After School in Wagner, South Dakota Meant Wearing Work Gloves
“Work is fun and fun is work,” would be the encouraging words my father would say as the preparation began for the evening milking. All I knew is that by 4:00 PM the job of distributing the feed had to begin.
For those who don’t know, the diet of a dairy cow is extremely important for maximum milk production. Subsequently while the product is being extracted, the feed provides extra vitamins and minerals. Plus it’s a bit of an incentive for the cow or if nothing else a distraction while the deed is being done.
The system was pretty ingenious. An auger from the feed bin carried the nutritious mixture to an overhead cabling system that filled four separate bins. Sure beats the pants off carrying it in five gallon buckets.
A boy at the tender age of nine can make sure the auger continues to deliver a steady stream of feed. You also learn quickly that when the auger is empty it makes a terrible racket and proper attention to the job is not being paid.
All the moo-moos were usually gathered by 4:30 PM and the feed rationing usually took about 30 to 45 minutes. Of course, the cows don’t a concept of a weekend, so it was after school plus Saturday and Sunday.
Don’t call it slave labor. There was adequate compensation. What else is a young boy in the 1980’s going to purchase other than baseball and football cards at Robbie’s Grocery Store?