The Book Stories From the Round Barn
Told in the inimitable, animated voice of Jacqueline Dougan Jackson, Stories From The Round Barn is an affecting addition to the canon of the American memoir of rural life. Using stories, anecdotes, history and even veterinary science, Jackson braids together a series of dramatic fragments and episodes to vividly recreate life on the Dougan dairy farm.
-- Northwestern University Press

Click the title to read a sample chapter:
"Barefoot" - "S. O. B." - "Dehorning" - Press Reviews - Podcasts!
All stories ©1997, Jacqueline Dougan Jackson


It is early October 1914. It's suppertime. Grampa sits midway on one side of the dining-room table. Grama is at the end. Ronald and Trever and the hired men are in their places. The hired men have showered, slicked back their hair, and donned clean shirts and trousers. Fried potatoes steam in a dish on the snowy tablecloth. There are pitchers of milk, slices of cold meat, bread and butter, fresh applesauce, creamed carrots. Grampa has said the blessing: "Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the lord, 0 my soul, and forget not all His benefits." The food is passed. People begin to eat.

Grampa looks around the table. He says, "I saw a sight today I have never seen before, and I hope I shall never see again." Everyone pauses to pay attention to Daddy Dougan.

"I went over to Tiffany very early this morning, to buy a cow," Grampa says.

Everyone nods. They know where Grampa went, and that he returned with a cow.

"It was still dark when I got there," says Grampa, "and I saw a light in the barn. I went in, and saw a lantern way down at the end of the row of cows. Someone was milking there, so I walked down to see who. And as I got close, I saw it was a little lad, and he seemed to be milking in an odd sort of manner." Grampa has everyone's complete attention.

"It was chilly this morning," says Grampa. "There was frost."

Everyone nods.

"The little lad was barefoot," Grampa says, "and when I got up to him I saw that he was balancing himself on the milking stool with one foot, and holding the other one over the bucket" - Grampa pushes back his chair and demonstrates - "and milking the stream of warm milk onto that dirty little foot! And when that foot was warm, he put it down on the stall floor and raised his other dirty little foot and milked onto that one!"

The gathering is thunderstruck. Grampa looks at their stunned faces and laughs silently. His eyes disappear.

Then everyone explodes into laughter. When the hubbub dies down, Grama declares, "Wesson, that can't be true!"

Wesson assures her it is.

Ronald shouts into his father's ear trumpet. "Did you say anything to anybody? Did you tell his father or mother?"

Grampa laughs and shakes his head no. "The wife asked me in for a cup of coffee and some coffeecake," Grampa says. He adds, "I drank the coffee black."