Monday, March 31, 2014

Life After Cows

One last pic of Broadway, my favorite cow, and probably the best one I ever bred.
I miss her the most.

People have been telling me, for years, ever since it got really hard to pay the bills running a small dairy farm in one of the highest taxed and most regulated venues in America, that there is life after cows. That you pick up, go on, do something else, and maybe are relieved not to have to worry so much, juggle so many balls, always be bound by the constraints of animal needs.

 Can't say as I ever believed it. I started milking cows for a living on someone else's farm 35 years ago. The job has been my compass, salvation, nightmare, and joy ever since. You can raise good kids on a farm....it's a great, if difficult life.

However, starting today I guess I am going to find out if what folks says is true. With my heart clanging in my chest like the clapper in an iron bell, I helped load our heifers on trucks on Saturday, and all but two of the milk cows yesterday. Saturday we had help from family members. Yesterday it was just Ralph, me, and a bunch of strangers. Can I just say that it was one time that I really, really wished that I was a girly girl and could sit in the house and do my nails or something

Yesterday ranks well up there in the top ten worst days in my life. There were many factors involved in our decision, high fuel and feed costs, several years of disastrous wet weather and flooding, the 08 and 09 dairy price disaster, and such, but paying several months worth of income twice a year in school and county tax was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

This year it was maybe lose the farm for taxes or sell the cows. And so.

If you want to buy them, they are hard-working pasture cows, that will make milk on low quality feed. They will run out to grass and graze all day and come in and fill the milk pail for you. They are over at Hosking's Sales. You can even bring home cows whose names are known around the world...thanks to Blogger and the Farm Side. Broadway, Carlene, Foolish, Cevin, Asaki...yes, I had to sell my cow, Asaki....Baja, Camry, Zulu, Scotty, Dalkeith, Monday, Betty, and Lucky and the rest are selling. All but two.

Friends in Ohio will buy Bama Breeze so she will stay. at least for a while. And Liz is buying Neon Moon to maybe breed a calf for Peggy to show when she gets bigger. We saved back a handful of small heifers that wouldn't bring what they are worth to sell so we can pay the damned school taxes this fall, and a set of dairy steers for the same purpose. 

I spent yesterday afternoon holding a sleeping Peggy, her sweet small hand curled around my finger, strong as a good milker's hand would be. Life after cows, right there in my lap.

25 comments:

Cathy Monroe said...

I'm so sorry you have to sell your cows, to pay your taxes. After reading your blog, they seemed more like pets. You live in a beautiful part of the country, unfortunately, it is one of the highest taxed. I won't get political here, but when will people realize that taxes are killing small businesses. So sorry again, I feel like I'm losing a part of me.

Ruth said...

I'm sorry :(

Mandy Thomas said...

I am so sorry for your loss :( you will be in my thoughts and prayers as you find a new "normal".

NumberWise said...

There IS life after cows, but it takes a while to find it. I'm both saddened and relieved for you. Give yourself some time to grieve before you try to move on. Hugssss.

Cathy said...

Yes . . . sweet Peggy . . a lap full of spring and sunshine.

All our good wishes as you make this transition.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

So sorry, I can't imagine, but I know exactly what you mean, having grown up with hauling in a load to pay taxes every year.

Peggy will help ease the pain.

Rosemoon Mecho said...

Oh no---so sorry to hear this.

Tina Marie the Willow Witch said...

My heart is broken for you. There is always life after every loss. It will be diffrent and certainly what you make of it, some days will be damn hard, some full of promice (with little Peggy). I wish you peace, joy and much luck in your new journey.

Deb said...

So heartbreaking to read your news. I am so very sorry for you and your family. Having to give up the way of life that you love to keep our home is criminal in my book. But that is sadly becoming the way of the family farm. Will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers...you have all earned a happy, easier future.

Victoria Howell said...

OMG, you had to sell all your cows to pay taxes? That's terrible. My husband and I have plans to retire to NY state in the next couple of years. While we won't have a farm, we do want a couple/few acres - I had no idea taxes were so high one could not keep their animals!! Where in NY are you? I'll want to avoid that area perhaps ... So sorry for you! I really enjoy your blog.

A. Montgomery said...

Darling, my heart is with you. I can cry for you because I know what building that fine herd has meant for you and how hard you and Ralph and the kids have worked to maintain it.
Be strong. Cry if you need to. Sometimes it helps. Look to the future with Peggy growing up close by.
We love you.
Mom and Dad

thepoodleanddogblog said...

This is so heartbreaking, but not unexpected. I have followed your blog from almost the beginning and lived through the joys and sorrows and the stupidity you have been subjected to.

And then i read today that the administration is going to start regulating cow farts and I think we are all in a Bizzaro world.

Dairy products are going to be out of reach for so many of the people who need them the most.

I know you will find a life after cows. i am just so sorry that wonderful people like you will have to find one.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

This is such sad news. I shed some tears for you, your family, your well-loved cows, and a whole way of life. There is something truly broken when small farms like yours have to pay unmanageable taxes while huge corporations making record profits get off paying no taxes at all.

At least you will now have a little more time to be the wonderful grandma I know you must be.

~ Sara ~ said...

Oh, the emotions. Life after... yes there is always life after. One must go on, but dear God it's hard and hurts.

Praying for you and yours today and in the days ahead. So hard, I'm not a swearing person, but having to go thru that could make drink, swear, steal and lie... and not in a good country song way.

ellie k said...

I remember the day my dad sold all of his dairy herd, it was a really hard day and I admit many tears were shed. Like you our cows had names and knew who we were talking, fussing at when there name was called. I am so sorry for you, your family and the cows. They were like family and will leave an empty place in your heart for many days. We started raising beef cows but it was never the same closeness as our dairy girls. Hold little Peggy close and enjoy some extra moments with her, each stage passes so fast.

Jeffro said...

The world is a lesser place without Northview cranking out milk. It is sad that the very same world has seen fit to drive you to make this decision, and that it does not care, content in it's ignorance.

I mourn for the loss and your pain.

Terry and Linda said...

I am crying with you. I know that horrible decision and how hard it was to come to it. There are no words to help, none. ever! I miss our animals all the time. But Terry just shakes his head at me and says we had no choice. Our age was against us. Can you raise spring'n heifers for other's? Or meat cows? All that grass and all those pastures ....

Marianne, I am so, so, so sorry!

❤⊱彡 Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

dennisranch.com said...

Sorry to read of this Marianne, been there, wasn't fun and yes, there is a life after cows... and as it turned out fr me, there were more cows... still trying to rebuild the herd we sold to buy the land 20 years ago... but as it turned out, it was probably for the best as if we had gotten a loan to buy the land and kept the cows, we probably would have lost it all a few years alter.. we have the land and there are cows on it, most of them belonging to the next generation.. just come in from feeding them in a spring blizzard... I don't know what you have in store now, but I do believe that if you think it will be good , it will. If you think it will be bad, it will... hang in there. something amazing is coming your way, just get ready for it... and I will say some prayers for you and your fine family...

lisa said...

We have you in our prayers, and as your little brother says, if you need us please don't hesitate to call, even if it is to just vent your frustrations! We love you!

June said...

I'm so sorry to hear this news. Farming isn't a job, is it? ...it's a whole way of life. Awful to have to give up your livelihood to pay the damn taxes. No fair.
But never a door closes but a window opens. I believe that. I hope your window opens on a bright new horizon.
And thank goodness you have your baby girl to concentrate on!

R.Powers said...

So sorry that you had to sell your herd. I so appreciate the window into life on a small family farm that you have provided through the blog.
I can only imagine the feelings you and your family are experiencing.
Glad to know Bama Breeze has a good home.

Earl said...

Saw Farmer Frank sell off his equipment, rent his land to younger farmers, and take up his other interests. But y'all are too young to retire - so you must be called on to start one of those tax free zone businesses for ten years. Goats?

I am sorry for the cows, but they will figure out new pastures and barns. You sent a fine bunch of younger people out into the world. As I have planned out the TEOTWorld what will happen is change. This is also opportunity.

Aletta said...

I am so sorry about your cows!

Judith said...

What a very hard decision to have to make. I am so very sad for you. Your three children were fortunate to be raised to know about the hard work and joys of dairying. God willing they will not be the last generation. Thinking of you all here in Wisconsin where it's happening every day.

Linda said...

My heart hurts for you :(