The day begins early for the Vuorela family. The cows are milked at 4:30 and by 8:30 breakfast has been eaten, Santeri and Matleena have biked to school, Liisa is likely checking the cows again and Juha is probably driving the tractor to the field. Farming is not just a job but a lifestyle and this family is smiling and singing through every minute of it.
I arrived at Vuorelan tila (Vuorela’s Farm) during one of the most busy times of year, silage making, and yet,could not have felt more welcomed. This family was an absolutely wonderful fit for my farm stay period of this study abroad education. Liisa enjoys the outdoors, working hard, hunting, baking, photography and advocating for her family’s industry much like I do.
The Vuorela family welomes many visitors each year from their community and even the Thai Agricultural University. Liisa absolutely excels at proving that farm productivity can be successful, enjoyable and a family effort. I was so lucky to spend a few weeks at their farm.
Juha purchased the farm from his father in 1993 and has since increased the farm’s arable acres while continuing good yields. They currently have 80 cows and a 2 by 8 side milking parlour with plans for more cows and a new barn and milking robot. The Vuorela family is committed to keeping their cows healthy and their milk quality very high. As their farm increases in size they plan to maintain this quality. Every cow still has a name, “Rallix” the farm’s oldest cow for example is always milked on the right side of the parlour so she can maneuver easier. Rallix is 10 years old, has had 8 calves and produced nearly 92,000 litres of milk, a model of the prime care and attention that these cows receive
An impressive feature of this family is their talent, both Matleena and Santeri can sing, play the cello and piano. Liisa recently sang with her church choir in Helsinki to honor their village, Jalasjärvi. Music not only flows from this homes doors but also from the barn. Juha’s sculpted tones of traditional finnish music can be heard as if their milking parlour was the finest theatre around.
Setting this farm apart as a leader in the community is the cooperation between farmers. Jari Pentinmäki is a joint partner in the silage machines, feeding and tilling operations. Jari owns the bulls on the farm and an open air rearing area for the young cows. The valuable partnerships in these cooperatives and relationships with contractors help increase the accessibility of reliable farm equipment. These farmers want to ensure that not only their own fields are harvested, but that their neighbors grains make it to the drier before the rain.
I am confident that when I visit Vuorela tila in the future Santeri will be keeping up his family’s tradition of producing quality milk, healthy animals and the kind of cooperation that exemplifies Finland’s family farming values. I also hope Santeri continues practicing his English so he can continue Liisa’s admirable effort to educate visitors and travelers from all over the world about the love of family and farming, because this is where Finland’s milk comes from.