The silence was eerie. A crisp, clear late autumn day where sound drifts. But there was only the intermittent hum of a passing tractor, rolling up and down a neighbouring field; lush green pastures rolling down to the blue of the sea. No moos, no chewing.
The peace would be idyllic for Leo and Maite Bensegues if it wasn't such a painful reminder.
Last month - six months after Mycoplasma bovis was detected on their sharemilking dairy farm at Morven in South Canterbury - their herd of 950 cows, along with another 200 younger beasts, were culled.
"The day we loaded up the last [animals], the truck and trailer going away ... We don't talk about it anymore. It's not easy," Leo Bensegues saidyesterday.
M. bovis is a bacterium that causes udder infections (mastitis), abortion, pneumonia and arthritis in cattle.
It does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk.
Nobody yet knows how it came into the country. There's a top-level government probe under way but we may never find out.
The Bensegues don't even know how it got to their farm, which they have milked for the last four years. Perhaps on the farm's runoff area, or maybe it came on a livestock transporter.
But at least the decision to cull - and be compensated $2 million to buy new stock - was made and now they can get back to farming.
With the help of neighbours and workers, they've spent the last month cleaning up the property: cow shed, races, water troughs, machinery. "Everything had to be clean and shiny," Leo Bensegues said.
Once the 60-day stand-down period lapses next month, they can bring the new stock back and start again. First, they need a holiday.
It's been a long road.
"It's been months since we got it and it's been stress," Leo Bensegues said.
"It's not going to be easy for anyone. But we have to start again and we are ready for it.
"We've started to see the light after the tunnel." He urged other farmers who fear an M. Bovis outbreak to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries, which has come under fire for its handling of the crisis.
"Work together rather than against," Leo Bensegues said.
"Is life easy? No it's not, it's difficult. You just have to make it better. Honesty is going to go a long way. Me and my wife have been an example for that."Kurt Bayer