Dutch Fork: The Dairy

Most farmhouses in the Dutch Fork, as in most of the South, would have had a smoke house for curing hams. However, another food-related building which I have found in this particular form only in this area of Carolina was the "dairy." This curious little German-inspired cabinet-like structure was used to hold dairy products. The ones in the Fork were built on stilts about three feet tall and were fully enclosed on all sides, top and bottom, a door or doors being the means of access. A Dutch Fork farmhouse might have two types of "dairies," one for winter and one for summer. The "winter dairy" had slatted openings near the top; the summer did not and was built so that cold well or spring water could be poured inside to stand in its bottom to keep the fresh milk and butter cool. These "summer dairies" were also on the same kind of stilts as were the "winter dairies.” In Germany, these buildings were constructed on stilts to discourage mice and ground varmints. No doubt this was the reason for the custom in the Fork as well. The "dairy" was a common adjunct of the farmhouses of this area and was an important outbuilding owing to the fact that dairy products were a staple of the Dutch Fork diet….For cooling milk, there were also the springhouses common enough in this part of the South. (Kibler, 1988)

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