Our friend Linda Shook is back again with another great story. Take it away, Linda!
My dad was born in Idaho into a railroad family. They eventually moved into eastern Washington and when my dad was about 9 his parents divorced. He and his younger brother went with their father to southern California and his younger sister stayed with my grandmother and her family. My dad stayed with his father and step mother until he was 16 when he ran away and came back to Washington State to live with his mother. He even went to Hollywood High School for a couple of years.
My dad once told me he had always had a desire to ‘live on the land’ and not in the hustle bustle of southern California. So this 10 acres of land was always in the back of his mind. The property had a raggedy old house on it (heated only by an oil stove in the living room area) and my mom set about to make it a home. And that she did. I can remember ice on the inside of my two bedroom windows in the winter but my bedroom walls were painted pale pink with wallpaper border filled with roses. By the time I was a junior in high school a new, roomy house had been built by my dad and mom…..in front of the old one.
My parents had some friends from church that owned a dairy farm not too far from us. I don’t think it was that first summer but by the following year we had the first of many farm animals. She was black and white with a sweet gentle spirit…..she was our Holstein ~ Daisy.
Daisy was rather small for a Holstein, so she was in no way intimidating to any of us. We all fell in love with our Daisy. My mother was raised on a large hop farm in Sunnyside, Washington, so she was used to farm animals and the work that goes along with living on a farm. Once dad built a fenced in area next to the old chicken coop she filled it with chickens. And soon a HUGE garden area was plowed and in the Spring of 1953 she planted the first of a yearly very large garden. That’s when I learned to weed. Oh, I hated that.
My dad worked full time as a train dispatcher for the Milwaukee Railroad and for as long as I can remember he worked swing shift….which was 3:30pm to 11:30pm. Now most cows are milked in the early morning and then 12 hours later in the early evening. But because of dad’s work schedule Daisy was milked at noon and midnight. By the time I was 12, dad had taught me the procedure for milking a cow. There were times, especially in the summer when he wanted to take a day off and go fishing so it became my job on those days to do the noon milking. I remember being so nervous the first time but when Daisy looked back at me and mooed softly I knew everything was going to be ok. But that’s also when I started singing to her as I milked. I sang “Daisy, Daisy give me your answer true.” Having a cow is a huge job….there’s the milking, then it has to run thru a separator and then bottled. Then you have to wash and dry the separator. Mom would skim the cream off our milk for butter (which she churned). Back in the 1950’s it was ok to sell raw milk to the neighbors. And we did. I can remember neighbor kids coming down our long drive way pulling their wagon with bottles rattling. Others came by in their cars to get their milk all bottled and capped by my mom. Our dear Daisy produced enough milk for our family and many others. She was loved by many.