Monday, November 26, 2007

Number 16

Offering obeisances before lunch. Number 10

Rudra has now officially gotten 16 groundhogs so far this year. He is a little behind on his groundhog kills for the year. Last year he got 20 and the year before he also got 20.

Every morning Rudra goes with me to the barn to help with the cows. He likes to hunt for mice, or any other animal that dares to come into the cows’ home without an invitation. Also he likes to make a nest in the hay and take a nap. Sometimes though he gets bored and goes back to parents’ house to nap on the sunny yard. Yesterday he hung out with me the whole time playing in the hay and dozing.

After Rudra and I finish taking care of the cows’ yesterday morning, we started walking back to parents’ house. When we got as far as the hay barn Rudra all of a sudden took off running towards the old woodpile and the black walnut trees. As I rounded the corner I saw him with a good size groundhog in his mouth which he was shaking very hard. He then ran to the house with the groundhog in his mouth. It was still alive. Sometimes the groundhogs die from fright by the time he gets home. That may have been the case, because by the time I got to the house it was dead and there was no blood.

Now we have this funny little thing we do after Rudra has gotten a pest (groundhogs will destroy your entire garden). He really loves it when we do it. We stand there and clap our hands and tell him he is such a good boy. He really likes it when everyone does it. You are supposed to do it at least three times on the day of the catch. If you don’t do it he makes sure to bring the dead groundhog to your attention when you come out of the house.

The next stage can go a couple of ways. Number one is that he immediately starts to eat the groundhog. Two is he lets it sit there for a couple of days and then he eats stewed ground hog. This is not bad in the winter time when it is cold since it does not smell much, but it is terrible in the summertime. The third way is interesting; he buries it, and lets it ferment for a week or two. Then he digs it up and has pickled groundhog. Rudra eats almost the whole groundhog every single time. That is unless we have to get rid of it because it smells so bad before he eats it.

He is a good dog, he eats everything he catches. No waste.

Submitted by Lakshmi Devi

Friday, November 23, 2007

Putting the garden to bed. Part 2

The second part of putting the garden to bed has been accomplished. It took us several mornings and several helpers to accomplish this job. All the Yukon Gold potatoes have been dug up. Their skins have cured and now they are sitting in bushels in the root cellar.

It was a little nerve racking due to the weather. We had almost a week of cold and rainy days. The weather forecast was then calling for warm temperatures but with rain showers. What we needed was the weather to be warm and dry in order to be able to dig up the potatoes. Luckily the weather did cooperate and provide us with some really nice days for digging. The weather started to change the afternoon we finished digging up the potatoes. That evening we had a rain storm and the next day the temperature had dropped 20 degrees.

All we have to do now to finish putting the garden to bed is to put cow dung on a few more areas of the garden. We also need to take care of the asparagus patch.

Submitted by Lakshmi Devi

Monday, November 19, 2007

It is that time of Year

It is that time of year again to put the old cows or ones with special needs into the geriatric barn and not let them out till spring time. So far I only have Gita and Radharani inside the geriatric barn. Radharani is the oldest cow in our herd at 23 years of age. She developed a growth on her right front leg earlier in the year. Dr. Moore our vet came and looked at it. He said as long as it is not causing her pain, or stopping her movement, he did not want to do anything to it because of her age.

I had noticed a couple of days ago that Radharani was not staying with the herd on pasture nor was she coming into the barn with them everyday. So Rudra (the dog) and I went to check on her several times a day making sure she was getting water and enough to eat. She is a real friendly lady and she also likes picking pockets for treats. She will eat anything; you really have to watch her. We were not too worried but then it started to get cold not only at night but also during the day. So Mom and I decided that if she did not come into the barn before 4 pm then we were going to put her in the geriatric barn.

So 4 pm rolls around and Radharani has not moved from the general area she was in that morning. Mom and I suited up in our cold weather gear. Mom went for the grain and I went and put gates up at the geriatric barn so that once we put her in she could not get out. Now Radharani is not only a real friendly lady she is also a real stubborn one. When she does not want to do something she does not do it no mater what you do. That is why Mom went for the grain. The trick is to have a grain bowl or bucket and that is how you get them to move without hopefully too much drama or frustration on our part. What you have to do is let them have a taste and then keep the grain right in front of them until you get them where you want them to go. Radharani was on top of the hill behind the barn, so that was going to be a little tricky and the cows were starting to come around the corner. So we had to get her though the gate at the bottom of the hill before the rest of the cows got that far.

It was close but we did it. Radharani was happy to go into the barn, in past years she was not happy in the beginning. Right after we put her into the geriatric barn Mom noticed that Gita was coming up the ramp slowly. Gita is one of the ones that Mom and I had talked about putting into the geriatric barn due to his arthritis. So we went and got another bucket of grain. Gita is always very happy to see a grain bucket and so it went very smoothly putting him in with Radharani. They have been in the geriatric barn two days together and they are very happy. We may put one or two others in with them but I am not sure yet who gets that privilege. It will depend on how the weather progresses and the cows’ health. Right now I am waiting to hear back from the vet on when he can come see Radharani to check out the lump on her leg. We will check also on what homeopathy treatment we can put her on.

Submitted by Lakshmi Devi

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Putting the garden to bed. Part 1

Now that fall is here it is time to put the garden to bed for the winter. This is the one time of year that we are willing to pick green tomatoes. Usually with the tomatoes we dry them as premiums for our members. If we have any extra after we have filled the dehydrators for the day, I can them as tomatoes puree, chutney or salsa.

When you do the last picking before the frost, you take every single tomato that is on the plant and any that may of fallen off since the last picking. We were lucky enough to get 5 buckets of tomatoes. One and half buckets were ripe and the rest were green. Mom has a really good trick to get them to ripen. What you do is get out a table put it in a room that is cool but well ventilated. You then put a vinyl tablecloth on it and then pour out the tomatoes. Also make sure that there are none piled on top of each other. Now the key is to have patience. Check them every couple of days, throw out the rotting ones and offer the ripe ones to Krishna and enjoy.

Now if you want fried green tomatoes you don’t have to do any waiting. My whole family loves fried green tomatoes and this is the only time of year we allow ourselves the luxury of them. The trick is to use a coating that does not overpower the delicate favor of the tomato. The mix I use is just cornmeal and a little salt. You put this mix in a container with a tight fitting lid. When you are ready to fry I put the tomatoes in with the cornmeal and salt and shake till they are well covered. Put them into a frying pan and just a little bit of your favorite oil (do not deep fry) and cook till golden brown on both sides. Repeat as needed. Offer to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada, then enjoy.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Memories of Govardhan Puja past

Touring the Barn. Photo by Chayadevi Nov,1985

Ready for Puja and treats. Photo by Lakshmi devi Nov, 1985

Touring the other barns. Photo by Chayadevi Nov, 1985.

Getting back on the Ox-cart to return to the temple. Photo by Chayadevi Nov, 1985.

When I was growing up at Gita nagari, Govardhan Puja was always one of my favorite festivals. All of the girls’ asrams were responsible for decorating the temple, the barn, and the cows and making treats for the cows. Several weeks ahead of Govardhan Puja we would start cleaning the barn and brushing down the herd. We would start with the really bad cases first, the ones that needed to be hosed down as you brush them. That was really hard work and usually by the time you were done you were also soaking wet.

On the morning of Govardhan Puja we would decorate the cows and the barn. One of the really fun parts of decorating the cows was putting all different color handprints all over their coats. The paint was not harmful to the cows if they licked it or somehow ate some. Also we would spray-paint their hoofs and horns gold. After we did that we would have to run back to the asram to get cleaned up for the festival.

The really cool thing with any major festival was that Radha Damordha, the presiding deities for the farm, would come off the alter and go visit the barn. I don’t know of any other temple that the presiding deities come off the alter and tour temple/farm. Radha Damordhar would travel by ox-cart to the barn, then carried through the barn, set down on an alter, and then Go-Puja would be preformed to the chosen cow in front of them. After puja everyone would spread out and give the cows as many treats as they wanted. These were special treats, they were made out of ingredients that were not harmful to the cows no matter how much they ate.

After puja in the main barn, we usually would move onto the other barns to give darshan to the rest of the herd. Then it was back to the temple for any plays or special events before the feast.

Submitted by Lakshmi

Friday, November 02, 2007

Cutting Edge Cow Care

Doctor Harthorn first felt Nanda's back for crucial spots to insert acupuncture needles.

The needles were then connected to a current.

Nanda got impatient and Balabhadra had to hold him.

A chiropractic tool was used on Nanda's spine

Nanda was very relaxed after the treatment.

One of our oxen Nanda, who is 13 year old , has had nerve problems in his back legs for almost his whole life due to an accident at the temple’s big barn. We rescued him from there and have been nursing him ever since. We were told by 3 previous vets over a 10 year span that there was nothing that could be done for him.

We found Dr. Harthorn who does acupuncture treatments on horses and he agreed to come and treat Nanda. He had never treated a cow or ox before and was a little unsure if he wanted to start treating one now. My Dad (Balabhadra das) explained to him that Nanda was not any ox but a member of our family and we were trying to make his life easier in his golden years.

On the day of the appointment we were going though the halters and seeing if we had one that could fit Nanda. Normally none of our cows or oxen wear a halter, but when the vet visits then they have to. So we were looking and we took out the largest one we have, it is for say a Clydesdale horse. When I went to put it on him it was 3 inches short. So I just put a lead rope around his neck. Nanda is a huge boy, when I stand at his shoulder there is still a foot to go before you get to the top of him.

This is the first time we have tried this treatment for spinal and nerve problems for one of our cows. Immediately after the treatment, we could see Nanda was standing differently, not so stretched and more like a normal cow. Since the treatment, we have only seen him freeze up once. But in that situation he was facing down a very steep hill. Once we (Rudra and I) got him turned around, he just walked off as fine as can be. We have not seen him freeze up since that time.

After the acupuncture treatment Dr. Harthorn gave Nanda shots of Vitamin B 12 and Hypericum. This was injected into the same spots the needles were taken out of. We had told Dr. Harthorn that we have been giving Nanda the homeopathic medicines Ruta and Hypericum. These medicines have helped but they did not made the crucial difference needed for Nanda.

We will have to just wait and see how Nanda does, maybe he will need more treatments, maybe he will improve enough with one treatment. Dr. Harthorn said he was not sure how much he could do for him since he has had this condition for a long time.

We have also been giving him Chinese herbs which were prescribed by the Doctor. It has been about two weeks now and he is really acting better. We are thinking about having Dr. Harthorn come out again and do another session on Nanda.

Dr. Harthorn practices a school of medicine called Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TVM) that includes a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs. You can read more about this cutting edge treatment at

Submitted by Lakshmi Devi