News Headlines     |     


MAID IN AUSTRIA - Jane Peel, Schladming
Thursday July 13, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Learning to milk a cow, making pastry for a local dish, sawing logs. Has our chief reporter got what it takes?

Summer in the Austrian Alps.

Sounds lovely doesn't it?

I'm in the famous World Cup ski racing resort of Schladming to do a bit of mountain hiking, visit the Dachstein glacier, enjoy the biggest brass music festival in Europe.... and take an exam in farming.

I'm not kidding.

I am trying to make the grade and pick up my farming diploma.

My exacting tests - both practical and theoretical - take place at Zauneralm, a mountain hut in the Enns valley in the heart of the Sölktäler Nature Park, 20km from Schladming.

First I am off on a hike with some fellow students to the Schwarzensee - the Black Lake - because all good alpine farmers must keep fit and in tune with nature.

















We pick and eat wild strawberries and fungi.

Wild strawberriesWild strawberries















These mushrooms are known in Austria as Eierschwammerl. (Please don't let there be a spelling test).

Picking mushroomsAre you sure this mushroom is edible?















The livestock eye us suspiciously.

Do they know that we're the novices who'll soon be tugging at their nether regions?

CowYou are not touching me!
















ZauneralmExamination centre
















When we reach the hut, the first test turns out to be helping make our own lunch.

We are watched as we roll out pastry made of rye flour, milk and salt.

Rolling pastryMaking lunch
















The aim is for a perfect round.

I'm feeling quite smug as my effort is held up for all to see...

Making pastryGood with a rolling pin

















It's going to turn into a popular farmer's dish called Steirerkrapfen - a deep-fried pancake-y thing that is filled with mashed potato, sauerkraut and some ripened curdled cheese that's made here.

Deep fried pancakeDeep fried pancake














Lunch at ZauneralmTucking in

















Then to the cow.


Milking a fake cowNot quite livestock
















It turns out I can still manage to make a mess of it but at least there's no chance of getting kicked for my incompetence.


The log sawing is a double-handed effort.

I don't think any locals need fear for their jobs.

Then we're educated in the identification of local mountain plants and trees.

Tree identificationLarch, spruce or fir?
















Next, it's the written test. (I wish I'd been paying more attention instead of taking photos).

And a drawing test.

A what?

Yep, I have to draw a cow, a pig, a mountain sheep and a male red deer.

What does a deer's tail look like?

I haven't the foggiest.

DrawingsMy masterpiece
















And to complete the humiliation, the last test is to write (and sing) a verse on the topic of the alps or the cheese we've eaten.

I decide on a rap that no-one's allowed to film on pain of death.

I can make a pancake and stuff it full of cheese, I'm not the best cook but trying is a wheeze.

Good isn't it?

It was the clincher.

I am now qualified.

Farm diplomaA proud moment!
















The certificate says I "faced up to the strict Examination Committee" and passed my exams with "extraordinary skills".

Yeah, right.

Pull the udder one!

Farming diplomaMaid in Austria
















PlanetSKI has been indulging in some other forms of musical culture while in Schladming:

And for some more conventional summer activities, read our report on Schladming, its mountains, lakes and waterfalls as we explore one of the most water-rich regions in the Alps:


Thomson Lakes & Mountains offers a week's all-inclusive from £759 at the Hotel Ferienalm in Schladming (based on two sharing) includig flights from Gatwick and transfers departing in September.

Direct flights available from all major airports.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

Related Articles

DECEMBER SKIING SECRETS (Wednesday December 11, 2019)
VIDEOS TO WHET YOUR APPETITE (Saturday December 7, 2019)
HOW TO DO A CITY AND SKI BREAK... (Saturday December 7, 2019)
BUSTING SKI MYTHS (Wednesday December 4, 2019)

With thanks to our main sponsors...

Platinum partners

Bronze partners