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