put a ‘wide sweep’ on the Georgia Stock and take ‘old Dixie’ over to the back
forty and bust out them corn middles today. Make sure that mule has been fed and
watered. She’ll have a hard day today”
“Okay Pop! Anything else?”
yeah!.... If you happen to finish up early, just come on back over here and help
me in the melon patch. I’ll probably be out there hoeing ’til sundown”, he said.
“I’ll do my best, Pop. Mom, would you fix me some lunch to take to the back forty?
I may be working over there in that cornfield all day. Looks like its going to
be a hot one today, doesn’t it? I’ll run out and get me some water from the well
for my water jug. I'll let Old Dixie drink from the mill creek.”
would be working very near the house for the day. That’s where we always planted
watermelons each year for as long as I can remember. Being grown not far from
the house would discourage folks from stealing the melons. And working close by,
Papa would be back to the house for lunch.
We grew many various kinds
of vegetables in the garden; onions; cabage; lettuce; carrots; radishes; turnips;
beans; peas; squash; orka; cellery and others. You can do it yourself, too! But
this particular day I would be out in the large fields with acres and acres of
like this occurred over an early morning breakfast as my family and I planned
our routine workday. We lived on a large NE Texas spread near McLeod
known as the Maxie Family Working Farm. The farm was in Cass County, the Ark-La-Tex
area, south of Atlanta and very
near Moss’s Mill Pond. It was just off of the
old McLeod-Atlanta Road about three miles north of McLeod.
My family had lived there for four generations. As a young man, I was born right
there, pre-WWIl, on that
farm and raised there during the tail-end of the Great Depression.
Papa was saying meant for me to put a large “sweep” blade on the farm plow commonly
known as a Georgia Stock. Then go out to the barn and harness up Dixie to pull
the plow. Taking them to the far backside of our place to a large forty-acre cornfield,
I would work there all day long. At least I would try to make the job last all
day. I sure didn’t want to come in and have to finish my day hoeing in the garden
and melon patch.
In the back forty, as Dixie pulled, I ran the sweep up
and down every corn-row, sweeping out the middles, covering the grass and loosening
up the soil. This procedure was usually done after the corn crop had been “laid
by”, using the turning plow. Today’s sweeping action swept the soil up around
the half grown corn plants covering any exposed roots and killing the unwanted
grass. At the same time, dressing up the middles to make it look smooth and neat.
A corn crop of which to be proud.
The “middle” is middle ground between
each row of corn. The “dressing” was the last plowing job the crop would get before
it grew larger, matured and later became ready for harvest. Harvest was known
as “corn pulling” time, usually in the late fall season.
THE WALKING PLOW
(plows doesn't really walk)
The plow—the basic tool of the farmer and large-scale
gardener—breaks and pulverizes the ground and adds humus and fertility by covering
the vegetation and manure. Plowing helps the soil to hold its precious moisture
and circulates the air. (Did you know the earth has to "breathe" to be productive?
Although I didn't realize it until recently, the land is very much alive and teeming
with organisms that can't be seen with the naked eye.)
The Georgia Stock
is basically an all-wooden plow built on a light metal frame. It was not a heavy
plow and was mostly used for light work like dressing a crop, busting out the
middles and very often, garden work.
The sweep blade was just that; a full
sweep. It was a narrow sweeping blade about two feet wide that swept back on each
side at somewhat less than a 45-degree angle. It swept the middles smooth and
clean while moving soil closer to the corn plants. As an added plus, working the
soil would also help keep the moisture level up near the top of the ground for
the corn plants. This better utilized the chemical fertilizer we had applied a
few days earlier.
There were other interchangeable and adaptable blades
(plows) for the Georgia Stock. Some had names like; the shovel, the half shovel,
the drill, the double shovel, the half sweep, the auger; plus several other names.
And the full “sweep” came in different widths, too. It was adaptable to different
plowing jobs, depending on the kind of crop and the width of the middles.
frequently used groundbreaking plows on the farm were the turning plow (a biggy)
and the middle buster, both of which were pretty heavy plows. Each one would turn
over a lot more dirt than the Georgia Stock, turning up the soil to break the
heavy sod so well. We also had the much-used “Cole Planter” for planting row crops.
ground disk was used very often, as was the harrow or section harrow. Both were
used for breaking and leveling ground or covering broadcast seed. They each were
a heavy drag, pulled along on top of the ground. Plus, operating a large, heavy
disk often required the use of two strong draft animals. We had to know how to
properly harness these animals and control them at all times while working in
up on the farm, we “plow boys” also had to know how and on what occasion to properly
use each of these tools. In addition to assembling the proper configuration of
sweeps and plow points, the right application for any given job was important
in order to get the desired result. Often times it was trial and error. But then,
nothing takes the place of OJT (on-the-job-training) experience. Does it?
times older farm women did all these laborious tasks too. Often having to take
over after their husbands had become disabled or died. But I never knew any woman
of my generation that plowed or worked farm animals. Women later left their home
and farm life behind to work in the bomb factories and airplane plants during
WWIl. There they served
well since most men had gone off to war. Those women became known as “Rosy
Although, as a youth I did know several older, hard
working country women that would plow, tend their animals and do heavy farm work
just as a man would. Those were a generation or two before me. They were a rare
breed, in time becoming few and far between. The hard manual labor eventually
gave way to farm mechanism and soft ‘public’ jobs in large cities. Very hard labor
became terribly unpopular with most of the less adapted feminine gender. To which
I say, “Amen and rightly so.”