An End to an Era

I’ve lived my entire life on property that at one time belonged to my grandfather. My folks built a house on one corner of Grandpap’s farm. When I married, we built our house on another ten-acre chunk of it. These two lots are the only ones that remain in the family. Over the years, I’ve mourned as the rest of acreage was sold off to others.

But some things didn’t change. The neighboring farm remained in the same family it had since long before I was born. Mr. C kept a large herd of beef cattle on several hundred acres. As I sit in my office at my computer, I look out my window to a view of his hillside. Pasture, some woods, and those beef cattle. Amazing how you take something for granted when it’s been there for decades.

Mr. C is one of those guys you just assume will go on forever. He never changes.

Except he is.

He’s getting older, like the rest of us. His hips are bad, so his jaunts around his property are done on tractor instead of on foot. Still, he loves his herd of cattle.

Or did.

Rumor has it he’s developing other health issues. It must be true. Because over the last week or so, he sold his herd. Every last cow, steer, calf, and bull. I watched them corral them and load them on a convoy of stock trailers.

Over the years, the fences between his property and ours have gotten worn and brittle. We’ve helped chase his cows back into his pasture and helped patch the broken wire. But that’s come to an end. Now the fence is only a rustic reminder of days gone by.

So today I gaze out my window at a snowy hillside and a stark strand of trees. Empty pasture. Not one head of beef in sight. No tractor making its way up that hill to drop off a round bale.

As 2010 winds down, here in cow country, I feel like it’s an end to an era. Oh, our other neighbors still have a small herd of Black Angus on the other side of our property. There will still be calves in the spring and the soft moo of the cows and brash bawl of the bull. But it won’t be the same. The land out my window looks sad and lonely to me, and I have to wonder; what will I watch as I procrastinate in my writing now?


Annette said…
Oh Annette, you have brought tears to my eyes. If you feel this sad, can you imagine how Mr. C and his family must feel. I can personally tell you they feel terrible. Mr. C will be so lonely without his cattle. My father is a cattleman. Over the past ten years we have watched him dwindle down the size of his herd. It is painful to watch knowing that someday he will have to give it all up. I once promised him that if he ever has to live in a home, I will fence in the area ouside the window of his romm and put a cow in there.
Annette said…
I like the idea of the cow outside his window. My mom once picked out the old folks' home she wanted to retire was a horse farm. Unfortunately, the place is neither an old folk's home OR a horse farm anymore. FORTUNATELY, Mom is 90 and still able to live in her own house.
Mason Canyon said…
It is sad when an era like this comes to an end. I agree it must be hard on Mr. C.

Thoughts in Progress
Ramona said…
Annette, this breaks my heart. As the other Annette said, our dad has had cows our whole lives. It's unfathomable to think of what it will be like without them. His cattle mean the world to him. As he once put it, "Sometimes you just have to talk to a cow."

Not to make a silly pun of it, but cattlemen are a special breed.
Annette said…
My mom and I were talking about this yesterday. Mr. C's father was a great farmer and died young of a heart attack while on his tractor. Mr. C was hardly more than a boy at the time. Didn't know how to drive the tractor or run the machinery. Mom says he really came a long way. High praise from someone who didn't always see eye-to-eye with the man...especially when his escapee cows trashed her vegetable garden.

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