Churning Butter a Hundred Years Ago

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

Tuesday, December 26, 1911: Am beginning to get rather tired of this seemingly long vacation. When you don’t have anything interesting to do and you don’t go many places it is not very hard to get lonesome. Jimmie and I are turning into regular fight cats, so Ma thinks. I churned this morning, and then set things in order, but don’t suppose they’ll stay that way very long.

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

Grandma sounds bored—and it seems like she and her six-year-old brother Jimmie were getting into fights to make things a little livelier.

When I was a child if I said that I was bored, my parents used to say that I must not be working hard enough and give me a chore. I wonder if Grandma’s mother had the same philosophy. Maybe her mother decided that churning butter would relieve the boredom.

This is the first time that Grandma’s mentioned churning in the diary. I assume that the family just made a little butter for their own use—though many farmers a hundred years ago sold butter.

There are drawings of “modern” butter-making equipment in a book published in 1908 called The Dairy Farm by H.B. Gurler.

The practice of printing butter has grown remarkably during the past fifteen years and now (1908) most of the butter that is retailed is put up in one pound prints which are wrapped in parchment paper, which carries the name of the farm or maker.

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