I am bilingual. I speak English and the Southern languages. All y’all must pardon me if I sometime mix a little Southern into this article. It will be fun and besides the Southern language is slowly disappearing because of a couple of reasons, young’uns are not pick’n up on it and two, the homogeneous direction between the States in the last decade or so.
Last century in the mid-fifties, my brother and I, hardly knee high to a bullfrog, had home-chore responsibilities assigned to us by our parents. These chores, such as gathering hen eggs, slopping the hog, shelling corn (feed for the animals), feeding the cow and milking, had to be complete before and/or after school.
My older brother had to do the milking because he was higher up the frog’s leg than me. To the best of my memory, milking had to be done twice each and every day until the cow dried-up. I think that my brother James quickly grew to detest this chore as well as the cow.
Our milk cow was very gentle but sometimes she would swish her cocker burr laden tail into his face. Plus at times, she would lift her leg and, if he was slow to react, put her foot smack-dab in the bucket nearly knocking him off his perch, a small short milking stool. I thought this scene was the funniest thing but James did not seem to sense the humor.
A kicking ornery cow was not a well-loved animal where I come from and was so vexing that it could make a preacher cuss (Southern phrase).
What is a cocker burr? If you were raised in the Deep South as we were, you would know all about cocker burrs. Some people simply called them burrs. Cocker burrs are seedpods with short, prickly barbs that would somehow grab or grasp anything fuzzy, often finding their way into a bushy fuzzy head of hair. Now if you ain’t never had a head full of cocker burrs then you ain’t gonna understand how difficult and sometime painful it is to remove them. Burrs are Mother Nature’s self manufactured Velcro. I assure you, Man made Velcro does not hold a candle to the clinging ability of the burrs from Mother Nature.
I remember our longhaired Cocker Spaniel pet dog being completely covered in the aggravating things, hitching a ride in his coat and spreading its seeds. They also found their way to our cow’s tail. Yes, the aforementioned tail that often slapped my brother in the face.
To the best of my memory, our Daddy named our so-called gentle, tail-slapping milk cow “Old Bessie”.
Now when Old Bessie pulled those kicking-hoof and tail-swishing antics on my brother, James applied several additional, shall we say embellished names to our beloved Old Bessie.
As unhappy as all this made my brother, I really believe that Old Bessie had scads of fun including the routine enjoyment of getting her udder washed with warm water prior to the milking. Gazing into Old Bessie’s face, I swear that I could recognize a smile. She would smile like a goat snacking in a briar patch and do it while contentedly chewing her cud.
We consumed this udderly* delicious sweet milk during most of our family meals. Sometimes Mother would put the milk aside and allow it to clabber and afterwards churn it to make butter. A by-product to the butter making process is buttermilk of course. Once pored off and refrigerated it’s gooder’n grits (That means it was delicious).
Mother would also use the by-product to make buttermilk cornbread or buttermilk biscuits, which we enjoyed at breakfast, dinner and supper. That’s correct, we enjoyed dinner around 12 o’clock noon and the last meal of the day was supper. The only time we use the word “lunch” was when we asked for a lunchmeat sandwich.
Mother would generate and mold the butter and then place it in the frigidaire®. (In those days we called all refrigerators “frigidaires®” regardless of the brand name.) She would later remove the butter from the molds and wrap the individual one-pound blocks in wax paper. We would take the butter to Huggin’s Grocery Store and sell or exchange it for groceries. She would do the same with the extra Leghorn hen eggs and the in-seasoned purple-hull peas that we had gathered.
I delighted in traveling, alone with my parents, to downtown Main Street of Waynesboro, Mississippi and visiting Huggin’s store almost every Saturday afternoon.
I still have and cherish Mother’s old churn and butter molds.
Oh those were the days!
* Pun intended
Source: By Michael Hollingsworth