Leaving work on Friday, stepping out into a long weekend, the breeze felt looser, smoother, cooler – and so did I.
I’m still reading Larding the Lean Earth
… from Pennsylvania farmer John Lorain, writing in 1820:
Man is the most destructive animal in the universe, when he considers that his resources cannot fail. (p. 104)
Lorain said that the affluent appeared to forget or not to know "that agriculture, when properly pursued, under the most favourable circumstances, requires very great attention, both early and late; and that there are few employments which have more crosses, losses and disappointments." (p. 105)
or in the South:
Simms took the degradation of agriculture as the telltale sign of decline. Nothing exemplified greedy madness like staple-crop, market-directed agriculture: "The whole labor of the Planter was expended – not in the cultivation of the soil… but in extorting by violence from its bosom, seed and stalk, alike, of the wealth which it contained…. A cultivation like this, by exhausting his land, left it valueless, and led to its abandonment. (p. 149)
It’s still good stuff, but less satisfying because soil conservation was (and is) not black and white. A whole host of political, economic and social motivations – slavery, the relative costs of land and labor, the rise of manufacturing – cloud the clear philosophical issue I’d like it to be.