Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America.

Come, butter, come,
Come, butter, come,
Mary stands at the gate,
Waiting for a buttered cake,
Come butter, come!*

I say this verse three times when I am making butter so I will have good butter.  Mother does not believe in charms or chants.   But I like to sing it……. sometimes I just hum the tune.  It makes the time pass quicker. Josh and Brent usually sit with me.  They have learned my chant now and sing it with me.  Mother says I make good butter because I have a gentle, cool hand. Father loves a lot of butter on his bread.  He told me an old Dutch Proverb, “Eat butter first and eat it last and live till a hundred years be past.  *    Brent said he likes sugar on top of his buttered bread and Josh favors sugar AND CINNAMON on top of his buttered bread.

After our cows are milked, Mother pours the fresh milk through a straine cloth of linen or fine cotton into shallow milk pans.  She always does this to remove the dirt and the hair.  The cream must rise to the top.  The milk pans are kept in a cool place while the cream rises.  We usually have to wait a day.  Sometimes, it has a sour smell and makes my nose wrinkle.  Mother says this is what makes the butter taste good.  The collected cream is placed in a butter churn.  The wooden dasher is held in place by the lid and I work it by hand until the butter is made.  The sour buttermilk has to be worked out by washing cold water through it.  She stores our butter in crocks in the cellar because it is cool and fresh air flows through there.

Some of the farm women sell their extra butter in Father’s store.  We mark our butter with a butter stamp that has been carved in the
shape of a goats face.  It has a small crack in the wooden face and it seems as if the goat is winking. I have tried but I cannot wink back.  Both my eyes seem to close at the same time.  I cannot make just one eyelid go down!  Josh said when I am bigger I shall be able to wink.  That stamp is my favorite one.  Each woman uses her own special butter mould or stamp and we can always tell whose butter is for sale.

by Mary Beekman

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