Managing the House is strategic
My father believed in a large family and he fortuitously balanced the gender at home with six sons and six daughters. By the time he was transferred to Tirupati in 1957, the strength of the family was 8 children. As a Head Cashier of a Bank committed to high ethical standards and principled living, his monthly salary of a little less than Rs.250 was insufficient to meet both ends, particularly when the influx of visitors in the pilgrim town was unimaginably high. My Mother not knowing what to do, one day made bold to tell my father to buy a cow and a buffalo giving one litre of milk per time. My father bought both on credit – a good cow was costing those days Rs.750 and a buffalo Rs.500 yielding per time one litre. Luckily, both came with she-calves.
My Mother used cow’s milk to feed the children and buffalo’s milk for curds, butter milk, a little butter -for applying to the faces of the girl-children with haldi-, and ghee. This got a savings of Rs. One hundred per month. The loan raised was repaid in 18months by my father. I was doing my graduation. I used to go to Sri Ramalayam close to our house where under the bright light and serene surroundings, undisturbed by the crying kids of home, I used to complete my day’s lessons. The power consumption at home was under check with my mother switching on the motor only after the maidservant left finishing her day’s work. She was switching on motor only for 10-15 minutes and for four or five times a day. (This is what my wife learnt from my Mother and follows to this day.)
Fortunately, the first two calvings of cow were females. The first female calf of the buffalo did not survive and the second calf was a male calf. So, we had to sell the buffalo at the end of one year to substitute with another with a female calf. My Mother was insistent that I take the calf to the Veterinary Hospital every Saturday for de-worming in the first three-months and thereafter once in a fortnight to ensure that it grew to her expectations to be an yielder after two and half years. Of course, after a decade, my Mother used to say, “I give birth to female children and my animals give birth to male calves – both are uneconomic.” My father had four transfers from Tirupati before he retired and to each place, the cow and buffalo and their calves moved with us. It was from my Mother that I learnt that the economics of a dairy depends upon the progeny. This lesson helped me in financing large number of dairy units to small and marginal farmers successfully when I became the Manager of Agricultural Development Branch of the SBI. Calf rearing is more important than dairy scheme in dairy economics.
We always had a small kitchen garden where greens, chillies, tomatoes are grown. At Bhimunipatnam in Visakhapatnam District, where my father preferred to settle post-retirement, my Mother used to maintain good floriculture, a mango tree, raw banana and banana fruit plants, a pomegranate, and drumstick plant. These with homestead dairy took care of the requirements of evergreen and fully occupied house of grandchildren. Any number of guests for any number of times was most welcome for my Mother thereafter. Managing a house with limited means requires such strategic interventions. Man only earns but it is the woman who manages and manages most efficiently.