Ivan, life on an Alpine farm
Ivan has no doubts about the best moment in the day on an Alpine farm.
“I am the first person in the family to get up. I like going out into the open, when the air is still prickling cold, and admire the mountains with a hot cup of coffee in my hands. The animals are tranquil, silence reigns supreme. Ten minutes of rest and reflection before starting my daily chores.”
Ivan knows only too well how demanding a working day can be. For the last two years he has been running Malga Fai on the Paganella with his wife Lorena and his four children.
“You start at five in the morning: you have to go and round up the cows, milk them, and process the milk they produce. We make cheese, ricotta, and butter, all products that we also serve on our menu. Then you need to feed the chickens, rabbits, pigs, and horses, clean out the stables, and wash the equipment used for dairy production. It is a tough job but it is what I chose so I enjoy it.”
“You need to have this job in your DNA otherwise you would hardly last a single day.”
At Malga Fai it is a genuine family effort. “My daughter is 19, she studied at the high school for hoteliers, and was the first who wanted to get involved in this adventure. My eldest son is instead studying to become a dairy farmer, following in his father's footsteps. We will see if the two younger members of the family also choose this profession some day.”
“For the time being the main pleasure is to see them immersed in nature for three months a year, when television and cellular phones are just a distant memory.”
A cow grazing on open pasture produces less milk than one kept in a stable, 10 litres instead of 30, on average. “However, the milk is much better,” underlines Ivan, "thanks to the different diet and the mountain air. You can see how happy the animals are. They are always out in the open, free to do what they like. At the end of the summer it is hard for everyone to go back down to the valley. The only consolation is knowing that the following year we will be back up here again.”
“Lots of children ask me if they can stay here and sleep. They want to get up at dawn with me and milk the cows.”
“Over these two years I have realized that many children who visit the malga do not know where milk and eggs come from. At the beginning I could hardly believe it,” recounts Ivan.
This led to the idea of creating numerous activities in contact with the animals for our young guests (but also mum and dad).
“For those who do this job these are just day to day things, often you never think of how special they are to some people. But I have seen children crying when they saw a chicken lay an egg, and mothers moved with emotion when they see a calf being fed with a bottle.”
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