Those were the days…
Early in the morning and late in the afternoon, my late granny and grandpa would take turns to milk the Frisian cow in the grass paddock beside their house. (This was before they retired and moved to town. Milk was a completely different story there: they’d buy coupons to put in the necks of the pot-bellied bottles they left on the front stoep – the next morning these bottles were full of milk. As a child, I thought this was the grown-up version of the tooth fairy.)
The cow on the farm – let’s stick to the cliché and call her Daisy, even though she was a cantankerous devil who’d kick over the milk pail with great gusto – would await my grandparents like clockwork in the corner of the paddock, where they’d get to work with the milking bench, a gleaming pail and a milking cloth, a jar of udder cream, and another bucket containing lovely warm water and a cloth for wiping clean Daisy’s udder and to encourage her to “let down” her milk.
During holidays and over weekends we would drink endless glasses of Daisy’s ice-cold milk, especially with cheese sandwiches, but I couldn’t bear the thought of the warm, foamy milk fresh from her udder that my gran and everyone else loved so much. I remember saying to myself time and again: when I grow up I’ll have my own cow. My own milk. My own cream. My own butter and buttermilk. My own yoghurt. My own cheese.
But almost four decades later I’m still going through life sans cow because: • it has long since been illegal to keep a cow on a town property; • it’s no longer permissible to buy or sell raw, unpasteurised milk; • the oh-so-busy modern human doesn’t have the time to milk a cow and then churn the butter and make yoghurt and cheese – nor do they want to go to all that trouble; and • shop-bought milk is so much cheaper than it would cost to produce it yourself on a small scale.
Without my even realising it, the near-kitsch nostalgic rural movie in my head has turned into a sciencefiction film in which Daisy’s genetics and food have been transformed into a super-milk factory.
Those were the days
Kassie Kasselman ( pictured above right) of Kasselshoop near Stilbaai (we wrote about them in last year’s spring issue of Platteland), says wistfully that his is probably “one of the last generations to grow up familiar with milk cans and milking by hand”.
“People in remote areas have always been forced to produce their own milk, and that’s still the case today, for example in isolated parts of Namibia. In the past, transport