Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Contrary Farmer :: Chapter 9 Book Report

Okay, it is safe to say that I had slight problems with this chapter. But, I'm sure it is just a difference of view. Gene Logsdon is writing to the "cottage farmers" who have off farm jobs or other work from home jobs that aren't part of the "farm". Also, he does not favor a total grassfed approach or totally pastured system, but I think he agrees they can work. Basically, it comes down to this ... he is writing for people who are farming as a second job or farming as a first job and doing something else as a second job. With that type of set-up there is more money for the mechanical things ... by the way, this chapter is titled, "Cottage Mechanics."

He begins the chapter writing about farming ingenuity and the importance of the farm tractor and such. Pretty good stuff ... stuff that I generally enjoyed and agreed with. That being said, let me list the problems in had with this chapter:

  • A Pickup Truck

  • Hydraulically-Powered Bucket or Manure Scoop

  • Cultivating Tools : plow, disk, spike tooth harrow, and a spring tooth harrow

  • A Cultipacker

  • Weed Cultivator (tractor type or tiller)

  • Broadcast Seeder

  • Sickle Bar Mower

  • Hay Rake

  • Baler

  • Manure Spreader

  • Some sort of Grain Harvester (AC All-Crop pull behind)

  • Fencing Tools (stretchers and such)

  • Chain Saw, an axe, a peavey, two wedges, and a steel splitting maul

  • Tile Trenching Spade

  • Shovel and or Spade for weeding

  • Pitch Forks

  • Grain Scoop Shovel and Bushel Baskets

  • Lawn Mower

  • Heated Repair Shop

  • Pair of Pliers and Pocketknife

  • Grease Gun and Oil Can

I must say this chapter ... which includes a very long list (with explanations) of tools and implements needed to be a contrary farmer ... was very overwhelming to me. I looked at the list (which is what you see above) and felt like there is no way that I could ever get into farming full-time and make a profit. I realize that he isn't talking about getting these things all at once, but even acquiring them over time takes an outlay of cash that cuts into the bottom line. So, I took a second look at the list and thought a little...

I see where he is coming from on everything Mr. Logsdon puts on the list, but I think I'm going to work with less! He is thinking that many of these items can be purchased inexpensively at farm auctions (which they can) and that the can be used to do various farming activities (which is true). But, I think you can cut out quite a bit if you leave out a few things, which may be inexpensive by themselves but add up eventually. I think I would cut out anything related to growing grains ... except the broadcast seeder and maybe a plow. Also, think more about what you can get other people in your area to do for you. Besides the money aspect the thing that scared me about the list was, where do I put all that and how do I fix all that!

As I said, I understand where he is going with all of those things and totally agree with their viability for the "contrary farmer". I just think I need to look at more inexpensive and less tractor related methods as I work at being a beginning farmer.

One thing for sure ... this book does make me think and is inspiring. That is a good thing!


Walter Jeffries said...

Hmm... We have very little of the equipment on that list.

For the big items we have a tractor with a bucket loader and back hoe.

I have a tractor PTO powered broadcast seeder but have only used it - I wasted money on it. It is easier to do the pastures by hand - and safer being we're a bit tilted.

We have a box scraper - useful for regrading the driveway and woods roads as well as using as a crude plow but I don't use it often.

The drag rake we almost never use.

The animals spread all the manure so no manure spreader is necessary.

Our land is hilling and I would rather not bale on it. I fear - bale out - would be the operative term.

Lawn mower? We bought one but only used it one year - Sheep are quieter and do the job more easily.

Chainsaw - now that is key, along with a lot of hand tools.

Don't buy things too fast. Learn what you need as you go, slowly. It will save money. Big tools with a lot of power are a good way to get hurt fast - keep that in mind...

I'm always looking at how I can get the animals to do the labor or just plain make it unnecessary. A lot of current 'conventional' wisdom of what is needed and what must be done is not necessary.

Ethan Book said...

Walter - Thanks for the great comment! I think your words are full of much wisdom.

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elizabeth said...

Thanks for posting good article .I think chain saw is a must key along with hand tools.

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