Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Churning butter

A wandering glance around our kitchen took my eyes momentarily to an old butter churn; the large glass jar has a slight crack. My wondering why we kept this dust collector was immediately overshadowed by a question of who used it and when and even where.

There's something in the rears of my struggling mind that says Mom may have made our butter at one time, after all we were on a dairy farm and always milked cows. Before the years when we were selling raw milk, the milk was separated into skim milk and cream, the source of butter. I know that Mom's mother made their butter.

Walking into grandma's house always smelled like a farm house, but then it was a farm house. The smell might have been stronger here than in other farm houses because they separated their milk in the house. It was the only heated building on their farm.

Passing through the first entrance gave one no warmth from the winter cold as the first room was more of a porch, where one would leave your coat that had brushed against the cows and the boots that followed the pigs to their feed. A single step up and through a second door on your left put you into the big main room of the house. It was the almost "everything" room. Straight ahead was a second room which was the "living" room furnished with a couch, a couple easy chairs, a old ornate china closet and a pump organ which later was replaced by a piano. Uncle Lenhart like to tickle the keyboards.

Off the living room was a small master bedroom, and years later a bathroom was added in one corner. Off to the right in the main room were doors to the upstairs and downstairs and a cooking area. The wood cook stove served to heat the house and prepare the meals. As the house was modernized an electric stove was added beside the wood stove and the hand pump was replaced with faucets for cold and hot running water.

I never got over 12 years old, before grandpa died. He had a big overstuffed rocking chair by the window just to the left of the main entrance. Tall and lanky, as I remember him, and seldom a smile. He had a cane, as I remember, that he'd try to hook us with. Boy, that memory is vague. He always seemed old, but then he was 60 when I was born, and 72 when he died.

During my childhood, the neighbors still gathered together in the late summer for threshing. There's a story about grandma when the threshing crew was at her house and she was responsible for feeding them. I'm sure that the food was home grown and cooked, which included baked bread and homemade butter. As the crew gathered around the table filling their plates, grandma had forgot to put butter on the table and so when one of the crew not seeing any butter, called out, "Please, pass the butter," she was very embarrassed.

So a quick glance around the room took me back some sixty years. And the butter churn continues to gather dust until it instills another memory even though it's owner is still not known.