The Good Shepherd

December 20th, 2010

Boychen and I were coming home from the grocery store when we saw the shepherd with his flock. He was driving the last of them them across the street. His pack donkey was already in the new field with one of the dogs, the other dog was working the stragglers across the road. Cars had stopped. Even when the sheep cleared the road cars slowed, watched. Boychen and I pulled into a (questionable, rutted) service road that bordered the field to look at the herd.

He was a Wanderhirte, a traditional wandering shepherd who even today moves his flock from field to field in search of good grass. From mid-November to March 15 – a time when much agricultural land in this region is at rest – the shepherds have the right to graze their herds where they can find good feed. Perhaps a dozen or so Wanderhirte still criss-cross Switzerland, summering in the Alps, coming down into the Mittleland in search of grass over the winter months. His herd was maybe 150 sheep, but I’m bad at judging these things. They were half-way out into the field, I didn’t have a good camera, so you’ll have to take it on faith: fifteen kilometers outside the capital city one of the last wandering shepherds in Switzerland ┬átends his flock.

(If you can read German, I found a profile of a Wanderhirte here.)