We drove down the winding road in the shade of oak tree hammocks with spanish moss dangling overhead. We were on our way to Dunnellon, Florida to pick up a couple of turkey chicks. The route passed through the legendary Ocala, FL. The home of so many famous racing stud farms. It is Lexington, KY with palm trees. Or, at least, it used to be.
I have traveled this route before. The first time was back in 2005, when I was still in the US Navy. I drooled over the scenic pastures with double fencing and stunningly beautiful horses munching happily. Broodmares with round bellies full of hope and promise.
This morning was a much different experience. As we passed through town, I saw overgrown pastures and many "For Sale" or "For Lease" signs. Irish Acres is being sold off into 0.9 acre parcels to build "your dream home". Many of the big stud farms are just gone. The expensive signs have been taken down and the fences are falling into disrepair. What startled me most, however, was the waste of it all. All that valuable pasture land with nothing to eat it. Meanwhile, people are auctioning off their horses for less than $50. Ads on Craigslist for free horses, some in deplorable condition, on empty lots without a blade of grass. If only we could rescue horses and have them use that valuable pasture this summer. With slick shiny coats, perhaps they'd have an easier time finding good homes. Of course, it would never work, but the irony is appalling.
I think I'll stick to the highway next time.