Taking Inventory: Hoe

What else are you going to use to farm dirt? Your HANDS???

The life of a farmer is not an easy one. Rising before dawn, tending the crops all day, and going to bed exhausted before waking up the next morning to do it all over again. But there’s a tool in Minecraft that makes things a little easier – a small ray of sunshine for the game’s farming community. It’s our item of the week – the hoe.

Hoes were added to Minecraft in February 2010, at the same time as the farmland block, seeds, wheat, bread, and a fix for a bug where mobs would occasionally walk around backwards (no moonwalking in Minecraft, please). Like most tools, they come in five varieties: wood, stone, iron, gold, and diamond – each with different durabilities.

Hoes are crafted by placing two of the aforementioned resources in a crafting grid along with a pair of sticks. You can also occasionally find hoes in woodland mansions, whose former inhabitants were clearly keen gardeners. 

To use a hoe, all you need to do is right-click on a grass block. That’s it. It’ll turn into farmland, upon which you can plant whatever seeds your heart (or stomach) desires. Hoes can also be used to convert coarse dirt into regular dirt, and wooden hoes can be used as fuel in a furnace – which is far less efficient than just using the wood you’d use to make the hoe.

In the real world, hoes are an ancient technology – one of the oldest agricultural tools known to mankind. They’re used for shaping and clearing soil, removing weeds, harvesting root vegetables and much more.

In Sumerian mythology, hoes were invented by Enlil – the god of wind, air, earth, and storms. According to a 108-line poem dating to around 2500BC, Enlil’s original hoe was pretty blingtastic – it was made of gold, with a head carved from lapis lazuli. Maybe that would be a nice addition to Minecraft...

The hoe went rather out of fashion once the plough was invented somewhere around the fifth or fourth millennium BC. But the invention didn’t spread everywhere, and hoe farming continued in many parts of the world for centuries longer.

The plough hasn’t arrived in Minecraft either, so I’m afraid you’re stuck with hoes. At least until some smart villager figures out a better approach...

Written by
Duncan Geere
Published

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