Bucolic Cows or Poor Water Quality?

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, July 25, 1911:  Cows got in the corn again, and as I am the cowboy I had to get them out. Tweetkins was here awhile this afternoon to converse with her dear Ruthie.

Advertisement in June 30, 1911 Issue of Farm Implement Magazine

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

This is the second time during July that the cows got into the corn.

Tweetkins refers to Helen Wesner, who often went by the nickname of Tweet. She was a friend of Grandma and her sister Ruth—though it sounds like she came to visit Ruth (rather than both of the Muffly girls) a hundred years ago today—and that Grandma was unhappy about being excluded from the conversation.

I really like the drawing in the 1911 advertisement that I used to illustrate today’s entry. A stream flows through the farm that Grandma grew up on so the cows probably were pastured in a field that looked similar to the field in the drawing.

Recent photo of the stream that flows through the farm Grandma grew up on (though obviously it is a different time of the year). The old Muffly barn is in the background--and the cows were probably pastured in this field.

I especially like the juxtaposition of the old (bucolic cows) and the new (airplane and sign for a De Laval Cream Separator).

However, when I showed the picture to my daughter she said, “Those cows are in the stream. That’s bad.” She spent a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer with a water quality organization—and spent part of that year encouraging farmers to build fences (or plant natural barriers) to keep cows out of streams.

It’s interesting how an illustration can evoke different feelings in different people. (Personally I still think it shows a peaceful scene with bucolic cows.)

4 Responses

  1. […] It sounds like Grandma had a rough day—Did she get kicked by a cow? .  and break a dish when doing the supper dishes? .. . or maybe a cow kicked a bucket of milk over? . . . or did the cows again escape from the pasture and into the corn field? (Grandma needed to chase them out of the corn on July 10 and July 25.) […]

  2. […] to be. Twice during the summer of 1911 Grandma wrote about cows getting into the corn (July 10 and July 25), and on May 26 she wrote “I’m through watching cows for the present time—at least. That was […]

  3. […] summer. She also wrote about chasing cows that had somehow gotten into the corn field, orchard, and other places they weren’t supposed to be. And, she mentioned when she was finished watching the cows: I’m through watching cows for the […]

  4. […] The previous summer Grandma also complained in the diary about needing to watch the cows—and how they sometimes got into the corn field, orchard, and other places they weren’t supposed to be. […]

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