Archive for the 'Morekis Dairy' Category

Hoof power

May 11, 2011

Awesome story in the New York Times about small farms returning to the use of draft animals to pull plows. As the story notes, there are added bonuses in addition to saving on fuel costs: The animals aerate the soil as they walk, they don’t leave ruts like wheels do, and of course free fertilizer!

Rich Ciotola with Larson, far left, and Lucas, the team of young oxen he works with in Sheffield, Mass. (photo by Jennifer May for The New York Times)

The dairy angle on the resurgence of hoof power is that this taps into the large supply of underused male livestock — required for breeding but not much else (story of our lives, fellas). This means that males are very cheap to acquire for plow use.

However, apparently mules are the best for Southern farms — they have a much higher heat tolerance.

‘Meaningful Milk’ for Earth Day

April 26, 2011

Nice screen capture from the CNN 'Meaningful Milk' Earth Day segment

This past Earth Day, CNN ran a shortish but very well-done segment on Country Gardens Farm and Nursery in Newnan, GA. They do organic milk and totally free range chickens — about 200 of them to be exact, which are a real hoot to watch as they peck around the place.

The takeaway here for me was the reliance on Jerseys for the delicious high butterfat content of their milk. Most dairy farms rely on the much larger Holsteins (the “Chik-Fil-A” black and white cows) because A) each Holstein cow can make an incredibly huge boatload of milk; and B) the style now is for a lower fat product.

Still, there is nothin’ like the creamy taste of good old-fashioned Jersey milk, which was the type of milk we dealt in at the old Morekis Dairy back in the day.

(Another plus for the Jerseys is they do well in the Southern heat…)

Raw milk, yum

April 20, 2010

Here’s an interesting story on the raw milk movement, from New York Magazine of all places, here.

The Morekis Dairy didn’t always pasteurize its milk; those laws came about sometime after the dairy’s 1909 founding. (They say that back in the day a bottle of milk, especially from the Jersey cows, was about one-third heavy butterfat cream, floating on the top.)

When the pasteurizing laws went through, this added enormous labor time and cost to the dairy. The pasteurization equipment itself was expensive, but adding to the cost was the staff time needed to exhaustively clean and disinfect all of it — an already-difficult task made more so because of the plethora of machinery.

Here’s another interesting link, to a 1938 (!) comparison of “real” vs. pasteurized milk.

The mythical Morekis Dairy bottle, discovered

April 1, 2010

A comment a couple of posts below about someone finding an old Starland Dairy bottle prompts this post today. For years we have talked about the old Morekis Dairy bottles. Unfortunately there seem to be very, very few of them around.

However, the other day poking around my mom’s house we actually found one. I took a couple of photos of it. It’s really quite striking.

One thing we noticed that was somewhat unexpected, if kind of wonky: The label doesn’t say “Morekis Dairy,” but rather “Morekis’ Dairy” with the possessive.

Happy Greek Independence Day

March 25, 2010

On March 25,  Greeks everywhere celebrate Greek Independence Day. On this day in 1821, the War of Independence against the Ottoman Turks officially began, with a proclamation by the Bishop of Patras (Savannah’s sister city in Greece, by the way) at a monastery.

As with most things in Greece, religion plays a corresponding role. In the Greek Orthodox calendar, March 25 is the Annunciation — the day the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a child.

To mark the occasion, here’s a vintage photo, circa 1920s, of one of my relatives, Constantinos Mourikis. He is the nephew of my great-grandfather, also named Constantinos, the man who founded the Morekis Dairy in Savannah.

In this photo,  Constantinos wears the traditional garb of the klephts, or mountain guerrilla soldiers, a uniform later appropriated by the Greek honorary guard, the Evzones.

(As any Scot will tell you, you need to wear a skirt to fight well in the mountains. You can laugh if you want, but the Greeks won and the Turks lost.)

Rare snow on the farm

March 19, 2010

Man! I just found out something crazy.

If you aren’t familiar with weather patterns in Savannah and the Lowcountry coast, let’s just say that snow is usually something we see on TV. This year we had the first measurable snowfall in Savannah — a mushy affair that most midwesterners would barely recognize as such — in 21 years.

It happened the night of Feb. 12-13, 2010.

Here are a couple of shots of what the old photos say is the “first snow” on the Morekis dairy farm on White Bluff Road. It happened in 1958 on…. you guessed it,  February 12-13.

Here is a shot at my house in Savannah from the much more recent snowfall this year:

For the record, after 1958 there were several more snowfalls in Savannah: 1968 (3.5 inches, huge for this area), 1973 (3.2 inches), 1977, 1986, 1989 (Feb. and Dec.), and of course this one in 2010.

Savannah dairy vehicles

June 9, 2009

Here are a few vintage shots of local milk delivery trucks. First, an awesome photo of one of our farm’s trucks in the mid-1920s:

Dairy Truck 1926

Note the dairy’s permit number, in our case 26, clearly posted on the side.

Here’s another shot of a different, apparently larger, Morekis Dairy vehicle, year unknown (permit is also 26):

Morekis Dairy Truck

For an interesting change of pace, here’s an image of an old Starland Dairy horse-drawn delivery wagon, circa 1945:

Milk Delivery Wagon,1945,Savannah, GA

Looks like a lot of people want to come to Savannah…

March 5, 2009

moon-charleston-and-savannah

 

My travel book Moon Charleston and Savannah is out, and is doing quite well at Amazon.  It’s a rare day when it’s not in the top two or three travel books from those cities, and often it’s the number-one seller in both categories.

In the current economy, I have to say I’m quite pleased with the numbers.

I’ll be having a book signing at the Barnes & Noble at the Oglethorpe Mall here in Savannah, from 2-4 p.m. I’m contemplating giving away free “Morekis Dairy” T-shirts for each book signed…..

The Sack Man

November 12, 2008

One of the familar rituals on a dairy farm was the regular buying and selling of feed sacks. Emptied by the cows, feed sacks were then sold back to a broker for a small fee. The broker would then sell the sacks to the feed providers. It was a never-ending cycle that was part of the business.

My family had a nickname for the local Sack Man: “Saklas,” a sort of hybrid Greek/broken English word. Apparently the Sack Man’s real name was Wolson.

Every few weeks the scene went like this: Saklas/Wolson would come to buy the Morekis Dairy’s empty sacks, usually for about $15-20 a visit. He and Big Yiayia would negotiate prices; not always a pretty sight since, in the words of my Thea Helen, “He would come and she’d have a different price each time. You couldn’t fool her out of a nickel.”

Apparently, Saklas/Wolson had a little crush on Thea Nora.  Sadly, Saklas was not the smoothest operator.

“One day he came and said, ‘I’ve got something for you,'” remembers Nora. “I went to his truck and he gave me a box of chocolates — that he’d sat down in. They were all smashed. I said, ‘Dern, what are these? I can’t eat these.'”

The dairy in fall

October 8, 2008
Nora Pughsley

Nora Pughsley

I found a suitably autumnal shot from the old family files. This is my great-aunt Leonora Morekis Pughsley walking on the farm, as far as I can tell sometime in the 1960s.

We just call her Nora, or more correctly, “Thea Nora,” i.e., Aunt Nora. Along with our Thea Anne — who you’ll hear more from later here — she’s one of Papoo Kelly’s younger sisters, born in America. His two older sisters, Angela and Heriklea, were born in Samos. Nora and Anne were born after Costas’s wife Maria Nikita “Big Yiayia” finally came over to the States.

Not sure where exactly on the tract this shot was taken, but I can pretty much assure you those beautiful Live Oaks aren’t still there.

Thea Nora has a wickedly funny sense of humor and tells some good stories about life growing up at the old Morekis Dairy. She has a fun one about a bicycle that she bought from one of the African-American hands hired to work on the farm, who went by the name of “Cheese.”

“I had a bicycle that I bought from Cheese. I bought it from him for a dollar and a half,” Nora relates. “We were set to go to Greece, so I took the bicycle apart and put it in the attic.”

When she got back to Savannah, she put the bike back together and took it for a ride on White Bluff Road, where the farm was located.

“I would dress in shorts, a nice blouse and white gloves, and get on my bike and go down that hill right by the White Bluff School. I did that for several days. One day I was riding the bike back home and suddenly the handlebars just cut in half, split wide open. I thought, ‘How am I going to steer this thing?’ So I walked it back, all the way home, all dressed up in white gloves and shorts. Everybody was nice back then. Nobody would bother you. You could ride your bike or walk, whatever.”