Release the cows!

Finland has amazing dairy products but something we have often mulled over is, “Where are all the cows?” It’s true we haven’t seen a lot of Finnish country-side but we’ve seen enough to wonder at times where they are all kept.

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Well, we found out when friends invited us last weekend to join them at a unique Finnish event – the releasing to pasture of cows after a long, cold winter.

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It was a beautiful spring day and we caught the bus to Viikki, about 30 mins from the city centre, to the University of Helsinki Research Farm.

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We weren’t quite sure where to go but just followed all the other families heading to where crowds had gathered for the occasion.

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And I mean crowds. By 11.00 the fence around the paddock was lined with people who were soon joined by even more people arriving by foot or bicycle.

The first thing we saw upon arrival was the large barn where the cows had spent winter.

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I would have loved to go inside but only managed to get into this one – which was lovely but didn’t answer my questions about insulation.

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Back at the fence-line, we had prime position as an MC on the back of a truck talked us through the names of the ‘ladies’ about to appear and their breed. Then three women from the farm sang a harmonious ballad to welcome the cows and encourage milk production.

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Finally as we were about to burst with anticipation, it was all on! Like long-awaited celebrities, out popped the bovine beauties, their udders swinging in the spring sunlight.

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They skipped and kicked up their heels,  ecstatic at being out on the grass.

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I have to admit I whooped and clapped and loved the show, as did anyone who recognises the joy of being out in the sun after a Finnish winter.

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They put on a good show, playing together and butting heads.

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Afterwards we shared a picnic with our friends and the kids enjoyed seeing other animals including sheep, calves and horses. I would say the pictures speak for themselves in that it was a good day out for all.

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