Fatty, Slim and the duck brigade visited us daily. We had a special loaf of bread just for them. Fatty’s special friend was Slim because we think he was half blind which meant that Fatty ended up the half of Slim’s bread as well. We tried hard to make sure got his share but Slim being a true friend continued to share his share with Fatty! Memories were made one morning when I called out to Fatty who came waddling along which turned into a duck run which lead to Fatty ever so inelegantly slipping over. Then it was a winged race to the end, so much for friends! Fatty still won the flapping squawking flipper race to greet us.
Clara Maria Cheese and Clog Farm
You can’t come to the Netherlands without learning how cheese is made but I wanted the real deal not just to taste the cheese. I really wanted a farm experience.
We researched and found Clara Maria Farm which was about a half hour drive from where we were staying. The 160 year old farm creates a wow factor with buttercup lining the entrance way and roosters to greet you in the car park. The views from the car park are jaw dropping as the picturesque green fields roll on as far as your eyes can see. On the horizon you can just make out the hue of a church steeple that makes the landscape too romantic for words. You hear the soporific noise of the cows mooing from the barn where they are being milked.
You step back in time as we entered through a 160 year old barn which is now used for the clog and cheese factory.
We arrived in time to watch a demonstration on how clogs were traditionally made along with a mother and her young daughters as it was a pupil free day at school.
The tender damp wood in the center of the willow tree is used to carve out the clog with a machine. Pointy clogs were for fishermen, round toes were for farmers and decorative clogs were made by the husband to be for his bride. The wedding clog was really quite elaborate meaning it took time to make which traditionally gave the husband to be time to really think about whether he really wanted to get married!!!!
Our next quaint demonstration was all about cheese!!!! Who doesn’t like cheese?!! Rob!!! More for ME!!!!
On the farm they have 110 cows. The cows need milking morning and the afternoon. One cow produces 40 litres of milk a day!!!!
The cheese is made with unpasteurised milk (farm fresh). They make Gouda Cheese out of the curds and the whey is fed to the calves.
The cheese is wrapped in 7 layers of wax.
After the free!! demonstration it was my job to taste all the wonderful cheeses that are made here. The staff were wonderful! Mmmmm!!! Maybe I had just eaten too much cheese. My favourite was the garlic and chives infused cheese which I bought. A whole waxed log of it to devour.
The best part was getting let loose in the barn. I felt at home amongst the cow manure, big belly cows, a baby donkey and the gangly legged calves. Their beautiful deep dark eyes stared into mine as I patted their new soft fur. I could have stayed in the barn with the farm aroma forever.
At the end of our stay we were escorted out by the bell bottom brigade!!! Animals sure do have personality. After looking into the beloved baby calves’ eyes I am so glad I don’t eat any red meat!!! She was too charming for words!!! Love at first sight. Thank goodness I have a pool in my backyard and no grass otherwise I might want a cow as a pet!!!
After our relaxing farm experience we headed to Volendam, which is said to be a picturesque fishing village. Rob and I found it over run with tourists’ buses. It was a tourist town that was full of souvenir shops selling the same thing over and over again. There were also copious number of restaurants and cafes. We found it anything but relaxing and we couldn’t wait to leave so we headed out of town and found our own unique experience.
We followed the canal system to the entrance of town and enjoyed time with the grazing sheep and the historical windmill. This was peaceful and we really enjoyed our own space.
We drove on to Edam which is popular for its cheese but we set out on foot to explore the canals and stunning architecture of the canal bridges.
We walked all the way to Fort Edam. We met a cat, goat, rabbit, butterfly, ladybug and a stork sunning itself on a bridge.
The walk back across an opening canal inlet was interesting!!!