Looking for a Saturday afternoon activity for the whole family? Then go to the north of Belgium and discover cow hugging: fun and educational!
Every Saturday, between 2pm and 5pm.
Have a look at http://www.koeknuffel.be.
Upon our arrival, Lars and I had a sneak peek; there were some lovely ladies awaiting us! We put on some overalls and boots and were asked not to put anything in our pockets, since some of the cows had the tendency to be a pickpocket…
Before embracing our new friends, the farmers gave us a tour.
These cows were kept separately, because they had just given birth.
The time that a lusty and busty maiden milked all the cows is definitely behind us: meet the robot that not only milks the cows (twice a day) but also keeps track of their milk production. Not only does the robot take a lot of work out of the farmers’ hands, but the latter can also quickly intervene when a cow produces less milk than usual.
Then came the cutest part of the tour: the calves!
We also had a quick look in the stable where a handful of bulls are kept. Now if you think that these bulls have access to a lot of hankypanky with the dozens of cows, I have two words for you: artificial insemination.
No wonder they look a bit sad…
Time for some cow hugging! The procedure is very simple. Be relaxed: indeed, that’s some hundreds of kg, but nothing can go wrong. Besides, if you are nervous, the cow will pick it up. Now, sit next to a cow and start caressing her head; when her ears point backward, it means she’s relaxed. Sit next to her with your head on her side and continue with the caressing. If you are lucky, she will turn her head towards you, and give you a nudge. And/or a lick.
Time for some practice!
What I remember vividly, is how soft and warm the cow’s skin was and how soothing it was to feel her breathing.
Time for the Viking’s encounter:
And the fun was over yet! Remember the “pickpocket” cow? I stood face to face with her. Cow number 36. She looked at me and then started swinging her head against my thigh. That’s 600kg against a lot less. It was quite hard to keep my balance. Then she moved to my hair and started chewing and licking it. Finally, she put her head on my shoulder and I embraced her for a long time…
In the 11 years that Lars and I have been traveling together, this is one of the most interesting, unusual and heartwarming experiences we have ever had.
The tour is in Dutch, but the farmer regularly interrupts her explanation for some English.
By the way, this is what the website of the BBC has to say about the benefits of cow hugging:
The cow’s warmer body temperature, slower heartbeat and mammoth size can make hugging them an incredibly soothing experience, and giving the animal a backrub, reclining against them or even getting licked is all part of the therapeutic encounter.
What about you? Have you ever hugged a cow? Or plan to?