The farm Obersteinerhof
The history of the Obersteinerhof
The Castle Tures, Schloss Taufers, was built in the 11th century. It is supposed that 'the nobles of Tures' engaged the construction of the first farms in Luttach / Lutago. The Obersteinerhof was first mentioned in 1225, as 'Steiner auf Pojen', but the farm is probably much older. Residential buildings and stables were built from local materials. The stones were taken from the properties own quarry. Chalk for the mortar was taken from the lime pit and burned in the neighbour's kiln, timber came from the farm's woods. The Obersteiner and Niedersteiner estates were established. Between the 13th and 14th century, people settled on the Herrenberg, which means mountain of the lord. The name comes from the duties the families had to pay to the clerical 'lords'.
The story of my ancestors
Many families have lived on the Obersteinerhof before us. Since 1886, the farm was in possession of the Family Strauss. My great-grandfather, Josef, acquired the property which included a small chapel dedicated to Virgin Mary, 10 hectares of meadow, 8 hectares of pasture and 40 hectares of forest. In 1935 my grandfather, also Josef, took over. He grew rye, wheat, oat, barley, hemp and potatoes, he kept cattle and had five people employed. In 1938 he built one of the first power stations on a farm. A small DC station that could supply a few bulbs. In 1940 he had the mill from the nearby Steinerbach river relocated to the farm. Ten years later the domestic building was renovated, the surrounding balcony was removed and the outside walls were insolated. In 1955 a material ropeway was added.
In 1960 my father took over and transformed the property into a dairy farm. He bought the first mower and little by little, mechanized the farm. In 1969 he had a cableway for private material and passenger transportation built to connect the farm with the valley. The farm was partially renovated and transformed into a small eatery. A new power station with 18 kWh. Rated power was built. In 1970 a road connected the farm with the valley and in the same year, my father decided to buy his first tractor. Trails through fields and forests were created and meadows and pastures were adapted to the new working method. In 1998 the drinking water supply was totally renewed.
My name is Franz Strauss. I was born and raised on the Obersteinerhof. After attending the carving school in St. Johann im Ahrntal I lived as an artist in Vienna and Paris and moved to Kamerun for three years to teach carving on behalf of the Italian foreign ministry. In the nineties I moved back to the farm and ever since I have not left for more than a few weeks. In 2000 I took the farm over from my father. I continued with the dairy business for another two years before changing to cattle rearing.
In 2002 I decided to close the eatery and offer farm holidays. I transformed part of the farm into two holiday apartments and built two detached cottages. Two years later, I welcomed the first guests. In 2006 I changed from cattle rearing to suckler cow keeping with Pustertaler Sprinzen, a local breed of cattle. In the following year I renovated the power station and expanded it to 25 kWh rated power. Since 2008 I run the farm biologically and without silage production. In the same year the main building got a new plaster and two years later the cellar between the domestic building and the stalls was built. In 2016 I built a new stable including a spacious cowshed with a glass front. Since then, also the animals look down to the valley.
Today I run the farm holidays with lots of love and joy together with my partner Barbara. It is a wonderful addition to the farming around our 20 cattle. Here they are allowed to keep their horns. From May to October the cows graze in the meadow around the farm. In winter they live in the stable next to five hens and a chinese Silkie chicken, a pig called Bärbel and the cats Suave and Miss Flora. In front of the entrance we have created a farm garden, partially used for permaculture and a field where we grow vegetables, herbs and flowers. When available, we love to share the gifts of nature with our guests. I take care of all work and reconstruction around the farm. I still do arts and crafts in my workshop and I also build furniture.
The Pustertaler Sprinzen
Afada, Gabi and Opra – these are the names of three of the 20 cows that live on the Obersteinerhof. The breed evolved in the southtyrolean Pustertal Valley and sidevalleys like the Ahrntal. The rearing began in the 19th century and was prohibited in the nineteen-twenties. The two world wars afflicted the Sprinzen heavily. The breed survived thanks to authorised insemination animals for private use. At the beginning of the Fifties there were only 300 registered cattle of this kind left. Only when breeding associations were founded, the race gradually recovered. Since 1895 Sprinzen are on the list of 'gene reserve breedings' - an initiative of the European Union for the conservation of old domestic breedings.
The Sprinzen got their name from the distribution of the colours on their bodies. The colour of their hair is black and white or red-white, the colour stains are extensive or speckled. Their body mass is impressive. The birth weight is around 50 kg. Full-grown cows have a withers height of 125 to 140 cm and weight about 800 kg. Adult bulls easily weigh one ton. They have a good constitution. Thanks to their good ability to be held as free-ranging animals and the great maternal attributes, the breed is particularly suitable for suckler cow keeping.
Southtyrol's mountain farmers
By managing steep terrains, soils and forests, mountain farmers maintain our landscape. In some places in the Alps, the extinction of mountain farmers causes increased mudflows, diseases and parasites among plants and wild animals, and the extinction of working animals. Mountain farmers supply good, sustainable and species-appropriate obtained products. South Tyrol is the region with the highest percentage of mounain farmers in the Alpine region. You can find more information in the book "Südtirol. Land der Bergbauern" (Fischer/Rampold. Available in German) whose cover is embellished by a picture of our farm.