Friday, May 1, 2015


I was taking a drive through the country the other day. I love to just drive and look at scenery. Often I spot a tree that sings to me. I do like trees. And of course there are farm animals.

I saw some cows grazing in a field the other day. I began to think of some of my eperiences with cows.

On my grandparent's farm we liked to go into the barn at milking time to watch my uncles and Grandpa milk the cows.

Cows can be rather cantankerous during the milking procedure. They move around and sometimes kick. That is why Grandpa insisted that we stand against the wall far enough away so we were not in danger and we would not upset the cows.

My uncles would drive the cows into the barn and up to the stanchion that held hay for them to munch. There were wooden bars that moved to hold the cows in their spots.

Behind the cows was a sort of ditch in the cement floor. That was to catch whatever when the cows relieved themselves. Even so as soon as evacuation began the milk buckets were snatched up and moved out of the line of fire and any splash-back. The milk had to be kept sanitary at all costs.

Occasionally one or more of the cows would start to kick or jump about even though they could not move around much. If one managed to kick over a bucket there was much swearing. The loss of milk meant a loss of money.

On days they were feeling generous my uncles might squirt some of the milk for us to catch in our mouths straight from the cow. It was great fun.

One farmer my father worked for also had milk cows. They were grazing in a field of some kind of awful weed. Obviously the cows loved it.

Cows milk will absorb tastes from what they eat. Since we got our milk from the farm we could taste what the cows had eaten.

Now whatever weed these critters had eaten tasted just terrible. I kept complaining about the milk but of course we had no voice about which field the cows fed in. Boy was I glad when they were moved.

As time went on many farmers began to get milking machines. They consisted of a container to hold the milk and vacuum fixtures that fit over the cows teats to remove the milk.

It seems to be a more efficient method. Not only is the udder drained more completely but even if the cow decides to empty a bladder or something the milk is inside a closed container so it will not be contaminated.

Then we moved to a dairy farm. We lived on a mountain and the milking barn was fairly near our house. We would go sit in the windows of the barn at milking time to watch because of course we were never allowed inside.

The milking machine here was really something! There were still stanchions filled with feed. There were still vacuum tubes connected to the cows to obtain milk. But the most interesting thing was the container for the milk.

Instead of individual containers there was one huge container to collect all the milk from all the cows.

These days I wonder if there was a machine on that huge container that separated the cream from the milk or if that was a different operation. I do not know. I suppose I will have to Google it.

The thing that struck me however is that things change. No matter how much the same they are, they change.

Milk is still obtained from cows. Someone or something still has to manipulate the teats to pull the milk from the udder and put it into a container. It must still be kept clean.

So I guess the more things change the more they stay the same.


  1. Hello Emma, greetings and good wishes.

    This is a wonderful post about the farms, cows, milking and milking machines which we don't normally see in towns. We get packed milk pouches in shops and they are not as fresh as the milk obtained directly from the cows. The fun of watching cows being milked, sending milk from the cows directly to the mouth must have been very exciting as kids. Surely farm life is different from city life.

    Many,many changes have taken place in our life time. Right from milking machines, motor cars, washing machines, TV's, computers, mobile phones etc. have transformed our lives and we have much leisure time at our hands.

    Sometimes it is difficult to find a productive way of using leisure time and we fritter it away day dreaming. I suppose day dreaming is also good.

    Excellent descriptive post and I enjoyed reading it.

    Best wishes

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it. As far as computers go, they were the epitome of science fiction when I was a child. Things have changed so quickly since then.

  2. I remember milk cows and my uncle milking them, back in the 40's. The cats would wait for him to send them a stream of milk. Once he squirted me in the leg.

  3. I worked on a farm during the summer when I was younger. It was hard work, but I enjoyed it. We don't have cows now but we have chickens. I gather eggs daily.

    1. Gathering eggs was a chore for us when we stayed at the farm. I hated when a hen decided to stay on the eggs to fulfill a mothering feeling. They would get mean when we tried to get at the eggs.

  4. I haven't experienced milking cows, though my late mom would always tell me stories of how my grandfather ( who I did not get a chance to meet at all ) would would supply them happily with fresh cow's milk and my older brothers got a chance to experience.

    1. My grandmother had wanted to learn to milk when she was a child. By the time her hands were large enough she saw what working the farm was doing to her older sister and decided to stay in the house and cook. Their mother was dead and her sister worked outside all day with all the farm hands and her skin aged and dried. It was like leather most of the time. In her later years my great-aunt had regained some normalcy to her skin because she no longer worked outside but the toll still showed.

  5. How interesting it is to read how the whole milking process is done. You mentiobed about cows emptying bladder while beibg milked. Now I suddenly think on what conditions are the milk we're buying being done. I just hope they have the hitech milking way too :)

    1. "How is it done" is something that interests me. I guess I did not realize that milking was a "how it is done".