Appalachian Dialect Pap

A Waste of Milk

a cow

All the talk about food measurements reminded me a of a story Pap once told me.

There was an older man who lived at the head of Pinelog when Pap was a boy. His name was George.

One day a trader came to see George about buying his milk cow.

The trader asked if the cow was a good milker. George told him “Now I hell she gives a waste of milk.”

Taking George’s comment to mean the cow gave so much milk that a lot of it went to waste the trader bought the cow.

Pap said a few weeks went by and that was more than enough time for the trader to realize the cow wasn’t a good milker. The trader came around to see George about the matter.

He said “I thought you said this cow as a good milker. I can’t hardly get her to give nothing.”

George said “Now I hell I told you she give a waste of milk. She gives enough to cream your coffee but not enough to make gravy.”


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  • Reply
    Potato Queen
    May 19, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    I’ve heard “I god” from one of my favorite books, LONESOME DOVE. Augustus McCrae, originally from Tennessee, said it many times. “I god, Woodrow, it ain’t dyin’ I’m talkin’ about; it’s livin’!”

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    May 24, 2019 at 2:23 am

    Loved this story…in our end of WNC…I heard…Aayy shoot, I don’t know! Aayy shoot, gotta start supper! Aayy shoot, was that the peddler honkin’? Aayy shoot, I heard she was pregnant! Aayy shoot, yoall come back ya hear!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 23, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    Tipper–the “I hell” phrase is one I heard quite frequently as a boy, with variations including “I damn,” “I dogies,” and “I golly.” I always had the feeling that “I” was a substitute for by. Strangely, now that I get to thinking about it, I can’t recall anyone resorting to this usage in decades. That may be an indication of this particular linguistic pattern fading away.

    Jim Casada

    • Reply
      May 23, 2019 at 10:52 pm

      I agree with you. My family and neighbors often used this term during my childhood and early adulthood. The phrase brought back good memories of skinny old men with wrinkled faces and slightly bent backs, usually spitting baccer before they said it.
      I never hear this used anymore, and didn’t even realize I hadn’t heard it in a long time. I didn’t cuss, but I loved hearing this phrase used each and every time.
      Thanks, Tipper for bringing back favorite moments of joy from yesteryear.

      p.s. Miss Cindy, I was raised in western NC near the Virginia border. And yes, we were definitely “further back in the woods”. Lol.

  • Reply
    May 23, 2019 at 8:47 am

    Old George didn’t lie and the trader learned a valuable lesson – ask questions.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    May 23, 2019 at 8:47 am

    I never heard waste used like that.
    Miss Cindy sent me off on my deer story. Night before last a deer came through my yard and helped it’s self to my recently planted pie cherry. It ate the end of ever branch and the leaves except for the very top. I think I’ll get 4 steel posts and place around the tree and wrap them in bob wire. Papaw Ed how do you spell wire in the way we pronounce it?

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      May 23, 2019 at 2:14 pm

      Bobwarr perhaps. Like a pirate says “arr”. Just put a w in front of it. Same as when you put a tarr on your carr.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 23, 2019 at 8:38 am

    Brother Vance Winchester never said “I hell” that I know of but he said “I dogies” instead. A lot! Almost as much as he said “by hokies”. I don’t think he ever uttered a whole sentence that didn’t include at least one of those phrases. Brother Vance was a good man. About as good as they get!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 23, 2019 at 8:35 am

    I think maybe an old-timey meaning of “waste” included some sense of the idea of “unproductive”. In American Colonial days land grants typically had the phrase “a certain tract of ungranted and waste land”. That is, if not producing a crop it was ‘going to waste’.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 23, 2019 at 7:42 am

    Tipper, Seems like I’ve heard You or Pap tell that story before. From the looks of that picture, I have to say it was a Guernsey. We had one too that looked like that and she gave 2 gallon at each meal.

    One time Mama was milking ole Guernsey and Harold and I were just learning to milk and play and somehow the cow stepped on Harold’s foot. He complained a lot and it took us forever to get the cow’s foot off of him. When she did release him, it left a big bruise and learn Harold better. A farm is no place for a couple of youngins to be acting the fool.

    We had ole Guernsey for a few years and she never gave any trouble after that. …Ken

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 23, 2019 at 7:27 am

    Tip, I have heard that word ‘waste’ used but never quite got an idea of the meaning. I’ve also heard the ‘I hell’ part and that’s another expression I haven’t heard much and don’t quite understand. Must be a different part of Appalachia or from further back in the woods.
    Different subject, but I had a good sized deer in my yard just a few minutes age, eating mulberries from my tree. Wish I’d had a camera!

  • Reply
    May 23, 2019 at 7:14 am

    To my mind, the “I hell” is more mystifying than the waste of milk, lol..

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