The Good Shepherd
60 summers on the mountain pastures
A bushy white beard, felt hat, weather-beaten skin. A shepherd’s crook in his hand, a sheepdog by his side. The cliché is almost too perfect to be real. But it is. “Emil the Shepherd” is a true original. A man who has 60 summers on the mountain pastures behind him. A man, therefore, who knows what needs to be done up there on Sesto’s high pastures. Well away from the hustle and bustle down in the valley. But the romanticised vision that the occasional alpine visitor has in his or her head is at least as far from reality as the purple and white cow of a well-known brand of chocolate. The work of a shepherd is hard. He has responsibility for all the animals entrusted to his care. That can be over 200 cows, sheep and horses. There might even be some donkeys too. He knows them all, knows which stable or barn they come from, who the ringleaders are, and which ones are particularly adventurous. Emil makes sure that the animals summer properly, eating their fill of the rich variety of plant species in the alpine meadows, so that they can return to their farmers in the valley at the end of September. Every day the good shepherd conducts a head count and leads them to the pastures that are to be grazed. And he does this in all weathers. Even on Sundays. And after 5 pm too, when desk keepers everywhere are usually leaving their posts. 60 summers on the mountain pastures! And even though in the course of his career as a shepherd he has got around a bit, to Comelico, for example, or Val Campo di Dentro, or Dobbiaco – Emil Innerkofler has spent the majority of his summers on the Klammbach Alp on the Carnic Crest. He knows every shade-giving tree and every rocky outcrop here. This is his home and he is happy to help out now and again in the serviced refuge huts. And at the end of the season, when the legendary livestock drive comes around, Emil too heads down into the valley with his animals. All spruced up, like the splendid summer visitors from his herd. Relieved that everything has gone well again. Perhaps a little proud too. And rightly so!