It is not easy to pinpoint one single reason. Or two or even three. It is an accumulation of reasons, narrowing it down to money and health. Finally, this year it became obvious that this was the time to do it. Last summer the baler broke down and replacing it is hard to justify, and this summer we knew we needed to replace the bull. Major costs to put against not very many cows.
We have found a farmer who will make the silage we need to make as part of our Rural Priorities agreement, and he is going to bring his cows here to graze next summer. This means that we will have one less group of mouths to feed in the early spring when grass can be short, and that when the weather deteriorates we won't have cattle making a mess on the fields. But they will be here when we really need them.
So we will be able to fulfil our responsibilities in looking after the wonderful flowering fields, and Farmer won't have to handle 8 or 9 tonnes of straw by hand over the winter, bedding up the cows.
But it is going to be sad to see them go.
The vet came on Monday to test J's young heifers who have been grazing here all summer, and so she checked the cows to make sure they were pregnant. Of the 13 cows, all but one were given an internal examination, and all but one were well enough on in their pregnancy of the vet to feel the foetus. The one who wasn't well enough on has been blood tested and we will have the result of that in a week's time.
The first step of our herd dispersal was to sell the bull. He had been with the cows all summer and it was time to separate him. So the bull went to market on Tuesday, and I felt emotionally wobbly all day.