Well, we are officially in the dark and dreary doldrums of mid-winter. The excitement of super-vortex cold is over, and we have settled into the slushy, crappy, endless part of winter. Hard to believe only 1 week ago I was in Florida on a golf course! I even played “Beer Pong” – but lost. So how has your 2014 been so far? Winter getting you down?
So let’s get on with the Monday Morning Smile….It’s so boring in January that I actually wondered what an “acre” is.
All the farmers out there are familiar with an ‘acre‘. The wheat farmers on the prairies have super farms of 2000 or more acres, the micro farmers of the various banana republics may only farm 5 acres or less with their entire family. The average homestead in Saskatchewan, settled way back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was 160 acres of free land. Do you know what a Saskatchewan farmer calls 160 acres today? Front yard.
So what’s an ‘acre’? Well, it was the amount of land that can be plowed by a yoke of oxen in one day. (Its metric cousin is the Hectare BTW). So how much can your ox plow?
To get immigrants to settle in the Prairies the 160 free acres were advertised with an exceedingly rosy picture of life in this new “Promised Land” of Canada. Winters were advertised as “invigourating” and harvests as “bountiful.” I have heard a lot of wonderful things about Saskatchewan, but “invigourating winters” is not one of them.
other interesting facts about units….
Inch – the length of three barley corns. A six incher in those days in those days was 18 barley corns. Today? it is the length of an average……..roast beef sub from Subway.
Foot – generally the length of a Roman foot. Only the U.S. officially uses the foot/yard. Especially when discussing hot dogs. (i.e. “the foot long” hot dog) What do they call a foot-long hot dog in Europe I wonder? Oddly, aviation uses feet as a measure of altitude still, even outside the U.S. i.e. flying at 40,000 feet.
Yard – I always thought that a yard was about the length of a man’s stride, but apparently not. No one knows for sure – I read that it is perhaps the length of King Henry’s arm…. One thing I do know, is that a Yard of Ale is a difficult achievement! The rest of the world still properly uses Yards for golf, cricket, and football. Metres in Golf would be just plain Wrong.
From a royal document in the year 1266; “It is ordained that 3 grains of barley dry and round do make an inch, 12 inches make 1 foot, 3 feet make 1 yard, 5 yards and a half make a perch, and 40 perches in length and 4 in breadth make an acre.”
Mile – probably started as a thousand Roman paces as the armies were marching. The word “Mile” came from Latin ‘millia passuum”, thousand paces. For today’s teenagers it translates to “Too far to walk – can I have the car?” A thousand paces to a teenager would be a death march.
Ounce – depend on whether it is Troy ounces or the regular kind. Troy ounces used for Gold. Regular ounces are used for pouring rum into tropical drinks.
My house lot is 1/4 of an acre. In the U.S. you might want to watch out for “Builder’s acres’. It is 40,000 square feet, about 10% smaller than a standard acre. The builder says it is ‘simpler’ to market – the fact that it is smaller has nothing to do with it of course:)
Only Canada and the U.S. use acres any more. And no, not because they still plow with oxen! Oh, and the settlers got 160 acres because it is an eighth of a square mile which has 640 acres.
1 acre = 208.71 feet × 208.71 feet (a square)
You know that January is long when the “Acre” gets to be interesting!