Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"Growing Up Country:

Memories Of An Iowa Farm Girl" is a memoir written by Carol Bodensteiner and was given to me for Christmas by my AZ/WI friends.
Ms. Bodensteiner is a little younger than I, but she grew up in the 50's much as I did. So many of her memories of farm life and a one-room country school are very similar.
She lived in Jackson County in NE Iowa. Her parents were dairy farmers. Many of her memories are about life lived among cows.
Which is what got me thinking about my own memories of milking. Pictured here is Sylvia with one of her calves. She is one of the first cows I milked regularly. The others were Coco and Dumbo.

We usually had eight to ten milk cows. When Mom and I did the milking, I would milk three or four while she was milking the rest - she was so much faster than I was. Sometimes we started the milking while Dad and Ron were still in the field. I always hoped they would get done haying or cultivating or whatever they were doing so they would come in and take over the milking so I didn't have to.

I think Sylvia was one of the earliest cows I remember along with Brindle and Blossom. Those two were gone before I started milking. Others over the years were Jersey, Dinah, Julie, Macy, Marne, April, Ada, Tootsie, Penny, Beauty, Marcy and Cindy.

Mom favored the Jersey and Guernsey breeds which is probably why I did also. (Still do.) She explained that their milk was richer, which meant it had more fat content - good if you were selling cream. If you were selling whole milk, it wasn't as important.
The one breed of cow we never had was Holstein which is what the dairy farmers in "Growing Up Country" raised. Holsteins were known for the quantity of milk they produced. Carol explained in her book that her Dad never allowed them to name their cows - they were given a number. Their cows were a business not part of the family as ours were.

One of the book's stories related Carol and her sister Jane practicing their 4-H demonstration in order to win at the county level and advance to the State Fair competition. My sister and I were never in 4-H, but my Roberts cousins were. I remember going with them to a club meeting at Fletcher Preston's where Rita and Lila were practicing their 4-H demonstration for the county fair. Oh, how I wished I was in 4-H, too.

This memoir was a quick read, but it brought back so many memories of my own - dressing chickens, planting garden, farm chores after school and the wonderful freedom of playing outdoors anywhere on the farm. It is a look at a good, simple time when values and traditions were an every day lesson in life and the author does a beautiful job of writing about it.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Ramona - Thanks for reading my book and writing about it. Your story about you and your mom milking reminded me of a story my dad told. Mom was a town girl when they married but she was up for trying everything. Dad tried to teach her to milk cows by hand - as they had to at the time. He said it took her so long to milk a cow that the cow would lay down and go to sleep! After that, he milked and she ran the separator. Keep on writing - one story leads to another. Carol