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Last Dairy Herd in Town Sold

I was pouring milk one morning back in September, and it happened to be Garelick milk, and the healing angel said, "Oh, Garelick milk? The milk from the cows on Mrs. Austin's farm goes into Garelick milk. They also send milk to Hood." Yes, the healing angel's third-grade teacher's family, which goes back for generations here in town, has a dairy farm.

(I love the Austin family. Most of them seem to be farmers and teachers. When we first moved here, in January 1998, and I went through a snowstorm to register my kids for school, I met Mrs. Louis Butler (an Austin by birth), a kindergarten teacher--she welcomed me so warmly, and I've been fond of her ever since: Little Springtime has done 4-H with her; the healing angel had her for kindergarten; I've bought basil and onions from their farmers market stand. Then there's Ms. Nora Austin, whom Little Springtime had in 7th grade, who teaches geography and tells the kids about the Grameen Bank, and who got the school to participate in the Heifer Project. And then, when I started volunteering for the Exhibit Hall for the town fair, I met Roxanne Austin, whose family is also involved with farming.)

I was tickled by that. But just the other day, the healing angel's teacher's family sold their dairy herd. They just couldn't make ends meet any more, though they had given it a valiant try. It was kind of a big local news story.

Apparently in 1949 there were 49 dairy farms in this town. In September of this year, there was just one. Now there are none. Little Springtime visited the Austins' dairy farm when she was in elementary school--but no other school groups will now.

Just like, when Little Springtime was in kindergarten, they walked to an apple orchard that was very near where we now live. And then last summer, all the trees were dug up and left in big piles, like something Saruman would have done, and now there are three houses for sale there. (But Pomona, the goddess of flowering trees, has CURSED those houses, and they won't sell. There are signs by them saying "no downpayment!!" "special financing!!" but they haven't sold. )

I'm not a farmer. I'm an intellectual gypsy. I didn't grow up here. And if there were no development in this town, well, I wouldn't be living here either--the house we're in is only about 13 or 14 years old. And things do change, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. ---but it's still sad. People everywhere want to maintain *some* connection with the land. This is why, even though I want third-world countries to be able to sell their agricultural products in first-world markets, I also understand people wanting to protect their own nations' agriculture. It's not just a business. It's the connection of the people in a country to the land. In Japan, you can see little rice fields in suburbs of Tokyo. Now obviously from a market perspective, that doesn't make much sense. But I think it's important that there be rice fields in Tokyo.... it will be a bad thing, in a way I can't articulate properly, if they all vanish.

And I wish there could be a dairy farm here, still.






P.S. If you read that story, you'll find out the funny name of the town I live in, that I've always never told you.

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( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
sartorias
Oct. 7th, 2006 10:23 am (UTC)
I know it's ridiculous--I live in a ridiculous city of what, thirty million, that should not even exist--but I hate to read about small towns being gobbled up by modernization. Especially such things as apple orchards being whacked, probably to make the plot more attractive to some horrid developer, who will then put up a cheap nd ugly strip mall.
asakiyume
Oct. 7th, 2006 11:41 am (UTC)
Yeah, it seemed positively violent, really literally "rape of the land." When you think of apple trees, with blossoms in spring and then fruit in the fall....

now these horrible McMansions are there, and my only consolation is that now that the housing bubble is deflating, no one wants uber-expensive ugly houses.
sufitom
Oct. 7th, 2006 10:33 am (UTC)
When I first moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, there were farms everywhere. Gradually the families sold them for much the same reason as your neighbors. We had many cornfields, orchards and several Dairy farms. I'm enclosing a link to an article about my area and it's dairy farms.

http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/281-03072006-622618.html

There are now 24 dairy farms on Bucks Co. In 1945, Bucks Co. had 1,237 dairy farms. There was also a famous orchard called Styer's Orchards, family run for a hundred and some years and when they announced that none of the children wanted to run it the surrounding community was so worried about development that the Township bought the land under an "open land preservation" clause and hired people to run the farm and someone else to run the store associated with it.

All this to say, I feel your pain.
Not to get too far out in left field...in the movie Excalibur...Merlin says to Arthur..."You and the land are one"
asakiyume
Oct. 7th, 2006 11:34 am (UTC)
My mother lived in Bucks County at some point in her childhood. I've been there once: I think it was in 2000. It was so, so beautiful. I'd like to go back one day. Thanks so much for the link to the story about the dairy situation there.

I do feel so strongly the connection with the land. When I eat some wildfood I've found, I think, now there is really no difference between me and the land. It's part of me. Sometimes I feel that I can sense the blood of the planet (whatever that is--its spirit I guess) flowing into and then out of me as it circulates through everything. I feel as if that tree over there and me are like fingers on the same hand.
sufitom
Oct. 7th, 2006 02:33 pm (UTC)
When the Whirling Dervish Sufi's twirl they have their arms extended parallel to the ground, right palm upwards for that spirit your talking about to flow through their body and their left palm down for the energy to return to earth. I hope you can see that in my icon.

One of the reasons I love the Amish here in PA is that they will never stop farming. It's their life and their belief of living close to the land. One of my fantasy's has been to live on an Amish farm and there are so many nearby.
asakiyume
Oct. 7th, 2006 10:13 pm (UTC)
I can see it! It makes me really happy to know that that feeling I have is part of a spiritual belief, somewhere in this world.
sufitom
Oct. 7th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)
Let me just add how beautiful this post is.
usha123
Oct. 7th, 2006 10:46 am (UTC)
That is such a sad story..i identify so strongly with that story halfway across the world..my family also lived in bangalore for generations with cows and farms and it is all taken away by the local government for housing settlements..children here now think milk comes in bottles.
asakiyume
Oct. 7th, 2006 11:43 am (UTC)
So sad about your family, too :-(

I wonder what the solution is... people do need places to live, and everyone wants to be able to buy cheap food (which small farms can't produce)--and yet, there seems something primal about retaining agriculture, at least a bit, everywhere. But how? I just don't know...
miafedup
Oct. 7th, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC)
I'm a suburbanite, raised and bred. But there is just something so spiritual about living off the land...to me it's the ultimate display of respect for the earth and of gratitude for what it gives.

What a terrific loss.
asakiyume
Oct. 7th, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC)
nature spirituality
That's the thing--it's like the joy you get when you see flowers--like in that post you made about the lady you walked with, who helped herself to some of those flowers on a bush--even in a city nature is pushing in at all the cracks (literally--like in the cracks in the sidewalk).
miafedup
Oct. 8th, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC)
Re: nature spirituality
Ah, that's it! I'm writing her a card right now. How I miss her. Thank you for the timely reminder!
babydriver
Oct. 7th, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC)
Oh my is that sad. That's pretty much what happened to my family in Arkansas, with their fields. The prices of cotton and such dropped so low, it was cheaper for them to sell a lot of the land, and get jobs at Walmart.

Caledonia is only a couple of hours away from me, I'll go visit your lovely cows and tell them you you miss them. :(
asakiyume
Oct. 7th, 2006 10:11 pm (UTC)
You live close to Caledonia? That's a wonderful thought, that you could visit those cows. I'll tell the healing angel, and he can tell Mrs. Austin.

That's sad about your family in Arkansas--usha123said that about her family, too--only in Bangalore India! Quiet dispossesion...
heyes
Oct. 8th, 2006 08:16 am (UTC)
Ohh man!?!
When I was 14 I lived with some folks who worked on that farm. I got to go in with them one summer. I loved it, it's what made me want to have a farm when I grow up... I mean later, later in life when I grow up some more. There was nothing like busting your tail with everyone (we were a milking team) and then sharing a quick bite to eat after it was done.

My role, you ask?

I piushed the poop into the great poop vat under the milking chamber. Yeah it was stinky, but it was great.

Dirty Jobs with Kasumi Saiai, ya dig?
asakiyume
Oct. 8th, 2006 09:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Ohh man!?!
Wow, I didn't know you had a personal connection to the place **sigh**

When I was writing this post, at one part I started to write about how you remembered a certain housing development when it was just woods... but the post was sad enough as it was, so I left that part off...

I didn't know that word saiai until just now--just looked it up. What a great word :-)
ex_stdymphna813
Oct. 8th, 2006 08:38 am (UTC)
ah sad. I used to have milk goats and milked them and cared for them and all that. They are so sweet, goats are, and funny too. I always thought I could do a small scale dairy. My old partner then, friend now, he and I made yogurt and cheese too. We traded with people for things. I miss that sometimes. peace, nancy
asakiyume
Oct. 8th, 2006 09:18 pm (UTC)
That sounds so idyllic! My mother-in-law used to have two goats: Jezebel and Kit Kat.
ex_stdymphna813
Oct. 9th, 2006 07:35 am (UTC)
oh how cute. Ours were Maddy and Delilah and then Maddy had two kids, Kahawa and Chesa ( coffee and cheese in Swahili) I miss goats...
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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