My Dad's Gaushala
My Dad's Gaushala7 mins 17.2K 7 mins 17.2K
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon at our house in Mumbai and we were enjoying the delicacies prepared by my mother at lunch. Suddenly, my dad said, “I have decided what I want to do post retirement”.
“I want to do dairy farming”
Now, since this was just few months prior to his retirement, logic would say that his comments had to be taken seriously. But the words uttered by him had us bursting into laughters. He said, “I want to do dairy farming”. Now given the fact that he had worked in an Oil Marketing PSU which had no connection with the dairy industry, his statement surprised or rather shocked us.
In my mind I was like what is he talking, but still managed to tell him that it was a great idea. My wife went to the extent of telling that she will join him in this endeavour and dad even offered her the post of a Director in his farm.
“From where will you get the money? How will you manage?”
I think both my wife and me were sure that this just one of those fancy ideas which would fizzle away in few days. And probably my mom was the only person who understood the gravity of dad’s statement. I think she knew that dad was serious about it. She said, “From where will you get the money? How will you manage?” She said many other things, most of which ended in a question mark.
Then dad’s phone rang and he got busy talking while we finished our lunch. Next day, I along with my wife came back to Bengaluru to resume our work and the words ‘dairy farming’ slowly faded away from our memories. At least, that’s what we had thought.
Discussion was more serious.
Around a month later, we were back in Mumbai and those words again came up much to the dismay of my mother. She had visualised a quiet life roaming around the world post dad’s retirement and these words hinted towards anything but a quiet life. This time around, the discussion seemed more serious.
Dad had done his homework over the past one month and had a clear cut plan in his mind. The location was going to be his small farm land in Noida. He planned to build a cottage which he called his new office. Not yet realising that this idea might take off, I was busy giving him fancy ideas like having a jeep to go to the farm from our house which was about 45 minutes drive.
It was French and Latin as far as I was concerned.
On his next visit to Noida, he got the work started at the farm to build shelter for the cows and a cottage for himself. He decided to put solar panels on the roof of the cottage which would take care of the power requirements. By this time, all of us knew that he meant business. So, now the next important question was to decide the breed of the cow. Initially he suggested ‘Jersey cows’ and then later on said that he will go for ‘Desi cows’. It was french and latin as far as I was concerned.
Gaushala became the buzzword in the house
Soon, dad’s retirement time came and in his retirement speech he invited all his colleagues to his ‘Gaushala’. This remained the buzzword in our house for the next few months. Meanwhile, dad made couple of trips to Karnal and Rohtak for cattle purchase. Apparently, he attended a ‘cattle fair’ in Karnal which is supposed to have some of the best breeds. This all seemed surreal to us since my dad is very finicky about cleanliness and generally avoids going to places where there is even an iota of a chance for his clothes to get dirty.
On his return, he said that his ‘Gaushala’ will have the ‘Sahiwal’ breed of cows. A bit of googling told me that Sahiwal was a city in Pakistan and it was in this city that the Indian cricket team led by Bishan Singh Bedi had forfeited an ODI in 1978. And this breed originally came from that very city from the other side of the border.
Dad’s business partners changed from CFOs & Marketing Heads to Doodhwalas.
Dad explained us the average daily yield of this breed. For a person, who had been dealing with oil & diesel prices for the last 35 years or so, dad had made significant progress in exploring about cows. He had also arranged for a caretaker who would live in a hut in the farm all the time.
Now, everything seemed set and it was just a matter of my parents shifting to Noida and inaugurating the ‘Gaushala’. However, we didn’t know that the real fun was just about to get started.
As my dad would have later realised, it was one thing to negotiate deals with international airlines for oil prices, but negotiating with cows on the daily yield of milk was a different ball game altogether. His business partners had changed from CFOs & Marketing Heads of airlines to Doodhwalas and Dairy owners within a span of few months.
He started with two cows and the milk was sold in the colony where my parents lived. Mom started vegetable farming with the help of the caretaker. I visited the place around two weeks after the commencement of operations. The farm land was on the banks of Yamuna and I had loved the place since the time it was purchased around a decade back. But now with the cottage, vegetable farming and the cows it seemed even nicer. Also, I was getting the best quality homemade Rabri and Paneer from the milk of the farm, so I was more than happy.
Mom takes control of the finances.
While I was basking in the lap of nature, dad was busy getting gadgets for his new found passion. Long back, he had purchased a mobile tablet device when I had probably not even heard about a tablet; so when he decided to install a CCTV camera at the farm it did not come as a surprise to me. Yes, the financial outflow did worry my mom.
She got even more worried when more cows were added to the farm and that is when she decided to take care of the finances. She purchased an account book and all the expenses (be it small or big) had to be entered in it. Dad had his own excel, but mom liked the traditional pen & paper way. And with that pen & paper, mom took over the monetary control.
A strenuous schedule...
So, a usual day for my parents would start at around 4:30 AM with dad leaving for the farm at 5:00 AM. Morning yield of milk would be brought home by our driver and mom would cross verify the quality and quantity. She would then handover the list of houses to the driver where milk needed to be delivered. In between, mom would prepare and pack breakfast & lunch for dad to be taken by the driver to the farm. Dad would then come back after the evening yield of milk around 7:00 PM and mom would again ensure that the milk is delivered to the right houses.
This was the schedule if everything went as per the plan. However, there would be days when the cow was sick or the driver would take an unplanned leave. If all was well, then the cow would kick away the milk bucket or give less milk. All this, would mean replanning the supply and on occasions my mom making a call to the customers that milk would be delayed. Then, in the rainy season; tension loomed over the farm due its proximity to Yamuna. Water had been released from the Hathnikund dam and it had come very close to the farm. Such was the state that dad had already made arrangements to shift the cattle if the need arose.
So, in short it was a strenuous schedule for both of them and there was scope of streamlining the process. With passage of time, backups were made for each tasks and sufficient buffer was added to the demand.
“Each day is a new day at the farm. There’s never a dull moment”.
Things have become smoother as compared to earlier and dad doesn’t have to spend the entire day at the farm. He still keeps on adding new equipments like the fogging machine, lactometer and the AC at the cottage. One new breed called Thaparkar has also been added to the farm and to my dictionary. But as he had once said to me, “Each day is a new day at the farm. There’s never a dull moment”.