This story is taken from the newly published book, Tales of a Sussex Family Farm, by Angela Lerwill (available from Amazon, Waterstones, etc.). It describes how her father, Berns milked their house cow, twice a day in the old threshing barn at Frithwood.

Milking Time

“With trusted stick in hand and dog at heel, Berns would trek the small hill and holler ‘Come on.’ Nonchalantly, Blanche and her cohorts would raise their heads, eyes twinkling, ‘Oh, not that time again.’ Moving slowly, they would often detour to the old cast-iron trough near the Nissen hut to quench their thirst, then saunter with swaying udders to the barn, docking at their individual stalls.

Once tethered, the milk bucket and three-legged stool were found. Positioning himself at right angles to Blanche, Berns would nestle his balding head up against her silken orange flank. Methodically, Blanche would ‘let down her milk’ to Berns’ trusted hands.

Hand-milking produces the rhythmic sounds of rain pelting on a tin roof, then as the bucket fills, it gives way to a regular splish-splash. Once completed, Berns would place the bucket on the wall near the side gate.

In a close-by pen, the calves would wait impatiently for their turn to suckle. Once released they would barge and jostle to reach their favourite positions, with Berns acting as referee. Once finished, they would return to their pen to find clean bedding, sweet hay and their water tank replenished. Untethered, the cows would return to the hill and Berns to the house for his tea.”