Strange units of measurement

Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2005 06:51 pm
When I was little my mom used to sing to me (and now I sing to Mo):

I love you
A bushel and a peck
And a hug around the neck
A barrel and a peep
And I'm talking in my sleep
About you

I kind of understand what a "bushel" and a "peck" (like Peter Piper picked, right?) and a "barrel" but what is a "peep"?

Also, is there a specific number that represents those odd measurements like barrel, peck, bushel, stone, hand, etc?

What are some of the other odd units of measurement?

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Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2005 08:02 pm
1 bushel (U.S.) = 4 pecks = 32 quarts (dry) = 2,150.42 cubic inches
1 barrel (standard, non-cranberry) = 7,056 cubic inches
1 stone = 14 pounds
1 hand = 4 inches

Other potentially odd units:
Length: rod, pole, perch, furlong, link, chain, league, fathom
Area: are, hectare, bolt
Capacitiy: board foot, cord, dram, gill
Weight/Mass: bale, carat, dram, gamma, grain, hundredweight, pennyweight
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Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2005 08:43 pm
Thank you, markr.

So I guess if someone loves you a bushel and a peck they love you five pecks worth.

I've always assumed that "bolt" refered to length - a bolt of fabric being a certain lenght regardless of it's width. I suppose in fabric terms that bolt is an arbitrary measurement.

Since you really seem to know what you're talking about but that you fail to mention a "peep" I'm going to guess that it was chosen because it rhymes with "sleep".
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Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2005 08:56 pm
I got this out of an almanac. Peep wasn't listed. Also, there are other sizes for barrels:
oil = 42 gallons
liquid = 7276.5 cubic inches
The one I listed previously was dry.

For some reason, the almanac had bolt listed in the area section.

I also have a book called a Pocket Ref. It lists other odd units.

1 firkin = 9 gallons
1 butt (Brit) = 2 hogsheads (Brit) = 126 gallons (U.S.)
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Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2005 09:25 pm
A firkin and a hogshead?

You really have to wonder why those measurements came about.

Neither 9 nor 126 gallons seem to make enough sense to require their own word.

I wonder if perhaps a "cask" held one of those amounts.
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Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2005 09:37 pm
firkin (fir) [1]
a traditional unit of volume equal to 1/4 barrel or 1/2 kilderkin. Since barrels are of various sizes, the capacity of a firkin varies. Based on the standard U.S. barrel of 31.5 gallons, a firkin would equal 7.875 gallons, 1.05 cubic feet, or about 29.81 liters. Traditional British barrels and firkins are larger; in the imperial system a firkin holds 1.445 cubic feet or 40.91 liters. The unit is of Dutch origin, and its name is based on the Dutch word vier for four.
firkin (fir) [2]
a traditional unit of weight for butter and soap, equal to 4 stone or 56 pounds (about 25.40 kilograms).
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Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2005 09:44 pm
I also found "pip" and "pipa" (which is Portugese, so I suppose it might be pronounced "peep-a").

the smallest measured change in a currency conversion rate. This depends on the relative values of the two currency units: in converting euros to U.S. dollars, for example, a pip is 0.0001, but in converting U.S. dollars to Japanese yen a pip is 0.01. This unit is also called a tick [2].
a traditional Portuguese unit of liquid volume, originally very similar in size to the English pipe (see next entry). The pipa has become a metric unit equal to exactly 500 liters, which is 0.5 cubic meter, 132.085 U.S. gallons, or 109.996 British imperial gallons.
like the butt, the pipe is a traditional unit of liquid volume generally equal to 2 hogsheads. In the U.S., this means a pipe equals 126 U.S.gallons, about 16.844 cubic feet or 476.96 liters. In Britain it's more complicated, because traditional British hogsheads were of different sizes depending on what they contained. The British pipe was usually used as a wine measure, but even different types of wine had different size pipes.
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Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2005 09:45 pm
Here's the site I used:

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Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2005 09:49 pm
used to set up road rallyes for people who were looking for a weekend drive with instructions. I always made our speed units in furlongs per fortnight. Thus everyone, besides driving TO a place , ahd to go there at a set velocity.




munsell number

there are ssome really good sites on the web that provide conversions
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Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2005 10:01 pm
There are 125,000 nanons in a gnat's eye and 8,040 grys in a smoot.

Don't know what a peep is though.
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Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2005 10:11 pm
56 pound of butter or soap!? What a strange number to measure either of those!

Hmmm. A pipa, like a barrel seems to be a liquid measure so mabye that is what a "peep" refers to!

I will have to put together (or find someone who can) an equation to signify the love in this song.

(Ohhhh. I have a great idea on where I could immortalize that equation! Please. Someome smarter than me figure it out!)

farmerman, you are a most complicated man. So mysterioso!

What do those numbers refer to?

Thanks to littlek's link to microscopic photos I know about gnats eyes:


but really, what the heck do those measurements mean?
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Reply Mon 10 Jan, 2005 06:20 am
well, a ping is a measure of areaa tthat is used in Taaiwan for floor spaace. Its aabout 12 sq feet . We used to rent office space by
the "Ping"

aAn oersted is the cgs unit of magnetic intensity, we use a smaller unit, the gamma.

a poise is a unit of viscosity

a Munsell number is a number given to describe every color known. It a number based on hue and chroma
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Reply Tue 11 Jan, 2005 09:04 am
I'm more interested in why one dry quart (& gallon) is different from a wet quart (& gallon).

There's a pretty good common converter bere.

Interestingly this converter doesn't include a hectare (1 ha=10000m^2=(100m)^2) which is a pretty good unit of area--far handier to remember than the US acre (1 Acre= 43560 ft^2).

BTW 1ha=2.47 Acre, and I remember acre by knowing there are 640 of em in a square mile.

My dearly departed souldmate and best friend used to sing that ditty---to me and our children.

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Reply Tue 11 Jan, 2005 09:18 am
Boomerang - I don't know much about measurements, but I do know about the song. It's from Guys and Dolls, and done as a performance song within the show by the character of Adelaide with several "showgirls" for backup. They do this number dressed as farm girls (straw hats, gingham blouses, and denim shorts in the last production I worked on). Hence the farm references. Oh, and the word that rhymes with sleep is actually heap, which I'm guessing is a non-specific measurement. Very Happy My mom used to sing it to me, too.

I love you, a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck
A hug around the neck, and a barrel and a heap
A barrel and a heap, and I'm talkin' in my sleep
About you
About you
About you
(My heart is leapin'
I'm having trouble sleepin')

'Cause I love you, a bushel and a peck
You bet your pretty neck I do
Doodle, oodle, oodle
Doodle, oodle, oodle
Doodle oodle oodle oo

I love you, a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck and it beats me all to heck
Beats me all to heck how I'll ever tend the farm
Ever tend the farm when I want to keep my arms
About you
About you
About you
(The cows and chickens
are goin' to the dickens)

'Cause I love you a bushel and a peck
You bet your pretty neck I do
Doodle oodle oodle
Doodle oodle oodle
Doodle oodle oodle, oo

Good-bye now!
(they repeat the "doodles" as they exit)
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Reply Sun 1 May, 2011 08:06 pm
According to one source, the "heap" was the pile from which the farmer filled the barrel, bushel, peck, etc. I could not find a specific measurement for a heap - but it would be a bunch!
(A farmer's daughter - I carried a "heap" of bushels of corn, oats, etc., to our livestock.)
Reply Sun 1 May, 2011 08:34 pm
I assume this is why the song was popular.
Doris Day

Unusual measurements
Ell. Em. I think they are printers measurements.
Most often used in crosswords
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Reply Thu 23 Aug, 2018 08:26 pm
I remember singing the song
"A barrel and a heap"
which goes with the rest of the farm measurements
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Reply Thu 23 Aug, 2018 10:05 pm
In the oilfield, a barrel is 41 gallons - not 55 as you might suspect. Water is measured in the same kind of barrel as oil. A usual water truck usually holds 80 bbl.
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Jewels Vern
Reply Thu 6 Jun, 2019 12:23 am
One early standard of measure was Gunter's chain. It was made in England for survey work. Every part of the chain was a defined measure.

People sometimes wonder why an acre is such a strange number, 43,560 square feet. It's because Gunter's chain was 66 feet long, so a square chain had an area of 4,356 square feet, and an acre was ten square chains.

66 feet is exactly 1/80 mile. Ten chains made a furlong, which is only used to measure horse races now.

There is a lot to explain about Gunter's chain, so I will let you look up the entire article at wikipedia.
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Reply Mon 30 Aug, 2021 05:11 pm
I think it's a barrel and a heap.
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