A Gallon of Milk and A Pound of Butter

Pearl Harris

How long does it take you to go to the supermarket and pick up a gallon of milk and a pound of butter? If you don’t have to spend too long at the check out, it will probably take you 10 or 15 minutes. Well, I can tell you when I was growing up it took a lot longer to get that gallon of milk and a pound of butter. First, you had to call the cows up to milk them – I think you said “su-cow, su-cow”. I never had to milk the cows, because I was scared of them, but I sometimes went with my mom when she milked the cows. She had a metal bucket – a “Mrs. Tucker’s shortening bucket” and she always washed the cow’s bag off. Then she would squish that milk in that metal bucket. It almost made a tune when the milk hit the metal pail.

The milk was set out until it was ready to put in the churn. In case someone young reads this and doesn’t know what a churn is – it is a tall pottery like bucket. It has a lid with a hole in the top for the “dasher”. The dasher is like a broomstick with a wooden crosspiece on the bottom. When the milk gets ready to use the churn you push the dasher up and down until the butter rises to the top of the milk. You then skim the butter off the milk – which is buttermilk by then. We all drank buttermilk at my house except my sister and she got the “sweet milk”. I think she was the “pet”. Anyway, I didn’t like sweet milk because it smelled like the cow. My mom would rinse the butter good and put it into a butter mold. A butter mold was a square or rather rectangle shaped box and it had a little removable bottom that after you packed the box with butter you could push it out with the removable bottom. She then would take a knife and smooth it all up and wrap it in some sort of paper. I don’t think we had wax paper at the time. I was the one who delivered the milk and butter to a couple of customers in Junction City. I carried a half-gallon jar of buttermilk and a pound of butter about 1/2 mile and brought home 10 cents for the milk and 25 cents for the butter. I remember that some times my Mom would fill a “blue granite” bowl with milk (without the cream) and set it in the safe until it clabbered. In case you young people don’t think a safe is a locked box for money, the safe was had was like a china cabinet but it had screen on the doors instead of glass. I would look forward to the milk “clabbering” so I could eat it with a spoon. I think that was our “yogurt” back then. I churned that milk every morning before I caught the school bus to La. Tech. Needless to say it was not my favorite chore. I still have the churn and the butter mold, but I didn’t keep the dasher for some reason. Well, you can see that way back (maybe not so long ago) when i was growing up it was not a 15 minutes job to get a “gallon of milk and a pound of butter”. But wasn’t it good and fresh. And I’m thankful that we don’t have to go to all the trouble – but you know these dairy farmers somewhere are still working to get us fresh milk and butter to the supermarket. So, lets thank God for all the blessings we have to make our life easier and for the workers who provide us with the food we need.


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