In this first Amish story, little Joe learns how (not to) hoe.
The little Amish boy's mother was working in the garden. The boy was wandering about, looking for interesting things to do. There was an invigorating spring freshness in the air.
A hoe lay at one end of the garden. Little Joe dragged it to her.
"Mommy, can I help?"
His mother straightened up, looked around the garden, then smiled at her 4-year old.
"You can hoe the radishes."
At the row of radishes, his mother pointed out a radish plant and carefully explained, "This is what a radish looks like when it's small. See the leaves? See, the other radish plants look the same."
Little Joe nodded his head, saying he understood.
His mother brought a short-handled hoe for him.
As she handed the hoe to Joe, one of his younger brothers woke up from a nap with a cry and she hurried into the house.
Joe carefully hoed each radish plant. When his mother came back to the garden, they were all hoed.
It was a few moments before his mother got her voice working, so rapidly was she bouncing between trying not to cry and trying not to laugh. Then, she congratulated him for hoeing exactly where he intended to hoe, not missing a one.
After that, she explained gently, "Joe, when you hoe again, hoe the weeds around the radishes, not the radishes themselves."
Joe realized he had misunderstood. Distressed, he asked, "How can I fix it, Mommy?"
That afternoon, Joe and his mother did a new radish planting.
Joe learned how far apart to place the seeds and how much loose dirt to cover them with. He was allowed to water the ground all by himself so the seeds would sprout and grow and become radishes.
He was happy his mistake was fixed and nothing was wrong anymore.