I miss my view of cows when I do my daily run to feed the farm cats. The landscape seems poorer without them.
With the departure of his dairy herd, my farmer becomes another casualty in the war on small farmers. When I first moved to the area, there were small dairy farms dotted over the county. My neighbor farmer was one of the smallest, yet he was the last one to fold. He hung on by his fingernails because it was all he knew - it had been his father's dairy farm and his grandfather's before him. Now the barn is empty, except for a few heifers and calves, and his prize Hereford bull (I now know from whence cometh the term "beefcake" - wowza!) The farm is being leveled out, cleaned and tidied to hasten its sale.
Another local dairy farm - no longer housing a milking herd - has adapted by raising calves up to heifers for the big dairies. They started in 1853 as a very diverse farm - cattle, sheep, poultry, swine and maple syrup production. Over the years they diversified even further, by putting in a cheese house, producing wool, chickens, ducks, calves, pigs, lambs, and lumber. In the 1960s, new laws governing necessary equipment for dairy farms in New York State (aka the "Nanny" State) forced farmers to either phase out of milk production all together or to focus on milk exclusively. Once diversity was gone, farmers lost control over their futures. There are now no small dairy farms in our county.
On a happier note, the farm cat, Gracie, is letting me pet her! It has only taken four years! Sheesh. Her current 'partner', a lovely orange striped fellow, is very feral and will not get within 10 feet of me. I hope that whomever buys the farm is a cat lover. I have set up a Plan B, however, and will work with a rescue to catch Gracie and see if we can place her in a home, while her current partner will most likely be placed as a barn cat.
Last weekend I started the process of deconstructing my garden. I can tell you that planting it in the spring is a whole lot more fun. The days are warm, but the nights have gotten down to the high 30s already! Hang on, there, Ma Nature! It's only September!