It’s no secret that farm families have a language all their own, complete with every descriptive word known to man. After all, they’ve seen a lot of things, especially livestock farmers.
This year I discovered that the language of the harvest is also an interesting one. One day my husband (in the combine) said, “Come on over here and I’ll dump on you.”
It was a good thing I knew what he meant or he’d be whistling through a brand new pair of front teeth for just coming out and telling me he was going to dump on me.
And yet, farm wives/mothers everywhere have experienced being dumped on. It just goes with the job.
More than once my husband would say, “Are you on the right rows?” (Disclaimer: That question is in no way indicative of the job I did of catching grain.)
It brought back memories of walking beans with my siblings. Once while bean walking for a neighbor, he told us he had lost a pair of pliers in (this) field, and there was a reward waiting for the person who found them. (Once again, the relationship a farmer has with his pliers – no sense in getting a new pair – he wants THAT pair.
Farm wives can only hope we rank that high if someday we show up missing.
We all started out on high alert looking for them. After all, five bucks was five bucks – 100 percent clear profit. One of my older brothers decided that day to help everyone else.
When I fell off the turnip truck, it must have left obvious tread marks on my forehead. I knew what he was doing – trying to find the missing pliers in my rows. Which is exactly what he did. And he got the five bucks.
The word “scale” is used nearly every day; the crowned jewel of all words that women despise.
And yet, there it is. We shouldn’t have to put up with that kind of harassment in the work place, and yet, we do.
At least we can stay in the truck while on the scale, and no one’s the wiser if the truck weighs 26,000 pounds or if we do.
“You’ll want to take the back roads to get to (whichever field).” This one is mystifying, because it seems when you’re driving large equipment, there are no back roads.
You always meet up with someone and have to make the plan to get over or find a driveway to pull into.
It seems to me that some of those roads are back roads to everywhere, based on the traffic flow.
There is also a difference in how you read, based on the life you live. I was following a recipe one day this fall to make supper for our harvest crew, and read the word “combine” as a noun instead of a verb.
And I hadn’t even been into the vodka yet.
The words “yield” and “moisture” mean much the same thing in the kitchen and in the field, but are completely different conversations in the two places. I also learned that a combine has a throat-which does, I guess, the same job as our throats do, basically. Weird.
The scariest words, however, can be, “The elevator closes in 20 minutes.”
With that information, every farm truck driver can imitate “Snowman” from “Smoky and the Bandit,” pleading to law officers, “I didn’t know this truck could do 96 miles an hour.”
This fall as my husband emerged from the hole on top of the grain bin, I got to thinking: if he sees his shadow up there, does it mean there are there six more weeks of fall?
There’s another harvest term to consider.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at email@example.com and at www.karenschwaller.com.
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