The day begins with a hearty breakfast. There is much to accomplish during the daylight hours, the cows need to be milked and let out to graze on the autumn pastures. The milk is either taken to the farmhouse and made into cheese or butter, or poured into the milk churns ready to be transported to the local dairy. In the chicken pen, the farmer collects freshly laid eggs and bread is baked to be sold at the local market.
Last of the Haymaking
For one last time, the farm-hands venture into the pastures to reap the last crop of hay for the forthcoming winter season. This is normally done by machine on the lower levels, but for the embankments and steeper pastures, the old fashioned scythe is used. The whole family joins in with this exercise and in many places you will see the hay is hung out to dry on wooden hay drying racks. Only when the autumn sunshine has totally dried the hay, can it be bound into bales and taken for storage in the hay lofts.
Curing and Preserving
Autumn is also the time for curing fresh meats in the smokehouse which are then made into sausages and bacon. In preparation for the Bauernherbst celebrations, pork or perhaps even venison, are prepared to make tasty festival dishes. Once the farmer’s wife has carried out the process of pressing the fruit, it is then boiled down and made into tasty jams or fruit juice. The last of the rowan berries are plucked from the trees and will later be distilled as high quality schnapps. Any spare time is used for baking fresh bread and pastries which will be enjoyed at various harvest festivals, or sold at the local market.
When the cows make their way back to the stable, then it is time for milking. The stalls are cleaned out and fresh hay is collected from the hayloft and gradually the working day comes to a close. Now is time for the family to gather together around the table and enjoy a “Brettljause”, (a mixed plate of meats, cheese and bacon). With a full tummy it is time to have a good sleep before the sun rises the next day and the next working day begins.
Bauernherbst hosts are easily recognisable by the harvest decoration at the front door and most notably by the food offered on the menu. During Bauernherbst there are many tasty traditional dishes on the menu. Freshly harvested products are used to make regional specialities, such as lamb cutlets, venison steaks and fresh pumpkin soup. Naturally, after a hearty meal don’t forget that a glass of schnapps will help aid digestion.