A Scottish Byre Lamp – Saturday 1902

A letter this morning from a friend in Paris, with a very tempting suggestion that I might join her in a pension there. It would be so good for my health, physical and mental, she says. The lectures delightful, the society cosmopolitan; French, Russian, Norwegian, Finnish. What interesting things I should have to tell you if I went. But the narrow circle at home is my place.

To-day, I worked hard to finish some things for a bazaar, which looms in the near future. It is fortunate for the prosperity of churches and charities that there are a great many women who love bazaars and all that appertains to them; but I am not one of those useful women, for I hate the very name of bazaar.

At five o’clock, after tea was over, I went into the kitchen to see if preparations for the evening dairy work were all right and found the fire dying down, and a kettle half empty, and a maid leisurely drinking her tea in the dusk.

Was it any use reminding her for the 50th time that before she sits down to tea, she must build a good fire and have a full kettle boiling? Another large pan, with the kettle, are sufficient to scald the separator in the evenings; but the milking time is so short now that one must look before and have the water ready in time.

We are the happy possessors of a new byre lamp brought to us from Scotland to-day. Perhaps it is not specially of Scotch design, but it is unlike the kind that is sold here for out-door carrying. It has four glass slides, like an old fashioned street lamp, and holds inside a small lamp with a funnel. When it was hung in the centre of the byre, we were charmed with the result.

For the first time, in artificial light, we saw the ends of the tails and the hind cloots of each cow. Our old lamps illuminated horizontally and upwards. The gang and the grip (or grupe, or gruip — how is it spellt?) lay undistinguishable in gloom. Under the lamp itself, a circle embracing three cows on each side, was wrapped in mysterious darkness into which you must peer before setting your stool down cautiously. Really, it all looked so cheerfully bright tonight under the new lamp, that I was almost tempted to kilt my coats and try my hand again, although somewhat out of practice from various causes.

Some of these dark, moonless nights I have been visiting our neighbours. The roads immediately about the house, are not the best nor the cleanest in the world. Not to exaggerate, they have been shockingly filthy of late.

To illuminate my way, I carried one of our byre lamps. It might have lightened the path of a companion three yards in front, but it certainly was not a “lamp unto my feet.” A circle of gross darkness encompassed me, and the light was useful only to enable me to distinguish bushes from kye and warlocks.

Was it surprising that I arrived at our neighbour’s front door with shairney feet? But with this new lamp, we may walk as cleanly at midnight as at noonday.

This entry was posted in Cows, Dairy, Diary, Farming and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Scottish Byre Lamp – Saturday 1902

  1. There’s something irreplaceable about a good light and the difference it makes. 🙂

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