We were eight gals touring in Belgium on bicycles, carrying
loaded saddlebags. The cyclists up front pulled off the road when
one said, "I think that sign said farmer’s
Several of us had been able to read signs in the
French-speaking part of Belgium, but we were in
the area where only Flemish was spoken.
We turned back and knocked on the farmer’s door. We were
not getting along well communicating with the woman who greeted
us until her daughter arrived. The young woman had been an
exchange student in Florida for a year and was delighted to give
us a tour of the farm.
It was muddy but we played with the kittens, watched the
hay-making, visited the little calves and went to the cattle
barns. At one stall, the girl said, "And this is where the
I peeked into a dark room and saw a beautiful Holstein. The
girls were looking in over my head and Doty, from Pennsylvania,
said, "The bull? What does he do?"
I laughed and said, "What bulls are supposed to do
But Doty was not satisfied with that answer so I began to
spell it out for her.
"The cows produce milk for their calves and if
there’s to be milk on your table there have to be babies in
the herd. This bull is the father of all of those calves."
The girl was truly surprised. And I was surprised at her next
question, "Does milk come only from the mother cows?"
This city girl had no concept where milk came from!
Then Liz from Florida admitted that she thought all cows gave
milk. Janet, a sixth-grade teacher from Kansas said, "I hate
to admit it but I had never given that any thought. I supposed
cows gave milk and it never occurred to me that it was only the
In last week’s Granny’s Notes, I mentioned that Dad
had to manage his herd to produce lots of milk in the fall and
less in summer because the supply and demand for milk is
difficult to regulate. He controlled that
by keeping the bull penned up at certain times and letting him
the herd at other times, as on the
There’s probably no milk in Columbia’s stores today
that is all produced on one farm as Dad’s was. All milk was
"raw" milk until the 1930s when big dairies began to
buy milk from a lot of different farms.
It was impossible for farms to mix all of that milk together
and get pure milk to customers while it was still fresh because
milk was considered old after a couple of days.
Pasteurization solved the problems. Now there’s a date on
each container and its shelf life is almost unbelievable!
Some family dairies survived, and Dad’s was one of them.
He sold milk to the Boone County Hospital from its opening day in
1924. Dad’s farm was chosen after the hospital’s
superintendent, Eleanor Keeley, visited several well-known
Pasteurization did not please Keeley and many others because
the process of heating milk to kill germs changed its taste. The
taste has improved through the years, and it would be difficult
to distinguish between raw and pasteurized milk now.
The big dairies promoted: "Green grass makes white milk
that’s pink on the cheeks." Dad’s motto was:
"Clean milk, fresh from my own cows." He began
pasteurizing that Grade A raw milk in the 1930s.