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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

When cows fly

Anyone who has taught children for any length of time in the greater Taichung (Taichū) 台中 area (plus those who have children of their own) has probably visited the Flying Cow Ranch in Miaoli County (Byōritsu-ken) 苗栗県. It bills itself as a "nature farm", and attracts a large number of school and youth groups, at least on weekdays. Today it was the turn of my kindergarten to visit, and our three kindergarten classes, plus some parents and siblings, boarded two large tour buses for the short drive north. As can be seen in the photo below, our group wasn't the only one there on this fine day:

It would be easy to make fun of the faux farm atmosphere, not to mention the souvenir sales opportunities (I succumbed to temptation and bought some vanilla ice cream, supposedly made from milk produced on-site), but for kids who grow up in the urban wastelands of Taiwan's cities and towns, places like the Flying Cow Ranch give them a rare opportunity to experience fresh air and open spaces, come in contact with animals such as cows and goats and even to try their hand at milking. Almost all the children seemed to enjoy the outing, and in the end, that's really the only thing that matters.

Cute bunnies and graphic (but strangely humorous) warning signs:

There were moments when I looked around and almost felt like I was back in the U.S. of A.:

 
"Cow".

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