When I was in high school, I had a teacher who theorized that rocks were the cause of the American Civil War. His idea was simple: Northern soil is filled with rocks (hence all those stone walls you see everywhere) and therefore less suitable for farming. This caused the North to switch to an industrial economy as soon as it could, leaving the South to be the farmers, using slave labor.
Today, my mother, grandmother, brother, and I rototilled a little plot of land in my yard, and planted cutting and vegetable gardens. We also pulled enough rocks out of the ground to build low stone barriers around the garden. My poor brother was down in the dirt with a shovel, pulling up rocks of all sizes for hours…and this was just for a small plot. Imagine plowing hundreds of acres with a mule and a shovel. No wonder people preferred to go to work in textile mills. Continue reading