Kerry Cow and Agritourism

I mentioned the Kerry cow in an earlier post, and this afternoon I braved the lashing rain to visit the Dingle farmer with whom we’ve been working toward using the milk in our ice cream. One of his cows had twins last week, and that means the some Kerry cow milk will be coming our way again soon!

The Kerry cow is different from the Friesian (Holstein) cows that you usually see about the place. It is an indigenous and very rare breed that is smaller, hardier, and generally much more alert and healthy looking.

I can’t wait to try making ice cream again with it!

What really excites me is that I think projects like this (i.e. farmers working with artesian food producers) can be one way that small Irish farmers can survive in the future of deminished or abolished subsidies.

Another way would be agritourism. It certainly seems that more Irish farmers should be looking at it, especially in Dingle or other places that are lucky enough to have a good flow of tourists.

They are mad for it in Italy, where people pay a fortune to pick olives, and in the US even movies have been made about city boys paying to round-up cattle at a dude ranch. Farmers gain income by offering lodgings and meals and can not only avoid having to hire help at harvesting time but get people who pay handsomely for the privilege. What could be bad about that?

Perhaps the problem here is that so many Irish people couldn’t wait to leave the farm themselves and move to the city to try to make a better living (my own family included). Perhaps the farmers who are left are so used to this state of affairs that they can’t see why anyone would want to come back, even as a tourist. But many city people see a week on a farm as a way of bringing balance back into their lives, and I think this trend will grow.

In fairness, agritourism does exist in this country in various forms, and even in Dingle with its pet farms and corn maze. There are other Irish farms at it including Sweetbank in Wicklow with its sublime fruits and farm shop/cafe, which an excellent example of how it can work…

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6 thoughts on “Kerry Cow and Agritourism

  1. It’s great to see such a neat, alert animal on an Irish farm. I look forward to sampling the ice cream Kieran. I’ll be drifting through town throughout the summer.

    Did I mention how much I’m enjoying your coffee posts? I worked in the south of Italy when I was 23 (31 now) and I’ve almost never touched a drop of instant since – except when visiting benighted, freize-dried souls. Not that I’m a snob. I tend to think of FD not as coffee but a kind of generic hot drink.

    I have a little stainless steel espresso pot, but I can’t seem to get a crema to form using it.

    Re your cafetiere blend of choice, can I pick that up down the shops, or is it for trade only?

  2. Very nice new site.

    We don’t have Kerry cows in the midlands, but we do have Aberdeen Angus (known as Pretty Pollies!) which have a similar compact cuteness. While their meat is particularly good, milk is not an option.
    We milk fresians, and the only time we do anything exciting with it, is to make pancakes with the “beastins” (never spelt that before) – i guess it’s the colostrom, the first milking or two after birth. Pancakes are sweeter but look more like buttermilk pancakes.
    We then save the rest of the beastins in the freezer for the little lambs who have trouble getting their act together in the first few hours.

    As for agritoursim – good idea. Hear the farmer talking about insurance and tourists slowing up the real work. And I think anyone who wants to spend their summers picking turf as a holiday, deserves what’s coming to them.

  3. What’s the name of the farm where these cows are being raised? My girlfriend and I are coming to Dingle from New York, and we’re interested in checking out the local breed… and its milk, of course.

  4. The farm is just outside Dingle, but I’d have to talk to Colm and see whether he’d allow a public tour. A much easier way would be to go to the National Park in Killarney, where they also have a herd of Kerry Cows…

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