All old rural properties have a name. Our farm is called Wattle Grove. Country Boy’s Great Grandfather named it after another family property over 100 years ago, and it has been known as that ever since. Nearby farms also have names that have been around for generations: Springfield, Everton, Rocky Ridge. Good, solid, old fashioned names that have a history connected with them. Often properties were named to reflect the local area or in tribute to where the family came from in England.
On Sunday we were driving back from town, and I was commenting how many of the new ‘lifestyle blocks’ (2 acres with massive houses and not much else on the edge of town) have a ‘property name’ too. Unfortunately many of the names lack that same timeless quality that many of the older property names have.
Somehow when you have a McMansion on a few acres of Australian scrub, “Pemberley” seems a tad pretentious as a property name. Then there are the cute names like “Dowithadrop” or “Sprungaleakie”, which sound like Dad and his mates came up with the idea in the tool shed over a few too many beers. I also have a problem with those that appear to be named after the owners such as “JennyGlen”. When Jenny and Glen sell up, the next owners are unlikely to want to name their property after the previous ones.
I guess one of the things I appreciate most about farm life is that we are just one step on a continuum. Country Boy’s Great Grandfather, Grandfather, and Father have all farmed this land. Perhaps one day one of our kids will follow. “Wattle Grove” says something about who we are, and our place in family history. It is not an asset we can sell; it is a way of life handed down to us.
When I see some of the lifestyle block names, I guess I just don’t see that same sense of connectedness to a place. I see small blocks of unproductive land, squeezing out productive farms. I see erosion of the local community and the farming way of life. So perhaps a name says a lot.