Friday, December 4, 2009

Chopping Cotton

Has anyone out there ever chopped cotton or hoed cotton? I did as a youngster. We all had our own hoe and were responsible for keeping it sharp and putting it up at the end of the day. A sharp hoe was absolutely necessary. It would zip through weeds and grass and even the soil easily.

I remember those long rows of cotton. The plants would be up about three inches. When they planted them, they were as thick as grass. They did not produce well like that so it was our job to go down every row and thin them out. We'd leave two or three stalks in each hill. We learned to swing the hoe with a rhythm back and forth over the row of cotton. Each time we came down on the small plants we would cut out a space the width of the hoe. Then if necessary we would pull out enough to make it 2 or 3 per hill. Sometimes we'd pull a little dirt around them to make them more comfortable. All this was done with quick easy strokes and we did it over an over from dew to dusk.

There was one thing you never did or never should do. That was prop your hoe against the side of the house, especially near the corner of the house. You know when children or adults are on their way to the outhouse, you are always in a hurry. The last thing you need is to turn a corner and step on the blade of a hoe. Two things could happen: if you were barefoot you could get a bad cut, if you stepped flat on the blade the handle would slap you across the nose. The hoes were designed just so when your foot hit, your nose was in the way. You could expect a real 'preaching' to when who ever it was got back from their business.

So, if you are out chopping cotton, come spring, please put your hoe under the edge of the house, even if you do have a barrel of wash water to draw from the well and two cows to milk before you go to bed. It is the right thing to do.

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