Have you ever walked beans? Have you ever heard of walking beans? I smile as I ask this because before I became a farmer I had no idea what walking beans meant. Before I was married I had a co-worker at a vet clinic I worked at that farmed with her husband. One day she mentioned that she was going to be walking beans on her weekend off. At that time I knew very little about farming and farming terminology. The little bubble above my head was of her and a leash and somehow getting green beans to move along. I didn’t even know that she was referring to soybeans as the only fields I saw growing up were cornfields.
My flashback to that moment came the other night as I was watching TV and one of the political candidates from Iowa mentioned that she had grown up walking beans. I was wondering how many people knew what she was talking about. I also realized I’ve done this when talking to people about what we do on our farm. I assume someone understands my terminology until I see a confused look on their face or worse yet, they turn and walk away shaking their head!
One of those expressions came to me when I was talking about how we treat cattle. When we find a sick animal we remove him from his pen and take him up to the barn where we can give him medicine. This is how I said it “we pull the steer and then take him to the barn to get treated”. I didn’t realize that the bubble image the person was having was of us roping the animal and dragging him from the pen to the barn. Fortunately this person asked more questions so I was able to explain what “pulling” meant.
I wasn’t brave enough to ask my friend what it meant to walk beans. My opportunity to learn came when I became a farmer. When Steve and I were in our early years of marriage I became quite skilled at walking beans. Walking beans was a form of weed control in soybean fields. We would walk through the rows with a hoe to cut out the weeds. My sisters also became skilled at walking beans when they came to visit. We all agreed that walking beans was not that fun but easier than detasseling corn.
My days of walking beans are long over thanks to the development of roundup ready soybeans. Using a chemical to control weeds isn’t the only tool we use but this was a big help. Tillage methods and crop rotation are also important as we try to raise the best crop we can each year.
I would encourage anyone not familiar with farming terminology to ask the questions that help in understanding what we are doing and why. My own fear of looking stupid really makes me look stupid for not asking and making an inaccurate assumption. I have learned to prefer wisdom over ignorance, facts over fear and truth over lies.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you! For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8