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That which we call a cow by any other name...

From the Farm

October 7, 2011
By Kerry Hoffman , The Journal

Sometimes it's not easy to come up with an appropriate name for the animals wandering around our farm. It takes time and deep thought to find a name that is both fitting and charming.

If you think I can just pull a name out of space, you are way off target. It takes time to come up with names like Pogo, Square and Pickles.

There is an actual method to the madness. Names are important, so important that it took us about six hours to figure out we wanted to name our second son Russell. Joey's name took about two minutes.

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Kerry Hoffman

We try to give our cows names that are fitting for their family or personality.

Bond, cow number 438, has her name because she is the spy of the cow heard. She likes to sneak up behind us or peek around corners to see what's going on. She's the CIA agent in the animal world.

Pogo is named Pogo because her mother's name was Pony. Both names start with the same two letters. Pickles is the daughter of Pinky; same concept. Kerry (aka Chubby), well, she has an attitude of "no-holds barred" and a bit of a weight issue, so her name is fair.

Joey and Russell's pet cow Squarey (I call her Square) had a lovely heifer calf while I was away hiking along the Superior Hiking Trail last week. Poor thing, nobody gave her a name. She was only given the number 117.

It's kind of degrading. I would never name my sons One and Two. Nobody likes to be considered "just" a number.

I personally considered it my job to come up with a fitting name.

At first I thought of Pi (?).

When I discussed it at the supper table, I had to be very specific about the name. I wasn't sure some fellow minds would understand the pi of which I was speaking.

"I think Pi would be an awesome name for Square's heifer calf," I stated.

"What does pi have to do with a square?" Joey asked. "It has nothing to do with that. It's related to circles."

To be honest, I almost fell off my chair when Joe made that comment. I had no idea he knew there was a pi that had nothing to do with fattening food and whipped topping.

I knew exactly what I had to do.

Sunday, while enjoying a break from supervising Pogo and Pickles at Pumpkinfest, I cornered Mrs. Olson, Joey's algebra teacher.

"Can you give me a name for a calf that has something to do with a square?" I asked after explaining my dilemma.

"Rhombus!" she stated.

I immediately knew that was the name of Square's daughter. A rhombus "is a convex quadrilateral whose four sides all have the same length," in layman's terms; a perfect square made into a perfect diamond.

I came home and designed two ear tags; one with the actual word Rhombus on it, and the other with a picture of a rhombus. I accidentally ruined picture of the rhombus by smudging the ink. I would have preferred to use the illustrated tag, but now it looked more likea blob.

I thought the image of a rhombus would be an excellent way to teach everyone around her a little geometry, algebra, whatever subject a rhombus falls into.

So Rhombus is her name. It took a bit of time and a method to the madness to figure it out, but it is so appropriate.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at



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