The journey of a city mouse to take up small scaled animal farming.
My heart fills with joy everytime I think about how I navigated myself to take a leap into a sector which is based in the rural area, Rani, in the outskirts of Guwahati, under the Kamrup Rural District. A leap??? Well no, no, no! It is certainly not a leap but “Turtle steps”!
I am just another city mouse (I love to call myself a mouse!) as I run around and juggle routinely a number of errands of daily family-life plus attend social commitments, get-togethers, amusements etc etc. Apart from that I have a full fledged operational customised tailoring boutique and I am a professional creative clothes maker for the past 17 years.
It all started with visits to our beautiful ancestral farm located at Rani with family for picnics, getaways, to spend leisure time amidst Nature, get-togethers with dear ones etc etc….. I love Nature and enjoy coming close to it. Nature is so cheerful and sincere! I realised its crisp fresh air soothes ones hardened cynical self as everything around comes to a sharp contrast and I find this very enriching. While one gets used to the hard pace of life in a city, it is a distinct contrast to the ones people live in rural areas. The beauty of the farm, the farm animals (until then we had just a few numbers of milking cows), the simple lives of our employees who are all locals, the organic vegetables cultivated at the farm etc all put together, drew my attention as well as my attraction!
I identified that I will thrive better if I could implement a certain amount of my time at this moderate speed of life. I made it my responsibility to know about many factors of rural life, to make this work out for me.
My husband always discussed with me that there is so much one can do in this farm as it has vast potentials. And yes, we did venture and carried out a number of Pilot projects, as well as a few failed ventures, of which I do not want to go into details.
Besides family leisure visits, the deep love for the natural beauty of the surrounding and love for rural life etc, there were several compelling reasons which existed that made me feel responsible to visit and explore the family farm more frequently since 2013.
I started learning more and more and ideas started unfolding with every visit, with hours of rest, learning, curiosity, inspirational events, behind the scene moments: chats with employees, productivity tips, observing certain existing issues of the farm which went unseen and unmonitored as we stay far away from it, discussions of taking steps to ensure to reduce or mend them and so on and so forth all together drove me closer to my SHIFT!
I then decided that although I am plunging into commercial animal farming, I shall keep a small number of animals as my goal is to provide quality products rather than quantity. My goal is to convert this venture into a self sufficient project, whereby expenses incurring at the farm shall be self sustained as well as bring in a better lifestyle for the employees and their families. This will take a few years but I am very positive about my goals.
At present we have a few sows, cows, free range goats, ducks and chickens. I love our animals even though we are raising them for commercial purposes. Utmost care is taken to keep these animals in a stress free atmosphere since I believe they deserve to live in comfort and with dignity and this shall also boost good and healthy growth! Infact I must admit that these sweet animals of ours prefer human companionship in unbelievable manner!
Apparently, animal farming is a very unorganised sector and medical facilities and assistance is far lacking in prompt response as the ratio between animals and vetenarians is HUGE. But however, so far we are trying to manage within these limits by learning the anatomy of the existing animals, nutrition, regular deworming at regular intervals without lapses, signs of disease, and how to treat majority of issues on our own. Nutrition is KEY. Quality feed, and even more important, high quality minerals to keep vet visits to a minimum. But I also realised, that no matter how well one takes care of the livestock, one has to deal with dead stock occasionally (I deal with phases of mental and emotional trauma during these unfortunate situations).
With this organic and methodical approach to animal farming, one cannot desire to make money. It is possible but would take a lot of initial capital, time, patience and desire to keep learning. Care is taken to provide adequate shelter, wide space, quality feed, clean water and medicines just to name a few things. The pastures need to be maintained, and the barns need to be clean at all times for the animals to stay healthy. Amongst my employees I indentified 2 of them and address them as our livestock guardians. They alert me if anything goes wrong regarding nutrition, signs of disease, unforseen mishaps in the farm etc etc. They are also being trained under professional guidance how to give certain injections, dosages, and grooming of the animals. Understanding an animal takes a lot of time and experience to learn from! A sick animal can wipe out the whole herd if one does not know the animals well, and can’t recognise when something is “off”. I am still learning and there is way more to learn before we can call ourselves as established animal farmers!
It will take a long time to earn a good reputation. It is a very very long journey and these are just the initial baby steps!
However, with God’s blessings, the right spirit, focus, patience and good reputation we shall definitely reach our goals with happy results!
Anamika Chaudhury is a garment designer who runs a tailoring unit for more than 15 years. She is a perfectionist and it can be viewed in her niche level of workmanship. Apart from her profession, she is involved in organic farming and rural upliftment