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Date:10/23/2014 1:05:11 AM
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The Hoe, Part III
I've put forth the idea of the long hoe as a symbol of independence. A trowel is what we use to plant flowers on our knees, bowing to the earth, as Hal Borland wrote, while "sending up a prayer to the Man upstairs" as a popular Country song says. A long hoe is what we use to weed flower beds, vegetable gardens, and hoe up to five acres of Indian corn and cucumbers when I was a boy. A short hoe has no place in a small-holding, as the English would call a small farm cultivated by its owner.

While teaching myself Spanish, one of the first words I looked up was the word for a small farm. It was cortijo. The term came to the Spanish from the Latin "cohortis" and "curtare". The first meaning a place where one keeps animals and the second "make short". The Spanish word "huerto" (orchard) derives from the same root word. Simply put, cortijo is a small place in which to grow and raise things. Fitting enough for me. I am able to say with pride, "No hay nigunos cortitos a mi cortijo."

It seems that the small farmer has always been a target of those who do not wish to see political power pass to the countryman, (even less so the countrywoman). In England, the "Inclosure Acts" were designed to eliminate cooperation among the small-holders in order to share plowing and herding resources. The acts required each small holding to be fenced off, thus preventing one small farmer with oxen and a plowshare, to plow the fields of several of his neighbors. The result of the Inclosure Acts was to eliminate the peasantry from owning agricultural land. The ensuing result was a vast migration of landless peasants to the cities and the availability of a politically powerless workforce to enable the Industrial Revolution.

Peasants, Paysans, Peons, Paisonos, all are terms to describe those who live close to the earth, often without benefit of ownership or any other rights. To that list we can add campesinos and serfs. It is one of the shining jewels of our American experience that the concept of the free small farmer (albeit white) was a cornerstone of our early Republic. As Ralph Walso Emerson wrote in "Concord Hymn":
"By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world."

That concept has always appealed to me. A farmer who knows how to use a hoe AND a rifle is so independent that it frightens the elites even down to this very day. --Gary
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