Obern Galm belongs to the Wallis (Valais) canton – separated from its northern neighbor cantons by the massive Alps and, to the south, bordering Italy – and everything is a bit different there.
The Alp is owned by semi-retired father Klemenz and son Raoul Wyssen, who participated in the inaugural Adopt-an-Alp program. Obern Galm is currently the Alp with the highest elevation: During summer’s peak, some of the animals will graze at over 8500 ft. altitude.
Around the middle of June, the crew slowly starts moving not only their herd but also a flexible milking station from the village of Agarn upwards. They will stay in two different chalets on two various altitudes for about three weeks each, before they finally settle on Alp Obern Galm, on 6,600 feet. The highest level the milking station will be positioned is on an elevation of 7,500 feet.
From the Säss (house and barn) on Obern Galm, the 90 dairy cows can wander off to heights of slightly over 8,000 feet, where grass and trees – and thus the feed – become sparse. The 30 Eringer (Herens) cows that are brought along every summer rummage in a separate area of the Alp in order to keep the red and brown cows calm and stress-free. The dairy on Obern Galm is more modern and efficient than most alpine production places.
The Wyssens have put together a completely new team for this summer: Dominik Marti is the new cheesemaker. He operates a milk farm with his father. Dominik also has an education in "cheese specialties". Selina Peter is the "Zusenn" and will take care of the animals. Luca and Maik Birrer and Adrian Peter are the milkers. During the first month, those three will also get help from Daniel Huber. All crew members are from the area Luthern/Hergiswil and know each other well. "They are young, motivated, and they know what a farmer's work is", says Raoul Wyssen.
Last fall they started the rebuilding of the old barn on Obern Galm. It will add an agro-tourism