Today’s guest blogger is Jacqueline Dougan Jackson, author of The Round Barn: A Biography of an American Farm, Volume Four.
At 14, I told my grandfather that I was going to write him a book— and call it, “The Round Barn.” Now, at 90, with the book(s!) finished, I’ve been gathering up the materials I’ve collected over the years, and going over them one final time in preparation for archiving them at the University of Wisconsin. Whitewater will expect the letters, ledgers, and photographs from the farm, operating from 1906-1972, documenting its history as an innovative dairy. Not so much (but are accepting nonetheless) such equipment and objects as:
1. Original stanchion, surcingle, and cow cups from the Round Barn. Grampa wrote in a letter, how milk production had increased dramatically after he installed drinking cups in the barn. (Before, they had just the creek in the pasture, and the cow tank in the barnyard.) We kids liked to push down the lips of the cups, shaped for a cow’s nose, when the barn was empty! I saved two of these heavy cups, the pole and all, and sent one to UW. I couldn’t find the stanchion I saved, until my daughter said she’d seen it behind all the coats in the downstairs closet. Sure enough–so that went to the Archives, too.
As to the surcingle– “What’s a surcingle?” I explained:
It’s a harness to hold the milking machine under the cow. Nobody remembered seeing the surcingle. But finally I recalled an upstairs closet where we kept the dress-up clothes, and there it was, on a hook, along with shorter belts and sashes. It never could have been used for a costume, but was a good place for it. So that’s gone off, too, marked “surcingle” though I think the canny, farm-bred archivist will probably recognize it! I also found (with both triumph and dismay) various odds and ends that could have made a story. Too late now! But let me share some here:
I have a pet pig. I named him Jacky after myself. He was born an our farm and is quite a big pig now. I’m sad because he soon will be butchered.
My pig was very clever when he was a baby, but now all he does is lie in the mud and eat.
One day I came to the pig pen. Jacky was going with the other pigs to another pen. I picked Jacky up by his tail. You should have heard him squeal!
He is smart too. He found out a way to get the most corn. Jacky is very greedy. He can also run quickly, and can dodge very well. I think my pig is very nice.
(I was a practical farm kid.)
A photo of the unique cream-catcher bottle we used for a few years, before homogenization — provided a procedure for pouring the cream without disturbing the milk. I’ve described the technique in Vol 1, but didn’t have the photo. Here it is, that’s me holding the bottle, with my sister Jo and brother-in-law Karl. Do you like my dress?
A quick conversation recorded shortly after Jo and Karl’s Catholic wedding. Jo, a new convert to Catholicism, and Dad (Ron), a Methodist, were driving along a country road and came across a crow consuming roadkill.
Dad: That must be a Methodist crow.
Jo (indignantly): Why, what do you mean?!
Dad: Well, It’s not Catholic anyway…. it’s Friday!
I think I’m going to find more juicy bits to crow about! _____
More information and stories at http://roundbarnstories.com
Jacqueline Dougan Jackson is the author of fourteen books, including Stories from the Round Barn, More Stories from the Round Barn, and the first three volumes of The Round Barn, A Biography of an American Farm. She is a founding faculty member of Sangamon State University, now the University of Illinois–Springfield, and her books have been featured on Wisconsin Public Radio.