Still Snowed In

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

Monday, February 16, 1914: Guess I’ll be kept like a prisoner this week, at least at the first part.

snow and barn

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

Sounds like Grandma was going to need to wait another day to get her valentine. Two days previously she wrote:

Looked forward to a valentine this morning, but no mail carrier came as the roads were rendered impassable from the snow storm. The snow lies 18 in. deep on the ground.

February 14, 1914

Even though Grandma doesn’t mention anything about how the snowstorm affected the farm operations I can’t help wondering what her father was thinking and doing.

The Muffly’s had several cows. They would have stored the milk in the milk in cans—and may have enough cans to hold several days’ worth of milk. But it seems like Grandma’s father would have been panicking that the milk would spoil if he didn’t get it to market soon.

milk can (photo source: Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site)

milk can (photo source: Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site)

When I was a child growing up on a dairy farm, we always had to the get farm lane open within two days of a snowfall so that the milk truck could get in to take the milk to market.

My father would sometimes work day and night to clear the lane (and to keep it open if the snow was drifting).  If the milk truck couldn’t get in, the tank where we stored the milk would be totally filled and we would have needed to start dumping milk.

(I digressed enough. Back to Grandma’s story–another possibility is that the Muffly’s didn’t need to regularly get milk to market because they only sold butter made from the cream, and that they fed all of the skim milk to calves or pigs.)

12 Responses

  1. I have a good friend who also grew up on a dairy farm. His mom and dad drove 800 klm to join us at a campground for dinner and turned around and drove all the way home. You’re really tied to that farm.

  2. I have an old milk-can in my garage. It is not the full size one. It belonged to one of my Great Aunts.

  3. I remember one of those cans in our basement when I was growing up, don’t have a clue what happened to it. (like so many other things) But, so sad that Valentine’s Day had to be a disappointment.

  4. I’m sure Grandma felt so isolated from the world; you have to wonder how much snow they had from that storm?

  5. I love that you lived on a milk farm too!

  6. My grandma also had a dairy farm…in Finland. And the milk cans looked fairly similar!

  7. In my secret hopes of hopes, I have dreamed about being snowed in. Now how can that happen in Los Angeles, California? So Grandma lived my dream. We also have several old milk cans in our yard. My father gave them to us a long, time ago.
    Sheila

  8. No email or cell phones back then. Yet, they lived full lives?! :)

  9. […] Saturday, February 14 and yesterday you wrote that you were expecting a valentine, but didn’t get mail because of a […]

  10. I thought the milking died down in the winter months because the cows were dried off. However, as you say, maybe the milk was being turned in to butter.

    • I’ve also heard that in the old days that cows often had their calves in the spring–and that they were dry during the winter months. But each September or October since Grandma started the diary she has mentioned that her cow Mollie had a calf–so I think that they must have had a least one cow (and maybe more) producing milk in February.

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