Green Gables….Sunnybrook Farm…..Ponderosa Ranch…..Misselthwaite Manor…..
With so many good names out there, why is it so tricky to pick out a name for your place? Perhaps for the simple reason that we all want the name to fit just right, and that kind of inspiration is not going to come in an instant. But it’s an endeavor worth putting your time and imagination into. I wrote this blog post to help get your creative juices flowing, and I hope you’ll find my ideas are helpful. Let’s get started!
What’s the Story, Morning Glory?
Many houses, farms and tracts of land have an interesting story or folklore attached to them, and this can be helpful in choosing a name. When we moved into our house we quickly learned that locals referred to it as “The Zeferjahn Place” after a family that occupied the farm for many years. In fact, the hill on which the house stands was often called Zeferjahn Hill or Zefer Hill for short. This led us to choose “Zephyr Hill Farm” for our homestead. It is reminiscent of the old family name, but also references the windy conditions here on the Kansas prairie.
Google farm names and you’ll find all kinds of interesting histories. “Barred Feather Farm” in North Carolina is affectionately named for the Barred Rock chickens owned by the family grandparents. If your family has a unique or aesthetically pleasing surname it might be all you need.
Try Something Funny
I love a good laugh and so will the visitors to your place. Funny names are unforgettable. “If It Flies Farm” in Northeast Ohio is a great example. They specialize in wild birds, chickens and bees and the name encompasses them all. Capitalizing on a common but very funny nickname for the incredible edible egg, “Cackleberry Corner” in Southwest Washington is a fitting tribute. For those who know the rigors of farm life, “Ache-N-Back Acres” of Wilburton, Oklahoma just about says it all. Whoever named “Belly Acres” in New Jersey might have had a rough start on their farm. In Midland, Michigan a place called “Fallingdown Farm” needs no further explanation. And with a name like “Insta-Gator Ranch,” the owners of a working alligator farm in Louisiana never fail to get a laugh. One of my personal favorites is a paint and pinto ranch in Michigan owned by a black man with a stellar sense of humor. He calls his place “Forty Acres and a Fool!”
Look at the Landscape
Do you live on a hill? Does a brook, river or creek run through your land? Are you surrounded by meadows or mountains? Geographical markers are a good starting point for farm and ranch names. All you have to do is pick a good descriptor to go along with it. Famous author and pioneer Laura Ingalls Wilder named the homestead that she and Almanzo built “Rocky Ridge Farm.” It was an apt description for the stubbly Ozark landscape that served as a backdrop for their home.
Make it a Memorial
Your farm or ranch name can serve as a memorial to remember or honor a family member, a veteran, a friend, a favorite saint or even a pet. One family dubbed their place “Red Dog Ranch” to honor a pet named Big Red who had served them faithfully for years and was a fixture at the place. “Molly’s Orchard” was named for the family cat who for 15 years kept the rodent population down amongst the growing fruit trees. It’s also a popular custom to include family initials (J&R Hatchery) or your children’s nicknames (Little Bess Ranch) in the title. Some go with the name of the sire or dam that started their herd or the champion that was decorated with blue ribbons. Some folks even let their children pick a name. One little boy in Wyoming suggested such a great name for the family ranch that his parents couldn’t resisting picking “The Cactus Patch.”
Release Your Inner Poet
Sometimes only a beautiful name will do for those souls who want to nurture their lyrical side. A lovely name is not only music to the ears, but it captures the imagination and can be very eye-catching on written and marketing materials. Nightshade Farms in Saint Cloud, Florida evokes a restful mood and Mystic Meadows Daylily Farm in South Wales, New York is both lyrical and magical. A name like Whispering Willow Acres is a delight to say and hear.
What Makes You Tick?
If you’re crazy about cows, make this the highlight of your name. If cats have got the run of the place, let them be the star of the show. Living near the Golden Gate Bridge and raising horses at the same time inspired the name Golden Gait Farm in Marin, California. Some names can be beautiful in their simplicity like Dragonfly Farm in San Diego, where the owners hatch out the bugs in their pond. Hee Haw Haven is, you guessed it, a bustling donkey ranch.
Don’t Fence Me In
Break out of the traditional naming process and do something daring and imaginative. Is there a phrase that captures the feel or look of your place? Almost Urban Acres in Carrollton, Georgia is whimsical and yet modern, perfect for a place just outside the city limits. In Central Massachusetts, one family chose to name their spread Crazy Zoo Farm because that’s exactly what it is! After “piecing” their farm together by joining fields together from two families, another family took the quilting analogy to a new level and named their place Patchwork Farm.
The Olde Worlde Farm
Would you like your farm or ranch to have a name of distinction that evokes old-world charm? Consider a name like Thistleberry Downs or Wellbourne Ranch. British history and fiction abound with lovely names that inspire titles like Tudor Rose Farm or Wind in the Willows. For those who wish to meld wit with “ye old worlde” how about something like “Worthewait Farm?” Travel guides for England and Ireland might give you an idea for a name with historic depth. Are you a fantasy fan? Try browsing through some of your favorite novels or movie guides for unique monikers.
Be a Copycat
When all else fails, you can always recycle a favorite name from the movies, TV, literature or real-life. To offset the face that you’re borrowing someone else’s idea, you can pick something that’s obscure or less well known. For instance, we’ve all heard of Green Gables, but you might skim through the L.M. Montgomery novels for other farm and house names featured in the books. For her stories, Montgomery created other lovely locales like “White Sands” and “Windy Poplars” and “New Moon Farm.” Jane Austen’s famous novels are full of beautiful names like “Oakham Mount” and “Rosings Park.” While everyone has certainly heard of Pride and Prejudice, most people are unaware that the poetic-sounding “Pemberly” was the home of the impeccable Mr. Darcy and that “Gretna Green” is located just over the Scottish border and was the place to flee for a quick marriage with no questions asked.
If you are a TV or movie fan, especially of the Western or historical genres, you’ll find hundreds (if not thousands) of useful names to mine for copying. And some “movie ranches” actually exist. Skywalker Ranch a George Lucas property, is both a filmmaker’s retreat and a working sound studio for motion pictures. A place called “Deepdale Farm” was featured in a James Bond movie. And Highclere (Castle) is the real-life locale for the hit series Downton Abbey.
And if you have traveled to a far-off locale that’s dear to you but unfamiliar to those back home, borrow that name. It could be anything from the name of a castle in France to a sheep ranch in Australia. If the name sounds good to you, and has personal meaning, it just might be perfect. Plus, you’ll have a story to go along with it.
Remember Your Roots
Ethnic names are not only unique, but they serve to honor our heritage. Arcobaleno Acres in Connecticut uses the Italian word for rainbow and was proudly chosen by its Italian owners. In Cowtown, Texas, a farm called “Poulets De Cajun” was named for the family’s French Cajun ancestry. The phrase translates to “Cajun Chickens.”
Remember Your Maker
Wishing to acknowledge the blessings of Heaven, many farmers and ranchers incorporate spiritual themes in their names. The Bible is filled with inspiration for possible farm names. Third Day Farm on the Outer Cape has a double meaning – it recalls the biblical third day of creation, when God brought forth plants and seeds, and also commemorates the “third day” when Christ rose from the tomb. Bethel Farms in Woodville, Mississippi was named so because the owners felt “the Lord had led them there.” One farm wife affectionately named their place “A Little Bit of Heaven” although her husband argued that quite often it gave them “A Whole Lot of Hell!”
More Helpful Tips to Consider:
- Consider the marketing potential of your name if your farm or ranch is also a business or money-making opportunity. Is it easy for customers to say? Does it look good on a sign? Does it have positive connotations?
- If using an ethnic name, chose words that are short and easy to pronounce and spell.
- Put your name ideas in quotation marks and Google them to see if anyone else has already used the name. If you are planning to have a website, search to see if yours is available, or come up with alternate choices. For instance, if you are dead set on naming your place Shady Lane Farm but www.shadylanefarm.com is already taken, try www.shadylanefarmonline.com or www.theshadylanefarm.com. You can also try using “.net” or “.biz” at the end for more options.
- Don’t limit yourself with a name. You might currently raise chickens, but if you are planning to sell honey in the next few years a name like “Red Rooster Farm” probably won’t fit anymore. Likewise, if you already have a lot going on, pick a broad name that suits your entire operation. Something like “Feathered Friends Farm” would work if you are raising different types of birds. “Fairfield Acres” could describe a farm that is producing both livestock and crops.
- Once you decide on your favorite name (or names) say it over and over again. Use it for a couple of days and see how you like it. Ask for feedback from your family and friends.
- When choosing a funny name, make sure it doesn’t need a lot of explaining before people get the joke. Short and sweet is best, and make your meaning clear. As soon as someone hears the name, you should be rewarded with a knowing smile, or even better – a hearty laugh.
- Have fun and don’t let the naming process worry you or be a cause of stress. Many people find that it takes time to pick the right name, and they sometimes find inspiration in the most unlikely places. That’s probably what happened to Dan & Sheree Smart as they were dealing with a yet another stubborn donkey on their mule farm in Wyoming. For them, the perfect name just happened to be “Smart Ass Ranch.”
WAIT! Before you leave a comment or question……
I LOVE to read your comments, but because of time constraints, I am no longer able to offer free name suggestions. My readers might have some good ideas to get you started, though! Helping others to find great names and stay on top of my blog takes up a lot of time, so I now offer customized name suggestions for your via my personalized OutFox Naming Service.
There are naming firms out there that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. My service is not quite the same, in that I can’t guarantee I’ll help you find “the perfect name.” My small fee includes ideas and suggestions that you are free to use or discard, based on a personalized questionnaire that you complete. Click here to get started.