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GER | 2023 | Documentary | 28 Min. | TV Premiere: 2023

On Behalf on ZDF

Language German

Production Country Austria

Writer & Director Susanne Bohlmann & Christopher Hawkins

Camera Johanna Menschner & Susanne Bohlmann

Editor Susanne Bohlmann


Logline Before Katrin will fulfil her dream of owning a farm, she embarks on an adventurous journey with her dairy cow Ina. But the search for inspiration and inner peace goes differently than expected.A personal and humorous film about growing up, social responsibility and about an unusual friendship.

Katrin Friedl grew up on an idyllic farm in Upper Austria and was practically born into animal husbandry. After Waldorf school, she trained as a confectioner, then travelled to Indonesia as a backpacker, took a yoga course and worked for a year as a coachwoman in Switzerland. Now she is 23 years old. Her parents Monika and Hans Friedl have a Demeter dairy farm and would like to hand it over to Katrin in the next few years.

Katrin is very connected to nature and especially to the animals and knows that the standard of living of her cows is already much better than on most farms. Demeter is a biodynamic concept of life where all organisms together form a circular economy with the highest standards. But in order to get milk, Demeter cows also have to be separated from their calves after birth.  

Katrin has a favourite cow - four-year-old Ina. The two spend a lot of time together. But Ina is also a farm animal. So in March she gave birth to a calf herself: Isis. The little baby cow was born healthy after only five hours and was immediately licked and suckled by Ina. Katrin was there, of course. But Isis was also separated from her mother after 10 days. That was a dramatic time. Katrin has been a vegan ever since. She no longer wants to support the system and although the idyllic farm with horses, cows and many fruit trees appeals to Katrin very much, she does not want to take it over. She doesn't want any more animal suffering. Her parents are disappointed but understand her decision. For Monika and Hans, too, every separation from cow and calf is difficult, and going to the butcher is never easy either, says father Hans. But he always goes along, because he was there at the birth and feels a responsibility to accompany the cows on their last journey. The animals with the Friedls all have names and their own character.

Katrin dreams of having her own plot of land with a Tiny House and lots of fruit and vegetables.  But first she wants to take some time out. She sets off on a journey of inspiration through Austria, on the heels of modern and sustainable ways of living. But Katrin does not want to set out alone. She is taking her dog Eliah with her and her favourite cow Ina.

Ina is a Murbodner, an old breed of cow from Styria that loves to hike long distances and is well suited for it. Katrin and Ina have been training for a few months now how to hike on a loose rope and how to handle each other optimally. The communication between the two is very important and has to work. The cuddly and intelligent cow is also a bit stubborn. If Ina doesn't want to go any further, she simply stops. For this case, Katrin has her tent and a solar-powered electric fence in her luggage - so they can stop anywhere. Ina sets the pace.

Throughout the summer, the trio walks along country roads and country lanes through villages and communities. They stay overnight on farms, with friends and strangers. They eat in and from nature. The long distances between the stops and the nights in meadows, fields and around the campfire give Katrin a lot of time to think. About sense and nonsense - about the hamster wheel and the alternatives. How should Katrin's life journey continue? So many different opinions and arguments - so many different paths she can take.

On her journey, Katrin is approached by many people. They all wonder about the unusual trio of travellers, take photos and ask questions. It quickly becomes clear that many people are concerned with the topic of animal husbandry and nutrition, and while petting and cuddling Ina, sentences often come up like: "You do wonder what the difference is between pets and farm animals?" Katrin thinks it's great that her trip makes people think, but the attention quickly becomes too much for her. After all, she had longed so much for peace and quiet.

She also wonders whether this trip is really right for Ina. She is also a herd animal and certainly misses her friends at home. In addition, Ina keeps getting sore hooves and so the trek often has to be interrupted. Travelling with a cow is anything but easy. When one day an accident happens to Ina, Katrin has to decide. Break off or keep going.

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