Confluence Chronicles – Where City & County Meet
Do you name your farm fields? Some operations number their fields, but we’re not that sophisticated. We do have reference names for various reasons.
We call one the Funky Field due to the fact that it was planted with Funk’s Seed Corn several years ago. Other fields were planted with the same brand of seed but this one got the name for some reason. I don’t know why, but we have never named a field Pioneer after that brand of seed. Landmarks, whether permanent like a hill, a big rock or even a feature that could easily be removed, frequently figure in the naming process.
On the south side of a field, one year a lone cottonwood tree was crawling with red ants and it became the Ant Tree and the field is so named. An old red truck sits at the edge of a hay meadow and that truck is a landmark. Over 50 years ago when my dad raised sheep, one field became known as the Sheep Pasture – and it still is. Some names are historic such as WG Flat, an area that was open range with a ranch headquarters owned by William Grimes (WG) in the late 1880s and early 1890s.
Farms and ranches often carry the name of the previous owner for years after those owners have sold and left the property. The “new” owners seem to need at least 20 years on the place before it is referred to by their name. The Angostura Irrigation Project, where I have lived since I was 5, has had some farm units that have changed hands many times. Those of us who have been around so long tend to use the original landowner’s names as references. Recently two different men with same-sounding names, Koehler and Kahler, purchased farms just two miles apart. We reverted back to referring by the original landowners to alleviate confusion.
Creative people leave their family names off the farm or ranch name. The most obvious is the use of the cattle brand, as in the -T (bar T) Ranch. I’ve seen local farms with names like Poverty Knob, The Poor Farm and Glencoe Ranch. Appropriate signs that accompany a name often become pieces of art in their own right.
In England tradition has had it that people name their homes, especially in the rural areas. The practice came from the early days when wealthy homeowners named their castles, lodges and manors, by adding either their surname or a geographical feature. Examples include Cascade Manor or Hillside Cottage. While visiting in England many years ago, I found at that time that the house name was actually part of the mailing address. A letter posted to Graham Thatched House with no street address would have been the actual address.
I’ve wanted to name our farm for years, but haven’t come up with anything that excites. It would be fun to hear from readers who have named their places or are contemplating doing so.
Please contact Peggy@PeggySanders.com with your thoughts.
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