Nowadays milk is collected from farms by tanker and siphoned directly out of the cooling tanks situated in the dairy...automatically weighed and accounted for on the farmers milk tanks, so there can be no mistakes later, the tanker then goes to the next dairy farm and so on.
If you only have a couple of milking cows then it is still commonplace to use churns or miniature versions of the lorries tanker which can be pulled behind a car or a tractor...these are usually left at the side of a road so the tanker driver can siphon out the contents to add to his bulk load...the amount is measured via a device on the suction machine.
There are very few large dairy herds in our area...now I come to think of it I can only think of two...the land isn't suitable unless it's been cleared and reseeded which is beyond most small famers means. Irish milk tends to come from the Midlands and the East...the South is much like us in terms of rocky lands unsuitable for the vast amounts of grass which a dairy cow will eat during the course of a day...
We don't...thank heavens...have the totally appalling feed lots common in some areas of America...stock or store cattle are kept in sheds during the winter months but dairy cows usually go out, whatever the weather conditions, for at least half the day.
Even though it's years since the farmers stores had its own creamery it is still known by that name among local people...the actual creamery where the milk is bottled or sold in bulk to factories producing cakes and biscuits and baby milks is about forty miles from us...in the town is a small factory which dries milk out into granules or powder for a myriad purposes...
It's a rapid process now...the milk which was still in the cows udder at four o'clock in the morning is being pasteurised by mid afternoon...during the 1950's when this photograph was taken, it could have been anything up to three days before the milk was processed...and there were stiff penalties for those who watered their milk down to meet the quota...random tests were made on the contents of churns and woe betide you if you were caught out.
When Father had milking cows the milk was poured straight from the bucket into huge enamel bowls kept in the dairy cool room...the Jersey milk was kept separately of course because at least a third of that would be thick yellow cream once the milk had settled. The two Friesians milk was kept in other bowls though they too had a layer of cream on the top quite good enough for eating with strawberries...
Mother made butter from the Jersey cream...or I did if I'd displeased her...sitting on the back door step turning the handle round and round endlessly until it all suddenly came together and became butter...
She'd scrape it all out and paddle it with wooden paddles into blocks...wrap in greaseproof paper and then it'd go back into the cool room to wait until it was needed...
I doubt anyone uses a donkey and cart to take their churns to the road to be collected now...but so many small farms are isolated up in the mountains and down narrow boreens that it wouldn't surprise me if they still did in some places.