(The following was written by Marilyn Gibboney, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)
The parents of children who lived on farms looked forward to having the children home from school during the summer in the good old days. It meant having extra hands with the many menial and time-consuming chores that were part of life on the farm in those days. One of those chores was herding the cows. The cows were very important to the economy of the farm family so they required and received much attention. The cows had to be milked twice a day and the children helped with that chore as soon as they were able to sit on a milk stool and hold the bucket in place.
After milking the cows were “put out to pasture” but sometimes the fences were not good and would not hold the herd in or they needed repairing so it was necessary for someone to watch them. Sometimes the pastures would be barren and new grassy areas were needed. Before the automobile area era the farmers would turn the cows on the roadsides to graze. The roads were not paved and there was very little traffic except an occasional horse and wagon going by so there was no danger. It was an agreement with the neighbors that you grazed your cows only on the side of the road where you lived. My mother and her sisters were often given this job during the summer. They would wear their sun bonnets and be barefoot and watch the cows all day.
it was very monotonous and time went very slowly. They would look for four-leaf clovers, make up games and stories and still keep an eye on the cows so they did not wander away. Since their farm bordered two roads they had an especially long area to watch. This was part of their life back in the early twentieth century.