In Moomoriam (Gone to Greener Pastures)
by Devaki dasi
We lost our dear friend Vamsi on Sunday, 11/30/08. She died in the early morning hours before sunrise, during the auspicious time when mangala-arati was going on at the temple. Fortunately the night before was warm and pleasant, with the tree frogs quietly peeping in the trees and the stars shining bright. Vamsi had been up and walking around during the day on Saturday, but when I came in the evening she was lying on her side and breathing very slowly. I piled some hay up under her head and chanted to her for a while until she closed her eyes and went to sleep for the night.
Vamsi was born at New Jaipur, a devotee farm in Louisiana, sometime in 1987. That means she was over 21 years old (about 100 when converted to “cow years”). When that farm project disbanded in the early nineties, she came to Save the Cow at New Raman Reti along with some other cows. Vamsi was a Devon cow, which is one of the oldest breeds in the U.S. originally coming from England. If you look at old photos of the wagon trains heading west you will see a lot of Devon oxen pulling the wagons. Vamsi was our last Devon cow except for Rati, who, along with her son, Chakra, has been cared for by Nagaraja and Pranada at their place for the past 15 years. That makes Vrindavan and Mayapur, two oxen at the farm, the last of the Devons at New Raman Reti.
Vamsi had been going blind for the last year and a half. She was kept in the small pasture by the barn and she knew where everything was by memory. She would zigzag her way from fence to fence, up and down the pasture. I think she could still see light and shadow because when I turned on the lights at night she would immediately head for the barn and bellow for her grain. She was separated from the other cows since they are not always kind to their elders. Cows can be pushy and we were afraid she would get hurt. She was a gentle old cow that liked to play by pushing her head against you.
In her younger days, Vamsi was the “Queen of the Herd,” despite her small stature. She wouldn’t let anyone push her around and could hold her own even with the big oxen. She would stick her head under their chests and pound on them until they ran away. We saw her do this many times. Seeing her run was also quite a sight. With her neck stuck straight out she looked like a rhinoceros galloping in the field. She will be missed.