Herald and Journal, July 16, 2001

The end of a lifestyle


A lot has happened since the last time I wrote my column. Most notably, my husband, Tom, retired from the dairy business.

He had hoped to hang on until fall and use up the feed in the silos. He finally got disgusted with not being able to keep a hired hand.

That doesn't mean me, of course. I wasn't hired, I just married into the job.

Tom had been struggling to keep good hired help for the last year. He finally decided that milking was no longer worth the pain and the aggravation. He had been having trouble with his joints for some time, mainly his knees and shoulders.

We started in the dairy business with evening milking on Feb. 28, 1978. I took pictures of the first milk going into the receiver jar that night.

We left the business when our cows were sold May 7, 2001.

That morning, I went down to the barn to take pictures of Tom and Jesy doing the last milking. I was glad that I had to go to work that day so I didn't have to see the cows walk up the chute into the trailer.

It's sad to let go of a way of life, even if you are letting go of the work, too.

No, I won't miss the early morning chores. I won't miss having to rush home to start chores in the evening.

I certainly won't miss having to pay someone else to do the chores, so that we can take time off for a few days of vacation.

I will miss working together with my husband and kids. The Fink kids grew up milking with Dad and Mom, and doing chores after school.

The two oldest, Sara and Jason, milked together quite a bit. All six kids did chores, in addition to the milking, including feeding calves, stacking hay, and, their favorite, cleaning out under the calf pens.

Our daughter, Lisa, was home for a few days from St. Louis and walked out to the barn to look for the cats. The few that still reside in the barn are wary of us now. The new kittens run when we.

Giving them that warm milk in the old pan in the alleyway always helped to make them friendly, I guess. They must be missing the cows, too.

When Lisa came back to the house, she remarked that it was very sad to see the empty stalls, with no cows in them. She said it made her cry. Me, too, Lisa.

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