2018 Lifestyle

Samantha Rolland, is a farmer, cheesemaker based in Pralognan La Vanoise.

You don’t learn to become a farmer. You either are a farmer, or you simply act like one. My husband is a born and bred Savoyard farmer. I just act like one. Basically, you just have to work as hard as you can, then work a little bit harder. It can be a very tough job, but I feel connected to the earth here and you simply cannot get that feeling in an office building. We live with the rhythm of the seasons with our animals - everything depends on the seasons and the weather.
Summer and winter here are completely different and I love to watch them as they unfold and shape our lives. You really have to respect the seasons in the mountains – you’re completely at their mercy.
People who come here are amazed by the sunsets, by the mountains and by beautiful cows chewing grass in fields. There’s nothing like walking through the crisp air after a night of snowfall to buy your bread. It’s a feeling of being completely surrounded and guided by nature.
I was picking grapes as a student in the Swiss Lavaux region when I noticed a strong handsome grape picker named Pierrick. We were married a year later. Not only did I have a new husband, but also a new home, and I’ve now been here for more than 20 years. My friends say I’m like a draft of wind, always on the move, never still. I was definitely looking for roots, which I found in the mountains. As a farmer, Pierrick has always been anchored to the earth and I’ve anchored myself here too. 

When I started making Beaufort cheese 20 years ago there was only one other woman doing it. The first year, all the farmers and cheese retailers came to spy on me and my cheeses. They secretly took samples of it in the cheese cellars because they didn’t believe that I knew what I was doing.  My cheese was full of holes, but not because of mice. Over the past 20 years, they’ve come to realise that I really can make cheese. My life is a little crazy these days. I get up to make yoghurt at 4 am every day, before I go to get my kids ready for school, then start preparing the shop for business, then coming home to family life and starting all over again the next day. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. Our routine changes throughout the seasons, which I love. My favourite time is when one season gives way to another. One cycle finishes and another one starts, so we have a complete rebirth every few months.

I love the balance that we have in Pralognan-la-Vanoise. I can develop the company with business strategies and plans like a CEO, while staying down to earth and connected to the land, doing very basic manual work. That balance is reflected in the town itself. It is natural and untouched, yet it is a resort. That means the world comes to us, and we’re always meeting different types of people. I’m also part of the town council, which has helped me stay connected to the world, without having to live in a crowded, busy city. My children are lucky to grow up with this sense of balance. Their world is agriculture and being knitted into the fabric of a small village. But they will also grow up bilingual and open to the world. That’s a very special thing to have. 

I was definitely looking for roots, which I found in the mountains.
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