The DairyCare Blog is back! And to celebrate, a small prize is offered to the first person to spot the correct connection between Two Towers and our favourite theme, cows. Actually the clue is in the last blog, which finished up in Cordoba and our Second DairyCare Conference. Since then DairyCare has been to Berne and to Zadar, so there is plenty to catch up on. Some of you will be thinking Two Towers, Tolkein, Lord of the Rings films, New Zealand, cows. Yes, a very logical progression, but wrong. True, one of the filming locations was indeed the Waikato region, home to more of NZ's cows than any other, but did I ever mention being down under? I shall mention the five star farms of Waikato another time, but for now let us stick to the plot, such as it is. Two Towers, Twin Towers, Fourteen Cows. As a mathematical conundrum it does not have much to recommend it, but as a totally heart warming true story it takes some beating. Kimeli Naiyomah was a young Masai boy who, totally against the odds, fought his way from abject poverty in his home village of Enoosaen to a Stanford education. Touched by the horrific events of September 11th 2001 (he was there in New York to meet the Kenyan President), Kimeli decided to donate a cow, a Masai's most prized possession, to the USA. Thirteen of his tribe joined him in this offering, which hence became Fourteen Cows for America. For logistical reasons the cows never made the journey, but they and their offspring are to this day established as an officially American herd in Enoosaen, each proudly bearing a Twin Towers tattoo in its ear. A lovely story but, as far as I am concerned, the wrong towers. So where are these towers? Staying in the USA and the land of the cell phone, it turns out that COW is an acronym for Cell On Wheels, a mobile radio antenna tower. I remember we have spoken about cows and mobile phones before, but these are not the towers I have in mind this time. Nor am I thinking of the grain tower painted to resemble a Holstein; pretty but distinctly singular and therefore not a qualifier. Perhaps the right ones are the biggest towers in the world, planned to be built in Wuhan, Central China and measuring a full kilometre high. Feng and Huang will feature the worlds tallest kaleidoscope and floating restaurants suspended in transparent globes, but sadly no cows. Not that Wuhan is cow-unfriendly. In August this year, the city celebrated Qixi Festival, China's equivalent of Valentines Day, by inviting eligible foreign batchelors to lead cows through the streets, in the hope of reuniting the weaver girl Zhinu with Niulang, the cowherd. China is also planning to build the worlds largest dairy farm. There are numerous claimants for this title, but if this one, in Mudanjiang City, goes ahead then there will be no competition. With 100,000 cows it will be more than twice as large as the nearest contender. Meanwhile, a cloning facility is being built in Tianjin that intends to create 1M cloned cow embryos a year. Maybe Mudanjiang will technically only have one cow after all! Fascinating as China's aspirations certainly are, my Two Towers are to be found much closer to home. In the UK, maybe? Well, Norwich does have its Cow Tower, a defensive fortress built in the fourteenth century to repel French attackers. Perhaps there was a fear that Camembert and Brie would destroy the livelihood of the local cheese producers, nowadays responsible for the wonderfully-named Smoked Dapple Dumpling, amongst others. But there's only one tower in Norwich, so wrong again! Rather than the American fourteen cows or the Chinese 100,000, my Two Towers cow population seems to be rather intermediate but certainly veering towards the large size, as a municipality at least. If you were paying attention, I did say that Cordoba was the clue. Years ago, the area immediately around the city was home to very many dairy farmers, all of whom have disappeared to make way for row after row of olive trees. They have not gone far, however. About an hours drive to the North of Cordoba is the fertile Valle de los Pedroches and specifically the small town of Dos Torres. Yes, Two Towers. Originally it was two villages, each with its own tower. Now it is one town and as far as I could see, only one tower (pictured), although the name is numerically unambiguous so there must be a second somewhere! The Valle is home to some of the best of the wonderful acorn-fed Iberian Jamon, but not one pig did I see. In Dos Torres, wherever I looked was dairy farm after dairy farm, cheek by jowl and overflowing from the local countryside almost into the town's historic centre. The official census lists a population of just under 3000 people, and I reckon probably in the region of 30,000 cows. Maybe I exaggerate, as I cannot find definitive data. I was told that the town has the largest number of dairy farms of any town in the EU, and I am quite prepared to believe it. Also, naturally, the highest genetic merit cows of any in the EU, if the farmers telling the stories are to be believed. These guys are young and enthusiastic, the cows are as well fed as any I have seen, and the technologies employed are cutting edge. How has this come about? The town is also home to a very successful small cooperative, San Isidro, which has formed the glue that binds this multitude of dairy farms together. As far as I know there is no aquaculture, the San Isidro goldfish represents the greener grass on the other side of the fence concept. There will be pigs when the acorns fall, but really, Dos Torres breathes cow. Remember, this is Andalucia, home to a long tradition of bullfighting. One of Cordoba's local heroes is Manolete, not the most handsome of individuals but still revered; he was gored to death in 1947 prompting three days of national mourning. Bullfighting continues to this day in some of the major Andalucian cities, but in Dos Torres bovine reverence results in a family-friendly version which replaces gore by entertainment. The Vaquilla de San Isidro has young bulls running through the streets before chasing the younger and braver locals around the town square, converted for the occasion into a rodeo style enclosure. I respect tradition but shall never condone bullfighting. I keep an open mind about the Vaquilla, and hope to experience it first hand one day (any excuse to visit Andalucia again!) In the meantime I can enjoy the spectacle, courtesy of YouTube. So can you! For the short version click on the red-shirted youth who is about to hit the dirt. If you have an hour to spare, choose Manolete. The beer-bottle crates are especially worth waiting for! No bulls were physically hurt in the making of this blog, I promise!