Use your history to help build the future


Millie, Tillie, and Cindy; Zeller’s cow, Dick’s cow, and Wilford’s cow; Daisy, Penny and Ann.
These are the first 10 cows entered in a small “Farmer’s Pocket Ledger” as they calved in late 1967 and 1968. Each entry carefully notes the new calf’s tattoo number, their dam, birthdate, and sire. A progressive herd, nearly all the calves were AI sired.

Little black book

In this small pocket book, “Compliments of John L. Denny, Phone 1-5867” a farmer could look up information on common farm measurements of land and crops, calculate payments using a simple interest table, and keep records for his farm.

Since the calendars on the back cover were for 1958 and 1959, this farmer obviously deemed this little book nice enough to save for something really important.

The notebook was found tucked in a small cupboard in the barn that had housed the cows. Beginning with those first 10 cows, new calves were named, raised and added to the herd.

Grace, Janes, Polli. A few names allow you to picture the cows that they were: Crosseye, Bowlegs, Popeye and Talker. Notes in the margin allow us a glimpse of the joys and sorrows in those 10 or 11 calvings each year.

Bonita died calving. Wilford’s calf died as did the “Kate calf”. The “White Face Jersey” had twins in 1969. Tillie, one of the foundation cows, dutifully calved in February (4th, 13th and 3rd) 3 years running, calved in January the next year and then didn’t calve until October for her fifth and final lactation.

Out of names

By 1976, he must have run out of names because the cow names changed to numbers with an occasional name penciled in the margin.

In 1990, the number of calvings dropped to six, with only two recorded in a shakier hand in 1991. 1992 brought more calvings, but an end to the notations in the book, leaving many empty pages.
12 full pages, the last 25 years of one man’s dairy herd.

Thousands of people drive by that barn every day. All they see is a nice, old red barn with a few heifers out in the front pasture.

They don’t know, and won’t remember the herd that produced there, the teams of horses that were used to farm the ground along with the tractors, the hogs and chickens that filled the outbuildings.


More people are becoming concerned with where and how their food is produced. We have a long and interesting history that can be used to help promote today’s agriculture.

What kind of history is buried in the corners of your barn, office or attic? What can you preserve?

Share with family, share with local historical societies. Let’s use a proud and interesting history to help build our future.

Get our Top Stories in Your Inbox

Next step: Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.



We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.