20 November 2016

Mountain sheepfold from Șugag, Alba county, XX century

The cattle and sheep fold typical to migratory sheep herding in the Southern Carpathian Mountains was brought on Museum premises in the year 1971 from the Prisaca Plain – Șureanu Mountains, having been situated at an altitude of 1300 meters. It used to be a sheepfold that employed two or three women – particular to the area – especially young women to be married from the village, hired during the summertime by sheep owners with the help of the head sheep herder to process cheese products – cheese, cheese curd, butter – they milked from the sheep (about 200 sheep each) and the cows.

The women sheep herders were tasked to prepare food for the herders, as well as for the dogs and pigs. In exchange for their work, the women are paid in cash, considering the number of sheep and cows milked.

Grazing, watering and guarding the sheep were responsibilities for the sheep herding men. They used to sleep outside on the pasture during nighttime covered in a long sheepskin waistcoat.

Part of associate owner’s cows and pigs used to be herded in the sheepfold vicinity. They were fed with whey and buttermilk, auxiliary milk products obtained after processing the cheese and the butter – a highly effective economic procedure.

The sheepfold is built as an ensemble of constructions:

  1. The sheepfold itself, with two rooms:
  2. The boiler room (Romanian: „fierbătoare”) – a room that used to house a fireplace to process the milk, also used as sleeping quarters for the women sheepherders.
  3. The cellar (Romanian: „celar”) – used to store milk products: curd, cheese, cream, butter, cultured buttermilk (Romanian: „jintița”), whey, regular buttermilk etc
  4. The pantry – a room used for storing horse saddles (Romanian: „tarnițe”); horses were used to carry and supply sheepfolds with food: corn flower, potatoes, onions, salt for sheep and cows etc.
  5. The pigpen and cattle stable
  6. The milking parlour (Romanian: „strunga cu comarnic”), used thrice a day to milk the sheep.

The sheepfold, in its entirety, exhibits a slice of mountain life and culture from the Southern Carpathians.