Archive for March 21st, 2012

March 21, 2012

My first Way Back Wednesday post had a photo of my family’s rocking chair and I had mentioned that it has probably heard more stories than you or I could ever fathom.  Little did I know that it was used to make butter- yes, butter!  Well sort of. :)  I went over to my grandparents’ for breakfast and coffee one morning and as I was buttering my toast, my grandfather was telling me his grandma Maggie used to sit in that chair with fresh cream in a Mason jar and would just rock with the jar in her hand til it turned to butter. What?! Of course I had to know more ;) And so our story begins… 

His Grandma Maggie lived about five miles away from him on her farm in Wetipquin and my grandfather would go visit her every Sunday.  She had dogs, chickens, hogs and even a cow.  “She’d skim the cream off the milk of the cow and put it in the crock (pictured above, right) to save it,” Pop Pop said.  “In order to keep it cool, they had a six-inch trough by the pitcher head pump that they would put jars of milk or cream in and would pump in new, cold water three or four times a day.  That kept the cream cool until she got more than a quart.  She would rock in that chair and shake that jar of cream until it turned to butter.”  Then ‘modern technology’  came along…. 


Grandma Maggie got a stone jug (pictured left) with a wooden disk that went into it and she would pour half a gallon of cream in and pump it up and down til it got thick and turned to butter.    “Then one day she was looking through a Sears Roebuck mail order catalogue and saw this modern thing with a handle and a crank that you turned,” Pop Pop explained.  On Saturday nights all the farmers would head to the ‘big city’ of Salisbury and catch up on local news, new farming techniques, and would buy and sell things (I’ll have to tell you all about that one day :)) “After she saw this butter churn, she dressed a couple of chickens and carried them one Saturday night to the Sanitary Meat Market on West Main Street in Salisbury and sold them so she could buy it.”   She bought that butter churn and would put the butter in jars til it cooled and then she was ready to process it. 

The above photos are of my family’s butter press.  Every family had their own design and it was more for show and dinner parties.  “She would take that stone jar out of the water trough and dip butter out of it and put it in this box.  When she got it full, she would press down and it would leave an imprint.  Then you’d slide it out of the box and put it on a saucer for a dinner party.”  Sometimes she would sell the butter or trade it for a sack of flour or some other essetials at the market in Salisbury.  “But she would always have enough money left over for a pack of cookies.  I know that because she would share them with me when I came to visit her on Sundays.”  :) 

I never knew how much went into making butter!  I couldn’t imagine having enough free time on my hands to be able to rock long enough to turn cream into butter.  Maybe when I retire… :)