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Hippopotamus and other farm animals
by Thanos Kalamidas
2006-10-03 10:51:48
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When I was two, perhaps three-years-old, I saw an elephant, according to what others have told me, since I don’t have memories from that period. For the next couple of days I walked around the house moving my hand oddly in front of me like a trunk pretending to be an elephant.

World Farm Animals Day At the age of seven, I had seen monkeys and I knew the difference between a monkey and a gorilla, I had seen a few lions and a lot of tigers so often that they didn’t impress me anymore…once I even saw a hippopotamus. Circuses and zoos, for a funny reason, have been the favorite entertainment for families with young kids, including my two-year-old daughter.

For her first real day out when she was just two weeks old, we took her to Korkeasaari, Helsinki's zoo, and we have many a few times since then. It's like a full day out watching monkeys and bears however strange that might sound. Dad is watching the llamas and the camels, while the daughter wants more time with the horses and the young lambs. Father is wrong because watching animals out of their natural environment is at least naïve, daughter is right and I’m going to explain why using two personal and totally embarrassing anecdotes.

ovi_farm01_400As I said before, I was very familiar with wild animals. I could easily spot them and recognize them in every single children’s book, but since I grew up in a metropolis I had never been on a farm, so there were a lot of animals that are not exactly attractive for circuses and I had never seen close enough. In my first year in England I met a girl from Yorkshire who invited me to her house located in the very same area as The Last of the Summer Wine and the place where James Herriot had his practice and wrote all those fantastic books. The weekend started nicely, meeting friends and family, and then a walk around the village in the evening where I encountered for the first time in my life a…cow!

The only time I had seen a real live cow before was through the window of a car and the cow was far, far away. Now I had to walk next to her if I wanted to cross the field and meet the girl that was walking in front of me. I walked slowly, very slowly, holding my breath afraid that I will do something wrong. When I got closer I felt her eyes turning to me and I just wanted to run but…I kept walking slowly because I had learned that if you run…bears become wild.

Actually I had read what you should do with bears, crocodiles, tigers and sharks, but I had no idea at all what to do with a bloody cow! These 20 meters had been the longest 20 meters of my life and the girl, knowing that I had never seen a cow so close before, intentionally chose that the path and was actually holding her belly laughing loudly. On the way back I managed much better, I actually touched the cow!

ovi_farm02_400My second encounter with farm animals was a few years later while doing my national service near a small village. The local farmer talked with my superior at the base and I got a call that the next day that the farmer was going to bring his sheep in to the base to…eat all the grass that had gone wild into the summer. I felt…cool!

I mean sheep for god's sake; the most innocent creatures according to all the stories, but, when I was surrounded by 600 sheep at seven the next morning at seven in the morning, I would have definitely started shooting the 'enemy' if there hadn’t been calm people around me and obviously more familiar with farm animals!

I said in the beginning that I take often my daughter to Korkeasaari to see the wild animals, but more often I take her to farms to see farm animals, to touch a cow and see a sheep, even hold a young lamb. Myself? Well, I haven’t gone so far to milk a cow, but I’m close enough to walk next to one of them and, of course, I can hold a small lamb while my daughter is running because the black one is cuter!!!

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trol2006-10-02 15:53:00
my biggest shock was when i saw my grandma decapitating one chicken in front of me... and it still run for a while around with no head...no chicken soup for me as a child

Thanos2006-10-02 16:40:31
thanks trol, chicken soup was for today ...was!!!

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