On Nov. 14, Leta and I drove to Middleton via Highway 221. We have made that trip many times during the 52 years we have been travelling together. Leta was doing all the driving this time, so I had a good opportunity to view the passing scene on the way out (coming home was just after cataract surgery, so I didn’t see much).
Harvesting seemed complete and I saw only one field with corn still standing. The change that has been very evident during the last 10 years is the decline in the number of livestock. Seeing cattle in pastures used to be a common sight along 221, but not now. Hay barns are empty or are being used for something else. The only class of livestock that has become more visible is horses. There are more pastures with horses than cattle now.
It used to be that there would be a few draft horses pastured with cattle, but now, there are very few and most of the horses I see are being raised for pleasure purposes. I’m happy to see the growth in the number of animals used for pleasure, because they are much more environmentally-friendly than the various motorized contraptions used for pleasure.
Horse fuel is mostly locally produced and the cost is more stable and better for the local economy than the oil industry products used by those noisy machines sometimes heard in the “quiet countryside.”
Grape vines have been planted at several locations along 221. This industry is at a rapid growth stage and one estimate is that over 100 acres will be planted in 2013.
Gone are the days when apple orchards dominated the landscape along Valley roads. There are a few good orchards to be seen now, but they look very different from those of yesteryear. The number of apple growers has decreased, as have the number of farmers, but the land goes on forever. If it is good land, there is always a god use for it.
Farms as a resource are usually overlooked by policy makers in government and the media doesn’t pay much attention to this “sleeper,” so I was delighted to see the little table in the NSFA News and Views November edition. The column, Ships Start Here, was listed beside Farms Start Here. The duration of 30 years compared to centuries. Money is $1 billion per year and $2.3 billion per year. Jobs are 8,500 versus 5,800 direct, plus 10,575 indirect. Location is Halifax versus province-wide rural.
The farm scene is constantly changing, but it still stacks up well against some of the industries we keep hearing about.