The Company Pasture and the Cow Stalls

Many of the folks that came to work in the early 1900’s came from a farm background. The Mill Company made an effort to allow families to keep part of this life style. They provided a very large cow pasture and cow barns or cow stalls at two different locations for people to use. As late as the 1940’s this was still being done. By then, not every family kept a cow for milk and butter but many did.

The large pasture and one set of cow stalls was on the western edge of the village just off of Cleveland Street. The gate to the pasture and the cow stalls were located just beyond where Cook Drive ends today.

My great aunt, Pearl Baker, lived on Cleveland Street and kept a cow in the pasture. Sometimes, I got to go with her to do the milking. Keeping a cow required that you go to milk it early in the morning and again late in the afternoon. Aunt Pearl made the quarter mile round trip twice a day to take care of her cow and do the milking. No matter the weather or temperature, the milking had to be done. The milking was not the end of it. She had to bring the milk home, strain it and put it in an icebox or refrigerator. Some of it she put up to “clabber” and then had to churn that into butter in a hand churn. She then had to salt and press the butter into a decorative mold. In the “olden days” there was much more to getting a glass of milk than stopping by the corner store.

Most of the folks that kept cows also made their own butter and buttermilk. This was an art in itself.

The other set of cow stalls and a small pasture was located just to the right of where Moore street joins Highway 150 on the north end of the village. My Uncle Otis and Aunt Nettie Teaster lived on Moore Street and kept a cow in this pasture. Sometimes, I got to go with my cousins when they milked their cow.

The  Pasture

The Mill Company provided a large, fenced tract of land for the use of the people that kept cows in the cow stalls. It was bordered on the south and west by the Pacolet River and was quite large, probably from 50 to 75 acres.

Though it was intended for cows, the pasture served many boys as a combination park, hunting preserve and jungle. Probably, most boys that grew up or lived in Pacolet Mills on the north side of the river have fond memories of the pasture. They hiked, played cowboys and Indians, shot their BB guns, swam in the river, played baseball, flew kites, had cow pie fights and did a thousand other things.

In the late 1950’s a very large gully in the pasture was turned into a trash dump for the town. This was in the years before the use of covered landfills. The dump drew a large colony of big rats. The rats, in turn, drew teenaged boys armed with their .22 rifles. Though never featured in Field and Stream magazine or shown on today’s Wildlife and Hunting cable channels, trash dump rat shooting was fine sport.

The Hog Pens

There was a special area set aside in the large pasture for hog pens. Families could keep one or more pigs in their own pen. One set of these pens was downhill from the cow stalls toward the river. Families saved their table scraps and collected them from their neighbors to feed to their pigs. Recycling was done before it was fashionable. Reusing the table scraps for pig feed made sense and saved money. Probably, most families did not have to spend an extra penny to feed the pigs until they were ready to slaughter.

Hog Killing Time

The slaughtering of the grown hogs was a big event. The owners tried to pick a time when the weather was very cold and expected to stay cold for a period of time. In the time before the widespread availability of refrigerators it had to be cold so that meat would not spoil before it could be processed. People banded together to help each other kill and dress the hogs. It was very hard work.

Children especially liked the lard making process. Pieces of meat with lots of fat were cut up into small pieces and put into a large cast iron pot. This pot was put over an open fire and cooked for a long time. This rendered the lard which meant separating the fat from any remnants of lean meat that had been in the small pieces. This produced a large quantity of lard, or almost pure fat, in the bottom of the pot. Any pieces of lean meat or skin eventually was cooked and floated on top of the lard. These “cracklings” as they were known, were delicious and much sought after by the children. However, these cracklings were still very rich in fat. When a child ate too many, which was almost always, they could have a terrible stomach ache. I remember this all too well.

   
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This web site has been started as a public service to share the story of Pacolet. The web master and person to contact about putting information on the web site is me, Gerald Teaster.  Contact me at:
gteaster@pacoletmemories.com or by telephone at (843) 873-8117.  My regular mail adress is:
1311 Jahnz Ave.
Summerville, SC 29485

See more information about my Pacolet connection at Gerald Teaster.