Thursday, 30 August 2007


I was talking to my mum this afternoon and asked her about the kitchen garden her father had when she was a child. She said she didn't take any interest in it at the time because, during The Depression everyone did what they could and it was not something to get excited about. After The Depression was over and food became available again, her father stopped growing vegetables. His vegetables were wonderful and they always had plenty, she said. He also used to take her rabbit shooting and she had to gut them - no wonder she doesn't ever want to see another dead rabbit !

However, she knew more about what her mother was doing during those times and this involved the care of their Jersey cow, Daisy, and the production of the milk, cream and butter. They lived at Plympton, just off Anzac Highway and had a cow. In the mornings a lad would come and milk all the cows in the area, after washing his hands well as there was no refrigeration or pasteurization. Then he would take the cows off down the street and they would graze on the various paddocks about the place and the lad would bring them back in time to milk them in the evening.

The fresh milk was put through a separator and from this they would get milk and thin cream. The milk was then left overnight - whatever wasn't used during the day - and the thick cream would rise to the surface. This was skimmed off and used to produce butter - often a lot of churning seemed to be needed to make the butter, especially during hot weather, my mother seems to recall. Once a good flopping sound could be heard that meant the butter had formed a lump and the buttermilk was washed off to leave a beautiful, dark yellow pat. Salt was mixed in and this was then formed into shapes with wooden boards and a special impression made, just like you see in the movies. All the equipment was boiled in the copper after use.

Any extras were given away to the neighbours but wasn't allowed to be sold. There was a lot of sharing of produce as they didn't have a fridge. Everything stayed pretty cool in the cool-safe but things like bread were fed to the animals if not eaten the day they were made. No-one would eat day-old bread , she said.

They didn't ever have a lot of money but never seemed to feel poor - just like so many others I read about during those times. She pointed out that they had many dreadful droughts too, in the days before the Murray pipeline but, interestingly, they never had water restrictions because there was no TV and, during the depression people didn't have enough money to buy a newspaper or a radio. All the 'news' came via the pub where her father would hear that so-and-so said he had heard that such-and-such had happened. It would have been impossible to have everyone knowing what was going on ! Sounds great to me !

Sorry I don't have any photos and it doesn't seem right to get something off Google Images, somehow !


gardengal said...

a coomunity cow! Now there's an idea!

Maggie said...

I remember when I was about 5, that was the early 50's. My grandmother took my sister and I to visit my Aunty Jean at Minto NSW.
She had a cow and served us scones and homemade jam and best of all unpasteuzised cream from her cow.
It was so delicious I can still remember the taste.
She would give us some fresh milk and cream to take home.
Amazing memories I shall probably not experience again.
Maybe you could get a cow Kate?

Kate said...

I would love a cow but we don't know any lads who would come and take it to green pastures for the day! Maybe I could advertise for someone!

Anonymous said...

If you want that sort of quality raw milk & the BEST ever cream.Pine Hights on River road at Mylor is the place to go. Self serve in the shed, open fridge get a 2 litre (returnable) flagon of rich creamy milk (you can have skim if you must) Then select from 2 sizes of cream that a knife will stand up in. Drop your money in the box. The cows & dairy are just there as well for a true experience.