If this wasn’t my most unusual weekend. Although I’m from Sardinia, land of farmers and shepherds, it never happened to me to stay in a farm for more than a lunch span.
During this trip to Brazil, while I’m based in Fortaleza, I’m spending a week in Rio de Janeiro, one of my favorite cities in the world, if not the number one among all. Apart from visiting the wonderful Feira Hippie, the Sunday market where artists and local artisans showcase their work, and walking along breathtaking Rio’s promenade, this time I had the chance to spend a truly unusual weekend at a fazenda, typical Brazilian farm at about two hours drive from Rio, where cows live together with horses, donkeys, chickens, parrots and all kinds of tiny colorful birds.
The route, filled with near-misses and nasty bends, offers unforgettable views. On the way to Teresópolis, lovely city named after the former empress Teresa, we admired the overwhelming views of Parque Nacional da Serra dos Órgãos, National Park of Organs (the musical instrument), a gorgeous mountain range formed by a cluster of peaks close to each other and resembling an organ.
Just before Teresópolis a lay-by allows tourists to stop and photograph the peaks, with God’s Finger, the highest boulder, commanding the view.
As soon as we (my parents, my friends and I) arrived at the fazenda, we were welcomed by two gorgeous horses and a sweet little donkey. Growing up in Sardinia did put me in contact with plenty of sheep, horses, cows, chickens and all sorts of domestic animals, but I lived in a town so had little contact with the farming reality. However, I can say I felt immediately at ease. I could easily understand why being surrounded by animals is considered therapeutical.
I’m perfectly aware that in a mere weekend I couldn’t have the chance to understand what living and working in a farm is like, but nevertheless, these two days gave me a hint of it.
The first thing I did was to greet all (or so I thought) members of the farm, with a longer stop with horses and dogs, that appreciated my cuddles better than the other ones, probably due to a lack of cuddles their way. I believe workers have little time for cuddles.
Especially the horse proved lovely, coming near every time I approached his fence and posing clearly in the wait for a cuddle.
I was not as lucky with the little calves. I tried to go near very slowly, I crouched, I held out my hand to them slowly not to scare them, I was dying to give them a cuddle, but apparently they were not as willing to receive it. At every step of mine they shook terrified. I crouched and held out my hand until one of them looked curious enough to get close to me, put his head under my hand and flee as soon as I moved a finger. A fleeting moment of farming bliss.
The morning after, at dawn, after quickly visiting the chickens and their little ones, we joined the farmer Nei for the milking, waiting for the cows to arrive and gather with their calves. So many things I learned in less than an hour I watched Nei at work. For cows to produce milk they need to see their calf, if the calf accidentally dies, the farmer can “trick” the cow by showing her the little one’s skin, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.
Another thing I learned, although I doubt this is the rule, parrots like fresh milk. Every time Nei poured the fresh milk into the big container, his green parrot (that couldn’t even bear my presence) took a sip. Although I did feel this parrot was a bit confused and didn’t have a clear idea of his role in the planet, I found his dirty beak very funny.
We soon learned this parrot is actually the main character in the farm, he’s always everywhere, he’s the constant presence in almost all my pictures, he tried to peck at me (and once even succeeded) every time I was ready to take a shot, he was always in poll position whatever thing we were to do and whatever place we were to visit. He only trusts, and doesn’t peck at, Nei and his brother, he flies to their shoulder or head as soon as he sees them, when they go catch the bus, he boards with them. A constant cute, grumpy presence. Needless to say, he also pecked at the horse.
Let’s be honest, grumpy parrots or not, shy calves or not, I adored being surrounded by such natural environment and behaviors. Such a pity it was only two days, I wouldn’t mind at all staying there for a month or else, give me a laptop and an internet connection, and this can easily become my office.