Conny Viehhauser is a true country girl. That’s how the nice lady from Pongau describes herself. She loves the green meadows and the mountains, and there’s plenty of them in Kleinarltal. However, Conny, who was born in St Johann, didn’t always see her life leading to the idyllic countryside, and she’s no stranger to the après-ski pistes, either. She actually wanted to take over her parents’ ski cabins one day. Today, she is a mother of three and produces marigold ointment sourced from her own garden.
Ms Viehhauser has a multi-faceted personality, and she beams when she talks about how her life changed course. It’s easy to believe that she was able to handle the hectic “high life” of a ski chalet during peak season. Nevertheless, she is very satisfied with her role as a farmer, hostess and nursing mother of three lively children, who keep her on her toes all day long.
‘Farm work grounds you, and at the end of the day you can see what you have achieved’, she says, praising the fulfilling qualities of farm life. However, the farmer has also seen life from a different angle, and once occupied an office chair in the city for a few years. ‘Rupert is an animal person’, Conny explains of her husband, whom she met six years ago and married soon after. He takes care of the farm and is highly skilled when it comes to tending the cattle. The numerous accolades their livestock have been awarded are evidence of the farmer’s passion and commitment.
‘Free rein to run around makes the children happy and tires them out.’
The Schwabhof is a quality holiday destination. With five holiday apartments, a classic room and an exclusive stone pine chalet, the Viehhausers can host up to 40 guests at full capacity. Many visitors bring their children, and during summer the place is overrun by little ones. The activities here are designed flexibly and cater to the needs of the guests, for instance with the group hike offered once a week. It’s also possible to arrange three-hour-long hikes to the mountain peaks, as long as people are willing. Conny observes how the young guests sometimes carefully keep their distance from the animals, but by the end of the week, they are actively involved in looking after the animals. Even to the extent that the parents must sometimes cut their day trips short so that they can be back at the farm to help out with the work. City kids in particular will truly blossom and fall into bed exhausted and happy of an evening. The barn as the antidote to iPads and gaming consoles. The digital detox for the kids comes free of charge, and can even do the parents some good as well.
‘The forest gives me a huge amount of power.’
The options for cycling tours in the region are varied and attractive. Next door in Wagrain, the bike park attracts downhill cyclists from near and far with its lines and courses, but in Kleinarl, there is also a 1.2-kilometre-long “Hirschleit-Trail”, which Conny has tried out for herself. In the village, the e-bike boom is in full force. Among the locals as well. Mothers especially who are needed at home shouldn’t stay away too long if things are getting lively and their “other halves” are nearing their wits’ end. E-bikes are a great alternative to let them travel further away from their homes without having to worry about the trip back. At the Viehhausers’, the tables have turned, as Conny can now outstrip Rupert on the bike when riding uphill, she explains with a smug smile, outing herself as an electric mountain bike fan.
In addition to the restorative woods, working in the garden provides some balance in day-to-day farm life. She plants salad herbs, and peas, and it is important to her that her children learn the proper way to deal with food. ‘We don’t throw anything away that can be eaten. Everything is re-used or put in the compost heap, so that it can eventually be recycled as nutritious soil’, says the businesswoman and mother of three. She doesn’t use disposable nappies, preferring fabric nappies, and she hates mounds of waste. ‘Yeah I’m a bit of an eco-warrior’, she says honestly about her life philosophy, which is applied consistently at the Schwabhof. Rupert also tries to refrain from administering medicine to the cattle, as far as possible. Globuli for the cattle instead of chemical-based medicines. The results speak for themselves, and the more simple cattle are not susceptible to the “placebo effect”, unlike humans. He certainly seems to be on to something.