One of the many things I love living in Upper Bavaria is that we live in the country and yet we’re just an hour away from the world-class city of Munich.
A few weeks ago, we visited a farm called Thomahof, which is a ten-minute drive from our house.
I’ve already been back a second time so that I could go to the farm store, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Thomahof farm is truly a typical Upper Bavarian working farm, but the farming family has made their farm very welcoming for a family visit. Our farm visit was a Krabbelgruppe (toddler play group) field trip.
As we drove to the farm, I explained to Rosebud that we were going to visit some farm animals. She then provided a nice backdrop of farm animal noises and was telling her little brother about the animals we would see. I think that Superdude may have ended up being disappointed that we didn’t see a giraffe, as she had promised, but I digress!
First, we visited the cows in their barn.
I liked this poster, which says “Our milk makes Bavaria strong!”Rosebud enjoyed feeding the cows and was truly giddy to discover that cows have really big tongues. She cackled with delight when they stretched out their tongues to nibble on some grass. I explained to her that cows and other ruminants have four stomachs and they chew their cud, but Rosebud sort of looked at me like, “Oh, whatever, Mom,” and skipped on to the next thing.
Alongside the milk poster in the cow barn were trivia questions geared toward older kids, asking questions like “what kind of grasses are harmful to cows” and “how much milk can the average cow produce”, etc. For the most part, cattle in Bavaria tend to be of the milk-producing variety. As we walked around the farm, it occurred to me just how much the landscape reminds me of upstate New York (where I grew up) and Wisconsin (where I went to Lawrence University), which are also dairy cattle regions. It’s probably not too surprising when I say that Bavaria is known for its cheeses, yogurts and Quark fresh cheese and other dairy products. We are about half an hour from the region called Allgäu which is especially known for its cheese production, particularly Emmentaler, or what we often call Swiss cheese in the US. (Side note: Swiss Emmentaler usually designates Emmentaler from Switzerland, but the name Emmentaler can designate cheese in that style that is produced in Germany, France, etc.).
After visiting the cows and the calves, we visited all the other farm animals (except for the chickens, as they were in their coop).
Rosebud was always delighted when the animals made their noises, as were the other kids in our group.
I was wearing Superdude in the baby carrier while walking around the farm. From time to time, he would coo or babble, so I think he got a lot out of the farm visit. Or maybe he was trying to find the promised giraffe…
Toward the end of our visit, all of us walked up a farm path to find a place where we could sit down for a mid-morning snack. There was a large gravel hill, which turned out to be a great climbing hill for Rosebud and some of the slightly older kids.
She was so pleased with herself for climbing up to the top.
By the time we finished with our visit and snack, Superdude was exhausted and ready to be home. I had been hoping to visit the farm store, but decided to come back another day.
And so we did this past week, this time with two mama friends of mine and their children. Rosebud was thrilled to see all the animals again, and her favorite animals still seemed to be the cows.
However, on this second visit, the chickens were happily strutting about in their indoor pen. (According to a sign, if I understood everything correctly, they were young chickens and not quite ready to strut out in the open area attached to their coop and indoor pen). Rosebud really enjoyed the chickens, which she thought were terribly funny.
After visiting all the animals again, I was determined to stop in the farm store. I’m very happy I did. The farm store offered some greens, fresh eggs, a beautiful selection of meat products, freshly baked bread, pasta, jams and cheese. I bought some pasta made from spelt flour and farm eggs, cheese, whole grain spelt bread, oxtail for stewing and cheesy sausage wrapped in bacon called Berner Würstl. I am so excited to know about this farm store, because everything I bought has been amazing (as you’d expect, fresh from the farm). I can’t wait to go back to the store, and I know that Rosebud and Superdude will always be happy to see the animals.
Speaking of animal sounds, many German animal sounds are fairly similar to English ones. For instance, the animal that says “muh” is, of course, a cow. To learn about German animal onomatopoeia, here’s a German-English animal sounds chart.
(For more sound fun, check out this list of Cross-linguistic onomatopoeias.)