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A Window On My World

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Modern Gardeners






I have several
of my grandfather's old farm and garden tools. Let me see...there are the corn sheller and corn grinder (both turned by hand and powered by elbow grease); a shrub shears with long blades powered the same way; some hay pitchforks; a scythe, assorted spades and shovels some with his initials carved into the handle (Does that mean there was risk of them being taken, or in some way finding their way away from the farm or getting mixed in with those of others? Were there barn-raising-type workdays when farmers pitched in and helped one another with the work at critical times? Probably).

There is a bush whacker; a post hole digger with no moving parts from the days before the "modern" two movable handles type; a long handle lopper; a machete for cutting canebreak bamboo, corn stalks, and sorghum cane; hoes of various shapes and sizes; and one tool I've never figured out what it was for, but I can tell you with confidence that it didn't make the work easier.

Some of those tools I still use. There is not a weed eater (gasoline or electric powered); nor a leaf blower; nor any shrub trimmer electric or otherwise; nor power lawnmowers among the lot; things I think I must have to get the work done.

And, certainly there is no pocket radio, I Pod, or Walkman, nothing with batteries and earplugs. But worst of all - there was no cell phone! This modern gardener's, yours truly's, most favorite of garden tools!



My cell phone is the best energy saving device I have - energy of both others and mine. When a new helper starts working here, I hand him/her my cell phone and say, "Please put your number into my phone and my number into yours. I have no idea how to do it." Sometimes, they just stand there and call from one to the other, then "capture" the number. Who knows, I have no idea how. But all the young people do, so I just let them do it. Then I carry it in a pocket of my old cobbler's apron, which I wear just for the three pockets.

Aren't pockets wonderful! I load my apron pockets with things I need out there, such as a finger-tip towel to wipe my brow; a sweat band in case I forget to put one on until I'm down in the dell or some such inconvenient and remote location, a red bandana for when I forget to replenish the tissues in my pocket, house key, a small pad of paper with pencil to assist my poor memory, a bit of string in case something needs tying up, a small piece of wood I found that's nicely shaped for cleaning my trowel, several plastic bags for slipping over my hand when I pull poison ivy, and last, but most important of the lot, is my cell phone.

Phone rings: Husband/Best Friend/Chief Photographer's voice: "Where are you? I've been all the way down the hill trying to find you." Me: "I'm in front, weeding beside the front steps".... He's learned to call sooner.


I'm weeding rockery. Phone rings: Helper's voice: "Mrs. Crocker, I can't come at ten o'clock; I have to wait for the cable service man to come and connect my cable service. They said they'd be here sometime between eight and five. I'll be there as soon as I can after he leaves." I know certain tasks will have to be rescheduled or reassigned to the next helper who's supposed to arrive at one o'clock.

I'm setting out pansies. Phone rings: Helper's voice: "Mrs. Crocker, I was on my way, but my car died at the traffic light at Versailles and Parker's Mill Roads. Do you know where I should have it towed to?" Maybe an empty nest wouldn't be so bad.

It's about 3:30 p.m.; I call the house phone: "Honey, we three are in the dell sitting in the new iris bed weeding, and we underestimated the early spring heat. We are just about to pass out, would you please bring water - ice water, and maybe some cookies??"

Then there are the between-us-calls, the gardener and her helpers. (They all have cell phones, one helper lost his and feared his mother was going to "kill" him, another said he'd lost eight!)

We use them like an intercom system while we are working. Phone rings: Neal's voice, "Hey, it's me. I'm still out here on the steep part of the bank and these prickly lettuce weeds are already going to seed. Do you still want me to put them on the brush pile or do you want me to bag them and send them to the landfill."

Me from the up-hill shade garden - on phone to Ben who's at the far back property line down in the dell, beyond the woodland garden: "Ben, do you have the loppers? Are you still needing them?"

I have no idea how cell phones work, but most of the time they do work, and how did I ever get along without one! This wonderful modern convenience, and my very favorite gardening tool! A telephone in my apron pocket! What will they think of next?!

12 comments:

A Life Inspired said...

What a beautiful world you have in Kentucky! And I loved the tools from your grandfather's era!

Happy Earth Day! Although, for the garden lover, every day is earth day, right?!

Barbee' said...

A Life Inspired: I whole heartily agree. I feel sorry for people who are detached from the earth and nature. Sorry for people who do not garden. Thank goodness for this group of companionable gardeners to share with and enjoy.

Thank you for visiting and dropping a line. You make my day happier. It is so good to hear from you.

TopVeg said...

That is a great post. I love the photo of your old tools - I wonder how they put their initials on the tools - sometimes they look as though they are burnt on.
Good to find your blog
TopVeg

Barbee' said...

These were just carved in with a sharp knife. Actually, I think some of them may have been my great-grandfather's which my grandfather (only son) still had. People used to value and take care of their things better than we tend to do nowadays.

I appreciate your visit and your comment. Thank you.

Esther Montgomery said...

My 'best friend' modern invention is my solar-powered radio.

It keeps me company when I'm creosoting the fence.

Esther

Nancy J. Bond said...

Those tools, handed down from generation to generation, also pass down entire stories about different ways of life. They really are a treasure.

Amy said...

Love the old tools. My husband bought a scythe last year as it's almost impossible to use a mower in our backyard. It's quite the art to learn how to use and sharpen one, but he's enjoyed the challenge and gotten a lot of exercise in the meantime!

Barbee' said...

There seems to be a rhythm to it. Keep tool sharp, then swing and let the tool do the work. Tasha Tudor used one for her meadow and she was into her nineties! Of course, she has always been strong and lithe as a hickory switch.

Leslie said...

Hi Barbee! Thanks for checking out my blog! Just joined Blotanical so I too hope to find lots of great garden blogs to sift through. Yours looks extensive, so I've got some reading ahead of me :)

I'm in love with your garden tools!!

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I love old tools (how wonderful it is that you have some that have been in your family for generations) but I'm also glad I live in the age of new ones. Some of my weeding chores are so mind-deadening that I'd go crazy if I couldn't listen to podcasts of my Japanese lessons.

I just wish I could leave messages for myself on my own phone...so that I could take little notes while things occur to me in the garden.

Barbee' said...

mss: I know what you mean. I used to have a small hand-sized audio tape player/recorder that I used to make memos to myself, but it wore out. Now I have to do paper and pen, but it isn't very convenient.

Barbee' said...

I appreciate all your comments. It is so interesting to read what each one wrote. Thank you.