Dairy Items Hobby Takes on Life of Its Own

Butter churns, cream separators and milk testing equipment part of extensive dairy item collection

| March 1999

  • The Elms Near General Store, a display Jack Allen created to take
    The Elms Near General Store, a display Jack Allen created to take "on the road" to nearby fairs. 
    Photo by Jack Allen
  • Part of a Hinman milking machine.
    Part of a Hinman milking machine.
    Photo by Jack Allen
  • Well water (at a temperature in the low to mid-fifties) was used in this aerator to cool milk as it was transferred to the can. This aerator was made by the Cherry Burrell Corp.
    Well water (at a temperature in the low to mid-fifties) was used in this aerator to cool milk as it was transferred to the can. This aerator was made by the Cherry Burrell Corp.
    Photo by Jack Allen
  • Part of Jack's collection of vacuum cleaners
    Part of Jack's collection of vacuum cleaners
    Photo by Jack Allen
  • Jack's Cooney's Bluebird Tractor, before restoration.
    Jack's Cooney's Bluebird Tractor, before restoration. The tractor was produced with either a Model A or T engine with two transmissions, allowing it to gear down. "It was designed just for blueberry farmers," Jack said. The tractor was produced in small numbers, somewhere between 200 and 700. Exact production figures have proven elusive, he said.
    Photo by Jack Allen
  • Jack's chicken display, featuring (kneeling) his grandson.
    Jack's chicken display, featuring (kneeling) his grandson.
    Photo by Jack Allen
  • Jack's completely restored Cooney's Bluebird Tractor.
    Jack's completely restored Cooney's Bluebird Tractor. The tractor was produced with either a Model A or T engine with two transmissions, allowing it to gear down. "It was designed just for blueberry farmers," Jack said. The tractor was produced in small numbers, somewhere between 200 and 700. Exact production figures have proven elusive, he said.
    Photo by Jack Allen

  • The Elms Near General Store, a display Jack Allen created to take
  • Part of a Hinman milking machine.
  • Well water (at a temperature in the low to mid-fifties) was used in this aerator to cool milk as it was transferred to the can. This aerator was made by the Cherry Burrell Corp.
  • Part of Jack's collection of vacuum cleaners
  • Jack's Cooney's Bluebird Tractor, before restoration.
  • Jack's chicken display, featuring (kneeling) his grandson.
  • Jack's completely restored Cooney's Bluebird Tractor.

Jack Allen ran a dairy farm for nearly 30 years. Now retired, he collects dairy items. But it's a little more complicated than that. He also collects typewriters. And old sweepers. And potbellied stoves. And cultivators. And plows ... 

"I had a stroke when I was younger," he said. "After that, my wife said I should get a hobby. She probably thought I'd take up needlepoint, like Rosie Grier."

Then, too, there was the matter of the barn to deal with.

"When we sold the cows, my son was an auctioneer, and he set up an auction barn in the old cow barn. But the upper half was still empty. Then he moved to a different barn on the farm, and the whole barn was left empty," he said. "Well, when a barn's left empty, when it's not used, it'll go to pieces. So I started collecting things."



An obvious starting point? Dairy items.

"In the old milk house, we have 35 or 40 butter churns, all different," he said. "There's glass churns, and wood, and the kind you'd sit in a rocking chair and rock. Some of them date to the 1890s. And we have half a dozen cream separators."