Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Today's picture was taken in 1964, and shows a grocer giving watermelon slices to children. These days, the watermelons you get in the grocery store are not very good. Around here, a lot of farmers will plant a few rows of watermelons in their fields alongside the cotton, or whatever cash crop they are growing. Then, they have roadside watermelon stands when the melons are ready. Once you have one of those big Black Diamond watermelons right from the field, you can't hardly eat the grocery store ones any more. I have tried before to grow watermelons in a garden, but have never had any luck. The vines come up and look big and healthy, but then when they start setting fruit, the leaves get something on them that kills the vine. So, I have never quiet mastered watermelon growing.

We had some interesting comments yesterday about what implement was used to dispatch the snake after the peacock eggs. xoxobruce suggested it was a mattock. I had never heard of a mattock, so I looked it up on the internet. Sure enough, what some people call a mattock, is known around here as a grubbing hoe. It is used for heavy chopping for things like prickly pear or algarita. What some people call a grubbing hoe, which is one chopping blade on a stick, we simply call a hoe. NYCgeezer suggested I was describing a pickaxe. I think a pickaxe is different, in that the blade on one side is more narrow. Interesting the subtle differences in names and functions. I do think the mattock is the same thing as a grubbing hoe.


  1. xoxoxoBruce is right about the mattock.

    I use to fight wild fires in the summer when I lived in Montana and we used mattocks, but to tell you the truth, we called them grubbing hoes.
    We used them to chop of brush with the hoe part and chop down trees with the axe end.
    So, when you used the term grubbing hoe, a picture of a mattock popped into my head.

    I'm from ND and there use to be truckers bring up loads of Black Diamond watermelon and set up along the road right out of town. Haven't seen them in many years.
    You are right once you have had a Black Diamond watermelon, all other watermelon are like eating sweet wet styrofoam with out hardly any flavor.
    I sure miss those roadside watermelon sellers.

  2. I'm going to respectfully suggest that you give up on the hoe thing altogether and build yourself a snake pole. I used to employ the "chop their head off" method but discovered it was easier to relocate them than to kill them. There are several pictures of said pole in this post:

  3. My dad grew up in Oklahoma in the 20's. He always talked about how good the watermelons were in the fields. He said the farmers would plant the melons in the fields so workers had something to hydrate them far away from the wells.

  4. Tonia O'UvaldeJune 30, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    I sympathize with your snake problems. I’ve found snakes on our property but my DH wouldn’t let me kill them. (And I’m the PETA person in the family.) I’m just hoping that our chickens won’t fall prey to any of the vast array of critters around here. I have some pics on my backyard chickens page:
    I love my chickens and I would love to have peacocks but there’s not enough room here for them.

  5. Tonia,
    Very nice chickens. Are those Red Stars?

    If you have snakes, the Hail screen will keep them out of the chicken area. Chicken wire keeps varmits out, but snakes will go right through.

    Are you getting eggs?

  6. Kids narrowly prefer watermelon to photography, 5 to 4.

  7. See how the kids are dressed like kids, ready to do some serious outdoor playing. Not like today's rap star wannabees or those perpetually dressed for the beach.

  8. At the risk of flogging a dead hoe...
    Where I grew up in Ohio the tool we called a pickaxe was pointed on one end and had a blade on the other end. The blade was at a right angle to the handle. We also used mattock to describe the same tool, but a mattock has a blade on both ends, at right angles to each other.
    I'm always interested in regional and national variations of names for tools. I was a stagehand for over forty years and traveled around the country and the planet. I was always fascinated by the the different names I encountered for the same tools.

  9. Gosh, I thought everybody knew that to get dcent watermelons, you had to plant them in the "spring".

  10. PJM: How about just taking a picture of your grubbing hoe/mattock & posting it?
    Tonia: PETA, huh? Around here that stands for People for the Eating of Tasty Animals.

  11. I object. 1964 is not an old photo. It's the year I graduated High School and I'm beat-up, but not old. Harrumph!

    Wyoming/Montana terminology:
    Mattock - two 90 degree blades - both sharpened - an adze and an ax on the same stick.
    Pick - pointy on both ends.
    Pickaxe - see Pick.
    And while we're at it:
    Crow bar - straight
    Wrecking bar - curved

    Used to get both Black Diamonds (yummy) and Texas Greys (huge, but, not very tasty). Watermelons today, like most everything else from the grocery store, is bred to produce quickly in large quantities, and the only tastiness required is enough to get it off the shelf and into your car. Oh, yeah, and if it does happen to be tasty and you want to grow some yourself, forget it because they've been bred to be sterile.

  12. Don't give up on watermelons. I'm growing an Israeli variety this summer called Malali. It might work great for you in Texas. Keep on trying.

    PS - watermelon has been known to increase virility.

  13. And the watermelons are good for you, being full of vitamin P

  14. Tonia O'UvaldeJuly 1, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    The chickies are Easter Eggers, 1/2Red Island Red and 1/2 Amerucana. They aren't quite five months old so no eggs yet. I hope that end of July, 1st of August that we'll get eggs. The snakes I found were small, at first I thought they were big worms! Hopefully, the roadrunners, other birds and cats will keep them away. We've seen roadrunners fighting snakes in the yard across the alley from us.


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