A quiet, darkened stable conduces rumination. Loud talking, shouting, or laughing are not looked upon with favor in our cow barn. On the other hand, continuous sounds, if at all melodious, seem to soothe the animals and increase the milk flow. Judson, who has proved to be our best herdsman, has a low croon in his mouth all the time. It can hardly be called a tune, though I believe he has faith in it, but it has a fetching way with the herd. I have never known him to be quick, sharp, or loud with the cows. When things go wrong, the crooning ceases. When it is resumed, all is well in the cow world. The other man, French, who is an excellent milker, and who stands well with the cows, has a half hiss, half whistle, such as English stable-boys use, except that it runs up and down five notes and is lost at each end. The cows like it and seem to admire French for his accomplishment even more than Judson, for they follow his movements with evident pleasure expressed in their great ox eyes.
Rigid rules of cleanliness are carried out in every detail with the greatest exactness. The house and the animals are cared for all the time as if on inspection. Before milking, the udders are carefully brushed and washed, and the milker covers himself entirely with a clean apron. As each cow is milked, the milker hangs the pail on a spring balance and registers the exact weight on a blackboard. He then carries the milk through the door that leads to the dairy-house, and pours it into a tank on wheels. This ends his responsibility. The dairymaid is then in charge.
Of course I had trouble in getting a dairymaid. I was not looking for the bouncing, buxom, red-cheeked, arms-akimbo, butter-colored-hair sort. I didn’t care whether she were red-cheeked and bouncing or not, but for obvious reasons I didn’t want her hair to be butter-colored. What I did want was a woman who understood creamery processes, and who could and would make the very giltest of gilt-edged butter.
I commenced looking for my paragon in January. I interviewed applicants of both sexes and all nationalities, but there was none perfect; no, not one. I was not exactly discouraged, but I certainly began to grow anxious as the time approached when I should need my dairymaid, and need her badly. One day, while looking over the Rural New Yorker (I was weaned on that paper), I saw the following advertisement. “Wanted: Employment on a dairy-farm by a married couple who understand the business.” If this were true, these two persons were just what I needed; but, was it true? I had tried a score of greater promise and had not found one that would do. Was I to flush two at once, and would they fall to my gun?