Not a CB char farmer, but a real life farmer, seeing as he "hoe-whacked" me in chat just now.
May 27 2006 10:02 PM EDT
/me hoe-whacks seran in the forum post now :)
/me carps Seran with a Giant Golden Carp Headed Hoe
May 28 2006 12:01 AM EDT
Have any of y'all ever really used a hoe? I mean _really_ used a hoe. Not to turn a bit of earth or just strip out some tiny weeds... But to lay waste to 8-foot tall sunflower, volunteer corn, and vast patches of fibrous-stemmed button weeds?
I am here to tell you a Real American Story of Hoeing.
When I was young, we walked beans. Soybeans. The "walking" means going through each row (we would take four rows at a time unless very weedy) and removing the weeds. Back then, it was hard to get weeds out of beans using herbicide. You see, soybeans are "broadleaf" plants, as opposed to a "grass" (in this context, corn is actually a grass). Herbicides work by killing the entire opposite family of plant -- i.e. it was easier to kill broadleaves in corn, and easier to kill grasses in beans.
We didn't walk corn. The "big nasties" of weeds were pigweeds, waterweeds, button weeds (AKA velvet leaf), sunflowers, and dreaded cockleburrs (they shot a lot of seed and were hard to kill off once entrenched). Luckily, in corn we could just spray 2-4-D everywhere (a derivative of the type of stuff they used in Vietnam called "Agent Orange" to decimate foliage, or so they said) and the broad leaf weeds would be destroyed.
Not so in beans. These days, they have special bean seed that is genetically immune to an even more powerful herbicide called Roundup. Roundup kills anything that is green. Except "Roundup-ready" soybeans.
However, when I was young, we didn't have such bean seed. So, we walked beans. Low tech. You walk through the field, and if you see something that isn't a soybean, you destroy it. When I was very little (I was walking beans by age 9 or 10), my sister and I were considered unable to handle an implement of destruction (read: a sharp piece of steel) to cut the weeds off. We had to pull them. Some mornings I was pulling sunflowers twice my height. Have you seen how big a sunflower can get? They can get as tall as corn (7-8 feet depending on hybrid) and at the base their stalk can be close to three inches in diameter. Sunflowers were easy though. It took some work, but those suckers came out of the ground. I'd call my sister over to help if necessary.
Later, it was time I was given a sharp piece of steel. Most farmers used what were called "corn knives" -- in the jungle they are called machetes. Just a big damn hell-raising knife, built to swing.
We only had three corn knives. Never mind one could get another corn knife at a hardware store for 5 bucks -- I thought they were rare commodities that had to be pulled from a stone or something. Mom and Dad got knives, and my brother, who was 27 fet tall and weighed 763 pounds (youthful exaggeration). There were no more knives.
Now, off in the corner of the shed, a sharp piece of steel caught my eye. Not a knife. It was a hoe. Pshaw, thought I -- a hoe? Old people and French use hoes. Surely I could find another corn knife in a stone somewhere and free it to do my bidding? Alas, no.
I picked up the hoe and peered distastefully down its handle. The wood was warped, rough and somewhat dry-rotted. It seemed thin. Frail. The hook and blade at the end were rusty and dull. My brother grunted in some dialect used by 27-foot behemoths -- something about sharpening it for me.
My brother could definitely work wonders on The Wheel. The grinding stone that could hone metal in a hail of sparks and unholy noise, leaving nothing but glimmering iron sharp enough to slice a Ginsu knife in half (and then a tomato without smushing it!).
I twirled the hoe a bit. I didn't realize I was whirling it in dervish fashion more competently than Conan the Barbarian. I shrugged. It would have to do. I casually lay my hoe over my shoulder and sauntered off with the family toward the 20-acre field of beans right south of our house.
Sunflowers again. Big, meaty, sunflowers. I approached the first one, reaching instinctively with my hand to pull it... Then, I remembered. NAY, thought I! I am now in possession of a sharp piece of steel! I let fly my hoe with a mighty swing...
...and missed the weed entirely. The steel of the hoe swung and hit the sole of my work boot (see, there's a reason farmers wear those). It gashed my sole, but I was otherwise unharmed. No one saw what had happened.
Now far less nochalant, I approached the sunflower again. I realized the hoe was like a knife -- not magic, I just needed to focus and keep my eye on where I wanted to slice. I swung the hoe high and then brought it down in a deadly arc. The steel head sliced through the sunflower stalk directly at ground level. A perfect strike. The sunflower took a few seconds to fall into my hand. I grabbed it and tossed it aside.
Once again, no one was looking. But I still felt pretty damn good.
The hoe was amazing. While the corn knifers would have to hack and hack at large clump weeds (such as volunteer corn), I could deliver a couple 4-inch-wide death swaths and decimate a corn clump in seconds. I could also reach across rows with my hoe (longer handle) and hook weeds with a precise pull while corn knifers were having to leap the dewy soybean rows to perform similar tasks.
The day came when my dad asked if I wanted a corn knife. I chuckled and gave a polite "no"... He thought I was being silly. He just didn't know the power of the hoe.
All these years later, I don't know how my hoe made it without the metal portion cracking off the bottom. I wasn't kidding when I said the wood was gnarled and dry-rotted, even down at the base. But it kept working. By the time I was in my later teens, I could slice through a three-inch woody root stock (below the ground surface) in one terminal blow. The hoe never balked and the hoe handle never quivered in my hands. Sure, I couldn't do all the tricks the corn-knifers could, and I couldn't imitate movies (last I checked, no one in Braveheart was wielding a hoe), but I was killing weeds. Beans were safe under my watch.
So the next time you think of hoes, think of that withered, rusty hoe that I found in the shed that fateful morning. And maybe, just maybe, it can help you make it through your day.
farmer, no i'm afraid not, i could kill a plastic flower :(
May 30 2006 5:55 AM EDT
I walked beans as a kid. No tools used. We would actually pull the darn things. Learned a lot of non-English words I should not have from the migrant workers too!
May 30 2006 8:08 AM EDT
And now, a background of 'The Hoe-Whack'.
Once, several months ago, there was an odd young bird in the chatroom 'New Players'. He sat, babbling on about nonsensical ideas, thoughts, and attempts at thoughts, and during this babbling emoted a pimp-slap at someone. Now, if you know Shade, you know how he dislikes this form of slapping. He informed the bird that it was no such thing and it could slap in no such way, but the persistent (and I emphasize) YOUNG bird felt he must continue his slapping of suspiciously occupied workforce members, and so whacked a hoe. In his defense, the hoe could have been a garden tool, and so he narrowly dodged a vicious attack by the mighty Shadefulness. From then on, he 'hoe-whacked' people, and from there it caught on to the farmers of today.
In the next article: Why can't I call someone a rake, what's with these alternate definitions, and why are garden tools so morally dissolute? Stay tuned!
May 30 2006 8:27 AM EDT
Chat "Hoe-whacking" should actively be discouraged given the associated dangers.
Chat put-downs must maintain their fish origin to be considered genuine.
That said, even sutekh in his youth manage to bag himself a fish with his first hoe-wield when he "gashed my sole". How he got over the loss of his dear and much loved sole one will never know.
Lest ye forget, our much loved and adored carp
i thought it was originally HoE-whack from the helm of ecthelion acronym :).
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