“Chomm zonis” (come to us) Claudia said to me and invited me to the Speck-Musegg. Of course, I didn’t hesitate for long and accepted the challenge. I will certainly never forget my experience day which I booked through Mucca.ch.
“Sönd wöllkomm” (be welcome) is the motto here. The people of Appenzell are super hospitable. Even the dog Leika greets me with her paw. The animal experience continues, as six fuzzy puppies are waiting for me in the stable. I have rarely seen anything so cute! The view up here of the Churfirsten is also breathtaking. After a cup of coffee, Claudia shows me around the farm and introduces me to her husband and son Christof. Then it’s off to the production room. This is where the famous fresh cheese in herb marinade, pork Musegg bröckli, Musegg rind stomach and smoked Musegg bacon are made. Our first task is to marinate and pack the cream cheese. Already the morning before, Claudia started making the cheese at 5 am. Now, 24 hours later, they are cut in half and marinated in salt water. After that, everything goes quite quickly: while Claudia applies her secret herb marinade to the cheese, I am responsible for the vacuum sealer and labelling. After one hour, we have packed no less than 30 kilos of fresh cheese, which corresponds to about 180 litres of milk.
“I need a coffee now,” Claudia says and we allow ourselves the short break with a view of the Alpstein. After that, it’s meaty and fitness is called for: for the popular Schweins-Museggbröckli, the pieces of pork kidney must first be carried on a meat hook into the smoking chamber. This works fully automatically and was customised by the manufacturer to meet the needs of the Speck-Musegg. The new technology is particularly environmentally friendly: thanks to the ionised smoke, smoking times are shortened, thus reducing fine dust emissions.
Working with food makes you quite hungry. Luckily, we are on a farm here, so we should be able to feed ourselves for quite a long time. All joking aside – my stomach is really growling. “Now we’ll cook something”, Claudia says and together we cook a fine lunch for the family. We have our own veal cutlets with homemade mashed potatoes and steamed carrots. That feels good! While I enjoy my coffee outside, the Specks recharge their batteries with a short nap. I can understand that, as they work seven days a week from 5am to 7pm.
In the afternoon we go with Hansruedi to the alp. “Do you have the goat’s foot?” he asks me. “We need it to cut out the thistles.” The Speck family deliberately refrains from spraying the weeds. Weeding out the thistles is hard work, but we are happy to do it for the sake of healthy soil. The cows are also happy when they don’t have to eat the thorny weeds. Speaking of cows: After a well-deserved snack, they have to be driven from the pasture back to the barn to be milked.
I imagined that untying the tails would be much easier! With Hansruedi it looked so easy. But somehow it just doesn’t work. When I am finally ready, Hansruedi shows me how to milk. After a few tries I succeed and hold my first glass of milk in my hands. That makes me quite proud. And it tastes good too. We take the milk back down to the valley, where Claudia is already waiting for us. “Now we’ve earned our after-work beer,” she says, and we go together to the kitchen, where daughter Corina has already laid the table with Musegg specialities. Dinner is super delicious and the family even gives me a cool bag full of Musegg goodies.
I am delighted! At the same time, a certain tiredness makes itself felt in me. I haven’t had such an educational day in a long time. Food production is really fun. And the work in the fresh air with the best view was really good. I can safely skip the fitness centre. This day of experience and the warmth of the Speck-Schlauri family will certainly remain in my memory for a long time.