Reinhardt Family History
Memories of Eggs and Chickens
Stories from Neil Reinhardt
Why I Quit Milking Cows
It all started with an article in the local newspaper that the housewife would be paying one cent more for a quart of milk because the farmers were being paid more for their milk. Two days later, upon receiving payment for milk shipped, it was one cent per hundred pounds less than one month earlier.
Because farmers are paid six weeks after the milk is produced, I had to wait another month to find what my share of the increase would be. A month later, noticing the mailman putting something in the mailbox, I hurried to find out how much money there would be, to be divided with the banker, the feed mill, the gas man, and the many other places money goes in the operation of a dairy farm, and if any would be left to feed and clothe my hungry kids.
Standing at the mailbox and looking over the statement of the milk delivered, a 3 cent per hundred pounds more was paid than a month earlier. Taking into account the drop of one cent the month before, the net increase was 2 cents per cwt. There are 46 qts. in 100 lbs of milk, the housewife was paying 46 cents more for my 2 cents increase. Someone else got the 44 cents. Needless to say blood-pressure went up as I was very disturbed.
While scanning the statement by the mailbox, a car pulled up and the driver asked if I had any cows to sell. They could not have stopped at a more opportune time if they wanted to buy cows. My answer was "I'll sell every d--- one of them!" The cows were in the barnyard, handy for the men to look them over. When they left about 25 minutes later they had bought seven cows. As I went to dinner I told Em "We're going out of dairy farming!"
There were other things that led up to the decision to quit milking cows. Having always shipped milk in cans for the grade A market, the factory wanted everyone to change over to bulk tanks, and the milk could be hauled from farm to factory in tank trucks every second day. Buying a bulk tank at a cost of $2500. would start a very vicious cycle: the milk house would have to be enlarged at a cost of $1000. To justify the investment in the tank and milkhouse, more income from milk had to be generated. There was not enough room in the present barn for more cows, so an addition would have to be built. Then the question of feed for the extra cows meant building another silo. All this on an increase of 2 cents per 100 pounds of milk produced. This was not very good economics.
The day I sold the seven cows a different way of life began. Within a month all of the milk cows were gone. After working 7 days a week for 25 years, never knowing what I would get for my labor until a product was sold, a new job was started. Five days a week, eight hours a day - I knew before I started the exact pay I would receive. As a farmer I knew all about gambling long before the lottery was legal in Wisconsin. I never did find out how the rest of the 44 cents increase that the housewife had to pay for milk, was divided up. I know I got 2 cents.