Friday, 1 July 2016

Home Alone.... and Help at last!

Vivek managed to postpone his trip by 2 days in the hope that we could get someone to atleast milk the cows, as I found this task the most difficult. Hands used to excessive computer usage (courtesy my programming days) don’t take easily to ‘high pressure’ jobs like these!  
Coming to think about it, you don’t really need to exert very high pressure between your thumb and fingers when you are milking. If you do it right, you could be making smooth, fluid movements like a dancer and still have a steady stream of frothy, creamy milk fast filling into the milking pail. But alas, I have not yet mastered the technique! 

Luckily enough, just the day before Vivek was to leave one of  our acquaintances called up to say that he could get someone to do the milking for us. ‘Only the milking – he has no time for any other jobs’ he said. Fine, at least one task would be taken care of!

So, enter Subraya the milkman. Tall, gangly with a tooth-y smile, arms flailing about as he walked in and looked around the cow shed. We had just finished milking the cows when he came in. Only country cows, no Jersey’s or crossbred? he exclaimed.  His speech was rapid-fire kannada and I could barely follow. He saw the milk pails and asked ‘finished?’ . I pointed out to Madhubala and said ‘not her, she kicks’ 

Aaah he said and started walking towards her with his hand extended towards her udders. Madhubala rolled her eyes, snorted and started on what was surely one of her terrible tantrums.  Be careful, she kicks! ...........Do you need a rope? ....... Should I hold a feed bucket out for her?.....Subraya paid no attention to my questions. He was walking towards her slowly like a cat towards its prey, making clucking sounds, soothing sounds, undeterred by her monstrous behaviour. A couple of thwacks on her bottom when she kicked, his right hand still extended towards her udder, still making the clucking sounds, and Madhubala started calming down. He started milking her and yelled out to me ‘Patra kodee’ – hand me the vessel. I promptly did so and the comforting sound of the jets of milk falling into an empty vessel soon replaced by the sound of a frothing container were heard! Oh what a marvellous relief!  Madhubala did continue to snort a bit and moved her legs a bit as if to kick but Subraya was ready with a deft slap and a louder snort which seemed to tell her ‘Behave Yourself!’   And Madhubala did behave herself! 

My admiration for these locals grows in leaps and bounds!  

So Subraya took care of milking all the milch animals, heralding his arrival twice a day with a ting-a-ling-ting of his bicycle. He was a quick worker and finished his task in less than half an hour.

Well, about the other tasks, I managed some, left some undone, messed up some like the irrigation...... Before he left, Vivek  had tried to explain the complex irrigation system to me and after 20 minutes of his lecture, I realised I had not followed anything, So out came my note book. He patiently repeated everything and I took down notes like these:

·         Open the valve near the ‘3 bamboo’ section.
·         If you are watering the nutmeg tree section then open the valve near the Bridelia tree, else open the one near the Mango trees section
·         After you close the main hatch, don’t dawdle all the way to the pump else it will create an air-lock – which means the pump starts but no water comes out of the sprinkler system!  
·         Water this section in the morning that one in the afternoon, and next day this one.....and so on
·         Put only 12 sprinkler heads in this section, that section can handle 18...and so on...
No time to stand and stare -----race to the pump-house

The Bridelia tree - A close-up of its thorny-glory!

I thought I had understood everything.  I systematically numbered the sprinkler heads P1, P2, P3....and so on. But when I started doing it....aaarrgghhhh...Euclid’s theorem on Prime numbers seemed easier!
Is this valve open or closed ? How can a simple thing like this confuse me?

P1, P2, P3.......

But pretty soon the week was over and Vivek was back. I had managed fairly well, no burst pipelines. no ruined pump or anything major like that.

Shortly after that our farmer friend Sonnu informed us that his nephew from Hudil was willing to work on our farm. He knows this kind of work well and he is a willing worker he said. So ‘Yogesh’  joined us. True to Sonnu’s description he is a good and willing worker.

Now that the tough time has passed, looking back we realise what a fantastic learning experience it has been for us! We have the confidence that we can handle almost any task on the farm... well almost any......ahem..almost......except  probably our darling Madhubala’a milking!
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