Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Joyous Occasion

moovingon
Let us see what is going on in the pasture!

Thanks for the heart rending but wonderful inspiring write up about Vraja. Here we can see how cows really have wonderful emotions.

I also had the good fortune to have a similar experience. The difference was that the occasion was of joy.

Once I had been to a farm of my devotee friend HG Dayanidhi pr. We reached there early morning. He has few cows that were disowned by their owners and were left at a veterinary hospital. The owners got them admitted and never came back to get them.

So, he got some of the cows as the hospital authorities were or could not take proper care.

Now the cows were happy as they had enough to eat and a place to graze.

We reached the farm early morning and were doing our prescribed duties. We could also see that the pregnant cow would give birth today. So, that cow was not sent for grazing on the day. At around 10am the cow gave birth to a nice calf. As the calf lay on the ground, and the cow was licking the calf, one cow who was grazing with the herd around 200 meters away, came close to the shed and saw that a baby had been born. She started jumping and dancing in happiness seeing the new baby just as we humans celebrate. Then while jumping she circumambulated the cow and calf and ran off to graze after being shooed away from the newborn calf by us.

We thought it was over. No, within few minutes the whole herd came jumping and galloping to the shed and after seeing the cow and calf were all right, performed a group dance for few minutes. The herd (only a few cows) was just jumping around the cow and calf and we could see sheer joy on their faces.

All of us were just as joyful seeing the cow dance. This dance was like devotees dancing at climax of Kirtana.

After some time they had to be shooed away and all went to graze happily after having seen and welcomed the new one.

I hope this helps all to develop their love for Sri Krsna's most dear animal and human's friend.

Your Servant
Madan Gopal Das

iscowp@earthlink.net
ISCOWP Website
Life With the Cows and Land

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Remembering Vraja the Famous Ox

Picture: Hauling wood, Vraja on right "leaning into the yoke"

All glories to Srila Prabhupad. Thank you so much for that glorious story about the departure of the great Ox Vraja. I too am sitting in a mall for Christmas but by hearing this pastime. I was immediately transferred to the woods of Gita Nagari bringing in wood with Balabadra and the oxen. All glories to the oxen!

Gour Hari das


Dear Chaya, Lakshmi, and Balabhadra,

Please accept my respectful obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I just wanted to express my most sincere condolences on the passing away of Vraja. He is now in the spiritual world with Srila Prabhupada, Radha and Krsna.

With love,
Karuna Purna dd


Dear Balabhadra, Chayadevi, & Laksmi,

Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

We were so sad to hear of the passing away of Vraja. What a glorious servant of Krsna. We will sadly miss him. We think of you often and look forward to our next visit. Hare Krishna.

Your humble servants,
Srutadeva das and Deanna Rose

Dear Balabhadra, Chayadevi, and Lakshmi,

I thought you would enjoy seeing this from a friend of mine. She had come over to my house to see the oxen and also had brought her grandchildren to see them while they were at the Govinda’s restaurant. Her grandchildren still speak of the experience.

Urvasi Devi dasi

Thank you for sharing this with me. I am very sad to learn of Vraja's passing. He served his time well on earth as he opened many people to a deeper perspective of these gentle beings. Thank you for bringing them to Ojai.

Dale

iscowp@earthlink.net
ISCOWP Website
Life With the Cows and Land

Friday, November 03, 2006

Remembering Vraja the Famous Ox

washcapital ~1
Balabhadra, Vraja and Gita in front of the capitol building in Washington DC 92'


Hare Krishna,

I'm very sorry/happy to hear the sad/wonderful news of Vraja's glorious passing.
Thanks for all you hard work caring for Krishna's cows.

Hare Krishna
ysaf, Vidyananda dasa


I also posted a remembrance on my blog.

View From a New Vrindaban Ridge

Vraja was a long term resident of New Vrindaban. Read the story of his passing and remembrances of him at Life With The Land and the Cows.

“I don’t think people realize just how gentle, considerate, and intelligent these huge beasts are. They need our protection and our love and in return, they will give their very life, their total dedication in service to us. Can anyone say that about a tractor? Does a tractor soften our hearts or teach us lessons of life? Can a tractor show us the interconnectedness of all living creatures on the deepest spiritual and emotional level? From these great animals we can learn all there is to know about relationships and our own false ego and hang ups that keep us from surrendering fully to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and being in harmony with all that is around us.”

One day I was working in our garage when this pickup truck came flying out the lane from Balabhadra’s and stopped in a cloud of dust.

“Do you know who lives at that farm?” the guy asked me.

“Yes”, I replied, and he said”I just spent the last hour in a tree with my friend. A big bull chased us and we had to climb it to escape. He finally moved away a little and I was able to get down and make a run for the fence, but my friend is still up in the tree!”

I looked at him for a while, then asked, “Were you carrying a 5 gallon plastic bucket?”

His jaw dropped and he looked at me in surprise. “How did you know that?” he asked.

The reason I knew was that I had had similar experiences, and had guessed he had been carrying tools in a bucket. I forget why he was out in Balabhadra’s pasture, but it was some legitimate thing, working on a phone line or something, and he needed small hand tools.

While I was still healthy and doing Farmer’s Markets, and Balabhadra was still getting established, we used to clean out his barn in exchange for keeping the manure. I would back down into the barn and Tulasi and I would load 5 gallon buckets with the black gold. Having it in buckets made unloading and applying to the garden easier.

Vraja would come into the barn and be a real annoyance. He would get in the way. He would poke his horns in the buckets of manure and then toss his head. I tried to keep chasing him away but he was very persistent. I actually scheduled runs to the barn at the times I knew he would be out on the pasture where he couldn’t see us. It wasn’t that he was mean, but the chance he would step on your foot inadvertently or swing his head to chase flies and catch you with one of his long horns was a consideration. Mainly though, was being in the way.

Turns out it wasn’t that he necessarily liked hanging out with us; some curiosity was there, but mostly it was the buckets. Balabhadra fed him grain out of one, so he was conditioned to expect some goodies whenever he saw one and would crowd in so he didn’t miss anything. Hence, seeing someone in the pasture with a bucket, he naturally followed them and his enthusiasm for an expected treat had been misinterpreted as aggression. I still laugh visualizing those guys up a tree with Vraja waiting patiently below.
Madhava Gosh

In his own way, Vraja was a great preacher of Krsna consciousness and has now left his limiting material body to continue his devotional service in another sphere. It's sad to see him go, but wonderful to contemplate his life.
Your servant,
Hare Krsna dasi


Haribol dear god-sister Chaya devi,
Jaya Srila Prabhupada!
I've been meaning to email you for some time now, and Vraja's passing was the impetus to finally contact you.

Vraja was a special soul and dearly beloved by the other cows and devotees, so I wanted to offer my respects to this soul in a cow's body.

You know I love the cows, and in my small way, I try to help them by using my artistic abilities. Have you seen my website? Saradiya.com

I remember you and your dear husband from Seattle. It's been years!
Hope all is well.

Jaya Srila Prabhupada! All glories to Lord Damodhara, all glories to all the devotees and all glories to all the beautiful cows!

Respectfully,
Your god-sister,
Saradiya dasi


Dear Chayadevi Prabhu,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Please accept my humble obeisances. I am so sad to hear about Vraja. I'm sure all the prabhus there must be feeling a great loss. If my adoption came through before he passed, then I am happy to know he was remembering me from so long ago. It is for certain, that Vraja networked with me when I first saw him in D.C. in '92, even though I was not fully aware of it then. That is the power of Krishna's cows. Now we have come full circle and we will continue to grow in understanding even more as the years go by, by grace of guru and Gouranga.


Tears are running down my face. I don't know what to say.
Krishna gives and takes away. Blessed be His Name.
Your humble servant, Vaninatha dasa brahmachary 10/30/06

iscowp@earthlink.net
ISCOWP Website
Life With the Cows and Land

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Remembering Vraja

Shelda & Vraja
Shelda giving homemade peanut butter cookies to Vraja


My love to everyone,

Please just know that my heart and love as always is with all of you in this very stressful time, but also know that Vraj is home now and happy and young again, and able to move pain free and enjoy his life with Krishna. He had such a wonderful life and home with all of you. The work that he and Gita did over the years and the lives that they touched has been many, and he will always be in many hearts all over the world. Loved and treasured by so many humans, he knew that all his herd mates loved and respected him and wished him well and a speedy transition to the waiting arms of Krishna.

Please give my love to Chaitanya also as I know that he is going through a very difficult time with this. He had developed such a wonderful relationship with Vraj and loved him very much. You could see when the two of them were together that Vraj loved him as well and appreciated what he was doing for him.

I know that this is going to be such a loss for Balabhadra and my heart goes out to him. I realize that it is a void that can never be filled, but I know that in his heart he will always be alive and with him every second till they are reunited again.

I know that it is going to be difficult for everyone because he was family and so many years together will never be forgotten but treasured in rich and happy memories.

I didn't know him very long, but loved him very much just the same. I went to the barn a couple of times when he was lying down, and he let me give him a massage. I never did that unless he let me know that it was ok to give him a good rub. He would turn his massive head around and those big eyes would say "Ah thank you, that felt so good." Then he would let you know when that was enough and he just wanted to rest. I am so glad that I got to give him his peanut butter cookies because you could see the smile in his eyes when he got them. Of course, I never did get them made big enough for him, but he liked them just the same.

Please stay in touch and know that I am always here for everyone and I treasure your friendship and want to be able to help anytime that I can and in any small way that I can.

Love
Shelda

iscowp@earthlink.net
ISCOWP Website
Life With the Cows and Land

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tribute to Vraja

My dear longtime friend Chayadevi and all others with the ISCOWP farm,

I am so deeply saddened about the passing away of grandfather Vraja. What a wonderful being he was! Such a wise and kindhearted soul. I’m glad that I was able to spend time with him just two years ago.

I will never forget when Vraja and Gita stopped by my house for a few days for some R & R between the Los Angeles and San Francisco Ratha Yatras. They were just young kids then and just as cute as can be. You had saved them from within one day I believe, of being sold. I loved giving them my front yard as their home. How they caused quite a commotion when sighted by the cars that drove by! Many people came over to pet them, and they learned about your wonderful program of cow protection, a vegetarian diet, and how the oxen love to use their tremendous strength to work. That year I went to both Ratha Yatras and I could just see that they enjoyed being in the parades and getting so much attention and admiration from the crowds.


Vraja & Gita in Urvasi's backyard
Vraja (right) and Gita on Urvasi's lawn

I also remember the previous year when you brought the fully-grown oxen Burfy and Lee (short for Lilananda) for an R & R stay. One evening after dark I was out sitting and talking with them and giving them big hugs and affection as they laid in my front yard, both of them over 1,000 pounds each. With Balabhadra’s encouragement, I laid on one of their sides. To this day I can still feel his warmth, and the sounds of his deep inhale and exhale with the up and down movement of his chest as he laid there in complete trust and contentment.


Burfy and Lee, Urvasi on right
Urvasi dd on right with Burfy and Lee, Beatrice Wood, and Balabhadra d


I don’t think people realize just how gentle, considerate, and intelligent these huge beasts are. They need our protection and our love and in return, they will give their very life, their total dedication in service to us. Can anyone say that about a tractor? Does a tractor soften our hearts or teach us lessons of life? Can a tractor show us the interconnectedness of all living creatures on the deepest spiritual and emotional level? From these great animals we can learn all there is to know about relationships and our own false ego and hang ups that keep us from surrendering fully to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and being in harmony with all that is around us.

Prabhujis, all glories to your most important service to the people of planet Earth, and Earth itself. You have dedicated your lives so fully to bringing this to the attention of the masses. I wish for you all facility for your expanding service. I know that your hearts are heavy with the loss of Vraja and it will take time for both you and the animals to grieve his loss. My love and prayers go out to you.

Your friend and servant in the service of Srila Prabhupada,

Urvasi Devi dasi

iscowp@earthlink.net
ISCOWP Website
Life With the Cows and Land

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

VRAJA

Vrajasummer06
Picture: Vraja this summer

10/29/06
Dear Vaninatha prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

It was a pleasure to read your letters, your history, and realizations. We were so happy to have Vraja adopted by you. But, there is some very sad news to tell you.

Yes, Vraja is the same ox you saw at the Washington DC Rathayatra in 1992. He and his brother Gita led many Rathayatra parades across the country. The potency of their preaching was beyond the preaching most of us devotees are able to offer to Srila Prabhupada. Vraja was so extremely handsome and noble that he attracted so many people to him.

If you look at our blog you will read how Vraja had arthritis for the last 2 years. Being old for an ox, they rarely live to 16 years, the arthritis was not a surprise. We treated it with some alternative medicines, as allopathic medicines really had nothing to offer. However, in the last month he was struggling to overcome it and was becoming weaker. We hoped he would make a comeback like he had so many times in the last 2 years.

We kept him separate from the herd because he had fallen and was having trouble keeping up with them. He was in the loafing shed (geriatric barn) with the gate open and could roam the adjacent lawn. Radharani was also there with him as company. She is an old cow, 22 to 25 years old, but she is in good shape. The way the barns are laid out, Vraja had daily association with the rest of the herd.

A week ago, he lost his footing and fell flat on his side. Chaitanya Bhagavat, trained by Balabhadra, is taking care of the cows in Balabhadra's absence. (Since we do not take funds from ISCOWP for our personal income, Balabhadra is in a mall for the winter season generating funds for ourselves. We do not collect enough to cover the cow projects and pay ourselves.) Chaitanya Bhagavat found him. Chaitanya talked to him and soon Vraja got up. However, Chaitanya noticed that he was walking less steadily than before.

When Vraja fell, all the cows came down the hill to see if he was okay. Ujala was moaning. Vraja got up and Ujala stopped moaning. The next day when Chaitanya went to feed Vraja, the herd came down the hill at a trot to see how he was feeling. They were stretching their necks over the fence to talk to him. He seemed to be assuring them that he was okay. Shelda Bloomingdale, a volunteer, was there and wrote about it in the blog. Please read that to know more. It is entitled “Cows Love one Another.”

At this time, the weather was glorious, some cold nights but also some warm days. There were no flies or bugs, etc. Vraja was enjoying himself. He loved to be near the apple tree that was close to the house and ate almost all the apples. The night before last, Vraja must have fallen and could not get up. When we woke up in the morning, Chaitanya heard Ujala moaning and quickly got out of his cabin and ran in the direction of the moaning. Vraja was down near the apple tree. He was by the fence line and all the cows were around him. He had struggled in the night to get up, but could not. His face was looking up at the herd. He was very weak. Chaitanya chanted the Maha Mantra and two names of Krsna (Govinda, Gopala) in his ear. He then told Vraja he would be right back. Then he left to get me to see if there was something we could do. When we got back to him, he had left his body. The herd was still there.

We are very much missing him. He was such a noble soul. To the last days he remained majestic and noble and we are happy that he did not have to linger in the barn for a long time. We are thankful that his last days were spent pasturing with the herd nearby. We are thankful that he heard the names of Krishna right before his death. We are also thankful that he obtained you as his adopter in his last days, that he wasn't forgotten by his admiring public while in his retirement.

We are most sorry to give you this news, as we have been to experience it. We will eventually have a memorial to him on the ISCOWP web page, blog, and newsletter.

10/30/06
Today we buried Vraja in the field. Ray tried to do it while the herd wasn’t looking, but near the end when Vraja was being covered with dirt, they figured it out and ran over to the spot bellowing. That bright moon evening they returned to the spot where he was buried. Bhima, Nanda, Gita, Surabhi, Vishaka, and Kalki sat in a circle around the spot where Vraja was buried. They were mooing and crying in memory of Vraja. It was if they were holding a memorial service. Chaitanya Bhagavat joined them and the memorial service went on for several hours. The next morning Ujala was bellowing and Chaitanya Bhagavat found her kicking the dirt at the highest point of Vraja’s mound and rubbing her face in the dirt. Then she looked up and joined the herd moving past Vraja’s burial place and onto the barn.

Vraja was their lead cow. He was like their father or grandfather. Since they were babies, he was the big protector and decided where the herd would go and who could do what. When anyone would come into the field, Vraja would approach first and analyze whether they were friend or foe. If a stranger came into the field not accompanied by one of us, he would chase them out of the field. When another cow went down, he would be right there supervising our rescue efforts. He would stand over all of us (he was 7 feet to the tip of his horns), watching.

Now Gita has taken up the position as King of the Herd. In fact, he had already taken up this responsibility when Vraja was not with the herd. However, Vraja still had the respect of the herd. He was sure to maintain a proud and noble stance, holding his head up high even when arthritic and at the time of death.

The pain of his separation will take awhile to pass after having protected and loved him for the last 16 years. We welcome any remembrance writings about Vraja to include in his memorial tribute.

Your servant,
Chayadevi

iscowp@earthlink.net
ISCOWP Website
Life With the Cows and Land



Vraja Left Us

Vrajasummer06
Picture: Vraja this summer

10/29/06

Dear Vaninatha prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

It was a pleasure to read your letters, your history, and realizations. We were so happy to have Vraja adopted by you. But, there is some very sad news to tell you.

Yes, Vraja is the same ox you saw at the Washington DC Rathayatra in 1992. He and his brother Gita led many Rathayatra parades across the country. The potency of their preaching was beyond the preaching most of us devotees are able to offer to Srila Prabhupada. Vraja was so extremely handsome and noble that he attracted so many people to him.

If you look at our blog you will read how Vraja had arthritis for the last 2 years. Being old for an ox, they rarely live to 16 years, the arthritis was not a surprise. We treated it with some alternative medicines, as allopathic medicines really had nothing to offer. However, in the last month he was struggling to overcome it and was becoming weaker. We hoped he would make a comeback like he had so many times in the last 2 years.

We kept him separate from the herd because he had fallen and was having trouble keeping up with them. He was in the loafing shed (geriatric barn) with the gate open and could roam the adjacent lawn. Radharani was also there with him as company. She is an old cow, 22 to 25 years old, but she is in good shape. The way the barns are laid out, Vraja had daily association with the rest of the herd.

A week ago, he lost his footing and fell flat on his side. Chaitanya Bhagavat, trained by Balabhadra, is taking care of the cows in Balabhadra's absence. (Since we do not take funds from ISCOWP for our personal income, Balabhadra is in a mall for the winter season generating funds for ourselves. We do not collect enough to cover the cow projects
and pay ourselves.) Chaitanya Bhagavat found him. Chaitanya talked to him and soon Vraja got up. However, Chaitanya noticed that he was walking less steadily than before.

When Vraja fell, all the cows came down the hill to see if he was okay. Ujala was moaning. Vraja got up and Ujala stopped moaning. The next day when Chaitanya went to feed Vraja, the herd came down the hill at a trot to see how he was feeling. They were stretching their necks over the fence to talk to him. He seemed to be assuring them that he was okay. Shelda Bloomingdale, a volunteer, was there and wrote about it in the blog. Please read that to know more. It is entitled “Cows Love one Another.”

At this time, the weather was glorious, some cold nights but also some warm days. There were no flies or bugs, etc. Vraja was enjoying himself. He loved to be near the apple tree that was close to the house and ate almost all the apples. The night before last, Vraja must have fallen and could not get up. When we woke up in the morning, Chaitanya heard Ujala moaning and quickly got out of his cabin and ran in the direction of the moaning. Vraja was down near the apple tree. He was by the fence line and all the cows were around him. He had struggled in the night to get up, but could not. His face was looking up at the herd. He was very weak. Chaitanya chanted the Maha Mantra and two names of Krsna (Govinda, Gopala) in his ear. He then told Vraja he would be right back. Then he left to get me to see if there was something we could do. When we got back to him, he had left his body. The herd was still there.

We are very much missing him. He was such a noble soul. To the last days he remained majestic and noble and we are happy that he did not have to linger in the barn for a long time. We are thankful that his last days were spent pasturing with the herd nearby. We are thankful that he heard the names of Krishna right before his death. We are also thankful that he obtained you as his adopter in his last days, that he wasn't forgotten by his admiring public while in his retirement.

We are most sorry to give you this news, as we have been to experience it. We will eventually have a memorial to him on the ISCOWP web page, blog, and newsletter.

10/30/06
Today we buried Vraja in the field. Ray tried to do it while the herd wasn’t looking, but near the end when Vraja was being covered with dirt, they figured it out and ran over to the spot bellowing. That bright moon evening they returned to the spot where he was buried. Bhima, Nanda, Gita, Surabhi, Vishaka, and Kalki sat in a circle around the spot where Vraja was buried. They were mooing and crying in memory of Vraja. It was if they were holding a memorial service. Chaitanya Bhagavat joined them and the memorial service went on for several hours. The next morning Ujala was bellowing and Chaitanya Bhagavat found her kicking the dirt at the highest point of Vraja’s mound and rubbing her face in the dirt. Then she looked up and joined the herd moving past Vraja’s burial place and onto the barn.

Vraja was their lead cow. He was like their father or grandfather. Since they were babies, he was the big protector and decided where the herd would go and who could do what. When anyone would come into the field, Vraja would approach first and analyze whether they were friend or foe. If a stranger came into the field not accompanied by one of us, he would chase them out of the field. When another cow went down, he would be right there supervising our rescue efforts. He would stand over all of us (he was 7 feet to the tip of his horns), watching.

Now Gita has taken up the position as King of the Herd. In fact, he had already taken up this responsibility when Vraja was not with the herd. However, Vraja still had the respect of the herd. He was sure to maintain a proud and noble stance, holding his head up high even when arthritic and at the time of death.

The pain of his separation will take awhile to pass after having protected and loved him for the last 16 years. We welcome any remembrance writings about Vraja to include in his memorial tribute.

Your servant,
Chayadevi

iscowp@earthlink.net
ISCOWP Website
Life With the Cows and Land

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cows Love One Another


10/25/06
Dear Chaya,

I just wanted to share with you my experience Sunday morning when I accompanied Chaitanya to feed and count the cows.

As you know, the day before Vraja (16-year-old ox) had an accident. Due to his arthritis, he lost his footing and fell flat on the ground. It was a bit scary for Chaitanya Bhagavat and me as we thought that maybe he would not get up. After awhile he got up, but he later lay down again. Once again, we were concerned that he would not get up, as he seemed exhausted. After resting awhile, he got up again. Witnessing his fall, the rest of the herd came running to the scene to see what happened.

The next day I went with Chaitanya on his morning service to the cows. He mixed the medicines in the grain for Vraja and got the bucket of grain for Gita. Since Gita was right at the fence patiently waiting (not), he fed him first. Chaitanya then went around the corner of the barn to feed Vraja. Vraja heard us and came up to the road. Chaitanya gave him his grains and brushed him a bit before we crossed over the fence to count the other cows that were up on the hill.

We crossed over the fence and Chaitanya started brushing Balaram. I then noticed that all the cows were coming down the hill towards us at a faster than usual speed. I thought that maybe they had seen Chaitanya giving grains and were looking for that, but they sailed past us just as if we weren’t even there and went straight to the fence line where Vraja was still eating his grains. They all were straining to see how he was doing or so it seemed for they paid no attention to us. They just stood there watching him and seemingly stretching their necks over the fence out towards him, talking to him. He seemed to respond back to them as well, maybe reassuring them that he was better today. I don’t know actually how long they were there conversing, because I was so engrossed in watching them communicate. It was such a joyful sight to behold.

It was really amazing to be given the opportunity to witness this first hand, you could tell that they were genuinely concerned about their friend and were glad to see him back on his feet after his mishap yesterday morning. I have read about things like this before, as I am sure you have, but had never had the privilege to witness it. They truly do have compassion, respect, and love for one another, more so than most humans it would seem. Actually, I think most humans could learn something valuable from the cowherd families. At least you can know that their reactions are honest and pure and not the fake concerns that most humans offer one another.

Well, I am so glad that Vraja is doing much better now and I am sure that everyone else feels the same.

Shelda Bloomingdale

Vraja can be adopted at: Adopt A Cow



Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Cows are Out!



Picture: Krishna the rascal


What a pleasant day. No one around, nice and quite. A good time to read and write. Then the phone call came and everything changed.

It was Balabhadra in Pittsburgh to say the cows were out. He had gotten a phone call from Madhava Gosh that they were in his yard, which is about a mile down the road form our farm.

Ray just came by and was still at the house so I knew I could employ him to help me herd them back to the farm. There was no one else on the farm at the time. Ray and I got in his truck and headed down the road to Gosh’s house. More than half way down the road, we came upon Krishna leading a small group of cows towards the farm. Ray said, “That’s a good sign.”

Then Ray remembered there was a gate at Bhakta Dave’s property that bordered the road and led into the pasture that was just behind Krishna and his band of renegades. As we opened that gate I gave the “wooo-ooo-ooo” sound, and I saw Krishna completely turn around and look at me like “What’s happening now!” I said to him, “Get up Krishna! We’re changing pastures.” Well he didn’t buy it but the others did and went right through the gate. Then another bunch came down the road and they saw their friends go through the gate and they followed. Now we were getting very lucky until Radhe Shyam went through Pusti’s property to try to get into the pasture where the other cows were going. Little did she know that there was no gate from Pusti’s property into the pasture, so she was stuck and scared and did not know where to go. Ray walked her back through Pusti’s and down the road to where the other cows went but she wouldn’t go through the gate.

I started herding Krishna, Dwadasi, Yamuna, and Radhe Shyam down the road and Gosh herded the cows in the pasture in the same direction. Ray rotated between the two groups. The idea was to move them to another pasture where there was more grass. By this time, my heart was pounding, and I am trying to do yoga breathing while I am running with the cows so I won’t collapse. I was thinking, “Wow! I am 60 years old and running around like a teenager after these cows. I better not get too confident.”

Well we managed to get them into the greener pasture. Then I realized we should do a count to make sure we got them all. Counting the cows can be difficult especially when they are all moving at the same time in different directions and it is getting dark. Ray and I came up with a count that two were missing. Then we looked over to the next hill and saw Big Shyam coming. By the time Big Shyam got in the pasture, it was dark.

As I looked around the top of the hill where the cows now were, I hoped that I would get a different count but there was still one missing. Then Janaka came home and said that there was a cow at the bottom of the hill standing by the gate. Sure enough, it was Radharani, the oldest in the herd (about 22-25 years old). She probably could not keep up with everyone as she is now moving quite slow.

Once she was in with the rest of the herd, it was time to rest. It took several hours for the adrenaline rush to dissipate and then I really felt 60 years old plus a few years.

Chayadevi

Monday, September 25, 2006

Unbelievable

What else is there to say. . .

Outrage and despair

The May 2006 issue of Discover magazine has an article about a train in Sweden that runs on cow manure. According to the article, the train "is billed as the most environmentally friendly train in the world." Wonderful!

But there is a disturbing second part to the article. "This summer, however, Svensk found a way to use the whole heifer. Now the company chops up the cows and converts their guts, fat, and bones into an organic sludge, which then gets processed as before. It takes about 30 cows to power the train along its 75-mile route from Linkoping to Vastervik, one of the countrysides's most beautiful stretches of rail."

The "rational" response to this is that the business of farming cows is anything but environmentally friendly. It uses a ridiculous amount of water and land and pumps tons of gallons of chemical waste into our oceans every day.

But I can't think about the "rational response" right now because my brain is spinning with questions of ethics. Morality. Spirituality even. In what moral system is it okay, even worthy of positive press, to breed and murder living, feeling beings to power your commute to work? How can I live in a world where scientists are actively pursuing more ways to brutalize beings who feel love, pain and terror? I'm sure that there is a nice explanation, that this technology uses the bits that are "left over," or "wasted" in the agricultural industry. Use their legs for dinner, their skins for a nice pair of shoes, and use their brains and guts for locomotive fuel. Does that sound the least bit repulsive to anyone else? Rationalizing the efficient, economic use of their bodies is beyond my comprehension. Have you ever been close to a cow? They are beautiful creatures with soft fur and funny tails, who like to graze in the company of others like them. They are not fuel. I don't even know what else to say.

Posted by Heather McKenzie at the Ojai Post Blog and sent to us by Urvasi dasi, September 2, 2006 10:17 PM

Friday, September 22, 2006

CANNING - A Way to Preserve Your Food



Picture: ISCOWP root cellar

Before freezers were around canning was the most popular method of preserving. In many cold climate households, especially in rural areas, canning is still the primary method of storing garden produce. An obvious advantage of canning is that there is practically no storage problem. You may can until your basement bulges whereas your freezer space is definitely limited. And you need only invest in a pressure canner and canning jars, both of which can be used over and over again, through many harvests.

EQUIPMENT
Many of the items needed for canning are readily available in a well equipped kitchen. Of course some special equipment is needed: home canning jars, two piece vacuum sealing caps, small canning utensils and the appropriate canner necessary for the type of food being canned.

Jars - Glass home canning jars, sometimes called Mason jars, are the only glass jars recommended for home canning. They come in a wide variety of sizes and styles. The jars are especially made so the home canning closures will seal well when the manufacturer's instructions are followed. The glass in the jars is tempered to withstand the heat of the steam-pressure canner. Jars are available with regular and wide-mouth openings in sizes ranging from 4 ounces to one half gallon. Always select the size jar called for by the recipe, and follow the recipe processing time exactly.

Closures - The home canning two piece vacuum cap, a lid and band, comes in regular and wide mouth sizes. The set consists of a flat metal lid with a flanged edge, the underside of which has a rubber-like sealing compound, and a threaded metal screw band that fits over the rim of the jar to hold the lid in place during processing. The lid is not reusable, the band can be reused if it is in good condition.

Boiling Water Canner - Foods high in acid (fruits) can be processed in a boiling -water canner. The heat is transferred by the boiling water , 212F at Sea Level, which completely covers the jar and two piece cap by 1 to 2 inches. They are made of porcelain -coated steel or aluminum. They are available commercially at a low price.

Steam-Pressure Canner - Low-acid foods (vegetables) must be processed in a steam-pressure canner. The steam in the pressure canner circulates around the jar, transferring heat and bringing the food to an internal temperature of 240 F. Although purchasing a steam-pressure canner may be costly, it is essential if you are going to can low-acid foods.

Small Canning Utensils - Specifically designed utensils for home canning, while not essential, help make the canning process easier and safer. Most pieces are available where home canning supplies are sold or direct from a manufacturer of canning products:
Jar lifter - Lifts any size home canning jar, is rubber coated for a sure grip and has a heat-resistant handle to protect hands.
Jar Funnel - aids in filling regular and wide mouth jars and is best made of plastic.
Plastic Spatula - helps remove excess air from the jar without damaging the glass.
Lid Wand - has a magnetized tip and plastic, heat resistant handle from lifting lids from hot water.

PROCESS
The process for each food varies but all have some similarities. Vegetables can be canned as part of a recipe with other vegetables or alone. Fruits can be canned alone or as jams, sauces, etc. To give you an idea, the following is a description of canning a vegetable alone.

Canning Green Beans , Step by Step
1) Read recipe instructions; assemble equipment and ingredients before starting. Follow guidelines for recipe preparation, jar size, canning method and processing time. Do not make changes in recommended guidelines.
2) Visually examine canning jars for nicks, cracks, uneven rims or sharp edges that may prevent sealing or cause breakage. Examine canning lids to ensure they are free of scratches and the sealing compound is even and complete. Check bands for proper fit.
3) Wash jars and two piece caps in hot, soapy water. Rinse well. Dry bands; set aside. Heat jars and lids in a saucepot of simmering water (180 F). DO NOT BOIL LIDS. Allow jars and lids to remain in hot water until ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.
4) Select fresh green beans which are young tender and crisp. Wash beans in several changes of water; lift beans out of water and drain.
5) Remove strings and trim ends. Cut or break beans into uniform pieces. Prepare only enough for one canner load.
6) Cover beans with boiling water; boil 5 minutes. Remove beans from cooking water.
7) Remove canning jar from hot water with a jar lifter; set jar on a towel. Add 1 teaspoon salt per quart or 1/2 teaspoon salt per pint, if desired. Carefully ladle hot cooking liquid or boiling water over beans, leaving 1-inch headspace.
8) Run a metallic spatula between green beans and jar; press back gently on beans to release trapped air bubbles. Repeat procedure 2 to 3 times around jar.
9) Wipe rims and threads of jar with a clean, damp cloth. Remove lid from hot water with tongs or lid wand. Place lid on jar rim with sealing compound next to glass. Screw band down evenly and firmly, just until resistance is met.
10) As each jar is filled, set it onto the rack in the steam-pressure canner. The canner should contain 2 to 3 inches of hot water; keep water at a simmer (180 F) until all filled jars are placed in the canner. Check the water level; add boiling water, if necessary.
11) Put cover onto canner and turn to lock lid in place. Adjust heat; bring water to a boil, leave vent open until steam has escaped steadily for 10 minutes. Put weight on vent.
12) Bring pressure to 10 pounds for altitudes at or below 1,000 feet above sea level. Keep pressure steady during entire processing period. Process pints 20 minutes, quarts 25 minutes. When processing is complete, turn off heat.
13) Let pressure return to 0 naturally. Wait 2 minutes to open vent. Unfasten cover; raise canner lid towards you, allowing steam to escape in opposite direction. Lift off cover. Let jars set in canner 5 to 10 minutes to adjust to the lower temperature. Remove jars from canner and set them upright, 1 to 2 inches apart, on a towel to cool. Do not retighten bands. Let jars cool 12 to 24 hours.
14) After jars are cooled, check lids for a seal by pressing on the center of each lid. If the center is pulled down and does not flex, remove the band and try to lift the lid off with your fingertips. If the lid does not flex and you cannot lift it off, the lid has a good vacuum seal. Wipe off lid and jar surface with a clean, damp cloth to remove food particles or residue. Label, store jars in a cool, dry, dark place.
Chayadevi

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Here Comes the Rain

"The clouds, impelled by the winds, released their nectarean water for the benefit of all living beings, just as kings, instructed by their brahmana priests, dispense charity to the citizens". Srimad Bhagavatam 10.20.24



Spring was late in coming. It was cold and the last frost was a week late, happening in late May. Summer came with very little rain; possibly an official drought would be declared, but we just missed that designation. Now September is like October. It became cool immediately after the hot summer and the rains came. If only some rain had come during the summer! So many green tomatoes have not ripened! All in all the weather has been very poor for growing our garden.

Gardens need the warmth of the sun and water to grow. When the rains are insufficient so are the crops. While suburbanites do not care to see the sky darken with impending rain clouds, even after many long sunny days, gardeners are thankful for the sight. One’s whole perspective on life changes according to one’s lifestyle.

Chayadevi

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dentures Needed!



Take a look in this mouth and give us an estimate of the cost.

Remember this patient chews mostly grass, sometimes grain.

He can not be expected to dental floss regularly.

Leave estimate and references in this blog's comments and we will get back to you.

Your services donated to this ox's dentures will reap good karma and be greatly appreciated by all cow lovers.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Why September 11?


Ganga will never be slaughtered

The Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have others do onto you," Is one of the uniting principles in the world's major religious traditions. In Judaism, it is taught, "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen." (Talmud, Shabbat 31a) Christianity teaches, "Whatever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them." (Matthew 7:12) The followers of Islam declare, "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." (Sunnah, Hadith) In Confucianism it is said, "Surely it is the maxim of loving kindness: Do not unto others that which you would not have them do unto you." (Analects 15.23) Buddhism also teaches, "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.' (Udana-Varga 5.18) And finally, in the world's earliest religious scriptures, the Vedic literature, we find, "This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done unto you."(Mahabharata 5.1517)

The world of science echoes the world's religions with its own equivalent of the Golden Rule. Newton's Third Law of Motion says that "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." While Newton's law applies only to material nature, the implications run deeper still, extending to the most subtle levels of existence. In the East, this is called the law of karma.

In a very fundamental sense, too, this law relates to our treatment of animals. The violence in society is at least in part the result of our merciless diet and abuse of the natural world around us. In karmic terms, violence begets violence. In dietary terms, you are what you eat.
Food for the Spirit, Steven Rosen

Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals) is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission--to be of service to them whenever they require it... If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.
Saint Francis of Assisi (mystic and preacher)

Prabhupada: [...] But in the western country the cows are specially being killed. Now the reaction is war, crime, and they are now repentant. And they will have to repent more and more.
Jayatirtha: So the wars and the crime are a direct result of the cow slaughter.
Prabhupada: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. It is a wholesale reaction. All these crises are taking place.[...]
Room Conversation with Mr. & Mrs. Wax, Writer and Editing Manager of Playboy
Magazine -- July 5, 1975, Chicago

"Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace."
Albert Schweitzer

In this age of Kali the propensity for mercy is almost nil. Consequently there is always fighting and wars between men and nations. Men do not understand that because they unrestrictedly kill so many animals, they also must be slaughtered like animals in big wars. This is very much evident in the Western countries. In the West, slaughterhouses are maintained without restriction, and therefore every fifth or tenth year there is a big war in which countless people are slaughtered even more cruelly than the animals. Srimad Bhagavatam 4.26.5

To be nonviolent to human beings and to be a killer or enemy of the poor animals is Satan's philosophy. In this age there is enmity toward poor animals, and therefore the poor creatures are always anxious. The reaction of the poor animals is being forced on human society, and therefore there is always the strain of cold or hot war between men, individually, collectively or nationally. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.10.6

Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is--whether its victim is human or animal--we cannot expect things to be much better in this world... We cannot have peace among men whose hearts delight in killing any living creature. By every act that glorifies or even tolerates such moronic delight in killing we set back the progress of humanity. Rachel Carson

We are the living graves of murdered beasts, slaughtered to satisfy our appetites. How can we hope in this world to attain the peace we say we are so anxious for? George Bernard Shaw (Living Graves, published 1951)

As long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love. Pythagoras (6th century BC)

We don't want to stop trade or the production of grains and vegetables and fruit. But we want to stop these killing houses. It is very, very sinful. That is why all over the world they have so many wars. Every ten or fifteen years there is a big war -- a wholesale slaughterhouse for humankind. But these rascals -- they do not see it, that by the law of karma, every action must have its reaction.

You are killing innocent cows and other animals -- nature will take revenge. Just wait. As soon as the time is right, nature will gather all these rascals and slaughter them. Finished. They'll fight amongst themselves -- Protestants and Catholics, Russia and America, this one and that one. It is going on. Why? That is nature's law. Tit for tat. "You have killed. Now you kill yourselves."

They are sending animals to the slaughterhouse, and now they'll create their own slaughterhouse. [Imitating gunfire:] Tung! Tung! Kill! Kill! You see? Just take Belfast, for example. The Roman Catholics are killing the Protestants, and the Protestants are killing the Catholics. This is nature's law. JSD 6.5

As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields. Leo Tolstoy

If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian. We feel better about ourselves and better about the animals, knowing we're not contributing to their pain.
Paul and Linda McCartney

Panca-gavya, the five products received from the cow, namely milk, yogurt, ghee, cow dung and cow urine, are required in all ritualistic ceremonies performed according to the Vedic directions. Cow urine and cow dung are uncontaminated, and since even the urine and dung of a cow are important, we can just imagine how important this animal is for human civilization. Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, directly advocates go-raksya, the protection of cows. Civilized men who follow the system of varnasrama, especially those of the vaisya class, who engage in agriculture and trade, must give protection to the cows. Unfortunately, because people in Kali-yuga are mandah, all bad, and sumanda-matayah, misled by false conceptions of life, they are killing cows in the thousands. Therefore they are unfortunate in spiritual consciousness, and nature disturbs them in so many ways, especially through incurable diseases like cancer and through frequent wars and among nations. As long as human society continues to allow cows to be regularly killed in slaughterhouses, there cannot be any question of peace and prosperity. Srimad Bhagavatam 8.8.11

To kill cows means to end human civilization. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.4.9

The cow's calf not only is beautiful to look at, but also gives satisfaction to the cow, and so she delivers as much milk as possible. But in the Kali-yuga, the calves are separated from the cows as early as possible for purposes which may not be mentioned in these pages of Srimad Bhagavatam. The cow stands with tears in her eyes, the sudra milkman draws milk from the cow artificially, and when there is no milk the cow is sent to be slaughtered. These greatly sinful acts are responsible for all the troubles in present society. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.17.3

According to Manu, the great author of civic codes and religious principles, even the killer of an animal is to be considered a murderer because animal food is never meant for the civilized man, whose prime duty is to prepare himself for going back to Godhead.

He says that in the act of killing an animal, there is a regular conspiracy by the party of sinners, and all of them are liable to be punished as murderers exactly like a party of conspirators who kill a human being combinedly. He who gives permission, he who kills the animal, he who sells the slaughtered animal, he who cooks the animal, he who administers distribution of the foodstuff, and at last he who eats such cooked animal food are all murderers, and all of them are liable to be punished by the laws of nature. Srimad Bhagavatam 1.7.37

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Apple Harvest Party



Today we had an apple harvest party in the cool root cellar that is part of our house. Much of our house is built into the hillside. The root cellar is into the hillside, basically mostly underground, with no windows. It stays cool in the summer and makes a comfortable place to work.


Shelda came from Marietta, Ohio to help. Chaitanya Bhagavat and Jason came, and Kevin showed up too. Shelda attended our Harvest Workshop last year and ever since then has been coming to the farm to volunteer her services. She really likes cows and cow protection and has adopted Dwadasi. Chaitanya is now living in the cabin on our farm and is being trained by Balabhadra in self-sufficient skills. Jason has been living at New Vrindaban for the summer and is coming to the ISCOWP farm to learn what he can from Balabhadra. Kevin stayed with us 10 years ago; training with Balabhadra and helping us get established here at the ISCOWP farm. He has now just moved back into the area.



We had two apple peelers operating. You stick the apple on the prong, turn the hand crank and the peels fall away and a beautiful spiraled apple is left. You can adjust the hand machine for different sizes of apples. Then you put the apple in a solution of water and lemon to prevent discoloring. Cut the apple spiral and either put the apple pieces on a drying rack or in the cooker to make applesauce or apple butter. We made a lot of dried apples because you can use them later to make apple pie and other baked apple preparations during the seasons when there are no fresh apples. We also made 48 pints of applesauce.





Of course the best part is when we offer the applesauce and dried apples to Lord Krsna and then taste the FRUIT of our labor!

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Future Belongs to Organic Gardening

Round zucchini is very popular with ISCOWP's organic produce customers.


Sales of organic foods have grown at an annual rate of 20 percent or more since 1990, making organic farming one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture. This rapid growth is all the more impressive because, unlike conventional agriculture, organic farming is not heavily subsidized by taxpayers' dollars. The rise of organic agriculture is consumer-driven, not subsidy driven, and indeed organic farmers market their food directly to consumers much more frequently than conventional farmers. Market share for organic producers will continue to expand due to rapid growth in consumer demand. In contrast, conventional agriculture is not sustainable because it depends heavily on petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides. An important policy implication of this article is the need to discontinue government subsidies for conventional agriculture, since organic farming is the only sustainable form of agriculture and will be the only alternative in the long run.


Agribusiness conglomerates, such as Monsanto, Du Pont, Dow, and Novartis, incorrectly argue that organic yields are low. Based on an ongoing long-term comparison study at UC Davis, organic yields were at least as high as conventional farming for all crops tested: tomato, safflower, corn, and bean (Clark, 1999). A recent study comparing organic and conventional apple production in California’s Central Coast showed higher yields as well as higher returns under the organic systems (Swezey et al., 1994). And another recent study compared organic, conventional, and integrated apple production systems in Washington State over a 6 year period, and found that the organic system was more profitable, had similar yields, better tasting fruit, and was more environmentally sustainable and energy efficient than the other systems (Reganold et al., 2001).


Organic agriculture can play an important role in averting future crop failures both in the US and in the rest of the world. The Rodale Institute compared conventional and organic systems for corn and soybeans in a study know as the Farm Systems Trial. Although yields were comparable during years of normal rainfall, the key result is that organic practices markedly improved the quality of the soil, thereby allowing soybean yields to remain relatively high even in the face of a drought. Unlike conventional farming, organic practices allow the soil to retain moisture more efficiently, while the higher content of organic matter also makes organic soil less compact so that root systems can penetrate more deeply to find moisture (Rodale Institute, 1999).


Not only is organic farming better able to withstand droughts, but it is also relatively immune to the inevitable shortages of petroleum supplies. Conventional agriculture is heavily dependent on petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides, while in contrast organic farmers are more insulated from volatility in energy prices. Therein lies an important competitive advantage of organic. For example, corn yields would fall dramatically from 130 bushels per acre to approximately 30 bushels, in the absence of chemical (petroleum-based) fertilizers, pesticides, and petroleum powered irrigation (Pimentel, 1998). The world is moving relentlessly towards this scenario, as conventional oil production could hit its maximum (peak) before the year 2010 (Campbell & Laherrere, 1998). Moreover, it is important to note that even before we reach this maximum, the costs of extracting petroleum would rise sharply, as oil companies are compelled to tap into oil deposits that are less accessible. Finally, the costs of extracting oil will exceed the benefits, implying that further production is not economical.


While organic production continues to grow rapidly in a competitive free market, conventional agriculture is heavily subsidized through direct farm payments, counter cyclical payments, crop insurance, and a network of research institutes and extension agents. These handouts, which are critical for the survival of conventional agriculture, tend to keep farmland and resources tied up in our highly mechanized, chemical-based farming systems, thereby inhibiting the growth of organic. It is reasonable to conclude that organic would have grown even faster if it had not been for the subsidies that conventional agriculture receives.


The misuse of taxpayers' dollars to subsidize conventional agriculture is symptomatic of a misdirected society. Even in the current situation, in which economically accessible supplies of petroleum are still largely available, conventional agriculture depends heavily on subsidies. The subsidy bill will have to grow sharply in order to maintain conventional farming systems in the face of rising petroleum prices and dwindling supplies. But we have to put these issues into the proper perspective. Although organic farming is a sustainable alternative, the human race will, on many other fronts, continue to experience an array of social, economic, and environmental problems unless we accept the spiritual principles that were enunciated by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada. All the difficulties of material existence have a common source, i.e., we want the Kingdom of God without God. Fortunately, these problems also have a common solution, i.e., a society centered around the Supreme Lord.


Campbell, Colin J. & Jean H. Laherrere, "The End of Cheap Oil", Scientific American, March 1998, pp. 78-83.


Clark S., et al, 1999. "Crop-yield and economic comparisons of organic, low-input, and conventional farming systems in California’s Sacramento Valley." American Journal of


Written for the ISCOWP News by Chand Prasad PHD.


Alternative Agriculture v. 14 (3) p. 109-121

Pimentel, D. (1998). Energy and dollar costs of ethanol production with corn. Hubbert Center Newsletter, 98/2 M, King Hubbert Center for Petroleum Supply Studies.

Reganold, J.P., J.D. Glover, P.K. Anrews, H.R. Hinman, 2001. “Sustainability of three apple production systems, Nature, 410: 926-930.

Rodale Institute, 1999. 100-Year Drought Is No Match for Organic Soybeans, (http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/global/arch_home.html).

Swezey, Sean, Jim Rider, Matthew Werner, Marc Buchanan, Jan Allison, and Stephen Gliessman, 1994. “Granny Smith conversions to organic show early success,” California Agriculture, Vol. 48.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Two Brothers Reflect on a Protected Life



Hay Gita, its looks like the real hot days of summer have again passed and the cooler days of Autumn are upon us. I can’t remember sitting in this spot and ruminating after a morning of grazing. This summer was so hot we were in the barn most mornings by 7:30 or 8:00 and stayed there till late afternoon. Those high 90's days were hard to handle. The humidity didn’t help either, but lucky for us Balabhadra has 3 water tanks in the barns and we have shade and cool, clean water within easy access.

That’s right Vraja, this summer was harsh and the rain has been a lot less than usual. Balabhadra is moving us from pasture to pasture quicker so we don’t overgraze the pastures. I remember one year back in the 1990's we were having to eat hay in the middle of August as the drought was so severe there just wasn’t any grass in the pastures to graze.

That was a really harsh summer Gita, but those drought summers do happen occasionally. We’ve seen a couple of drought summers in our 15 years of protected life with Balabhadra and family on the ISCOWP farm. We were just 1 day away from going to the sale barn when we were bought by ISCOWP and given a protected life.

We were trained to voice commands so we could work the land under Balabhadra's direction. Balabhadra had us doing so much service on the farm we were able to stay in great physical shape. We Plowed up fields, worked them down for the planting of grains and other crops, and hauled firewood and fence posts. Sometimes, we even had college classes come for visits and demonstrations.


Do you remember that one class that come from Hanover collage with Dr. Bob Rosenthal? We were giving a plowing demonstration and Balabhadra had us stop in the middle of the field and unhooked us from the plow with it still in the ground. He then asked the boys in the class to pick up the chain and pull the plow for the rest of that furrow. They couldn’t even pull the plow one foot to finish that furrow.

Balabhadra explained to them that a good team of oxen is the Backbone of the family farm and not the Soupbone.


Vraja, besides the farm work do you remember when were younger how we traveled for 3 months each summer? We traveled three times across the United States so we could lead Lord Jagannath in many Ratha Yatra parades and participated in many Festival of India programs. We met so many nice people across the land, both Americans and visitors, who we were able to discuss the concept of a vegetarian diet and OX POWER, an alternative to petroleum dependent agriculture.

Yeah Gita, those were the days. Traveling from place to place every couple of days and sleeping under a different tree every night. There were so many sights, new experiences, and new friends. It’s been a great life of service and teaching opportunities on the ISCOWP Farm for a team of protected oxen.

Hay Vraja, these purple flowers are sure beautiful and in a week or so the golden rod will be in bloom. Won’t that be a sight to see?

What a great and meaningful life its been for us on the ISCOWP Farm...!!!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

PhD = Post Hole Digging

Building a gate

The passing along of knowledge is very essential in all phases of life. In making a new fence line there are time tested procedures coupled with old timers "tricks of the trade" that are invaluable and make practical work much easier to accomplish.

The fence line we are currently working on was started earlier in the summer when the ground was not so hard and dry. I had hired two young men, Tulasi and Nirguna, to dig the new holes for the fence posts and too set the new posts. The holes traditionally are 3 feet deep and when the post is placed in the hole the dirt is slowly put back in the hole and "tamped" down so the post is secure with no movement. The "old timers” say the best time to "set" posts is during the waning of the moon, because then the moon is pulling downwards as it grows smaller and will pull the post down and keep them in the holes. These two young men are earning PhDs on the farm. PhD is short for POST HOLE DIGGING. They are becoming fully realized in the science of posthole digging and they will be able to use this knowledge anywhere throughout their lives.

Jason and Caitanya Bhagavt are learning how to do the next step, stringing the wire. There are two types of fence. One fence is too keep animals in the area and the second is too keep animals out of an area. The difference is which side of the post the wire is placed. Since we want to keep the cows in the pasture, we are stringing the wire on the inside of the post or the pasture side. Then if the cows push on the wire, they will also be pushing on the post itself. If the wire is on the outside of the post then when the cow on the inside of the pasture pushes on the wire they are only pushing against the staples that hold the wire in place.

We have already finished half of the fence and made "H BRACES" on the ends for extra strength. Slow work, as there are many little steps to complete the task. In between the two halves, we have left an opening with a simple gate. A team of oxen or a vehicle can pass through this gate to get to the wood lot on the other side of the pasture. If the job is done correctly, the fence will be sturdy and will last as long as the posts don’t rot away which could be as long as 50 to 75 years depending on the quality of the fence posts.

The choice of wood for fence posts in this part of the country is locust. Locust fence posts, when allowed to dry properly, will outlast several applications of wire over the years.

Weather permitting we will finish the new fence line today and facilitate the cows being switched back to new pasture on that side of the ISCOWP farm.


Balabhadra
ISCOWP Website
Life With the Cows and Land

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Spider and the Fly



As I was going to the barn for my morning check on the cows, I saw this spider web of intricate, artistic design. I appreciated its beauty and then saw the fly wrapped within. Just as the fly could not see the web as it winged its way through the air and was caught; we humans also have to be careful of the illusory nature of the material world.

The Spider and the Fly
An Apologue.
A New Version Of An Old Story.

Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly,
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to shew when you are there."
Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."

"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?" said the Spider to the Fly.
"There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in!"
Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "for I've often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!"

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, " Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I 've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome -- will you please to take a slice?"
"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "kind Sir, that cannot be,
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!"

"Sweet creature!" said the Spider, "you're witty and you're wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I've a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you'll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
"I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you 're pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day."

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
"Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple -- there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!"

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flatering words, came slowly flitting by,
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue--
Thinking only of her crested head, -- poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, in to his dismal den,
Within his little parlour --but she ne'er came out again!

And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne'er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.

by Mary Howitt 1821

From Sketches of Natural History (1834) , Effingham Wilson: London

Balabhadra
ISCOWP Website
Life With the Cows and Land

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ox Training


Krishna and Balaram

This conversation was overheard in the barn. Krsna, the ox, is speaking with his herd mate Balarama, the ox.

Another day of training is upon us and we will be heading up the lane to our classroom where Balabhadra will be teaching us another directional command. So far, we have learned the command to "Get Up" which means to move forward.We have learned the command of "Whoa" which means that we should stop immediately.The third command we learned is "Ha" which means to come to the left.

Today we will start to learn the command of "Gee", which means to turn right. Balabhadra has been very busy and it’s been awhile since we had a lesson. It sure does feel good to be heading to class so we can learn more and become a valuable asset to the farm.

There is so much service to be done. In the spring, there is plowing, planting, and cultivation of the crops and gardens. In the summer when it’s dry enough there are fence posts that need split and then hauled to the various fencing projects or stacked by the barn for future use.

Firewood is needed for the three houses on the farm. Next to plowing, that is the most strenuous work of the summer because the weather is so hot and humid. But, allot of the firewood project is in the forest where it’s shady. It’s nice working in the forest. Besides being shady, there are so many neat places and the birds are all singing and talking to each other. There are also different tasting grasses and herbs that we don’t see or taste out in the pastures.

Balabhadra would like to get a small ground driven Manure spreader so we can spread manure on the fields and garden in the fall.

Balabhadra was talking to his daughter Lakshmi, and said that if we learn the command "Gee" quickly, he would like to Yoke us up in the very near future so we can learn how to walk together and then start pulling a small load.

Soon the fall season will be upon us, and the undergrowth in the forest will thin out and we will go practice pulling a small load through an obstacle course of trees and stumps and fallen branches. It’s so exciting to be in training again, so we can be of service on the farm. Vraja and Gita, the senior ox team, are retired and we will be taking up their service.

Vraja and Gita


It’s so nice to know that as trained oxen we have value and are not just looked at as a potential hamburger or considered as a burden because we just eat and sleep and don’t pull our weight around the farm.

I can’t wait until we are fully trained and we can show everyone the value of a team of trained oxen. After all, the conclusion of Bhakti Yoga, is to render service to Lord Krsna, with love and devotion. I can’t wait Balarama. How about you? This life won’t be wasted on just eating and sleeping.

Balabhadra
ISCOWP Website
Life With the Cows and Land

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dear Srila Prabhupada


nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svaminn iti namine

namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
nirvisesa-sunyavadi-pascatya-desa-tarine


Dear Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to you, Srila Prabhupada!.

The experience I am about to relate happened on the ISCOWP farm. I was in charge of the cows during the winter when my parents were away in the mall earning enough money to pay our personal bills. They are disciples of yours. They have taught me how to care for cows. I am most thankful to you and them for this cow seva knowledge because of the happiness that I, and others, can experience while caring for the cows and oxen.

When I went to check the cows Saturday morning (December 3), the first thing I noticed was that Balaram, Gouravani, Visaka, and Radha Shyama were out eating hay in the hay barn and grass in the driveway. As I looked for the break in the fence where they got out, I looked up and saw a cow lying down and not moving in the barn. I cried out to Krsna and started praying that whoever was down was just sleeping.

When a cow is dying, we like to give them some holy water and have a tape of Srila Prabhupada singing bhajans 24/7. I did not have time to do either. I am also very attached to all the cows.

I rushed into the new barn where the cow was down and discovered it was Veda. He was barely alive. This spring the vet said that Veda had a wasting disease called Johne's disease and it would just be a matter of time before his demise. The vet knows we do not put any of our animals down, but I thought he would last longer. The day before he seemed okay, not well but ok, not at death's door. I started singing to him the Nrsringa prayers and checked to make sure that he was not stuck, in fact was actually down, and nothing else was stopping him from getting up. At this stage, he was also very weak and could not lift his head. I went and got bedding to make him more comfortable and also hay and water to see if he would eat or drink which he did not. I could do nothing more at that moment.

After I did this I gave Vraja his medicine for his arthritis, fed the cows in the loafing shed and old barn, went back outside to fix the fence, and put the four cows back inside. After calling my parents to find out where the CD player and blankets were, I collected these items and I covered Veda with the blankets and turned on the CD player to continuous play. As I was doing this, I noticed that Krishna and Visaka were sniffing Veda. Then they each went to stand on either side of Veda and stand guard.

To read the rest:

Dear Srila Prabhupada



Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Krishna is a Cowherd Boy



sri-suka uvaca
go-vipra-sura-sadhunam
chandasam api cesvarah
raksam icchams tanur dhatte
dharmasyarthasya caiva hi


TRANSLATION
Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said: O King, for the sake of protecting the
cows, brahmanas, demigods, devotees, the Vedic literature, religious
principles, and principles to fulfill the purpose of life, the Supreme
Personality of Godhead accepts the forms of incarnations.


PURPORT
The Supreme Personality of Godhead generally appears in various types
of incarnations to give protection to the cows and brahmanas. The Lord is
described as go-brahmana-hitaya ca; in other words, He is always eager to
benefit the cows and brahmanas. When Lord Krsna appeared, He purposefully
became a cowherd boy and showed personally how to give protection to the
cows and calves. Similarly, He showed respect to Sudama Vipra, a real
brahmana. From the Lord's personal activities, human society should learn
how to give protection specifically to the brahmanas and cows. Then the
protection of religious principles, fulfillment of the aim of life and
protection of Vedic knowledge can be achieved. Without protection of
cows, brahminical culture cannot be maintained; and without brahminical
culture, the aim of life cannot be fulfilled. The Lord, therefore, is
described as go-brahmana-hitaya because His incarnation is only for the
protection of the cows and brahmanas. Unfortunately, because in Kali-yuga
there is no protection of the cows and brahminical culture, everything is
in a precarious position. If human society wants to be exalted, the
leaders of society must follow the instructions of Bhagavad-gita and give
protection to the cows, the brahmanas and brahminical culture.

Balabhadra

ISCOWP Website

Life Wirh the Cows and Land

Monday, August 14, 2006

Vraja's Flashback

Vraja is having a flashback on a sunny morning in the shade of the ISCOWP barn at New Vrindavan.

Back in the day...............................

.......................the life of a traveling ox on the fair/festival summer circuit. We are in Los Angeles after slowly bumping across the United States in our 1979 Bluebird school bus. We have met so many people and made so many friends along the highways and byways.

One memorable friend is a young Krishna devotee girl in Los Angeles by the name of Ananda. The year is 1992. We arrived late in the evening and Balabhadra set up our temporary camp between the Tulasi house and the temple building itself. Gita and I have spent a restful night with Tulasi Devi on one side and Rukmini Dwarkadish on the other side...............what great neighbors.

The word is out that the oxen are back in town for Rathayatra and again will be leading the Rathayatra procession of Lord Jagannatha.

How do I know the word is out? The children start coming to see us. We will be loved, hugged, brushed, and fed many wonderful treats like carrots and apples and mangoes. Where are the kids getting all of these treats? It appears that they know where the walk in cooler for the temple is located and are helping themselves to the bounty of Rukmini Dwarkadish's stash of goodies. Shades of pastimes from the Krishna Book where Baby Krishna is a butter thief. Baby Krishna steals butter from His mother, Jasoda, and feeds it to the monkeys, so he is called a butter thief. The devotee kids are stealing Krishna’s fruits and veggies and giving them to us,Vraja and Gita the traveling oxen. How sweet of them to be playing the pastimes of Baby Krishna.


I feel a presence on my back and immediately I know who it is.........................it’s Ananda. She loves to hug me, lies on my back, and gives me long soft hugs that seem to last forever. She speaks softly to me and tells me how much she loves Gita and waits all year us to return to Los Angeles for Rathayatra so she can come and hug and brush us and feed us special treats. It’s so nice to see her again and to get those great hugs from this young cow lover.

Back to the present moment..............................

...............................it’s the summer of 2006 and I'm in the shade of the ISCOWP in New Vrindavan barn chewing my cud during the heat of the day.
Balabhadra is coming into the barn with a young lady who looks very familiar. My goodness it looks like Ananda from Los Angeles. Is it really her? It’s been so long, so many years. It can't be...........................but wait.........................that hug............yes, it is Ananda..................I will always remember her hug. It’s the hug of a 100% genuine cow lover.



Lets sit and talk awhile Ananda, my dear friend, and catch up on our realizations of this life...............it's so good to see again, my dear friend, its great to see you again..........!!!

Balabhadra

ISCOWP Website

Life With the Cows and Land

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Garden Katha



The ISCOWP gardens are on a timetable, which starts in spring when oats can be frost seeded. Potatoes can be planted 30 days before the last frost as they take about 30 days to start emerging from the confines of the ground. Peas, spinach, lettuce all like cool weather as does cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli which can be planted in early spring. Most everything likes a warm soil (70 degrees plus) to feel comfortable enough to germinate and grow.

Allot of veggies we start inside in a small greenhouse in March so they can be already up and ready to go into the ground as seedlings when the ground is warm enough and all danger of frost is past. Historically in this area, the last frost is around May 15, but this year we had a frost on May 22. Tomatoes and peppers, tomotillos, eggplant, Swiss chard, bitter melon and many flowers are just a few things we start early in the greenhouse.

Many veggies prefer to be direct seeded into the garden. All of the different types of beans like to be direct seeded as do carrots, beets, okra, cilantro, and summer and winter squash, just to name a few.

We stagger many of our crops or succession plant. Every 7 to 10 days we replant. This ensures that as a particular planting is being harvested a new crop is just about to mature. In this way, there is a continuous supply of fresh veggies throughout the summer months. It also means that canning, drying, and selling of garden produce can go on side by side without interruption of any of these three programs.

Another aspect of the garden is saving seed for the next year’s garden. Sometimes if a particular plant such as a tomato plant shows exceptional qualities, we will tag that plant and save seed from some of the fruit.

Long days but very rewarding to have good quality organic produce all year around fresh, dried, or canned.



Salad offerred to Lord Krishna made with all ingredients from our garden.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Moving to Greener Pastures



The sun’s warmth changes the Earth
To bring green, luscious grass to birth.
The cold, dark winter is over,
Again, the cows will eat fresh clover.

From the hilltop barns the cows descend,
Eager to see the full streams bend.
Old Vraja, the king, leads the way,
Not a defiant word the cows say.

Noble Vraja’s concern is the herd,
Riding on his back, a bluebird.
They pass through the red gate
To be together without hate.

Kicking their hooves in the air,
Jumping, and chasing on a dare,
New to the pasture and not so calm,
Young oxen are Krishna and Balaram.

The pasture meets the pale blue sky.
Green grasses sway with a sigh.
Warm sunny days bring pleasure.
But, winter we do not treasure.

Beloved cows move on, move on,
To the transcendental land beyond.
Where Krishna a cowherd was born,
His youth spent herding cows each morn,

Deep in fragrant Vrndavan’s grove,
Ox carts Krishna and the cowherds drove.
Enjoying eternal pleasure in the glen,
His red, yellow cows and some that blend.

The cows and Krishna love each other.
Each calf has an adoring mother.
Their cow barns palaces of gold,
Srila Prabhupada to us you told.

To protect cows gives a higher taste
To see Lord Krishna with great haste.
Secret knowledge only for a few.
Thank you for this point of view.

Srila Prabhupada, with you our bond,
To the cows of whom Krishna is fond.
You taught us the joys of loving cows.
To you our repeated, respectful bows.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Agriculture and the Post Petroleum Era

Plowing paddy fields with ox-power at Labangalatika's farm (Govardhan Trust) in Raigad, India

By Chand Prasad PH.D. Agricultural Economist
Written for ISCOWP News VOL 15 Issue 2

Oil is the lifeblood of industrial economies and modern agriculture throughout the world. But oil is also a finite, nonrenewable resource that is being rapidly depleted by Western societies and less developed countries that aspire for higher consumption levels. The United States alone uses approximately 20 million barrels per day – about one-fourth of global consumption. Oil production will peak at some point and then decline, leading to sharp price increases and painful adjustment costs, particularly for those who are strongly attached to the amenities provided by petroleum-based production and transport systems. One bright spot is that these difficulties may encourage an increasing number of people to question the values and assumptions upon which society attempts to sustain opulence and prosperity through dependence on finite resources.

Rising energy prices will impose economic hardships well before the earth runs out of economically accessible supplies of oil, and perhaps even before oil production attains its maximum daily (peak) amount, after which it then declines. The International Energy Agency (1998) estimated that conventional oil production could peak between years 2010 and 2020, while Campbell & Laherrere (1998) put the year before 2010. It is important to note that even before we reach this maximum, the costs of extracting petroleum could rise sharply, as oil companies are compelled to tap into oil deposits that are less accessible. The result is higher energy prices charged to consumers and businesses, which is equivalent to a massive tax that drastically reduces economic growth, particularly in countries that depend heavily on imported energy. Moreover, it takes a certain amount of energy to produce oil. Higher energy costs will therefore increase the costs of extracting oil and natural gas, implying a self-reinforcing, albeit decaying, feedback effect in which rising petroleum costs calls forth still higher energy prices. Finally, the costs of extracting oil will exceed the benefits, implying that further production is not economical.

To read the rest:

Agriculture and the Post Petroleum Era