March 18th, 2019 — There’s Name for That

There’s a Name For That

Once upon a time the British were fantastic at naming things.  Just look at a map of London and you’ll see. St. Martins in the Field isn’t, it sits right on Trafalgar Square.  You can catch a bus to Westminster, find your way to Finsbury Circus, amble down Marylebone Road, ride the tube to Southwark, or wonder where the original Titchfield was before it became a busy international city street.  

Being farmers we wonder what sort of farm Titchfield would have been.  Did they supply the great city of London with vegetables on market day?  Drive cattle, sheep, hogs and geese to Old Spitalfields market? Grow hops for the Prospect of Whitby public house on Wapping Street to brew into ale?  Local food would have been your only option except for costly spices from far away and maybe an orange from Spain for the children’s Christmas stockings.

The British have a distinct advantage with their names because they were able to access everyone who came through for input.  Viking Danes with Sussex, Essex. Romans gave us Londinium; Celts, Angles, Saxons, Jutes all added a bit of local color to maps, street names, towns, villages and my favorite-Shires.  Doesn’t anything ending in -shire sound better? Tolkien named a whole world The Shire. It didn’t need a prefix, Shire was enough to describe a bucolic world where Hobbits lived and thrived.

Our small towns with every street named for a tree, President or number and with at least one Main seem very blah by comparison.  Why not a Great North Road?

After traveling to England for 3 years while Kyle was at university I was bit by the British naming bug and wanted our fields to have that same sort of timeless sound.  So I’ve been letting the fields name themselves but it’s been slow going. They mostly mind their own business and get on with growing things for us and the animals to eat and their personalities are pretty low key.  You have to wait for something to happen to suggest a good name.

I adopted the field next to the house when we took it over from our renter.  The organic matter levels were so low I wondered if they’d sampled our gravel driveway by mistake.  I wanted to concentrate on getting the levels up as soon as possible, by any means necessary. And that’s why it’s named Kimball.  Mark and Kristin Kimball run Essex Farm (a good British name) in upstate New York (British). And in Mark’s office, on a whiteboard is the saying:

By Any Means Necessary — Recruitment

as a reminder to recruit people to weed the vegetables for their whole food CSA. I throw anything and everything in Kimball to feed the worms and build the soil. Old tea bags, wood stove ashes, flowers that have given up blooming, even a mouse from a mousetrap have all contributed to Kimballs’ improving soil quality.

I’m fostering trees in the garden for transplanting to the new woodlot, it’ll probably wind up being called the woodlot but I’m betting 3 or 4 hundred years ago the Brits would have come up with something better.  I could borrow from my heritage and christen it Sherwood Forest, sounds a bit grand but my maiden name is Belton and there is a Belton Castle in Sherwood Forest. Available for weddings and small parties; close family I’m sure.  I’ll have to send them a Christmas card this year.

If you’re here for our upcoming Shearing Day have a look around and see if any good names suggest themselves to you, we have plenty of fields available.  We could open it up to corporate sponsorship but I’m not sure I’d like saying the cows are out of Acme Anvils or some such nonsense.

Houses in British murder mysteries all have names, does your house have a name?  Is it something from nature? A family name? Architectural feature? Try to capture your house’s personality with a name and then try for twenty different ones since that’s what we’ll need and you’ll understand why I’m so slow at this.  And why I could use help. Candy


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