Donors from India, England, and across the US have pitched in to “bale” ISKCON Alachua’s Save the Cow program out of the red this winter.
Fundraising manager Kesihanta Dasa says, “Usually the funds donated by our steady group of financial supporters are enough for us to get by. But years of drought and high petroleum prices have driven the cost of hay in North Central Florida through the barn roof, forcing us to ask for more support this year.”
Until 2007, $25 was the going rate for a large round hay bale. Now at $51 each, the price for the 200 bales Alachua’s herd need to keep well fed throughout the year is twice as steep.
Kesihanta says that Save the Cow’s hay “bale out” campaign, launched at the recent Govardhana Puja festival on Alachua’s New Raman Reti farm, has been successful so far. “Our ox cart rides were particularly popular with the kids, and the response from the local community has been good – half of the hay rolls needed have already been sponsored.” But he adds that help is still needed to cover the rest, and extends the service opportunity to devotees worldwide.
Save the Cow was established in the late 1980s to ensure that New Raman Reti’s herd would be well cared for and to relieve the temple management from the incumbent financial burden. Today, it cares for twenty-two rescued and retired cows and oxen. Kesihanta, who moved to Alachua with his wife Devaki in 1993, calls it “ISKCON’s Florida Retirement Home for cows.”
Devaki, director of Save the Cow since 1996, also attends day-to-day tasks, taking care of sick cows and delivering hay in the winter. Other members include include Kesihanta and Bhakta Maury, who built the cow barn resulting from Save the Cow’s last big fundraiser in 2002.
To donate hay bales and get more information, visit www.SaveTheCow.org