Of Farmers and Mountains
Our exhibit is a milking stool, once an indispensable utensil in the daily lives of farmers. Essentially a small one-legged seat, it is easy to use – and move – during milking. In our context it symbolizes agriculture, Grisons’ most important source of livelihood since humans settled here.
There is evidence of early cultivation of wheat, wine, fruit, chestnuts or hemp yet for topographical and climatic reasons, cattle breeding played a more important role in most areas. In the beginning, mostly small livestock were bred such as sheep, goats or pigs. Increasingly, after the late Middle Ages, it was cattle breeding. Over time, a three-tiered system of Alpine husbandry began to emerge. In spring-time the animals were taken to so-called „Maiensässe“, pastures on slightly higher ground than their winter quarters in the villages. Come summer, they would transfer to the topmost Alpine pastures until the autumn and spent winter in their stables in the valley, fed on hay gathered throughout the summer. Humans, on their part, would use the cold winter months working with textiles, wood, and the husbandry of the forests.
What people produced was mostly for their own uses. However, the sale of products and cattle, mostly to Lombardy, generated additional income. The 20th century saw fundamental changes to agriculture, brought about by electricity, new technologies, and the merging of estates.
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