Sunday, November 23, 2008

Training Oxen in Belarus

Recently I traveled to Belarus which is located next to Poland and Russia. I met with some very sincere devotees of Lord Krsna and spent 1 week with them and the cows they are looking after. The cows all looked healthy and happy. There were many little bull calves who needed to be trained for working purposes. Every morning I would spend at least 1 hour with Ananda devi dasi who has spent 10 years growing up with these cows and calves. I showed her the basics of training oxen and the importance of loving exchanges with the animals. She was 14 years old at the time and just a few days ago has turned 15. She is a remarkable young lady and is very sensitive to the cows and calves. When I left the farm I had asked her to train all of the baby bulls, who have just become oxen. If I remember correctly, that would be 12 to 17 animals to be trained through the winter months. The following is a recent letter I have recieved from her. I have not changed the lanquage in the letter. She speaks Russian and is learning English. She was very happy to practice her English with me when I was at the farm. Enclose please find some photos of Ananda and her ox pupils.

"Mitra stay."

"Simha Op!"

"Rupa Op!"

Prabhavati dd. (Mother of Ananda) gives Rupa a present after training.

Hare Krsna! Dear Maharaja, please accept my humble obeisences.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

When you came for us at the second time, I was training 6 bulls: Darshan, Mitra, Chandra, Rupa, Kirtan, Jay. After the Sanyas cerimony they had one week holidays, they had little swelling for two weeks. Than I continued to train them and began to train Vrata, (he was shy but friendly). At the begining he behaved as Mitra at the first time, little wildely. But than Vrata showed himself as very-very clever pupil (he was born on Pandava ekadashi 14.06.08). Now his level of knowledge is the same, as other's 6 baby oxen (the commands OP, WOOL, STAY, FOOT, HA, JEE). Chandra wants me to train him. Often he comes near to me, when I put on the holter on somebody's head. Every day I can train 2 or 3 oxen. While I was training 7 baby oxen, I tried to make relationship with the wildest baby ox Yukta. Short time ago he allowed me to put on the holter, and I started to train him. Once when I put on the holter on Madhu his brother Simha (the father of all calfs, he was licking your hands) watched attentively at me. I decided to train him too. When he was just born, I planned to make ox team: Madhu and Simha, they were only wite bulls in our herd at that time. A few days ago I began to train Simha.

Your pupil Ananda dd.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

October Update Letter

November 4, 2008

Dear Members and Friends,

Hare Krishna!

Herein is the October update letter.


The latest ISCOWP News,Volume 18 Issue 2 is now online.

We are bringing it to the printer tomorrow and hope to have it in the mail to you, our donors, by the end of the week.

The issue will give you all the latest ISCOWP News, including reports on how the Brahmans are enjoying their new home, European cow protection farms and conference and the new project, ISCOWP Farm Outreach. You can read about this project and donate to it through the newsletter and online at:
ISCOWP Farm Outreach

Amrita, Sri and Priya (the Brahman calves) are now available for adoption at:
Adopt A Cow Today

Sri and Balabhadra

Thank you for donating to bring the Brahmans to ISCOWP and for your future help with the New Project, ISCOWP Farm Outreach. We pray this letter finds you all well.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Brahmans are Home!!

In April, we wrote to you about how we wanted to acquire some Brahman cows for ISCOWP. The reasons were to rejuvenate the herd that is mostly middle aged now, utilize the potent Brahman dung and urine, and have an ox team that can work in the hot weather. Due to your donations to this project, we were able to arrange the acquisition of two Brahman bull calves and one female calf from William Fenn, a breeder of registered Brahmans located in Sweeny, Texas. Originally, we were looking at a breeder in a colder climate, but he did not handle his animals like William Fenn. The Fenn family is unique amongst Brahman breeders as they develop a personal relationship with their animals.

Dad and I left for Texas on Wednesday the 6th of August to pick up the calves. We had 1456 miles and six states to pass through from West Virginia. As we were getting closer, we were getting more and more excited to see and meet these new members of our family. It was totally worth the whole craziness of driving that distance when we met them for the first time. They just stole our hearts as soon as we laid eyes on them.

The weather was extremely hot, 98 degrees and a high humidity factor. We were sweating the whole time we were there even at seven o’clock in the morning. One of the qualities of Brahmans is that they can tolerate extreme temperatures. “A factor which contributes to the Brahman's unique ability to withstand temperature extremes is a short, thick, glossy hair coat which reflects much of the sun's rays, allowing them to graze in midday sun without suffer¬ing. In severe winters, Brahmans grow a protective covering of long, coarse hair beneath which a dense, downy, fur-like undercoat can be found. An abundance of loose skin, characteristic of the breed, also aids in its ability to withstand warm weather by increasing the body surface area exposed to cooling. In cold weather the skin is contracted, increasing the thickness of the hide and density of the hair, which aids in retaining body heat. A special feature of the Brahman breed is their ability over other breeds to sweat freely, which contributes greatly to their heat tolerance.”

Meeting Amrita, Priya and Sri
Balabhadra meeting the new team, Priya & Sri
Oswald, son of Bullzilla, is the father of the babies
William Fenn saying goodbye

The Fenns were such great hosts and friendly people. They have been breeding Brahman cows for three generations. The calves were actually staying at William Fenn’s parents home. It was a great pleasure meeting the Fenn family and spending time with them. They went out of their way in taking really great care of us. After spending a day with them and the calves, we said goodbye and started the trip back home. With our new truck and trusty trailer, which we acquired back in the early nineties, the calves had a plenty of room and a secure ride. Two days later, we arrived home late in the evening and the following morning introduced them to their quarters in the barn.

Bringing Brahmans to a cold climate will be a first for a cow protection program in North America. The New Vraja Dhama cow protection farm in Hungary just also acquired a bull calf of a similar breed. They have a climate like ours. Bringing the calves to our farm was time sensitive, as we wanted them to come in the warmest weather season so they could have a good chance to acclimate gradually as the weather got colder.

Greeting Daddy at one of the rest stops
Meeting Mommy and totally stealing her heart
Madhava asking “Got Brahmans?” (got to do a t-shirt like that)
Backing into their new home

Can’t wait to get out, just waiting for the door

Nice fresh well water at the grown up tank

The babies did very well on the trip, no fussing or complaining. The boys Sri and Priya sure love to lick my arms, neck and try for my face. Priya loves to try to eat hair. With Brahmans, you have to have lots of patience and move slow getting to know them. As a breed, they are standoffish and shy, but once they know and love you, they love receiving attention. The boys very quickly let us touch them, rub them and pet them. Things are moving slow with Amrita, but she is letting us touch her and she likes smelling us. One trick is to let them come to you on their own speed. They will come because they are curious; you just have to have patience.

Having breakfast at their new home
Checking out the barn

The babies have not met the rest of the herd yet. The herd has not come into the big barn yet for water, but they know the babies are here and will come and meet them in their own sweet time.
Sri Uddharan Datta Thakur

Sri Uddaran Datta Thakur, formally WF40, was named by Jimmy & Terry Devine of MN. There is a description about Sri Uddharan Datta Thakur in a book called Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates. We are going to be calling him Sri. He has on the top of his head, where his horns would be coming out, some red hair. Sometimes we call him Mr. Red; he is very outgoing and loving.

Priyavrata, formally WF41, was named by Anonymous C. He is so sweet and loves kisses. He loves licking and trying to eat hair and maybe licking the face, but arms will do if he can’t have anything else. Both he and Sri are supposed to be grey like their Daddy Oswald when they get older.

Her Royal highness, Amrita
Amrita checking out the feed aisle

Amrita, formally WF42, was named by Vrajavadhu dasi. Amrita means nectar of the Gods. She is the queen of the group; the boys follow her around even though she is the youngest. She was the first one into the trailer and the first one out. She is letting us touch her a little bit and getting friendlier everyday.

So far, they are adjusting well. We will keep you informed as the time goes on as to their progress.

Praying that this letter finds you well,

Lakshmi Devi Dove

Some of the cows have come to meet the babies.

Big Shyam meeting Amrita
Amrita, Sri and Priya, with Balaram and Krishna looking on

Sunday, July 13, 2008

College Students Visit ISCOWP

A dinner fresh from the ISCOWP organic garden

Meeting Jaya in the barn

Columbia and Rutgers University was represented at ISCOWP with a visit of students from 26th Second Avenue temple headed by Gadadhara Pandit and Doyal Gauranga. Again it was raining and plans to visit the cows on pasture were curtailed. However, discussions on what is cow protection and a farm fresh meal were enjoyed. Some comments from the guests:

Premananda das & Gauri Priya dd: “Most amazing, enlightening, and uplifitng experience coming to spend time with your family. Thank you!”

Gretchen Turner: “Could not be any more beautiful! Thank you a 1,000,000 times. “

Talitha Wachtelborn: “Thanks for having us! It was wonderful!”

Sunday, July 06, 2008

ISKCON Youth Ministry Visits ISCOWP

Balabhadra giving a class to the youth in the barn

The new ISCOWP barn restaurant

Madhava is very charismatic

Kalki enjoys the affection

The ISKCON Youth Bus Tour came for June 30th for a visit. There were torrents of rain the whole day which changed our plans of service in the garden and and a bonfire. Instead we utilized the ISCOWP barns for classes and partaking of lunch. The youth asked many questions which led to in depth discussions not only about cow protection but growing and preserving food, how current events are affecting all of us, alternative oxpower. Some comments:

Radhanatha and Anapayini Jakupo: “Very inspiring and educating tour. Thank you so much for keeping this project alive and for your time to share with all of us. We feel very honored to have been able to visit your home and barn! Thanks!”

Jahnavi Harrison: “I was really so inspired by my visit to your farm. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to see that projects like this are sustainable and can really work! I hope to visit again and learn much more about taking care of cows and organic gardening – maybe that I can put into practice at home temple (Bhaktivedanta Manor). Haribol!

Sarah Silberman: “ I really enjoyed visiting your farm and learning about living off the land the way Prabhupada wanted. Thank you so much for everything. “

Kamala Kumar Mayshark:
“I was so inspired to see your barn and home and to see the amount of self efficiency in your family. Your cows are beautiful!”

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Meet the Cowherds

Meet the Cowherds
At the first ISKCON EU Farm Conference
By Chayadevi

Devotees came from nine countries to attend the first annual ISKCON farm Conference at New Vraja-dhama in Hungary. America, England, Belgium, Germany, Czech, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, and Hungary were represented. Many of these devotee cowherds and farmers serve their farms in a rural setting distant from a bustling city temple. They perform their service with little recognition and applause, but their reward is in the service itself to the cows and land. Not only is there spiritual reward but there is also the joy that comes from a peaceful and healthy life close to the land and cows.

In the last approximately ten years, there has been a decline in the development of ISKCON farms and in the ISKCON consciousness of the importance of such farms to the spiritual development of ISKCON as a whole. This conference, organized by the ISKCON European Minister for Cow Protection and Agriculture, Syamasundara das, was the beginning step to reverse this trend within Europe. In that attempt, it was a success, with the devotees leaving inspired and hopeful for the future.

Clockwise: Smita Krishna Swami, Balabhadra das, Syamasundara das, Gaura Sakti das

Balabhadra das, ISKCON Global Minister for Cow Protection and Agriculture gave the opening address. He spoke how within our movement, there is a need for a social structure that will provide a haven from the outside world where devotees can live and raise their children peacefully so they too can be Krishna Conscious. Srila Prabhupada envisioned such a social structure within farm life, village life, with the cows and land providing the necessities of life. Our farm communities are therefore very important, as they are the starting point of developing self-sufficient life. “The whole idea is that we are ISKCON, a community to be independent from outside help.” S.P. letter to Satyabhama March 30, 1969 As the world changes with higher gas prices creating higher cost of food and living in general, such farms will be seen more valuable to more people as providing the answers to a more and more difficult life.

Nandi the bull meeting Govardhanlal on tour of Vraja-dhama

The conference was graciously hosted by Gaura Sakti das, president of the New Vraja-dhama farm community in Hungary. At present, New Vraja-dhama is the most advanced European ISKCON farm in the development of self-sufficiency. A part of the conference was touring the New Vraja-dhama operation. From June through October, the community of 120 consumes only fresh produce from the farm, and during the winter months, they are self-sufficient in grains, and potatoes. A storage unit with 3 seperate chambers, each 150 feet long by 20 feet wide was just built at New Vraja-dhama for this purpose. Five trained teams of oxen are active and perform most of the farm work. 2000 fruit trees produce a variety of fruits, and eight devotees care for the five acres of vegetables.

The guided tours, given by Gaura Sakti das, were an inspiration because they showed the possibilities for every ISKCON farm. Other farms also gave presentations. Varnasrama das talked about the successful flourmill business that helps support the Czech farm. At the Czech farm, they produce all their own flour from the grains they grow. They also sell the flour and produce cookie prasadam, which they sell and distribute on sankirtan. Haladhara das, from the Cornwell farm project in England, gave a presentation of the Govardhan Whole Food business that helps support their project. Salad boxes, which cost little to produce, are getting a maximum return.

Issues, such as providing for the cowherd and farmer so he can stay on the farm and support his family, were discussed with solutions suggested. Smita Krishna Swami from the Sweden farm described how they provide housing for such devotees. Gaura Sakti das joined in with a description of their housing development and arrangements.

Aside from the practical discussions and information on how to support and operate a self-sufficient Krishna Conscious farm, Sivarama Swami, ISKCON Guru, GBC, and spiritual leader of New Vrajadhama, and Balabhadra das, spoke about the spiritual importance and need for such farm projects. Sivarama Swami stated that to have cow protection one must have cow protectors and the cow protectors must be protected so they can protect the cows. To provide this protection and for cow protection to thrive there is need for the social system of Varnasrama in which cow protection is an integral part. He also stated that to be a cowherd is as important as standing on a corner distributing books.

As explained by Balabhadra das, the entire cycle of preparing the land with the oxen, planting the seed, nuturing the plant that comes, harvesting the fruits of the plant, and then offering it to Radhe Shyam, the residing deities at new Vraja-dhama, is the perfection of devotional life.

Some of the presentations have been recorded at Sivarama Swami’s blog, check the archives for May 20 and 21:

Appeared on Dandavats May 30.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Oh No! Oh Yes!

Nanda has had nerve problems in his back legs for most of his life. When he was down at the NV big barn he was always being jumped and pushed by the more aggressive oxen. Nanda is a passive, gentle fellow, although huge in size, he is about 7 feet from his toes to the tip of his horns and weighs about 2000 pounds.

Balabhadra found Nanda down on top of the hill this morning. Who knows how long he was down since last evening when I checked the cows and saw him walking about. He was on his side with his face looking downhill, not in a good position. While the sky was thundering and dark clouds let out torrents of rain, we tried to flip him with the truck and ropes. We wrapped ropes around his front legs and back legs, tied those ropes together, and then tied that to the hook on the back of the truck. Then Chaitanya drove the truck very slowly. But it did not work. Nanda kicked Balabhadra in the legs and Balabhadra fell twice trying to help Nanda flip. At this point Nanda got into a worse position. Then Balabhadra got the idea of pulling his back legs so he would lay sideways to the hill with his feet downhill and his head higher that the rest of him. We tied the ropes to his back legs and pulled with the truck. Nanda ended up in the position we wanted. Balabhadra was thinking that in this position Nanda would have more leverage to get himself up.

We could do no more with what we had on hand. Balabhadra then went to the temple barn to get the hip huggers and the tractor. The idea was to get Nanda standing up and then we maybe could walk him to the geriatric barn. We also had the fear that this was going to be a nightmare in trying to move him at all if he couldn't move his back legs. We tried massaging his back legs and they were so stiff we could not get him to bend his knees.

I went home to take a hot shower and Balabhadra and Chaitanya went to get the tractor. When they came back they also brought some additional hands. Bhakta Mathew came and Krsna das, Soma, and another boy were coming in case we needed the help. Moses also showed up. As Balabhadra drove the tractor up the hill and we all followed, there was dread in our hearts as to what we would find. Balabhadra led the way and as he arrived at the crest of the hill, Nanda was gone! He feared that Nanda rolled down the hill, but Nanda was not at the bottom of the hill either.

We came to realize that Nanda walked away from the hill.

Then we realized that he could again be in a difficult position somewhere. We started looking for him and found him in the overgrown area between the cow burial grounds and the lower pasture. He was eating grass standing up. Of course, we were very happy but then we knew that we should get him in the geriatric barn where the ground is flat and thickly bedded. We walked him to the barn easily and there he is right now.

Submitted by Chayadevi

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Remembering Gita

Balabhadra teaching with Gita (on the left) and Vraja, and Gita and Vraja hard at work

For the last 18 years we have been blessed by the association of Vraja and Gita, our team of Brown Swiss Oxen. From the time we saved them from the slaughterhouse when they were 2 1/2 months of age until last fall when Vraja passed away at the age of 17, and this winter when Gita passed away at the age of 18, our time together has been full of lessons.

Vraja and Gita were twins and they each had completely different personalities. Vraja was the boss and head of the herd and Gita was the gentle soul and gentleman. From the age of 4 months, they traveled across the USA to many festivals and fairs to show the American public the beauty of full-grown oxen and to spread the glories of “OX POWER.”

I was their teamster, hauling wood together and plowing the fields besides traveling with them to many Rathayatras and festivals. They were both honest workers. Sometimes someone else would try to be Vraja and Gita’s teamster. Vraja would often test them by acting up but Gita would just watch the charade and wait for the teamster to get Vraja under control, which often involved my help. Those were Gita’s main characteristics, patience and tolerance.

When we saw a pair of horns above the corn, we knew it was you Gita. Even though we had chased you out of the corn field you would find your way back, eating and trampling all the corn under your feet. Your one fault was loving sweet corn too much!

What remains most memorable about you Gita was your uncanny ability to sense the suffering of both cows and people. You gave comfort by staying close often until the end of a life, listening patiently to any outpouring of anguish, and showing your understanding by licking and nudging the sufferer. Who were you in that bovine body that you possessed such empathy?

You have touched the hearts of many people worldwide over the years. Great souls VRAJA and GITA..................thank you for sharing your lives with us. You will always be in our hearts.
Submitted by Balabhadra

Monday, February 25, 2008

Memories of Gita

Shelda made cookies for Gita and he loved to eat them
I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Gita. He will be missed by everyone that had the honor to have met him. He was the kindest, gentlest soul that I have ever known. It seemed that all he ever asked of anyone was some love and affection. I so treasure the time that I got to spend with him and am glad that I found a treat that he enjoyed so much, it gave me great pleasure to do that for him. I know that he is much better now and will no longer suffer with the pain of his arthritis.

Submitted by Shelda Bloomingdale

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Memories of Gita

Gita with Chaitanya Bhagavat and Shelda
I first met Gita when I came to New Vrindavan in June 2006. Balabhadra prabhu was showing the ISCOWP barn to me when I felt a nudge on my right shoulder. I turned around and there he stood, 7 feet high at the horns, 2000 pounds of pure friendship and loyalty. To describe him as majestic would be an understatement.

I turned to stroke his face and he began licking my hand with his sandpaper tongue. I took a few steps away from him to continue the tour with Balabhadra and Gita followed me closely wherever I walked. We became fast friends.

By Krishna’s mercy, I was able to spend many a day serving and caring for him over the past couple of years. The experiences and lessons from his association are so meaningful to me I could write a book and probably should.

The last few days of his life, I spent with him morning and evening. I would go to the barn and rock his head in my arms. He would just collapse into me as we both sat in the hay listening to Srila Prabhupada chant “Manasa Deha Geha.”

When I found his body that morning as I walked into the barn, Srila Prabhupada was speaking the purport to that song. His exact words as I approached Gita were; “My life, my body, my home, I surrender everything unto you.”
Submitted by Chaitanya Bhagavat das

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Memories of Gita

I saw Gita only a few times before recently helping with the cows at ISCOWP. I saw him here at New Vrindavan and LA Rathayatra. His size and beauty amazed me. He was seven feet from his toes to the tip of his horns and weighed 2000 pounds; a most beautiful servant of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krsna.

At LA Rathayatra, I witnessed how people were in awe of him. I cannot help but think he influenced the minds of the people who saw and met him. Some realizing they were eating such a wonderful animal in their daily diet and perhaps becoming vegetarian or at least swearing off eating cows.

Srila Prabhupada often commented how if the people would do this one thing (stop cow killing) the consciousness of the world would change for the better. All glories to Gita, a sweet servant of the Lord!

Submitted by Tranakarta das (ACBSP)

Friday, February 22, 2008

In Memory of Gita

Gita socializing with Lakshmi and guest jck Baldwin last May 2007
I was finally able to check my e-mail late on February 18 in India and wrote a letter to my parents asking how everything and the cows were at home. Mom wrote back (it was the 17th in America) that Gita was in very bad shape and most likely would not last that long. As I was reading the email, I started to cry. He was one of my babies, he was raised as if he was my brother not someone or something that you owned.

By this time, it was late in the evening and the middle of the night in the USA so I would not hear anything from parents until the next day. All day I was thinking about Gita and praying for him. On one hand, I was praying that he would pass fast and on the other hand, I did not want him to pass at all. You never want a family member to pass on who is dear to your heart, soul, and mind. Here in India it was Lord Nityananda's appearance day, a very holy day and a good day to pray.

I was finally able to check my e-mail in the late afternoon and there was an e-mail waiting from Mom. I did not want to open it. I knew it was about Gita. I was right, he had passed, but he had a very good passing. He was blessed that he went quickly and his passing was not prolonged. I started crying again. Just writing this right now, I want to cry and I am starting to tear up just remembering reading the e-mail.

It was a blessing to have known Gita because he was such a sweet, kindhearted, and gentle soul. I know he has moved on to another good place in his journey. I just wished he had not moved on so soon. Whenever I would go into the barn, he was always so thrilled to see me. He loved to be petted, rubbed, and sometimes just hugged. He had the most beautiful soulful eyes. I felt I could fall into them and be comforted and healed. Gita always knew when you were sad and would try to comfort you in his own sweet way by trying to lick the sorrow out of you with his big sandy tongue.

Gita and Vraja did so much outstanding preaching. They touched so many hearts and minds and changed them for the better. I remember traveling all over the country with them and the affect they had on the public. Gita was always the sweet and gentle one of the twins. We always had to watch out for Vraja, he really liked to use his horns. We never had to worry about Gita misbehaving or scaring people with his size or horns. He was the perfect gentleman.

Gita's full name was Bhagavad-Gita. Everyone who knew him will sorely miss him.

Submitted by Lakshmi devi

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thank You New Vrindavan Devotees

Gita With The Herd last Summer

Within the story about how “Gita Moved On” we mentioned the selfless devotees who dropped everything and came immediately when asked to help Gita. We would like to mention their names: Bhakta Chris, Gopal das, Krsna das, Madhavananda das, Yamuna-Jivana das, Ragupati das, Lalita Gopi dasi, Vishaka dasi, Vrnda dasi. Special thanks to Chaitanya Bhagavat das who spent many hours with Gita in his aging days and in the last moments of his life, and Tranakarta das who recently has come back to New Vrindavan and helped with caring for Gita in his final days.

“On February 16, we moved him again and he again surprised everyone and walked around. This time we made certain he was in the larger part of the geriatric barn and he eventually sat down in a good place. However, the next day, after Chaitanya fed him his grains, Gita collapsed. From that point, he struggled to get upright. When he couldn’t, Chaitanya came to get me and we both went to the barn to access what could be done. We realized that we needed to flip him to get him into a better position but the two of us would not be enough to do it. Then, Chaitanya went to the temple to see what help he could get. About forty-five minutes later, Chaitanya came back with six devotees to help flip Gita. We had four devotees on Gita’s legs and three at his head to make sure his head moved with his body. We expertly flipped Gita and he landed sitting up. We braced him with square bales and then he tried to eat the bales. Enthusiastically, all the devotees ran to him with hay to eat. The cows ran to the gate to see. Everyone was very happy at what appeared to be a miraculous recovery. Joy permeated the atmosphere. I was inspired and moved to see the selfless service of the devotees and their joy at Gita’s recovery.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gita Moves On

Gita left early today on Lord Nityananda's Appearance day, February 18, 2008. Last night strong winds were carrying warm air while they moved billowy clouds swiftly across the sky. As I walked to and from the barns, it felt like someone was turning on and off a floodlight until I realized it was the clouds passing over the white bright moon. The stars were very bright in the sky, often covered by the clouds. There was a presence in the night: the wind personified to bring Gita away as he thrust his head into the air and opened his mouth.

At first I said, "Don't do that Gita! Don't stress yourself!" And I would put his head down. After several hours of Chaitanya Bhagavat and I trying to make him comfortable, we came to realize he was trying to leave his body. He was opening his mouth so his soul could leave upward. We had given him Ganga water, placed the tape deck of Srila Prabhupada chanting next to him, as the winds were so fierce we could not hear it from the top of the barn, and placed Govardhan Sila on his head. Govardhan Sila then sat on his altar on the wall facing Gita.

He had arthritis for several years and each year it became more difficult for him to walk. This winter we put him in the geriatric barn so it would be easier for him to access his food and move around. Gita was one of our oldest cows. He turned 18 years old recently. His twin brother, Vraja, died last summer. He also had arthritis. Together, they led many Rathayatra parades in the United States and appeared at many events. They greeted guests with their handsome appearance and endearing personalities. In this way, they presented cow protection to the public.

Around February 9, Gita was not able to get up. He did not have the power in his back legs to push up his large body. Since he was an old cow, we expected that he would leave his body in the near future. We kept him as comfortable as possible and fed him as much as he wanted to eat and drink. In preparation for parting, He daily listened to Srila Prabhupada’s sacred chanting and received holy Ganga water.

On February 13, we attempted to move Gita into a better place with an apparatus called hip huggers. He was near the gate of the barn and a lot of wind was blowing on him. As he was lifted and placed down, he surprised everyone and started walking around. However, he was weak for he was down for a few days. After a few hours of walking, he sat down again in the same place.

On February 16, we moved him again and he again surprised everyone and walked around. This time we made certain he was in the larger part of the geriatric barn and he eventually sat down in a good place. However, the next day, after Chaitanya fed him his grains, Gita collapsed. From that point, he struggled to get upright. When he couldn’t, Chaitanya came to get me and we both went to the barn to access what could be done. We realized that we needed to flip him to get him into a better position but the two of us would not be enough to do it. Then, Chaitanya went to the temple to see what help he could get. About forty-five minutes later, Chaitanya came back with six devotees to help flip Gita. We had four devotees on Gita’s legs and three at his head to make sure his head moved with his body. We expertly flipped Gita and he landed sitting up. We braced him with square bales and then he tried to eat the bales. Enthusiastically, all the devotees ran to him with hay to eat. The cows ran to the gate to see. Everyone was very happy at what appeared to be a miraculous recovery. Joy permeated the atmosphere. I was inspired and moved to see the selfless service of the devotees and their joy at Gita’s recovery.

When I checked on Gita later in the day, he was lying down obviously struggling again to get upright. However, this time he was near one of the barn poles and flipping him would not be possible. It was six o’clock and it would be dark at 6:30. As he struggled to get up I tried to brace his back with square bales but he was too heavy and moved them away when he would fall back. He was fighting and trying to eat the bales that I tried to use to brace him. I knew Chaitanya was coming to check on Gita and I tried to comfort Gita until Chaitanya came.

When Chaitanya came, we spent a couple of hours trying to make Gita comfortable. The winds were so strong and loud and then there was a change in Gita. He started putting his head in the air and opening his mouth. He no longer reacted to our words. We felt he was in the process of leaving this material world. By then it was late evening. A few hours away and it would be lord Nityananda’s Appearance day. Just like Gita. We had always called him the Brahman of the twins. He was always the gentleman, sensitive to the feelings of others. Listening to Srila Prabhupda chanting, tasting Ganga water, with Govardhan Sila in his sight, on Lord Nityananda’s Appearance day, he left his body.

Submitted by Chayadevi

Monday, February 04, 2008

Gita and Vraja baby photo


It just seems like yesterday that Dad was calling around to local farmers looking for two baby bulls. At this time we were living in North Carolina and they had a different calving time compared to Pennsylvania. PA was the state we were living in previously for 9 years and they normally calve in late March thru May. Now NC is down south and the climate is a lot hotter so they calve in the beginning of the year.

Dad was calling around and no one had any calves, they had already been sent to the slaughterhouse. Then Dad called a place that was 2 hours away and the farmer said he had 2 twin bulls that were two months old. If Dad was interested in purchasing them, then he would have to do so fast because the farmer was planning on putting them in the next auction which was in a couple days. So Parents got into the car and went to go see the babies. When they saw them they just fell in love. They were so cute! The farmer was only holding on to them because he planed on fattening them up and selling them when they were 2 years old. But it was turning out to be too expensive.

Parents told him they would like to purchase them and the price was agreed on. It was the price of meat per pound at that time times how much they weighed. The next day Dad, I, my older brother and a couple of the neighborhood kids piled into our large red van. The back of the van was filled with bedding for the babies. I think the farmer was shocked when we all piled out of the van and were all so excited to meet the babies. .We told him we were all vegetarians and paid him with a International Society for Cow Protection check. Another shock! We put the halters on the two baby bull calves and Dad and Valadev (my brother) picked them up and put them into the back of the van. The rest of us climbed in with them to keep them company and to keep them calm.

That trip was a lot of fun. This is how it came to be that Bhagavad Gita and Vrajabhadu came to join our family. Even though it feels like it was just yesterday it was a long time ago. Vraja passed away in the winter of 2006 but we still have our beautiful Gita. For his birthday, February 2, he got many handfuls of cookies which he just inhaled. Gita is a special ox, apples, carrots and other items will just not do, he has to have cookies in some form or another.

Submitted by Lakshmi Devi

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bhumi's operation part 4

I am so pleased to say that Bhumi’s eye area is looking great after having her eye removed due to a cancerous growth around it. It has healed extremely well. The hair that was shaved around the eye is growing back nicely and the eye socket is nicely formed.

We have made up with each other. For a while she was not happy at all with me. We gave her antibiotic shots to prevent infection after the operation, and I was the one who tied her up so she could get her shots. Now, when I go into the barn she comes over to me on her own accord.

I took down the fence separating Bhumi from Gita, Asha, Dwadasi and Shyama. So Bhumi is really enjoying herself bossing the other girls around. She dare not try to boss Gita around. Gita gets this look that says, “Don’t even think of doing that.” He has his expression perfected. When I give the medicine in the morning to Bhumi, Gita, and Jaya, Bhumi very patiently waits till I have given Gita his grain and meds before begging for her apple and meds. Bhumi is back to liking lots of attention and rub downs.

Submitted by Lakshmi Devi

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cold weather

Submitted by Lakshmi Devi

We have been having some really cold days and nights. Although we humans find this weather difficult, the cows do not. They are enjoying the new cemented area of the barn where new construction took place last year. The barn is setup so the winter sun comes into the barn by about 10 feet. After a cold night, or during a cold day, the cows like to sit there and soak up the sun. You will usually find the barn kitty also soaking up the sun by sleeping next to one of the cows. The silo area which is not under roof is also a favorite of the cows especially after a feed out when we have put one of the big hay bales out. The cows like to tear up the hay bales and play with them and then sit on them and sleep outside. It is a favorite hang out for Yamuna, Ganga, Kalki, and Big Shyam.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bhumi's operation part 3

About a week into the healing process of Bhumi’s operation to remove a cancerous tumor behind her eye, I called the vet since I did not like how Bhumi’s eye was healing and it smelled bad. Dr. Moore called me back within 20 minutes and told me to give her penicillin twice a day for five days. At first he said to give 20 cc but then he said give her 30 cc since she is a big girl. It was a total circus giving her the shots. I am a total wuss when it comes to needles and blood. So, Caitanya Bhagavat volunteered to give her the shot while I tied her up and stayed at her head. It worked really well. After Bhumi got her shot we would then give her apples. She loves apples. This way she knows there will be pain but also something sweet and nice at the end.

One really sweet and interesting thing is that every morning Jaya goes and checks on Bhumi. The other cows stop and see her but no one is as consistent as Jaya. Jaya is the one who has also had the same operation as Bhumi, just on the opposite eye.

Bhumi responded very well to the penicillin. During this whole recovery period we also have been giving her homeopathy. So that also really helped her heal. After just a day and a half the smell left her. I was so thrilled about that. Smell is always a sure sign something is wrong, so for that to leave her was a good sign we were heading in the right direction.

After the 5 days I gave the vet another call. Dr. Moore said that he would come out Saturday to see how Bhumi was doing. It may be time to take out the stitches and see how the healing was progressing.

Saturday was a very nice day. Bhumi managed to take her halter off so she and I had a battle of wills to put it back on. She would not let me put it back on. When Dr. Moore showed up she was very happy to see him. I had a rope hanging around her neck so I tried her to the post with that. We wanted to see if she would let Dr. Moore remove the stitches without the halter on but Bhumi kept moving her head. It was a lot easier putting her halter on since she was already tied up. This way it was a lot easier for Dr. Moore to remove the stitches. Bhumi was still giving him a hard time by shaking her head but she just couldn’t move as much.

Dr. Moore said it looked like it was healed 75% but it was best for her case to remove the stitches. He sprayed some yellow stuff on her eye, I don’t remember the medical name of it. Also he ordered a special salve that will help the healing process. I am supposed to pick it up tomorrow and put a little on her eye.

We had an audience the whole time Dr. Moore was treating Bhumi. On one side you had Asha, Shyama and Dwadasi watching and on the other side you had Krishna, Balaram, Kalki, Bhima, Visaka and Jaya. They were all lending their support to Bhumi. In about a week or two I will take down the fence inside the geriatric barn and let Bhumi in with Gita, Asha, Shyama and Dwadasi so that she can start to learn to move around the other cows. Right now she moves really well by herself. Bhumi is getting close to the point were she wants to be in with the other cows.

Submitted by Lakshmi Devi