We witnessed one of the driest summers this year with very poor Southwest monsoon spells. The grazing fields had little to no grasses for the cows to eat. We ended up buy haystack after eagerly waiting several weeks for rain. The north east monsoon has also started late this year but we started getting decent rains in the last one week.
After months of deliberation, we sold both of our bulls Raja and Kathir. We want to prevent inbreeding of our cows.
Changing bulls is an age old practice to prevent consanguinous diseases. For a few weeks, we looked for people who would want to raise them for mating bulls. But, we couldn’t find any one. We had to sell them to a trader who would sell it in the Kadayam cattle market. Here, buyers from across the Tamil Nadu – Kerala state border nearby, visit in hordes to supply to the active beef market.
We have always been in an emotional dilemma about the ethics of selling bulls for meat. Indian farmers don’t raise cattle exploitatively – so the question of high carbon footprint doesn’t arise like in the west. But artificial insemination has now become commonplace to increase milk productivity. Tractors have replaced oxen for ploughing. So, the need for bulls has gone down. So when a male calf is now born to a cow, it isn’t celebrated with much fanfare because the economics doesn’t work out. Because sale of beef also has been demonized across most states in the country, sale of adult bulls for meat also doesn’t make economic sense in most places – so they are sold as calves. However, given the proximity to a beef friendly state, Kerala, the bordering districts of Tamil Nadu are still very active in the beef trade.
In the month of October, we built an additional shelter with a palmyra thatch roof, to support the growing population of cows. The idea is behind constructing a palmyra thatch roof is the generate more employment for people who are still active pursuing this skill. It is the lowest carbon footprint roof even though it needs to be replaced every few years. Palmyra leaves keep falling from the tree every few months once they dry.
You can watch our highlights on palm thatch construction here on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/s/aGlnaGxpZ2h0OjE3OTc2NTg1NTg2NjY1MzQx?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=
We also got a small permanent water drinking station constructed for the cows in the animal shelter. Our existing utensils weren’t appropriate as the playful cows keep pushing them until the entire water gets spilt.
Activities at the farm were not moving fast because of less water in our open well. We cleared out weeds and kept the land ready to plant trees right after the first rainfall. And we did so- planted 30 odd trees. With the onset of monsoon, our preparatory work for paddy cultivation jas started. We have broadcasted Thakkapoondu / Dhaincha as green manure crop to add some nutrition and organic matter to the fields before transplanting paddy.
We have planned on cultivating two types of paddy this year as well: Aathur Kichili Samba, a white rice that is consumed every day and Karunkuruvai, a red rice variety. Last two years we have seen very poor results with paddy because of excessive peacock problems. We hope to get a good yield this year and keep the pests away. Fingers crossed!
P.S. We have not been able to focus on farm work this year completely because our daughter takes up most of our time! We now have 6 people working full time at the farm. With their help, the animals, plants and fungi are doing well. Our only regret is that we have not been able to cultivate vegetables as much as we would have liked to. They need much more attention than other category of crops.
Noushadya & Sudhakar
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