MUSEUM OF ALPINE DAIRY FARMING
Gorenjski muzej Kranj
Stara Fužina 181
4265 Bohinjsko jezero
tel.: ++386 (0)4 577 01 56
mob: ++386 (0)41 564 904
25 Dec - 30 Jun and 1 Sep - 25 Oct
- 10 am - 12 pm
- 4 pm - 6 pm
- closed on Mondays
1 Jul - 31 Aug
- 11 am - 7 pm
- closed on Mondays
26 Oct - 24 Dec
HISTORY OF DAIRY FARMING IN BOHINJ
For centuries Bohinj was the most important centre of alpine dairy farming in Slovenia. Here lies the greatest number of alpine meadows close together, the highest ones reaching just below the summit of the Triglav. Here alpine herding dairying was developed in the most intensive manner. From May to mid-July alpine herdsmen drove cattle up gradually from lower to higher mountain pastures and in autumn they again returned gradually into the valley from beginning of September to beginning of November. At Uskovnica, for example, they remained until Christmas.
An important turning point in the history of alpine dairy farming at Bohinj was the year 1873 when cooperative cheese-making and making of Swiss cheese were introduced. Before, the dairymen themselves, each in his chalet, had mostly made butter and sold it in great quantities to Triest. A more economical, cooperative cheese-making upon the Swiss model was introduced in 1870's by Janez Mesar, the then parish priest at Bohinjska Bistrica, and was supported by agricultural authorities. Cheese trade flourished and brought important income to the farms of Bohinj. In 1958 great quantities of Bohinj cheese were still made in 28 alpine pastures.
After 1971 when a modern dairy was opened at Srednja vas, the cheese-making in the mountain pastures began to decline, it is only continued by some elderly and solitary alpine dairymen in some few alpine pastures. Many have been completely given up, in other only barren cattle are grazed. Before, intensive dairy farming required a great number of alpine dairymen and dairymaids. At Bohinj up to the 2nd half of the 20th century the oldest form of organization of alpine herds was preserved: each farmer had his own herdsman and his own buildings in the alpine pasture. Only in the higher mountain meadows the herdsmen also tended the cattle of other farmers. Each alpine herdsman and dairyman had, beside the cattle, one or two pigs and sometimes also a herd of goats.
As late as after the Second World War there was still a majority of young alpine herdsmen and dairymaids in the mountain pastures. This work was performed by farmers' daughters and sons, by unmarried uncles and aunts and also by older farmers after having handed over their farms to the young ones. In 1958, 90 percent of the cattle were driven up to the alpine pastures. The high wave of industrialization made the young people leave these villages. Now only a few aging villagers keep alpine dairy farming alive.
ABOUT THE DAIRY FARMING MUSEUM
The Museum of Alpine Dairy Farming was opened in 1971. It was set up in the abandoned village cheese-dairy, built in 1883 where cheese was still made in 1967 and master cheese-makers took care of the maturing of big cheese loaves that every week were brought from the alpine pastures belonging to farmers of Stara Fuzina and of the neighboring village of Studor. In 1990 the Museum was built up and revised.
The first room presents the interior of an alpine dairy hut with furnishing from the alpine pasture Zajamniki dated from 1849. For the last 20 years it has only been used at haymaking and tree-felling. The second room is a well-preserved cheese-dairy with two big built-in rennet vats and a press for forming cheese loaves. There are exhibited original objects of the interior furnishings of cheese dairies (cheese-making utensils; milk bowls, butter churns), the big vat on a wooden support from the cheese-dairy in the alpine pasture of Blato. In the show case is shown a big backpack with the equipment of alpine herdsmen and dairymen they took up to the mountain pastures every year. Photographs represent cheese-dairies and cheese-making in the alpine pastures, cheese transport into the valley. Documents concern the organization of cheese-making.
At the entrance to the left are shown a cartographic presentation of the most ancient references to alpine pastures (the first one was made as early as in 973) and a print with so-called house signs used by farmers to identify their equipment and crockery. On the opposite side is a portrait painting of the parish priest Janez Mesar, who stimulated the economic and cultural revival of Bohinj. In the third room the photographs show typical alpine dairy huts and their settlements at Bohinj. For the high mountain pastures where cattle is only grazed, single-cell wooden huts on pillars are characteristic, with the stable for cattle below and the living quarters of the herdsman on the top. In these forms of alpine huts, science discover reflections of prehistoric culture. At the lower alpine pastures the farmers have one building for the dairyman and another one for the cattle and the attic of the latter serves as hayloft for the hay made in these meadows; in addition to the common pasture each farmer has his own meadow.
At the entrance to the 4th room to the right hangs the oldest depiction of the Triglav, the alpine pasture of Velo polje and of an alpine herdsman of Bohinj, i.e. Baraga's copper engraving of 1776, and to the right hangs a painting by Benesch of 1888, representing an inhabitant of Bohinj. In the fourth room in sections are shown portraits of old herdsmen and dairymen, who for 40 or more years took care of cattle in alpine pastures. Follow: driving cattle up and down the mountain pastures, the working day of an alpine dairyman, his food, his leisure, and finally the "Cow Ball" of Bohinj, a traditional tourist event that has developed out of the feast at the end of the pasture period. Many original objects revive the scene of alpine dairy farming in Bohinj.
Author of the article: Anka Novak