I’m currently enjoying ‘Land Girls’ by Angela Huth.
It’s an affectionate portrait of three young women who join the Women’s Land Army.
Much of their time is spent hoeing – and a quick stroll through internet images reveals this to be fairly universal, throughout the ages. It is largely women’s work.
I’ve gathered some of them together under the Page title Hoes in Work – seen in the side panel to the right. Paintings and posters on this theme appear on the Hoes in Art Page.
A brief study of the hoe, its history and use is on the Hoe parent page.
Prior to the Second World War, agriculture in Britain was in a state of decline. Food imports were up to 70% and in 1939 the possibility of a German Prior to the Second World War, agriculture in Britain was in a state of decline. Food imports were up to 70% and in 1939 the possibility of a German sea-blockade provoked the fear of national starvation. Women were needed to bring in the harvest and to put 2 million acres under the plough at a time when thousands of men were once more leaving the land to join the forces.
The future may see people once again filling the landscape. Technology like this prototype, from the German DFG Research Training Group (Graduiertenkolleg) 722, may be the way forward in post-Peak Oil agriculture, where chemical weed-killers and diesel-power are too expensive.
Or possibly the present enormous agri-farms will be broken up, to be worked under village or commune control. Then a machine like this might be more suitable:
This has been developed by PhysicalWeeding – the trading name of Steam Weeding Ltd, a company that designs specialist physical weeding machinery for the European, New Zealand and Australian markets. It is owned and run by Dr Charles ‘Merf’ Merfield, an international organic horticultural scientist specialising in weed management and machinery, and Tim Chamberlain – a pioneering and multi-award winning organic farmer from New Zealand.Visit their SteamWeeding site to see more.
You can even get a grant for it in Ireland!
Meanwhile at the big-garden or small-holding level, there’s a device that appeals to me – and to ‘Farmer Lynn’ of the friendly, modest but extremely impressive tinyfarmblog – it’s the Valley Oak wheel hoe :
and its Swiss counterpart the Glaser wheel hoe [www.glaser-swissmade.com]
They both offer various blades and attachments – and both cost about $350.
Hmm. Maybe it’s back to something I could knock together out of the bits of old vineyard equipment lying around. Like this early model – with Thomas W. Barnett wheel-hoeing onions on his small farm at Bountiful in Utah 1921.
But when it comes down to it – nothing beats a hand-hoe for simplicity and versatility and cost. And nothing beats this man for fitness and determination: he produced a ton [edit: 2.5 tons – phew!] of potatoes on his croft – plus a mountain of other vegetables – with a hoe.
Read his inspiring crofting blog here at Musings from a Stonehead .