Saturday, 17 June 2023

Hay from Haveri


The number of small land holders who have given up rice cultivation in our area is  increasing  at an alarming pace.    No longer do I have my farm hand or maid asking me –“So and so…. Has a stack of hay to sell – do you want to buy it?”  This would be followed by a description:

·         Which Rice variety (Red rice is a shorter plant and the other white variety has much longer hay),

·        What type of bundle (kaat as it is locally called) – the  roughly tied bundle that has just been  tied for threshing OR a Post threshing tightly tied bundle meant for piling hay in a compact manner

·        How many bundles

·        And finally the rate per bundle – have watched this grow from Rs3.50  all the way to 10 or 12 over the past few years.

So the small land holders would have about  800 to  1000  kaats, meaning a reasonable earning of about 8k to 10k from the sale of the hay.  

Ready for sale - any takers?

We would buy from several farmers and sometimes have interesting  trips to their farm to collect  the hay.

 So like I mentioned, the decline of Rice cultivation has led to a severe shortage of hay in this region.  The stock of hay which I had purchased at the start of the season was close to getting finished with no fresh stock in sight.

A sight rarely seen in the village these days - everyone gathering to help harvest and thresh each others rice fields.  

So this morning I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from one of the locals –‘A truck with hay has arrived in the village – do you want some hay?’

Sure! I said.

I left my half eaten breakfast aside and went out to move the car out of the drive way.  If they were willing to stack the hay in the attic of the cow shed, it would be lesser distance to cover on each trip. 

I was about to go back to my breakfast when the truck arrived.   It was not a very large one, two men inside the cabin and 2 riding atop the high pile of hay at the back.

I asked to see the size of the kaat and the rate – it  seemed very expensive.  Nothing less than 70 Rs each!  The size was definitely much larger than the local kaats yet the price did seem exorbitant.  I checked with the other people who had purchased it just before they reached here and found that they had paid the same amount but purchased only 50 kaats.

I decided to do the same – 50 kaats would help tide over the immediate need  and maybe I could get some at a reasonable rate from the interior villages.   The men looked disappointed when I said that I found it expensive and I would take only  50. One of them tried to convince me to take 100.  We have come from very far, the cost of  fuel itself is so much, we are not really making much money -  he said.  And they were in a hurry, so they would only pile it up in the driveway and not stack it up in the attic.

Where have you’ll come from? I asked.

Haveri.  Was the answer.

 Haveri!  Hay all the way from Haveri!  That is over 200 kms away – almost a 5 hour journey.  And here were these 4 men with their weather beaten faces, probably having driven through the night to have reached Chitrapur so early in the morning,  going  from farm to farm selling the hay.

I counted the kaats as they piled them  swiftly in the drive way, and when they reached 50, I said “Go ahead, make it hundred” 

“Aivat ondu, Aivat yerdu…….” Briskly the pile grew.

At 100 they all paused and wiped the sweat streaming down their faces and asked for water to drink. 

As they drank the water, one of them perched on top of the pile asked “Will you not take another 50…?” .  I did not have that much cash with me – oh no problem Google pay will do he said.  (I am still amazed by the reach of Cashless transactions!)

“Will you discount it if I do so ?” I asked jokingly.   “Oh no amma……we have to bear so many expenses “ he lamented

I thought to myself – a meal for 4 at an upmarket restaurant in Mumbai  would  probably cost  the same as what I need to spend on the hay.  4 well fed people  in the Airconditioned ambience of a nice restuarant and 4 tired looking men  having purchased the hay from probably several small struggling farmers in distant Haveri, travelling so far to make a living.  4 satiated people who would forget what they had eaten at the meal in a few days. And a huge bovine family who would gratefully munch on this hay at least  till Rice harvest time.

Go Ahead, I’ll take another 50 I said. And was rewarded with a vigorous head nod and an extra kaat at the end of the counting. 

The whole procedure took about 30 minutes and off they went busy getting the directions of the next farm on the phone.

So now I have Hay from Haveri for the cows.  I wonder whether it tastes any different from the hay from Chitrapur.  If my cows tell me I will surely let you all know!



  1. Sanjay S Trasy18 June 2023 at 05:08

    I love to read these stories. It is surprising to know that hay is transported for such a long distance, sky rocketing the prices from Rs 3.50 to Rs 70. To add to that you bought thrice the initial quantity. I'm hoping that cows will relish it and bless with creamy milk.

  2. Gourmet Hay perhaps! great Article Tanu

  3. It's a vicarious feel and it's divine in it's ragged tagged mix of emotions. The land never ceases to amaze.

  4. Dear Tanu, your talent for writing amazes me every single time!
    Simple, lucid, not an extra word than required and yet, the few well- chosen words paint the whole scene in front of my mind's eye! Various social, cultural, fiscal aspects touched upon in this blog and with such gentleness!
    Keep writing, dear. Your view of the world through your unique perspective opens a window in mine, giving glimpses of a different world altogether!


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