Times, they are a' changin'

By Sharon Brown (Sharon) on January 20, 2013

Many years ago, after the disappearance of Old Pied and the appearance of store bought butter onto our dinner table, my Granny Ninna gave me her old butter mold. The times, they were a'changin', she said.

Old Pied was our milk cow.  She provided all the milk and butter I needed during the years of World War II and a few that followed.  I don't remember what became of her but after she was gone the first store bought butter appeared on our dinner table, and Ninna declared she no longer needed her butter mold.

After having eaten Old Pied's butter and after having sipped her milk, I wasn't the least bit interested in store bought milk or butter.  I thought my world had collapsed; the new milk was tasteless and the butter seemed salty and acidic. 

I'd spent my first five or six years learning how to churn butter, how to press it into Ninna's mold and produce a tasty work of art.  I despised the new milk and butter and begged for a new cow, promising to always and forever be the butter maker.  I should have known it was the end of an era when Ninna gave me her old treasured butter mold, the very one I'd been using.  Her words were gentle as she told me it was mine to keep, "Times, they are a'changin'," she said, "and you and me both, we just hafta keep on changin' with 'em."

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An old churn Ninna's butter mold

We milked Old Pied, early every morning and again at night. The cream was skimmed from the top of the bucket of milk and poured into the churn, where it was agitated until it formed a congealed and mostly solid mass; butter!  The butter was then scooped into the mold and pressed onto a butter dish where it was kept cold in the ice box until it was time to serve it with a meal.  Biscuits with butter and honey were my favorite breakfast.

The butter mold was magic, it left a beautiful design right on top of the butter, every single time.  The butter mold that I'd been using belonged to Ninna but it had originally belonged to my Great Grandmother Jane, who passed away before I was born. When I grew up and packed my treasured things and moved away from the mountains, Ninna packed the butter mold for me.

It sat on the shelf in a bookcase for awhile, but later I was afraid my children would use it as a toy, or worse - add it to their sandbox collection of molds, so I wrapped it in tissue paper and stored it away in a shoe box.  It was a small box but it held other little things: things like Ninna's well worn thimble and a piece of lace she'd been tatting; a doily she'd crocheted.

A few days ago I found that box in the corner of my attic, long forgotten and covered in dust. But the treasures inside were dust free and the long forgotten butter mold was a little dried out but still beautiful to me.  It opened the door of my heart and Old Pied and the taste of real butter came rushing out in a flutter of Ninna memories.

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The churning of butter was a real chore in those old days, but I remember feeling like an artist every time I pushed the butter out of its mold onto the cut glass butter plate and placed it in the center of the dinner table.

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Butter mold, all cleaned and oiled


"Times, they are a'changin', and you an' me both, we just hafta keep on changin' with 'em."

I reckon Ninna's words are still true.

Related articles:
butter mold

About Sharon Brown
I am a retired art and humanities teacher. I am an artist and I am also a writer who has written a series of articles about the history and medicinal value of Kentucky wildflowers. The articles tell of growing up in the mountains of southeast Kentucky with my great Aunt Bett and Granny Ninna. I currently live in western KY.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Memories vic Feb 22, 2013 1:00 PM 72
Making butter the old way. magga Feb 15, 2013 1:50 PM 5
Untitled Audrey Jan 28, 2013 8:51 PM 1

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