Farming festivities

Have you known that the United Nations Organisation declared 2014 to be an International Year of Family Farming?

A few weeks ago, while walking in a near town, we were passing by a notice board where various local actions were announced. One of the posters was inviting everybody to come to Roupov to farming festivities where activities for (not only) children would be prepared. We found out on the Internet that Roupov is actually a village situated just a few kilometres from where we live and a visit to a local farm seemed very appealing to me. I took a quick photo of the poster with my mobile not to forget the event.

As you can see further, we did go there when the time came and though several days have passed since that day, I’m still impressed.

You know, after 1948 when the Communist party seized the rule, the word farmer became almost a dirty word in the former Czechoslovakia. Agriculture became organised by means of collective farms, so called JZDs – united agricultural cooperatives. Some farmers volunteered to transfer their equipment and fields to these united farms and the others were forced and eventually their property was nationalised. As simple (and sad) as that… Future showed that many mistakes had been made and the local ecosystem had been damaged in many ways.

Fortunately in the nineties, after the change of the political regime, new private farmers appeared here. It was interesting to get to know in Roupov that there is an “Association of private farming of the Czech Republic” (APF CR), which is a voluntary professional organization of private farmers in the Czech Republic.

For thirteen years APF CR has organized a “Farm of the year” contest for its members, the first year having taken place in 2002. The farm of the year 2013 has become the “Galloway farm” of Vacík family in Roupov, which is the farm we visited on this occasion.

Roupov-farm

As I read in an official APF CR information booklet distributed freely in the farm, the name of the farm derives from the Galloway cattle breed they specialize in. Moreover, they also have other cattle breeds as well as sheep. The farm has its own slaughterhouse, cutting room and meat shop. Further they breed Appaloosa horses and train them for rodeo. The farm hosts many horse riding activities including ProRodeo Tour which is a series of ten rodeo contests taking place in various places of the Czech Republic. They run a guest house with built-in stables where you can accommodate your own horse and a restaurant where you can taste steaks from their cattle. You can take rodeo lessons and your children can attend a horse riding club in the farm. They have built three ponds by the village and keep fish in them and while staying in the guest house, you can buy fishing permit and catch fish for supper.

Impressive range of activities, isn’t it?

Roupov-farm-cattle

In the farm festivities, children could choose from a variety of disciplines – creating simple jewellery pieces, baking wheat flat cakes, assigning old names of crafts to names of craftsmen (I wouldn’t have believed how difficult that could be and how many words have been forgotten), hunting a boar…

Roupov-farm-International-Year-of-Family-Farming

solving word puzzles put up on charming tree stands…

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admiring horses…

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or farm equipment, which was my case, I love these modern tractors. There were two of them displayed and children (or actually whoever wanted) could try the feel of their interior.

Roupov-farm-International-Year-of-Family-Farming-tractor

There were a few stalls like this one with magnets and baseball caps…

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or this one with goat cheese, mead and fur…

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You could also buy some refreshment, colourful baskets, horse riding items or a cowboy hat, my husband bought a few milk products brought from a dairy which distributes its products directly to people via a net of stops where their vans regularly come. On the website of that diary you can find which farms it gets milk from and when I read those family names, it felt so personal. I don’t like those “Made in EU” labels accompanied just by an abbreviation of the particular country or labels like “Made in (a country), distributed by Tesco” when you have no idea which company actually produced it. How can you believe such food?

Except from the disciplines, there were several tables with toys where children could play freely and that was a place where our son got temporarily acquainted with several boys and spent a wonderful afternoon with them.

Roupov-farm-International-Year-of-Family-Farming

Though I took my camera with me, facing all the people I didn’t feel comfortable to take it out and start shooting. After all, I prefer flowers, houses and scenery far from crowds of people as objects of my photography. But when our son was happily playing with the other boys and we had seen everything there was to be seen, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and took the camera out of the bag. Wouldn’t I regret later if I hadn’t done that? I would, no doubt about it…

Roupov-farm-International-Year-of-Family-Farming

The last attraction of the day that we wanted to see – World Series of Team Roping 2014, Midwestern European Qualifier – took place in the red building below. Teams from several countries participated and the two teams that won qualified for the World Championship in Las Vegas. This was another of my firsts and I was surprised how much I enjoyed watching the contest.

Roupov-farm

You may have never heard of the Team Roping, so imagine two horseback riders, each holding a lasso, and a calf prepared between them behind a gate. When one of the riders gives a signal, time counting begins. The gate bursts open and the calf runs to the opposite side of the arena where it can leave it. First, one of the riders needs to catch both of the calf’s horns with the lasso before the calf gets to the leaving and if he or she is successful, it is the other rider’s turn to catch both hinder legs with the lasso. Then their horses must turn their heads towards the calf and move back so that the lassos get tightened. Then the time counting is stopped. I was quite surprised to see how many calves were successful in escaping the catching but then, the arena is not that big and there is quite a short time needed for getting to its opposite side.

As there were so many people, the stands were full, but we were allowed to climb on a trailer standing just across the starting point so we could watch at least the first rider’s job. And we had a lot of fun watching the calves leaving the arena because they first ran through the marked allay, disappeared around the corner and after a while they slowly came back from behind the corner giving the impression of taking a stroll. Later the calves slowed down right at the corner and we were very curious to know what they could see at the other side… When leaving, we went to the corner and found out nothing else than that the other calves were gathered at the other end of the building. I wonder whether the calves behaved in that way not to be put on the start again or whether they just didn’t like the herd, who knows.

That was the end of our participation in the event which enriched me enormously. Nowadays, there are so many events and activities you can participate in. Sometimes they feel much alike but some of them may touch the core of your heart and soul. When it happens, you move on, don’t you?

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16 Comments

  1. Extremely interesting … though, when I saw your photo with 'Galloway' on it, I thought you had been on a visit to Scotland:-)) Your article reflects the growing fashion in the UK for Farmers' markets: people want to know exactly where their food comes from, they want to buy local produce, and they take a real interest in methods of production and in the crafts that spring from growing /raising food .

    1. Marysia, how could I go to Scotland without telling you? 🙂

      Some time ago there was that problem worldwide with horse meat present in other meat products without its presence stated as an ingredient. I guess many people must have been appalled to get to know in which way many meat products are produced, through how many countries the meat is transported and how unsure the final composition may be. A few days ago I needed to buy some pork and though I prefer buying it from a local butcher, I bought it packed in a supermarket. On the package I read that the pig was raised and slaughtered in the CR (though without giving any information on the producer) but afterwards at home I noticed there was more, the meat was packaged in Poland. And then sold again in the CR.

      The Farmers’ markets are popular here as well though in my opinion they’re not frequent enough. The milk products I mentioned were very good and not overpriced either and I’d love to have the opportunity of buying them more often.

  2. The photos are truly beautiful, Petra. A special favorite is the one with the fence, cattle, and flowering trees. It's got it all. I loved the one with the little boy feeding the horse in its stall, too. That's something I could see myself doing. It was a surprise to me to learn that the Czech Republic has a world-class roping event. That's pretty neat that two teams from this event will compete in Las Vegas. I'm so glad you saw the poster advertising this event and then followed through and attended it. And I'm glad, too, that you dug that camera out of the bag and shared these images with us.

    1. Linda, thank you. I’m very happy myself that we attended the event. How many times you see a poster and think you’d like to go to the event but then there are other priorities.

      I also like the photo with the fence, cattle, and flowering trees very much. I first took a similar one without the fence and this one later, from another part of the farm. This one was so much better, it was interesting to see how the fence changed the atmosphere. I only regret I don’t have any good detail of the Galloway cattle, they are charming.

      There are fans of the country style here who build little country villages or practise rodeo horse riding but the roping event was absolutely new to me. Once I’d love to see one of the ProRodeo Tours with all its disciplines. I guess the atmosphere must be different in the United States where these events have their history and tradition while here it is relatively new.

  3. Red

    Awesome post. You give a brief history. I can't believer there was so much shown at this exhibition. I'm sure you learned a lot about agriculture in your country.

    1. Red, thank you. I didn’t want to separate the post into two parts so it’s quite long but hopefully it’s as colourful as the event was. And the history… it’s so important to know it to understand the admiration I have for these private farmers.

      You’re right, I’ve learnt a lot about agriculture in my country and much more. 🙂

  4. What a great post – so much to see, do and learn. Very well written Petra and most interesting. I really enjoyed this virtual trip with you to "Galloway Farm" and all it has to offer. Just Lovely.

  5. What a wonderful farm! It was interesting to hear the history of farming in your country too. Your photos are lovely. We're lucky enough to have a working farm a mile and a half from our house. It hosts a farmers' market on weekends.

    1. Sarah, thank you, I’m pleased you found it interesting. The event somehow struck a chord with me, unexpectedly strongly I’d say. We should try to buy meat from the farm sometimes to taste it. And I wish we had such a dairy here as the one we bought the milk products from…

  6. Hi, Petra,
    Sounds like an interesting place to spend the day! We have a farm park like that started by local farmers to boost the local economy , aiming at sustainable environmental friendly farmig. They also have various activities visitors join in and have first-hand experiences. I love to get locally grown vegatables, ham and sausages , breads …they are all very tasty. However, not to the scale that there is such a roping event.That must be fun and exciting to see!

    1. Keiko, thank you. The roping event was very interesting, I’ve never seen that. I could have watched it much longer! I liked the cooperation of the horse riders with their horses, the speed of the action and finding the right moment to throw the lasso. And then, they worked in teams which meant that if one member of the team didn’t succeed, the whole team lost which may be hard to accept for the more successful member.

  7. As I read a blog, I have stored in my mind what I feel I should comment on and I was going to comment on your countries historical view of farms and how that developed. However what struck me as i moved through the post was the amazing transformation into something I never expected. Some equivalent locations near me would never dream of taking it so far.
    With regards to the camera, I'm with you in that I don't feel comfortable with loads of people about although I do enjoy photographing the solitary action shot such as the mead, cheese and fur man that you took.

    1. J, thank you, I’m pleased you’re impressed. There are still people here who regret the end of the communist’s rule because on the one hand there were restrictions and shortages but on the other, you didn’t have to worry about many things. But there are also people here who seized the chance to follow their own way which may be difficult but fulfilling and I admire their courage and effort.

  8. I must say, this was a great day to celebrate International Year of Family Farming. Everyone enjoyed their day admiring animals, learning new things about farming, and meeting wonderful people! Anyway, thank you for sharing your experience. Once others read this, some will definitely get inspired to give the farm life a try. Cheers!

    1. Darren, thank you for your kind words. I guess it’s not an easy life to own such a farm but you can go your own way and develop, it’s a different style. I keep my fingers crossed for people initiative like these and if anyone gets inspired by this post, that would be great. 🙂

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