Its been a while since we posted an update about the protected cows at our ashram in Odisha. Some people have been asking us, “How does Baladeva the bull calf look today now that he is all grown up?” Let me share some photos of the cows along with the new goshala we built for them, which gives them more space and a bit more comfort.
Originally we were keeping all of the cows in a temporary shed we had made for them, but it was designed to accommodate just 1 or 2 cows. As their numbers increased it became too crowded for them, and in addition they had very little open space to move around outside.
Here are some photos of them in the old goshala, which served its purpose, but left a lot to be desired for the cows.
Wanting to provide them with more freedom of movement, we decided to shift them over to 12 cents of land we had originally planned to use for building a temple for the ashram. The larger land would give them a lot of freedom to roam around during the day, but we would need to build them a new goshala for them to stay in at night. This would protect them from the rain during the rainy season, protect them from mosquitoes at night, and keep them warm during the cold winter months.
Now the new goshala is completed, and the cows have a spacious and comfortable place to stay, which gives them complete freedom to move around. We have put ceiling fans in their rooms to keep flies away, and have added mosquito netting to the windows so that they are not bothered by mosquitoes at night.
In the day time they are free to roam throughout the compound, and in the night if there are mosquitoes we put them inside to sleep, after having smoked their rooms to chase out mosquitoes. During months that there are no mosquitoes we leave the doors open and they are free to sleep either inside or outside, usually preferring to sleep outside under the stars.
Here are a few photos of the construction work on the goshala building.
The cows are all very happy to be in their new house, with complete freedom to roam around, but we don’t want to stop here. Ideally the cows should be able to graze in open grassland, and we should be able to grow fresh green tall grass for them to eat, rather than feeding them commercial cow feed. Several times we have tried growing tall grass for them to eat, and they love it, but in the city we don’t have enough space to grow sufficient grass for regular use. It becomes a treat once in a while.
So our next project for the cows is to somehow acquire 5 acres of farm land outside of the city where we can create a proper environment for the cows, where they can graze in open fields on fresh green grass. For cows to remain healthy they need proper exercise, which they get by grazing in open fields, and of course they need to eat fresh green grass.
At present we feed them a combination of dried rice straw (which we collect after the rice harvesting season), along with powdered wheat husk (called locally as bhusi), as well as a commercial feed pellet made by Godrej. They are satisfied with this, but we still feel they need access to green grass, and should be able to spend time in the fields exercising. In the city its not possible, as land is too expensive and open fields no longer exist.
We will try to keep you updated on the ashram cows and our efforts to get grazing land for them. Here are a few more photos of the cows enjoying freedom in their compound.
Feeding Spinach to the Ashram Cows:
From time to time a spinach salesman passes by our ashram on his bicycle and we buy all of his spinach to feed to our cows. Here is a short video of one such time.