I came upon what you see in the photo above on a lovely, relaxing afternoon drive through central Hastings County (north-northeast from Stirling on the backroads up to Highway 62 just south of Madoc) a week ago. Of course its rustic prettiness caught my eye, which is one reason why I decided to take a picture. But the thing that really stopped me in my tracks was the realization that people passing by would either know immediately what it was, or… not have a clue. And the difference between whether you know and recognize it, or don’t, is just this: either you grew up in a rural area in a certain time (sometime before the middle 1960s), or – you didn’t.
So do you know what it is?
If you don’t, I will tell you. Because I do.
It is a milk shed. Or at least, I think that’s the technical name for it. Truth be told, milk sheds were no longer in use by the time I was growing up in rural Hastings County in the mid-1960s. But one saw them a lot, and even as a small child I knew what they were. It was the place where dairy farmers left their big milk cans full of fresh milk for the truck (cart?) to come by, pick them up, and take them to the local cheese factory. (This was of course before the big refrigerated tanker trucks that one sees on the roads of Hastings County and other rural areas now, operated under the auspices of the Ontario Milk Marketing Board [oops, sorry, now called the “Dairy Farmers of Ontario,” marketing boards having become rather controversial in recent years], travelling from farm to farm to pick up the fresh milk.) See how the platform in front is about three to four feet off the ground? That’s so that the full milk cans were at the level of the wagon/cart/truck that was collecting them. I believe that as the full cans were picked up, empty ones would be dropped off.
And the reason for the milk shed having a roof over it would have been to protect the product from getting too much sun and heat.
It is a rustic method of sending raw materials to be processed, but from everything I’ve heard, it worked perfectly well. And I think it is just lovely that there are still some of those old sheds around to remind us of those simpler times.