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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Thoreau on Clearing Land and Planting

Alabama sky Saturday

Sorry 1st Man
I had to go out in the country on Saturday and was overwhelmed at the sight of the pure blue sky and white clouds. The eleven-year-old girl I showed the sky said she loved how the trees seemed to rise up to meet the sky.

Now, some of Thoreau's writing:

[12]    I think that there was not more than one house on the road to Molunkus, or for seven miles. At that place we got over the fence into a new field, planted with potatoes, where the logs were still burning between the hills; and, pulling up the vines, found good-sized potatoes, nearly ripe, growing like weeds, and turnips mixed with them. The mode of clearing and planting is, to fell the trees, and burn once what will burn, then cut them up into suitable lengths, roll into heaps, and burn again; then, with a hoe, plant potatoes where you can come at the ground between the stumps and charred logs; for a first crop the ashes sufficing for manure, and no hoeing being necessary the first year. In the fall, cut, roll, and burn again, and so on, till the land is cleared; and soon it is ready for grain, and to be laid down. Let those talk of poverty and hard times who will in the towns and cities; cannot the emigrant who can pay his fare to New York or Boston pay five dollars more to get here, — I paid three, all told, for my passage from Boston to Bangor, 250 miles, — and be as rich as he pleases, where land virtually costs nothing, and houses only the labor of building, and he may begin life as Adam did? If he will still remember the distinction of poor and rich, let him bespeak him a narrower house forthwith.

I suppose turnips and potatoes made a good dinner in the woods.

Your turn
Have you ever heard of planting as the land was cleared by burning? Don't you wish land cost little now?


  1. Sigh....wish we had that today, ha.

    1. 1st Man,
      It seems like a better way to clear land. When a person works so long and hard, I suppose the land is more dear to the owner.

  2. I wish land was cheaper. I wish I could burn my lot so I could start over.

    1. Michelle,
      Me too. Land is cheap in the boonies and places I would not live! If I burned the trees on my lot, I would burn the house! Maybe you can.

  3. I think that quite a few cultures used fire that way. And here in Oz there are native plants which need fire to regenerate.

    1. EC,
      Some of the trees in CA benefit from the forest fires.


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