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“The problem in North America is that because of the snow (which is rarely found in India), one has to cut hay and grow corn to store for the winter. Wheel-driven gears pulled by either horses or mules, not oxen, turn the Number 7 hay cutter. Oxen can plow and disc/harrow. They may be able to pull the Number 9 hay cutter, but I doubt it. The gears have to go a certain speed so the machine doesn't bog down.”


Self-Sufficient Cow Protection
By Garuda dasa

Hare Krishna. My name is Garuda dasa, an aspiring devotee. The following is an article I have wanted to send for a long time to "CHAKRA" and this morning I decided to punch it out.

Self-Sufficient Cow Protection by Garuda dasa

Cow protection in ISKCON has taken many forms over the life of movement. Today we are stuck in a simple cow retirement program where there are large donations being generated from city dwelling devotees to pay for hay and grain to feed the cows, and tractors are being used to do any serious work needed to be done on the Krishna farms. (I am mainly speaking of North America).

I spoke to the Prabhu in charge of New Vrindaban self-sufficient farming and he remarked that 50% of his time is being spent maintaining a barrage of gas-powered tools that aid his efforts. H.H. Varsana Swami reminds me that Srila Prabhupada said: "the tractor is the killer of the Ox."

In my pursuits for self-sufficient farming and cow protection, I decided to start from scratch. Hastened by Y2K, I spent two years preparing for something I have wanted to do all my life, farm with draft animals. I moved to Kentucky from my cushy suburban preaching situation in Florida and bought land in a farming rural community. The land is in the national forest on a spring-fed, protected river. There are lush meadow farmlands, caves, small mountains and waterfalls. The winter snow is mild.

After searching for 13 years for such a place, I knew I had found a sweet place to start. There I sought help from my good friend and Prabhu, Varsana Maharaja (who I feel is the most capable for training and raising draft animals), and after discussions based in logic I was convinced to go with a large pair of draft mules.

The problem in North America is that because of the snow (which is rarely found in India), one has to cut hay and grow corn to store for the winter. Wheel-driven gears pulled by either horses or mules, not oxen, turn the Number 7 hay cutter. Oxen can plow and disc/harrow. They may be able to pull the Number 9 hay cutter, but I doubt it. The gears have to go a certain speed so the machine doesn't bog down.

Once one accepts the draft mule/horse prospectus, many other items of helpfulness become apparent. Mules are the strongest draft animal, pound per pound, and their endurance in the heat is unparalleled. They are unjustly called stubborn, because actually they are extremely smart, and therefore act to avoid problems (when trained properly). They can be used as transportation by horseback or wagon and are able to be used by a single driver to work the whole plethora of implements. Oxen, because they are steered from the nose (when novice oxen or drivers are employed) are in need of a two-man team (one steering in the front one working the implement). In the old days that was okay because there were extra men and children who had nothing to do but work the fields. Nowadays you're lucky to scrape one man together who is interested, let alone can drive any oxen expertly, which is what it takes to do it single-handedly.

The foundation with draft mules/horses is a great way to start an "Amish" Krishna type farm-- a way to get off on the right foot without ever employing tractors. Lord Sri Krishna used to herd goats with His cows. The goats would eat the underbrush/stickers and the cows would clean the grass fields. This is called a symbiotic relationship. In my short discussions with some devotees, I got sauced for using mule power instead of ox power. "What happened to Ox power?" they would say. I would answer them "Yes, what happened to Ox power!" Why aren’t they being used full time? Why are we relying heavily on outside donations to feed them in the winter? Who has a plan to change this fall within the ISCOW program? The draft mules can grow food, grain and hay for Krishna and his devotees, as well and the cows and mules!

I am confident after my research and driving mules for a year and a half that it is possible to have rural "Amish" type Krishna farms in America and elsewhere with no electricity (except solar) and all those other adaptations that will keep devotees disconnected from the "grid".

My unfortunate scenario is that the community that I share with (although nice vegetarian/healers) is not made up of devotees. I have since sold my last pair of mules and am out in the world looking for a way to manifest such a Krishna farm so Srila Prabhupada can give shelter to myself and other devotees. I still have all the harnesses and implements, old time tools, more organic seeds and processing equipment. I went all the way for Y2K and am quite proud of it. It made me do in 2 years what would have taken me 10 years to accomplish.

Now I am on a mission to start a kind of devotee farm. For me it has to be a fresh start--building to perfect a self-sufficient model for an eco-village where all creatures are part of lord Krishna's lila. The medicine is threefold: (1) Getting back to (serving) the earth,(2) Getting back to (serving) each other (and all of Govinda's creatures), and (3) Getting Back to Godhead! I strongly feel that this is where the movement needs to go to make the 10,000 year stretch that is predicted by lord Caitanyadeva, as well as the total medicine (or horse pill, as we say) to fix this misguided world (which is divided from the above 3 things).

One day the cities will fall. One Native American teacher once told me "each one step we take will be like a hundred hard steps not too far in the future, so make everything you do count.” It is up to each new generation to come up with inventive ideas to forward this movement, and Krishna is the doer, so I'll end here. Please e-mail me for encouragement garudadasa@yahoo.com I hope to offer these efforts, however meager or great they may be, at the lotus feet of my spiritual Master H.H. Hridayananda Goswami.

Your servant,

Garuda dasa

© CHAKRA 11-January-2001

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