Milking Cows on the Family Farm

Milking cows was a memorable farm chore for one Missouri woman

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We kids were probably around 9 years old. On our family farm, we did the chore of milking the cows. One Sunday evening we went to visit some friends who had kids about our age. They were still doing their farm chores, so we helped them. There were enough cows for each of us to have one to milk. There were several cats around so we tried to see who could squirt the milk the farthest into the cats' mouths. They loved it and so did we.

We soon tired of that and discovered a new type of contest. There were lots of flies so we began to pop them off into the milk buckets to see who could catch the most! Our moms were not too pleased with this idea and we were severely reprimanded. Our milk was poured out for the pigs. I never tried that game again!

I had a large pair of white coveralls that we wore at school as the pep squad at the football games. Mine were extra large so they couldn't shrink too small and so I could put lots of clothes under them when it was real cold. I hurried to milk my cow so I could go to the game. There were lots of flies, and the cow was stomping them off her legs when somehow she inserted her foot into the left hip pocket of my coveralls. It knocked me off my one-legged stool, which overturned the bucket of milk onto me. I was a mess! I didn't go to the game as my coveralls and I had to be washed. My dignity had been squashed!

I loved to read and would do it at any opportunity I could find. I thought it took lots of time to milk a cow so I combined it with reading. I couldn't quite get a book to prop up right on my left leg, but a magazine I could manage okay. I had to milk early though, while there was still light to read by.

My mother had a saying, "If you don't learn to milk a cow, you won't have to," and she didn't, but often my brother or father was harvesting late and someone had to do it. Since she couldn't-I had to!

Gloria Williams
Grandview, Missouri


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.