Having milk on the farm

Having milk on the farm

A few years ago there was a popular series of ads based on the question “Got Milk?”.  My thought was always “Yes!!”.  When I was growing up the milk cow was a basic staple of farm life.  This is a picture of my dad with the last milk cow that we owned.  Milking the cow was always part of dad’s duties.  I would remember getting up in the winter and looking out the window while it was still dark outside.  There would always be a light in the barn, meaning daddy’s day had already started.

One cow would always give more milk than my family could use.  Back when I was growing up we would drink milk with practically every meal and still have milk left over.  Not sure what modern nutritionist’s would think of a diet with that much whole milk in it but we managed to do OK.

We would sell or trade the extra with different neighbors and relatives.  Mom would also sell extra butter that we would produce.  One time a neighbor wanted to buy some milk from us.  My mom asked the lady if her children would drink it since they were used to “the store bought stuff”.  She said she would find out. She came back in a few days and said they did not drink it at first but she figured out a way for it to work.  The lady would take the milk and pour it over into jugs from the grocery store.  The children never said another word.

Every year you  would have to turn the cow “dry”  when she was getting ready to have a calf.  During this time we would get milk from our uncle.  He and my dad would always try to coordinate when their milk cows were bred so we could have milk all year long.  Back in those days there were several people that still had milk cows in the area.  I am afraid this is another casualty of our current culture.

As I mentioned earlier,  Mom also made a lot of butter back in those days.  Thankfully this was after electric churns were in use.  I do not remember how much mom would make in a week but we would always have extra, even though we did eat a lot. Breakfast usually ended with a hot homemade biscuit filled with butter and jelly.  After churning the butter, mom would always press the butter into a mold that would shape the butter into a form for storage.  Most people had a wooden butter mold although I have seena few made out of metal.  Most of the time the top of the mold would have some sort of image carved into it so a design would be on top of the finished cake of butter.  If I remember correctly ours had a bird carved in it.

Another fun part of having all that milk and cream was getting to make homemade ice cream in the summer.  The first ice cream maker we had was manual with a hand crank.  A lot of times this would be a Sunday afternoon family project.  My parents, sister, and myself would take turns cranking for what seemed like forever.  The longer you cranked, the harder it was to turn.  I did not mind that because I knew that finished ice cream was not far away.  That ice cream was delicious, especially after all of that cranking.  We finally got an electric freezer that is still in the basement.  Sometime I may have to get it out and give it a try.

The final part of this to mention was buttermilk.  This is something a could not develop a taste for, although me dad used to drink it on occasion.  In my opinion it’s main purpose is to be an ingredient in biscuits.

Well, so much for my thoughts about the family milk cow.  Hope you have a nice day.

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