Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Aaarrghhh! When will I ever learn!!!

Each time some new affliction hits one of our bovine family members, I realise how little I know about the health problems that can ail our dairy animals!

I have seen no less than sixteen calves being born here and not once have I had any problems with the calves.  But this time it was different,  maybe because the calf was not born in the stable, but  outside in the rough terrain adjoining our farm.  The first two days went off well enough and I did not notice anything amiss.  On the third day we noticed blood on the sacking on which the calf was sleeping. On closer examination I noticed the umbilical area looked swollen.  A couple of frantic phone calls to the doctor, the verdict was an infection of the umbilical cord. “Did you not cleanse it with Tincture of Iodine immediately after it was born?” thundered the vet. “Wha......t ? “ I wailed, I had never done it before, for any of the other calves.  Anyway now the solution was to cleanse the wound deep , dress it well and hope for a quick recovery.

I carried the calf into the house,  as,  however hard you may try, there always are a couple of flies lurking around in the cow shed and I did not want any maggots in the wound.

But alas I was too late. As I cleaned the wound, I noticed them. My first reaction was to burst into tears .... how could I have not seen this earlier. ....how could I not have been more careful....
 But then I pulled myself together and braced myself to clean the wound.  If someone had asked me to clean a maggot infested wound 5 years back I would not have been able to do it. But when it is your own helpless 3 day old calf, you have got to push all your squeamishness and repulsion away and get down to the task.  The little one  - I had named her Kasturi, barely struggled as I held her down with my  knee and cleaned the wound and poured the tincture of iodine into it.    As the day progressed she seemed to weaken and grew more listless. Every three hours I was taking her back to her mother to be nuzzled and to let her drink some milk. She would immediately perk up a bit after that. But as evening progressed, even that did not seem to help her. At around 9 pm she even refused to suckle, her head hanging limply down. And when her mother nuzzled her, she just toppled over and fell.  Another frantic call to the vet.  “Ah well looks like she is too weak to suckle.  You could try feeding her with a bottle” he explained.   Now that put me into a slight quandary. With Vivek out of town on work, there was no one I could send across to buy a baby bottle. Besides I knew that the chemist shops would have closed by the time I could get there, and wasn’t even sure whether there was any all night chemist in the next town.  “Don’t try pouring milk down her throat”, the vet had warned.
Oh heavens! What was I to do!

Too weak to move, 


I decided to take a chance. With no fluids inside her the little calf would not pull through the night. I had kept the colstrum from the cow aside. I took about half an ounce in a tiny steel pail with a rim that would enable easy pouring out of the milk. I sat on the floor with my legs outstretched and took the calf’s head on my lap. With one finger inside the calf’s mouth I let a trickle of milk flow down my finger – just a few drops at a time. And then stroked the calf’s neck to ensure that she swallowed it right. Kept repeating it.  Sometimes the trickle of milk would flow out from the other side of the mouth. But I got quite a few spoonfuls through. I then let her rest for some time. After two hours I repeated the whole thing. Late into the night I kept vigil over the calf. All animals respond to human touch. So I kept stroking it, massaging the limp neck  and belly, rubbing her ears and whispering into her ears “You are going to be alright by morning”.  At around 3.00  am I gave her one last feed and decided to rest for sometime myself. You never know what new challenges the day will bring and a sleep-deprived state is not the best way to face them. So leaving a dim light on in the room, I finally slept, with my alarm set to 5.30 am.
I woke up with a start even before the alarm went off. I first warmed a little bit of the milk to room temperature and went to check on Kasturi. She did not resist when I fed her the trickle of milk. She definitely seemed better.  I could catch another half an hour of shut eye.
When I woke up again at 6.30, dawn  had broken and at the sound of my footsteps, Kasturi opened her eyes, and with a little effort lifted her head. she looked around with a puzzled look as if  saying “Why am I here in this strange place”.  I threw my arms around her and hugged her close. She made an effort and stood up! This was a miracle indeed. She had pulled through the night! I carried her to the cowshed where her mother greeted her with a loud bellow. I supported her as she weakly nuzzled around the udder and could barely hold back my tears of joy as she caught on and started suckling on her own! 
From then on it was a quick recovery.  I had to subject her to a painful cleaning and dressing of the wound three times a day, but not once did she cry out aloud. Her beautiful large eyes showed a total submission to what must have been a very torturous procedure. 

On the way to recovery!

Today Kasturi runs and plays around and shows no sign of what she has gone through. But we share a special bond and when I rub her head and hold it in my palms she has a special look for me in her soulful eyes. 

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Krazy about Kokum!!!





There seems to be strange new craze over kokum.......Would you believe it....Kokum is supposed to have anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory,anti-bacterial and anti-carcinogenic, anti-oxidant, cholesterol lowering properties and what not.  And Kokum – butter, the funny looking waxy stuff which granny used to advise us to rub over cracked heels has been elevated to a new star for its anti-wrinkle properties and is the new beauty aid in some Hollywood kits!

Ha! And we Indians have been using this stuff for ages. But frankly, when we were in Mumbai (and I was unaware of all the medicinal benefits of kokum) I hardly ever used the stuff. An occasional Sol-kadhi, or a dark dry lassoon chatni... or if I run out of Tamarind, these were the only occasions that I used Kokum. 

In our first year at the farm, in fact our first week, I had asked our farm-hand to ‘introduce’ us to all the trees, or rather introduce the trees to us because apart from identifying a few common fruit trees, we were clueless about the biodiversity on our farm. He had mentioned the name ‘Birund’ (the Konkani word for Kokum) as he pointed out to a clump of nondescript looking trees in an overgrown corner of the farm. There were no fruits on the tree.

Look I spotted the Kokum tree in this clump of Bamboo


About half a year later, the trees started bearing fruit. Green plum shaped fruits started appearing along the slender branches and soon started turning a brilliant red.


Our first harvest was a couple of huge buckets full. And I had no idea what to do with it!



So I called up a couple of friends who had farms in the Konkan region, got a detailed description of the traditional method of processing and got down to work.


Cut open the fruit, scoop out the pulp and seeds into one tub, rind into another, throw the stalks away.



Squeeze the seeds and pulp through a colander to extract all the juice.

Spread the outer rinds of the fruit onto clean plates to sun dry.



Keep the juice aside.  When the sun goes down, put all the semi-dried rind back into this juice and let it soak overnight.




In the morning drain the juice out from this mixture and spread the rinds out to dry again.



Repeat this process for 4 days. The juice keeps getting absorbed into the rind, which gets darker and drier and finally on the fourth day, there is no juice left to be drained out.

Another day in the sun and the rind gets the characteristic colour and texture of the kokum that most of us are familiar with.  This is the traditional way of processing and the only way to ensure that all the goodness of the juice is retained in the rind. 

The seeds are sun dried separately until their shell, becomes crisp and breaks open easily. The seed kernel needs to be removed and collected. These kernels contain the precious kokum butter. The seeds are ground to a fine paste with water and then this milky liquid is boiled. The fat floats on the surface  and when cooled can be skimmed off  - and this, is the wonderful kokum butter. Delicately coloured and melts on touching, it can replace your moisturisers and lotions if you wish!

Our front yard is turned into a kokum processing unit and our drying tables are laden with the richly coloured fruits in varying shades of red.



And a new favourite accompaniment to our meal is a warm Kokum clear soup with just a dash of  our home grown pepper!





Monday, 2 January 2017

Have you named it yet?

I love to assign names!

And so does everyone else in the family.  So the scrawny looking crow who came each morning to eat out of Divya’s or Dipika’s hand  when they were young was called Albert (named after none other than the one with the famous frizzy hairstyle who revolutionized science with  a simple formula e=mC2).   

The cute walking stick that we got on one of our trips to some hilly region was named Moses, and so on.

Let me think.................!

When we moved to the farm, we were quite appalled by the fact that no one bothers to name their bovine families. So we got down to naming all of them, beginning with Bheem and Balaram and now our extended family includes the perky Kalavati, Saraswati and Purna. Madhubala’s calf Madhuwanti and the latest addition to our buffalo family Madhukauns.





Madhubala and Madhuwanti enjoying their weekly wallow
Madhukauns - enjoying the sunshine.

A few days back during the end of the rains, a huge frog had decided that the best place to rest during the night was in my rather shabby looking farm floaters. Each morning when I want to wear them to walk into the farm I have to shake that reluctant guy out of my footwear. And he would get back into it unfailingly when I left them out again.

Then in the course of our post-rain cleaning and sprucing up, I decided to paint the ledges on the porch as they had turned dull. I had barely completed the first coat of paint, when all of a sudden, the frog decided to abandon the shabby floaters for a new perch and plonked down in the corner of the freshly painted ledge.
Leaving the floaters for a better perch!  Phoenix is unperturbed by froggy!

He looked so handsome with his grey-green skin perfectly offset by the terracotta paint of the ledge that  I could not help but exclaim to Vivek who just walked in from the farm “ Look at this guy, I should call him “Raajnandak”   (Nandak being the Sanskrit term for frog).

Hence forth, you will be called Raajnandak!
Now I guess this pleased him mightily because the next morning, there was not only our Raajnandak on the ledge, but he had a pretty companion in tow.  They both presided over the application of the second coat of paint without moving from their perch, watching me with a glazed look.



Any guesses as to what I named her?...........Rani Roopmati ofcourse!

         

Monday, 10 October 2016

Machan Musings

It is that time of the year again! The time when the lush green rice fields start flowering.....




........ and the wild boars start their nocturnal visits.  

So it is time for our ‘Watch-duty’ to guard the fields from the boars.  This time we are better prepared. Unlike last year when we pitched a tent under the arecanut  trees, this year we have constructed a proper ‘Machan’ in the centre of the fields. Our paddy area is divided into 4 sections with a narrow ridge and the machan is built right in the centre. So you can walk on the ridge and climb onto the machan.


The machan is constructed in a very simple manner. Four pillars holding up  a cement sheet, a set of slightly flexible bamboos on the top making a curved ‘tunnel-roof’.  A tarpaulin sheet tied securely over it to prevent the rain – but the sides are open and am really not sure how it will hold up if the rain gets really heavy. So far we have got good weather and clear skies.  


It is a precarious climb on the ladder and don’t you dare to drop your torch or anything else, for it will fall directly into 6 inches of slush. 


We carried a heap of blankets one on the cement sheet and the rest to layer on top as the weather gets really chill at night.  The tent used to be much warmer, but here we are more open to the elements.  And is it noisy here!  Whether it is the standing water in the fields that attract different kind of crickets or cicadas, or whether the dense canopy of trees subdued the noise last time, this time I can no longer call this noise ‘musical sounds of the night’  This is more like being surrounded by 4 television sets each one playing ‘News Hour’ in 4 different languages.  I’m convinced that in the field on my right there is a whole lot of political bickering happening.  There is a conspicuously different, loud, solo chatter, and before it stops, it gets drowned by a wave of dissenting voices that pass over the entire field. Before the wave ends, Mr. Loud-solo yells again and then the wave begins!  What a cicadian cacophony!

And as usual Johnny accompanies us. The very first night itself, we had just walked through the farm and climbed onto the machan, when we had a boar-sighting. Johnny started what we now call his ‘Be warned, there is a boar approaching’ bark. We shone the torch in the direction of Johnny’s gaze and there it was! The minute the circle of light fell on him, he started running. It was a thrill to see the boar run in full view from the safety of the machan. He seemed to have vaulted over the compound wall on our right and when we shone the torch on him, he ran straight ahead, so it was quite a run before he reached the impenetrable darkness of the forest which was on our left. Our cosy perch gave us a vantage view as he raced through the arecanut trees in a distinctly straight line.  Local wisdom says that a boar cannot change his direction easily, so, if ever chased by a boar, dodge him - left and right, side step him neatly and duck behind a tree......that is if you are nimble of foot and quick of thought.  Fortunately we did not have to do either, we were lucky to have climbed onto the machan before the boar vaulted over the wall.

A day-time vantage view of the areca palms through which the boar ran!

But although we are at a height now, I had felt much more secure in our old all-weather tent. Here the wind whipped up a frenzy, the tarpaulin sheets flapped with all their might, the chill really got to me and the cicadas decided to sing with the wind.


Should we opt for the tent again? Oh no, I wouldn’t trade the thrill of sleeping on the machan. The constant fresh breeze, the sight of the swaying arecanut tree tops with the twinkling stars overhead on one side and the moon lit view of all the neighbouring fields guarded by the shadows of the distant hills on the other, continues to lure us right until harvest time!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

A new Bridge.

The highway construction work on the Four-Laning of  NH 17 (now known as NH 66)  is in full swing.  Our recent installation of a Biomechanics Lab at the Department of Sports Sciences at the Manipal University, has us driving along this stretch many times. The inconveniences caused by the diversions, the pot-holed service roads all pale into insignificance when the green fields and arecanut plantations open up to show a brilliant scene of a river!  



And there are so many rivers that we cross in this 80 kms stretch.

Beginning with the Venkatapur river just before Bhatkal, the Chowtani river, the Sumna river near Byndoor, Yadamavu river just after Khambadkone, and so on.....





And then there is the breathtaking view at Trasi where the serene Souparnika river runs parallel to the  pounding Arabian sea. There is just a road separating the ocean from the river and the sight is unforgettable. It is one of our favourite tea halts.  Small tea stalls dot the stretch and you could halt at any one of them and have a cuppa, gazing at the brilliant view.


So, just the other day we were travelling yet again on this road. As we crossed the Panchagangavalli  river, Vivek noticed another bridge running almost parallel to the one we were on, but further downstream. “Hey look at that new bridge!” he exclaimed. “I wonder where it leads to”. 

Look.......a new bridge...can you really spot it?

 There was only one way to find out. Just after our bridge ended, we spotted a right turn which seemed to lead towards that bridge.  So on an impulse, we turned, and after about a km reached the brigde. It was indeed spanking new and there was no traffic on it. Just one Maruti van overtook us in a tearing hurry, stopped just as the bridge ended, dropped off a little school boy and raced past us back to the main road. 


We went at a leisurely pace and found that where the bridge ended - the road too ended. There was nothing beyond except a few houses and a mud path leading further into the greenery.  The little boy was handing over his school bag to his mother who had been waiting there for him. They both watched us as we reached the end of the road. “Is this a new bridge?” I asked her.  She nodded an affirmation. “What did you do before this was built?” I asked her.  “Used the boat of course” she smiled as she walked down the little mud path. 

A ferry for people crossing the Souparnika river.


We enjoyed the glorious scene for a while and then turned back.


Later,  I checked on Google maps and found that we had visited an island called ‘Kannada Kudru’ . Apparently the bridge was built and inaugurated just a few months ago. There are about 60 families living on this little island located in the confluence of the Panchagangavalli river and the Kollur river. Depending solely on the ferry to take them to the mainland, these locals must have had it very tough until the bridge was built.

Surely a lot of unseen good work is being done in these remote locations whose residents have silently borne their lot all these years!






  

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Tallest Tree

I have no idea how and when exactly this happened. 

We were all bought from a nursery  near Kundapur and brought to this farm several years ago.  I still remember the journey.....jostling around in a bright blue pick-up vehicle, racing over rough roads, the breeze pulling back our fronds like crazy, it was the first time me and my siblings were looking at the world beyond our nursery wall.  

The last stretch of the journey was really exciting as the road dipped sharply into what looked like a gurgling brook.  Our new owner got off his two wheeler, so did the co-driver of our vehicle. They waded down into the brook and with mighty yells shepherded the vehicle carefully thru it, all of us tipping dangerously to one side.. and then we were on level ground again.

We spent the night on the porch of the farmhouse, still close together like we did in the nursery.
Next morning we were all taken into the farm and kept in our allocated spots. My favourite siblings were still within sight so I was quite happy. The black plastic casing that bound our roots was cut open and we were lowered carefully and reverently into the huge pit which was to be our home for life!  


It smelt good and the feel of the humus-rich soil was so soothing!  Freedom at last! I was raring to go and grow! My roots sucked in the sweet water and my fronds rippled in the breeze.  The tall slender arecanut trees around us looked down ‘frondly’ on us – new babes in the woods.. they seemed to whisper.



I don’t know whether it was my curiosity to look over into the neighbours land or the new diet so different from the chemicals fed to us in the nursery, or the superbly clean air of an arecanut farm, but within a few months I was several heads above my nearest siblings.  Probably some of my other siblings who were located at a distance may have grown taller, but we would never know until we towered over the dense plantation.  Soon I was looking down on the tops of the arecanut trees, but I could not see any other of my siblings yet.  Bit by bit, they started showing the tops of their heads above the areca plants, but by then I was way above the rest.



So I am indeed the tallest coconut tree on this side of the stream!  The tree climber who comes to harvest coconuts (I have heard his name is Lakshmana) makes a big fuss about climbing up my trunk, he pauses twice on his way up, and sheepishly admits that he is scared of (such) heights!




So I am the one who can catch  the first sight of every train that passes Chitrapur station, I am the one who can catch a whiff of the storm that is about to break over this beautiful landscape, I am the one the monkeys don’t bother to jump onto, I am the one the hornbills love to perch on. 



  And when my family goes up the hill with their dogs, I  can see them climbing higher and higher till they are at the very top of the hill and they never fail to turn around and let their eyes rest on me a while before walking on.  I hear them tell their friends “Can you see that tall coconut tree towering over all the others?  That patch of green surrounding it – that is our farm.”  


Friday, 1 July 2016

Home Alone.... and Help at last!


Vivek managed to postpone his trip by 2 days in the hope that we could get someone to atleast milk the cows, as I found this task the most difficult. Hands used to excessive computer usage (courtesy my programming days) don’t take easily to ‘high pressure’ jobs like these!  
Coming to think about it, you don’t really need to exert very high pressure between your thumb and fingers when you are milking. If you do it right, you could be making smooth, fluid movements like a dancer and still have a steady stream of frothy, creamy milk fast filling into the milking pail. But alas, I have not yet mastered the technique! 

Luckily enough, just the day before Vivek was to leave one of  our acquaintances called up to say that he could get someone to do the milking for us. ‘Only the milking – he has no time for any other jobs’ he said. Fine, at least one task would be taken care of!

So, enter Subraya the milkman. Tall, gangly with a tooth-y smile, arms flailing about as he walked in and looked around the cow shed. We had just finished milking the cows when he came in. Only country cows, no Jersey’s or crossbred? he exclaimed.  His speech was rapid-fire kannada and I could barely follow. He saw the milk pails and asked ‘finished?’ . I pointed out to Madhubala and said ‘not her, she kicks’ 

Aaah he said and started walking towards her with his hand extended towards her udders. Madhubala rolled her eyes, snorted and started on what was surely one of her terrible tantrums.  Be careful, she kicks! ...........Do you need a rope? ....... Should I hold a feed bucket out for her?.....Subraya paid no attention to my questions. He was walking towards her slowly like a cat towards its prey, making clucking sounds, soothing sounds, undeterred by her monstrous behaviour. A couple of thwacks on her bottom when she kicked, his right hand still extended towards her udder, still making the clucking sounds, and Madhubala started calming down. He started milking her and yelled out to me ‘Patra kodee’ – hand me the vessel. I promptly did so and the comforting sound of the jets of milk falling into an empty vessel soon replaced by the sound of a frothing container were heard! Oh what a marvellous relief!  Madhubala did continue to snort a bit and moved her legs a bit as if to kick but Subraya was ready with a deft slap and a louder snort which seemed to tell her ‘Behave Yourself!’   And Madhubala did behave herself! 

My admiration for these locals grows in leaps and bounds!  

So Subraya took care of milking all the milch animals, heralding his arrival twice a day with a ting-a-ling-ting of his bicycle. He was a quick worker and finished his task in less than half an hour.

Well, about the other tasks, I managed some, left some undone, messed up some like the irrigation...... Before he left, Vivek  had tried to explain the complex irrigation system to me and after 20 minutes of his lecture, I realised I had not followed anything, So out came my note book. He patiently repeated everything and I took down notes like these:

·         Open the valve near the ‘3 bamboo’ section.
·         If you are watering the nutmeg tree section then open the valve near the Bridelia tree, else open the one near the Mango trees section
·         After you close the main hatch, don’t dawdle all the way to the pump else it will create an air-lock – which means the pump starts but no water comes out of the sprinkler system!  
·         Water this section in the morning that one in the afternoon, and next day this one.....and so on
·         Put only 12 sprinkler heads in this section, that section can handle 18...and so on...
No time to stand and stare -----race to the pump-house


The Bridelia tree - A close-up of its thorny-glory!



I thought I had understood everything.  I systematically numbered the sprinkler heads P1, P2, P3....and so on. But when I started doing it....aaarrgghhhh...Euclid’s theorem on Prime numbers seemed easier!
Is this valve open or closed ? How can a simple thing like this confuse me?

P1, P2, P3.......


But pretty soon the week was over and Vivek was back. I had managed fairly well, no burst pipelines. no ruined pump or anything major like that.

Shortly after that our farmer friend Sonnu informed us that his nephew from Hudil was willing to work on our farm. He knows this kind of work well and he is a willing worker he said. So ‘Yogesh’  joined us. True to Sonnu’s description he is a good and willing worker.


Now that the tough time has passed, looking back we realise what a fantastic learning experience it has been for us! We have the confidence that we can handle almost any task on the farm... well almost any......ahem..almost......except  probably our darling Madhubala’a milking!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

A terribly sad event..........and the days that followed.

The morning that we received the news about our farm hand Manjunath’s fall, we had no idea how long he would take to recover, and also whether he would be able to work like before again.

But no matter what, the work on the farm must go on.




So we geared up to meet the situation to the best of our abilities.

 And did I mention that my trusted maid Revathi had quit a couple of months prior to this incident because she was in the family way? Her health was a bit fragile and anyway after the baby she could not continue, hence I had bid a sad farewell to her.

I had tried my best to get a suitable replacement, but had not succeeded. Most people in the village found our home too far, the dogs too scary and the sheer amount of work too daunting. So I had been managing the house work as well.  Manjunath had willingly taken on some of her tasks like washing the cow shed, mixing the cow feed, giving the cows an extra feed of dry hay etc.

Our mornings usually began with giving the cows their morning feed. Now we would have to milk the cows and Madhubala the buffalo as well. Vivek is good at it and  while I gave the cows their feed buckets, he  milked the  3 milch cows – Shabari, Shravani and Kaveri. 

Ever so gentle Shabari

Kaveri

Shravani


All three of them docilely accepted the change and Vivek had no trouble milking them.


And then Madhubala.......Madhubala our sweet buffalo has a mind of her own. She decided that she did not want to be milked  by either of us. And how did she express it!  She threw a tantrum, the likes of which I had never seen before. She not only kicked with one powerful hoof, she could kick with both simultaneously. The result would be her 200 kgs of bulk levitating several inches off the ground and landing with a forceful thud. She could also throw her weight around- literally – although she was tethered securely to a metal frame, she could hurl her weight at you if you got too close.   After several futile attempts, we had to give up, we let her calf Madhuwanti drink as much as she wanted to. There was double risk in doing this as sometimes the calves cannot digest too much milk and get diarrhoea and not milking the animal completely can lead to a nightmare named Bovine Mastitis. The situation continued for a whole week until we got a person solely for milking the animals.

Sweet (?) Madhubala!


The next major task was irrigating the plantation.  We have a rather complex irrigation system and this task involves opening some valves, closing some others, changing the sprinkler heads criss crossing the plantation according to the combination of the valves, releasing air traps in the system and then finally switching on the pump!   Once the pump is on, ensuring that all the overhead tanks – for home use, for the cow shed, for the service shed get filled properly, closing their inlet valves as soon as they fill and then to water the few flowering plants in the area surrounding the house. Whew..! And then not to forget switching the pump off  before the water gets exhausted. Remember it is the third week of March and our water situation is quite critical.

And then the myriad other tasks like picking the fallen coconuts, clearing the fallen areca palm fronds and slicing off the sheath portion (which goes towards making the eco-friendly areca plates), chopping the fronds in the chaff-cutter to put into the compost, cleaning and washing the cow-shed, cooking the dog’s meals, feeding all the animals, letting the cows out after their milking, letting them in again when they come and tethering them back in their correct places......so on and so forth. 

We tried hard to maintain a schedule so that we could complete all the tasks between the two of us, but it was tough. Still it wasn’t as tough as the week when Vivek had to urgently travel out on work and I had to manage the farm alone.

But more of that in my next post...

Sunday, 19 June 2016

A terribly sad event......

It is the last week of March...the earth looks drier than it ever has at this time of the year. The news about the drought situation across the country is dismal.  Our own water situation looks grim.
We were discussing the situation with our farm hand Manjunath and he mentioned that the water in his well had almost completely dried up and he had initiated the work of digging it still deeper. This year he planned on putting in rings (large concrete rings that prevent the walls of the well from caving in).

The next morning at 7 am, the phone rang. It was Manjunath’s son-in-law. He had called to inform us that Manjunath had a fall.  He had fallen into his well while he was working around it!  This was terrible news!  How badly was he injured? His son-in-law could not say for sure. They were already on the way to the hospital and all we could do was pray and hope that he wasn’t badly injured.
Later on in the day his son-in-law informed us that he was admitted to a hospital in Mangalore and he had a fracture of a Lumbar vertebrae –L1. 

A  surgery, a prolonged stay in the hospital, and now a slow arduous path to recovery...


As I write this, he has recovered to a point of being able to walk around in his house, but is still pain. We hope and pray that he has a smooth recovery and we will be able to hear the calves announce his arrival as he crosses the little gate at the end of our rice fields every morning.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Doggie Treats.

Phoenix has always been a fussy eater  -  apart from his two meals of rice, milk and chicken, he does not eat any of the snacks like biscuits or toasts that the other dogs enjoy.  He looks mournfully at them crunching up the tidbits, but refuses to have them himself. 

Phoenix as a little pup


The only snack that he ever enjoys and begs for is the ‘chewstick’.   Now this is a doggie treat that all of them love, but it is something that is not available in Chitrapur or its vicinity. So our Mumbai trips always have a visit to the petshop where we buy enough to last us until our next trip.  And still sometimes that is not enough!  

No, thanks, I don't eat human-biscuits


We can never sneak one out of the packet and give only Phoenix when the others are munching their share of human-biscuits. Oh,no – for Phoenix refuses to eat one all by himself. He waits till everyone is around  and then takes his. It may seem strange especially since most dogs just grab the treats. But not Phoenix – he is the gentle one, he likes to share his treats! 


A couple of months back, we ran out of chew-sticks way before our trip to the city.  And Phoenix’s expression became so mournful, that I did not even venture near my bookshelf. The bookshelf ?   Yes, the packet of chewsticks is always kept on the top shelf of our bookshelf for easy access.  You just have to step near it and Phoenix is there right behind you looking hopefully for a treat.



We had a visitor the other day and when I went in to get some tea, he wandered around and stood in front of the bookshelf looking at the collection. Something in the top shelf caught his attention and he started taking out the book when he sensed some activity behind him. He turned around to see four dogs gathered around him watching his every move and he froze. I walked out with the tea just then and seeing his  expression burst out laughing.  “Have you trained the dogs so that no one can touch your books?”,  he asked. He had a hearty laugh too when I told him about the chewsticks!
So you can imagine how it is when we exhaust our supply of chewsticks. 


Sigh.....this is how it feels to have a chewstick-less existence
I had to do something and thought of making some doggie biscuits at home. A couple of eggs mixed directly into whole wheat flour (no unhealthy refined flour for my darlings you see), and a dough mixed together with chicken stock.  I shaped it into a log, sliced it into biscuits and baked them.  





D-shaped Doggie biscuits - just so that the humans know whom it is meant for



They were tough to break, since I had not used any baking soda. Now the real test – would Phoenix eat them?  I called out to all of them and they came obediently into the kitchen. I handed out the first one to Phoenix, he sniffed at it, thought for a moment, looked around to make sure that all the others were also there and then accepted it delicately.  

It sure smells good, guess there is no harm in tasting it.


Hurrah!  He carried it out to his favourite chair, and sat and ate it and was back for more!  Hurrah indeed! 
So now I have home-made doggie treats for our canine quartet!




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