Another early morning at the Krishna Village. Walking towards the paddock amidst the dew and early morning light, a group of around twenty cows becomes visible, calves and their mothers huddled around the milking shed. A mixture of black and white friesians and light brown and white Indian gyrs, they are waiting patiently to be herded after the daily 5am milking, an activity that can be joined by any Krishna Village guest who wishes to attend.
Claire, one of their main custodians, explains how despite being vegan she drinks this milk because it is ‘ahimsa’ milk - obtained in a non violent way. Unlike the cows at mainstream dairies, these cows are milked by hand, leaving them with more than enough milk for their calves, who are free to stay with their mothers from birth. Visible most times of day in the paddocks eating grass or frolicking with their friends, the cows are an integral part of the Krishna Farm, considered sacred by Hare Krishnas and loved by everyone in the community.
Claire explains that on a typical day after milking at 5am she takes the milk up to the temple and strains it, the temple kitchen then using this as an offering to the deities, turning it into curd or using it for any one of a number of milk sweets. The milk produced also goes towards making curd burgers and other dairy products available for sale at the Sunday Feast, and is available for purchase in small numbers.
At 9.30am it’s time for bullock training, and any maintenance work that needs to be done. The bulls are trained first with voice commands, preparing them for pulling carts and ploughing the fields which make up the Krishna Village's organic gardens. There are around 80 cows on the property, roughly half of these living a happy retired life in some paddocks a little further away beyond the lotus lake.
Free to roam and always being admired by devotees and Krishna Village guests alike, the Krishna cows are among the happiest and most docile creatures I’ve ever seen, each with their own quirks and personalities. Next time you’re visiting take the opportunity to wander down into the tranquil paddocks and meet them for yourself - there’s nothing quite like friendly cow cuddles any time of day.
If you’d like to support the Krishna Farm and their bovine family you can also decide to sponsor a cow through the farm's cow protection program. This means you are being given the privilege of naming a cow (in Sanskrit, of course), receiving updates on their progress throughout life and - of course - being welcome to come visit your cow anytime. Find out more about the cow sponsorship program.