Usha was about 6 months old when we brought her back from the old Mt. Kailasa farm
in Hopland. We had just settled in Cloverdale. At the time, my father had 50 acres and there
was plenty of land for livestock.
Usha pictured on the right with horns ,is a Brown Swiss cow - they are known for their
hardiness and good natures . Usha rode home with us in a Volkswagen van resting her rear
end on the back seat and trying to get her head with 3 inch horns out the side window.
I’d never owned a cow before , but had plenty of experience with many other animals
She frightened me a bit with her strength and determined nature.
At the time I didn’t realize how much cows want and need group companionship. We soon
became her herd and she didn’t want us very far from her. Occasionally she would get out
from where we had her and she wasted no time running back and jumping up onto the porch
to the floor to ceiling windows and look in at the Deities and wonder where we were.
Usha was our first cow and she came with a pair of horns. She lures people in with her big
brown eyes and demand rubs and affection. But when you would try and leave she used her
horns to keep you there. I'd have to rescue or supervise guests that wanted to visit with her
as she could be intimidating with her horns. Now in her old age, she isn’t so demanding and
is content and happy to get whatever back rubs and massages anyone has to offer. When I
visit her she lets me lean on her(its hard for me to walk very far due to my many injuries and
surgeries)as we walk along she keeps pace with me, stopping when I stop and plodding
along with me all the way back to the gate. After I leave she watches me walk away for
awhile, then she starts her way back to the rest of the herd of cows.
Vrinda a black and white Holstein was our next addition. I got her on impulse- not a good
thing to do , by the way.Ideally you are already prepared for any animals you bring home.
But , one day when I was passing Petaluma on the way home from the Temple, and I noticed
the livestock auction yard was open. I had my kids with me and a dog kennel with a german
shepherd in the back of the station wagon, stuffed with kids clothes and such. I felt
compelled to stop. When I entered stock yard they were just starting to bring in the the
“drop calves” to the auction stage .Drop are calves that are just born, or a few days born.
They wander around in a daze, looking for their moms and mooing constantly in distress.
Their moos have an almost pleading sound. Some of them are so weak they don’t stand and
walk forward with the others, so the yard help slaps them with some smashed cans, when
that doesn’t get them up he uses a “hot rod” an electrical prod. An instrument like a stick,
with electrical prods on the ends. It is shocking and painful to be zapped as anyone who has
been shocked by electricity knows. When the weak cows get shocked they holler in pain and
distress. The guys prod them some more, and more, some don’t move - they are dying from
Some of these calves have been dropped off at the stockyard the day before and have had
nothing to drink. Two guys next try picking them up and twisting their tails. It was really hard
to watch. Some get up, walk a few steps and fall. I saw one heifer calf at the end of the
group. She is about 7th from the end.
From the looks of it she is the only female. Right then I decided I wanted her as a
companion for Usha. I couldn’t save them all , but perhaps one less calf would go to
I quickly went and got a bidding number. By the time I got back to the arena she was about
to come in… I climbed in the bleachers with my kids, feeling uncomfortable and nervous. I
was obviously out of place, with my arm full of kids and long devotee dress. My turn came, I
bid, but the farmers knew I wanted her and bid also, even though all the other calves were
taken by the veal farmer. Finally they all started laughing when the bid reached a laughable
amount in their view. I think I paid $35.00 for her, that was in 1989.
Vrinda was the first cow I milked. She gave A LOT of milk. We had milk for breakfast lunch
and dinner, and many products made from milk. I gained a lot of weight…. At that time I hand
milked and it took me 2 hours in the morning and night.. And she gave 2 large stainless steel
buckets worth each time.! I milked in the heat, and the rain,and with my babies in car seats,
as I didn’t have a real place to tie her. She was good and tolerant for the most part.
When I would come out to milk her I would call to her and she would always Mooo back to
me. She did that through out her life. Vrinda died this past fall, in the middle of the night. She
looked as if she died in her sleep. She was lucky to have a long happy life, unlike most cows.
Vrinda had one bull calf ,named Buddhi, that was made into an ox. He was in training with
Jagat guru das. Buddhi was a difficult and very stubborn student. However, he could drag a
6 ft young strong brahmacari down the road without any problem. He also could jump fences
and gates over 4 ft when he wanted out. On several occasions he jumped the pasture gate
and ran down the residential area street towards the freeway. Eventually, I had to move him
to a place he couldn’t jump out of. We eventually had to move and I ended up on a smaller
piece of land, planning to stay there for a few years and then moving to a bigger place.
Next I got a milking shorthorn, Rohini and then Chandi, another one from different
ranchers. They no doubt were headed for burgers, or fertilizer or dog food perhaps.Chandi
passed away from eye cancer in 2009, she heard Srila Prabhupada and Japa, had
prasadam, and had sacred water for all the Holy Rivers in India in the weeks before she
passed on. Chandi never had a calf and was about 10 years old when she died. Cows with
lighter colored skin, and in her case, eye lids are more likely to get skin cancer. She is
pictured on the right in the corral with Chandra 2.
Around 2003 we got a Jersey Chandra 2, from the Petaluma auction. She had had her
tail cut off and it was also broken in several places. She was difficult at first as she had never
had a halter, nor been petted or touched in any nice way.
She didn’t know how to graze from a pasture, and also came with a raging case of mastitis.
Frequent contact mellowed her out and she even let my kids milk her eventually. When my
husband had a heart attack I had to dry her up and retired her to the pasture with the other
cows. She died one night of unknown causes. We do not know how old she was, but we were
happy she got to live many years in a beautiful pasture with friends.
Eventually Rohini gave birth to Cintamani- her sire, a Jersey bull. Cintamani is somewhat
moody like her mother, but overall she is a nice cow, and is very vocal about wanting us to
hurry up in the morning to milk.
She is very pretty being dark red with white socks.
And the list goes on…Kamadhenu, Veda, Lila , Little Brahma, more cows,
time marches on, and so do we. Now we are getting older and I wonder how long I can
continue to keep the cows. I wish I could find a nice home for Cintamani and the calf
Maha Lakshmi - an unplanned and unexpected calf that arrived a few months ago. I
had wanted to only have smaller sized cows in the future, as my body is getting weaker as I
age. I wish there were more aspiring young cowherd boys and girls to continue with the
cows. If you know of any devotees how are financially capable of keeping a cow and would
like one of the younger cows please write me, the older ones will stay put.
|The Cows and Bulls of