Visitors at our Farm August 30 2013
The most glorious of all the visitors on our farm is obviously the peacock. The rains really have them dancing in full glory, but we haven’t been able to capture one on the cam as yet. They strut around delicately and can take off in a graceful flight when they hear us approaching. They make their presence know with loud cries that are answered by their counterparts from far. The whole forest resounds with their cries cascading and falling in decibels.
The other feathered visitors sure make a cacophony announcing their arrival. The hornbills perch on top of the coconut trees and make loud raucous screeching sounds.
The resident snakes of our farm are indeed a fearless and curious lot. Most of them are the common rat-snakes.
An occasional poisonous snake does make an appearance. One of them apparently is a tree-top resident. So I guess it was pretty easy for him to slide down the branch overhanging our kitchen and come into the house to escape the scorching heat. He made himself comfortable on one of the rafters. When I walked into the kitchen sweating after the farm work, the first thing I did was gulp down some water. As I raised my head to drink, I looked right into two beady eyes – probably awakened by my footsteps. But this visitor was pretty cool and did not panic, in fact he yawned and went back to snooze. I would have ignored him, but Revati our maid saw him just then and panicked. She ran out and called Manjunath (our farm-hand) and came back with a long pole. Both of them tapped the rafters and made enough noise to make him slither out of the roof.
The Russels Viper is a sluggish one who is sighted very rarely. And when he does come near, Johnny is the only one who growls a deep warning and stays away. The other dogs, city bred as they are will want to go close and need to be restrained.
The other day, one young snake found its way into the cool area beneath the kitchen sink. I would have never noticed it, had it not been for Posha our cat suddenly acting very strange. He fluffed up like a massive fur ball with special sound effects thrown in for a dramatic effect. I shone the torch into the area to see two beady eyes. We directed and trapped the snake in a long hollow pipe and then carried him out where he slithered away into the greenery.
The un-welcome visitors are the silent, destructive types. Many a morning we find banana plants fallen over with the white core of the entire trunk scraped out. The heavy trampling around the plant and the huge droppings tell us that the wild boar had decided to pay a nocturnal visit to our farm.
Then there is the ‘Vanar-sena’ that leaps and bounds around at dizzying heights causing destruction in its path. Tender shoots of the bread-fruit tree, papaya plants, bananas, mangoes, all are destroyed. The dogs try to chase them frantically, but they seem least bothered by the crazed barking and continue with their antics.
And then there are the countless curious visitors from the cities. One looked at the fresh creamy milk brought in warm from the cow shed and asked incredulously :You don’t pasteurize the milk? “No we don’t but we do ‘Pasture-ise’ the cows” I quipped, but the pun was totally lost for what sense does a cow grazing on fresh greens on the verdant slopes of Huli Devan Kodlu* make when the milk is not ... er . .. .... ‘Pasteurized, de-odorized, supplemented with vitamins and packed in a tetrapack to stay ‘fresh’ for months?
Huli Devana Kodlu : This secluded patch of forest that we now live in is called by this name which translates in Kannada as Area of the Tiger God. Legend has it that the Durga Parmeshwari Temple which is on the edge of the forest bordering our area always had a tiger protecting it. The villagers take turns to conduct a Puja on every New moon day and on all the days of Navarati. One day (this was way back in the 60’s) the Puja was not conducted for some reason. The old-timers of Chitrapur village recollect that the tiger terrorised them by walking into the village and his roar reverberated all around. Anandashram Swamiji who was the Mathadipati at that time, personally conducted the Puja at this temple and peace was restored.