Last week the children’s school vacation came to an end. As a final hurrah, our caretaker Roxanne organised one more special event for them: a team competition modelled on a well-known reality show, The Amazing Race. The kids were divided into three teams captained by Michael, Sarem and Dalin, and consisting of a mix of young and old. Then they were dispatched to several locations around the neighbourhood, including two pagodas and several local shops and businesses. At each location, the teams had to answer general knowledge questions, perform a special task, find a hidden Little Hearts logo and solve a jigsaw puzzle in order to figure out their next destination. The game was a success – it kept the kids busy for a large part of the day, and it did wonders for their collaborative problem-solving. Most of all, it was tremendous fun.
One of the places featured in the race was Moo Moo Farms, a business located close to the Arey Ksat ferry. As the name suggests, it’s Cambodia’s first homegrown dairy farm. It produces fresh, bottled cow’s milk as well as other dairy products like yoghurt and ice cream using cows (a mix of Holstein and Brahman breeds) that are specially bred to cope with Cambodia’s hot, humid climate while still yielding plenty of nutritious, high-quality milk. While scouting the location to prepare for the race, Roxanne had a productive conversation with the management of Moo Moo Farms, and a follow-up field trip was promptly agreed.
So, a few days after the race, Little Hearts kids got the chance to visit the dairy and learn about the cows and their precious gift to us all – milk. The kids were divided once again into three groups of 10 and came in three separate instalments, either at 6 am or 5 pm, in order to coincide with the cows’ milking time.
The dairy’s staff explained and demonstrated the milking process. It’s very hygienic – every cow has a shower before being milked – and structured. ‘I guess it’s not just us humans who have a routine,’ says Dany. ‘The cows know where to go when it’s milking time. They have a body clock like us.’
Once the cows are inside the milking facility, they are guided onto a raised area and kept in position between metal rails so that the suction cups can be attached to their udders. The kids had a go at placing the suction cups on the cows’ teats. It’s not as easy as it looks! And the cow can get pretty irritated and start kicking if you do it incorrectly or take too long!
Once the suction cups are in place, the application of a gentle, intermittent vacuum action simulates a calf sucking on its mother’s udders, and the milk flows. It takes 5–10 minutes to milk each cow, yielding about 10 litres of milk each time. Twenty cows are milked every morning and afternoon at Moo Moo. After the demonstration, the kids got to pet some of the cows, including the young calves, and visited the facility’s coffee shop.
Are the kids now going to become avid drinkers of fresh milk? Some of them already are, as fresh milk is part of the breakfast menu at Little Hearts. Many of the younger kids (especially Mary, Jamie and Dany) down their daily milk quite eagerly. A few of the older kids, however, are less enthusiastic. After all, milk is not a part of the traditional diet here in Southeast Asia. At least half a cup is mandatory for everyone, though!