Last Word: The Farmer’s Blow

Photo Credit: Facundo Gastiazoro

Last Word: The Farmer’s Blow

👤Tania Millen 🕔May 01, 2017

Farmer’s blow, hock a loogie, blow snot rockets, honk the engineer’s horn—you know the deal. Someone reaches up, blocks one nostril, and lets ’er rip. Or—if they’re an overachiever—simply turns their head and lets a great glob of snot shoot out, like a bunch of bats leaving a cave. Hikers, bikers, skiers, paddlers, horseback riders—they’re all guilty. Some don’t even care whether their mates get hit and play a sneaky game of “avoid the UFO” with their companions.

But not everyone is a free flyer.

Mountaineering men seem to have an affinity for winter ‘stash-cicles—icy cones extending south from their leaky faucet glommed onto a hairy upper lip and hanging precariously over chapped lips. Meanwhile, careful tissue types dig around in their pockets—pants, sweater, jacket, oh where is that darn thing. Swipers surreptitiously smear snot on the back of their hand, glove or sleeve, while sniffers vainly attempt to prevent the dreaded drool from snaking down to their lips. Hanky lovers stash their snot rags in wrist-bulging sleeves or dirty pockets and drag out a slimy crumpled square whenever their nose springs a leak. And let’s not forget the diggers, pickers or excavators—old enough to know better but young enough to get away with poking a filthy appendage into the dark recesses of a nostril, searching for errant bats to be flicked away, or consumed.  

We all have noses, and they all run. How you deal with a runny nose might just say something about your personality. Or not. Let’s consider motives.

Those with a tissue or hanky handy might be well prepared, care about how they’re perceived, or simply well-schooled. Sniffers and swipers may also care about perception and be well-mannered folks—they’re just lousy boy scouts. Diggers, pickers and excavators aren’t planners and care even less about perception—or perhaps they’re just desperate to clear a clog. Which brings us to the honkers.

As youngsters we’re taught to politely blow our noses with tissue. The farmer’s blow is learned later in life, often by necessity. If poor planning prevents continuous tissue access, sniffing doesn’t work, and swiping or picking aren’t your thing, then free honking may become the stand-in, particularly while pursuing laborious outdoor sports where smelly sweat, grunge and questionable clothing are accepted norms. These lower-than-average sporting standards appear to have encouraged the evolution of free honking from discrete blows to fancy shows, advancing a necessity to an art form.

So is blowing snot rockets a selfish indulgence? The answer undoubtedly depends on the participants and spectators. Soggy tissues and foul hankies are usually more acceptable than a farmer’s blow, but it’s the ugly aftermath of a free honking episode that really puts others off.  

Because not even Olympic-level loogie hockers always make a clean blow. And that can be nasty.

— Tania Millen