From the Cutting Room Floor

In Sheepish I mention the names of a few places on our farm, including Nacho Hill. What I edited out of that final version was how the name Nacho Hill came to be.  It’s a bit petty, but what can I say?….

…As Melissa and I built the farm, we quickly learned that the places on the farm also needed names. It didn’t work for Melissa to say, on her way out the door, “I’m laying water pipe over by where the hill goes up a little, behind the trees to the south, back by that fallen log. Could you come help me in an hour?”
    No, I couldn’t, because she’d just described about four places on the farm. And this was in the days before cell phones, so I couldn’t just walk around the farm calling her number and listening for the ring.
    So since we are so deliberate about naming, we sat down at the dining room table and drew a huge map of the farm, including the current fencing and buildings. Let the naming begin.
    The land to the north we brilliantly named the North Pasture. And in the North Pasture there was the Native Hill, a steep hill Melissa had planted with native grasses. And the Tree Pasture, which was basically trees bordered by a thin strip of grass. Not much food there, but it was a great place to stash the sheep on those hot August days.
    Cross south over our little bridge and you’re in the Creek Pasture, a boggy spot that forms a jagged pasture along the creek. Then the East Pasture, upper and lower. Come up the East Pasture toward the house and there’s a long, skinny pasture with a little extension half way down its length. The thing sort of looks like a squat T, so this became the T. That little extension ends in a sharp point, much like those cone bras Madonna used to wear on stage. This is now Madonna Point.
    Leave the T and you enter the Bowl, called that because that’s how its shaped. Next is the Sacrifice Lot, which isn’t what you think. Animals aren’t sacrificed there, but the grass is. When we feed hay bales all winter long here, the pressure of the animals living in one place for so many months tends to be hard on the grass, so we’ve ‘sacrificed’ the grass.
    You’ve got your Grape Pasture, which is, not surprisingly, next to the vineyard. Then there’s the West Pasture, north and south. Then the Driveway Pasture. Beyond that is the Alley Pasture, a long narrow acre of grass between two rows of trees.

    While everything on our farm was named deliberately, the name for one place evolved more organically. Our fifty-three acres horseshoes around the neighbor’s property—a house and seven acres. Both we and the neighbors thought the property lines followed the tree lines, so we expected our land stopped at the trees. We were sure the hill gently sloping down to the little creek belonged to the neighbors. It was a sweet hill, loaded with grass, and would have been a great place to graze sheep out of the wind.
    But when we had the land surveyed before we put up fencing, we learned that the property lines didn’t follow the tree lines. Instead, the line cut through the trees and followed the little hill. We were stunned. One of us said, as if we were talking to the neighbor, “Oh, that’s not your hill.”
    With apologies to those fine neighbors, when said with a bit of attitude, “That’s not your hill” became “Not Yo Hill,” and eventually deteriorated into Nacho Hill.

….See? Petty, but the name stuck.

11 thoughts on “From the Cutting Room Floor

  1. I am sorry, but Madonna Hill’s explanation actually made me laugh out loud.

    Nacho Hill is something they’d say here, in NYC. I still think Doritos needs some props here 😉

  2. Great story!

    Reminds me of when we had the farm we were about to purchase surveyed, and found the other scenario – that a stretch of creek and wooded hill we thought would be ours were actually our neighbor’s. The old man selling us the farm was furious. Accused the neighbor of stealing, can you imagine.

    You’ve inspired me to do some naming on my farm, too.

  3. Great blog, it’s always interesting to hear how farmers come to name portions of their property. The names make sense…once you know the back story.
    I love Nacho Hill.

  4. Macbew….

    The vineyard is something old! We planted it in 1995. Ten years later we realized it required more work than we were getting paid for the grapes. Friends took it over for a few years, but now it’s just on its own. Farms are always changing…

  5. Almost through reading “hit by a farm.” Garrison Keillor is right. the end is coming much too soon. From a farm expat this one was a great way to get my barn fix without having to put on my carharts and wellies. Loving it!

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