Peggy Sanders: Naming fields and roads around the farm can be a complicated and funny matter
July 8, 2016
Do you name your farm fields? Some operations number their fields, but we're not that sophisticated.
We tend to name them for various reasons. My brother has one called 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. 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 into the naming process. On the south side of a certain field, a lone cottonwood tree was crawling with red ants one year and it became the Ant Tree, which is now a landmark in our vernacular. An old red truck sits at the edge of a hay meadow so the Red Truck is a guidepost in the pasture. When our county began the process of naming roads for 911 addressing, names that made the list were Highline Road and Gravel Road. The latter always has to be explained. Yes, that is the name of the road. It's on the road sign.
Some names are historic such as WG Flat, an area that was open range with a ranch headquarters owned by William Grimes, or WG, in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Our county requested that roads not be names after people, and I don't know why as neighboring counties are replete with names of families along given roads.
“Landmarks, whether permanent like a hill, a big rock or even a feature that could easily be removed, frequently figure into the naming process.”
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Farms and ranches often carry the name of the previous owner for years after those owners have sold and left the property. The newer owners seem to need at least 20 years on the place before it is referred to by their name. We were recently told that we could now say we live on the Sanders Place, instead of the previous owners. Their son said, "After all, you have lived here longer than they lived on this place."
Yet we purchased an irrigated farm unit that has no buildings on it from the estate of a man named Butch and we owned it for around forty years, then my brother bought it from us, and it is still referred to as Butch's.
Creative people leave their family names off and use the most obvious, the cattle brand, such as in the –T (bar T) Ranch. I've seen local farms with names like Poverty Knob, The Poor Farm and Glencoe Ranch. There is no end to the possibilities. Appropriate signage that accompanies a name is often a piece of art in its own right.
The more difficult landmarks for newcomers to learn are the sites that are historical to those who grew up in an area, but are no longer visible. It is particularly problematic when directions are given using a feature that is no more.
Program that into your brain for the next time a visitor asks directions. ❖