An Unusual Transhumance

November 16th, 2015

Last Sunday, on a prairie called “Le Chant des Cailles” in the middle of Watermael-Boisfort (one of the communes that comprises the greater Brussels) people slowly gathered but also seemed puzzled.


There are vegetables in the garden, but they are ignored by the crowd.


Children are also present, some wearing costumes, but this is not a masked ball.


There is sheep wrestling too.  But the only spectators here are other sheep – they actually seem to be very puzzled as to what their “man-friend” Antoine is doing to their boyfriend!  All these are 8-9 month old yews with a single “ram” charged with inseminating them.  He has been quite busy and successful so far!  Jamina later went to reassure the ladies.


So why the crowd – the anticipation is building as the people move to a local street.  One car came up the street, and upon seeing the unexpected crowd made a quick U-turn and is now fleeing the scene.  There are even professional photographers, who should watch their backs!


Jeremy has decided that all is OK and the show can begin


And here are the star attractions.  After spending summer in the “Chant des Cailles” the yews are now going to be re-united with their mothers who spent the summer at the “Bercail” giving milk twice a day.  Antoine, Jamina and Jeremy have been raising sheep in the middle of Brussels for three years now in order to produce cheese.  The flock has increased from the initial 7 sheep to now an excess of thirty.  These young ladies will join the rank of milk producers next year and increase the overall production of cheese, we hope – because I really like the cheese.


They are treated like stars – their fans lined up on either side to watch them pass.


As you can see here, they are very popular.

This remains a very unusual transhumance (or annual animal migration) as it occurs on busy city streets.  Fortunately it only takes about 20 minutes from one pasture to the other.


They have finally arrived, and the mothers are eager to greet their off-springs.  One big happy family again.



For More details:

There are actually four initiatives under the global name of Chant des Cailles: (1) Professionally run vegetable garden by subscription where each week, member can pick what is ready and what they can eat for the week; (2) Collective Gardens where local inhabitants can have their own vegetable garden and are helped by the organizers and each other (3) A herb and medicinal garden and (4) The Bercail making cheese and apple juice as the tress in the lower pasture are ancient apple trees.

All this in the middle of Brussels – all this still very new.

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