Saturday, 25 June 2016

A terribly sad event..........and the days that followed.

The morning that we received the news about our farm hand Manjunath’s fall, we had no idea how long he would take to recover, and also whether he would be able to work like before again.

But no matter what, the work on the farm must go on.

So we geared up to meet the situation to the best of our abilities.

 And did I mention that my trusted maid Revathi had quit a couple of months prior to this incident because she was in the family way? Her health was a bit fragile and anyway after the baby she could not continue, hence I had bid a sad farewell to her.

I had tried my best to get a suitable replacement, but had not succeeded. Most people in the village found our home too far, the dogs too scary and the sheer amount of work too daunting. So I had been managing the house work as well.  Manjunath had willingly taken on some of her tasks like washing the cow shed, mixing the cow feed, giving the cows an extra feed of dry hay etc.

Our mornings usually began with giving the cows their morning feed. Now we would have to milk the cows and Madhubala the buffalo as well. Vivek is good at it and  while I gave the cows their feed buckets, he  milked the  3 milch cows – Shabari, Shravani and Kaveri. 

Ever so gentle Shabari



All three of them docilely accepted the change and Vivek had no trouble milking them.

And then Madhubala.......Madhubala our sweet buffalo has a mind of her own. She decided that she did not want to be milked  by either of us. And how did she express it!  She threw a tantrum, the likes of which I had never seen before. She not only kicked with one powerful hoof, she could kick with both simultaneously. The result would be her 200 kgs of bulk levitating several inches off the ground and landing with a forceful thud. She could also throw her weight around- literally – although she was tethered securely to a metal frame, she could hurl her weight at you if you got too close.   After several futile attempts, we had to give up, we let her calf Madhuwanti drink as much as she wanted to. There was double risk in doing this as sometimes the calves cannot digest too much milk and get diarrhoea and not milking the animal completely can lead to a nightmare named Bovine Mastitis. The situation continued for a whole week until we got a person solely for milking the animals.

Sweet (?) Madhubala!

The next major task was irrigating the plantation.  We have a rather complex irrigation system and this task involves opening some valves, closing some others, changing the sprinkler heads criss crossing the plantation according to the combination of the valves, releasing air traps in the system and then finally switching on the pump!   Once the pump is on, ensuring that all the overhead tanks – for home use, for the cow shed, for the service shed get filled properly, closing their inlet valves as soon as they fill and then to water the few flowering plants in the area surrounding the house. Whew..! And then not to forget switching the pump off  before the water gets exhausted. Remember it is the third week of March and our water situation is quite critical.

And then the myriad other tasks like picking the fallen coconuts, clearing the fallen areca palm fronds and slicing off the sheath portion (which goes towards making the eco-friendly areca plates), chopping the fronds in the chaff-cutter to put into the compost, cleaning and washing the cow-shed, cooking the dog’s meals, feeding all the animals, letting the cows out after their milking, letting them in again when they come and tethering them back in their correct on and so forth. 

We tried hard to maintain a schedule so that we could complete all the tasks between the two of us, but it was tough. Still it wasn’t as tough as the week when Vivek had to urgently travel out on work and I had to manage the farm alone.

But more of that in my next post...

Sunday, 19 June 2016

A terribly sad event......

It is the last week of March...the earth looks drier than it ever has at this time of the year. The news about the drought situation across the country is dismal.  Our own water situation looks grim.
We were discussing the situation with our farm hand Manjunath and he mentioned that the water in his well had almost completely dried up and he had initiated the work of digging it still deeper. This year he planned on putting in rings (large concrete rings that prevent the walls of the well from caving in).

The next morning at 7 am, the phone rang. It was Manjunath’s son-in-law. He had called to inform us that Manjunath had a fall.  He had fallen into his well while he was working around it!  This was terrible news!  How badly was he injured? His son-in-law could not say for sure. They were already on the way to the hospital and all we could do was pray and hope that he wasn’t badly injured.
Later on in the day his son-in-law informed us that he was admitted to a hospital in Mangalore and he had a fracture of a Lumbar vertebrae –L1. 

A  surgery, a prolonged stay in the hospital, and now a slow arduous path to recovery...

As I write this, he has recovered to a point of being able to walk around in his house, but is still pain. We hope and pray that he has a smooth recovery and we will be able to hear the calves announce his arrival as he crosses the little gate at the end of our rice fields every morning.
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