Gene Logsdon and Friends

Watching The Basketballs Float By

In Gene's Weekly Posts on April 15, 2015 at 9:50 am



There’s always something new headed your way, especially if you live beside a river. I visited Wendell Berry recently and we had the most marvelous time just sitting on his porch watching the Kentucky River flow by. The whole state had been experiencing serious flooding at that time and the river was way out of banks, licking up against his garden. Not as high as the “Thirty Seven Flood,” as it is referred to in Kentucky, which covered what would become his garden. (Everyone along the river knows exactly how high that famous flood rose, either in memory and with in-land markers.) We were discussing the awful erosion this part of Kentucky has suffered because of last few years’ corn and soybean craze that suckered landowners to once again cultivate land that their ancestors had learned the hard way should be kept in pasture. We had seen lots of gullies newly gouged out the rolling landscape on our way to Wendell’s farm. I was wondering how much mud would be deposited in the Gulf of Mexico just from this flood. Then Wendell said, in that tone of voice he assumes when he is about to say something droll: “But I haven’t seen any basketballs float by for an hour or so.”

“Please?” We were at the height of March Madness at the time, but basketball was not a part of the kind of madness we were discussing.

“When the water comes up this high this fast, hundreds of basketballs and soccer balls come floating past,” Wendell said.

I started watching for basketballs. More…

Bravo The Bloody Local Butcher Shop

In Gene's Weekly Posts on April 8, 2015 at 9:35 am



Our butcher retired recently and in the process of finding another, it seems clear that there’s a great opportunity opening up in local meat marketing if you can stand the work. Nobody wants to do it but most people want to enjoy its fruits. I have done my share of butchering hogs, chickens, even a few steers and lambs and I don’t much like to do it either. Carving up a dead carcass is not so bad once you learn how to sharpen a knife properly, but slaughtering is a nasty job, even when done “humanely.” On the other hand, so is hanging high up on an electric pole in a blizzard repairing a power line, emptying bedpans in an infirmary, or repairing a ruptured water main in below zero weather.

Meat is a part of the local farm, local food, local restaurant business that needs more participation. It can be lucrative and begs for more skilled and even artisanal entrepreneurial types. On a small scale, even the killing is not as distasteful as it sounds. Our method, the one most used in home butchering, is to shoot the animal in the head with a twenty-two rifle, which stuns it motionless momentarily during which time the jugular vein is cut. Professionals can do this swiftly and calmly and the animal never knows what happened to it. Small animals and chickens are generally hung upside down or held by some contrivance in a vertical position and the jugular vein cut with one swift pass. If reading this overwhelms you with revulsion, you should be a vegetarian. More…

The Happiest Farmers

In Gene's Weekly Posts on April 1, 2015 at 9:56 am



Carol and I attended the first annual Organic Farming Conference in Mt. Hope, Ohio, recently, and were struck by how happy the attending farmers appeared to be. Unlike typical agricultural meetings this spring, I heard no handwringing discussions over which kind of government insurance to apply for to keep from going broke this year, nor any obsessions over whether one’s farm was subject to the new Bt corn rules and practices coming along. Instead, a whole group of farmers were talking to each other about how good things look right now. What made that particularly remarkable is that most of them operate dairy farms with no more than 40-50 cows which the economists say is too few to make a living.

The group was composed mostly of Amish and Mennonite farmers with a sprinkling of us “English” types. The organizers had figured they might get 200 people to attend. Instead the count was closer to 500. All of them were excited about farming organically. More…