My last blog left off as we reached the Biesbosch Hoeve after paddling our Cedar canoe 6km (read here) to reach this unique camping experience. This will detail the time we spent at this remote camping location inside the National Park Biesbosch in The Netherlands.
It was almost 11 am when we docked our Cedar canoe at Eiland de Vischplaat ( the Vischplaat Island). It was getting pretty warm and we couldn’t see the camping from the dock. We climbed the dike and were greeted by a sign and the camping area that was nearly empty right in front of us and divided into two areas. The one area had two cabins.
There was a sign that gave information about the farm and the camping instructions.
We next picked our camping spot, trying to find the best shade in the hot un Dutch like weather.
The chairs were provided by the farm for an extra charge and the fire pit was included with the rental (of course firewood for burning was also extra).
We started putting up the tent (basically I sat and watched as the hubby put together the tent, I am not normally like that but that day I was and was given the task of making coffee).
Since this camping location caters mostly to canoe and kayakers with a few people coming in by the farm boat it wasn’t very full mid morning but by late afternoon it had filled to a nice busy area but was still respectfully quiet.
I had to test the tent although it was much too hot to take a nap.
Now it was time to explore the farm. Hubby was in the mood for sitting in the shade so I headed out on my own to see the island and the farm.
I started on the dike followed it around the island. I had a wonderful overview of the two rivers and the boating activity on those rivers.
The other side of the island has group camping available and I passed a group of scout’s from Rotterdam that were there for two weeks camping. They all seemed to be having a nice break from city life.
I also passed three kayakers who were having a nice break from their paddle. I counted about 10 motorized boats on the river at this point.
I passed a place along the dike where a beaver had recently chewed on a log and most likely hauled part of it off to a lodge or dam located somewhere close by.
The Biesbosch Hoeve is a working dairy farm. They have about 50 to 60 Holsteins (or what the Dutch call Friesian) milk cows with several yearling and calves in separate pastures. They milk twice per day and all the campers are invited to view the milking operations in the evening between 6:00 and 7:00 pm. I was excited to experience this part of the camping. I grew up a farm kid and even though my parents didn’t milk a large number of cows like several of my friends families in Northern Minnesota it is a link I have never forgotten and have always respected as dairy farming is incredibly hard work. Plus, the hubby had never once touched a cow! Maybe today would be the day?
Like Minnesota farmers who proudly display the company they sell milk to, the Dutch farmers are the same, Campina is one of the largest Dutch milk companies in The Netherlands and funds millions of Euros in milk research at the University of Wageningen.
This farm still has the old type of milking stalls, where many of the newer facilities have automatic and automated milking facilities. This farm uses a pipeline system that feeds the milk straight into a mobile bulk tank that is then hauled by boat to the mainland and transferred by truck to a Campina processing facility and made either into cheese or sold as drinking milk.
This writing on the barn wall caught my eye as I remembered that my Dad always used to write the ear tags numbers of the cattle who were coming into heat (ready to be mated) on the barn wall. I asked the dairy farmer if that was the same here and was told it was the ear tag numbers of those cows who did not find the right stall at night or morning for milking. I guess it is not the same everywhere and farmers have their own system of keeping track of things going on around the farm.
I loved the smell of the hay and grain and walking along in the barn looking at each cow as they were milked. I know my friends Michelle and Dawn are reading this and thinking they would never have guessed I would EVER vacation at a dairy farm and have fun doing it! They are right, I would have never have guessed or even have dreamed of taking a vacation to a dairy farm.
Then it was time for the Hubby to touch a cow…
This was the highlight of the day but the day was not yet over…
Please follow us on our next blog as I write more about our dairy farm experience and our return to civilization.
Things we did or saw.
Hiked on the dike.
Saw beaver chew.
Touched a cow (we both did but since I am a farm kid it wasn’t a first for me).
Saw frogs and fish in the clear water surrounding the farm.
Saw barn swallows feeding the young and dipping into the water around the farm.
Feed the calves grass from outside the pastures area.
Lots of wildflowers blooming on the island.
Crossed the cattle pasture.
Saw several campers with different types of canoes and kayaks.
© The Cedar Journal, 2018, all rights reserved
It is a dream come true when you arrive at a campground, which is not overcrowded, and when it is, you get along with a lot of like minded people.
Wow, did this take me back…to the southwestern Minnesota dairy farm where I grew up. Dairying is hard work. I worked many hours in the barn and in farm fields. We could seldom get away. I went on only two vacations ever during my 17 years on the farm: one to Duluth and one to the Black Hills.
Glad you liked the piece. I have a good friend that grew up with me and her parents ran about 100 head of milk cows. When I would stay overnight at her house I would come home glad that my parents raised sheep. I laughed recently when I rode my bike past a dairy farm and heard the hissing sounds of the milking machines as I thought of my friend. You can take the girl away from the farm but not the farm out if the girl! Vacations and farming just don’t mix.
I am the friend the author refers to who grew up on a large Dairy farm in Northeast Minnesota. We too had very little time for vacations as did all the farmers, as I got into high school I remember feeling bad that I didn’t go anywhere on summer vacation except into the hay field and the lake after chores were done. However as an adult I have traveled extensively to make up for it perhaps on the other hand I see the values and skill I gained from living on a farm and wonder what it would be like to live that life again.
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[…] my first two posts about this trip Paddle to the Biesboschhoeve and the Biesboschhoeve Camping Experience I wrote about the adventure of paddling to this unique island located within the National Park […]
We certainly live in the era of experiential travel. If that had been a thing 30 years ago maybe many family farms could have survived by offering a chance for guests to observe and pet the cows! Of course our American Insurance Companies would find ways to make sure it was too costly and risky. Tell Koos there are plenty of cows in our area he can pet lol. I actually miss that farm life once in a while!
Funny- you will laugh at this…I actually had tears in my eyes when I was talking with the farm wife one on one. Thinking about how close we are to the land even after so many years of being away from it. Also thinking it is sad so many beautiful old farms in our area of MN are standing empty now. You are right, this sorts of tourism could have saved them from going under- also right the insurance companies and lawyers would have a field day in our system. Thanks for the comments.
I had to rush to the end to see if your husband actually touched the cow hehehehe. We have standard cattle down from us and unfortunately keep escaping – nothing like trying to convince a cow that has tasted freedom to return to its boring home. Enjoyed the post – your campgrounds definitely have a different look/feel than ours…
Renegade cows are the worst. The campgrounds here are like everything else crowded. Mostly no trees, and rules that are a bit strange. Sounds like a future blog…
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You have such interesting adventures! I think I do understand vacationing at a dairy farm post-childhood. After escaping a childhood of tending strawberry fields and raspberry patches, a few years ago I purposely purchased my own plants — not to relive my childhood, but to enjoy the berry experience on my own terms. Plus which, berry jam makes a great gift to friends and family! My children love me more now than ever before! I’m sure they’ll take care of me in my advanced old age. Your husband looks very content next to the cow. Have you installed one yet in your backyard?
Funny, the cow would take more than half the room in our garden, so…no cow.😊
[…] This has been one of our favorite places to paddle in the past few years since the purchase of our beautiful cedar canoe. This Dutch National Park is full of water birds, raptors, beaver, deer and other marsh animals making it an ideal location to escape the Covid 19 isolation situation. You can read about our other past adventures at this beautiful Dutch National Park here, here , and here. […]