A post without known controversy


I’ve spent three hours a day for three of the last four days digging in the yard. My shoulders have been holding up better than expected, so I debated hard about going out today because I knew I would be pushing my luck, but I felt lazy for not going and also distressed about taking a week to do a job that I could have once done in a day. I finally decided to work, but just as I got to the door, the seasonal rains returned after almost a week’s absence, and I can’t say but what it wasn’t for the best, the digging not being urgent enough to work in the rain to do.

For several years, I wouldn’t have dared to take on a digging project that would have lasted ten minutes, if that, so I greatly rejoice that I can do this work again because I love it enough to make it into a hobby. The bulk, beauty, and simplicity of the tools; the diversity of the movements; the feel of weight pulling my muscles; all this plus the odor, temperature, and tactility of the soil; the joy of finding artifacts (nails, glass, fence staples, a few toys, two tools, one bra, one clay marble, and thousands of Styrofoam pellets); and the delight—mixed with remorse—that comes from unearthing worms and other critters.

I grew up in Mississippi calling the tool in the photo a grubbing hoe, but people here in Oregon call it a mattock (not that I hear them call it anything very much). I would like to know what you call it, assuming that you call it anything. This one belonged to my father and maybe to his father. For years before Dad got a tiller, he would come home after working ten hours as a carpenter and break up a fairly large garden with this very tool. It’s a wonder it has any blade left, but there’s easily enough there to outlast me. I’ve painted it a few times by now as I paint all my outdoor tools. Any tool that lives in my house has it pretty good.

There is a tool that I would love to have, but I can’t find it. It’s a hand-powered posthole auger, and I don’t mean a bucket auger but a spiraling screw auger. I’ve looked online, but I can only find them in Britain, and then at places that don’t ship to America. I’ve also looked on Ebay for antique augers, but I’ve had no luck there either. If you know where I can buy one, please let me know.

24 comments:

PhilipH said...

We call 'em MATTOCKS Snowy. Quite a common tool in the Scottish Borders but less prominent in England I think.
Re the auger: tried eBay? They seem to have most gadgets and gizmos.
What happened to the 'Public Prayer' post? Change of mind, or what?
I've a stinker of a cold right now, so don't get too close to this comment.

Snowbrush said...

"What happened to the 'Public Prayer' post?"

It will be back. Rhymes with Plague was the first to read it, and he pointed out a problem that I thought detracted from the point I was trying to make, so I took it down to work on it some more.

lotta joy said...

What made you believe this post would be without controversy?

Now everyone will fight over what it's called, then call your attention to the fact the head should be red, not blue.

As for the auger: They are wonderful tools, but not for the timid or the weak.

We rented one in Indiana when we were sinking cedar posts. Have you given ACE HARDWARE a thought where renting one is concerned? We rented ours from a small, locally owned hardware store.

No big chain stores stocked them at the time.

And, yahooo! My book got published today!

All Consuming said...

I call it a TOOL. Because that's as fancy as I get. Pick-axe perhaps...on reflection. So I'm useless there. I get the digging, I really do, and I'm so glad for you, that you can get down and do some again. maybe you'll find a fossil, as ye olde artifacts aren't so prevalent over there. Always worth checking your rocks Snow. *winks.

Lorraina said...

Like All Consuming we call it a pick axe around here. (Canada) I never could get the hang of using one, even with my gravel pit of a garden. Swinging the darn thing just seemed to take way too much energy so i just used my foot/leg power and a pointed shovel.

The Elephant's Child said...

We wouldn't call it a mattock either. Our mattocks have a pick coming out the rear rather than the blade that one has. I will be interested to see what the consensus (if any) is.

rhymeswithplague said...

I have always called it a pickaxe. Never heard of a grubbing hoe or a mattock.

But that's not important. The important thing is:

ONE BRA?????

rhymeswithplague said...

You know, pickaxe, the thing that Georgie Governor Lester Maddox used to use to keep people of color out of his cafeteria in downtown Atlanta before he became Governor Jimmy Carter's Lieutenant-Governor.

But it was the racist, segregationist Lester Maddox who as governor decreed that all state office buildings be integrated.

Charles Gramlich said...

we called it a grubbing hoe as well. We had a tractor driven augur when I was young for digging postholes.

Strayer said...


We called those pick axes growing up.

Myrna R. said...

I know so little about tools. Hope you find the one you want. My husband came in the other day feeling so proud. He had been able to dig some holes. He's had shoulder surgery on both shoulders. I worry. But it did give him a great feeling of accomplishment. A man thing I guess. Take care Snow. Glad you were able to do some digging.

Marion said...

Uh, I ain't never seen one of them there thangs, but I call it a husband-killer. (Rut-row...been reading too much Stephen King...LOL!) xo

PS: I vote for pick-ax

The Blog Fodder said...

Pick-ax. I thought a grub hoe had a pick point on one side and a wide flat blade on the other. Never used either of them as there were much better tools for digging hard dirt and for digging gardens.

kj said...

Pick axe says my deceased all knowing Dad.

You paint your tools? I never thought of doing that. I'm impressed. I'm also glad to hear your shoulder and activity level are giving pain a run for its money.

Snowbrush said...

"maybe you'll find a fossil"

They're extremely common, actually, but you have to go down at least four feet before you start seeing them in the extremely hard clay that soon graduates into shale, mudstone, siltstone, and so forth.

"call your attention to the fact the head should be red"

This aint no fire department I'm running here, and I won't accept your controversial remarks. You invariably agree with my controversial posts, but then you have the gall to say something controversial about my "post to please everyone." I'm going to give up even trying to be pleasant. Ha.

"You know, pickaxe, the thing that Georgie Governor Lester Maddox used to use to keep people of color out of his cafeteria"

Why would he have chosen such a tool do you think? Did he just really want to stand out for looking like a racist moron?

"I ain't never seen one of them there thangs"

Yet you call yourself a Southerner! I thought every household had one, but then I'm old timey in many ways, and I grew up about as country as it gets.

"there were much better tools for digging hard dirt and for digging gardens."

What? I have this, an edger, various shovels, a landscaping bar, and a hoe, and I really don't of anything of else that would be "much better," and I'm all time browsing tools departments.

"You paint your tools?"

It's rare, I'm sure. It comes from trying to figure out what to do with leftover paint.

yoborobo said...

You found a bra buried in your yard? What the hay? And the husband calls it a mattock. I would call it a digging-thingie, but it might not catch on.

kylie said...

my mum would call it a mattock but i have never talked to anyone but mum about them and she is a new zealander so she might be out of synch with australian terminology

rhymeswithplague said...

See, see, I told you the bra was the really important item in this post.

Snowbrush said...

"I would call it a digging-thingie, but it might not catch on."

I think not. It lacks a certain manly appeal, as it were, and, of course, all digging tools would qualify for the same name, which would result in confusion.

"she is a new zealander so she might be out of synch with australian terminology"

And why haven't you bombed them yet? America would have bombed them.

"See, see, I told you the bra was the really important item in this post."

I decided, years ago, that I was unhappy with the dirt in my crawlspace, it being uneven and too high for me to crawl about easily (easily being a relative term as used here) running wiring and replacing plumbing, so I set about to lower it. This meant scraping it down, putting it into a box, and dragging the box out from under the house so I could empty it. One of the things I uncovered during my excavations was a bra, and this led me to surmise that a former resident lady person had had an affair with a former plumber man person, and what better place to meet on the sly than in a plumber's natural domain. The only other option that I could think of was that a dog had buried it, and that seemed too unromantic to consider

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

My mother (also from Mississippi) called it a grubbing ax...

Zuzana said...

For being that old, that tool of yours looks almost like new. You really take good care of your tools.
I had a tool box, actually two when I was single. When I moved up north, they went into storage. I was rejoiced when I unpacked them again after we bought our house, as I hate my husbands tools. I can never find anything I need. So when I tried to walk away with my old toolboxes, my husband asked me what I was doing, as he needed them. I said I am off to find a new storage place for MY toolboxes. Then he replied that nothing is longer mine or his but ours. Ha, he got me there. But I guessed it proved that he likes my tools better too.;)
Have a great weekend,
xoxo

Helen said...

Brave, brave Snow! Excavating a crawl space would be my (almost) worst nightmare ... ranking right up there with the MRI tube experience.

The Blog Fodder said...

If I am digging hard ground I use a regular pick or a sharp crowbar if it is a narrow hole. For working a garden I use a spade though my preference is either a rototiller or if it is a large garden a tractor and plow/disk/cultivator depending on soil and where you live.

The Tusk said...

PICK AXE
Have you tried Cabelas for an Ice Auger. They definitely have those, but I wonder if they would serve the same purpose of a post hole digger Mr. Marlboro man. How many holes are you going to dig. Grainger has just about everything, if I had one, I'd ship it out to you.