Milo Yield
Damphewmore Acres, Kan.

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March 3, 2014
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Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 3-3-14

When my old Texas friend, retired engineer Sly Drewel, wuz visiting last fall, we lamented the loss from language usage of many of the old down-home, colorful sayings and curious expressions that he and I grew up hearing in our rural communities and that we both still use today.

We both feared that many of those kinds of sayings that had agrarian roots would go into the language landfill because most of the millennium generation will never hear those sayings and phrases, nor understand them if they hear them uttered.

That prompted me on a cold winter day to see how many of those old colorful sayings that had an agrarian connotation I could think of. Here’s my partial list and my own definition of what each means:

■ Make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. (Trying to make something good out of something bad or inferior. Example: Trying to make a handkerchief out of burlap.)

■ As awkward as a hog on ice. (Self explanatory if you watch a pig trying to walk on ice.)

■ A cock and bull story. (A story or conversation full of exaggerations or outright lies. Example: None of the stories in my columns are cock and bull.)

■ Get on your high horse. (To put on a contrived act by acting superior to those around you.)

■ Dyed in the wool. (To be stubborn or inflexible in your habits or beliefs.)

■ Take the bull by the horns. (To take decisive action to solve an immediate problem or situation. Example: Grab a shovel and start digging to find a water leak.)

■ To feather your nest. (To go out of your way to acquire money or material things beyond your immediate needs. Example: A politician who enriches himself from his campaign funds.)

■ You don’t know beans. (To be ignorant on a topic under discussion, but willing to express your ignorance.)

■ Put the ox before the cart. (Putting the ending before the start. Example: Put the line posts in a fence before the corner posts.)

■ A one-horse town. (A small community offering little beyond the necessities, and perhaps not those effectively.)

■ Root, hog, or die. (You’d better find a way to support yourself because no one is going to help you.)

■ Rain cats and dogs. (A storm so fierce and windy that it might pick small pets up and drop them to the ground with the rain.)

■ To break the ice. (Be the first to start talking in an awkward social situation.)

■ On the horns of a dilemma. (To be forced into making a tough decision between two alternatives — neither of which likely will be favorable.)

■ To talk turkey. (To tell the truth or be straight-forward in conversation.)

■ To fly the coop. (To escape without fanfare from any unpleasant situation.)

■ A wild goose chase. (The vain pursuit of something trivial.)

■ Room to swing a cat. (To have plenty of room for an activity, or negatively, not have room for the activity.)

■ A horse of another color. (To change the subject to a wholly unrelated one.)

■ To rule the roost. (To be superior in a situation. Similar to two other phrases: to be top dog or to be cock of the roost.)

■ Full as a tick. (Self-explanatory to those who have seen a blood-engorged tick. To be full to almost the bursting point.”

■ Hold your horses. (To hold back from taking any action before thinking through the possible consequences.)

■ In the dog house. (To be the subject of either mental or physical discipline.)

■ Hell for leather. (To move fast and hard in an a reckless manner.)

■ To pull the wool over your eyes. (To hide the truth or something obvious with deception.)

■ Straight from the horse’s mouth. (The truth directly from a credible source.)

■ A bad egg, or a good egg. (A good, reliable person, or a bad unreliable person.)

■ A lame duck. (A politician or bureaucrat whose clout and influence becomes irrelevant while serving out the remainder of his/her term or appointment.)

■ To buy a pig in a poke. (To purchase anything without full knowledge of the item or its worth.)

■ To have bees in your bonnet. (To be slightly crazy, daft or erratic.)

■ To lay an egg. (To fail miserably.)

■ To shoot the bull. (Inconsequential conversation or blather.)

This is a good place to stop this column and quit shooting the bull with you on paper or you’ll consider me “full to the gills” with blather and start gossiping about me.

So, for a closer, I’m gonna use some wise words about gossip. Some gal named Vanna Bonta said, “It’s weird how people who are the least close to me, or who’ve never even met me, purport to be experts on the real me; and then, sadly, there are those who could be in touch with me, but prefer to gossip with strangers about me instead.” Enuf said.

Have a good ‘un. ❖


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