Here on this family farm, down through the years, many farm animals have come and gone but few could compare to “Ol’ Pet.”
She would be the Guernsey milk cow that we picked out at Pete Coriell’s dairy in the fifties. We bought her here in a burlap sack in the trunk of our car.
We had Hereford white-faced cattle for meat and sale but Little Pet was to march to a different drum. She was kept away from the “common” cattle and made a “plum fool pet.” When she was old enough to have her first calf, we started milking her.
This was my job twice a day. We rotated her around from our barn lot to my grandparent’s side lot. This kept her in grass and handy to catch and milk. It also put me in touch with my grandparents twice a day and kept them in milk and butter.
Ah yes, the Old Dazey butter churn. I still have it but it’s just memorabilia now on the shelf.
Since I brought the milk in and I was the kid, guess who got to churn the skimmed cream? This was at a time when life was simple.
Milk got skimmed and strained with a rag. By the time Dudley got it delivered to the kitchen, we had avoided getting the bucket kicked over or stepped in. We had squirted plenty at the cats waiting in line and we may have put some extra barn organics in it. It could be cow hair or worse. I was supposed to limit the additives as best I could.
This is where the straining cloth was needed. Now you have milk to chill and drink.
As the cream “rises” and is skimmed off the milk, you accumulate cream to churn into butter. For those of you who haven’t lived, the “Dazey” Churn was about a gallon glass jar with a hand crank on top that “churned” wooden paddles down in the jar.
You could spend about a black and white Western or several “How dil doodies” getting the cream churned to butter.
How good was it? – the best you will ever have. “It is sweet as early grass butter in April.” – Herman Melville – MOBY DICK -1851
This, obviously, isn’t an original thought by this Swauger Valley country boy.
Truth is – there’s about a 7000 year history of butter making. No, it didn’t start on Swauger Valley – it just reached the state of the art here. Really, sweet butter is much more recent and think about it – How do you have butter before refrigeration? This would make it a seasonal “ice box”treat.
When you get into culturing, fermenting, bacteria and pasteurizing, things get complicated and small dairies go out. As I said before, sweet cream and butter in April was as good as it gets.
Some would say, “I can’t believe it isn’t butter.” – I can. Homemade sweet butter is 86% butterfat,
manufactured is 80% butterfat and wannabe’s aren’t.
What brought all this up? After all these years of livin’ right, down on the farm, now I’m having abdominal pain and digestive problems. The first suspect is gall bladder and diet. No fried food and no dairy products. What kind of life is that? This appears to this country boy as just one more feeble attempt to squeeze out the family farm and all that it stands for.
Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.