Milk. Milk the movie? Cow milk? Milkyway? However you want to define it, is entirely up to you. I for one, define it as my go to breakfast fix, the in between meal filler and my bedtime binge.
Last February, as I was having lunch in the kitchen at home, my mum came in and started talking about this drink she has in the fridge. She started taking out a small 200ml bottle with a blue cap, baby purple in colour. She opened the cap and started drinking, followed by a huge grin on her face right after she chugs on the milk.
Wonder what the grin was for? And why is it purple?
It turns out that it was a yam flavoured milk which apparently, is my mum’s favourite flavour. And me being a huge fan of milk, asked if there was any Milk Milk, one that is not flavoured and is original.
“No. If you want though, we could go to the farm on Monday”.
Curious with deep desires to drink MILK, fresh out from a farm, the offer was too good to refuse. The last time I felt excited about drinking fresh milk was when I was 9 years old, living in Exeter, UK. The milkman used to deliver milk in glass bottles, fresh from a nearby farm, right at our doorstep every morning. When we came back to Malaysia the following year, we only drank milk sold in supermarkets, and MILK has never tasted the same since.
Perhaps this farm trip could remind my taste buds and quench my throat for some good old fresh milk.
Truth is, I was just excited to go on this short road trip with my mum and drink some milk. I had plenty of time and had just finished some work the week before. I had enough reason to get away for awhile. I was excited to see what this farm was all about.
Come Monday morning, we head out from Kajang early. We started our journey at 7 am. Mum has always been an early bird, I mean she wakes up at 5 am every morning. And me on the other hand, have a slight problem getting up early that day, particularly because I’ve had hockey practice the night before. I was exhausted.
My mum drove and since the farm belonged to a good friend of hers, she was in contact with them throughout the drive, while I slept. Unfortunately, I slept the whole way and did not manage to snap pictures coming into the farm. Fortunately, I managed to snap some photos coming in again after having lunch outside the farm.
Just south of Kuala Lumpur is Negeri Sembilan. One of thirteen states in Malaysia and borders the state of Selangor. Since we were coming from Kajang, LEKAS highway seemed like the obvious route to take. It was a 1-hour 45-minute drive to the farm.
Kuala Pilah has a bit of a special place in my heart, or rather, a bit of a special place in my blood. I’m part Nogori or Minangkabau. At least that’s what I was told as a kid. And Kuala Pilah was my so call Kampung (garden) or hometown. One that I vaguely remember. I recall only returning to this place with my family once in a blue moon. Partly due to the fact that our family, including my grandparents, aunts and uncles moved to the city a long time ago.
The only memory I ever had of this place was my nyang’s (great grandmother) home and that time, where my brother, who was just a boy casually asked my grandmother an innocent question: “Uwan, when is it your turn to enter the grave and join atuk?” Such is a boy.
Long before the 15th century, Negeri Sembilan was home to the ancestors of Semelai, Jakun, Semai and the Semang people. According to history, they lived as hunter-gatherer nomads and subsistence farmers. And in the 15th century, the Minangkabaus settled in Negeri Sembilan during the 1400’s. Originally, they came from West Sumatra, also known as Indonesia today.
I suppose that’s where my ancestors originate from.
Ok, so Minangkabau is just one part of my family background. The other part though is Bugis. Apparently, Buginese has Austronesian ancestors and truthfully, I read that in Wikipedia. So technically, that’s as far as I know about my Bugis origins. As to whether that is entirely true, only god knows. But perhaps it could be another tale to tell, one with a title that goes like this, THE QUEST TO FINDING MY BUGIS ORIGINS.
At least I know I’m part Bugis. That’s a start.
And in other parts, you find paddy fields like this one. Basically bare and abandoned. It’s also one of my favourite picture and the only reason why I love it is because it is imperfect, flawed and nothing much in the eyes.
But that’s what makes Negeri Sembilan – Negeri Sembilan.
As I snapped this photo I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened here. There must’ve been a time where this paddy field once prospers, looking lush and green, ready for harvest. Wasn’t Negeri Sembilan once an entrepot for rice? And isn’t it known for its well-developed rice cultivation techniques amongst rice cultivators in the region?
And while these paddy fields seemingly look abandoned, every one of these paddy fields is properties descended down to today’s owners from their ancestors, something the locals told us.
Somewhere along the line, rubber planting became the new income source for the state and it certainly led to the extensive falling of rice production. The younger generations of paddy field owners could also be the reason. Agriculture was probably not their cup of tea. At least for rice paddies.
Welcome to JKKK, Kampung Kuala Rembang Panas! Thank You. Please Come Again.
Direct English translation to the words on that bright yellow sign. I’d say they do a pretty good job at making sure people see this signpost. Although, one would have to drive slowly to not miss it.
We finally arrived…at the main road entrance that is. We were not too far from the farm after this sign post. Probably about 5 minutes away. And as we drive further in, we were greeted with narrow winding roads surrounded by rubber plantation.
We had to cross a road bridge, which is new, as told by Mak Lang the farm owner’s wife. Surrounding the area is another plantation. Only this time it was a palm oil tree plantation.
NS Dairy Farm is located on a 120 acre land in Juasseh. As we sat with Mak Lang while sipping milk, she tells us that the cows in the farm are Jersey Friesian cows brought in from Australia.
This explains why I love the original fresh milk so much.
Over the years, NS Dairy Farm expanded into agro-tourism to attract aspiring business owners who are particularly interested in dairy farming which led to the opening of Juasseh Agro Park. A park where visitors and travellers alike could learn how fresh milk is produced from scratch. And by that, I mean from understanding the cow’s diet, farming system, cow breeding to planting and growing Napier grass.
Aside from paddy fields and rubber plantation, could dairy farming be the bigger picture of agriculture in Negeri Sembilan today? I didn’t get to ask this bit from Mak Lang.
The park offers team building activities, a farm stay where visitors can do abseiling, flying fox, camping, wall climbing, hill trekking, archery and for the animal lovers, enjoy the mini zoo, where I met a pair of adorable otters.
By the time we concluded the loop around the farm, it was time for lunch. We certainly didn’t waste much time and headed straight to a local restaurant and feast on Negeri Sembilan’s lauk pauk or dish. I had the most delicious Ayam Masak Lomak with rice and some veggie on the side.
Driving back had us feeling satisfied and full. Our mission to come home with fresh milk, as it turned out, was not just educational but rewarding and fruitful. Since then, fresh milk from the farm has been my go to breakfast fix with Milo coco crunch cereal, my cookie and chocolate cake partner when I watch my favourite movie and my bedtime binge.