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Gene Logsdon: Harvesting Tranquility

Gene Logsdon, sometimes known as “the contrary farmer” after the book of the same name, is a small-scale farmer with a vitally important crop: Logsdon cultivates and harvests tranquility.

From the Contrary Farmer blog:

When visitors ask what our main crop is on our little farm, they look a bit startled when I reply “wood.” They look even more startled when I say the reason wood is important to us is that it brings tranquility to our lives. In winter when an old man’s fancy turns to thoughts of staying warm, I am just about as happy to have a garage full of stove wood as to have a storeroom full of food. I could not afford to keep the house toasty warm with “bought” fuel. If the electricity conks out in a January blizzard, as it seems to do more often now than in years past, we can ride the storm out fairly well. Not only will we stay warm, but we can cook our food and warm our water. The mere thought of this kind of security relieves stress and brings tranquility— the Federal Reserve can take away the interest on our life’s savings, but I don’t think even that bunch of buzzards can take away the warmth from our wood. Tranquility is the most precious possession of life, possibly more conducive to good health than proper food, exercise or medication. Add to that the tranquility that can be achieved in the work of cutting and splitting wood in the sanctuary of the trees. I often think of one of my heroes, Scott Nearing, who kept cutting wood until he was 100 years old. He stopped then, figuring he had enough ahead to last the rest of his life.

In terms of income, we reckon our tree land brings in about $1000 a year from the value of the wood substituting for other home heating fuels and an occasional sale of sawlogs and veneer logs, plus some black walnut and cherry lumber turned into furniture. There are also nuts and mushrooms for food, and hickory bark for cooking and smoking meat on the grill. There are bean poles and fence posts and gate boards and chicken roosts too. A thousand dollars is not much in terms of today’s high-flying business profits, but even this small amount, in terms of saving money is interesting (another dratted pun). In the thirty years we have been doing this, that’s $30,000 and if that money were put regularly into a savings account at five percent interest, the total amount would be appreciable if the Fed hadn’t interfered. But the money-saver must look on the bright side. Money in a savings account earns no interest now, but on the other hand, lifetime savers aren’t paying out interest on debt either. Moreover, renewable fuel is a far better investment than money. If heating fuel should become unavailable, not all the money in the world can keep you warm unless you use it for stove wood.

Read the whole article here.


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