Put Cows in Wrong Field

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

Tuesday, June 11, 1912:  Such a time as I had with the cows this morning. I got them in the wrong field and then had to take them out.

Picture of an early 20th century dairy farm. Photo source: The Farm Dairy (1908) by H.B. Gurler

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

To give the grass time to grow, farmers generally rotated cows between several pastures.

The cows would have been brought into the barn for milking— and then they’d have been herded back to the pasture.

I assume that Grandma’s father decided that it was time to move the cows to another pasture, but that she somehow failed to herd them into the correct field.  Maybe he hadn’t clearly communicated the change to her  . . . or maybe she hadn’t been paying attention . . . or maybe she’d been thinking of other things and had just plain forgotten.

17 Responses

  1. Those cows are a whole bunch of heartache!

  2. HI. She certainly had her share of chores. Herding cows is very responsible work. Jane

    • Having grown up on a farm myself, I can see a certain value in giving children chores. It taught me a lot about responsibility and the value of work.

      When my own children were younger I used to fret that they didn’t have enough to do–and made them deliver newspapers for years. I’ll have to ask them whether or not they now appreciate the things they learned from delivering all of those papers.

      • My kids delivered papers until we moved out where there were no newspapers for kids to deliver then they worked in ice cream parlors, the lumber yard, the library and raking leaves. And they had to contribute to the household and do those chores too – washing dishes, their own clothes etc. I think it did them a lot of good. One thing they have had no problem with is working. I guess I could ask what they think ;-P

  3. Your blog is awesome. I love old diaries and how wonderful you have one of an actual family member and was willing to share. Thanks for visiting my blog, which led me to yours.

  4. I didn’t know cows needed so much attention.

  5. I bet she was overjoyed when cow proof fencing came to her family farm.

    • I agree! I still can’t figure out why her father hadn’t put sturdy barbed wire fences around his fields. Maybe he thought it was less expensive to rely on his children to watch the cows.

  6. “Herding cows into the wrong pasture”…. I think I’m going to save that for days like today! I may not be dealing with cows but after a long weekend away, I’ve come back to tons of stuff I’m trying to put out to pasture…. Your post today was right on!

  7. Before the phrase “like herding cats,” there was herding cows. A delightful and pithy entry today, Helena!

  8. Hi Sheryl. Since I don’t have any experience with being on a farm, I really appreciate the explanation that you gave. I wouldn’t have realized the effort that went into “herding cows.” Thanks!

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