November is an Assault on the Senses

857805_cows1And no, I don’t mean a riot of fall color or the scent of burning leaves.  I mean dairy cattle.

Living in dairy country generally isn’t a problem.  It means that when we look out over “our” valley, we see black and white cows in the pasture, not horses.  (And I’ve learned that Freisan cows look just like Holsteins and I can’t tell the difference.)  Still a pretty picture.

And I had already learned not to walk certain roads when it’s been raining.  The cows travel from pasture to barn along the roads, sometimes for 20 feet, sometimes for a few hundred.  That’s ok – the rain washes off their leavings.

But sometimes there is enough room by the side of the road for the farmers to have an aisle for the cows.  They use white tape fencing to mark it off, and the strips of land used to be grass, I’m sure.  Now it’s slurry.  There’s no chance for the rain to wash it away, so it builds up.  Dry, no problem.  Wet, ugh.  So I choose another walking route when everything is wet.

But when November hits, it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s been raining or not.  The farmers all fertilize the fields through these weeks.  Especially the field right behind us!  The few steps from the house to the car became unbearable.

The smell died down after about a week, but they were doing other fields.  I began exploring different side roads for my walks, and decided that one hill I went down and back up probably connected with another hill I hadn’t come down from the other side.  I was right, and discovered a new loop.  Unfortunately, going up the new hill took me immediately past two dairy barns.  Not just fields, the actual barns.  With manure piles outside, and the indoor residue hosed down into the yard.

The field behind us seemed pleasant compared to this.  The trick seems to be to plan your walking route so you pass the dairy barns going downhill, so you can breathe lightly (if at all).  Then make sure the uphill part has no barns, so when you’re huffing and puffing and gasping for breath, you don’t gag in the process.

However, it’s now November 30 and we’ve had a very unusual four days of hard frost.  Scraping windows, slick roads, and brisk Arctic air, but sunshine, not rain.  And no dairy smell!

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