Our Rural Roots

A Field by Any Other Name

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There was a defining moment when I realized my husband, Chris, and I were no longer newlyweds. It went like this:

Me: “I’ve got some time, I’ll come ride with you.”

Him: “Since you have time, hook up the disk and head to Martha’s (aka Johnson) and work the 35.”

While I appreciated his confidence in me, his faith that I might find the right field merely from the farm name was definitely misplaced. Farm field names can be a constant source of confusion. Here’s a typical description:

P[] D[x] M[x] OOP[F] ADUNIT[] T[]

Him: “Go to that field on the west side of town on the left side of the road--the South 40 on the Smith farm. Not Bill Smith, but his brother, Fred, used to be the Williams farm (14 generations ago). Not the one on Old Two Cent Road but on Jim Jones Road. No, not where he lives now but where the homeplace is. When you work that ground, you should end up 37.5 acres on the north side of that farm, but it’s called the South 40 in the computer … You’ll know you’re in the right field, because the big rock will be on your left and the two trees on your right. Well, there used to be two trees on your right. I think we cut those down three years ago cleaning fencerows.”

Me: “Huh?”

Where do field names come from? Every farm does it different. Heck, some farms and fields have multiple names. And, at the end of a season, the “merge” option is our friend when consolidating planting, spraying and harvest data.

Eventually, these names become burned in your brain. I could still find my way, by name, to all the fields my dad farmed.

So, I’m waiting for the day I’m in charge, so I can tell Chris where to go and not get in trouble for doing it.

Jennifer Campbell blogs from her Indiana family farm. Follow her on Twitter at @plowwife, and visit her website

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