Towards the end of May Max Herger will bring his family, spouse Monika, son Remo (14) as well as daughters Marina (12) and Lea (9) up to Ruosalp. Just as his parents used to take him when he was a child. Nina Baumann, a homeopathic veterinarian, joins them as well as helper Toni. And from August on apprentice Jessica Bissig will become part of the crew, just as she did the last two years.
The move to the chalet on Ruosalp is long and steep, but due to rough gravel paths and narrow needle turns still easier to do by foot than by car.
Even though the cows, after 4 or 5 weeks into the Alp season, can move to and enjoy the meadows on up to 6,000 feet, Max and his entourage have decided to make the Unterstafel (lower hut) their permanent summer residence. Their spacious house is located on an altitude of 5,250 feet and also houses the barn, the renovated dairy, and the even newer cheese cellar. The tiny, older chalet on the Oberstafel is reserved for visiting friends and family.
Max is hired by the Alp Corporation Uri to watch and take care of 250 heifers while upon the Alp. As part of his salary, he is allowed to make cheese of the milk of his own 16 cows. He buys additional milk from his neighbor’s 12 cows and also brings up a friend’s 20 goats in order to make cheese out of their milk. At the very peak of summer Max crafts about 150 gallons of cow milk per day into cheeses.
Besides their Alpkäse (a little under 9 lbs wheels) he also produces a Geisskäse (aged goat milk, a bit over 2 lbs per piece), several soft-ripened cheeses and, occasionally some brandy (for self-consumption only, pardon). When down in the valley, Max and Monika sell their cheeses at the local farmers market and tend to their small herd and a big garden.