My Dad always milked a few cows and when I was almost 4 years old, my parents bought their first farm in the Boise Valley of Idaho, after renting for the first 9 years of their married life. This was just 20 acres and Dad had about 10 cows, so he worked off the farm as well. When I was 10, some friends started a 4H club which I joined. Dad had purchased his first registered Holstein cow, Ida, and she presented him with a heifer calf which he named Joy. He loved that cow more than any other he ever owned. Ida's second calf was a heifer which Dad gave to me as my 4H project. I named her Delight; registered name Delight Segis Rainbow. When I was 11 almost 12, in 1957, Dad traded the 20 acre farm on a 80 acre farm just 1/2 mile up the road. It came with about 15 Holstein cows, a bull, and some old machinery. This was a fulfillment of a dream for Dad to farm full time. But the soil was very sandy; good potato ground but difficult to grow alfalfa or grass. The cows were poor quality, several were sold off for beef right away and a few years later the herd had no descendants of any of the "Wynn" cows. The only piece of usable machinery was a good 12 foot Minneapolis-Moline grain drill. However, on the brighter side, the farm was Grade A and came with a Grade A quota to sell to Meadow Gold in Boise, as well as a bulk tank and a 3 stall Surge side opening milking parlor. And the cows Dad already had were a very good herd.
We moved onto that farm in May 1957 and I remember well Dad pronouncing that he thought I was old enough now to arise with him every morning to go to the barn for chores. And so I did and for the next 12 years or so of my life, I milked cows twice a day with few exceptions.
This picture is a cover of The Business of Farming magazine from 1949. We found it in an antique shop and Rita framed it for me. The parlor we had was basically identical to this one. Except that we used De Laval milkers. Dad had many unconventional biases I guess you could say. Surge, John Deere and fleetside pickups were popular....Dad preferred De Laval, Farmall and stepside trucks! So he sold the Surge milkers and converted the De Laval we already had to use in this parlor.
The young man in the magazine cover could very well have been me in about 1960 except for the engineer style cap. I would have had a baseball style cap or a cap with earmuffs in colder weather and a straw hat in the summer.
Milking in pleasant sunny weather was a pleasure. Mom had a bed of moss rose flowers in front of the barn, there were 3 or 4 old Italian prune trees nearby to provide tasty snacks in season. The barn sat right out near the county road, so waving at neighbors passing by was common, as was visiting with Kenny, the neighbor across the road who was often changing irrigation water right there.
The barn had a hallway right in the center with a door on each of the 4 walls; 1 to the milking parlor, 1 to the milk room, 1 to the feed room and 1 to the 'compressor' room, where the bulk tank cooling compressor sat. The hallway was about 4 feet on each side. When I became a strapping teenager, Dad and I would have shoving contests. We would push shoulder to shoulder, trying to push the other through one of the doors. There was lots of shouting and laughing and grunting as we contested. I remember more than once, Mom coming into the barn and witnessing this with a smiling "tsk tsk, you guys!"
Once, after one of these episodes, which I think I won, Dad had the water hose as he was washing down, and he said jokingly, " I should just stick this in your pocket!" So I held my levis pocket open and said "Sure, go ahead!" Well, he did! He loved to tell that story years later....he said I just stood there, mouth agape, and watched my pocket fill up and run over into my rubber boots!
There are many more stories for another day. After attending Boise Junior College for 2 years (while living at home and continuing to milk and farm), I went to Oregon State University for my BS in Animal Science (of course!). I was privileged to be part of the dairy cattle judging team that won the national collegiate contest in 1967. I am the second dude from the left in this picture.