Here in windy Idaho, we usually get about three weeks of non-blustery days, and five of them have happened back to back accompanied by 50-degree days and sunshine. Shall I say that I did not use those precious days on my laptop? For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I have been updating an old house. We have mostly all of the inside done. The flower beds haven’t seen loving in over a decade, possibly up to three of them. The hubbs and I have quite the project just fixing the old ones (I need borders, just to start, then working the soil to make it plant-able) and I hope to get them done before planting season kicks in next month. The beds are BIG beds. Like, 6′ wide by longer-than-the-face-of-the-house long. It means lots of work, and hopefully lots of rewards.
This weekend I went back to my college town and met up with a couple of my girls, then we went to Pirates of Penzance (it was put on by our college, and they did a very good job, though I wish Fredrick was a little more in-your-face and that Ruth didn’t blend into the background so much, but the guy who played Major General was fantastic and sounded almost exactly like the movie).
Then yesterday I went to a bull sale and helped my father select a bull to buy. There were about 150 bulls there, and it did not take me long to realize that the bulls I’d picked out of the catalogue weren’t going to work (some were going to get too big, others didn’t have the butt-muscle, and a couple were so great-looking that I knew they were going to go out of our price range), so that left us wandering through the bull pens, inspecting the animals, their pedigree, and their weights. I think my father began seeing everything as a blur after bull 75. For me, it blurred together at 120. After a while, they all start to look the same. And my non-agricultural readers are probably thinking, “A cow’s a cow, what’s the difference?” Well….I could write a textbook on that. Actually, I probably should write a textbook on it. It would beat the dozens of booklets and pamphlets that I had to sort through during my childhood. To put it short, you’ve got the pedigree, you’ve got the weights (taken at birth, weaning, and year-old), you’ve got the animal’s conformation (physical appearance), the animal’s disposition, and the expected progeny differences (EPDs). And a good animal ties them all together. Now, to address the “A cow’s a cow” comment—a bull is not a cow. A bull has testicles. A cow has an udder. A heifer doesn’t have an udder (yet, except in the case of a two-year-old heifer), and a steer has lost his balls. Collectively, they are properly referred to as a herd of cattle.
I’m sharing this because I think that writers should know the difference and use proper terminology. Once, a horse story completely lost its believably when the author referred to a stud horse as a gelding. Don’t make that kind of mistake. Please, don’t. Look up the meaning of the word, especially if it is specialized. I promise you, there is a darned good reason horse people distinguish between geldings and stallions. Also, please don’t refer to male goats as Billies. They’re bucks. And females are does, though if she is taking care of young sometimes even goat people call them nannies as an affectionate term. Neutered males are called whethers, the same as neutered sheep(the females are ewes, the males are rams, the offspring are lambs). The goat offspring are kids, and children were called kids after the term for baby goats. So when you call your child a kid, you’re really calling him a baby goat. After having owned goats, I can say that children and kids have many of the same behavioral characteristics and would be frequently mistaken for each other provided that there was not an obvious difference in the number of legs.
Anyway. Now that my rant is complete, I shall sign off for now. If it rains today, I will have a post for tomorrow, too. 🙂