10 August 2016

Acre

Last night I went up to the quiz at "The Hammer and Pincers". As usual, I was with my teammates -- both called Michael. Every quiz, you have to come up with a team name and we always change ours. Last night we were The Bananas.

One of the questions was; "In square yards, what is the area of an acre?" Well, we had an idea that an acre is a bit bigger than half an average football pitch but our estimation was way off the mark. The actual area of an British acre is 4840 square yards.

After the quiz, not wishing to contemplate Beryl the buxom barmaid, bloody Brexit  or brewers of  beer, we instead considered the acre. What figures needed to be multiplied to reach the magical sum of 4840? And it gradually dawned on us that we knew little about this important measure of land area. I said that it should be a requirement of all schools to take classes of children out on to the school field and there to mark out an acre so that that knowledge would remain in their minds forever. I never had such a lesson.

So what is an acre? Historically it is the area of a land that a man could till or plough in a day with a single  ox. That rectangle was not square because that would have required more awkward turning of the stubborn beast. No, the original shape of an acre was an oblong. It measured one chain by one furlong - the word "furlong" being derived from one "furrow long" - 220 yards. The length of a chain is 22 yards which even today is the length of a cricket pitch. There are 640 acres in a square mile.

To confuse matters, in other countries an acre may cover a different area of land. For example, an Irish acre is 7840 square yards and an American builder's acre is 40,000 square feet.

Numbers have a habit of slipping out of my mind. It's always been the same. My brain is not designed to cling on to numbers so I doubt that any of these figures surrounding the acre will stay in my head for very long.  One way of thinking about an acre is that it covers the same area as sixteen tennis courts. This graphical representation may also  help you to visualise an acre:-

22 comments:

  1. Actually, an acre in America is 43,560 square feet. Specifically, wikipedia says "The acre is a unit of land area used in the imperial and US customary systems. It is defined as the area of 1 chain by 1 furlong (66 by 660 feet), which is exactly equal to 1⁄640 of a square mile, 43,560 square feet, approximately 4,047 m2, or about 40% of a hectare."

    Did wikipedia err in saying a chain is 66 feet and a furlong is 660 feet? I seem to remember that there are 8 furlongs to a mile in horse racing, which would make 660 correct, but I may be mistaken.

    To determine square yards, divide the number of square feet by 9.

    This is my kind of post! Thank you for remembering this small segment of your vast reading audience.

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    1. Before the benign British Empire decided to offload The United States of America and grant it its independence, we told you guys all about acres but you weren't listening! You came up with your own mistaken ideas. It's the same with shoe sizes.

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  2. Oh my, I think I need to go and lay down in a dark room after reading this.

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    1. I think I'll join you. May we have a cup of cocoa first?

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  3. There are some things I used to know and now don't. A Hectare is roughly half an acre. Seed and fertiliser spread rates are worked out on the basis of area to be covered and this is either entered into the computer on the machine or in our case calculated and fed into the hopper drum as so many turns of the screw adjustment. Ken calculates all this on his Ipad. we get to three decimal places and set the drum then the speed wheel hits a bump and whoops. All three decimal places wiped away in one bounce of the wheel, the metering drum fails to turn.
    Measuring land area is only of interest to folk that are buying it, selling it or renting it and the latter aren't bothered to a yard or two if the rent is reasonable.

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    1. A hectare is 2.47 acres laddie! Now don this conical hat and sit over there in the corner.

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    2. Thanks YP. I just look at the test spread so Andrew so he says it' 'the control'. No that can't be right. I'll tell them but they will take some telling I can tell you.
      You could become an area consultant. I thought the crop was a bit heavy on seed this year but it was light last year. We hadn't worked out the finer points of air drilling.
      I blame you teachers. Why didn't you learn us proper?

      I bet a pound to a bushel, given a following wind, this bloody rain giving it a rest and the wee Krankie paying last years farm subsidy. Then we may have to stop working for wages that don't hit £3.00/hour or even £1.50p most days.

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    3. Time to get back on the road again Adrian. You're taking root in Fife. Soon you'll be talking like a Jock. Or is there a secret red-haired Scottish lassie lurking in the background yelling, "Adrian! Howay the noo! Get back in ma bed right noo! An tek that traffic cone aff yer heid!" ?

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  4. Um...at my time of life I'm not sure if I'll ever get the full mileage (or kilometerage) out of all these confusing facts and figures.....

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    1. Extra homework for you young madam! See me in my study at the end of the day.

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  5. so if you're not a rural person, what use is knowing about an acre. We've muddied the acre by going to hectares. Some things are in acres and some in hectares. We sell gain by the tonne. Even though I have a rural background, I couldn't step off an area of one acre.

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    1. When we read books, acres are often mentioned and of course acres are referred to in property sales information so its not just rural folk who ought to have a handle on acres.

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  6. This property upon which my little cabin shares a small portion is 3 acres in area (1.21 hectares....seeing we use hectares down this way. They still don't make much sense to me, but that's okay. There is much in this world and life that doesn't make any sense to me).

    There are 130680 square feet in these 3 acres. I only have two feet, and neither one of them is square!!!!

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    1. Loved your last remark Lee. It made me chuckle and I nearly spilt my tea!

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  7. All I know, Mr. Pudding, is that Big Bear and I keep 10 acres of woodland clear of dead trees and we cut and split all of that for winters use. It is a lot of land and the older I get, the bigger 10 acres seems! Although it is the same as it was 14 years ago when we moved here.

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    1. You own ten acres? Wow! That means you are also the guardians of thousands of insects. A big responsibility. Do you kmnow them all by name?

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    2. I only know the bears by name......oh, and the hummingbirds!

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  8. We learned all those units for measuring and weighing at school, but that's a long time ago and I rarely ever need to know anything other than (square) meters and kilometers, gramms and kilogramms in my daily life.
    For a long time, I used to think that the English acre corresponds to the German Ar, but it is not the same. If this question came up in a pub quiz, I'd have to rely on my team mates for the correct answer - but I am sure they'd know it, they are that kind of people :-)

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    1. Your friends are boffins! Does that mean that you are a boffin too?

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  9. Plenty to consider in the post and also in the comments. My head is spinning!

    Alphie

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    1. "My head is spinning"... Wasn't that a line from a song? Thanks for calling by again Alphie.

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  10. We did practical mathematics in school, off to the fields with pencils and notebooks, tape measures and surveyors tools, I knew exactly how large an acre is in square yards.
    We mow two acres, it feels more like forty in the heat of the Tennessee summers.
    Can I get a gold star on my paper for the correct answer ?
    Please Sir.
    ~Jo

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