Crazy Cow Party in my Backyard

I was in the middle of making some gnocchi (post to come soon on that!) for dinner, when my husband Gianluca runs into the kitchen shouting, “Go outside! Go now!  The cows!  They are being funny!”

So of course I tossed down my potatoes, my hands still covered in dough, and I scampered outside.  If there is one thing my husband knows about me, it is that I can’t resist a funny cow.  We live in an apartment, for lack of a better word, on a dairy farm.  It is a small cluster of who-knows-how-many-hundreds-of-years-old houses and barns all squished together, surrounded by fields where they grow the hay to feed to cows.  Every day I see the baby cows going in and out of the barn, but I’ve never seen the mama cows.  I knew that the cows are going up to the alpeggio soon….that is when the cows go on a summer holiday.  The farmers herd their cows up, up, up the Alps to the very high mountain pastures, where the cows feast on tender mountain grass all summer.  This is what gives Fontina cheese its distinctive taste.

This is what an alpeggio looks like.

Anyhow, I ran outside and in the field above our house there was a damned cow party going on!  About fifteen cars and farm trucks were parked on the field, and old guys with sticks were standing around, passing unlabeled bottles of homemade red wine back and forth.  Young guys were running around with sticks, chasing after the cows.  The field was filled with cows and they were going NUTS!  They were galloping in circles, chasing each other, and butting heads.  It was like my very own Battle of the Queens…. in fact, I thought maybe they were holding a preliminary battle, there was such a crowd, and so much head butting.

Cows and old guy with a stick
Which one is gonna win?

Let me tell you, a happy cow galloping is a beautiful thing.

I walked up to one of the old guys and asked him what was going on.  He said they were letting the cows outside to shake their legs out before going up to the alpeggio.  They’d been cooped up all winter and they needed time to go crazy, completely nuts, before making the trek up the mountain.  I’m not sure why it turned into a party…I think parties happen whenever the cows butt heads and the guys carry sticks.

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