Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Plowing

My life in appalachia plowing

Appalachian Proverb: “He who on the farm would thrive; must either hold the plow or drive.”

Lucky for us-these days he who thrives can hold and drive the plow simultaneously.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 9, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Tipper-I think what Tamela is referring to is what I call a push plow. It has no draft animal in front. Only a wheel. The person does the plowing by pushing the handles. I have seen them with 1, 2, 3 or 4 blades. Those with multiple blades or points, I call a cultivator. They work very well in a small garden to keep down weeds. Google push plow.

  • Reply
    April 9, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Tamela-Now you’ve confused me LOL : ) I always took it to mean the horse-mule-ox did the holding and the person did the driving. But now I think it could be the animal doing the plowing and person doing the holding. And in certain cases I’m sure a person was on both ends of the plowing-if there was no animal to help. Thank you for the comment!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 8, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    what a can of worms was opened yesterday…I have heard them all except “jimjams” I beleive it was. I always said
    My grandmother would refer to “josies” on occasion. Mother, never…
    Being that my fathers side came from Germany…and was some jewish folks down the line way back we were used to hearing “jew-down”…of no bother…since we were call “German tarheels”..LOL
    I know my Father used the term “jewed me down on a price a lot of times.” Even with his background. It was passed down from way back…We all guit using that expression as years passed. However, my Father, would never take the first price that someone offered him for an item, he always haggled and haggled and finally got the price down. I know making the seller angry and giving him the price, just to get rid of him…LOL I have been told stories that my Grandfather was the same way, giving merchants in town such a fit that they hated to see him coming into the merchantiles…LOL I guess it had a lot to do with people trying to get by the best they could with what money they had and getting the best buys that they could. It must have been a inborn trait in my Dads side of the family…My Irish/Scottish background mother shamed him til he quit doing so much haggling or and saying jewed down…I never heard him say it or do it in his old years…If he couldn’t buy it at that price he just walked off.
    Back in the olden days with only one source of good, one didn’t have an option to go from a Big Box store to the next Big Box store or the gas to shop for the lowest price!….Think about it!
    Although it doesn’t make it right in todays language…I am proud to be a tight Scot/Irish, of haggling German heritage..
    Thanks Tipper for posting the term “jewdown”….If we don’t know were we’ve been, we’ll never know were we’re going!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 8, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    “You’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind!”
    This also applies to your post the other day….”Once begun, half done!”…

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    April 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    My wife still talks of her Grandfather plowing with mules in W. Va. I guess it wasn’t so long ago,1950’s.He never did get a tractor, the mules did their job as long as he was able to do his.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I remember Daddy plowing the garden with the mule. These were my grandfather’s mules–Kate & Jack. Can’t remember which one was plowing but Daddy put my brother on his/her back & the mule bucked him off. There was a very long bottom they farmed & it was plowed by mule, too. Same brother was following Daddy plowing there when a neighbor’s dog snuck up & bit him (my brother) right on the butt. Grandpa brought him home in his old blue truck. Brother was young enough he was standing in the seat. He turned his torn bottom around in the truck window to show us and said, “I’m dog bit.”
    Later on, my baby brother got in the pasture of our Uncle’s mule, Rodey. He was riding his bicycle & Rodey took out after him. Another brother (I have 3) was watching–said baby bro was peddling for dear life hollering, “Gee Rodey, Haw, Rodey” in hopes she’d turn.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 8, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    I got my garden tillered awhile back,
    but haven’t planted anything yet. The
    tractor guy sure did a nice job pullin’
    a big tiller behind his tractor. As he
    left, he even covered up his tire
    It’s plum cold today, I got a fire!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    April 8, 2014 at 11:45 am

    The difference between men & boys is the price of their toys.

  • Reply
    Deb Wright
    April 8, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Hi Tipper,
    We are truely lucky for modern devices.
    When my Grandpa cleared his land of scrub brush he had to guide an ox pulling a railroad tie. All of that labor to then start the tilling and planting.
    Remembering my Grandparents small half acre city garden many years later, long after the farm was gone, with neat rows and beautifully arranged crops, I am so proud of them for all they did to raise a family.
    Being part of the earth is the tie that bonds all of us. Losing this connection is probably why our nation is facing problems. Raising food is a family and a community supported affair.

  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    April 8, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Girls who plant seed beans in a dead stump is in a world of trouble and that’s a fact!
    P. L.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2014 at 10:31 am

    I just read the flurry of comments which occurred yesterday after I posted my comment (not in response to my comment) and I feel compelled to comment.
    Sometimes phrases and comments are used in complete innocence which others take as offensive. Although I was not offended by the omission, Tipper edited out part of my story to a previous post about my learning about the N word as a child. – she had reason to be sensitive to certain parts of the story. Also in this vein, my husband has been referred to a “Jew ..last name.. because he was (and still is) unusually thrifty as a teenager – he also has a long, “sharp” nose – but the phrase has more to do with admiration for his ability to manage money – and a little bit of humor since his religious heritage is Church of Christ and Baptist.
    Sometimes phrases and comments can be used within a cultural group but not by those outside the group without offending someone (best example, the N word). Some words only become offensive by intonation or posture although at the moment, I can’t think of a good example.
    My husband’s father always called his mother “Mamma Girl” – I found it very offensive (because I thought my father-in-law always used a condescending (“denigrating”. . . .) tone with her and treated her in a condescending manner. My husband was very hurt when I wouldn’t let him call me that.
    And what about the president who went to Australia, made a sports team gesture because of some football event then going on in the U.S. and offended an entire continent?
    We do need to be sensitive to those around us as we speak and interact with others; but we also need to be aware of our language traditions, heritage, and history. They are a record of who we were and are. Ask any writer – language helps develop a character although the writer would not necessarily use that type of language in normal conversation. With the many regional and cultural variations in our language we are a savory stew; without them we become bland mush; we just need to adjust the seasonings for the table we are serving to avoid offending some palates.
    That said, this blog is all about learning the history and heritage of Appalachia. Considering that, I think exploring the phrase “jew down”, since it wasn’t used in a derogatory or deprecating manner but rather as a language study, is perfectly acceptable here. The table being served here is academic.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I can’t quite wrap my head around this proverb.
    My Dad began farming with a single blade hand plow he calls a “potato hiller” (I still have it – or what’s left of it) although he never farmed potatoes. It has a wheel on the front and the “driver” held the handles so the blade went in the desired depth and pushed it through the field.
    I have seen variations which were hitched to a mule (if one was so fortunate) in which case the mule was “driven” by the same person “holding” the plow. Even if one had a helper pulling the plow there would still be one person “holding” and “driving” (steering/guiding/directing the plow.
    Please explain how one could only do one or the other, “hold” or “drive”.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    April 8, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Farmers proverb: Three fold meaning; old timers taught in depth,having God’s instructions and used the wisdom He gave them.
    I would love to recall a visit with one and drank that JFG coffee with them once more.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 8, 2014 at 8:03 am

    My Daddy’s “tractor” was voice activated. A whistle would bring it to the barn. A click with your tongue would start it. Gee made it turn right. Haw made it go left. Whoa would make it stop. A spoonful of salt in the palm of your hand made it love you.
    Whoever wrote the old Proverb surely didn’t have a well trained draft animal.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    April 8, 2014 at 8:00 am

    In the early spring time, Daddy always hired a man to plow the garden. For the rest of the growing season he used a tiller to keep down the weeds. I never appreciate the hard work of running a tiller until I, as an adult, used one. There is joy in watching the muscles in the arms of a man especially when one knows those muscles shelter you as well as provide the family livelihood.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 8, 2014 at 7:48 am

    As much as I would love to have a tractor like your Mr.’s, I’d druther have a couple of steers broke to the yoke. Unfortunately I can’t afford either. In a pasture near here there are twin Jersey steers with long horns. I covet them every time I drive by. I don’t know the owners intentions for these beautiful animals but I fear it is more likely the plate that the plow.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 8, 2014 at 7:10 am

    A man and his toys is a fine thing to behold!

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