Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I AM DAIRYING FOR DOLLARS; 1919; by Mrs. Warren Taylor of Springfield, Illinois

I have been running a dairy farm for three years and I have come to wonder why there are not more farm women in the dairying business.

There is nothing unusual about my dairy farm or my experience. My husband was for twenty-two years the principal of a Springfield grade school. This meant that we had to live in the city. I am a true dyed-in-the-wool farm woman. I was born on West Wood Farm. I dearly love stock. We bought our first cow when my oldest son was about nine as he persuaded us that he could make money selling milk to the neighbors. He paid for the cow and her keep in six months and bought another one which was paid for by the end of the first year. Finally we had four cows and the boys delivered the milk with the newspapers. Ten years ago we moved out to this, my father's farm, and my husband started in earnest to build up a dairy interest and when he died had a profitable retail dairy business in Springfield, Illinois. Neither the boys nor I wished to return to the city although friends and neighbors took it for granted we could not continue to run the farm and dairy and that, of course, we should have to give up and move to town.

Just at first, I was inclined to do this. I had taught school before I was married and I thought of taking up teaching again; then I considered office work of some kind but these means of support meant breaking up our pleasant farm home, giving up the healthy outdoor life and moving into a flat or city boarding house. My four boys were not old enough to provide for themselves and it was my duty as well as privilege to give them, not only food, clothes and a good home but the education and training their father would have given them had he lived.

If I taught school or worked in an office I could only be with my boys at night, and on Sundays and holidays. I have, I think, four of the finest lads in this country and I wanted to bring them up as upright, fine young Americans. (I am proud to say that I had two boys under twenty-one in the war.) I was afraid that if I took them to the city and could spend only a fraction of my time with them and could not share in their life and recreation, that they would grow away from me. I knew too they would feel caged up like the wild animals of a circus if, after their freedom on the farm, I put them in a flat or boarding house. Every cow, calf and pig on our place is a pet! Only recently when I bought a pedigreed bull from the University of Illinois Farm I had to give orders for one not only with a good milk strain but a good temper for I knew my youngest boy would be on the bull's back the first day it arrived! How could I coop up these growing boys in a city home?

If I carried on the dairy, I could stay on the farm, earn money, and our home life together would not be spoiled. Also the boys would have a chance to share in my work. I could think of no other money-earning business that would do this for me. So we stayed. I have not discovered any get-rich-quick secrets in the dairy business but I can say that I have made a comfortable living. I have increased the business and added to my herd and am now considering buying ten more cows. Last month I added forty-five new customers to my list and I have never advertised or solicited patronage. There is one physician, a baby specialist, who insists on his patients using milk from the West Wood Farm, as my dairy is called. I have seventeen of his baby-patients on my list.