In summer a Gold Medal Winner Runs a Cheese Dairy Herself

The active Slovenian youth in Krstenica does not waste its time.

During summer holidays, 19-year-old Veronika Hribar devoted herself to a quite original work. On the mountain pasture of Krstenica over Bohinjem, Veronika, the gold medal winner and yesterday’s schoolgirl, ran the cheese dairy herself during the summer. Since a pair of hands is not enough to work on a mountain pasture, Veronika’s peers came to help her.

It is only 5 o’clock in the morning, and the cheese mistress Veronika and her assistant Matevzh are already working in full. At first, they need to start a fire, and then head to the cheese factory, where there is also enough work in the morning. However, the most important thing is to herd all cows that wandered around the mountain meadows at night. There are in total 18 cows. Each morning, all of them must be herded to a cattle shed. “These cows are pretty tiring,” Matevzh Korošec says.

Then follows breakfast and meeting.

Before herding cows to the pasture, they, of course, should be milked. Each cow gives 6 to 10 litres of milk. Producing one block of cheese requires 12 litres of milk. One “rajža” (a milk yield — Gorenjska dialecticism, translator’s note), as they say here, equals to approximately 8 blocks of cheese.

While the assistants again herd the cows to the pasture, Veronika continues working in the dairy. “The process takes about half an hour until the cheese product is hardened, then we cut away the top with a wooden knife, remove the skin with a blade, and it starts boiling.”

After about two hours, the cheese is taken from the boiler. At first, the blocks of cheese should be turned regularly — every 10 minutes. At this time, assistants are indispensable.

This process lasts day after day from late June to early September. Shouldn’t a young girl get tired of such an activity? “Gradually, by the end of the day, you start getting tired, but the work goes with a swing,” Veronika says sincerely.

Veronica’s dream? A cheese workshop in the valley.

Veronika used to work. Starting from 5 years old, Veronika and her current assistant have been spending their summers on the mountain pasture. The nature and work on the farm have become sense of her life. This autumn, she will start studying agronomy in Ljubljana, and a few years later, wants to open a cheese factory in the valley. “Farmers really need to be pedantic,” Veronika says, “nothing can be put off until tomorrow, but they will always find a little time for fun. On weekends, relatives come, take an accordion and sing songs.”

Young people can always diversify their leisure with local music and fun games.