The Barn is the most important place on a farm...next to the Central Place of Worship for those farms that are fortunate enough to have that. The look, smell, feel, does something wonderful and enlivening to the consciousness, especially when the barn is home to protected cows, that is, cows and oxen and calves who are never sent to slaughterhouses.
Our barn in the winter houses the milkers and a nursery for our new born calves. In the Spring and Summer, the barn is simply utilized for storage and as a milking parlor.
New born calves are taken care of with love and patience, like we do with all our other animals. They are able to bond with their mothers and are always in full view of them - never out of sight - unless the mothers wander about...for a break!
It is very fulfilling and never, never a dull moment with these gorgeous babies.
The system we utilize on the Farm to protect our animals from wandering into areas that could pose a risk or hazard to them is electric fencing. They are very intelligent and discriminating in where they go, but also curious and adventurous, especially Lala, Bhumi and Pandu (all the boys...mmm...we wonder why...). So we are on rescue missions sometimes - we are convinced that they just like our company and the attention we give them by literally running behind them to encourage them to graze and wander where it is in our view "safer".
When there is a small team, the fencing like the other services on the farm, is quite a Project! Proper equipment, strong arms, good legs and teamwork are essential as the pastures are large. A little ingenuity is always necessary too - usually an unintentional result of "there has to be an easier way".
Hay serves as the primary food source for our cows and oxen during the winter months. As we have ample land, we have good quality hay pastures which our cows graze directly in during the other seasons. This same grass is cut as hay for the winter months.
In 2009, we invested in some used equipment and cut our own hay - the entire process from mowing to tethering to baling. It was enlivening to learn the process, despite the many many hours in the hot sun on a tractor. We now have first hand experience of where the expression "make hay while the sun shines" comes from
The cow is our Mother - as she freely offers her milk. Our milking parlor is simple and clean. We milk our cows twice a day, ensure that they are brushed daily, and give them a little treat. They respond very very well to this.
They are fed required amounts of grain and graze freely in the pastures. We have 28 milkers at the moment: we name every one of our cows and oxen. They are dear servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Sri Radha Damodara and our family members.
We are able to make many delectable preparations from this milk - yogurt, sweets, curd cheese, buttermilk, butter and ghee. Be sure to let us know if you would like to try these milk preparations!
Oxen are our Father, like cows are our Mother. They are the power behind a self sufficient farm, plowing the land to sow grains which feed us all. They are the original energy to working the land, although they are now considered the "alternative energy".
Gita Nagari farm has utilized ox power in the past very effectively - for cultivating the land and hauling. We have retired our oxen as they have aged.
However, we have had four new bull calves. They are beautiful and strong and will be trained to be an Ox Team. Training on the basic level has begun.
Gita Nagari Farm has 150 acres of pasture, all of which is certified organic. The rest of the land is untouched by chemicals and is mainly wooded areas. Great care has to be taken to preserve these pastures as an important source of nourishment for our cows and oxen. They love to roam freely, especially the calves who are energetic and spring all over the land.