Bruno Oehrli prepares his farm for the future. The 33-year-old is convinced that the longer, the more flexibility is required. His new stable takes this into account.
“This week was the final spurt. My father and I completed the interior of the new stable together, and tomorrow we can stall. I am curious to see how the cows, cattle and oxen will react. I am excited in any case. Everything is just as I imagined, even if of course not everything is finished yet.
The new stable is the first piece of the puzzle on the way to my vision of a modern mountain farm: near-natural, little laborious, resource-saving and interconnected to local tourism. I am convinced that I can turn my parents’ farm into a real pearl. Ten years ago, I would never have dreamed that I would take over this farm. As a kid, I always wanted to become a helicopter pilot. To work towards this aim, in a first step, I completed a training as a polymechanic. Afterwards I moved from Gstaad to Berne and started a pilot training. I already had my private certification in my pocket when I realised that I was heading straight into a deadlock. In my year we were over 40 people. There are about four jobs every year.
Moreover, away from home, in the city, I realized how much the mountains, nature and our farm mean to me. A training year as a farmer on a farm near Gruyères showed me that farming is just right for me. But I wanted to know more than you learn in a vocational education. However, I needed a vocational maturity certificate for further training. To obtain this certificate is not only time-consuming, but also expensive. My savings were running short, and I received only rejections for my many scholarship requests. This happened because my parents, as farmers, of course owned land and were rich – just on paper. Finally, Swiss Mountain Aid helped me. I’m still grateful for that today. Because without a vocational baccalaureate, it would not have been possible to study agronomy at a university of applied sciences.
The fact that Swiss Mountain Aid is now also supporting me in the construction of the stable makes me twice as glad. This comes full circle. It was only during my studies that I acquired the necessary knowledge to find out what suits me and my farm and what it takes to lead it into a successful future. First, I stopped milking and switched to organic pasture beef. It is important to me to reduce the workload continuously. Not because I don’t like to work, but because I am convinced that I can run the farm more efficiently. My girlfriend has a good job. It doesn’t make any sense if she gives it up to help mucking and haying. I partially outsource certain labour-intensive routine tasks such as haying. I’d rather pay a colleague for bringing in my hay with his expensive round baler than invest in a new loader wagon and still work hard day in, day out during the summer. There are more profitable and satisfying ways for me to use my working time. For example in agrotourism. At a location like ours, in the middle of a well-known tourist resort, this is a huge opportunity. What exactly I will do, I do not know yet. I have a lot of ideas and I am already talking to decision-makers from tourism. But first the stable has to be finished. It is already designed for versatile use. No matter what I decide to do, in these increasingly fast-moving times I cannot assume that I will do it the same way over the next few decades. That’s why I took new directions in stable building. The fact that the building is as open as possible and gets along without many pillars that block the space, I have copied from companies in the Swiss Plateau. One of our own ideas was not to concretise the livestock housing, but to build it from wooden boards. Two days of work, and you could use the stable for anything. For renting horse boxes in the summer months, for example, or for occasions at the farm. I can also adapt it without much effort to the farming of various animals. No matter what the future holds: with my new stable I am prepared.” •
Source: Berghilf-Ziitg, No. 103, Spring 2019
(Translation Current Concerns)
Schweizer Berghilfe, www.berghilfe.ch (Swiss Mountain Aid) is a non-profit-organisation exclusively financed though donations and has the goal of improving the foundation of existence and living conditions in the Swiss Mountain region. It promotes the self-help of the mountain population and thus contributes to the development of economic and living spaces, the preservation of regional culture, the maintenance of the cultural landscape and the counteraction of migration. Support from Swiss Mountain Aid triggers a multiple of investments that primarily create added value and jobs for local businesses. In 2017, Swiss Mountain Aid supported 490 projects with CHF 21.4 million.
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