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Gene Logsdon: Happy Homestead Happenstances

How many slick tricks have you learned about farming and gardening more or less by accident? My favorite example happened because of laziness. I didn’t clean out the roof gutter on the barn for over a year. I have a longstanding prejudice against roof gutters anyway. Why not just let the water run off the roof onto a layer of gravel or stone along the wall? The gutters plug regularly and the water overflows anyway. This is especially true of my barn which sits in the woods. All sorts of tree leaves, twigs, and seeds end up in the gutter. Five tree leaves can plug a downspout no matter what kind of contraption you install to prevent it. And those screens that are supposed to keep debris out of the gutters become clogged and the water cascades right on over and down to the ground. That is, in any event, how I justify my laziness. Water running off the barn roof (as opposed to running off the house roof) is certainly not of any consequence as far as looks are concerned. In fact that water off the roof keeps the whole barnyard lawn nice and green all summer.

Now the plot thickens. Last year I decided to turn one of my pasture plots into woodland as you know if you have been reading this website. I figured I would just scatter all kinds of tree seeds over the plot and by and by some of them would sprout and grow. That does work, but I could see right away that nature’s way was going to be too slow for this old man. So I started transplanting seedlings. That too has proven not to be as easy or automatic as it sounds. Digging up seedlings is hard work and some of them die no matter how careful I try not to disturb the roots.

I was thinking about this situation one day in June when I happened to be walking past the barn. I looked up at the gutter and was startled to see that it looked like one very elongated pot of plants. All sorts of things were growing ludicrously out of it. But of course: maple, oak, ash, elm and wild cherry seeds had been washing into it for over a year. Some of them had sprouted and were growing with the abundance of rain that had fallen. I could lift them out with all their roots intact without straining one muscle, carry several dozen in a bucket at once, and plant them with only minimal effort.

Sometimes laziness pays. Happy happenstance farming!

Read the rest of the article to find out how to seed a pasture to clover by pretending to grow corn…

Gene Logsdon is the author of many books, including The Contrary Farmer, and the upcoming Holy Shit, available in our bookstore.

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