25 April 2017

Udders and unders

A-Z challenge - My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties


The cows were milked morning and night but before milking their udders were washed. Once the cow was penned in the milking shed a clean pail of warm water and a cloth was used to wipe over the udders before the suction cups of the milking machine were applied. Cows would usually stand contentedly but occasionally a cantankerous beast might try to kick. If there was very little milk to be had, or when the herd was small, a cow was sometimes milked by hand. I remember trying this once or twice but never successfully.

By Amanda Slater (Butter Pats)
 [CC BY-SA 2.0 ],  via Wikimedia Commons
We always had fresh milk, in fact the fridge was often overflowing with milk so milk puddings and custards were frequently on our menu. At school when the free milk in little bottles was delivered many of us disliked it, it was not the day fresh milk we were accustomed to.

Cream, yes lovely thick cream, separated from that milk over in the milking shed, there was plenty of that so we added cream to all our desserts and when there was no dessert we piled jam or honey topped with cream onto slices of white bread.

Sometimes Mum made butter from the extra cream, beaten until the whey separated then salt added and the wooden ridged butter pats shaped the final product.


  • underneath the Christmas tree, there were often up to fifty small presents as we all tried to give something to each member of the family
  • underneath the blankets on a cold winter’s night, I remember the heavy weight as more blankets were piled on
  • underneath the trees along the creek, we loved to go mushroom picking in late April and May
  • underneath the workshop Dad had built a pit so that a vehicle could drive in and he could get underneath it to change the oil
  • underneath the wood pile spiders and the occasional snake lurked, we collected kindling from the edges and wood was chopped on a larger log
  • underneath the kitchen bench a clever wood box was concealed – it was filled from the veranda outside and wood could be retrieved inside, it was also a favourite hidey hole
  • underneath the old house a cellar housed the generator before the power was connected
  • underneath the ground the sewerage pit was concealed, I remember a sister threatening to drop me in it but it was always securely sealed
Next V - Vegetables, verandas and the magic Vegemite jar


  1. I was a Milk Monitor when I was at school. I remember those little 1/3 pint bottles so well. In my holidays I helped on a dairy farm, so I too know what raw milk tastes like. Happy Memores!

    Umbrellas and Ukuleles in Amble Bay!

  2. Hi Carmel - love the story of the cows ... I've never tasted milk straight from the cow - I don't like drinking 'shop' milk, but can't not have it in my tea, or coffee, or used to make sauces or milk puddings. Love the idea you've had about U for Underneath ... great list of underneaths ... so reminiscence of days gone by ... cheers Hilary


  3. Carmel, Another charming recount of country life. I found the underneaths so amusing.

  4. What wonderful memories of farm life. My cousins had a dairy farm that I loved to visit and I remember how the cows were milked by hand, at dawn, before the advent of the milking machine. I immediately saw my aunt with her head scarf wiping down the cows udders before the machine slurped onto them.
    Unity #Lexicon of Leaving

  5. Both parts of this post are wonderful. I remember going to a local fair once and meeting a friend of my grandmothers, a farmer, who drank a glass of fresh cream every day. And she was fashionably slim! And it's so true -- under everything on a farm is a whole new world to discover :-)

  6. Under the night sky of the wide-open country, without bright city lights, stars ruled. I liked all your "under" comments. Milking took you under, also.

  7. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at


    Thank you, Chris
    I've loved this whiole series...


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