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Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin

Chapter IV: The dairy industry,   pp. 176-184 PDF (1.8 MB)

Page 177

making butter, and besides, butter could not well be shipped a
thousand miles with the transportation facilities then available.
Let us see: A cow was worth about twelve dollars in i848 and
hardly double that within ten years following. The plea that
barns could not be provided was nonsense, yet some farmers
argued that cows hardy enough to stand winter weather must
be had before dairying would succeed. True there were not the
best of opportunities for taking good care of butter during the
hot weather, but cheese could be made instead, and that would
stand shipping to the eastern market. During the cool part of
the year butter could be handled without loss, and the cost of
sending it from Milwaukee to New York was only about a cent
a pound, that is from five to ten per cent. of its value, while wheat
at a little less per pound for freight could not be carried to New
York short of twenty to forty cents per bushel during a long
period of years, and this was seldom less than a third of its value,
sometimes indeed absorbing the whole.83
  Of the few farmers who did go into dairying during the wheat
period there seems to be not a single adverse report given; even
with indifferent management a dairy at that time was bound to
succeed. Occasionally a man kept an account of his receipts
from sales of butter and cheese.84 and though the amount produced
was small these were the few farmers who were not in debt at the
stores; they were the only ones who believed that tame grass and
cdover would succeed. During the summer months cheese was
made at home, for there were no factories, and where one family
had not milk enough for a cheese of respectable size, several
neighbors would "change milk," one making a cheese one day
and another the next, out of the combined supply. This may beV
called the germ of cooperative cheese factories. In this primi-
tive way a fifteen-dollar cow on four acres of land worth from
two to ten dollars per acre could be made to produce from twenty
to forty dollars per year; not a bad percentage, even though the
necessary labor, otherwise expended in futile efforts to raise
wheat, had been reckoned at the outside figure.
   These were the conditions up to i86o, and it cannot be said that
 they changed much during the war, although prices were high;
 nTrans. State Agr'l Soc., 111, 50.
   "Ibid., 1, 138, 167.

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