Milk Carts

056 coldairy-208x3001923 Photo of Chester Collinsworth,  son Grant, and milk cart.

The building behind the photo, the first house on this property, now used as a granary, is over 100 years old–still standing.  The main Collinsworth house was later built in 1902 by Neuenschwander and sold to Grandpa Collinsworth in 1914, then bought  by Chester Collinsworth from his father in 1918.  Both Grant and Harold were born here.  Harold lived here his entire life.

Every dairy farmer made his own milk cart.  After milking, filtering, and filling a ten gallon milk can, the farmer needed to move the approximately 100 lbs container several times.  First it had to be cooled down and then kept cool.

We had various contrivances to cool the milk after milking.  Some were ingenious using a cooling tower of aluminum tubes filled with flowing well water for the coolant. Over this was run the milk to transfer its heat to the cooler water — and cooling down the milk to approximately 57 degrees, the usual temperature of well water in NP.

Then the milk, in the 10 gallon milk can, was put onto the milk cart.  Note the floor of the cart is only inches off the ground. That meant not having to lift it very far.  Back in 30s, 40s, many did like we did on our farm, put the can in a  shaded ditch flowing with waste water or irrigation water.  This meant building a structure into which the can could be stored as cool as possible thru the night until picked up next morning by the milkman.

Thus the can had to be hoisted onto the cart. Then taken out of the cart and put down into the cooling arrangement, then pulled back up next morning. Then onto a loading platform of some kind, from which the milkman could lift it up onto his truck. Because our farm’s milk cans went onto the upper deck of the milk truck it would be like lifting the milk can over your head.  So my dad built a stepped heavy duty platform upon which we could lift a short distance, then stair-step-wise up onto a platform, from which it could then be lifted easily to the milk trucks upper deck.

Each milk can had a number of the customer painted on it.  Ours was B-92. This allowed the milkman to return our now empty cans for the next day. So we had to have cans for today’s milk while taken to the dairy, but we also had to have extras to use, while the first cans made the trip and returned.

1930 harold, grant collingsworth(1926 Harold and Grant Collinsworth)

Even as a child, one learns how to move 100+ lb milk cans around with minimal lifting.  A very strong man could carry one in each hand for short distance. However, few could do this, and those that made a practice of it like our milkman did not last very long.  It simply is far too much strain.

To ease the strain of these heavy cans, every farmer needed a heavy duty cart, and one built very close to the  ground.  I have seen many of these — all home made.  Most are made from old auto wheels, gotten from an auto wrecking yard, welded to an axle/bar, and a handle to push or pull it. We usually used old auto tires because farm yards could be very muddy making it twice as difficult to negotiate a yard big enough for a milk truck to enter and turn around.

T057 1920s collingsworth sprayappleshe following spray rig photos, around the 1920s, were given me by Harold Collinsworth.  Nearly all the farmers had one of these spray rigs.  Apples could be decimated by coddling moth infestations.  This necessitated spraying with lead arsenate–about the only effective thing they had at the time.  It was replaced in the 40s and 50s with less difficult to use pesticides.  It was necessary, with the lead arsenate, that you keep it off both you and the horses as it would simply burn your skin off. One early settler told me that, back when NP was pretty much wall-to-wall apples, that so much lead arsenate was used that it made it impossible to start new trees in the tainted soil.  That one must dig out  a hole where the young trees were planted and then replace the old soil with new soil–then the little trees grew fine and when bigger could handle the lead and arsenic in the soil.  Whether that is true or not, in my  youth I never heard a word about the lead in the soil.  All the farmers around my home did a good deal of spraying and all of us were very sensitized to how bad it could be to get it on your skin. They claimed it would simply take your skin off!

The lead arsenate, of course, stayed as a gray film on the apple leaves.  So when picking, you wouldn’t want to eat the fruit until it had been washed.  Picking always got this residue all over us, but apparently it lost most of its harmful effect thru the summer as I don’t remember any harmful effects.  Other than the so called “two step.”  When picking prunes we could never resist eating the still-green fruit–which gave us the “runners” or “Two-step!”  You would think after this happened successive years that we would learn.  We didn’t!  However it usually only lasted the first day–the reminder was still so fresh in our minds that we couldn’t be tempted the second or later days!

057 1920s collingsworth spray rig man





Leave a Reply