Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Cow Stall (1940’s)

Each stall holds a pair of cows, left and right they learn,
Once they know their own side, one word n' they discern,

The Cow Stall gave way gradually to the cow cubicle starting around 1960, when the milking parlour changed milking for ever.

In the village each of the nine farms had a dairy herd, ranging from eleven cows on the small holding up to just over fifty cows one the larger farms. All the cows were tied up by the neck in stalls, and every cow knew its own place in the byre. The stalls were arranged in pairs with a left and a right hand tie up, the cows got used to which side to stand, it was almost impossible to persuade a cow to stand on a different side once trained to its particular side.
 If a cow was bought in from another herd, we always had a few single stalls at the end of the different sheds where we could tie up on either side, to accommodate and match the left or right hand cows.
In the early days, in winter cows were let out for exercise after morning milking, often to brows the kale that was cut and put out on an old turf near to the buildings. While out the stalls could be cleaned and bedded and the muck wheel barrowed out to the midden.

Hay which was loose (no bales) was put into every stall for them to come back in to, and later in the 1960's sugar beet pulp first became popular that was put into every trough from a feed barrow a bucket full per cow.
We still have a small shed that has three double cow stalls, the stalls are oak planks nailed to oak upright and two staves the same thickness forward to the front of the stall. The floor of each stall is bricks, back to a concrete kerb at the back edge of the stall, and a blue brick manger at the front. The treadle water bowl for each pair was clearly added to this set up, in more recent years.

Originally cattle were looses out for water to a large trough in the middle of the yard fed by gravity from a spring in the wood up the back fields.
There is a loft above with holes in the floor where hay was stored and stuffed down into the feed passage in front of the stalls (Fodder bing as we called it locally). Another addition to the shed was the vacuum pipe along above the cows for the milking machine when they first came in.

The Cow Chain

At one time cows were all tied up, in stalls to milk and feed,
Each one knew its own place, not much room indeed,
When young they didn't like it, but soon learned where to go,
Twice every day it was for them, walking too and fro.

Out to daytime pastures, to distant fields to graze,
Back again for milking on long fine summer days,
Walk into their own shed, and finding their own stall,
Standing there to be chained, got to chain them all.

Each stall holds a pair of cows, left and right they learn,
Once they know their own side, one word n' they discern,
"Come over" spoken to them, they know your coming through,
The pair will part, n' chain them up, n' stand their cud to chew.

A scoop of corn while milking, then wait till milked the lot,
Loosed off the chains they wander, out to pasture we allot,
Clean the sheds and clean the stalls, till milking comes again,
To tie them up you always need, good strong shiny chain.


Right now there is only two herds of cows in the village, and just about the same number of cows as what there was when there was nine herds. And where there would be around fifteen people involved in milking; it is only one man per herd (two herds) who do the milking now.

It is not necessarily those lands which are most fertile or most favoured in climate that seem to me the happiest, but those in which a long struggle of adaption between man and his environment has brought out the best quality in both.T S Elliot (1888 - 1965)