Aug. 17 – When I first moved into my Denton County, Texas, home, I could drive down the street that leads into our subdivision and find two pastures, each with herds of red cattle grazing a fairly decent crop of forage, most years.

One of those pastures was ripped up a year or two ago and houses now occupy the space vacated by the livestock. The other one fell to the bulldozer just last week and already workers are taking down trees, pulling up fences and gouging roadways into the property where another subdivision will soon replace the pastoral scene that made this a nice place to live.

I recall taking pictures one winter of a light snowfall on round hay bales in one of these pastures. The wintry dusting turned those big brown bales into giant bites of frosted shredded wheat.

No more than a mile away another pasture has already been de-vegetated and dozers, scrapes, and cranes work daily to replace grass with concrete. Across town, on the outskirts of the city proper, a ranch that’s stood for decades recently sold and will become another shopping center.

Before long, urban sprawl, as aggressive as kudzu in a Georgia pine thicket, will have infested the whole county. What once was rural Texas, rolling hills, small streams, rangeland and wildlife, now features cookie cutter houses, jammed to within ten feet of each other, most with the same variety of fast-growing short-lived tree in the yard to replace the native flora they bulldozed to make it possible to cram as many housing units into an acre as possible.

For more than 50 miles in any direction one wants to drive from Denton, ranches, pastures, and cropland are disappearing under the cruel heel of progress.

It’s inevitable. But it’s hard to watch.

e-mail: rsmith@farmpress.com