Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Milking a cow no easy job for independent dairyman

Milk for our coffee and breakfast cereal comes from a female cow’s udder - or "bag" - which has four nipples, and if she is frightened, she has another bucket full of milk her underneath skin. The mother cow is warm, and so are her udder and the milk in her udder.

Few of us realize the detailed preparation that the dairyman has performed before he presents that milk to customers. Our milk for breakfast has been thoroughly strained, pasteurized and chilled after the cow’s caregiver had taken the milk that was intended for the mother cow’s baby.

No wonder the barnyard was filled with the wailing of mother cows and their hungry babies.

In the fourth grade, our teacher told this story: Someone asked a little boy, "What are advantages of a mother nursing her own baby?" The boy thought for a long minute and finally answered, "Well, she’s always got it with her, she doesn’t have to warm it and the cat can’t get it."

Everything in the cow barn must be clean - that, of course, includes the farmer. The cow doesn’t know or care that her bag - and the milkman’s hands and buckets - must be super-clean before the dairyman steals the warm milk for which her baby calf is bawling!

It might lift her messy foot and shove the farmer’s hands away, or it might knock the farmer off his homemade stool and the bucket out from between his knees - destroying the milk and leaving the farmer to rescue the bucket and his one-legged stool!

There had to be a baby calf several days before there was usable milk! Dad had to "discard" the calves to steal their mother’s milk to sell to people who didn’t have cows in their own backyards.

A hundred years ago, people didn’t have machines, laws, inspectors or the plastic, throw-away milk containers we use today.

That presented a major problem for Eleanor Keeley.

We never saw this friendly "miracle worker" in street clothes. She was designated as head nurse and director of Boone County’s enormous hospital building, which was under construction east of Columbia’s business district and Stephens College. It was on top of steep Fyfer Hill.

That was in the early days of 1921, and the building was of interest to everyone in and near Columbia, to all of Boone County and beyond.

Major earth-moving machines, horse- and mule-drawn, were turning the earth upside down, piling it up or hauling it off. Daily, it attracted an audience of curious residents at the top of Fyfer Hill.

People never dreamed of having a hospital for Boone County. The very old and the ailing were delighted.

The young and healthy thought it would never produce enough money to pay for all of its expenses. Taxpayers screamed about spending Boone County’s money.

However, if they were not well, they were delighted to not have to go to St. Louis or Kansas City. Many people kept watching the construction hole.

Keeley visited local farms and milk houses - and bought all of the hospital’s milk from the O.D. Meyers Dairy for as long as Dad was in business more than 20 years.

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