On our way to Den Haag, on the edge of a residential area and wedged between two busy roads, a picture reminiscent of Noah’s Ark unfolds before our eyes: a patchwork of a group of animals grazes on a piece of land with a small stable. There’s a pair of (almost) each type: Chicken, peacocks, geese, turkeys, ducks, emus, sheep, goats, alpacas and – a cow. We are marvelling at the peaceful scene from behind the fence, when Noah appears and beckons us to come and join him and the animals. We shall call Noah Piet hereafter. He lives in one of the detached houses on the other side of the road.
It is dinner time and the animals expectantly cluster around Piet. They seem trusting and relaxed about our presence, too. Asked why he has all these animals, the butcher’s son says: «Some like cars, some like motorbikes. […] I have animals. I want something different from everybody else. […] It’s a hobby.» He explains with patriotic pride that black and white are the colours of the area according to which he chose the black-and-white goat, sheep and chicken breeds: Walliser Schwarzhals Goats, Kerry Hill Sheep, Lakenfelder Chicken
He doesn’t eat his own animals: «It would take me nearly an hour to slaughter, pluck and cut up a chicken. And there’s not much left at the end of it with the small breeds. It is much easier to just buy a chicken for three euros at the supermarket.» He does give away superfluous youngsters to other people some of which want them for meat, though.
And then, there’s the cow: He’s had her artificially inseminated. He wants to keep the calf and have the mother slaughtered, never mind that she matches his colour scheme: «She’s clingy and forever getting under my feet.» And cows are there for the meat anyway, says Piet. However, he would never eat a lion or a gazelle, they are wild animals. When one of the emus died a year earlier, he buried it.
Once the dinner rite has been performed and the guileless cow has licked the salt form our sweaty arms and legs, we leave the fragile idyll. Whether these animals will live their life safely in this ark or end up between knife and fork shortly solely depends on what category of animals they belong to in Piet’s eyes.