On one fine morning while living on a Swiss farm, the first thing I saw when I woke up and looked out the open window was a cow taking a great big sloppy crap a few metres away. I hastily shut the window before the smell could get in but otherwise didn’t blink an eye; I was adjusting quickly to farm life. Though, like all things in Switzerland,
it was very clean there so this was not difficult. Plus it’s not like I was actually doing any farming. Lying in bed of a morning, we would hear the incessant ringing of the bells around the necks of the cows just outside the window, a cock cock-a-doodle-doo-ing repeatedly, birds chirping, and the sounds of the farmers hard at work.
The family with whom Frenchie lived is truly lovely. It consists of a mother, father and grown-up son who is rarely around. Mum is a jovial, bustling type, who makes delicious cake and likes to chat. Dad is a laconic, bluff farmer; the first thing he said to me after exchanging bises was, “I stink of shit”; his wry one-liners are a hoot. They are modest, generous people without pretension and with hearts of gold.
Life was pretty idyllic, given that we didn’t actually have to work on the farm. The sound of cowbells verged on deafening sometimes with the windows open, but it was somehow a soothing sound. The musical tones that rung out were random but full of purpose and there was something pleasant about knowing that it was a beautiful, healthy Swiss cow creating the melody just by moving.
I spent just five days back in my beloved Suisse, and I had almost forgotten the serenity of that place. On our last day mummy and daddy farmer drove us up to Diablerets for lunch, then on to their charming little chalet in the mountains where we had a breathtaking, unhampered view of more mountains before us. What more could one wish for than to inherit a chalet up in the remote mountains, yours to retreat to whenever you wished? Baths out in the moonlight and parties as loud as you wish (no neighbours), stunning mountain views and clean mountain air?
I had lived and loved Swiss “big city” life (as big as cities can get over there), and now this rural encounter gave me another, even purer, Swiss experience. I witnessed the hard work of a farm, and the simple but tranquil existence it affords. No pollution, no rush-hour crowds, no people in fact. Just cows, a few cats, and… ok the road was close enough that we could hear that too. It wasn’t that remote (Lausanne 25 minutes away by bus) but just enough for a townie like me! Maybe it was just this particular family, who frequently welcomes foreign students into its home and is good-humoured and warm, but I certainly got a very good impression of Swiss farm life.