Milk was a very important resource for a farmer in the nineteenth century. With little meat available, dairy products such as butter and cheese were the best way for people to get protein in their diets. Cows had to be milked twice a day. During the mid-nineteenth century, milking was done entirely by hand. Farmers sat on a stool and milked into a bucket.
In cool weather, cream rose to the top of the milk pan. Cream was skimmed from the top, placed in a butter churn, and stirred energetically until it became solid butter. This work was done mostly by women.