Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 20 June 2013

In the Can



The wonderful image above by Don O'Brien is called 'Irish Boys and Milk Cart'. Don tells us that the boys were delivering milk to a creamery somewhere in the south of Ireland." I recall that we landed at Shannon in mid morning during October 1962 and drove south to observe dairy operations that were simple and picturesque. The folks we met were cordial. The cart-puller appears to be a Holstein."

It reminded me of the first time I heard the word 'creamery' when we were holidaying in Ireland in 1997,  and passed a sign that read 'Danger Creamery Exit'. For some reason this caused us both to laugh out loud because it conjured up an image of gallons of cream pouring out into the road (and no, we hadn't been at the Guinness!). In England we were more familiar with the word 'Dairy'. Creamery seems to be a word more used in Ireland and America.

Dairy: ORIGIN Middle English deierie, from deie dairymaid (in Old English dǣge female servant), of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse deigja, also to dough and to the second element of Old English hlǣfdige (see lady. Creamery: ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from cream, on the pattern of French crémerie.



Our Sepia Saturday picture prompt this week has an Australian farmer astride a horse, and carrying a milk churn, with the caption 'Off to the Creamery'. Don O Brien's picture has the horse and the milk churns, and the family are indeed 'off to the creamery'

Dairies and saucy dairymaids had often appeared in English and Irish folk songs, in old advertisements (for Fry's Chocolate) and in paintings. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) wrote a both a poem, called 'The Milkmaid' and a novella, 'The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid'. Occasionally there is mention of the milk churn or pail itself. In Shakespeare's poem, 'When Icicles Hang by the Wall', he evokes the bitter cold by telling us that Dick the shepherd blows his nail, Tom bears logs into the hall and milk comes frozen home in pail'. Dylan Thomas in 'Under Milk Wood' describing the early morning scene in the town, adds: 'Milk churns stand at Coronation Corner like short, silver policemen.'

Flickr Commons has a whole category given over to Milk Churns (or cans) where we are spoilt for choice with images ranging from black and white pictures of rural life, through Cezanne's 'Still Life With Carafe, Bowl, Milk Can and Orange', to modern colour photographs showing the many uses to which the humble milk churn can be put; It's the latter of which I have chosen to show a selection here. Apparently churns are much sought after on Ebay as planters for herbs and flowers, as roadside signs and as an object d'art for primitive painting or canal art. So if you fancy having a go at any of these, it's off to the Creamery with you. Don't forget to stop on the way to see what other contributors to Sepia Saturday have made of the prompt.


Des Colhoun's roadside sign has the following note: 'Non rustics may be not aware that the container to the right of the postbox is known as a milk churn in England and Scotland. In Northern Ireland they are more accurately known as creamery cans as in distant times the milk produced was collected daily from the farms and taken to the dairies (England and Scotland) or creameries. (Northern Ireland) A churn of course is a device in which butter is made.'



German 'peasant art' is displayed on this milk can from Ostfildern, south of Stuttgart, whilst in Hawes, North Yorkshire the churn is put to use as a planter for flowers.


When the baby bath is nowhere to be found, place your infant in a milk basin with a cuddly milk pail to hold onto and a friendly churn to watch over her.


No horse, nor bowler-hatted farmer to cuddle to milk on its way to the creamery? How about this purpose-built sledge, found in the carriage museum in Heidelheim. The milk really would come frozen home in pail!


1.By Don O'Brien [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
2.Des Colhoun [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
3.By Nasobema lyricum (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons. 4.Public Domain
5.By Ingvar Kjøllesdal (Flickr: IMG_3892) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. 6.Public Domain

23 comments:

  1. I have a couple of those old milk cans. They were quite the rage in the 1980s when antiquing seemed to be in vogue among people my age. We used ours for an umbrella stand.

    And speaking of the term "creamery," my sister and I have a lot of fun switching up similar terms like creamery and crematory. I enjoyed a delightful double dip of pistachio from the crematory. His body was removed to the creamery in preparation for the funeral. Yeah, we're sick like that.

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  2. Nice post, Nell.

    I worked as a milkman for a short while in the 70s. We still used churns then, for sending our 'tippings' (sour milk or contents of damaged bottles) back to the bottling plant, where it was weighed and written off. Churns were still commonplace on the farms in and around our village when I was a kid.

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  3. There is a local shop that sells some bakery items, cream teas to go and sweets in boxes with local postcards on the front, the shop is called Gays Creamery!

    I love the uses of the old milk churns. It is easy to forget that hard work that goes into milk production and how that has changed over hundreds of years.

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  4. I like the 'Irish Boys and Milk Cart' image. I hadn't heard of Holstein horses before. I thought Holstein was just a type of cow.

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    1. My thoughts exactly.

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    2. I thought the same but upon googling I find there is such a beast. Whether it would be used for pulling carts in Ireland in the 60s is another matter. Mr O Brien was only making a guess I think. Someone who knows horses may be able to enlighten us.

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  5. Old milk churns are popular antiques here too. I have a memory from when I was about four or five, staying with my maternal grandparents, walking with my grandfather through meadows to a nearby farm to get milk in such a pail as the baby is holding on to in your picture. And also of my grandmother skimming the cream off. (In town where I lived with my parents we got our milk from the shop in brown glass bottles with a metal cap. This was the late 1950s in Sweden.) No photos to accompany these memories, they are just snapshots in my head!

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  6. Wonderful full rounded information, especially the delightful milk cans, (I have one myself although not as decorative) but I'm thinking it's time to redo it again. Beautiful photo you opened with, one that just makes me want to study it some more. Lovely post Marilyn, and thanks for being so dedicated to Sepia Saturday, it keeps us strong!

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  7. I think we'll need the last version of milk pail carrier here shortly, as the wintry polar blast has arrived and the snow is making its way northwards. Thanks for the history and derivation of the words - we're always learning something new at Sepia Saturday.

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  8. If only I had kept some of the old milk cans, which were prolific on farms when I was a child.

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  9. I've used my old milk cans to support pots of flowers for years, but they've become rather faded & paint-chipped. I need to fix them up again. One is actually a water can. I was in the process of giving myself a home permanent when our well ran dry & it was time to rinse the curling solution out of my hair. Desperate, I called my husband who was working for the Forest Service at the time & he hurried home with a water can filled to the brim to save the day & I kept the can!

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  10. And in Thailand we have Dairy Cream - a brand of ice cream. I remember Thomas Hardy's The Milkmaid.

    Hazel

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  11. What a great collection of photographs and stories linked to the milk churn theme!

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  12. Goodness, did I say 'Dairy Cream' earlier? I've just been to Nigel's post and I remember it's Dairy Queen, not Cream (must be the result of my coffee overdose last night)

    What a fun photo of baby in the milk basin!

    Hazel

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  13. We never had to deal with milk cans -- our milk was hauled away every two mornings in a stainless steel truck. I can remember our milk truck driver coming into the barn to chat while we finished up the last few cows! We did have an old milk can in the shed, into which we tossed old nails and screws. It weighed a ton...

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  14. A lot of the fun has gone out of the dairy/cremery business; no-one seems to delivery milk in any form these days. There is not much romance in plastic cartons collected from a supermarket. The churns were much more fun. Now where can I find one for use as a planter.

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  15. Some fascinating images here, Marilyn. I do love the baby, and the sledge, but the main photo took my eye. I suppose that's because it is like a photo of England, 1910, but in colour. I was wondering if it was specially posed, a la Hovis adverts, or whether it was exceptionally well tinted, as they used to do. Marvellous.

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  16. My favorite is the picture of the baby, she knows that the whole thing is a bit silly.

    Great post, as always.

    Kathy M.

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  17. The little boy in the blue sweater in the first shot makes me think of the actor who played Billy Elliot. I'm waiting for this fellow to break into a dance as he delivers the milk!

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  18. Being a Yank, Creamery made all the sense in the world to me --- so I was surprised that it's just us and the Irish that tend to use Creamery --- and a Dairy is where the milk cows are raised. I do love how different localities use words differently, or different words to mean the same thing. Also my first thought of the milk can sledge was "ahha, the first ice cream maker."

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  19. In this day and age when shops are going bankrupt because people order everything online so to have it delivered at home the concept of a milk man with his milk cans doesn't sound so outdated anymore. I wouldn't mind having fresh milk delivered every week at my doorstep.

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  20. Oooh, spooky! You just churned up a dream I had last night but instantly forgot - in it a friend of mine (not a milk man) was a milk man and when I went to visit and had to go on his rounds with him!

    I'm convinced the reason I've never broken a bone is all the milk we drank as kids!

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  21. I would suppose such a sledge is responsible for the saying
    "don't cry over spilt milk"...
    :D~
    HUGZ

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