It's almost Spring on my street, Mill Road. We're ready, after 101 inches of snow! The first crocuses are poking their little heads up, but chances are the deer will eat them within a day or two. Our deer herds are large and hungry!
My neighbor down the street, Mr. Lehman, harnessed up two of his 19 work horses and drove this cart around a two mile circle of streets here in suburbia. The horses are "Haflingers", an Australian breed of smaller but very sturdy equines. They were anxious for the exercise! The last time I saw those horses, Mr. Lehman was driving a large sleigh in big circles around a snow-covered field. But his time for fun is limited; he has many sheep and he runs a farm market during the growing season.
How is it that we have a farm so close by? Pittsford is an upscale community of 27,000, less than seven miles from downtown Rochester, that dates to the late 1700's. Both our high schools are in the top 100, we've hosted the Ryder Cup, the U.S. Open, and the PGA, and real estate is pretty expensive for this area (cheap for many of you, though). Yet there are quite a few working farms in our town of 23 square miles, because the town government has been active in purchasing "development rights".
"Development rights" give the town control over what can be done with the land. In Pittsford's case, the land can stay in the hands of its owners or their successors as long as it remains farmland. If it's not farmed, it will stay natural. Consequently, we have quite a bit of open country in the midst of typical suburban development. Pittsford is mostly rolling countryside with many hardwood forests and wetlands, so the open space is lovely. Animals abound! If I'm not mistaken, the town has spent about $9 million to purchase development rights - a wonderful investment.
OK, I've got to admit that New York has high taxes, long winters, and unions that are far too controlling of our politics. But, our countryside is gorgeous and we have an extremely diversified ethnicity. Golf is outstanding, in season. And, once in awhile one can have the pleasure of watching a pair of Haflingers prance past your home, pulling a rather common farm cart. It's Spring, after all!