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Memories of Spring Plowing in Mini Farm Tools
  ·  2020-04-16  ·   Source: Xinhua News Agency

Since machines have replaced manpower in most farmwork, the wide variety of tools that Chinese peasants used to depend on to till the land have been mostly stored in memories. 

Guo Xican, 75, has been a farmer and carpenter in Wanzai County, Jiangxi Province in east China -- a major rice planting area -- for over 50 years. He learned the skills from a veteran carpenter and often helped villagers to make farm tools in his leisure. 

Though glad to be "laid off," he often misses the old days. So, he decided to start creating mini farm tools to fulfill his nostalgia. 

"In the past, farmers usually built a small shack to store farm tools next to the main house. There were so many tools of various shapes and sizes," said Guo, who moved from the countryside to the county about two decades ago. 

"The new houses are smaller, so I made the tools smaller," said Guo. 

The first mini tool he made was an iron plow, which took him about a week to finish. He wrote the word "Wugufengdeng" on it in Chinese, which implies a bumper grain harvest. 

"Making mini tools is difficult because I only use knives and tweezers," he said. "The hardest one I've ever made is a water wheel which took me two weeks because it has a complex structure." 

The water wheel can fit in the palm of Guo's hand, while his largest creation of a millstone is about 60 centimeters in diameter. 

"I was immediately brought back to the old days when I saw a mini trolley he made," said his neighbor. 

Now Guo has made a collection of over 200 mini farm tools. "I didn't understand my father at first. But now I can feel his passion for it and also plan to learn carpentry from him after retirement," said his son Guo Qinwei, who is helping his father make a book introducing traditional farm tools in China. 

According to statistics from China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the overall mechanization rate of crop cultivation in China exceeded 70 percent in 2019, and the production of wheat, rice and corn has been basically mechanized. But Guo still cherishes the memories of farming with traditional tools. 

In 2019, Guo was named by the local culture department as the inheritor of a farm tool making project. 

"My greatest wish is to build a museum of farming culture," he said. 

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