Asia isn’t exactly renowned for its animal farms. Taiwan certainly wasn’t on the list of places I would think you would find a dairy farm open to tourists.
Strangely enough however, we spent a day on a farm while there. Flying Cow Ranch is some two hours from Taipei – a “leisure farm” where tourists and Taiwanese alike can learn about the milking process and get up close and personal to farm animals.
One realises how privileged we are down in New Zealand and Australia when you see Hong Kong kids completely awestruck by a sheep (not my kids, but friends we were with). Never-the-less my kids are never ones to not want to spend time on a farm especially when there are animals around.
As the farm also offers educational experiences we signed up to do two activities. One involving the processing of milk – making ice cream by hand (yum-yum!) and the other painting a ceramic cow memento to take home.
The kids loved the activities. They got to eat the ice cream after their hard work (some 20 minutes or more of churning alone) and the cows they painted were dried and boxed up to bring back to Hong Kong and much cuter than any of the souvenirs they had on sale.
The kids were there to see some animals, so we headed over to the demonstration shed where at certain times you could line up to milk one of the cows.
Bethany didn’t mind being next to the cow but she took a lot of prompting to touch the udders. She didn’t want to squeeze them until I showed her how, and even then, when she did have a go she was quite freaked out by the cow towering above her. Mitchell on the other hand decided he would rather have his milk from a bottle or carton and skip the whole process of touching a cow. The cow was well behaved given it had some 100 people lining up and squeezing the life out of its poor udders every 30 seconds.
Mitchell decided he would rather feed some of the animals they had on display. In particular he loved the baby ducklings.
The kids also enjoyed feeding grass to the “sheep”. Although the sheep in question look a lot like goats to me. I can’t say I had seen a brown sheep like that until now (or perhaps their real species is lost in translation from Mandarin to English).
The farm had a small restaurant which served a limited but tasty selection of meals sold as sets with a little dessert and entree. The dessert was certainly a talking point for us – a vanilla mousse in a balloon that you popped – I kid you not. It was really creamy and tasty despite the odd container it came in.
As much as a farm experience for my children wasn’t something new, watching grown adults (mostly Chinese/Taiwanese tourists) see a cow or sheep for what I was guessing was the first time, I did come away appreciating New Zealand agriculture and realising how much I take for granted.
From the kids perspective they had a great day and came away exhausted, proud and with a little memento to always remind them of their first Asian cow experience. MOO!