Mrs. Farmer Jones

You said what? On the farm terminology


“Kathleen, go get the grain cart and take it to the south end of the North Farm, and bring back the wagon after you dump that load of corn at the bin.”

3 years ago I would have been totally lost, barely knowing which direction was south, let alone know which farm was the “North Farm.”

I would have said,

“Could you point out which one is the grain cart and which one is the wagon, oh and which way is south?”

Do you know what all of that farm lingo means? 

If you do, THAT’S AWESOME! If you don’t, DON’T WORRY! You’re with the majority of the world and to you, a pickup and a truck are the same thing. In the farming world, a truck refers to a semi, or a straight truck, and a pickup is what almost every farmer drives daily.

This is what I am here for, and what this blog and blog post is about! I want to help those who WANT to learn. 

I also want you to know that I AM ALWAYS LEARNING TOO! That is the most wonderful thing about agriculture; it’s a constant learning process, and most days hold a new surprise and/or challenge to tackle. 

If there are any words that you would like defined that I don’t have on this list, please comment and I’ll add it to this post! I can be forgetful, so I will continue to add to this post as time goes on.

Cow: a mature bovine female, typically you refer to a bovine as a cow after they have had a calf.

Calf: the young of a cow.

Heifer: a young female cow that has not produced a calf.

Bull: a male bovine with his sexual organs. 

Steer: a male bovine that is castrated before sexual maturity and is raised for beef.

Cattle: think of using the word cattle, like the way you use the word people. It refers to mixed gender, and mixed aged cows; calves, bulls, steers, and heifers.

Feedlot: a plot of ground where cattle are fattened for market.

Feed bunk: a long trough for feeding cattle

Calving: when a cow or heifer is giving birth to a calf.

Pulling a calf: Sometimes when a cow or heifer is calving, the calf can be backwards, or for whatever reason can’t give birth on their own. That’s where the farmer comes in to help them by wrapping a small chain around each leg and pulling by hand. Sometimes when the calf is too big and the cow is too small, a mechanical calf puller is used. THERE IS NO HARM DONE TO THE COW OR CALF WHEN EITHER OF THESE ARE USED.  

Chute: a narrow passage for cattle to be led into by an alleyway. the chute is a set of parallel panels that the cattle walk in between and when they are far enough inside, will close in the front to keep the cattle from moving out.

Grain Cart: a large capacity trailer wagon with a built-in auger to haul corn and beans out of the field. 

Gravity Wagon or Wagon: has three angled sides and a smaller capacity than the grain cart. Used to hold and move out of the field to town or bins.

Tractor: a piece of farm machinery, used to pull equipment.

Combine: a large piece of farm machinery, used to cut, thresh, and clean grain crop all in one operation.

Corn: There are many different types of corn, but the type of corn we grow for profit is yellow #2 dent corn. Most of the corn grown in the US is yellow dent corn. It is an annual, fast growing vertically erect plant. It is considered a row crop, and has been bred over the years to have a shorter stature and has been bred to be more efficient and produce more per acre.

Soybeans or Beans: they are an annual, fast growing crop that doesn’t get as tall as corn, usually around 3.5 feet. Soybeans are an exceptional source of essential nutrients including a high source of protein and fiber. Through breeding, soybeans have been bred to be more efficient and produce more per acre.

Silage: is fermented, high-moisture stored feed for livestock made from grass crops. We use a special piece of machinery called a chopper, and chop the crop at a moisture of 50% to 60% depending on what type of storage the farmer has. Silage is kept in either a silo, a pit, or in a long, large plastic bag where it is air tight and can ferment.

Cover Crops: in our area is planted after the current corn or soybean crop to help manage soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, and create biodiversity. It keeps our soil covered in the late fall until early spring, and its main function in our area is minimizing soil erosion.

Rotational Grazing: a management intensive system of raising livestock on subdivided pastures. Livestock are rotated regularly between the divided pastures to help maintain grass growth.

Hay Bale: there are different sizes and shapes of hay bales; small squares, large squares, small rounds, and large round bales. On our farm, Cale uses his baler to bale large round bales that are fed to the cows throughout the late fall, winter, and spring. We also just buy small square bales to give to the cows if they are in the barn.

Planter: they come in all different shapes and sizes, they plant our crops, corn and soybeans.

Grain Bin: on farm storage for the farmers crops, they come in all different sizes.

Silo: a silo is where silage and haylage are kept to ferment. They require high maintenance which is why many people switch to using a pit, or bag it in a long, plastic bag. 

Machine Shed: is where machinery is kept, and usually includes a shop with tools where the farmer can work on their equipment.

Corn Crib: was used in the past as a place to store corn that was still on the cob. They aren’t commonly used in our area anymore for corn storage, but instead they are used to keep smaller equipment or store miscellaneous items.

Alleyway: these are used to bring the cattle in one by one leading to the chute.

Truck: or a semi, a tractor-trailer.

Pickup: a small truck with an enclosed cab and open back.

Pasture: land covered with grass for grazing livestock.

As time goes on, I will continue to add to this list of definitions! 

Don’t see a term that you would like defined?? Leave me a comment and I’ll get it added!

Interested in learning more about agriculture? Let me direct you to some AMAZING sites!







About katward02

A farmer's wife in southwest Iowa. I love to cook, eat, craft, and sometimes clean. We try to live a simple life on the farm, and enjoy everyday that we are blessed to live.

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