By Angela Dorie
Every farm has its library composed of operating manuals, workshop books, standard operating procedures, business related publications, articles of interest (hopefully in a file) and piles of production and breeding records along with the required seven years of tax records and receipts. But how many have a dictionary to translate the operation’s ‘language?’ A conversation here could confuse the heck out of anyone because every farm has its own shop talk.
We were talking crop plans for 2016 and some field “names” make perfect sense, such as “the thirty-two acres,” “the triangle field” and “the other side of the ditch.” How about “the stony field?” Once a bush, it was cut out in the fifties and left rough and rolling with 99 % of the boulders sitting on the surface. It has been used as pasture for decades as well as a reference point: “Go past the stony field . . .”
Then our son bought a loader/dozer and cleared it, much to the amazement of area farmers. Passing traffic doubled as locals — and some not so local — went everywhere via the Johnson Road to check on his progress. Now it produces a fantastic alfalfa crop but I would challenge a non-local to locate the field by the name we call it.
Or, the old apple orchard?’ It was never really an apple orchard, just a field with a couple of dozen old apple trees, big stones and very, very rough. It was obviously always used for pasture. We used to graze sheep in it. Now though, with trees gone, smooth, tiled and growing alfalfa, the name would leave outsiders scratching their heads.
Another is “the garage.” Built in the late 1800s, it was a carriage house attached to our house. Someone enclosed it and made a summer kitchen (going by the stove pipe hole in the roof). Years later it became half mudroom and mud bathroom (no way is it a powder room on a farm) and a garage complete with retractable door. We closed it in, added a door, windows, insulation, a dog door and reopened the access to the cellar and it became a three-season mudroom, a collector of dirt, hay and straw. But it is still “the garage,” of course. And I challenge any visitor to find it if told to meet us there.
An expression unique to only our farm and said with absolute disgust, is, “It’s another 1410.” To us it means something to waste neither time nor money on. Sell it, scrap it, part it out but don’t do anything else to it.
It started with an old tractor, a 1410 and out of respect to the manufacturer I will go no further to identify it. Its days here started not too badly: here a part, there a part. Like all old machines it only broke when we wanted to use it. Over the years, doing the farm books, I realized the description of expenses under “Repairs” started more and more often with “1410.”
The final straw came when, after leaving it overnight in a field during haying, we discovered the next morning that it had burnt, or tried to, anyway. The wiring had ignited. Everything else was fine. Darn tractor could never do anything right. We called the insurance company, hoping to get a new wiring harness for it and discovered their evaluation of the tractor wouldn’t even cover that! So, a spool of wire and a soldering gun got it running again and after one of those husband/wife “discussions” with both parting on opposing ends, the Numero Uno here left with one of the boys, made the rounds of some dealers and arranged for another tractor. The 1410’s legacy is that its name now refers to anything on the farm whose days are numbered. So far I am safe.
For those of us who still have names for our cows and actually use them, there are always one or two with pet names with no relation to what is on the registration papers. They are either the really good ones or the really bad ones. But who outside of the family would know?
Thinking about it now, the next spare hour or so, maybe we had better write out our own dictionary for Will-a-Way Farms. Without it, anyone else here would be completely lost.
Angela Dorie is an agricultural writer and a Jersey farmer near Cornwall.