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Hauling Milk

©Growing Up in Bixby

By Don House

My older brother, Sherman, included dairying among his farming activities. Now if a guy thought "dirt farming' wasn't tiring enough, he could add dairying to his endless list of chores. This added another six hours to the workday. And for more punishment, he might haul milk.

In the days before milking machines and refrigerated tankers, circa 1940, dairymen relied on a milk hauler to get the milk to the processor in Tulsa. The process was as follows: Get Bossie to the milk pail, put the milk in the ten-gallon cans, give the cans to the milk hauler, and haul the milk to the processor. They paid a few cents per can for this accommodation.

Few farms had electricity, therefore no refrigeration. To avoid the cost of ice delivery during hot weather, some dairymen would draw cool, well water and place it in a vat around the milk cans after the evening milking. Hopefully this would prevent the evening milk, along with the following morning milk, from spoiling before it was delivered tot he processor.

Understandably the hauler was under pressure to get the milk to the processor as quickly as possible. Sounds like a simple task, but consider each can probably weighed 80 pounds. The hauler is picking up maybe fifty cans at ten different farms in a fifteen mile radius. Considering the roads in 1940 and the trucks of that era, Tulsa seemed to be a greater distance from Bixby.

After delivery to either Hawk's or Glencliff, the cans were emptied, washed and then refilled with clean water before the hauler returned them to the dairy farms for the cycle to be repeated. The haul of that day was graded. When a Grade A dairyman received a D-grade for his milk, he also received a lower price. He usually blamed the hauler. Such was the life of a milk hauler. (D-grade milk contained a bacteria count that was too high)

Bixby Historical Society Newsletter, September 2006
© 2006-2008 · Don House · Bixby OK · All Rights Reserved. Published at Bixby Historical Society Online with permission.
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