11.14.2019 Heading towards a sad end

Many New England barns are historic and well-maintained.  But others literally fall by the wayside as you saw in my Shutesbury Road post the other day.

When I first started visiting Chapel Brook Falls in Ashfield, MA many years ago, this location had a thriving albeit small farm.  As all too often happens with small farms these days, it has now disappeared. All that remains is this one structure falling apart.

Unfortunately, I never shot the farm while it was working and only started after all was gone save this building.

Once a nice wind vane sat atop the roof.

And also it bore a badge of distinction. American Agriculturist.

Now it just waits for its demise by whatever fate awaits.

It’s a shame what happens to old farms.We see large corporate farms growing at the expense of individual family farms.  Many young people do not want to take on the hard life demanded by agriculture and as owners get older the need for financial independence overtakes their desire to continue. Farms become housing projects, shopping malls, or other commercial endeavors.

In some cases, as happened nearby recently, the land is preserved as open space.

While a way of life is diminishing there are some people who decide to take the task on and  small farms are popping up with a popular trend for farm sharing with the community nearby. What the future holds for farming is unknown, at least some are trying to keep that way of life going.



About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Environment., Landscape, Western Massachusetts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to 11.14.2019 Heading towards a sad end

  1. Your title does double duty by referring to the old buildings as well as to farming itself. According to the Wikipedia article “Agriculture in the United States“:

    “In 1870, almost 50 percent of the U.S. population was employed in agriculture. As of 2008, less than 2 percent of the population is directly employed in agriculture.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most of us purchase our food from markets and most of what they sell comes from corporate sources, whether factory farms or overseas. There is hope in the local coops and farms with shares but the vast majority is comfortable with mass produced food and until that changes much of our agriculture will continue to see small farms go under. Buying local can make a difference but of course that is often more expensive and in our current economy it can be more than the average family can afford.


  2. susantcloutier says:

    Wonderful images and descriptions. There is hope with community coops and small local farms. I hope that factory farms will soon be a thing of the past. That would be so much better for life on the planet we call home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would be nice but probably unlikely at least not in our lifetimes. While we may live in an area that supports what you mention, most of the country is happy in doing things the easy way and spending their time and money on distractions from reality.


  3. It is sad that so many farms become housing developments. I have seen it happen in PA over the years.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. shoreacres says:

    One of the unexpected pleasures of my last trip to the midwest was my discovery of what now are called Century Farms — farms that have been in families over the generations. Despite the very real problems facing agriculture, there are adaptations being made and resistance to some of the negative forces at play is real.

    Of course, we have our own problems here in Texas. Battles over water are real, and the creeping subdivisions west of Houston have eliminated the huge flocks of geese that used to come to the rice fields there. One of the interesting things I learned about the prairie at the Brazoria refuge is that much of it used to be rice field; over time, it’s been restored, and now is a rich combination of grasses: primarily little bluestem.

    I was quite taken with some details in your photos: the American Agriculturalist plaque, the basketball hoop, and the pulley for getting hay into the loft. The scene’s poignant, but still appealing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I go back and forth between hopefulness and pessimism over this issue. There is a movement among people to restore small family farms with the help and encouragement of their communities. We have several farms offering farm shares in our area and there is a fair amount of enthusiasm, especially among families with children, to take part. I hope they grow in numbers and participation but then at other times I worry it’ll just be a fad that withers over time.
      I wish that I had made images of this farm when I first was driving by it many years ago. I had a gap of time when I didn’t go out that way and was surprised when I did and this was all that remained. The farmhouse and other buildings are now just patches of mixed growth.There’s a lot of farm life memories still present in this old building.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve seen lots of these in upstate New York too. It is sad to see that these were ones symbols of peoples’ hopes and dreams. I recently saw a documentary called “The Biggest Little Farm.” It is heartening and inspiring in many ways. And educational. On top of that, the cinematography is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just looked for that on YouTube and Amazon. I may watch it although they do charge for it.
      I get that sense of hopes and dreams quite often when hiking our woods here in Western Massachusetts. It is common to fine stone walls in the forest which represents endeavors at farming in the past. Sometimes there are cellar holes from homes and evidence of barns and pastureland. Of course, the other side of that coin is the land was taken for farming and is now returning to its original state in a way. But it is sad that people have put so much into making farming a livelihood and seeing how it vanished for their families.I think we would enjoy our meals much more if we knew the folks responsible for it being on our tables and had them as neighbors.The old way of living in small towns where everyone contributed in one way or another to each family’s well-being seems like a long lost memory that will not return.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice shot of the weathervane, that’s an unusual one.
    I’m always sad to see these farm structures disintegrating. Sometimes a dairy barn will last a long, long time, I think in part because the cows’ body heat actually melts the snow on the roof – – when the cows are gone, the roof breaks. The dairy farms in Wisconsin are going bankrupt at a tremendous rate right now, disappearing by the hundreds and thousands. At least in upstate NY, the Amish population is growing rapidly, and always hungry for land.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s the only weather vane like that I have seen although there are many similar on Google.

      That’s an interesting theory about the cows warmth. Could be a similar factor in why houses with no one living in them deteriorate.It’s a shame that a state so known for its dairy farms is losing them at such a high rate.It doesn’t seem likely that even with a resurgence in interest and opportunity those number could ever be matched against the losses.


      • Yeah, I don’t think anyone goes into dairy farming at this point in time. so when the family dairy farms go away, I do not expect them to be coming back
        in upstate New York, Madison county I think, the Chobani yogurt factory has about 1000 workers now. but the fact that the factory wants to purchase milk, doesn’t mean small-scale dairy farmers can make a living providing it.
        One farmer in my hometown however has thrived by becoming an entrepreneur- – he’s gotten into high-end cheese making, and all the tour buses going to the wineries now stop there for tastings. There are live bands in one of his Barns on weekends. He sells cutting boards, etc., which I think are fragments from a guy who installs granite countertops.


      • While not a farm, during one particular hard downturn in the economy, the store where I work started taking on jobs very different from what people would expect. It helped us weather the bad times more than once.

        I would suspect dairy farming to be a great challenge as a startup or even recovery.


  7. The wind vane is so beautiful!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Eliza Waters says:

    I know this farm (bet you figured that!), our schoolbus used to turn around here to pick up D.C. who lived here. It was a shame when the main house burned a few years back and the farm abandoned. Hard to make a living on a small farm. We are blessed to have a fair amount of young people interested in CSA and other artisanal farms here in the Valley, which I try to support. We are very lucky to a horse-powered one right here in town, growing the most wonderful food!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ann Mackay says:

    Here the problem with large corporate farms is the effect they have on the landscape. The massive fields and destruction of hedgerows and wild corners is removing wildlife habitat.


  10. I suppose someone took the antique weather vane and I hope it was put to good use or someone is enjoying it as a feature on a new barn or as a decorative yard fixture. That old barn was a beauty once upon a time. So goes the ways of neglect, decay, and sin, as they say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I certainly hope that weather vane was restored and is declaring the wind’s direction atop some building, whether barn or home, somewhere. It’d be a shame if it was trashed after possibly blowing off the roof. Maybe I should have snooped around the periphery to see if it was lying in the tall grass. It is a shame when we see an old barn or farm building falling into decay. All things must pass.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. bluebrightly says:

    It’s sad indeed. One of the things we were excited about when we moved here is the way the county supports its farmers. It’s a big deal and there are still lots of farmers, big and small, here. There’s a huge tulip bulb business, a thriving beet seed business, plenty of hay, dairy farmers making cheese, loads of berries, and more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our state is fairly supportive of agriculture. The problem is having folks interested enough to keep the land, even if not farming, undeveloped. There is more money in development and while it isn’t always greed driving the decision, the opportunity to make a lot of money is a powerful force.

      Liked by 1 person

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