Lately you hear the terms like "From Farm to Fork" or "From Bean to Cup" very often. A lot of companies are using these popular terms to express their journey to go back to the roots, back to the things that matters. If you get the opportunity as a foodie to discover yourself what it's like to go back to the things that matters, you get very exited. Recently I received an invitation to experience what it is like to be a farmer for 24 hours. I got the opportunity to work on a ecological farm in Denmark.
This was the start of an incredible journey, read the first blog in this 24 Hours Series where I share my experiences with you what it is like to be a farmer for one day......
It started in October last year, in the morning I arrived at the airport Billund in Denmark, there I took a rental car for a two hour drive into to a small town called Vildbjerg. Driving through the inlands of Denmark I get to know the country side. The car ride went relatively fast and I arrive at Vestervang, a beautiful organic farm run by Anja and Preben Madsen. Since 2008 they are the proud owners of this farm where they live with their three kids, dogs and animals. With kind hospitality they are all welcoming me and together with a cup of coffee and a Danish delight Anja and Preben proudly start telling about Vestervang.
Vestervang is their farm and run ecologically. In the stables they have around 160 dairy cows and just as many youngsters. They work with true Dutch Holsteiners, one of the oldest Dutch cow breeds. The farm is maintaining itself, according to the rules of Mother Nature, which is very common for ecological farming by the way. In april 2012 they opened a small bed & breakfast with five rooms. Not only for tourists who wants to explore the country life of Denmark, but also for people who wants to experience the farm, like I do.
After a tour on the farm, land and stables it is time for dinner. Anja cooked a fantastic typical Danish meal and we chat about how it's like living on a farm. In the early evening it is time to go to sleep. In a few hours we have to get up to milk the cows. Normally you have to milk the cows twice per day, with a break time of approximately twelve hours in between. The Madsen family decided to milk the cows around three in the morning and afternoon, because of the fact that they can spent time with their children. Sounds to me as a good reason, but in the meanwhile is means getting up in the middle of the night.
I always experience difficulties going to bed that early, but finally I am falling into sleep. The beds in the Bed and Breakfast are good and the rooms are quit. After a few hours my alarm goes off, time to get dressed for the real farm life! The lights in the stables are already turned on by Preben, the cows are smiling at us... they know it is milking time. First we prepare the milking stable and then we clean up the current stables, get rid of the cow shit and clean up the sand beds for "the Ladies". Then it is time for the first cows to step in. We are standing just below the cows to clean their udders and to connect them to the milking machine. What an impressive animals are these, having a great time and totally forgot that it is in the middle of the night.
After a few hours in the milking stable we milked all the cows and moved on to the new borns. These youngsters were looking adorable and were very hungry. After feeding them we looked over the fields and saw the sun coming up. What an incredible moment, gave me a little moment of happiness. In the meantime it was time to have breakfast, Anja prepared it with fresh pressed juice and fresh baked bread, the perfect hospitality.
We had to stop with breakfast earlier because one of the cow's gave birth. Wow what an amazing feeling is this, to see new life born. This makes you realize what amazing mother nature is and gave me an big feeling of happiness. Unfortunately there was no time to stay in this wonderful moment, we had to prepare the food for the cows. Finally an opportunity to drive a big agricultural vehicle. Although these are heavy and very big machines, once you in the driver seat it seems nothing different than driving a car. You just need to get used to it's size and measures. After the big squeezer on the trailer pressed the mixture of hay, seeds and water, I needed to drive through the stables. The funny thing is that cow's are just dogs and have their habits... they new that I was coming and were all saying thanks, amazing!
Unfortunately the 24 hours experience on the farm comes to an end. I want to thank Anja and Preben for their hospitality and having me as a guest on their farm and showing me what it is like to be a farmer. Do you want to experience this yourself? I strongly recommend Vestervang. What an incredible experience to be a farmer for one day.
The funny thing is that although I went up in the middle of the night, this experience gave me so much energy that I was not tired at all. It gave me a feeling of joy and happiness, something I did not expect to happen. What kind of a feeling was that? Was it because the last 24 hours were something completely different than my daily job or did I find a new purpose in life? Hmmm... food for thought....