This story may be very unfamiliar to many of you who have never lived on a farm. It may also seem very strange to many who have, but not back in the 1940’s.
Milking cows was a twice a day experience, whether one was well, ill, or working in the fields. One couldn’t shut the cows off until a later date! They had to be milked!
My older brother, Gaylord, had that as one of his chores. We did it the original way. The cows walked into the barn, stuck their head into a stanchion, (unless they decided they weren’t interested, even though they must stick their head through there to reach their food)
The person who did the milking sat on a crude little, one –legged stool, which they carried from cow to cow, put a milk pail between their legs, and squeezed the milk out of the four dangling teats.
This does not sound difficult until you try it! I was given a stool and a pail, but, try as I did, the milk would not come out, and I would feel it squeezing back into the cow’s bag. Apparently I was too young, and did not have the proper strength to do the job. At the time, I was very disappointed that I couldn’t do it. In later years, I look back, and I am thankful that I couldn’t make it work!
I loved to hang out in the barn during milking time. We always fed our cats milk, fresh from the cows. Gaylord used to squirt some at the cats, and they would stand up on their hind legs, and try to catch the streams of milk. (Dad was busy milking one of his cows)
However, we did, pour milk into a pan for the cats. After milking, the milk was separated through a cream separator. I was allowed to turn the handle sometimes. We always saved the milk for the family before it was separated, and we skimmed the cream off when it raised to the top of the milk. There is no cream available today that comes close to matching the flavor of the fresh, unpasteurized, unpreserved whipping cream!
I often drank milk fresh from the cows, right there in the barn. I would bring a couple glasses to the barn. Gaylord would fill them, and we pretended that we had malts! (In spite of the temperature of the milk) We would decide which flavor we wanted, and I had such a vivid imagination that I remember begging Gaylord to taste mine. I was sure that it really did taste like strawberry! He said that his was chocolate. I tasted that, and was sure that he was right!
Milking cows did have its exciting moments. A cow might decide she didn’t want to be milked, and would not put her head in the stanchion. We had to pull, push, or whatever it took to accomplish the feat! Sometimes they broke through a fence and it took the whole family to “round them up.”
There were times that a cow got a cut on a teat, either by stepping on herself, or trying to get over a barb=wired fence. What a challenge to milk kicking cow!
Birthing was always an exciting experience. As farm kids, there wasn’t much curiosity left, by the time we reached school age, which was 6 years, and not 5 years, like today.
I am sure that some of you readers will say, “Huh?” in disbelief, after observing how things are done today.
When I was married, and lived on the farm, the education of childhood came in very handy, Even though we had modern milking machines, I still got kicked occasionally, or had my feet stepped on, (I milked barefoot), or had a cow who refused to come into the barn, but these things didn’t take me by surprise.
Those who have never had cream that was skimmed off of the unpasteurized, and non- preservative filled milk, will never realize how far cream tastes from the way it used to be, and I often long for the good old natural kind.
I still love milk,(prefer the fresh from the cow kind), and feel sorry for anyone who was never privileged to experience the joy of being involved in caring for, and enjoying the blessings that God gave mankind, when He made the milk cow!
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