Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 4, Number 4, December 2010

Cherie Hunter Day
Cupertino, California, USA


The Babcock Test

Until about the age of ten I lived on a dairy farm.  Every month a man arrived to test the raw cow’s milk for fat content.  For his visit he’d suit up in gray canvas coveralls pulling them carefully over his buff-colored work boots.  They were spotless as was his perfectly bald head. He had no hair—not on his head nor his eyebrows nor the backs of his hands when he handled the sulfuric acid and a rack of test tubes.  He called the long-handled scoop a “milk thief,” which allowed him to reach deep into the stainless steel tanks to collect samples.  He used a glass pipette to measure the perfect amount of milk and he held the tube at a precise angle when he added the acid.  A gentle hand swirl and the milk solution turned dark brown.  There was the distinct smell like charred caramel and a stern warning not to touch any part of the experiment. 

parts per million
slipping onion grass 
to one cow in the herd







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