If farming be the art of elimination, I want it not. If the farmer and the farmer’s family must, by the nature of the occupation, be deprived of reasonable leisure and luxury, if the conveniences and amenities must be shorn close, if comfort must be denied and life be reduced to the elemental necessities of food and shelter, I want it not. But I do not believe that this is the case. The wealth of the world comes from the land, which produces all the direct and immediate essentials for the preservation of life and the protection of the race. When people cease to look to the land for support, they lose their independence and fall under the tyranny of circumstances beyond their control. They are no longer producers, but consumers; and their prosperity is contingent upon the prosperity and good will of other people who are more or less alien. Only when a considerable percentage of a nation is living close to the land can the highest type of independence and prosperity be enjoyed. This law applies to the mass and also to the individual. The farmer, who produces all the necessities and many of the luxuries, and whose products are in constant demand and never out of vogue, should be independent in mode of life and prosperous in his fortunes. If this is not the condition of the average farmer (and I am sorry to say it is not), the fault is to be found, not in the land, but in the man who tills it.
Ninety-five per cent of those who engage in commercial and professional occupations fail of large success; more than fifty per cent fail utterly, and are doomed to miserable, dependent lives in the service of the more fortunate. That farmers do not fail nearly so often is due to the bounty of the land, the beneficence of Nature, and the ever-recurring seed-time and harvest, which even the most thoughtless cannot interrupt.
The waking dream of my life had been to own and to work land; to own it free of debt, and to work it with the same intelligence that has made me successful in my profession. Brains always seemed to me as necessary to success in farming as in law, or in medicine, or in business. I always felt that mind should control events in agriculture as in commercial life; that listlessness, carelessness, lack of thrift and energy, and waste, were the factors most potent in keeping the farmer poor and unreasonably harassed by the obligations of life. The men who cultivate