Bob Mitchell: Times, they have changed

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Nearly a song title, this statement couldn't be more true, in the way cattle are moved these days compared to yesteryear.


The cattle trailers of today are as long as a house and some of them can take up five or six parking spaces at McDonald's, or any other parking lot as far as that is concerned. These haulers even require something extra in the vehicle towing them where an ordinary pickup couldn't muster enough horsepower to make them go.

Cattlemen of today, should they get into a tight spot, might have difficulty turning their rigs around if the hauling apparatus they are pulling is long beyond handling. Actually, earlier trailers did the job for moving a few animals, but as the need for heavier machines evolved in the industry for moving hay, etc., there became an advantage for manufacturers to put longer and heavier trailers on the market and subsequently on the road.

Walking through town

In the days of swimming in Flat Creek, one of the best spots was a Cable Hole, accessed through a pasture gate located about where Commerce Bank's remote facility is today. This was where Tweety Black kept his four or five milk cows for so many years that most people have forgotten about the location. Black, who was a particular person, had no problem with boys going through his pasture to the swimming hole, as long as they would open the gate to gain entry and then make sure it was closed when they got into the pasture. He for sure didn't want his cows getting through the gate unattended, even though traffic on Main Street wasn't anything like it is today.

Twice a day, Black would walk from his residence on Main Street, meet his cows morning and evening standing at the gate, and drive them through town to his house where they were milked.

He was Ruth Bryant's father, and she undoubtedly helped in the milking process.

Usually, he would avoid Main Street for most of the route, going north up East Street. To the best of my recollection, he never did lose control of the animals, as they were well aware of the route they should take to get a taste of a little sweet feed while they were giving up their product.

Miss tumble bugs

That same pasture was one across which a walker had to be aware of the existence of Tumble Bugs.

They were usually in the path that went a couple of blocks to reach the swimming location. Since most boys in those days would be bare footed, it wasn't all that comfortable stepping on them.

This particular bug was usually found near a fresh cow pile, generally found in the path. For some reason, the bugs would gather some of the pile, roll it into a ball, and what they did with it we never found out. All we knew was to avoid them as closely as possible.

Walking to the bull

During the operation of our five-cow dairy operation on 24 acres on Old Exeter Road during the early 1940s, cows periodically had to go visit the male of their species that was located about halfway out County Farm Road and City Route 37. Fortunately, the gals had to make this trip one at a time and they were easily handled.

Dad and I could easily walk them down First Street to Gravel and then through to Ninth Street and then on to the home of their favorite bull. He must have been a good one, because the gals threw some good calves, all of which were my major source of income in those days.

Again, getting a bovine from one place to another was a different proposition in days gone by than the same situation is today.

Feed of choice

Times have changed in the feeding of cattle from the days that oats were grown and cut and then had to be hand tied and shocked in the field for later transport to the barn.

This crop was, for some reason or other, a favorite in our operation, even though eventually it was learned there was little nutritional value for the animals.

Perhaps it was a filler and other feedings provided the needed requirements for a good milk crop. At least our operation provided a robust bottled milk route in the residential area with a paycheck from Pet Milk for what was left over.

Here again, transport for a reduced milk production in this area has changed with large tankers making pick-ups at dairy operations. In early days, milk trucks provided a health industry for the county. Ours was delivered daily in a 10-gallon can from the trunk of a car.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.

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