Who let the cows out?!

Herinnering aan Holland

Denkend aan Holland
zie ik breede rivieren
traag door oneindig
laagland gaan,
rijen ondenkbaar
ijle populieren
als hooge pluimen
aan den einder staan;
en in de geweldige
ruimte verzonken
de boerderijen
verspreid door het land,
boomgroepen, dorpen
geknotte torens,
kerken en olmen,
in een grootsch verband.
De lucht hangt er laag
en de zon wordt er langzaam
in grijze veelkleurige
dampen gesmoord,
en in alle gewesten
wordt de stem van het water
met zijn eeuwige rampen
gevreesd en gehoord.

Hendrik Marsman (1899-1940)

copyright: Uitgeverij Querido

(For an award-winning translation of this Dutch poem, please visit subtexttranslations)

I have to be honest: thinking about Holland doesn’t usually put me in the poetic mood it inspired in Marsman. Holland is mostly flat farmland, and while wide open fields of grass and rows of crops can be a lovely sight to see, I am admittedly more fond of mountains.

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But there are moments that show the true beauty of that same flat farmland, and one of those moments is the time when the cows are let out of their barns after spending a long winter cooped up inside.

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It’s an extraordinary spectacle: the cows are so ecstatic to be back out in the great wide open, they fairly frolic through the fields in their newly found freedom.

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The various farms choose various moments to let their cows out, and some of them make a special event out of it that is open to the public. We attended such an event this morning at Kaasboerderij De Vierhuizen (Cheese Farm The Four Houses).
The farm opened its doors at 11:00 AM. People were welcomed by the farmer and his family and staff, and treated to a cup of coffee, tea, fresh milk or lemonade. The farm is a biofarm, and makes, among other things, eco-friendly cheese, which was for sale during the event.

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The farmer then took a moment to tell us a little bit about the letting out of the cows, but also about what it means to be a biofarm and how they treat their cattle and what else the farm has to offer throughout the year in terms of events and workshops.
I won’t lie to you, it was windy and bloody cold out there, so our impatience for the moment that the cows would finally be let out was equal parts anticipation and an earnest desire to get out of the cold and back home to a warm cup of tea.
But then the moment was there and it was beautiful! The cows know what is about to happen, and the excited mooing from the barn just before the doors open is like nothing you’ve ever heard. Then the doors open …. and out come the cows: trotting, running, hopping, dancing! They immediately head to the widest part of the field, playing and frolicking and celebrating being out in the the fresh open air.

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And having seen this, I don’t think I’ll ever look at cows the same way again: they’re such playful, gorgeous creatures! (This would probably be a good time to admit that I’ve always been a little nervous around cows.)

The letting out of the cows is an event not to be missed, and I think we’ll be making attendance and annual event from now on.

I owe thanks to Marijke Langeveld, who alerted us to this event through KOE Alert (Cow Alert).

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