Matthew Miner

Stone Picking

The first money I earned was from stone picking. It’s as glamorous as it sounds. Every spring before planting, farmers round up gaggles of kids to scour their fields for rocks large enough to damage their equipment.1 It’s drudgery. Even working with friends, the fun evaporates quicker than your sunscreen.

There are few economic opportunities for preteens in Southwestern Ontario though, so I always took the gig. The pay was painfully below minimum wage, maybe five bucks per hour.2 Some farmers fed you. The best ones kept a generous supply of Orange Crush.

My least favourite farmer paid based on her perception of your work ethic. Slackers made $4 / hour, true Paul Bunyans $8. I was in the middle, comfortably but uninspiringly atop the bell curve. What made it worse was that she publicly announced who made what, as if digging rocks from dirt wasn’t demoralizing enough.

I don’t miss it.

  1. Apparently stone picking machines exist. But I bet they’re less fun to operate than a pack of youths. 

  2. Relevant.