True Locals: The Heis Family
It all began with a single rooster that Tamara and Mathias Heis received as a wedding gift. These days around 4,000 chickens live on their family-run organic farm in Leutasch. An animal success story about a paradise for hens, organic eggs, hard work, family togetherness – and perhaps the best pasta in the Tyrol.
The hens are free
There is no question of who came first – the chicken or the egg – for Tamara and Mathias: it was the rooster! Friends gave it to them for their wedding. And six more hens were added so that “Hansi” didn’t feel too lonely. That’s how the egg started rolling – 18 years later a total of 2,000 chickens live on the organic farm, possibly double that number in winter. In their wildest dreams, the couple would not have imagined that it would reach this stage. But, over the years, the former dairy farm has transformed itself into a family-run organic chicken farm and pasta factory.
A paradise for chickens
The chickens on the organic farm in Leutasch are not doing badly. Their run is a virtual paradise: a huge meadow in front of the spacious stable. Colourful mountain flowers bloom as far as the eye can see. Some hens peck in the knee-high grass, others prefer to lie on the cooler ground in front of the barn: “It’s like a shower for them,” Tamara explains, “They love it! ” The only time that the chickens are disturbed in their idyllic lives is when a bird of prey or a helicopter flies over the pasture and frightens them. Sometimes they are unable to lay eggs for a week after this shock – a big loss for the farm. Luckily, however, this is a rare occurrence and so the hens happily peck their way through the mountain meadows.
There is always something to do
The Heis family have a lot of work to do to achieve the standards required for an organic chicken farm. The working day starts early with the feeding of the animals. The chickens also lay the most eggs in the morning and, although these are collected by machine, they must be sorted manually. Afterwards they are packed and the orders are delivered. “I often touch an egg ten times from laying to selling,” Tamara says. “People don’t realise how much work there is behind the scenes.”
An inspirational success story
The Heis family also uses their eggs to make pasta and egg liqueur. The reason: the chickens do not always lay uniform, large eggs, but also small and “ugly” eggs, which nobody wants to buy. Tamara and Mathias could not bear this idea: “It is unacceptable to throw away fresh food every day just because nobody wants to buy it!”. So they came up with the idea of producing noodles from the less beautiful but equally good eggs. Some delicious creations are the result with over 100 different varieties. It is not just the classic spaghetti that is made in Leutasch, but also culinary highlights such as basil noodles, turmeric noodles, spelt gnocchetis, beetroot noodles and much more. And for a “nightcap” after dinner, there’s their own eggnog.
Working with the hands and the family
The pasta production is demanding hands-on work. When the farm shop closes at 18.00, Tamara starts production. She is busy until 02.00 in the morning three or four times a week. The ribbon noodles and spaghetti are laid and cut by hand, which takes time. When the noodles have dried, they are carefully packaged. The family also has a guesthouse. “There’s always work to do”, Tamara laughs with the strong Leutasch dialect. But luckily there is the family, who can pitch in where they are needed.
More regional products, please!
“We hope that people will learn to appreciate regional products more,” say the Heis family. The farm and the pasta factory are hard work, which few know about. The Heis family uses only the best ingredients for their products, such as quality semolina. Of course, all of this is reflected in the price – but anyone who has tried the pasta once is happy to pay for it. The eggs come from chickens that are well-kept, a local company is supported, and the high-quality organic products are good for your health – no comparison with supermarket noodles.
“In my next life I’ll be chicken on an organic farm in Leutasch!” you think as you drive away from the Heis family farm. Fresh mountain air, plenty of exercise, the best food: this is not just an advertising slogan, but reality in Leutasch. There the eggs and noodles really do taste a bit better!
For all those who would now love to experience the exceptional taste of the products of the farm in Leutasch: This is the way to the homepage of the Leutascher Bio-Eier!
Blog Series: True Locals
In the coming months we are going to be writing about people from the region who generally stay in the background. People who typify our region and help push it forward, without us necessarily being aware of it. Without them our region would not be what it is today. Their stories will be accompanied by images from star photographer Fabrice Dall’Anese.
For some time, the Olympiaregion has been in a bit of an uproar caused by the hosting of the Nordic Ski World Championships in 2019. But even though such a big event as this is taking place, life goes on before, during and after the World Championships. Our True Locals are fully aware of this and will allow us to share their own personal stories and experiences.
Fotos: Fabrice Dall’Anese