It is with a lot of regret and grief that we are informing you that Kapila, the 2nd cow we brought to the farm last year, passed away on 21st November afternoon. She was grazing when her rope got stuck to a young tree and she fell from a 3 feet ledge on her neck.
We can’t help but blame ourselves for the accident because we didn’t employ the conventional way of grazing. For the last 2 years of having cows, we used to tie the cows with long ropes on trees around which there was sufficient grass for them to graze – this is not the usual local practice, but certain people do employ this. We didn’t allocate any one full time to look after the cows, so we saved cost by using this grazing technique. There wasn’t a single untoward incident in the past 2 years. We thought this was working for us until this fateful day.
We will miss Kapila terribly because she was the sweetest least-fussy cow we had. Kabir and Krish, her sons, are growing up well and are both healthy.
In the month of October, we lost Momo, the female dog. We had adopted from the street outside our rented house and brought her to the farm last year. She was barking her heart out near the fence late night. When we woke up the next morning, she was gone. We suspect a leopard must have taken her away. Because a farmer nearby reported having seen a leopard take his dog away in the dark. How heartbroken he must have been to see it happen in front of his eyes!
Momo was a sweetheart. She was the first responder whenever there was any indication of wild animals near the farm. Suli used to follow her and was the more aggresive one. Momo was the more curious one and that might have been the reason she must have ventured a little too far away from the farm.
Pani and Puri are growing up to beautiful dogs. They have filled up Momo’s void in our lives, little by little.
Earlier this year, during summer, we had adopted another dog from the street close to our earlier house. She was suffering from mange. We used to feed her whenever she used to visit our house. She also used to sleep within the premises occasionally. My appa used to warn me on several occasions to check for her beneath the car before starting. On one day when I missed doing that, I heard a squeal when I released the handbrake. Thankfully, I hadn’t started the car. She suffered a minor injury and was limping.
Deepak was with us during this time. Because of his experience with animal rescue, we could nurse her with medicines. We wanted a safe place for her recovery and brought her to the farm. She was recovering well after a few days of hot water bath and a couple of visits to the Veterinarian nearby, Dr. Sivamuthu and Kizhambur. She started getting along with Momo and Suli, slowly but surely.
After her leg got better, she started exploring places around the farm with the couple. She was still weak because of mange. One unfortunate day, the trio seem to have gotten into a tussle with dogs from a neighbouring farm. Because she was still not completely fit, she couldn’t defend herself and seems to have gotten fatally injured. We had started building a lot of hope for her, but life had other plans.
A wandering elephant from KMTR
In the last one week, the neighbouring areas of the farm are being visited by a herd of elephants who reside in Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR). We know this because Noushadya has heard the sounds late at night. The dogs have also been barking a few nights during midnight. Over the past week, around the periphery of the farm, we have spotted elephant dung and footsteps. We have also observed bamboo, Neem, sandalwood, palm trees uprooted or damaged. None of the elephants have entered our farm so far because of the solar fence that we have constructed in part of the boundary.
Solar fence is an electrified fence where a 1 ms pulse is sent every second by a solar panel charged battery via a energiser. The wires carrying the pulse cause pain when any animal comes in contact with them. The shock is not fatal and therefore acts only as a deterrent. This solar fence is of the same cost as the conventional fence that is usually constructed. An extremely cheap version of a fence is people tying a few GI wires around make-shift poles around crops and electrifying it from live electrical AC supply. This has the potential to kill animals and humans alike if they inadvertently come into contact with it.
This is what happened when a lone female adult elephant ventured into a neighbouring farm half a kilometre away last week. The elephant died from shock and forest department officials had to be informed to bury the pachyderm.
The forest guards have been on patrol the last few days around our farm. They had been trying to chase the elephants westwards into the western ghats towards the forest. But alas! A tragedy unfolded in a farm. The farmer was only trying to protect his crops with whatever little resources he had at his disposal. What he did was illegal, but he must have been desperate considering that a lot of wild animals like wild pigs, sambhar deers, bears like to forage at night.
This kind of conflict is just one of the many that Indian agriculture faces. It is one of the riskiest operations in our day because most people have moved out of it into higher paying jobs and a small number of people manage a large number of crops and land plots. It is even more riskier now in 2020 considering the effects of climate change, but the farmer with his low income is the one with the least risk taking ability. It is an unfortunate situation that needs Government, Society and Businesses to put the farmer at the center of their of their problem solving strategies.