Gems From The Lives Of Contrary Farmers

 

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From Our Archives August 2007
GENE LOGSDON (1931 – 2016)
The Contrary Farmer

A fellow contrary farmer, and also a shepherd in my neck of the woods, was having a problem. He found his flock ram dead in the lot behind the barn. Since long experience had convinced him that sheep love to die, he was not too upset but decided to worm the rest of the flock, just in case parasites were the cause. He and his equally contrary wife rounded up the sheep which were about half wild from being out all summer and tried to run them into the barn. No way. There is one thing more contrary than contrary farmers and that is contrary sheep. When they do not wish to go into the barn only a good Border Collie can change their mind and this farmer did not have one. For the better part of an hour he tried every trick known to mere humans to force them inside. Forget it. Beside himself with fury, his eye fell upon the dead ram in the lot. Suddenly an inspiration. He grabbed the carcass by the leg and dragged it into the barn. Sure enough, the sheep piled in behind him.

If you want to know why people who otherwise seem to be quite normal insist on trying to farm, that story gives an inkling. Wondrously strange things happen out here between the fence lines and the long rows of corn and you have to live here to experience them.

Another example: A very very contrary farm couple who operate a little market garden farm (Andy Reinhart and Jan Dawson) were hosting a guided tour of organic farmers from the Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association (OEFFA). Would I like to come to their farm on tour day and sign my new book? Well, of course. We live not far away. That’s when Andy came up with this gem: “Do you want to sign books under the ash tree, the maple tree or the oak tree?”

Now I ask any writer in the whole world. Did you ever have a choice like that? I chose maple because it would have the thickest shade and go the longest in case of rain without dripping.

Oh Deer, What Can The Matter Be?

 

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From Our Archives August 2007
GENE LOGSDON (1931 – 2016)
The Contrary Farmer

Thirty years ago, if I saw a herd of twenty or thirty deer grazing in grain fields in our neighborhood, I would have thought seriously about going on the wagon and I don’t mean a hay wagon either. There were no deer in our county then. Today such a sight is common.

Deer are becoming a very big problem but the general populace doesn’t think so yet. Have you ever been at a public meeting where hunters ally with wild animal lovers to lash out against homeowners, biologists, farmers and insurance companies who want to reduce the number of deer significantly? I have. It is not pretty. These people really get angry, shouting and cursing at each other. Ted Williams, my favorite wildlife writer, described in Audubon magazine a couple of years ago a confrontation where a biologist was trying to tell hunters about the depredations that deer were causing to the wild. They “interrupted him by stomping and jeering, … cursed and spat at him, … pushed him and threatened to kill him.”

Just What We Need: Faster Tractors

 

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GENE LOGSDON (1931 – 2016)
From Our Archives June 2007

Ohio’s politicians are considering a bill that would allow giant tractors to go 40 miles per hour on the highway. At present farm tractors are not supposed to be driven over 25 mph on public thoroughfares. The State House of Representatives has passed the bill unanimously and I presume the senators will do about the same. This really cracks me because of a fond experience of my wild oats days. But the law also amuses me considerably just on the basis of its own merits or demerits. For those urbanites who might not divine the reason for this law (if the politicians know, they aren’t spelling it out publicly), farming has become such a wide-ranging enterprise that farmers often rent land far from the home place. The old saying of “trying to farm the whole county” needs to be updated to “trying to farm the whole state.” Getting to the next field sometimes takes more time than getting it planted. Therefore tractors must move faster on the road, (not to mention in the field) or America might starve to death. If that’s not amusing to you, you need to improve your sense of humor.

I wonder if the lawmakers have thought this 40 mph rule through. When behemoth tractors could travel “only” 25 mph, it was easier to pass them in a car than it will be now that they are scooting along at 40. And if they are allowed to go 40, you know for sure they’ll be going 45 or 50 soon enough. That’s one thing but not the whole of the problem. It is daunting enough to see a machine big enough to straddle your car approaching you on the highway at 40 mph., but what if it is pulling some monstrous piece of farm equipment as it certainly will be. Today’s 30 and 40 row planters (or more) take up at least four lanes of highway when fully extended, so of course they have to be swiveled around sideways by the miracle of hydraulic power to be transported over a road. To pass something like that on a highway might take fifteen minutes at legal speeds. Disks and other cultivating rigs are even more daunting. Fully extended, these “tools” are also several lanes wide, so they fold up hydraulically, one wing or arm over the other for road travel. Today’s farm machinery has more hoses on it than a fire truck.