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Remember the days when almost every farm had chickens?

Photos by Tom J. Bechman mystery tool from 1950s that looks like a galvanized bucket
LABOR SAVER: This machine was a big labor saver for many farms in the 1950s. Technology and economy of scale soon replaced it.
Forgotten Tech: Some Indiana farmers likely owned this machine, invented by an Iowa farmer.

No, the galvanized item pictured here isn’t just a fancy bucket. It’s a machine invented by an Iowa farmer in the 1950s for a specific purpose. Can you identify it?

Here are a couple of clues. First, many people still have an egg basket like the one sitting inside the pail in the back of a shed somewhere. They were popular for gathering eggs back when many small farms had a flock of chickens. At one time, most farm wives wanted at least a few chickens for eggs and so they could have chickens for Sunday dinner.

Second, if you had one of these machines, you probably had more than just a few chickens. You likely had enough laying hens that you had eggs to sell. Maybe you sold eggs to neighbors, or maybe you even sold them to stores.

Identify what this machine was used for, and you will be entered in a drawing for a gift certificate. Send your guess to: P.O. Box 247, Franklin, IN 46131; email [email protected]; or call 317-431-8766. Include your name and physical mailing address.

Cream of the crop

Response was brisk identifying the machine pictured in the June issue and online. Yes, it’s a DeLaval cream separator, used to separate cream from milk in the early to mid-20th century.

vintage dairy equipment including a DeLaval cream separator

TOOLS OF THE TRADE: Recognize any of these items used in the dairy business from days gone by? The DeLaval cream separator at the far right was featured as the mystery tool in the June issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer.

Reader comments were insightful:

“The cream was separated from the milk, and the whey left over was fed to pigs,” says Kenneth Hoffman, Monroeville, Ind. By the way, Ken still has one just like the unit pictured!

Rod Bauermeister, Howe, Ind., summed up the history of the cream separator this way: “It was used to separate cream from cows’ milk,” he begins. “Now it works as a flowerpot arrangement.”

Marilyn Jeffries, Dillsboro, Ind., remembers that her parents used one from the 1930s until they quit farming. “My dad put an electric motor on theirs,” she recalls. “We still have it stored away.”

Dexter Hasler, Newberry, Ind., has celebrated his 90th birthday. He says he turned the crank on one of those separators many times in his younger days.

Alvin Budreau, Fowler, Ind., says his mom and dad sold the cream and fed the skim milk left over to pigs. His folks had an electric version, so he didn’t have to crank it.

Judy Marker, Wakarusa, Ind., must still have a soft spot for this no-longer-needed machine. She says she has one sitting in her family room.

Leonard Hartman, Kokomo, Ind., won the gift card drawing. He says that once his family got electricity and a Norge refrigerator in 1936, a lot of fresh cream became ice cream for three young boys!

Comments? Email [email protected].

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