It hit Dad pretty hard when he had to send all the cows down the road- he started a dairy from nothin' on some poor ground in 1951, but kept at it until '61. Trouble was, we could never make much money at it. Made a decent living until milk prices crashed in '58, so in '59 we put up grass hay instead of buying alfalfa. Big mistake- production went to nothing, and it didn't come back until the next lactation- got him so far behind that Mom had to go to work in '59, and by '61 we were done.
I was 13 that summer, and did the milking while dad worked as a carpenter. Our cattle hauler could haul 5 cows comfortably, so every Friday after morning milking, he would show up and we'd load out 5 more to go to the auction. I got to pick, and of course, I kept the ones I liked best 'til last, which was probably a mistake. When the last 5 went down the road, I just stood by the milkhouse and bawled as I watched the truck disappear.
Dad was real depressed for a year or so- I remember on weekends, he'd just sit in his chair and read- had no interest in doing any farm stuff. But I got into FFA, got a summer job with the angus breeder across the back fence, and started getting some cattle. That kind of perked him up again, and he was his old self again.
Happy ending- he didn't lose the farm, and that same sandy ground that was so poor to farm, really worked well for building houses. He split the place into about 6 parcels, built some houses and sold them, and ended up retiring at age 53, with enough contract income to keep them going.