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May Field Aussertafamunt

by Theresa König last modified 2007-02-19 13:16

May Field Aussertafamunt

This is the Aussertafamunt or Outer Tafamunt May field.  A May field was like a spatial and seasonal bridge between valley farming and the Alp in the farmer’s work year.  In late spring, around May or sometimes as late as June, the farmer brought his cattle up to the May field.  The May fields in Innerfratte are at an altitude of between 1,300 and 1,500 meters above sea level.  The animals stayed on the May fields for three to four weeks and then they were driven up to the Alps or the High Alps.  The May field also acted as a stopover in autumn when the cattle were brought back down to the valley.

While there were herdsmen and dairy men on the Alp to look after the animals and to process the milk, the work on the May field had to be done alone. Of course it was necessary that the work was carried out as usual on the home farm and this is why it wasn’t uncommon that the younger family members, and many times young girls, would be the ones to go up to the May fields – sometimes on their own.

Up until around 1970 traditional farming was practised on the Aussertafamunt May field.
Everyone who had a share in the Innertafamunt or was the owner of a turf on the Aussertafamunt, drove his cattle to the May field.  The cattle were kept there for three to four weeks and then driven up to the Verbella Alp near the Verballa Valley where they would spend the rest of the summer. 

It is interesting to note how ownership was structured on the Aussertafamunt.  A privately owned and used May field had a building on it with a certain amount of land around it.  This type of structure was not typical of the ownership structure in the Innerfratte, though.  You can find this type of structure on the Innerganifer, Blendilak and Aussermaisaess west of the Mittlemaisaess. 
Documentation of the May field buildings on the Aussertafamunt showed that the oldest barn which can be found in the centre of the stalls standing on free land, could be dated back to 1618.  If you look at the different parts of the barn according to what their purposes were, you get an interesting picture of the historical use of the area and a clue about the grain industry in the 17th century.  This is the only hay barn that has a threshing floor.  On either side of the barn door there are two hewed beams running in the direction of the roof ridge over the closed threshing floor interlocked with both gable walls.  As in the legend of the founding of the Maria Schnee Chapel, this piece of history shows that the temperatures in the early history of the May fields were a lot warmer.  How else could you raise grain at 1,478 metres above sea level in the Montafon?

When comparing the May field huts on the Innertafamunt with the huts on the Aussertafamunt we see that those on the Ausertafamunt are a lot more spacious.  A characteristic of these huts are the many extensions and additions of another storey, most of them dated at the beginning of the 20th century.  The additions to the buildings can easily be made out by visitors.  The additions are an indication of upgrading or intensifying agriculture in the first half of the 20th century in Inner Montafon  


P06-1 May Field Aussertafamunt.mp3

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