Imagine this situation:

You’re sitting in the Milky Way Cafe at Organic Valley headquarters in La Farge, Wisconsin eating lunch with your fellow employees. In runs a farmer whistling and yelling, “The cows are out!” What’s your reaction? Do you sit with your spoon or fork mid-air, mouth open, wide-eyed, heart racing? Do you stop and ask if it’s a drill? Do you turn to each other and ask if that farmer has lost his/her mind?

Now imagine this situation:

You are sitting at Christmas lunch with family. Everyone is laughing, talking, enjoying the moment. In runs your husband whistling, and yelling, “The cows are out!” Up jumps my sons, daughters, and myself. We run out grabbing whatever shoes are available by door, coats are optional. After we round-up the cows, we quietly return to the house, our seats, and our now semi-warm food.

I’ve often said that farmers speak a different language. My husband will say to my sons, take the 856 and drill down to the north field by the west end of the east field and sow the oats on the southwest corner. Off go my sons, no questions asked. In farm-er-speak, that means take the International 856 tractor with the drill and drive it through the cow pasture around the corner to the far gate, and so on.

When farmers need to contemplate their response to a thoughtful question, they do it in the barn milking. My family does most of our hard thinking as we are milking and doing chores. It’s not uncommon to hear milking machines pulsing away, cows chewing, and my husband and I discussing how we’re going to pay half the farm in taxes this year. If we were to try to discuss it during our meals, I’d end up talking to myself as everyone else slept! Food and chairs are a sleepy combination on a farm.

I’m sure the same holds true of employee-speak. If an Organic Valley employee were to say to a farmer “Could you email these responses to the group and archive it for future reference at our 3:00 PM meeting in conference room B?” Never mind, the farmer, if he was sitting down, is asleep now anyway…