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.