In an interview with our editors, the couple talks about their cattle ranching, hostility from the activist vegan bubble and why trash formats
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Beginning of the TV documentary: “Our farm with Cayenne and Nino”
Cheyenne and Nino can currently be seen in the four-part television documentary Our Farm – With Cheyenne and Nino. Please tell us about your daily rural life in Styria.
Cheyenne Ochsenknecht: At the moment everything is going relatively classically. Nino goes out in the morning and takes his first walk around the yard while I look after the children. After Nino has gotten the general idea, he usually takes our daughter Mavy to the nanny. I know this all sounds a little old-fashioned: I do the laundry and cook, Nino works in the yard. For us, this is exactly the correct distribution at the moment – and this is the main thing.
Nino Ochsenknecht-Sifkowitz: And sometimes it happens the other way around. Then, for example, I pick up a vacuum cleaner, and Cheyenne looks after the sheep, cows and pigs. We have a really good division of work and try to support each other as much as possible. As in any relationship, of course things can flare up between us – that’s part of it.
What is it like to live and work side by side 24/7?
Nino: In general, I am very pleased to always be at home with my family. Many of my friends were not so lucky. Usually they come home only in the evening, when the children are ready for bed. Every day I watch my children grow…
Cheyenne: You see your children too often (laughs).
Nino, you recently had a herniated disc. How are you doing now?
Nino: The year itself was quite difficult, and then an intervertebral disc herniation occurred. A lot of pressure, stress and physical work have all taken their toll on my back at some point. In addition to the herniated disc, an MRI revealed arthrosis of the saddle joint, that is, inflammation that caused the pain. Because I never got to truly rest, I still feel it – but it’s a little better. I go to physical therapy and massage regularly because I’m so stressed. Overall, it was a huge challenge for me.
Love at second… or third sight
Get well soon! How did you actually meet?
Cheyenne: Our acquaintance was quite interesting. Nino’s best friend is a professional football player (Valentino Lazaro; editor’s note), who at that time was still playing for Hertha. He was doing something with my best friend at the time, so I knew him pretty well. Ultimately, Nino and I met through a mutual circle of friends. At first there was not much interest. But the closer we got to know each other, the clearer it became to us: He is me in masculine – and I am him in feminine. Almost a month later we moved in with my mother. A year later we moved into an apartment together. And two years later I became pregnant (laughs).
Now you live on the idyllic Chianina farm, named after the breed of cattle of the same name…
Cheyenne: Absolutely. Many people think that Kianinahof is a mixture of his name and my name. We only became aware of this parallel when we were often asked about it later. But, of course, we are talking about the Chianina cattle that we raise here. The animals come from Italy, more precisely from the Chiana Valley.
The name Ochsenknecht also suits a livestock farm quite well, doesn’t it?
Cheyenne: Yes, I always say that. By the way, when we got married, we didn’t know where our name journey would take us both. I just knew I didn’t want to reveal my last name because I really like Ochsenknecht. But Nino is generally more traditional and believes that a woman should really take a man’s surname. Then I suggested a double name, noting that we also have “oxen”. With this argument I finally split him…
Nino: Absolutely. Another reason for the double name was the birth of a daughter. After all, she also bears her mother’s name and her father’s name. So it’s good that we are all called Ochsenknecht-Sifkowitz.
Healthy meat – the secret to loving meat
On your Kianinahof’s home page you can read: “We love meat. We are convinced that these two things are not a contradiction.” Why is this not a contradiction?
Cheyenne: First of all, we are convinced that meat consumption must be radically reduced. I am currently undergoing government training to become a qualified agricultural worker. We were recently asked how many kilograms of meat Austrians eat per year. There were different answer options and I chose 97 kilograms. But then it was “only” 56 kilograms, last year – 62 kilograms. So you can see that the consumption is slowly decreasing.
Nino: Many people cannot afford such high-quality and, therefore, more expensive meat as ours. That’s why they buy cheap meat from a supermarket full of medicine. These animals are kept in the most painful conditions.
Cheyenne: That is why it is important for us that it is better not to eat meat at all than to eat meat every day. If you order meat from a farm like ours from time to time, you can eat it with a clear conscience. It should also be said that most of the animals we breed are in danger of extinction. There are only 44,000 head of our livestock left in the entire world. In this regard, we are helping to ensure that this great breed of cattle does not become extinct.
Nino: We want meat to be valued again. We invest all our time and a lot of money into the farm and the animals. We buy only high-quality food products and make almost everything ourselves.
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Despite your resilient approach, do you face criticism and even hostility?
Cheyenne: Oh yeah. I recently gave an interview that was published under the title “Vegans Don’t Respect Us.” Of course, that’s not what I meant. I just wanted to say that we also respect people who don’t eat meat. And this is exactly the kind of respectful attitude and evaluation of our work that we want.
Nino: Many farms are having to give up because fewer and fewer people can afford quality produce. We often receive requests from our region asking if we can take in more animals. Through our farm series, we want to help people better understand our work.
What’s the most absurd accusation you’ve ever faced?
Cheyenne: There have been complaints that our cattle stand in the hot sun in the middle of summer and can suffer heatstroke. We then explained to these people that our cattle come from Italy, where the summers are usually several degrees hotter and the humidity even lower. However, Chianina’s cattle love to lie in the meadow and chew the cud. Constructive criticism is always welcome, but more knowledge please!
Rubber boots instead of high heels
Cheyenne, did you have to get used to country life away from the public eye? Her father Uwe is an actor, her mother Natasha is also at home on the red carpet…
Cheyenne: Now I like this village life more and more. In addition, I am not seen as often at events and on programs as, for example, my mother. I love “These Oxenknechts” and “Our Farm”: I would like these formats to continue forever. The rest of my time is spent away from the public on our farm and with my family – and I want to keep it that way. As soon as our son Matteo is old enough to babysit with his sister, I will be a full-time farmer again.
Nino: So, rubber boots instead of high heels!
What about a yard instead of a jungle?
Cheyenne: I’m already watching Jungle Camp or Summerhouse of the Stars on TV. Garbage can be fun too. For us as a couple, this is out of the question – at least until there are cool people there.
What “cool people” do you think of?
Cheyenne: For example Lena Meyer-Landrut and Mark Forster. If they moved to the “dacha of the stars” together, I would also be interested. Nowadays, anyone who has ever taken part in such a reality show is immediately called a celebrity. For me, my parents are more real celebrities.
Nino: This won’t work either. We do real, practical work on the farm and want to convey real values. In any case, I don’t look at these formats and would never support if any of us took part in something like that.
Cheyenne: I completely agree. By the way, we also have children, and I don’t want them to one day have to watch us on “Temptation Island” and how everything can fall apart.
You are clearly far from this. Nino, what are three things you especially love about Cheyenne?
Nino: First of all, she is a wonderful mother for whom children come first. Cheyenne is also very understanding – and she has beautiful eyes.
And Cheyenne, what three things do you like about Nino?
Cheyenne: Nino balances me out when I’m in a bad mood or stressed. So he is also very understanding – and the best father I can imagine for my children. Nino also loves animals. So we are on the same page about many things in life.
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