March 28, 2010


We have a lots of sayings that most of us don't the know the origin of. Like "the whole 9 yards." I thought it came from football, but then it would be "the whole 10 yards." I mean 9 yards is one shy of a first down - how is that helpful?! I've discovered, although I probably should have known it already, that many of our sayings come from farming. Over the past few years we have stumbled across those sayings, each time thinking "Oh, so that is where it comes from." Here are some examples.

One afternoon, Jordan came up to the house to tell me "Daddy needs you. One of the chickens is out." I hurried down and found Jeremy standing by the fence with George, a buff orpington hen; George was on the wrong side the run. Jeremy said, matter-0f-factly, "She flew the coop." We both started laughing. Fortunately George really wanted back with the others, so it was just a matter of cornering her and putting her back. (By the way, George is a girl. When she was still a chick I mistakenly thought she was a he due to her aggressive behavior. By the time we figured it out, George was stuck with the name.)

Last summer the weather was very hot for a couple of weeks. Pigs don't sweat, so they need wallows and water to keep cool. Each evening we would fill the wallow and spray water like a sprinkler. The pigs got so excited, running around, flopping in the wallow, chomping at the stream of water, snorting at us, eyes gleaming with joy. They were in "hog heaven."

When Notag, the alpha ewe, decides to go eat she walks to the pathway over the creek, stands there and baaaaa's very loudly to the others. Eventually, they all join her and head out to the pasture. When I come down to put out oats, Notag starts heading back to the pole barn and the rest follow. If she headed right into on coming traffic, I have no doubt all the others would "follow the herd." (The picture above is of Jeremy with Notag - she is a love.)

Slopping pigs is fun. Pigs love, I mean really love, to eat. When you put in good stuff - for our pigs it was melons - they would just "pig out." (This works also for "don't make a pig out of yourself.")

Every night the hens "come home to roost."

"Horse high. Steer strong. Pig tight." You may not know this one, it refers to a fence. You want it to be high enough that a horse can't jump it, strong enough that a steer can break it and tight enough that a pig can't figure a loose spot. Most of our fences are none of these things, thus we have sheep. The one exception is the pig pen, which was "pig tight" compliments of Jeremy's craftmenship.

A misnomer is the saying "pigsty". The pigs' pen, which is where they eat, sleep and have a bathroom, is not a pigsty, quite the opposite. The pigs actually keep there pen very clean. They always poop in the same location and sleep far from it. They push the straw around to make their bed. The wallow outside may look like a pigsty, but really it's a big mud bath (like at a spa). So a pig pen is not a pigsty.

Another misnomer is that chickens are "chicken." Chickens do spook easily. If you gently toss some berries or grass in for them to eat they squawk and scatter like it's a grenade. But they come right back, inspect the offering and start eating. When a person enters, a few come right up and say hi. If you make a sudden movement, one or more hens will bristle up and peck you, hard.

Our neighbors had roosters for a while, before we got chickens. Roosters are very aggressive. Occasionally the roosters would get into a "cock fight" making huge noise, all to impress the hens. Typical boys.

Speaking of guys doing guy things, Jeremy plays poker and I ask him not the "bet the farm."

And the last for this evening - "the best laid plans of mice and men" - because of all our sketches, lists, and discussions, nothing has worked out according to the exact plan, but 90% of our endeavors thus far have worked out, somehow.

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