Thursday, March 7, 2013

Milking Cows -- Holding the Tail -- Food Inc.

Part of the Social Justice and Peace, (a class that I thought for approximately 10 years) class deals with animals and how animals should be treated. When Food Inc. (a documentary on food production in America) came out, many people encouraged me to see it. Oh my goodness, it does NOT sugar coat any details about where food comes from.

Food Inc. uses the literary device of black humor in a sense. I remember purposely choosing authors who would use the grotesque, or very blatant examples to get a point across to the readers. Most of these writers are not very subtle about using very graphic images. And when dealing with food, it is quite easy to conjure up others senses besides sight. The sense of smell and taste run very strong in this type of imagery.

Since I do deal with food to a certain degree with my work in the garden and the Farmers Market, I do have personal interest in all of this-- even personal experience. Although I know that there will be other possible blogs on this topic, today I would like to just center on cows and milking cows.

Remember, I grew up on a farm. My oldest brother still owns the farmstead -- the acreage of where most activity took place with our animals, especially the milk cows. I will start with a photo of some milking maidens.

Although I do not know who the milk maid is on the extreme left, I do recognize the others. Starting on the right would be my Mom (Sally Borer), then her sister, June, then I believe another sister, Claire or Bernie.  The last maid might have been a guest who helped milk the cows that evening.

My Mom could milk cows! Oh yes, she was good and she was fast. It was a bit of competition to keep up with her. I remember that Dad could not even milk as fast as Mom could. Milking demands strong muscles in one's writs and forearms. Notice Mom's muscles in the arm she has ostensibly positioned on her hip!
The year of this photo looks to be 1944 -- before Mom was married. I am sure these Borer girls could milk lots of cows very quickly.

Below is a photo of our barn on our farm. The barn is still there today. The photo below is just after it was newly painted. I, myself, have painted this barn numerous times. I have lots of memories, spent working and even playing in this barn.

The right side of the barn was the milking parlor. It had 8 stanchions on that side and so we could milk 8 cows at one time. All of my siblings milked cows. I do not remember there being 8 of us to sit down to milk all 8 at one time, but it was close to that. Then those 8  cows would be turned out and 8 more would be brought into the barn to be milked. At one time we were up to as many as 40 milk cows.

Our cows were very tame. We gave names to them. I remember names like: Carla, Fritzie, Elsie -- Mom's cow, Dad's cow, John's cow, etc.

Below is a a photo of one of my cows. She was an off spring of a Holstein cow-- all black. She was an excellent milker, very gentle. She had just born a new calf in this photo. Notice the calf behind her. The calf is Holstein.

Below is the calf that she bore that year. The photo is 1962. I was in the 7th grade that year and would come to MM the next year.

The photo below was taken when Br. Adrian Borer visited us. Some of the milk cows!

I am the third child of eight children. In some ways, we have two families. The first six of us were born very closely together. The last two came later. When my brother (Bob) and I left to go to the seminary, a hole was created in the work force of the milking crew. Eventually, we did get modernized and we did get milking machines, but I never really was a part of that scene. Usually when we milked cows, the whole family was there doing it. But since the younger ones really were too young to milk, they had little duties to keep them busy and occupied. Often times we joke about this with my youngest sister, Ruth. Her duty was to hold the tail.

I am always reminded of this with a toy cow that Louie Hoppe had as a little boy. The toy cow is now nearly 40 years old. But it still has some neat features. The head will nod up and down and its tail is the manner in which it gave milk. All one needed to do was crank the tail. When Ruth was holding the cow's tail while we were milking, I am sure we told her the same -- she was getting milk by cranking the tail.

Below is the famous Louie Hoppe cow. Louie was very good with animals and his children, especially his boys love animals.

                                 Over the years of use the cow lost her hooves and even her udder!

                  Note how the tail does move and it can be cranked. She would then give milk. Ruth, this is all

                                           One last photo of the famous cow. We will have to give
                                                    her a good name-- maybe Louisa.

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