Lend Me Your Ear for Ag Idioms

chickenIdioms…we have all heard them at one time or another. For those of you like myself that have been out of school for some time, an idiom is a phrase of words that means something different from the literal meaning of the individual words. I find it amazing that there are so many agriculture related idioms. Here are just a few of the more common agriculture-related idioms to ponder as we move into dog days of summer.

There are countless ones about chickens…like running around “like a chicken with its head cut off” –Realistically chickens do continue to twitch or move a little for a short time after harvest because of their neural network and the spinal cord sending delayed messages to their muscles.

It’s almost the fourth of July and I have heard it said that “The corn is knee high by the Fourth of July.” Decades ago, knee high corn meant it was doing well and a good harvest was in sight. But today, knee high corn in July would signify something is wrong with the crop. As the novice on agriculture….this one always made me laugh because I was already eating sweet corn by the fourth of July! Field corn stays out in the fields a little longer than sweet corn and it is used for things like ethanol or feed for livestock, not for human consumption.

I recall as a teenager to make hay while the sun shines. What was that supposed to mean? My parents meant for me to get busy doing what I was asked to do. This old proverb tells us to do today what we can, because we may not have the opportunity tomorrow. Back in the day, if the hay had been cut and set out to dry and got wet, there was a strong chance the hay would be ruined. No time like the present to do what needs to be done!

I have been known to say that I’m sweating like a pig. Well that’s funny, because pigs don’t sweat. They do not have sweat glands. They cool off by getting into the mud or water. How about this room looks like a pig pen? Pigs are actually clean animals. They leave the area to relieve themselves. I have also heard the saying “you’re eating like a pig.” This statement would infer that someone is overeating. Pigs only eat until they are full. Amazing how these statements are taken literally and yet they aren’t factual.

I hope to be as cool as a cucumber when it’s hot and sticky outside and if all else fails…let’s just grab a glass of ice cold lemonade and shoot the breeze! There are so many humorous idioms about the farm, I can only share a few – I encourage you to find a few of your own.

Have a great July!


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