Monthly Archives: September 2015

Milk for the Barn Cat: From Producer to Consumer Direct

When I was a very little girl, I visited my great-uncle Norwood and great-aunt Eula on their farm in southwestern Virginia.  Uncle Norwood still milked his small herd of cows by hand.  When he did, the barn cats would gather and sit up with their mouths half-open, waiting for him to bend the placid cow’s teat and shoot some milk in their direction.  They’d clean the rich milk off their muzzles and come back for more.  When I saw this old postcard, I purchased it because it reminded me of milking time on Uncle Norwood’s farm.  I dug around a little and discovered that in the 1910s, the idea of direct marketing from farms to new urban consumers was a topic of Department of Agriculture conversations, hence the title “From Producer to Consumer Direct” is satirical.

Pets Blog 15 Sept_0002

“From Producer to Consumer Direct,” publisher unknown. Postally unused, 1910-1920?

Then I saw this real photo postcard, which had been misidentified as a cat pulling on a string.  I knew what it was, a close-up view of the same technique that Uncle Norwood used and that’s depicted in the other postcard.  This is a snapshot of a well-established routine.  The cat is old and a little scraggly, but it is sitting on the milker’s lap.

Barn cats and other cats who worked to keep rodents out of barns and stables were sometimes both pets and workers.  They played important roles on the family farm, although their lives were often cut short by infectious disease and accidents.  It’s nice to see a little evidence of appreciation, a special “Morning Meal,” for these unheralded workers.


Pets Blog 15 Sept

“The Morning Meal,” real photo postcard. Photographer unknown. Sent to Mr E. A. March, Cincinnati, Ohio, from East Saint Louis, 26 January 1915.




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Sewing with the Cat at Home


Unidentified women with cat. Real photo postcard, American, ca. 1910. Photographer unknown. Not mailed.

This is such a lovely image;  I wish I could identify the women and the place where the snapshot was taken.  I think that the flowers in the glass on the windowsill are peonies; if so, the photo was taken in late spring.  The houseplants are looking a little scrawny, so they may have come through a long winter indoors.  The woman at the sewing machine seems to be involved in threading the needle.  She is being watched by the plump black cat seated at the right elbow of the older woman, keeping company on the sheet-covered chaise lounge as sun streams in the window.  It’s just a work day at home.






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Filed under cats, pets, real photo postcard, snapshot