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Color the world

At our house we have a running joke about “off white” paint. Do you realize there are over 1,000 versions of the color called “off white?” Each tone has tiny amounts of other colors giving just a hint of variation. Much of what you see also depends on the lighting and the reflection of surrounding colors. In other words, beware if someone sends you to pick up a quart of off white paint. It is a quagmire.

Those of us who live on farms or ranches are fortunate to have points of reference that give a clear idea of colors; when someone says barn red, a specific color — and even the vision of a red barn — flashes through the mind. 4-H green is specific. The same goes for John Deere green or yellow. Of course, unless you are buying paint at a John Deere dealer the labeled paint chips will be called something different.

Think of more colors that we say which can immediately bring a specific color to mind. In the red realm you can visualize poppy red, watermelon red, rust red, Farmall red or cherry red. How about Ford tractor gray? Yellow brings to mind sunflower yellow and could include daffodil yellow, calf-scours yellow, fresh-churned butter yellow and mature wheat golden yellow.

Blue could mean FFA jacket blue, blue skies, baby blue, Infantry blue or Paul Newman’s eyes blue. Each of these words induce the mind to see the hue.

Say green grass or guacamole green or green wheat and you perceive it. The same goes for Carhart brown or UPS brown. Each color evokes a recollection of a memory, a glimpse of the color in the mind’s eye.

When you get to livestock it is more definite. Black Angus is obvious and there are Red Angus, which are solid red cattle. The cross of Herefords and black Angus yield the black white-faced cattle. These cattle, known as black baldies, are not bald at all but are black cattle that have a face that is mostly white. Herefords are red with white faces. Scotch Highlanders are solid red — but a lighter hue than Herford red — and are fairly longhaired so they are described as shaggy. If you live in cattle country it is wise to become aware of different breeds, for coffee klatch talk, if nothing else.

Many horse colors elude me. A tremendous resource that I appreciate is “The Color of Horses” by Dr. Ben K. Green. Darol Dickinson painted the accompanying images that also give some lessons in horse breeds. Dr. Green goes to great lengths to explain the pigment patterns and how they affect colors. My personal favorite of horses we owned was a 16-hand paint with blue eyes. Finally, we had a horse that I could identify by his color.

Peggy writes from the family farm in southwestern South Dakota where she can be reached through thankafarmer4food@yahoo.com. ❖


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