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Rich: Buying the cow gets you milk for free
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To Rodney, my ever dutiful brother-in-law, I suggested that we get a community cow. What with dairy prices going so high and all.

He thought it was a fine idea. In fact, he had a plan.

"Here's what we'll do: I'll buy the cow and take care of it if you'll milk it." He grinned wickedly.

I narrowed my eyes and frowned. He continued. "And it has to be milked twice a day." He held up two fingers to be sure I got the point.

"You know I can't milk a cow every day. I'm gone too much."

He shrugged. "Well, somebody has to do it."

I suggested that we have a sign-up sheet and that we seven adults share those duties. Rodney laughed.

"You know that'll never work." He pondered for a minute. "But it is a good idea. Still, even for four households (his, mine and my niece and nephew), that's too much milk."

Here's where I got really excited. I scooted to the edge of my chair and excitedly exclaimed, "Yeah, but we can have homemade buttermilk and butter!"

Every woman wants to be able to cook with real butter and I, for one, could live on buttermilk, especially homemade buttermilk.

Our friends from the mountains used to bring us homemade buttermilk. It had big chunks of butter floating in it and was beyond delicious.

A few years ago, they got rid of their milk cow and I haven't had any homemade buttermilk since. But I still dream about it.

Now, Rodney was really starting to like this idea of the community cow. You could see it in his eyes. He doesn't drink buttermilk, but he loves homemade biscuits made with it; and he has a strong appreciation for butter.

Since I was on a roll, I continued, "And what we don't drink, we can cook with."

He nodded. "That's not a bad idea."

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're wondering if I have ever milked a cow. And I know you'll be surprised to learn that, in fact, I have.

When I was a little girl, we had a milk cow named Daisy. Every morning, Mama would pick up her bucket and say, "I'm goin' to milk the cow." One day she decided to teach me. I sat my little 5-year-old bottom down on the little stool and commenced to squeeze and pull.

The warm milk hit the pail and splashed back into my face. I milked the cow two or three more times before my parents decided to get out of the milk cow business.

I have also churned butter. Mama would set me down and put me to churning up and down.

"I used to have to churn all the time when I was kid," Rodney said.

"Yeah, me too. But then we got an electric churn, and that was neat. How long does it take to turn milk into butter?"

Rodney shook his head. "I don't know. But when you're a kid, it's a long time."

We continued our discussion about a community cow.

"How many gallons of milk a day can you get?" I asked.

He shrugged. "Depends."

"On what?"

"I don't know. Just depends."

But here's what he did know that caused me to start rethinking this grand plan.

"I do know whatever a cow eats is what the milk tastes like. And usually that's wild onions."

I blinked. I don't think I'd have the taste buds for onion-flavored milk. "Yuck." I thought for a second then said, "But we can still cook with it and we'll have buttermilk and butter."

So, we're still thinking about it. Meanwhile, I have a new proposal for Rodney. I'll buy the cow, keep it and feed it and Rodney can milk it.

I like the flavor of that idea.

Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of "What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)." Sign up for her newsletter.