De Laval Cream Separator Advertisement

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

Thursday, August 10, 1911: Trotted after the cows this morning and did some sewing this afternoon. Don’t like to sew very well, but must when no one else will for me.

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

The cows must have somehow managed to escape from the pasture AGAIN. This is the fifth time during summer 1911 that Grandma mentioned chasing cows. Only two days previously she wrote about a rebellious heifer in the orchard.

I wonder how many cows the Muffly family had. A hundred years ago farms were more diversified than they are today. Most farms had only a few cows, a couple of pigs, some chickens, some ducks, and maybe a few sheep. (Whew, it’s starting to sound like Old McDonald’s Farm).

I’d guess that Grandma’s family only had 4 or 5 milking cows—plus a couple heifers and calves—but that’s only a guess.  Many farm families sold butter, so they probably had a cream separator that separated the skim milk from the cream. The family would have fed much of the skim milk to calves and pigs—and the butter that the family didn’t use would have been sold.

Cream Separator (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Advertisement in June 30, 1911 issue of Farm Implement Magazine

4 Responses

  1. Had to smile at this post. In my gggrandfather’s diary, they seemed to spend much time looking for sheep and cows that had strayed. Now I just have to keep track of my black shepherd.

    • And, your comment makes me smile! Your mention of keeping track of your black shepherd brings back wonderful memories of trying to keep track of a Belgian Tervuren dog we once had.

  2. Cream separator was very hard to clean. Lots of nooks and crannies. Had to be very clean or it would really smell. Did this many times as part of my chores on our Iowa farm, as youngster and into my teens. Dad usually had 5-6 cows he milked every day. Yes, took cream and eggs to town on Saturday night to sell. Late 40s, early 50s. I remember the men standing around talking. All worn hats (fedora types). Why I remember the hats, I have no idea – but it is very vivid! ;-) Thanks for the memories, again! ;-)

    • What a wonderful vivid description! I think I’m glad that by the time I came along my family had a bulk tank, and the separator had been put into storage in a shed.

      My father often talks about going to town on Saturday evenings with his parents. He and his father would stand on the street corner and visit with the other males, while his mother and sister shopped. It amazing how similar things were in Pennsylvania and Iowa.

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