16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Saturday, August 26, 1911:Everything seemed to have gone wrong today. Hard to tell what the cause really is. I have to watch the cows, and I don’t like it, but school will soon start and then that task will be ended.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
I continue to be befuddled by diary entries that talk about watching the cows. Grandma mentioned watching them numerous times during the 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 present time—at least. That was my duty for one wk.
There must have been several people who took turns watching the cows. Grandma probably was responsible for watching the cows for a week; then she probably had several weeks off while others–her sister Ruth, her mother (??), others (??)–watched them
I remain clueless as to why the cows needed to be watched. It still seems like they should have been securely contained in fields fenced with barbed wire, but apparently they weren’t.