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French hamlet unites with shared cow and a milking rota

Villagers have bought a cow to provide fresh milk – and a milking rota is proving an ideal way to bring neighbours together

Locals with Oasis: they say the shared cow brings benefits beyond fresh milk and cheese Pic: M. Peu Philippe

Residents of the hamlet in Soumans in the Creuse came up with the idea during a neighbourhood meal when they noted that, despite Creuse having four times more cows than people, there was no fresh milk available nearby.

First, they created an association and registered it with the chamber of agriculture, then 12 families bought Oasis, a three-year-old Jersey cow, from a local farmer who was closing down.

Philippe Peu, a member of the association, said: “When we went to see which cow we were going to choose, one headed over to us and licked our hand. It was Oasis – it was like she had chosen us.”

While the initial idea was simply for locals to enjoy fresh milk and cheese, Oasis has quickly become an integral part of the community.

Les Amis de La Chassagne now numbers 24 families, virtually all the village, all of whom benefit from Oasis’s milk. Members have established a milking rota, which Mr Peu says works well, with an experienced villager showing the others what to do, and they often share recipes for cheese and other dairy products.

Oasis is now producing around 13 litres of milk a day. The association says on its Facebook page that the adoption of Oasis “has allowed us to create links, exchanges, sharing – in short, more conviviality between us in a difficult and morose period.”

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