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Things Ain't Like They Used to be,
and I'm Not Sure They Ever Were
We used to keep one or more milk cows for home use, and I did all the milking. Our cats (we always had cats around the place) would go to the lot with me and would stand on their hind legs while I squirted milk in their face. Sometimes I would drink the warm milk, either from a cup or preferably squirting the warm milk into my own mouth from a safe distance. I don't know whether anybody ever does that anymore, or if anyone else ever did. I have often wondered, as the five girls came along, why I did not teach them to milk the cows, increase the size of our dairy operation and retire. A golden opportunity I let slip through my hands.

In preparing to milk the cows, we of course took buckets that had been
thoroughly sterilized, wash rags, and soapy water to thoroughly clean the cows' udder. We would hold the bucket away at an angle so a minimum of drippings from our hands would fall into the milk, but it seemed inevitable that the cow would swat us in the face with her tail, and that some EXTRANEOUS MATERIAL such as, well, you know what, and also an occasional fly would land in the milk. Fortunately they and the
OTHER MATERIAL would land in the foam, and we would dip them out hastily, and very little of the EXTRANEOUS MATERIAL would settle to the bottom, and what little did would be separated from the pure product with the cloth strainer.  And, that milk 

would "clabber" if left out of the cooler, or ice box, and you could churn buttermilk, always with sizeable chunks of butter, which made it all the better, and the curds and whey were delectable.

You remember the children's rhyme, "Little Miss Muffet sat on a Tuffet, eating her curds and whey, along came a spider and sat down beside her and frightened Miss Muffet away." Nowadays in this enlightened age, Miss Muffet should know that perhaps only two spiders, "the black widow" and the "brown recluse," are really poisonous.  And even if she could find a
"tuffet" to sit on, whatever that is, to my knowledge there are no CURDS AND WHEY available in any local grocery store.  I doubt even Wal-Mart or Kroger has it. Lucille asked for some curds and whey at a local grocery store several years ago and the young clerk said, "We don't have any on hand right now, but we have some on order if you will call back", but they never did.

We were without a milk cow for several years, until a young half Charolais/ half Hereford (beefcattle on both sides) came fresh. She was very gentle, so I milked her.  She gave high ProteinóLow Fat milk generously and cheerfully. The only trouble was her milk would not clabber! Now that was not the fault of the cow. We would put a little dab of what is nowadays called "buttermilk, (buttermilk is a misnomer for the product, as the butter has been assiduously removed--it is cultured milk). But anyhow, with the cultured buttermilk added, her milk would clabber. You see, we had lost the "Culture" on our premises, which I guess means Lucille was too clean a housekeeper.



Printed in The MESSENGER magazine, Jan/Feb 1997