I scrolled through my instagram feed and i realised that i had missed posting about Suli much. I have failed to dedicate as much attention as he deserved on our social media space. He is the individual, next to my parents, who has spent the most amount of time at the farm with us, physically and mentally. I don’t think anyone knows Noushadya and me more than Suli at the farm.
Suli has been with us since right after we began construction at the farm. He moved into the farm in June 2019 when volunteers were staying in the farm in makeshift guest house when we were building the compost toilet and the mud house. Kanmani, the 2.5 year young cow, is the only domesticated animal who arrived at the farm before him. Only humans, who are domesticated, (not the hunter gatherer type), arrived at the farm before Kanmani and Suli though.
Suli has seen much more action in the wild than any of us can imagine. What prompted me to write this dedicated post to him was him chasing a wild hare a few feet away from me as i was taking a walk around the farm and he was following me. Last year summer, he hunted a sambhar deer calf, along with others dogs. I saw him tasting raw meat in the pond, which was completely dry. If the pond would have been full, the calf might have escaped because deers are better swimmers than dogs. He wouldn’t eat raw meat because he is now accustomed to the rice-lentils-eggs-birdmeat-veggies, all cooked, fresh, tasty, that my amma, Noushy and the women cook for him. I have also seen him chase a adult Sambhar deer, with horns, right outside the farm gate, zipping past between Noushy and me. We were standing barely 50 feet apart when this happened.
I have seen Suli attack a peacock aggressively, which had gotten inadvertently stuck in a fishnet mesh at a neighbouring farm. The fishnets were tied around the rice fields as a cheap makeshift fence. He had teamed up with Momo, our first rescue dog at VKPuram, for this activity. I don’t know whether they killed him or the peacock die by any other means. Anyways, they didnt seem to have had the bird, because they followed us back to the house, after we went to check what the commotion was all about. It is most likely that the bird died because of it was not able to move or because of strangulation. We thought about rescuing the poor guy, but we couldn’t do much because it would start flapping its wings to scare us away.
A woodpecker fell from the neem tree in front of the house and i haven’t seen any animal move as swift as Suli did that day. Sanmugasundaram, who was standing close by, didn’t have a chance to save the injured bird. Unlike Paani, Suli hasn’t hunted a single chicken at the farm. At least, i hope so. Paani is Suli and Momo’s son. Suli and Momo lost their only other child, their daughter, Puri, to a leopard snatching. Most visual evidence of chicken being devoured by another species, by women working at the farm, points toward Paani anyways. So, we love Suli more than Paani, just because this Paani has eaten a lot of our birds. He is a cutie as well. But we love Suli more.
Suli actually deserves more attention than the cows. Because, he spends most of the time near the house. Whereas the cows are roaming around grazing most of the day. He, along with the other two dogs, Paani and Sirukki, gets fed by my appa. My appa takes on this responsibility for 8 out of 12 months in a year. They get two meals a day : breakfast and dinner. A lot of leftovers from the kitchen Bhoomi, the mud house, gets fed to the dogs. So, they get delicious food, cooked by my amma and Noushy, quite often. Most part of the rice, is subsidized PDS / rationed rice that we get for him. Most likely grown in Punjab, because no one other than the animals of rural Tamil Nadu seem to prefer this variety. And most of the PDS gets diverted to livestock and poultry.
uli has gotten attacked by a leopard, most probably, one late evening after the gates were locked. The dogs venture in and out the solar electrified fence occasionally in the dark. This evening, he might have been chasing a hare or something else, when he must have encountered the leopard. When he came back to the house, he was covered in blood because of the injuries to his ear and face. There must have been a face off or so we imagine. We have lost 3 adopted puppies and an adult dog, Momo to leopards. We are afraid we will lose more dogs to the spotted felines over the years ro come because we are in their territory as kuch as they are in ours.
A lot of people are afraid to enter the farm because of the canine presence. He chases away langurs and macaques before they inflict much damage to the mango and coconut crops. Suli, being the alpha among the dogs, took the lead to chase away a sloth bear and three cubs which had come visiting inside the farm, 50 feet from the house, in 2020.
Suli owes a lot to us because of the food we provide him. We owe a lot to Suli because of the security he provides us. We don’t know what we will do without him?!
Suli, this is a memory post, for you have shared the most amount of love, time and life with us at the farm. We love you, Suli ❤️
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