goats), which are tended by children wearing pretty, traditional children's costumes. The goats are followed by the milk cows, heifers and calves, a steer and the horse pulling the «Ledi» (a wooden wagon with two axles), which has room for all the equipment that was once needed in the Alps for making cheese and butter. Dressed in brown, the cattle owner is at the very end of the procession. The Appenzeller mountain dog at his side, known locally as «de Blässe», makes sure that none of the livestock go astray. The most important thing about every alpine ascent and descent are the three bell cows, which are led by an alpine herdsman wearing a traditional festive costume. On his left shoulder he carries the «Fahreimer», a milking bucket with an ornately painted bottom, the «Fahreimerbödeli». The three bells harmonised in the sixth, seventh and eighth overtones are the pride of the farming communities on both sides of the Säntis mountain. The most important job of the four alpine herdsmen walking behind the bell cows is to sing and yodel to the three instruments, which – like nowhere else in the world – are played by cows.