Pages

Monday, 6 March 2017

Get the Milk

Recently, a blogger posted something about milk (I think it was about remembering when milk was delivered to homes). Well, that got me thinking about milk, specifically about my youth and milk. It actually played a very big part. Allow me to begin.

I grew up in rural Ontario. My parents built a house when I was eight years old. This land was severed off of my uncle's acreage. He was a bachelor dairy farmer. His mother, my grandmother, also lived there. We were surrounded by farms, but did not have a farm ourselves. However, I spent a considerable part of my childhood at my uncle's farm. Many of my memories of the farm are good. Most of those good memories have to do with animals and time spent in the barn.

My uncle had a herd of Holstein dairy cows, like the ones in this picture.

My mother helped out on my uncle's farm at certain times of the year, specifically planting or harvesting. She drove tractor at those times. As well, when the "hired man" had a weekend off, my mother helped do chores like milking. Do not visualize a milking stool and a metal bucket. This farm was as mechanized as it could be in those days. Milk went directly from cow through pipeline to bulk tank in the milk house. Fifty cows were regularly milked twice a day. As well, the barn housed heifers and calves and an assortment of barn cats and one faithful dog.

not the actual bulk tank, but very similar


Because of this ready supply of milk, we grew up drinking whole milk straight from the farm. Now, of course, it is very controversial to consume non-pasturized milk, but we never thought twice about it. My uncle was fastidious with his cleanliness, practices surrounding medication, and the milk in his bulk tank was tested every time milk was collected by a tank truck that came every two days (I think it was every two days).

Periodically, my mother went to the farm (a two minute drive away from our house) with a very big white plastic bucket. She extracted milk from the bulk tank in the bucket and brought that back to our house where she would ladle it into glass milk bottles. Several bottles were filled and placed in the "downstairs fridge", an old fridge that was a constant and compared to modern day fridges, lasted a lifetime!

source


In my brain, this is what the fridge in the basement looked like. Of course, I could be remembering it incorrectly.

I am the youngest of four siblings. We are spread pretty far apart, with four or five years between each child. When supper time rolled around, or at other family gatherings, inevitably the milk would be used up and the familiar phrase, "Jenn, would you get the milk?" would be uttered. It would be my job to leave the table, go down to the basement and bring up another bottle of milk which would be poured into a pitcher. This got really, really old by the time I was a teenager.

In keeping with whole milk, this was full fat, cream included milk. After it sat in the milk bottle for a while, the cream would rise to the top. Some might consider this a decadent, rich bonus, but I hated it. The thick cream kind of made me gag. I kept a small metal strainer beside my plate at the table, so I could pour the milk through the strainer to catch the bigger blobs of cream and keep them out of my glass. To this day, I do not buy whole milk. I prefer 1% milk.

I can still conjure up the sounds and smells of being in the barn during milking time. It was a pleasant, homey time for me with these big animals chewing away at the hay that had been placed in their troughs, the hissing sounds of the machinery being attached and detached, the background mooing sounds, the presence of a favourite barn cat, all very nice. That was the association I had with milk, not purchasing milk at the store, or having milk delivered to our home, although my father had mentioned that experience in his youth and that the horse knew the milk route and stopped automatically at each house. Because milk was essentially free, we drank a lot of milk! If we ever ran out (which we never did), there would always be a ready source at the farm.

source

So those are my milk memories, perhaps very different from your own. Chime in.



30 comments:

  1. I never cared a whole lot for milk, but could drink my dad's coffee cream straight from the carton.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, no thank you! I don't even like cream in my coffee! Just milk in that, too.

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing your memories. My mom had a milk cow whern I was little. Twice a day I'd follow her to the barn singing old MacDonald's Farm. Your memory of getting the milk from the basement is like mine when it came to churning milk. I think sure it built character. I enjoyed this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's interesting. With what did you churn it. I'm picturing a big old wooden butter churn, but perhaps is more like a glass table top model?

      Delete
  3. Well we had deliveries in the UK as a child and the bottles went out for pickup the next day. Recycling at its best. The cream at the top was gold top milk here and my dad loved the cream in his tea. I hated the cream.
    We still have milkman here that do a doorstep delivery.

    ReplyDelete
  4. A wonderful memory story - we should get you scrapping! :)

    For a short while we had direct from the cow milk along with our goats milk, then milk from the dairy, then there were those many lean years when it was powdered milk (which is nasty stuff or at least the frugal way my Mother made it). Now it is 1% milk in bags & yes only milk in the tea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've used powdered milk in recipes for the bread machine. It smells nasty!

      Delete
  5. what a marvelous childhood memory! We grew up with "the milkman" delivering Borden's milk every morning. Both at my granparents and our home in Jackson. The cream was divine at the top of the bottles. I loved that memory! Children and farms are a marvelous combination! Loved this Jenn!

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a great post! I enjoyed the memories you shared. Having grown up in the big city, my early memories of milk are entirely different. For a few years when I was very young, we had milk delivered to our home. Then we started buying it at the market. I'm not a huge fan of milk and I especially don't like the full fat type or heavy creams. I actually use almond milk more often (it's so much easier on my stomach) and when I do use dairy milk, I like the light types like 1% or 2% (I add a little to my coffee).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually enjoy almond milk. I buy the unsweetened vanilla almond milk to add to my smoothies.

      Delete
  7. We had a milkman who delivered milk to a chute in the kitchen wall. But when I visited my grandfather's brother's dairy farm in southern Michigan, we drank milk from his dairy herd. In fact once my mother's cousin Alby was milking by hand and squirted the milk right into my mouth. Probably not the best approved modern practice, but I loved it. They were a more old fashioned farm with only a simple separator that I remember for equipment. But I was pretty young, maybe 4 to 9 were the years we visited.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My husband grew up in Hungary just after WWII. His mother had no milk so they bought a goat for him to have goat milk. The doctor told his Mother that goats would not transmit TB which was a big problem at the time and in that place. She saved money for quite a while to buy a cow and it blew up walking on a land mine the first week they had it. (Their home had changed hands between the Russians and the Germans nineteen times.) My mil always said she was grateful it was none of her children who walked on that mine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness!! I think YOU have a story to tell, here!
      I had also heard that young children can drink goat's milk with little digestion problems compared to cow's milk.

      Delete
  9. What a wonderful story around milk. You really reminded me of days gone by. We got milk in bottles and drank it by the gallon. It always surprised me when arriving in Greece that everyone from toddler to adult drank water when thirsty. We would make straight for the fridge.
    We used to go on camping holidays and always got milk from the farm down the road. We took our bucket along and got it filled by the farmer.
    At home my mother would skim the cream off the top and we would have it on porrige or she used it in baking. I love cream. Now it is always low fat milk and cream sometimes for kids desserts but the best cream here and the cheapest is vegan 'cream'.

    ReplyDelete
  10. We had no cows but many of our best friend did. She and I would ride the 'lead' cows back to the barn for milking in the afternoons. I'm lactose intolerant so milk was never an item for me.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Those were fun to read but not so fun that you were sent down all the time. I have no cow milk memories as I didn't drink it as a child and still don't today. But I enjoyed your story, and the strainer.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I remember our milk being delivered to the house and put in a box out front. I think they were in bottles but I can't remember.

    Your story is much better -- so real and full of memories and experience. I always figured that if you drank the milk very fresh as you did, from the cow more or less, and it was clean as your farm was, then the pasturization wasn't really necessary. It might add to the shelf life but... and I loved your story of the strainer!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I wouldn't call raw milk controversial in a sense, but it's certainly can be risky. Pasteurization has saved countless lives

    ReplyDelete
  14. I got to milk goats in the summer when I was a kid, but we would strain (to get the big pieces out) and heat(pasteurize)it before we drank it. It is likely that I would not have been this tall without it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My son's kindergarten class visited a dairy. I was surprised how clean it was. Not a speak of dirt on the floor. It is nice that Canadian cows milk is still free of antibiotics and growth hormones. Let's hope it stays that way!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Milk was delivered in bottles in my youth and left on the front doorstep. Often, when we went to bring it in, the top had been pierced by birds so they could get at the cream. This was in the 40`s and 50`s.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I smiled all the way through because you wrote my story. Except it was my dad that had the farm. We milked 50 cows twice a day, we didn't have the pipe line we carried covered pails to the bulk tank. Milk was picked up every other day and tested before it was loaded into the tank. I did not like the cream on the top either but my mother often made our own butter so she liked to use the cream off the top...and my dad like the buttermilk that resulted. I could never stand it.

    It was a great life- a busy, fulfilled life in so many ways. I wish my own kids could have had some of the experience of being on a farm and understanding the concept of field to table.

    I am in my 60s and just had a bone density test and was 99%. That is almost unheard of at my age. I have no bone lose or calcium problems. I swear it is from all that whole milk I drank as a child.

    Great post. xo Diana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that's nice that we have something in common, Diana! I also wish my own kids could have had the farm experiences that I did. Unfortunately, my uncle died when I was in my early 20's and the farm was sold.
      I do remember that before the pipelines were installed in the barn, the milk went into large milk cans which were carried to the milk house and dumped into the tank.

      Delete
  18. Jenn, That's how I remember getting the milk too. My Grandparents had a dairy across the road from us and we got our milk out of the tank. They had Jerseys which produce the highest butter fat! My Grandma would skim the cream off the top and whip it to serve with dessert. No wonder I am on a diet!
    Thanks for sharing your travel tips and have a good time!

    ReplyDelete
  19. We got our milk delivered (by a nasty man, who would terrorize our Dachshund if we weren't around) when I was young. Today, I keep a cow down the road at my neighbor's dairy barn and get milk straight from the barn. I can never go back, it's that good.

    ReplyDelete
  20. A farm experience must have been fabulous! I love whole milk. For years, everyone said it was bad for you. Recently they have proved it is good....so now I can tell everyone I was right all along...LOL

    ReplyDelete
  21. I loved this post, too. During WWII when my dad was serving overseas, my mom and I lived with my grandparents and I can remember the local dairy delivering milk to the front porch. If we neglected to bring it in right away in the winter time, we would find it frozen, the cardboard top popped off and the cream dribbling down the sides of the bottle in frozen rivulets.

    When hubby and I married we got milk goats and had them for many years. Moving into a different phase of our lives necessitated getting rid of the goats. Now we are fortunate to have a source for raw cow's milk but if that source ever dried up (pun intended), we will get back into dairy goats pronto.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Cute post, Jenn. I remember our milk being delivered to our milk box on our porch. When I got older, we only had skim milk in the house. I visited a friend and her Mom gave me a glass of Whole Milk. It tasted like cream. It was so yummy. Have a good week.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I grew up spending time at my aunt's and uncle's dairy farm and also have the best memories of summers there. I think that contributed to my desire to have a small farm. We have a small herd of goats and milk them by hand. If I don't skim the cream off the top right before serving it, my children won't drink it because the cream makes them gag too. Most of the time, I simply turn it all into pudding, ice cream, yogurt or butter because they think it tastes so much different from the homogenized, pasteurized cow's milk purchased in the grocery store. When friends come over, they're fascinated by the whole milking/skimming and chilling/ice-cream making process.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The milk that I drank as an infant was from our nanny goat which provided us with milk throughout World War 2. After that I walked up the lane with my elder brother to collect milk from the farm. It was put into a lidded enamel container which my older brother would swing in a high circle without spilling a drop. I wasn't so adept, the container hit the side of my leg and the milk sloshed about!

    ReplyDelete