Irene worked across Dumfries and Galloway and for a period in Lothian and the Borders as a Milk Tester for the Scottish Milk Records Association.
- Interviewed: 20 August 2012.
- Ref: DG5/1/1/2.
- © Photo: Donald Tait.
- © European Ethnological Research Centre, 2013.
IB: The worst thing was having to get up at about four in the morning sometimes – where you had to be there at the milking and take a sample from each cow, night and morning. To arrive with all your stuff at the farm before the milking in the afternoon.
DT: Right. So you’d typically arrive in the afternoon.
IB: Yes, but ah started off in Dumfries, ah did about 2 months down here but then, because ah could drive, they wanted me to go to Lothians and Borders.
DT: Oh aye, uh uh uh.
IB: So ah went up there because they had a van there.
DT: Right. So you would have a kind of a circuit of farms that you visited … is that …?
IB: You had about twenty farms (DT: Oh gosh, right) and you went round them one a day or if it was a big farm you got 2 days to do it in. And you had all this equipment to cart about with you.
DT: Yes, uhu, can you remember what kind of equipment you had to lug around?
IB: Well we had a … we had sulphuric acid and amyl alcohol and, that was the 2 things that you tested the milk with. You’d all your pipettes and butyrometers (instrument used to measure fat content in milk) an a centrifuge to, to put them in to, to get a certain speed up to separate the butter-fat from the milk.
DT: Right. So you were looking to find out what the proportion of butter-fat was?
IB: Yes, each cow had. And then you’d to write it all down: how much the cow gave; the butter-fat; and then, calculate the butter-fat out.
DT: Uh hu, and you had to do that for every cow in the herd?
IB: Yes, and you had to write it on a sheet and then write it from the sheet into a record book.
DT: Right. So a lot of, a lot of book-keeping and record-keeping and …
IB: A lot of work yes. And a lot of testing as well. You had to test all this stuff.
DT: And it all had to be done to a very, very high standard?
IB: It had to be, yes.
DT: And it all had to be accurate.
IB: It had to be accurate.
DT: And would people come round to look at the work that you were doing to make sure …
IB: Well, we had such a person as a supervisor that came now and again to see if you were doing things properly.
DT: Right. And you always managed to pass the inspections?
IB: Well, ah seemed to [laughs].