Milking the cow

La traite de la vache
Milking the cow

English version below the pictures

Je regardais récemment de vieilles photos et j’en ai trouvé une de ma grand ‘ mère trayant sa vache . Elle se tenait en face de sa maison complètement détruite cette année là , 1944,  par les bombardement alliés qui visaient les  rampes souterraines de lancement de missiles contre Londres que construisaient les Allemands . C’ était près de la côte du nord de la France .Derrière elle on voit les pierres de sa maison . la bombe était tombée juste dessus . Mes grands – parents avaient perdu tout ce qu’ils avaient et eux – mêmes avaient été sauvés par l’ abri creusé dans le jardin où ils allaient toujours quand ils entendaient les gros avions appelés forteresses volantes arriver . La vache sur la photo était nouvelle , les précédentes avaient été tuées par la bombe . C’ était en 1944 et ma grand ‘ mère Emélie avait 60 ans . Mon grand – père mourut l’ année suivante

1944 traite de la vache photo

In watching some old photos  I found out a picture of my grandmother milking her cow . She was standing in front of his house completely destroyed in this same year, 1944,  by the Allies bombing  ( Germans built here underground tubes to launch missiles on London ). It was near of the northern coast of France. Behind her we see the stones of the house . The bomb had fallen just on . My grandparents lost all of they had and themselves were saved by the shelter dug in the garden where they always went in when they heard the big planes called flying fortresses approach . The cow on the picture was a new one , the previous cows have been killed by the bombs . It was in 1944 and my grandmother Emélie was 60 years old . My grand father died next year

 

Je suis certain que cette façon de traire les vaches a disparu . De nos jours les vaches sont élevées en grand troupeau et la production de lait est industrielle. Peut – être serez –vous intéressés de voir la façon de traire les vaches en France dans les années 1940/50.. En parlant de lait j’ ai pas mal de souvenirs qui me remontent . Durant la guerre la nourriture de base dans les zones rurales en France était : le mauvais pain , le lait , les œufs , le porc, les pommes de terre et les légumes du jardin . Les gens qui vivaient en ville étaient plus malheureux et affamés .
Pour avoir le lait il fallait aller chaque matin le chercher à pied à la ferme distante de deux km . Mon père y allait souvent à 6h avant son travail à l’ usine . Mais quelquefois c’ était moi . Je portais deux litres de lait , un pour nous , l’ autre pour un voisin . Je traversais deux pâtures avec pommiers . C’ était un délice de manger en marchant les pommes tombées dans l’ herbe . Puis c’ était les noix fraîches .En hiver la fermière nommée Rose trayait ses 4 vaches à l’ étable , à la main , comme ma grand ‘ mère . Sa maison était une sorte de grande demeure et l’ étable avait un aspect antique . C’ était bon quand on y entrait de sentir cette chaude odeur des vaches et de ce mélange de paille , de foin et de bouse . Rose était gentille . elle me donnait directement du lait de son seau qu’elle versait dans mes bouteilles . Et quelquefois je buvais une tasse de lait frais venant directement de la mamelle.

traite de la vache 1944 2

I am sure this way to get the milk has disappeared . Nowadays we have large herds of cows and milk production is industrial. Perhaps some of you will be interested to see how people milked the cow in the year 40/ 50 in France
Speaking of milk  I have a lot of memories that come to my mind . During the war II  the basic food in the rural areas  was ; bad bread , milk , pork , eggs , potatoes and veggies from the garden . People who lived in town were more unhappy and were hungry

  To get the milk you had to go every morning to the farm 2 km far away at feet . My father went often to the farm before work at the factory  at 6h am . But sometimes it was me . I wore 2 litres (4,23 pints ) of milk ,one for us and one for a neighbour . I crossed 2 meadows .with apple trees . This was a delight to eat in walking the apples fallen on the grass . Then it was the fresh  walnuts  . In the winter the farmer,  named  Rose , milked her 4 cows in the stable like my grandmother, by hand  . Her house was a kind of mansion and the stable had an antique look . It was good when I got in  to inhale the warm smell of the cows  and of  a mixture  of straw , hay and cowpat . Rose was very kind . She gave me immediately the milk directly from her bucket to my two bottles .And sometimes I drank a cup of fresh milk .

C’ était rustique mais le lait était si bon , si riche . J’ aimais y aller mais quelquefois il y avait des risques .Dans la première pâture se tenait parfois u troupeau de vaches appatenant à un autre fermier plus riche et il y avait un taureau . Quand je passais , le taureau me regardait et je le gegardais aussi ainsi que la haie de la pâture . Je ne courais pas , bien sûr , mais j’ entendais les battements de mon cœur . J’ étais soulagé en arrivant à la haie . Mais pour revenir c’ était le même scénario !!!!Brrr !!!
A chaque fois j’ avais à traverser la  rivière Slack   en utilisant une fragile passerelle . Il arrivait que la rivière était pleine et que l’ eau boueuse et mugissante s’ écoulait juste au raz de la passerelle .J ‘ avoue que j’ étais hésitant et j’ y allais pas à pas , prudemment en tenant fermement la rampe . Jamais personne ne s’ est noyé là !
Ce sont de petites choses mais quand vous avez 10 ou 11 ans vous pouvez deviner qu’ elles vous laissent des souvenirs inoubliables et qu’ elles vous ont formés à la responsabilité

traite de la vache 1944 3

It was rustic but the milk was so good , so rich . I liked to go but  sometimes  there were risks . In the first meadow stayed from time to time a flock of cows owned by another bigger farmer and there was a bull . When I passed the bull  looked at me and I looked both at him and at the hedge of the meadow . I didn’ t run of course but I felt the beatings of my heart . I was relieved when I approached the hedge . But in coming back it was the same scenario !! Brrr !  
At any time I have to cross the river ( called la Slack ) in using a frail footbridge . It happened the river was full and the roaring and muddy  water flowed just at the level of the footbridge . I confess I was hesitating and  I went on step to step prudently in holding carefully the banister . But never someone drowned there .
Those are little things but when you are 10 or 11 years old you can guess those give you unforgettable memories and taught you the sense of  the responsibilities .

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About fauquetmichel

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88 Responses to Milking the cow

  1. I have photos of my great grandparents milking their cows on their farm. To imagine the horrible war planes looming over your homes, destroying and killing is something we must never forget.
    I adore your sketches.

  2. whyzat says:

    Those must have been frightening times, Michel! Fortunately you survived to tell us about them so that we can know that war is awful and that we should try our best to get along together so there is not another one!

    • Yes Dian, personally, I knew on differentways twa wars ( WWII and Algeria ) and I can say this is awful . I live also in a area of france full of military cemeteries of World . War I

  3. Gayle Smith says:

    Wow…you certainly had some memories…good and bad!.I hope I don’t ever have that kind…..or my children and grandchildren either! My son works on a milking farm. They have 1500 cows and they milk around the clock….as soon as the last one gets milked, the first one starts over. My son is barn foremen and doesn’t milk but he has lots of other duties.he also works in the field growing the corn for the cows. You can imagine how many acres of corn and wheat they need to feed 1500 cows! Take care Michel, both you and Janine ❤

    • Thanks Gayle to give an example of what I called “industrial milk production ” . This huge “farm ” starts in France too but the rule is aroung one hundred , this is already much ! What a change in 60 years !

  4. mrswrangler says:

    What a lovely write up about your grandma. On my family farm we had a cow for many years. The milk from that cow was so rich. I have to buy whole milk today from the store and it’s just not as good. The cow is gone and the family farm switched hands to an uncle who pushed us all away from where we grew up

  5. J’ai connu cela quand j’était petit. La famille de ma mère étaient tous et toutes fermiers et fermières. Traite à la main évidemment, lait bu aussitôt. Probablement qu’il ne passerait plus les tests actuels, et pourtant je ne me souviens jamais avoir été malade. Rivière mise à part, le paysage y est. Je n’avais pas peur des vaches. Mon grand père m’avait montré … avec un baton. En revanche les chiens de la ferme de l’onc’Jean m’était terribles !

    • Cela fait plaisir , Glles , de constater que nous avons certains souvenirs de jeunesse communs . cependant à propos des chiens on n’ en voyait pas errer dans les pâtures ; Ils étaient attachés à la niche ou restaient dans les cours de ferme ( c’est sans doute là que tu risquais d ‘en rencontrer à tes risques et périls ! 🙂

  6. Lavinia Ross says:

    These are precious memories of life during the war, Michel. Life was dangerous, and hard, but was also so rich in family, farm, and things that mattered. Many people today would not know the taste of fresh milk, apples from the tree, or fresh walnuts. I love your drawings, and descriptions.

    Love to you and Janine, ❤
    Lavinia

  7. You have rich memories Michel. Thank you for sharing some of your history with us!

  8. Ellen Chambers says:

    Michel. Just read this and appreciate your telling of your feelings . I can relate to the fresh warm milk yet can’t imagine the fear of the bombs. I can remember WWII. My uncle was in Pearl Harbor his ship was badly damaged, but he survived. There was shortages of sugar. shoes, steel, ,etc.,we were given rationing stamps . Lovingly ,Ellen

  9. carole Fauquet says:

    Les choses étaient naturelles et bonnes maintenant on ne sait plus ce que l on mange …les vaches vont de moins en moins en pâtures .Quand LA RACE HUMAINE va être raisonnable???
    bonne soirée on vous embrasse Carole

  10. My parents grew up during the war. The stories they told were so horrific.

    I liked reading your milk story. You had a lot of responsibilities at such a young age.

  11. Marion Manson says:

    Firstly, I love your sketches, Michel! 🙂 Those were tough times for people, but they managed of course as best they could with what they had. Your grandmother was a very resilient lady! Thanks so much for sharing these lovely memories with us. ❤

  12. Margaret Krueger says : We use to have to get milk every morning for the day if wanted to feed my sister’s kids and for baking etc…the milk truck came in the morning plus had to clean the tank ..At night after milking you could skim the whipping cream off the top..I also remember you couldn’t use the milk after the cow was freshened …which meant after given birth for a couple of weeks

  13. AM says:

    Le lait crû a des propriétés fantastiques. Quel dommage qu’il ne soit plus accessible à tous actuellement … Nous en avons goûté à la ferme de mon cousin au Québec il y a presque 2 ans … Il a une ferme avec une centaine de vaches qui décident elles-même leur traite via une machine devant laquelle elle font la queue … Le papa de mon cousin avait une petite ferme en Suisse et ce que tu dis de l’ambiance et de l’odeur, etc. est ce que j’ai aussi vécu enfant dans les années 50, lorsque nous passions en visite.

    Beaux dessins Michel! Tu es un artiste!

    Et puis j’ai bien aimé aussi cette phrase, très belle et vraie: “Ce sont de petites choses mais quand vous avez 10 ou 11 ans vous pouvez deviner qu’ elles vous laissent des souvenirs inoubliables et qu’ elles vous ont formés à la responsabilité.”

    Pour tes grands-parents, impressionnante force de Vie les ayant accompagnés après les bombardements… Respect.

    Amitiés, AM

  14. blb1 says:

    Both my grandparents had farms, one a dairy and the other I remember more of their chickens. I would ride with my uncles to deliver milk in glass bottles to homes in town. It was raw milk at that time. I have a quart bottle and pint one sitting on a shelf here. Both the graphics designed by my dad. I remember Grandpa on his milking stool.

    We were spared the ravages of bombing. My Uncle was drafted into the Army but I know nothing of his service. My dad was not accepted by the draft and the other brother was too young. They are all gone now.

  15. Gracia says:

    My parents and grandparents all lived in cities. My mom’s only gardening was when she planted a small (very small) Victory garden in our backyard. It did not do well. Now I live only a few miles from town, but there is a large farm field right across the street where corn and soy beans are grown. I used to be able to buy milk from a farm but it’s against the law now. A family in our church raises cattle, so sometimes I buy meat from them. I often shop at Farm Markets in the Spring, Summer and Fall.

  16. What precious, poignant memories, Michel. Some beautiful, some so sad, scary.

    My parents grew up on farms and became farmers. Even after they had to sell their farm and move West (for one of my brother’s severe asthma), we always had fruit trees, huge veggie and flower gardens, and a few animals. Farming is hard work, but the rewards are worth it!

    I love seeing the photo of your grandma. And your drawings are always a delight! 🙂

    I hope your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will hear your precious memories/stories, Michel. Life certainly has changed over the years.

    (((HUGS))) and ❤ for you and Janine! 🙂

  17. Rachel says:

    Ah, Michel! The stories you have tucked away in your mind! I am thankful that you can share them with us. You have shared a memory, and we get more insight into your world growing up. It is a joy, my friend!

  18. guestbrief says:

    We had a milk cow until just recently. We lost her due to sickness. Our horse is desolate. My daughter did the milking with a little milking machine. That cow gave about 4gallons a day. We loved her. I love your stories. Wow what a lot your grandmother and other people of the year went through! ❤ Thank you for the story! love, Rhonda

    • I am sorry for your cow, Rhonda . This cow had vertainly fed a part of your numerous children. My grandmother in ythis posr raised eight children and I think two brothers orphans. It was hard ;<3

  19. judyrutrider says:

    My mom used to tell me stories of the “olden days” to keep me entertained on long driving trips. This tale brought back memories of her stories of growing up on the farm, the boys going off to Europe to fight in the war, and thankfully, their return to start families…in the city.

  20. neilc693 says:

    What a combination of hardships and joys you recount! Fresh milk indeed is something few of us experience today. A cup straight out of the cow, you say? Even if you could find a local farmer to let you have it that way, our public health authorities would shut him down!

    Odd coincidence too that you should mention walnuts and apples. I finally thought to search on the internet for “mâche recettes” and I read that they make a good salad with apples (or figs), walnuts, and cheese. Around here walnut trees are common, but they all have bad, inedible nuts.

    • Despite of the ruins and the losses , life had to continue, Neil, and the cow and its milk helped a lot.. I remember vividly those apples and walnut fallen in the meadow : a delight!

  21. puffpop says:

    Such interesting memories. A wonderful photo of milking a cow. I grew up in the city and always imagined how nice it would be to live on a farm…but it’s hard work with no vacations since growing things, both animal and plant need regular attention. Weather and wars destroy so much that people work so hard for..

    Our soil was untouched by war since we were protected by a large ocean (although the Japanese bombed our Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii that precipitated our entry into the war.) We did lose many young men who fought in Europe and it Asia. A few of our friends who survived being a POW are now gone. Our “sacrifices” were bearable since we were limited by rationing. But that’s nothing in comparing to entire farms and cities being wiped out by bombs.

    You might be interested in the book “Unbroken” by Laura Hildebrand (if it has a French translation) an amazing true story about the terrible and unimaginable cruelties that an individual could survive and then forgiveness. He was a survivor of a Japanese POW but so much more than that. I was 11 when WWII ended.

    I only had fresh milk once and did not like it since I was used to the pasteurized that was brought to our home by a milkman in bottles that he would leave by the door. In the winter the top of the milk would freeze and children considered it a “treat”

    I enjoy your sketches. You are a multi talented…music, art and writing (of course gardening)

    Love,
    votra amie,
    Francoise

    • Yes, Françoise, war brings deep wounds unforgettable in all of the countries and unfortunately there always are wars here and there since the end of WWII.
      Thanks for your compliments which I do not desserve !! 🙂

  22. weggieboy says:

    I worked for a rancher between semesters at the university. His son had a small herd of milch cows that were a 4-H project. I “got” to milk these cows by hand and enjoy the rich milk, butter, and buttermilk that resulted. The ranch cats, of course, would hang out with me while I milked, waiting for a squirt their way.

    I enjoyed your remembrances, Michel, though they involve the tragedy that is war as a background.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4-H

  23. Isabel Capillas says:

    Those were precious childhood memories, Uncle Michel. The sketches made those memories come to life.❤

  24. L. Marie says:

    What a lovely post, Michel. Loved your sketches. You are very talented!
    I’ve been reading a book called The Nightingale (https://www.amazon.com/Nightingale-Novel-Kristin-Hannah/dp/1250080401) which is about that time period in France. So I was quite interested to read your post!

  25. suester7 says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading this post and the previous one, learning much about milking cows and water pumps in a bygone era. Thanks for sharing little snippets about your life – you certainly have a gift in making the most ordinary things appear interesting and nostalgic!

  26. Zakiah says:

    Amazing recount of your memories dear Michel. 1944 has etched itself in so many memories for so many people. I am so sorry that your grandparents lost everything.
    We had cattle at home, away from the mansion, and there would be a man who came every morning and evening to milk the cows. I would stand and watch the milking with fascination. The cows would have their calves near by and the licked them all the time.

    Beautiful sketched of your early years Michel. What powerful and strong memories for you to related to your family especially with the sketches. Thank you so much for sharing them with your readers.
    Love,

    Zakiah.

  27. Annalisa S. says:

    J’aimerais bien avoir la facilité de jadis d’écrire dans une langue étrangère pour pouvoir bien décrire les mêmes choses que tu viens te conter et que j’ai veçu dans mon enfance… En tout cas, je vais y essayer, surtout parce que je sais que tu ne tiendras pas compte des fautes d’orthographe!
    Je ne vivais pas à la campagne pendant l’année scolaire, mais mes vacances étaient préalablement chez les tantes à la campagne. Et moi aussi j’allais acheter le lait en passant à travers de sentiers de pommiers et de cerisiers. Je me bouffais toujours de fruits! La dame qui trayait les vaches s’appelait elle aussi Rose… vois tu! Heureusement il n’y avait pas de tauraux dans les alentours, mais mes cousins plus agés étaient autant dangéreux! Ils tournaient à toute vitesse le “barachin” (la cuve pour transporter le lait) pour apprendre aux petites cousines (moi, l’ainée, j’avais à peu près cinq ans) la force centripete (!!!), en risquant chaque fois de l’enverser!
    Je me rappelle aussi des soirées d’hiver, tous réunis dans l’étable de Rosina (Little Rose), au chaud avec les vaches qui dormaient. Les anciens récitaient le chapelet, et nous les enfants on écoutait d’histoires terrifiantes contées par un type un peu bizarre… C’était la fin des ans 40. Combien de temps est passé. J’aime lire que nous avons eu des experiences semblables. Je te souhaite tout le mieux possible, à toi et à Janine. Ciao!

  28. cocosangel says:

    Wonderful post Michel.
    It is so interesting to read about the war, that affected your family. And now you are alive to tell us. Sometimes, I cannot fathom, what it might have been like, to live those days, specially when everything had to be done by oneself.
    Take care ❤

  29. attatudy says:

    I Love LOVE Love the stories of bits and pieces of your life. Do your children and grandchildren like to her them? When I try to tell stories of my life to my children and grands they roll their eyes. I tell them anyway because someday the will remember them and appreciate them.

  30. What an incredible picture. What a strong woman! Is this farm still in your family? Your memories fill-in the gaps in the story of WWII. They add a human experience to historical facts. What your family, and so many families, endured is very hard for us Americans to understand. Thank you for sharing these memories. Your sketches are wonderful!

  31. L. Gail says:

    I milked a cow once when I was about 8 years old. It was then that I decided I wanted a farm. I have never got a farm yet. Now that I’m older I think I’m too lazy to have a farm 🙂
    I love the stories! Thank you for sharing and for sharing your drawings too.

  32. Julie E says:

    Lovely memories Michel , I have never had milk fresh from a cow. Today milk is so much skimmed compared to when we were little , I remember fighting over the cream at the top of the bottle with my brothers

  33. Great memories and pictures, Michel! I grew up in the countryside, and I remember drinking fresh milk too.

  34. Scary times to put it mildly.
    I love the pictures.
    Fresh milk is better all the way around 😉

  35. mcbery says:

    I miked cows that way years ago. I remember mom and I milking the whole herd by hand when the power went out. I think we milked 21? cows by hand at first and then graduated to milking machines that were heavy and cumbersome to dump into the bulk tank! Hard work but good for me. Loved the telling of this and the drawings. People live through scary times and sometimes they die. Yes. Scary. Blessings Michel.

  36. Susan Joos says:

    There are many farms here in my area but I would guess hand milking is not done much. You have some precious memories! Seems like life was more an adventure, then, but perhaps more dangerous, too.

  37. mimiwi2013 says:

    The farm here was small, but they had a few cows in the small barn. Got enough milk for their family of twelve, and enough to sell more to a milk producer. The milk house to store and prepare the milk for the producer still stands here—Ken helped build it when he was young. We use it for storage of summer furniture and gardening supplies, along with bikes and a wagon our grandkids and now great-grands play with when they come to visit. Here, too, the dairy farms are becoming larger and more industrial. A small dairy farm just cannot survive here anymore. You have some wonderful memories , as does Ken. I think that is why he is reluctant to move from this house, even though the outside work is becoming harder to take care of. I know you understand that!! Love, Nancy & Ken ❤

  38. Eat Right Chef Louisa says:

    Michel, tes souvenirs sont précieux! J’adore tes petites histoires de la campaign. Je crois que tu doit écrire un livre qui raconte ta vie et la vie qui s’est passé, une sorte de la vie rustique en France, qui est très nostalgique.

  39. We have been fortunate in the United States that we have not had a war on our soil during the lifetime of anyone currently living. That is not true of France and other European countries. People who can grow their own food and provide their own milk, butter, cream and eggs are very fortunate during war and other hard times.

    One of my most vivid memories of childhood is visiting my mother’s elderly cousins who lived on a farm in central Nebraska. They had cows and milked them like your grandmother milked her cows. The dogs and cats would come to the barn hoping for a taste of fresh milk straight from the cow!

    These relatives had a cream separator in an enclosed porch on the back of the house. They could take the cream from the fresh milk to use to make butter. The man in this coupled died while I was still a young child. After he died, his wife did not milk cows anymore and the cream separator was not in the porch anymore, but when I visited that farm as a teenager, I always thought that I could still smell the fresh milk and cream!

  40. I have never had fresh milk! One day I may try!

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