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Turning the Cow Dry and Freshning Up

Updated on August 9, 2016

Cows and a Memory

I grew up in a small cotton mill village called Tuxedo about ten miles south of our county seat of Hendersonville NC. It was the 1950's and the world was just settling down after a second major world war. Men had returned home, married and had begun families. Folks seemed to be happy and content.

Mill village folks especially were happy. Almost everything and anything one could want was close at hand. Green River Mills provided for all our basic needs. Housing, water, employment for my folks, a community store owned by the mill where anything could be purchased down to a coffin if needed. In those days people were pretty self sufficient and made do with little.

We had a community center where kids could go in the summer to play or get swimming lessons through the area Red Cross. We even had a full size baseball field complete with a screened grandstand and crude dressing rooms complete with a two holer. Now some of you won't know what that is but if you are ignorant, toilets that were open, sorta like a porta-john without the tank. The mill always sponsored an industrial league baseball team and on game days the ballpark was full of fans cheering on their team.

A community barn was also provided to mill employees who had a cow. They did not charge those who used the barn and the milk from the cows supplied more than one family healthy dairy products. Milk and butter. Of course, some liked buttermilk a product of allowing the milk to clabber and be churned. The butter was harvested from the churn and the remaining milk with tiny pieces of butter still in the mixture was a favorite with crumbled in hot cornbread. Many of my own supper meals consisted of a bowl of cornbread and buttermilk, sometimes adding in a fresh onion.

My daddy always kept at least one cow and sold the excess milk throughout the mill village. It was sold in gallon pickle jars rather than one of those fancy plastic containers you now find in the dairy section of your local grocery store.The whole milk was not the homogenized or pasteurized variety that came along later when processed milk began to be delivered in the mill village. I learned at an early age how to milk a cow and since my dad worked evening shift in the cotton mill, milking was my chore until the early 1960's.

In the summertime, dad would have our cow bred and we began a process of turning her dry. That is to say, we would no longer milk the cow which by nature would slowly stop her production of the two gallons we would get from her morning and evening. We did not suffer during those times because other folks had cows and we could get milk from them.

When nature had run its course and the cow delivered a brand new baby calf, a heifer or a bull business picked up. Daddy called it "frashning up." The cow's milk factory went into overdrive and baby calves and all of us were well nourished. Little by little the calves were weaned and sold. Sometimes heifers were kept to raise but most bull calves were sold and raised for beef.

Having to tend to a new calf sometimes was difficult for me as a small boy. If it became playful and run out of the barn stall, it was hard to round up. Everyday I had to take the cow down to the creek for water and be sure that cantankerous calf didn't get out of the barn. It is amazing how much water a cow can drink but it was fascinating to me to watch her wet nose and see her slurping gallons of water from the creek.

When the mill was sold in the mid 1960's the old barn became a piece of the history of the mill village. By that time chain grocery stores were selling milk cheaper than one could feed a cow and my parents began buying all our milk from the store. For a long time, that milk tasted like water compared to the whole milk I had grown up drinking. Country butter was also missing replace by that hypocrite butter we know as margarine. Everything's better with Blue Bonnet on it is a lie!! Nothing could ever replace the butter churned and cast in those wooden molds.

It wasn't until I was grown up had I heard of lactose intolerance. It is sad some folks cannot enjoy dairy products. Fortunately, new products are now available without lactose and are comparable to the real thing.


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    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 8 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thank you very much for sharing your memories of cows freshning up in North Carolina. I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin and just this past May and June of 2016 spent time with my sister who is a farmer and vet in northeastern Wisconsin. She had about four cows that freshened up while I was there. I enjoyed reading this very much.

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 8 months ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thanks Paul for your comment and being the first to do so. Like the old bluegrass song lyrics in Georgia mules and country girls are fading fast away. So it is with family farms here where I live. There are still a few who have a milk cow and enjoy fresh whole milk and country butter. Both give a college education to breakfast. Oh well, at my age I don't drink milk for breakfast but remember those day when the coffee creamer was real cream gleaned from the top of the milk my mama strained in a clean flour sack from the milk Paul. Have a blessed day .

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 8 months ago

      I aways enjoy your stories about your life. Today is no exception.

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 8 months ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thank you! Hope you have a blessed day.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 8 months ago

      When my husband worked on a research farm he would share stories of how one frisky young calf would escape and want to play. I enjoyed your share on this topic. It would have been nice to have lived on a farm such as this.

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 8 months ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thank you teaches12345 for stopping in to read and I appreciate your comment. Hope you day has been blessed.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 8 months ago from USA

      I enjoyed your story. My dad and grandfather both grew up on farms and my brother maintains a small one. It's a lot of work! People need to remember than milk, butter and other such products don't simply come from "the store."

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 8 months ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thank you FlourishAnyway! For sure many do not have a clue, a part of my history which I will always treasure.

    • BeccaHubbardWoods profile image

      Mizzery Chick 8 months ago from Outside your window...

      To this day, my dad loves to eat a glass of buttermilk with cornbread crumbled in it. That's never been to my taste, though LOL. I also remember my grandma sitting on the front porch churning butter for morning biscuits that she would make from scratch. I really enjoyed reading this, it took me back. :D

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 8 months ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thanks sweet lady for sharing your memory of your grandmother and how your dad loves his crumble in! Nothing like good country cooking. Hope your day has been a blessed one.

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