Not long ago, we visited about the joys of eating sorghum, butter, and hot
biscuits. One of my friends became interested when she read that the chances of my having homemade butter to go on those biscuits are in the near zero bracket. She then did a lot of research to find out about butter making.
Little did that friend know that one of my least favorite chores when I was very young was churning. I even preferred doing the milking as I grew because it was almost always action-packed as the calf would usually skin my knuckles, and the cow would try to kick me off the stool, hit me in the face with her tail, or put her hoof into the bucket just as it was almost full.
Churning that cream in the Daisy churn was much too sedentary for one who preferred to be in the canyons. When either Mother or Grandmother could capture me before I escaped to those canyons, I would be placed at the table, on the floor, or in a swing on the front porch and would be told to crank that handle until the butter appeared. Well, I could turn the handle slowly or rapidly and see no butter in sight. I would usually remain fairly calm for the first 30 minutes or so and then spells of restlessness would take over.
Grandmother would reassure me that by using a little patience, I would finish the chore in no time. Mother would listen to my running commentary for just so long before interrupting it to tell me to spend more time churning than talking. Of course, the silence would last only briefly before complaints began and dire threats at the cream would be made. After what seemed to be at least an hour, Mother would approach, take a look the cream, give the chum a shake, and show me that the butter was ready to be drained and washed.
I don’t recall ever having seen that butter appear before Mother would shake the churn. She just seemed to have a mental timer that would let her know when to add her touch to the chore. She would then smile and thank me for all the work I had done. Of course, I hadn’t done much work but had made a lot of noise. She would drain the buttermilk off the buffer and set it aside for later consumption. That’s another taste most of us won’t have a chance to enjoy again — real buttermilk!
She’d mix a little salt into the butter and form it into a large block to be placed into a mold and later eaten with those hot biscuits. As soon as the butter appeared in the churn, I knew I could escape to those canyons and then come back later to enjoy the results, even on a cold biscuit, and could quench my thirst with a sip of buttermilk.
I’d almost be willing to bet that were I given the cream today, I would not be able to stay with the project long enough to see that butter appear!
Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun at 461-1952.