Category Archives: Animal Husbandry

Raising Livestock

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My grandfather Robert was born in March of 1933 in Joplin, Missouri. When he was around five years old, he and his family moved to Kinser Road, which was four and a half miles from Main Street. Grandpa and his family rented a house that was on some acreage. He, his mother, his father, his three younger sisters, and his one younger brother lived in this house. Across the street they had a few more acres with a barn and a pasture that they had rented from the same man that they had rented their house from. Altogether, they had around nine to ten acres.

On this land, my grandfather and his family owned and raised cows. He said that they would usually raise three to five cows at a time and about a hundred chickens every year. He and his father were always in charge of taking care of the cows, and his little brother was in charge of the chickens.

“Every morning I would get up early and go to milk the cows. Then I would feed them and make sure that they had plenty of water. Every evening, I would do the same routine as I did in the morning. In the morning, after we were done milking, I would strain the milk, put it in a can, and then put the can in some cold water so it would chill. We then sold the milk to a truck that came by every morning.” When asked how much he sold it for he said, “It varied, because, the man who drove the truck would figure out how much butter fat was in each ten-gallon can of milk. That amount would determine how much it would be sold for per pound. Then, the truck would take it to the Gateway Creamery that was located at 7th and Virginia in Joplin.”

Grandpa Robert said he never really enjoyed raising the livestock and taking care of them, and he had no favorite task or anything that he specifically enjoyed. “It was tedious work,” he said. He then went on to say that his least favorite part of his job was probably getting up at seven every day to milk and feed the cows, no matter what the weather or the day. “I also hated getting water to water them and to chill the milk because I had to get it from a well. We didn’t have a water pump, just a well out by the barn. I had to throw the bucket down into the water and pull the crank so it would come back up to me.”

Grandpa says that he did learn quite a bit from living on Kinser Road and from the experiences that came with raising the livestock. “I, of course, learned how to take care of the cows, how to feed them, how to water them, and how to milk them. However, I also learned responsibility, because the cows needed to be taken care of by me every day, no matter what. I also learned how to discipline myself. Once in awhile my parents were gone for one reason or another and they weren’t there to help remind me or warn me not to procrastinate with my chores. I’m sure that the lessons I learned helped me sometime later in my life, and I’m grateful for them.”

Grandpa and his family moved away from Kinser Road and from the house they rented in 1950, when he was around seventeen years old. However, he said he gained life lessons and memories he would never forget, abilities that would help him later in life and recollections he could always think of fondly.

Brown, Robert. Personal interview. 25 Nov. 2012

The Importance of Cows


By Casera

When people first moved to Joplin to mine, they brought with them animals. Many of these animals were cows. The cows were used for milk and meat. The farmers were in charge of keeping track of the animals and getting meat and dairy products to the miners. The farmers  would have to find a water source, a barn, and a field for their cows.

The average day for a Joplin farmer would begin bright and early when he would milk the cow. He had to sit on a stool and place a pail under the cow to catch the milk. Then he would grab and pull the cow’s udder. The milk would squirt out, and once he had emptied out the cow’s milk sac, he would move on to the next cow. The milk would then be taken back to his house and used for making cheese, making butter, cooking, and for drinking.

Next, the farmer had to take the cows down to the water. Sometimes they would drink out of a trough and sometimes from a spring or another body of water. “My job was to lead all the cows down to the spring after school,” said Delores Johnson, a longtime area resident who grew up on a Joplin farm.  She explained her daily chores to me. “After I did that, my parents would take them to the field and let them graze. The cows would stay there for the whole day. At night my parents would take the cows back to their barn.” This process was repeated daily.

Cows were an important part of a Joplin resident’s life. They were vital for milk and meat. Even though Joplin started as a mining town, the city may not have been as successful without cows and farmers. They provided the necessary food to the miners and their families helping Joplin to become the boom town it was and the city it is.

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