Skiing on the Milky Way
An UPC (Urgent Phone Call) to
Urs Pfaeffli in Halfmoon Bay B.C.
Hi Urs, why on earth did you give up your dream job for a few cows?
Good question. It is not that cows are my passion, not at all. At the time, I was a guide for helicopter skiing and mountaineering in Banff, which had always been my dream. I was away and in the air a lot. But I wanted to settle down with my wife Eija and have a family. My brother who had immigrated to Canada one year after me asked me to buy a diary farm together. So I went along. It was a business decision.
How does a guide for helicopter skiing know to milk a cow?
We bought a rundown farm in Westlock, Alberta, on June 27, 1979, the sale was finalised around noon. We started milking the cows four hours later. I had no clue but I am good with machines. I copied my brother who was an agricultural technician. He did not have a lot of experience with milking, though. I had to learn fast.
Did you avoid any disasters?
Well, the farm was in bad shape, equipment broke down all the time. That is what happened to the milking machine again and again. Sometimes we had to milk in the middle of the night or at 3 in the morning.
Holy cow! I assume you gave up in despair?
No, I had the farm for 20 years. Eventually we invested in a new milking machine. We built a new barn for 250 cows in the nineties. It took us an hour to milk 100 cows. Two and a half hours for 250 cows. For periods of time we milked three times a day. But I did go back as a helicopter skiing guide later in life. Eight years ago, my wife Eija and I sold the farm with 2000 acres of land because none of our kids wanted to take the business over. Today I work as a home inspector.
Do you miss the cows?
No! Sometimes I have nightmares about the stress on the farm and things that went wrong.
But cows are Swiss icons! Don`t you want to keep up the Swiss traditions?
Oh, I do, I do. On the Swiss national day, August 1, I invite around 70 people over to my house in Halfmoon Bay and we eat Bratwurst and Swiss dishes. We also have a crossbow competition in remembrance of William Tell. People have to shoot an apple on the head of a dummy. Last year`s winner in crossbow shooting was a young Canadian woman! And the apple was Canadian, too.
P.S. Today, Urs Pfaeffli inspects homes.
P.S. Urs does not inspect the homes that his wife Eija builds.
P.S. They are inspected by border agents because Eija sends her bird houses as far as New York.