Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day: May 1-7

May 6, 1947

“HYDE PARK, Monday—About a month ago, our farmer told us and proved to us that it was highly uneconomical to make butter on a dairy farm; that we could sell our whole milk and make more cash; that the cost of the cream and the time consumed in making butter, even though we had an electric churn, was pure waste.

I remembered that, when I was a little girl, my grandmother made butter in a little glass churn on the dining-room table. It was completely sweet, fresh butter, and we thought it the greatest possible luxury. And my mother-in-law always boasted of having her own butter. It seemed somewhat of a wrench to me to give this up, so I loftily said to our farmer, “I will take the churn, and in our cellar we will make enough butter to last both my son’s house and mine for several weeks. It can be stored in the deep freeze.”

Last Friday, the farmer brought the churn. Our superintendent was on hand. So was I, assisted by Miss Thompson and the cook. We all stood around, prepared for our first lesson…

The next morning, around 11 o’clock, the cook and I finally finished our lesson and at last the men could go back to their work on the farm. We had learned how to use the electric churn, how to work the butter afterwards, and how to do it up neatly in half-pound packages. For all of that time and all of that labor, we had 13 1/2 pounds of butter!

I am quite sure now that our farmer’s economics are correct, but I had fun and I think the cook and I will try it again. It may be a waste of both time and money, but I am still old-fashioned enough to like the idea of having my own butter. I am rather glad, however, that the churn is electric. I think that if I had had to churn by hand for all of that time, I would not be writing about it today!”