Minnesota Farmer

Farm english

Farming, like any other profession has its own lingo, and much of America does not understand it.

I just got off the phone with a gal doing a survey on farming practices who was having a great deal of trouble with her farm english.  It was very hard to understand what she wanted to ask because she was murdering words left and right.  You had to listen carefully and try to interpret what she wanted to say.  I hated to ask her to repeat any of her questions because her pronunciation of words did not get any better.  To be fair she did not sound like she grew up speaking another language, she just could not pronounce these words because they were strange to her.  Kind of like trying to pronounce those strange names you find in the Bible.

Really, it is no wonder that folks with no connection to the farm do not understand us.  We deal daily with names like FSA, SCS, CAFU, EPA, USDA and PCA.  We go to places like the Commodity Classic and Farm Equipment shows.  Farmers deal in dollar amounts that would make the head of the average person spin.  We fertilize, apply pesticides, insecticides and fungicides, we deal with too much rain and not enough rain, and all so we can pay off our loan at the bank and feed our family.

Farmers talk of tractors and combines, rippers, chisels and disks, they discuss spraying and cultivating.  We speak of organic, minimum till, no till, plows and erosion.  Farmers know horse power, breeding schedules, days on feed, days to maturity, bushels per acre, chemical rates and livestock nutrition.  Livestock producers know about sires and dams, sows and boars, rams and ewes, gilts, colts, geldings, barrows, chicks, hens and toms.  Farmers deal with politicians, activists, genetically modified crops, inbreds, pure breeds and hybrid vigor.  Farmers can fix many of our machines with duct tape or a welding torch, can rewire delicate electronics, and some even understand computers. No machine on the farm is complete without a well supplied tool box, and no pocket without a pliers, knife or a few odd screws.  We on the farm live a complex life that our city cousins would like to understand, but have not lived, and so they can only marvel at our differences.

We hide ourselves behind jargon and numbers.  What you really need to know is that farmers care about what happens on the farm.  We raise our families here.  We drink the water and breathe the air.  We depend on the soil to feed us and our family for many generations to come.  Farmers and their farms come in many sizes, but we all care deeply about what we are doing.  We are here on the land because we cannot think of anything more important to do with our lives.

Despite all of the strange words we use, we are just like you, trying to build a good life for our families.  So if you do not understand us, ask.  We want you to know.  We are not trying to hide things from you.  You, our customer, are important to us also.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Loved this, Michael! Would you mind if I reblogged this? 🙂

Comment by carolyncares

You can even rewrite it if you wish, there have to be more examples that would fit.

Comment by Michael

I found this post so truthful and insightful. Even though I was raised on a southwestern MN crop and dairy farm, much has changed since I left in 1974. That leaves me out of the farm language lingo.

Comment by Minnesota Prairie Roots

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