Not a problem
Each segment of our society has its own language, some of it specialized, some slang, and some just odd. Of course, doctors and lawyers have their languages which can usually be deciphered with some thought. But if you have had a conversation with a rancher, you may have run into specialization. Just like in any profession those who are familiar with the words they use daily don’t even realize they are talking in a language that is foreign to many. Words like freemartin, hardware disease, gilt, gelding, heifer, Hereford, and beef cattle crop up in conversations. If you live in ranch country, it is likely that you will hear the words again, so you may as well learn what they mean so you can follow a conversation, if not join in.
When twin calves are born and only one is male, 85% of the time the female calf will be sterile, a freemartin. Hardware disease is a layman’s term and one that non-ag people may think is made up, but it’s quite real. Sometimes cattle pick up little bits of metal when they eat, maybe a little piece of wire or something else in a pasture. Instead of expensive, intrusive surgery, a good-sized magnet is inserted via the cow’s throat as a bolus. Once the magnet finds the metal objects, it gathers them up and keeps them from tearing up the cow’s insides. Just a little trivia for your next Scrabble game.
A gilt is a female pig and a gelding is a castrated horse; a heifer is a female calf that hasn’t had a calf and a Hereford is a cattle breed. The similarity of the words can be a cause for confusion; it’s just like any other vocabulary, you have to learn to be fluent in the local vernacular.
Beef cattle, now there’s a conundrum to some. What else does one do with cattle but make beef out of them? Around here that is pretty much it, but there are dairy cattle whose primary job is producing milk, and there are working cattle that pull farm implements, mostly in underdeveloped countries.
If you think special vocabularies are confusing to you, imagine what it must be for a foreigner to learn English. We drive on the parkway and park in the driveway. If we hurry to do something we hasten, but if we go fast, we do not fasten. Noses run and feet smell. We easily get into the traps of clichés, which is another can of worms. The response to, “Thank you,” used to be, “You’re welcome.” Now it has become “Not a problem.” This reminds me of the waiter at a restaurant last week, when I thanked him for something. When he replied, “No problem,” I thought to myself, “Of course, it’s not a problem; it’s your job.” Yet I realize that in Spanish and French the “not a problem” phrase is commonly a response to thank you. I try to remember that when I hear “not a problem.” v
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