Last Sunday ended a decade of dairy farming. It’s taken a week for things to start to sink in. When I spoke to my mother last night the void is still felt deeply. She described things like this: When there is an emergency you work only on adrenaline. It takes a while after the crisis has passed to realize/feel the injuries you may have suffered. We’ve been working on adrenaline for the past ten years.
The following are my thoughts on the day…
The cows were quickly and efficiently loaded up onto two large cattle trailers as I watched, tucked away behind my car and cried. I cried for all of three minutes, hard jagged sobs then I made myself stop. It’s not like I have a right to cry. I don’t know any of them anymore. I don’t care for them everyday the way my brother and my mother do. I don’t have anything to do with them. But I know that our cows were loved and cared for. I know that my family devoted themselves to our herd and I know how strange it is going to be. There will be a void, an absence, that will be felt for quite some time to come.
I cried for my family. I cried for the cows. Our herd has been closed for quite some time. That means the cows we milked were born on our farm, raised on our farm. All they have ever known is the love my mother gave them, the fields and flowers around us, the sound of my brother’s voice and the touch of his hand. Where will they end up? What will their lives be like? How many of them will go from our farm to slaughter?
It’s overwhelming the sadness that fills my head and I cannot fathom what it must be like for my mother and brother. My father isn’t part of the equation, though he worked in the barn and on the farm as well. He fled the day the cows left and it was probably for the best to be honest. He would have made a tough day more tense, but it is awfully sad that he isolated himself (knowingly or not) from us. The tension, the animosity and annoyance has gotten to such a point that I don’t know if there is any coming back.
But back to what? We’ve never been a happy family. We’ve never been without the anger and the distance and the holding our breath waiting for him to snap and us to bear the storm and quietly pick up the pieces afterward – when he’s not looking. I suppose this is no different. The cows are gone and he wasn’t here. The turmoil was felt by the three of us and not him.