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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


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Farm bureau’s 100th may produce some local lingo

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................March 13, 2012

Because we have tickets to the 100th anniversary celebration for the DeKalb County Farm Bureau on March 24, I need to brush up on my agricultural knowledge.

Wanting to collect some local lingo familiar to farmers 50 or 100 years ago, I searched for terminology known to only Corn Belt natives of the soil.

For example, you would know I was from the Waterman area in the late 1940s if I said, “My dad works for The Ag, and we head up the Narrow Cement to shop at A&P and Monkey Wards.”

For unknowing readers, that means my father worked at the DeKalb Agricultural Association plant in Waterman, and we used Waterman Road –

DeKalb County Farm Bureau president Paul Rasmussen stands in front of a grain bin and machine shed on the “home place” on Story Road northeast of Sycamore where he grew up. (Barry Schrader photo)

the first one-lane wide concrete road in the county – to go to the supermarket known as A&P and the Montgomery Ward store.

Also, if you have been here most of your life, you talked about the “four lane,” which was the stretch of Route 23 between DeKalb and Sycamore.

I can recall the verbal commands used by Doc Corson and his hired man, Alfred Johnson, who used to let me ride on their hay rack when they still used draft horses to farm on Baseline Road. When shouting “Gee,” the horses were supposed to turn right; when you said “Haw,” they would go to the left. Try programming that into to your John Deere’s GPS nowadays and see where it gets you.

If you farmed the “home place,” that meant your father owned that same piece of land, and you were likely born there. I was reminded of this last week when I visited Farm Bureau President Paul Rasmussen on the family farm on Story Road northeast of Sycamore. He also offered this old saying: “If it rains on Easter, it will surely rain the next seven Sundays.”

You know someone is from the Midwest when they say “supper” is the evening meal, “you gotta make hay while the sun shines” and “a good fence is horse high, bull strong and hog tight.”

I saw Jeff Marshall’s dad, Joe, at the bank the other day, and he explained “how’s your ears?” means how is the corn maturing. We also talked about fodder meaning silage, and I said it also reminded me of the little ditty “Hello muddah, hello faddah; here I am at Camp Granada….”

Now to strike up a conversation at the March 24 celebration event, I may resort to Al Golden’s recent guessing game for the DeKalb Kiwanis. He had everyone write down what they thought were the exact yields per acre in the county of corn and soybeans this past season. The winners were Clark Neher, who guessed 184 – just a hair off the USDA official total of 183.9 bushels of corn per acre – and Jim Morel who picked 59.6 for soybeans – very close to the actual 59.8 bushels per acre.

But if a politician gets up to give a speech at the banquet, I can only hope a farmer in the back of the room shouts, “Cow died, don’t need your bull.”

I found an interesting book written by Dr. Grandon Tolstedt, now a resident of Wesley Willows in Rockford, who lived in the Dakotas most of his life. His “Rural Encyclopedia” is meant to preserve memories of his childhood in farm country. Using his book, I verified some of the terms used here. Thanks for sharing it with me, Grandon.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115