Dairy Farming

Dairy Farming

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The First Statistical Account of Scotland  written in 1796, describes the type of farming in Mearns:

“The greater part of the lands is in pasturage. Every farm is stocked with milk cows;and the principal object of the farmer is to produce butter, and butter milk, for the Glasgow market. The butter that is made here....... is reckoned preferable to any other, and the demand for it is vastly greater than can be answered.”

Until the late 1700’s it was difficult to transport fresh dairy products any distance from the farms. At that time the roads around Mearns were poor but as the roads improved so did the trade. One result of this expansion was the daily morning exit of a convoy of assorted wheeled vehicles which could be seen leaving the parish carrying their sought after fresh products to eager customers in the cities. This increased business was of benefit to the Mearns farming community.

Milk production being such a large element of farm production in Mearns meant that farmers could use the milk to produce other dairy products. Originally butter churns were turned by hand which was a laborious and strength sapping activity, mostly carried out by the womenfolk of the farm.

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This dairymaid is pictured with the tools of her trade. Her milk bine, butter search and spade are on her left and the butter churn is on the right. A bine was a shallow, large diameter basin, used for skimming the cream off the milk.

Most farms had been developed  to create individual holdings of usually around 60 acres. On such units there would be a one storey farmhouse with adjoining barns, byres and outhouses. Such buildings often were built round three sides of a square and if possible within a short distance from a stream or water course from which the farm’s needs could be supplied.

This close proximity to a water source and in particular a fast flowing stream had many advantages to the daily tasks carried out on the farm. Water driven churning devices were introduced making the process of butter making easier and quicker.

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Again the First Statistical Account of 1796 contains the following paragraph:

“The churning of milk makes a great and laborious part of the farmers’ work. Of late they have introduced the use of churning-mills driven by water. There are many streams which run through the parish and answer for these mills, and on trial they prove highly beneficial and save a great deal of labour.”

The farmer’s daughters at Langlee Farm  with dairy cows in the early 1900s.

 


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