I just love having the windows in the house open. The sound of the wind in the trees, the freshness the air brings into the house. With the brutal summer we had, it’s something I have really missed. Having the air conditioner going has been a blessing, but it really makes the house feel closed up. When it cooled down last week, the first night sleeping with a gentle breeze blowing in was heaven.

Sometimes we don’t truly appreciate things until they are gone. The closing of my windows made me appreciate the fresh air all the more. But even worse it got me thinking, ” what if I lose this for good?”

With the potential for a large factory farm to go in a little over a mile away, that is a real possibility. With having over 4000 confined cows as neighbors, the chances are the air is not going to be fresh any more. With millions of gallons of manure being stored and then spread on 16,000 acres, there should be a lot of people with the same concerns. Just because they live miles away doesn’t mean that they won’t have the same issues as immediate neighbors.

We hear of people living in the Grand Marsh area already reporting issues with smell and traffic. One person told me about having to take a family gathering indoors due to the smell. Another told me they were driving up County G, 3 miles east and when they were downwind of the dairy, they were forced to roll up their car windows!

And it’s not just the smell. I worry about the health effects to our family. Reading the emission estimates from the DNR environmental assessments (EA) for Grand Marsh and Coloma dairies is enough to give you nightmares. The latest DNR documents concerning the expansion of the New Chester (Grand Marsh) list ammonia emissions at 200- 350 TONS per year, and hydrogen sulfide at 15 TONS per year!  Studies of CAFOs have found airborne biological contaminants as far as 3 miles from the source! And we are all supposed to breathe this?

The DNR EA for New Chester expansion states “There is little dispute that large animal agriculture operations have the potential to create large air quality concerns”.

I am really going to enjoy my open window tonight, while I still can.