I ache every time I hear of another farm selling their cows. It saddens me greatly to think our landscape dotted with cows and farms becoming somewhat naked. This poem was my attempt at putting words to what I can only imagine is one of the hardest decisions farmers have to make. We are all in this struggle together; farm size is irrelevant. We share the same passion in our hearts.

This morning will be the last time,
He turns that trusty switch.
Walk his girls into the barn,
Watching their tails casually twitch.

His heart is heavy;
He whispers goodbyes, so longs and thanks,
As he milks each one tenderly,
Pressing his head into their flanks.

The pump hums its melody,
His movements slow and steady.
You’d think with all the time he’s had,
By now he’d finally be ready.

He was never in it to get rich.
This was in his blood, his way of life.
Until the prices kept dropping,
And his days became filled with strife.

His mind floats back through years and months,
Trying to pinpoint when his future became clear.
These cows that saw him through so much,
Would eventually leave from here.

The creamery down the road;
Always faithful with their taking,
Got word from higher ups.
No more cheese they would be making.

The public seems oblivious,
To the struggles he goes through each day.
A way of life is disappearing,
Taking good people along the way.

The salesmen stop to pitch their product,
Listening closely, reading between the lines.
They watch for signs of stress and potential suicide.
Sadly, it’s too common in these times.

He lost a good friend late last year,
To a farming accident so scary.
The challenges have mounted higher since then,
Until this load became more then he could carry.

He sat down with his beloved family,
And tried gently to explain.
They just couldn’t go on like this.
They just couldn’t handle the strain.

He felt his face hot with his tears,
Then turned to face his children.
They loved these cows as much as he,
They’d grown up right alongside them.

He jerks back to the work at hand,
The last moments with his precious herd.
He swears he sees a tear in Ruby’s eye,
Perhaps it’s his vision that’s blurred.

The trailer backs into the yard
And he can feel the pressure tightening.
His bovines, his confidants, his paycheck.
Their absence suddenly frightening.

His family standing by his side.
He breathes his last farewell.
Is there life after milking cows?
Only time can tell.

His internal alarm will still sound tomorrow,
Rousting him from uneasy slumber.
His body will ache to go and work;
His worries without number.

    Jacqui and her family milk 800 cows and run 1,200 acres of crops in the northeastern corner of Vernon County, Wis. Her children, Ira (11), Dane (9), Henry (4) and Cora (adventurous crawler), help her on the farm while her husband, Keith, works on a grain farm. If she’s not in the barn, she’s probably in the kitchen, trailing after little ones, or sharing her passion of reading with someone. Her life is best described as organized chaos – and if it wasn’t, she’d be bored. Please contact her at daisychick80@hotmail.com.