Texel in North Holland
Even from the mainland, the Texel island of sheep in the Netherlands arouses curiosity. A detour to the dike between Den Oever and Oosterland in North Holland already gives us a foretaste of what awaits us on the island. From the dike we see our destination in The Netherlands at the horizon. A narrow strip of land interrupts the view of the sea. While we are gathering our first impressions, a ewe is watching us with her lamb. The two leisurely eat the fresh green that grows on the dike. They watch us curiously as we take the first photos of the island. Every now and then a "mah" comes from her lips. Still, it doesn't take long before they get back to eating. Only after a while do they troll and look for tastier pastures. A hint for us to continue our journey.
In the port of Den Helder we finally go on board the ferry. The crossing to Texel Isle of Sheep takes barely twenty minutes. The distances are also short on the island. The journey from the ferry station to Den Burg, the main town on the island, takes only five minutes. Even on this short stretch it becomes clear that agriculture and animal husbandry play a major role here.
Texel island of sheep
“We have a good 13.000 inhabitants on the island, but around 16.000 sheep,” Arnold confirms the next morning. "In the spring there are thousands of lambs." We are on a tour of the island. We can no longer stop being amazed. Arnold introduced himself to us as a farmer. However, we quickly notice that there is more behind its simple facade than it reveals at first glance. He is chairman of the Texel Farmers' Association. At the same time, he owned the luxury Boutique Hotel Texel, where we spend one night. Today his daughter does it.
Texel fact: Not only the sheep on Texel are called “Texelaars”. This is also what the islanders are called.
Arnold is also very interested in water management. No wonder, a large part of the island consists of polders. This is land behind the dike below sea level. It is drained by channels that channel the water through or over the dike into the sea. This used to happen with windmills, some of which we see on our tour. Today, this is done with electric pumps.
We also see the first sheep on the polders at Den Burg. Many of them already have lambs. In this pasture we also see one of the sheep barns. They are typical of Texel. The barns look like halved farmhouses. The "cut" side offers the sheep protection from the wind, which is often from the North Sea blowing.
An island that offers everything
"Texel island of sheep - and cows, and agricultural farmers", Arnold laughs as we continue our journey. We are invited to a cattle farmer who wants to show us his self-developed stable. On the way there Arnold tells us that no farmer on the island only breeds sheep or cattle. “A lot is grown here: from seed potatoes to fruit trees to asparagus and wine, we get everything from the island. Even beer is brewed on Texel. "
Texel is Holland in miniature. There is almost nothing to get from the mainland. Instead, the farmers from Texel deliver their products to the mainland. Sheep from Texel are world famous and are even valued in Australia. Anyone who owns a Texel ram for breeding there is proud of it.
Smart farmers on Texel
A cattle breeder with happy cows
We quickly notice that Texel is not just an island of sheep. Smart farmers also live here, who use their home wisely. We see how they do this when we visit a young cattle farmer. He has just finished his new stable that he is showing us. He's proud of it, he developed it himself. He attaches particular importance to the well-being of his cattle. Unlike the cattle sheds that I have known so far, here the cattle run around freely in a large hall. During our visit he is currently receiving help from seasonal workers. His cows' hooves are trimmed.
This is done very gently by lifting them in a cradle. After pruning the hooves, they immediately run free through their hall. The milking process is also well thought out. Milk cows must be milked regularly, otherwise the pressure of the milk is unpleasant. In this stable the dairy cows come voluntarily into the automatic milking stations. As soon as the pressure in the udder becomes too great, they voluntarily come to the milking devices, where the milk is milked fully automatically. Happy cows!
I also find it fascinating that the entire farm is run by the farmer alone. He usually works at his farm without helpers. He automated many processes in his stable. So manure and manure are automatically transported to the neighboring building, where it mixes it and produces fertilizer for its fields. A smart farmer!
A sheep breeder as an obstetrician
He is not the only resourceful farmer we meet during our visit to Texel. In the afternoon we are guests at the sheep farm of Hans Witte. This possesses about 500 sheep of different races. In the spring there is a lot of activity on his farm. Then the sheep give birth to their lambs. There are about a thousand per season. Some species do this on the pastures. In more sensitive species, he brings the pregnant ewe into the yard, where the lambs spend the first weeks of their lives protected from the elements.
First, he leads us to an enclosure. There he fetches his three shepherd dogs, who in no time drive up a herd of sheep. On request, the dogs carry out every order that the sheep farmer has trained them to do. A fascinating spectacle!
But even more exciting is the birth of twin sheep in the stable. While some visitors still with Lammetjes knuffle - cuddling with lambs - are busy, Hans explains why the ewes are brought into the stable. Suddenly he interrupts his lecture and pulls one of the sheep mothers over to him. “She's about to get her lamb,” he explains with a quick glance to us. But then his gaze focuses on the pregnant ewe. With a few simple steps he ensures that the birth goes smoothly, and in no time the new inhabitant of the earth is lying in front of us in the hay.
Delicious cheese from Texel sheep, goats and cattle
The milk from Texel sheep, goats and cattle is processed into delicious cheese by Anton Witte in his cheese factory Wezenspyk in Den Burg. He is quite inventive in the production. He spices his cheeses with mustard seeds, salted nuts, herbs and fenugreek. If you want, you can take part in a guided tour of the cheese dairy. Such is offered from Tuesday to Friday at 14.00 clock. With subsequent tasting! If you do not have the time, you can watch the cheese maker through a glass pane during the manufacturing process. In the shop you can buy the award-winning cheeses fresh. Or you can try it at the Hofcafé.
Woolness at Boutique Hotel Texel
During the two days of our stay on the island, we saw in an impressive way that Texel is the island of sheep and smart farmers. That definitely makes the island a great destination for connoisseurs. Finally, the Boutique Hotel Texel, where we spend one night, offers a very special highlight. You can experience a very special wellness treatment in a cozy wooden hut in the hotel's garden. There you are wrapped in natural sheep's wool. This contains lanolin. If you rub natural wool between your fingers, you will quickly notice that it is fatty. This fat is good for the skin. After a Woolness treatment, the skin becomes very soft. Petar has tested it and still raves about the pleasant warmth that let him drift away quickly.
The Texelans know how to use their products and are very inventive. A sympathetic people, which makes the stay on Texel an exciting experience.
Follow us on our journey through Texel in Petar's video and get to know the island even better:
More travel tips for the island of Texel:
KLM and Lufthansa fly to Amsterdam. From there it goes by train and bus to the ferry terminal in Den Helder. We traveled by car to Den Helder and from there by ferry to the island. Do you like to take more time for the journey? Then we recommend a combination with one Road trip through the Hanseatic cities in Holland.
Sheep farm (Schapenboerderij)
Tel. 06 44926046
Sheep farm and cheese factory Wezenspyk
Accommodation on Texel:
Hotels, apartments and other accommodation on Texel * You can also book through our partner booking.com at this link.
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Source for Texel Island of the Sheep: own research on site. We also thank the VVV Texel and forvision for the friendly support of this trip. Our opinion, however, remains our own.
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline