Sunday, August 19, 2018

Golan Heights #1 - The Dairy Maid

Feeding the calves
We had one weekend after  Ashkelon to do our laundry and water the plants before setting off on our second holiday of the summer. One member of our Holiday Family is very pro-active about organizing us to get  up and go. Me, I just pay my money and do what I'm told. Anyway, we were booked into a yurt in the Golan Heights for a three day/two night adventure.

We left early on the Monday morning. Three families (three mothers and three children) in two cars. Neither of the cars are mine so I try to even things out a bit by paying for all the coffee and ice-cream stops. some of the parking, and treating everyone to one of the meals. The three kids liked to travel in one car together and I went with the other driver, whichever driver it was for that leg of the journey, to keep her company.

He made them hold the rail
while he was talking. Brilliant!
On the way up to the Golan we stopped at Bethlehem in the Gallilee. I've heard of this place before because it's near Nazareth and I once read a theory that this is actually the Bethlehem that Mary and Joseph traveled to for Herod's census and where Jesus was born. Otoh, Jesus spent his adult life in Jerusalem which is near the other Bethlehem so someone had to make the long trek south.

First we went to a herb farm where they have cooking workshops for kids. The bread making was at 11 am and the pizza making was at 1 pm. We arrived at 11.45 so we missed one and it was too long to wait for the next. The children were given a worksheet to fill out in return for a prize. The prizes were little plastic nothings like you get after a visit to the dentist but they liked them and they learned something about herbs and spices. The other two adults enjoyed buying spices as they are both interesting cooks. I'd like to be an interesting cook but DD will only eat omelets or dry pasta (with a bit of grated cheese) so I don't bother. The toilets were clean.

Next we went to a dairy farm for a tour of the cow sheds. The tour was designed for children but the guide was very Sergeant Majorish and shouted a lot. The kids didn't like him at all. I thought he was wonderful and took notes on how to keep my classes in line.

We were introduced to the calves who were between four days and two weeks old. We stroked them and fed them. One of our boys let them slobber all over him but that was a bit much for DD and I. I'm not an animal person but they were very cute.

Hard at work
Then we visited the chickens and learned why some eggs have chicks growing inside them but the eggs in the shops don't. We held newly laid eggs. We were invited to hold baby chicks. DD declined. I said, "come on, be brave. Don't you sort of want to?"
"I sort of want to but they're all scratchy and squirmy."
The guide overheard us and took my hand. "Come on Mummy, you show her that it's ok."
I snatched my hand back before he could place a scratchy, squirmy chick into it and squealed. "No, no, I don't want to!"

The cows were hungry by this time so the children were given shovels and told to fill a wheelbarrow with hay, wheel it back and shovel piles of hay in front of the cows who were poking their hungry heads through the railings. This took them about 20 minutes. Meanwhile the Sergeant Major disappeared - probably for a cup of tea or his afternoon nap. There was something strange about this picture. It had to do with paying for the tour and child labour... but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

After that we went into the cow shed to milk the cows. Obviously it's all automated but one cow was left unhooked so that we could milk her by hand. I have always wanted to milk a cow (or a goat, I'm not fussy). DD refused to go anywhere near the cow and she went back outside to feed the calves again.

Feeding the cows
Each child was taken to the cow and shown how to milk her. He invited each parent to go with the child while I, being without child, took their phone and took photos of the two of them milking the cow together and separately. It wasn't just our group, there were other families there too. I waited patiently until everyone had had their turn and there was just me and a woman wearing a 10 month old baby on her chest. I stepped forward but the Sergeant Major wanted to give the baby a go too. So I waited until they were done and I took their photo on the mother's phone.

The Sergeant Major started collecting up his things, "OKAY, NOW WE MOVE TO THE NEXT STATION" he barked. I almost cried. "What about me? I want to milk the cow too!" I got to milk the cow. I loved it. I released my inner Heidi after a lifetime of  buying bottled milk.

Midlife Ingalls Wilder
Now we had the milk we had to use it. Well not the exact same milk that we'd retrieved from the cow but other milk that had been cooled earlier. And another batch that had been gently heated. The children made the cooled milk into chocolate milk. It was delicious. I swear it tasted very different and much better than the tasteless supermarket milk. And I don't even like milk. Or chocolate.

They made the warmed milk into butter and we ate it spread on crackers. Also delicious.

We left the farm and drove off to find some luntea (lupper?). In our car I babbled on about how thrilled I was to have milked a cow. In the other car, apparently, the children went on and on about how much they hated the Sergeant Major.


  1. I'm laughing at the sergeant major image! I guess he felt that he had to keep the children from wandering just in case anyone got hurt. I'm not really an animal person myself but I think it's important that children know where their food actually comes from. Good for you for milking the cow. I've never had raw milk - in front it's banned here. You can use it for personal consumption if you have a cow but you can't sell it. But I know a few people who have had it and they agree with your assessment.
    PS - I used to be "the organizer" - now I'm more inclined to be like you - just tell me where and when! :-)

    1. I also used to be the organizer but now i'm so grateful to sit back and be organized. I think the best person to go away with must be a control freak. LOL