Clark Hollow Ramblings: Foddershocks on the Fodderstack

When I was a young fellow, it seemed to me that in the summer every other field had corn growing in it. Then, later in the year, you would see the foddershocks scattered about the field. It was a lovely harbinger of autumn and preparation for the winter to come, for man and for beast.

Two foddershocks stand in Richard Brady’s garden.Richard Brady
Two foddershocks stand in Richard Brady’s garden.

The two oldest grandkids, ages 6 and 3, were here one day last week. I had been thinking about what to do with the corn standing in the garden, so I put them to work. No, I didn’t give them corn knives. What I did give each of them was a big pair of pruners or loppers, with long handles for lots of leverage. I put them to work cutting the corn, with some help from granny, as I proceeded to make the foddershocks.

Now, if you are not from around here you may not be familiar with the word “foddershock.” If you go to Wikipedia, it will fail you — miserably. It will refer you to an Americana band that just released a new album, or some such foolishness.

But, if you persist, you will find some pictures of dried corn standing upright, and tied with a string. I’m going to send along a small picture of the foddershocks in my garden, and if there is room, maybe the paper will let you see what a foddershock looks like. Not all of us have computers.

Speaking of computers, even as I write this column, the spellcheck part of my Microsoft Word program continues to underline foddershock in red, to call my attention to what the system thinks is a misspelled word. I can only assume that foddershocks went out of fashion before spellcheck started telling everybody what they were spelling wrong.

I talked to my brother, Charles, the other day about foddershocks. He remembers Dad pulling the corn stalks out of the shock, pulling the ears off and shucking them, and throwing the ears of dried corn in a pile. Charles had to pick up the shucked ears and put them in a sack.

What I remember about those days were our two beagles, Spot and Bounce, getting more and more excited as Dad got closer and closer to the last of the corn in the shock. They knew there would likely be a mouse hiding in there, and they were very anxious to see which of them would catch it.

After removing the ears of corn, Dad tied the dried corn stalks into smaller bundles, and we would carry them to the barn. They were used to feed the milk cows. The sacked corn was used to feed the hogs we raised each year and butchered in the fall.

With the coming of corn pickers and choppers and other harvesting equipment, foddershocks have gone the way of dodo birds. Times have changed a lot, but maybe you, too, remember the foddershocks standing in the corn fields in the fall. Whether the times have changed for the better or not, we will just have to wait and see.

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Richard Brady
About Richard Brady 128 Articles
Richard Brady was born and raised within sight of Rappahannock Peak, as was his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, etc. He graduated from George Mason University and was employed for 35 years with various agencies of the federal government. He retired in 2001, and he and his wife, Linda, live in Flint Hill, Va.