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.