Farm Life – Sue McGinn

Fluent in bovine lingo

Life & Style

Dairy farmer Sue McGinn reflects on how far she has come from "townie to bona fide farm girl".


I recently posted an Instagram-worthy picture on social media of a prized Holstein dairy cow with her new born heifer calf lying in lush green pasture beside her. I captured that moment in time before it had stood up to suck from its mother for the first time. I added the hashtags #heifer and #farmlife to my post for good measure before sending it off into cyberspace.

To my greatest surprise I was asked via comments as to whether the calf was a boy or a girl. In my haste to answer, I replied ‘heifer’. A number of farming friends quickly added to the conversation as to whether the calf was indeed a girl heifer or a boy heifer. With the addition of emojis that represented laughing, these experienced farmers were clearly enjoying the animated banter at the expense of the innocent enquirer who was evidently ignorant about matters concerning bovine gender. In that moment I reflected on just how far I’ve come on my journey from townie to bona fide farm girl.

I had once innocently enquired as to whether my boyfriend’s family had any boy-cows on the farm at a time when my vocabulary was less than fluent in bovine lingo. For the benefit of my friend, a female calf is a heifer and a male calf is a bull calf. I hope I don’t have to explain the difference between a cow and a bull.

  • ‘Farm Life’ is a new column where readers can share their fun stories that many of us can relate to of mishaps, misunderstanding and new experiences around the farm – especially those new to farming. Any contributions need to be 250 words with headshot of yourself emailed to

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