Even though I grew up on a working Midwestern farm, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t get into the mind of a farmer enough to make a farmer character sound realistic. But I have to cackle like a hen when I run across the occasional big-time agricultural blooper.
Everybody knew the real work was done out in the fields, not in an office. Bucking hay, building fences, castrating cows – now that was a job well done.
Bucking hay? Well… I’m not sure what the author meant there. Maybe it’s a reference to tossing bales around. But castrating cows? Yeah, that’s not happening. Cows are female. Bull calves – the boys – get their testicles removed and become steers. The ladies (known as heifers till they have their first calves, then they’re cows) just get left alone.
Farmer: “Real men don’t eat quiche, they’re out castrating cows”
Okay, gonna say this again. It would take no time at all to castrate every cow in the pasture… since cows are female and don’t have testicles in the first place. So those real men would have plenty of time not only to eat the quiche but to bake it.
They talked about bloodlines and feeding and even such unseemly topics as the mating of steer and cow.
That mating would be a trick. Let me say this again: a steer is (according to Webster’s Dictionary) “a male bovine animal castrated before sexual maturity.”
We all got right down to it, each grabbing a pitchfork and bailing.
The few times I had to help with hay, I’d have bailed [out] in a minute if that had been an option. Here, they’re baling. Except you don’t bale hay with a pitchfork; bales are created by a machine, and these days most bales are so big they have to be moved with a fork loader. Even the smaller rectangular bales are usually not something that can be picked up and tossed with a pitchfork. The pitchfork comes in handy after the bale is broken up, though, to move the loose hay around.
Group A is going to start with post digs. Group B is going to bail hay.
Ditto on the bailing / baling reference. And post digs? You can dig a hole for a fencepost to go into, but you can’t dig a post. It would be more natural to say that Group A will dig postholes.
They were like bulls in a shoot
It’s not a shoot, it’s a chute – a narrow corridor that forces a group of animals into a single-file progress from one place to another, like from a pasture into a truck. Another use of a chute is to restrict the animal’s movement for medical treatment such as vaccinations. Or castrations.
…standing out like a bail of wheat at a gluten-free bread factory.
Oh, the pain. It would be a bale (is that getting old yet?) except that wheat isn’t baled at all. Wheat is a grain – a seed that grows atop a stalk – so when the grain is harvested it’s a whole lot of loose seeds. It goes into wagons and bins, not into bales, and it’s measured in bushels (or by weight). The grassy part that’s left after wheat is harvested can be baled and used as bedding for animals – but then it’s known as straw.
His mother threw a surprise party for him and made sure all of her friends brought their single daughters, like he was a prize cow up for auction.
Repeat after me: cow = female. Pretty sure he’d rather be known as a prize bull.
Only one neighbor, a man who lived in a camper truck an acre or so away…
An acre is a measurement of area, not of distance. An acre translates to 43,560 square feet. A 640-acre farm is a square that’s one mile on each side (though of course farms don’t have to be square). The neighbor in this case might live a quarter mile away, and his camper truck might be parked on an acre of ground – an area which if my math is correct would be about 69 yards on each side.
Note: Since the Snarky Editor was delighted to leave the farm behind, a few years ago – okay, a lot of years ago – it’s quite possible that new agricultural methods have made my information dated. But trust me on this: Cows are always going to be female.
Leigh offers a coaching session for up to four participants where she copy-edits a section of the author’s work and gives a running commentary of the changes and the reasons. She faithfully promises not to be snarky.
The Snarky Editor comes out of hiding occasionally to comment on the awkward, silly, and sometimes hilarious editing errors found in published books.