Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Buffalo Barn and Doodh Patti

For a while I have been sharing my Schengen countries travel experience and have not talked of places that are otherwise so close to our real life but we seldom visit. Here is a post for a change of taste.

Have you ever visited a buffalo barn? Well people in a couple of decades before were close to places where buffalos were kept - but due to extensive urbanizations, many have shifted from their rural abodes to urban areas, leaving behind place which were close to nature - places where one had access to pure food made from organic manure and fresh milk, right from the buffalo barn next door.

But these places are seldom visited now for many a reason. One of the chief reason being the stench of the animal waste, which once did not bother our nostrils. I being a city boy all along my life visited such places in my childhood till my relatives too shifted to the cities and saying goodbye to their barns and buffalos.

Before I tell you why I visited this particular buffalo barn yesterday, let me share something unique about the buffaloes - known as the black gold of Pakistan.

Buffaloes play a leading role in the national economy by producing milk, meat and draught power. Out of total milk produced in the country, buffalo contributes about 68 %, followed by cattle (27%) and sheep/goat/camel (5%). Due to high fat contents of buffalo milk, it is the most preferred species in Pakistan.

The 'Nili Ravi' species of the Pakistani buffaloes are one of the best buffalo species. Sometime back in 2010, Malaysia undertook a project to establish a pilot breeding project in their country. "Nili Ravi" is known the world over for its high yield of high quality milk with rich fat content. 

Now coming back to my visit to the buffalo barn - My wife is an avid gardener and is always looking for ways and means to improve her garden she has so adoringly maintaining. And it was for this very reason, she asked me to bring dried manure from the barn of the milkman who delivers fresh milk to us. Although in mood of visiting the place, but reluctantly agreed as it would ultimately help raise a colourful crop of flowers to our garden next spring. 

So I drove towards the barn of our milkman, some 15 kilometres from my our house and I suddenly found myself in the environment so clean and fresh with green fields and the grass swaying rhythmically with the blowing cool and fresh breeze.

The barn was not a typical European style barn, but a big structure made without the help of an architect - a typical barn which one comes across in our rural areas. The barn with raised walls had dung cakes plastered on its walls by the women folk of the house. While men tender the cows and buffaloes, the women folk use the buffalo dung, mix dried husk and then make dung cakes. To dry these for use later in the stoves, these are plastered on the outer walls as can be seen in the photo below.

My readers, specially in Western countries may not like the barn and the buffaloes sitting right inside heap of the animal waste - unlike those clean milking plants they have in their countries. Well, we do have such places too, but where the animal holding is in large numbers.  In our case, most of the animal holdings in our villages are from a few animals to a may be a dozen or a slightly more. And with such small holdings and rather limited resources, the milkmen do not have resources to ensure clean environment as its cost lot of money keeping the place clean. 

While a major portion of the waste is converting into fuel in the shape of dung cakes, I have already mentioned, the remaining is taken away by growers as fresh manure for the crops - and some taken by people like me for their gardens.

The milkman was already waiting for me and had a few sacks of dried manure ready for me and got it loaded into the boot of my car. While his sons loaded the sacks, there came a freshly made cup of tea - made with fresh milk with now water, we call Doodh Patti (Doodh for milk and Patti for tea leaves) with a 'few teaspoons of sugar' - something that we do not ordinarily take. 

But those working in the baking sun from dawn to dusk need their sugar levels maintained by taking doodh patti with a  heavy dose of sugar. With the fresh breeze blowing and in a temperature far lesser than the that of cities, sipping doodh patti had its own fun and I enjoyed every sip of the tea with pleasure. Doodh patti is surely a Heavenly Tea - that is what was the caption of one of my posts a while ago.

The father of the milkman - now no more active but still active to move about watch the cows he reared to grow and was once their master.

Many of my readers may not like to go to a buffalo barn today as I said before - but once in a while one must trace back one's footsteps to places and people who are still unpolluted by the rigours and where life still goes on with same routine as it has been since ages. Although the man mud houses have been replaced with bricked ones, the routine still continues to be the same - both for the men and their womenfolk.

Photos: All photos have been taken by me from my Galaxy S4 cell phone

Read a detailed report on the Pakistani buffaloes here

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