It's official: entire fox families have established themselves in the midst of our villages, and gamekeepers are asking the community not to feed wild animals. As an omnivore, the fox finds a plentiful buffet in residential areas, mostly in the form of compost heaps and outdoor cat food dishes. But the real problems start when humans, out of a misguided love of animals, feed the foxes.
By Diana Oehrli
90% of cows in Switzerland don’t have horns. But unlike the rest of the country, the majority of Saanenland farmers don’t de-horn their cattle. Those who do it, do so for economic and safety reasons. Horns can be dangerous to humans as well as to cows housed in modern free-style barns, which are popular for being less-labor intensive. Horned livestock take up more space and their horns have to be maintained.
But some say that it is unnatural and cruel for a cow to be without its horns. Without them, cows cannot defend themselves and their young from predators and bullying cows, nor can they scratch themselves. To change the de-horning trend, a small farmer in the Bernese Jura has submitted a proposal that would subsidize farmers who keep horned animals with one franc per cow per day, or 20-rappen per goat per day. His proposal has garnered support from animal protection advocates, ecologists, and small farmers. The federal department for agriculture is reviewing the proposal. Local politicians Erich von Siebenthal and Bethli Küng are split on the subsidy issue (von Siebenthal is for it), but both agree that cows should have horns.
Should farmers who keep horned animals receive subsidies? Let us know what you think!
A bizarre scene awaited us last weekend at the Arnensee. The water level of the Arnensee is at an unprecedented low right now, some six meters below normal. This has forced Romande Energie to stop using water for energy production. It's still a magnificent place to go to, hike around and enjoy a picnic or some delicious trout at the restaurant, even if the muddy exposed lake-bed does stink a bit. One thing though: if the energy companies can't do hydro because water levels are too low, the Swiss have just canceled nuclear, and planning permissions for wind farms are perentially rejected, just how do the Swiss think all their future energy needs are going to be served?!
Around this time of year we often find ourselves thinking of all you poor people in the Flachland, plying your trades under endless days of mist and fog. Above, the view from the Hugeligrat towards Relleri and the sea of autumnal fog beyond. Below the Promenade in Gstaad after the morning mists have burnt off.
New protection walls have been built along the Chalberhöni river after the huge storm and floods of July 10 and the floods. It is also planned to build a reservoir for flood water and debris by winter 2011/2012, so let's hope that there are no major storms before that...
It's that time of the year again - cows block the road and the drive from A to B becomes a slalom of bovine avoidance manoevers. But it is also the time for the Alpabzug - where beautifully decorated cows come down from their summer alps, and the villagers come together in celebration. One of our favorites is in Etivaz on October 2 2010 starting at 9h00. Click here to check out a video.