Callused Hands and Plow Lines Helped Build a Proud South Land

Updated on June 8, 2020
kenneth avery profile image

Kenneth is a rural citizen of Hamilton, Ala., and has begun to observe life and certain things and people helping him to write about them.



there is no exact date or day when the first plow lines were invented. Although this would have been a great milestone, sadly, there is no linkage to the plow lines in the history of farming in the early south of the United States. But plow lines alone did not fare well enough to master the tasks of plowing the young farmers’ fields for anything from food to other marketable goods, they also had the help of a pair of calussed hands. As a pair working intrinsic items, they mastered the work of plowing and did not break a sweat.

You see him here despising the sharp rays that run throughout his skin bringing the sweat that covers his face like a wet bath tag. He takes his hat off, wipes his face, gets his breath, and goes on about his day-long task of getting his field ready to plant. It’s a perpetual event.

Year after year, each spring and fall, he goes about the same thing at the same time and getting pretty much the same result: food for his table, shoes on his feet and a roof over his family and him. Sure, in his viewpoint, he has always counted on more money as he has worked every sweaty mile to only have what he has, but all being said, he does not complain.

You would be wise to pay no attention to his gruff-looking exterior and does not make a salty remark fly, it’s because he is not ready to retire and come home to stay. He is a southern farmer. But along with himself, he has his “friends” to help him each day: “Ozark,” his faithful mule of 22-years. He has never missed a planting season without her help, his bull-tongue plow; scratcher; disks; sweep, and his trusty rope that he uses for plow lines to guide “Ozark,”and those wrinkled hands to combat the sharp briers.

Now Going on 23-years

he has not changed that much. Although he does keep himself abreast of the local and national news that comes each day through his television and newspaper, he just shakes off the dark news in the world and manages to create a smile on his scruffy face. Yes, for 23-years, it’s been him, the plow lines and two crusty hands that have helped him in each of those moments and to be honest, he just as soon to stay home and become a hermit for the less of money that he makes each fall on his harvest. But in his spirit, he finds no justification for complaining.

His wife has been at his side for most of those 23-years because in the early days of their marriage, the two of them did not start farming. The farmer took a job in some small bearing factory situated about 15-miles from his farm, but it did not take long for him to realize that inasmuch he was very punctual and never missed one day of those two weeks, the bosses just shook his hand and said that they hated his decision to go into farming, then walked out of the room and disappeared right along with him and his dream of running and owing a successful south land farm.

Frankly and brutally honest the farmer and his wife and children have seen (what can look like) the worst that life could throw at them, but they not only endured, but were victorious although no flags of celebration were flown. As a final blow, no parades were given in his family’s names. And this painful lot called farming was a good decision, just had to run numerous times in the farmer and his wife’s hearts, but there was “that” little voice in his heart that kept whispering, go ahead! Stand up! And with the tears, fears, and some reluctance, they all grouped together and this faming family was on their feet.

Now What Does The Previous

text have to do with plow lines and crusty hands? More than you think. A lot more. To the average eye, a pair of plow lines and a pair of crusty old hands are not much of a tourist attraction. Instead, they stand for more than just things seen in the life around us. Plow lines and crusty hands have and do make a very trusting team of innumerable hours that have plowed, planted, and took in the equal amount of foods that were grown in and out of the soil. The farmer in this saga would be the first to agree.

Did you know that a pair of good plow lines can be used for a lot more than hitching to a good, faithful mule such as “Ozark,” and produce a lot of good food that has helped to feed a lot of children and adults. We owe so much to the American farmer and his wife and children, who went on to be farmers in their own right just by walking in the deep rows of soil that the farmer and his mule tuned over to plant soil. Learning by example. This one is so good to share.

Plow lines can be used for:

  • Thrown over a strong limb and sued for a rope swing for children and adult

  • Used to seal a big package that you are sending to someone far away

  • Playing a rousing game of jump rope

  • Put up to be the ring when two boxers are about to rumble

  • Making a snare trap for game when one is on a survival challenge

  • Making a neat rope bridge when trading across a raging river

  • Pulling a big tire for exercise by college or pro football players

  • Putting a loose leash onto a cow, calf, cow, mule and horse

  • Plowing via mules as seen in this hub

And without being one-sided, what are the uses of an old man’s crusty hands?

  • Manual work of all types

  • Signaling some sign to another person

  • Holding cents either found or given out of a dollar bill

  • Holding both hands into the air as a sign of a touchdown by a football ref

  • Playing a musical instrument

  • Turning the pages while reading the Bible or other books

  • Using a typewriter or laptop

  • Patting the head of a nice animal

  • Swimming or using a bat to hit a home run or catch a good touchdown pass

  • Flick the ashes from an expensive cigar

  • Sip your favorite coffee or drink some lemonade in your favorite gass

And “the” Best one that I can share is . . .

  • Holding a sweetheart before and after marriage, a child and several grandchildren

Such I have been blessed with to be able to use these two crusty hands.

That, my friends, is it. Now how about a “hand?"

June 3, 2020_____________________________________________________


© 2020 Kenneth Avery


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    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      3 months ago from SW England

      I like the way you have woven this from history to now, Kenneth. It's an interesting historical narrative and your ending brought a smile to my face. Family is important throughout this and the children play such an important part.

      You certainly deserve a hand for this!

      I hope you're safe and well.



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