To get to the Inauen family while it spends the summer on Alp Fählen is everything else than easy. Their hut is located on about 4’200 feet just between the monumental Säntis and Alpstein massifs, between Toggenburg and Rheintal in the very northeastern part of Switzerland. The closest road is 1 1/2 hiking hours away, and to reach the next house, a restaurant popular with hikers and mountain bikers, requires a 20 minutes brisk walk. During transhumance, the Inauens are in charge of roughly 90 animals belonging to various farmers of the regional corporation. Those are all young ones that will give birth for the first time after the Alp season. The animals can roam freely and eat the bountiful grasses and herbs up to an elevation of about 6000 feet.
Inauens also bring their own 20 cows and 30 goats up and, because of the far distance to any civilization, simply have no other choice than to turn the precious summer milk of their animals into cheeses. Most of the time it is Silvia tending to the dairy, while Sepp is cutting grass, bringing hay into the barn safely both on the Alp and at their farm down in the valley, fixing fences, and mending the barn. Silvia produces anywhere between 250 and 300 wheels of Alpkäse every summer, plus some small format goat cheeses as well as butter and some dairy products for their own consumption.
Because of the hard way to reach the location of Fählen, the corporation decided to build a new and modern aging cellar right next to the chalet. Hence since the fall of 2016, the majority of cheeses stay on the Alp. During the winter and spring, Sepp and Silvia hike and/or ski hike up to Fählen in order to tend to the cheeses. They are sometimes accompanied by one of the older of their six children. If they have orders for more wheels than they can carry they bring the horse to take down a few wheels.
The Inauen children are between the ages of 20 and 7. They all do help both at the valley farm and up on the Alp, according to their capacities. The family does not have any employees during the summer but they have a helper stationed down in the valley.
Watch the 25 minutes video about this beautiful place.