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The Contrary Farmer

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  442 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Gene Logsdon is known as a rabblerouser in progressive farm circles, for stirring up debates and controversies with his popular New Farm magazine column, "The Contrary Farmer." One of Logsdon's principle contrarieties is the opinion that - despite popular images of the vanishing American farmer - greater numbers of people in the U.S. will soon be growing and raising a grea ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company (first published 1994)
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Aug 25, 2009 Laura rated it liked it
I liked all the details that demonstrate a farmer's intimate knowledge of his craft. Lodgson is even more Berry-like and contrarian than Joel Salatin.
Apr 25, 2010 Moira rated it it was amazing
Shelves: smallholding
There's not much but goodness from anything by Mr. Logsdon.
Valeria Wicker
Mar 15, 2011 Valeria Wicker rated it really liked it
I am interested in starting up a small farm, and Logsdon's book offers a lot of old-friend advice on how to keep a farm without going broke or biting off more than you can chew. He draws from almost thirty years of experience to tell the reader the best way to raise livestock, maintain pasture and cultivated land, dig a pond, fell trees, and well, you get the idea. It makes me want to put into practice what I read as soon as possible. I look at the land in a whole different way thanks to this bo ...more
Sep 19, 2016 Shannan rated it it was amazing
Written in 1994, The Contrary Farmer is much more than a book about sustainable farming. It's about the values our grandparents had. It's about being a good steward of what you've been given. It's about making smart, wise choices. It's about not caring what "The Joneses" are doing. It's a discourse on simple, pleasurable living framed within the context of farming.
Living in the heartland of America's Midwest farming community some 23 years after this book was published, I found myself going to
Jul 08, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Contrary Farmer is that person who realizes several aspects about how we live, and further realizes that we cannot continue to live the way we do. Instead of complaining about it, the contrary farmer does something about it; Logsdon is that person. However, Logsdon does not only write a book but has applies the content of the essays in this book to his own life.

The book's essays cover almost all aspects of the (hopefully) growing cottage-farmer movement from politics and business-agriculture
Mar 26, 2008 John rated it it was amazing
One of my dreams is to live a closer-to-self-sufficient life, with us raising most of our own food and enough surplus to make a living. In short, I want to be a cottage farmer, and this book is an excellent starting point, offering three things to the would-be cottage farmer: practical advice, a philosophy of farming, and inspiring vignettes of such rural life.

In many ways, Logsdon defies easy categories. He criticizes modern chemical-intensive agriculture repeatedly, but isn't afraid to take i
Sep 23, 2011 Diane rated it really liked it
This is a great book for two separate groups of people. The first group knows nothing about agribusiness and how it endangers our food supply and environment or how food animals are produced for market. The author covers each crop and animal and the practices and abuses of big industries.

The second group is starting a small farm of their own and needs a blue print to follow, i.e., which field should lie fallow and which field should I plant in red clover? Exactly how many cows can my four acres
Feb 11, 2016 Fernleaf rated it really liked it
Shelves: farming
One of Logsdon's earlier books, the contrary farmer discusses what he terms 'cottage farming,' farming on smaller lots in a more traditional and ecologically friendly way. The chapter on pastoral economics (Ch 2) is particularly interesting, stating that industrial economics really don't mesh with pastoral ways of living and that the attempt to layer them together has caused much of the current crisis with regards to our farming systems. He goes on to muse about barnyard harmony (or lack thereof ...more
Sep 27, 2014 Sam rated it really liked it
Shelves: homesteading
This book has some really nice information, typically presented in a nicely readable manner and interspersed with observations of Logsdon's own farm or those of his acquaintances. However, I felt as though he dismissed methods and elements that he doesn't personally use too quickly—for example, he mentions using horses in the chapter on equipment, but their presence is dwarfed by the info specific to tractors; in another section, he describes the animals he recommends raising and why he likes th ...more
Jan 29, 2010 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I dream about self sufficiency, having the ability to produce my own food on my own land, releasing my reliance on the agroindustrial infrastructure into which this country is locked. When I came across this title, it seemed a great introduction to such an idea. While the book is somewhat dated, it contains a lot of information that'll remain current because it focuses on the best way of doing things rather than the popular way of doing things; it describes a way of farming contrary to what the ...more
Dec 06, 2013 Shane rated it really liked it
Shelves: economic-liberty
Sustainable biodynamic agriculture; just a bunch of fancy words to describe what Logsdon refers to as cottage farming. There is a little bit of 'how-to' advice which may or may not be outdated. There is also a great deal of colorful opinion shaped by decades of practical and hard won experience. This is not a shrill manifesto but a well written plea for sanity and a return to an approach that worked.

The thoughts are not only about choosing farming as a lifestyle as opposed to choosing it as a j
Nov 28, 2012 David rated it really liked it
Good book about sustainable, or practical, or reasonable agriculture and the benefits of a life lived this way. I think the author would be pleased that my copy of his book has the last 100 pages stained by coffee and several pages stained with dirt and slobber. The coffee coming from a spill while doing some farm related work and the dirt and slobber from a couple of goats that thought the book might be good too.

The best sentence in the book:

"The country is losing its common sense because pompo
Jennifer Miera
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. The author runs a small organic farm, including a small flock of sheep, chickens, a couple of cows. Having never husbanded livestock, I can't say for sure, but seems to me that I wouldn't be cutting the tails off of my lambs. I appreciated his honesty and attempts to be as kind as possible to his animals, but it doest come down to making enough money to being self- sustaining. I'm sure my vegan worldview is naive, but I can't see myself slaughtering anima ...more
Sam DeSocio
Jul 04, 2016 Sam DeSocio rated it it was amazing
Shelves: agrarian
The Contrary Farmer, weaves between a very pragmatic 'Urbanites Guide to the Land', and a much more philosophical question of where is food going.

Logsdon, a journalist, essayist and experimental pasture farmer exists in a wonderful middle space. Pollan, Barber, and other new food authors write from outside the work of growing. Wendell Berry and others are more erudite. Logsdon (a third generation Ohio farmer) is wonderfully practically, deeply passionate, and yet plain faced about the difficulty
Jul 07, 2007 Mel rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, agriculture
This was an interesting story of small-scale farming. The tips on how to choose older machinery was useful, although I have to take issue with Logsdon's assertion that only a young, strong man can harvest grain with a scythe. This is certainly true with an American-style scythe, but an Austrian-style scythe is so lightweight and balanced that even an older child can use it. It is more work than using a machine, but for reasonably small fields the cheaper starting price and maintenence costs can ...more
Apr 22, 2010 Evan rated it really liked it
Modern agricultural criticism is a remarkably crowded genre these days, what with Pollan and his ilk, but Logsdon takes a somewhat different track. He does a great job advocating a return to a more traditional scale of agriculture without ever really wandering into polemic; mostly he argues for it simply by demonstrating again and again how it provides the farmer a higher standard of living than agro-industrial commodity production does.
Dec 16, 2012 fleetofhorses rated it liked it
a considerable amount of the writing style is mawkish and embarrassing to read (as in, repeated references to Mother Nature, no matter how ironically, as "Old Bitch Nature", and espousing the use of sewage sludge as an amendment), but that aside, the bulk content is incredibly practical/useful for any small farm outfit.
Jan 21, 2009 Kimberly rated it did not like it
Didn't like this book at all. It started out good and then it just droned on in a "know-it-all" tone and I couldn't take it anymore. I made it about 3/4 of the way through and had to take a break. I don't know if I will pick it up again. I am very interested in sustainable living and farming, but would prefer to read advice and how-to's written by authors that aren't so full of themselves.
Jul 17, 2009 Forrest rated it it was amazing
The first few chapters of this book got the five stars. They lay out the "Pastoral Economy," which is very different from our current cash economy and much more beautiful. Someone should write a book on Law and Pastoral Economics; maybe Wendell Berry's Unsettling of America is already that book.
Did I mention that it is also laugh-out-loud funny?
Di Carlin
Oct 10, 2014 Di Carlin rated it it was amazing
This is the book that turned me on to sustainable farming and lead to my learning to raise chickens, goats, beef cattle and honeybees. Heavy on useful, lived-knowledge and inspiration. One of my all-time favorites.
Cleveland Williams
Jun 25, 2015 Cleveland Williams rated it it was amazing
A deep, beautiful, philosophical look at the world through the eyes of a back-to-basics farmer. If you don't wonder about the big questions of life, having read this book, you aren't thinking enough. These still waters run deep ...
Jan 02, 2014 Haarvey rated it it was amazing
Supposedly this book is about sustainable farming practices, but it's a much deeper read than that. It's damned poetic at times, and captures a good bit of the American spirit and sensibility that has largely gone missing in this day and age. I'll probably read this again.
Brian Krull
May 31, 2016 Brian Krull rated it it was amazing
I heard Mr. Logsdon passed away today, and realized I'd never reviewed this book!

It's a good one, by a great Ohio writer, a fellow contrarian, and a genuinely good man. Check it out. You won't be disappointed.
Jan 16, 2011 Joshua rated it it was amazing
Awesome Book! Great insight into small farms. The author provides insight, thoughts, and basic considerations for small farms. THis book is a good intro for anyone who wants to start a small farm and has no or little experience in agriculture.
Jun 04, 2015 Andi rated it really liked it
I so appreciated this book, particularly the first chapters that helped me articulate my vision of what I want our farm to be. The book is chock-full of great advice and practical wisdom, and I finished it feeling both inspired and more confident in our farming endeavor.
Nov 21, 2009 David rated it liked it
Really good philosophy of farming with lots of practical ideas about how to make a small farm operation work. My main criticism is that there are lots of crop and equipment lists which make it more of a reference book than a joyful read through.
Jan 21, 2008 Mikey rated it it was amazing
Gene Logsdon is a great voice for traditional style agriculture. Anyone who has started to worry about where their food comes from, or what's in it, and wants to consider trying a different style of life should read this book.
Reba Chin
Apr 24, 2010 Reba Chin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: new-author, 2010, library
This is practical advice all aspects involved in sustainable agriculture for a ~30 acre farm... He's funny too. :)
Jul 02, 2007 Joanne rated it it was amazing
If you've ever dreamt of moving out to the country and growing your own veggies and living off the land, then this is a must-read!
John Kelly
Jan 17, 2016 John Kelly rated it really liked it
Gene Lodsdon has a very straightforward and common sense approach to profitable small scale farming.
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