Vasaant has been helping the Pillaiyar kulam this past week. One of his morning activities is to begin the work day at the monastery dairy farm. For the past three days Vasaant has been learning how to milk. Vasaant is a quick-learn, and after observing Shanmuganathaswami for one day, and on the second day he went through the milking routine by himself, with some coaching. Here he is on the third day with our lovable little Jersey Anu, having quickly caught on to the milking process. Vasaant said "I would not have had the chance to do this in Singapore. There are no dairy farms in the CBD." (Central Business District for those who don't live in Singapore.)
Part of the morning cow milking routine is to feed the seventy-plus wild birds who come like clockwork for their breakfast. Our youngest Holstein Teji does not understand why Vasaant is not giving her some of the seeds. Please give me some…
Vasaant, being a kind-hearted and compassionate soul, offers Teji a scrumptious cube of alfalfa hay which she eagerly grasps from his hand. Cows don't reach for grass or hay cubes with their teeth, they use their looong tongue and pull the food into their mouth and swallow it (well, maybe a couple of chews for taste). Later they will bring the grass or hay cube up from one of their four stomachs a piece at a time and chew on it. It is called "chewing their cud." Teji is also a big fan of oranges and grapefruits as she fully realizes the importance of vitamin C in her diet, especially in the cold and flu season.
Vasaant is now the best of friends with sweet, little Anu, and Anu thinks Vasaant is her "BFF." She has big, long horns but never uses them to show her "might" to the other cows or to her human friends. In fact, she thinks she is a person, always has been since she was a keiki (Hawaiian for child), and wonders why the humans don't eat and enjoy the grass and hay cubes like she does. "How come you only eat the oranges?"
No shortage of delicious grass here. Anu has been milking for about eight months and gives about four gallons of milk each day which the monks use for yogurt, cream for coffee and abhishekam for the temple Deities. Being a math wizard, Vasaant quickly determined that she has given at least 960 gallons since her calf, Mela, was born in June, 2010. The monastery dairy is one of only two dairy operations we know of on Kauai. The dairy is partially funded by the Cows of Kadavul and Iraivan Temples (Kovil Maadu) Endowment (fund #77), one of 84 funds with Hindu Heritage Endowment.