Sunday, 15 April 2018


2018 0415 15  Louis Bromfield: Pleasant Valley2: The World within the Earth

Good,"live" farmer Louis Bromfield
A good farmer must be many things — a horticulturist, a mechanic, a botanist, an ecologist, a veterinary, a biologist and any number of other things — but knowledge alone is not enough. There must be too that feel of all with which nature concerns herself. That is what Confucius meant in the proverb "The best fertilizer on any farm is the footprints of the owner".  

The good, the “live” farmer is the man who turns now and then to look back at the furrows his plow turns over, to see that the soil crumbles behind him as rich, good soil should crumble. He is the man who sees the humus in his good earth and counts the earthworms, and watches his crops as they grow to see whether they are strong or sickly and what it is that is needed to make his pastures dark and green, his corn tall and strong. 

He is the man who learns by farming, to whom the very blades of grass and stalks of com tell stories. He is the man to whom good crops sing a song and poor ones convey a painful reproach. He is the man who knows that out of the soil comes every-thing, that out of the soil come the answers to the questions which torment him. 

It lies with him whether his world shall be rich and prosperous or decaying and poor and wretched. He is the man who knows how deeply Nature can reward the conscientious, intelligent worker and how bitterly she can punish the stupid shiftless ones to the very marrow of their bones.  

Agriculture is in many ways the most satisfactory and inexhaustible of sciences. It touches or includes countless other fields of knowledge and research and with each discovery whole new fields to be explored are opened up. 

It is like the Pleasant Valley country where beyond each wooded hill there is a new small world, filled with adventure, mysterious and complete within itself. Now and then a professor, a bureau man or a scientist leads the way into the wrong country as did the man who believed that chemical fertilizer is the panacea for the ills of the soil. 

It took many years and millions of acres of soil made arid, bereft of humus and bacteria and earthworms for the farmer to discover that chemical fertilizer was not the whole answer but only a small, though vital, part. 

In the meanwhile many farmers and a good many scientists, neglected the actual process of what went on in the soil, forgetting that the natural process of health and growth and reproduction is an immensely complicated affair, whether in man or in beast or in plant and that there are no short-cuts which are not in the end illusory and costly.  

With all the research we have made there still remain many mysteries, not beyond explanation but which have not yet been explained or understood. In this borderland the “live” farmer finds his place — the man who sees and feels what is going on in the soil beneath his feet and on the earth around him, the man whose footsteps are the best fertilizer of his farm. 

The best book I know on soil and the processes which take part in it is An Agricultural Testament by Sir Albert Howard [OUP]. It is the record of a lifetime spent in working with soil, its preservation and restoration, and the author approaches the whole subject with a kind of reverence and mysticism without which I believe the efforts of any agricultural scientist may, in the end, be of little value. 

Possibly no one knows more of soil and the principles that effect growth and fertility and abundance than Sir Albert, but his attitude is one of humility toward the still greater mysteries which he has not yet explored.  

A heap of well-cured barnyard manure is not merely a composite of certain elements held together in certain chemical formulas. It is not merely the residue of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen and trace minerals which the animals have eaten, rejected and passed out of the intestines. There are other mysterious elements — many  kinds of bacteria, hormones, vitamins, glandular secretions — of which we know all too little. 

You could make a chemical analysis of that heap of manure and reproduce it synthetically, but in the exact chemical formula the result would not have the same stimulating and, above all else, the same healthy effect upon plant growth and fertility as the heap of manure itself. Most important of all, the synthetically produced fertilizer would contain no organic material, no potential humus without which all plant life in the end turns sickly or deficient.   

Experimentation is the very essence of the '‘live” farmer. It is the enemy of stagnation and of evil practices, of the whole school of thought which believes that “if it was good enough for my grandfather it is good enough for me.” 


For Full Text of "Pleasant Valley" by Louis Bromfield: [Click Here]


For the full text of An Agricultural Testament by Sir Albert Howard:  [Click Here]


Sunday, 8 April 2018


2018 0408 14  Louis Bromfield: Pleasant Valley1: Johnny Appleseed

Pleasant Valley Ch 3 Johhny Appleseed
"Pleasant Valley" is a personal testament written out  of a lifetime by a man who believed that agriculture is the keystone of our economic structure and that the wealth, welfare and prosperity of the nation are based upon the soil.

It is frankly, a romantic book, written in the profound belief that farming is the most honourable of professions and unquestionably a romantic and inspiring one.

In Chapter 3 of the Pleasant Valley, Louis Bromfield talks about the legendary Johnny Appleseed:

Johnny Appleseed
It is said that Johnny's real name was John Chapman and that he was born in New England. It is pretty well accepted that he was a Swedenborgian by faith. 

The truth is of course that Johnny Appleseed had attained that legendary status where facts are no more of importance. He had become a kind of frontier saint about whom had collected volumes of folklore and legend.

Like St. Francis, he had a habit of talking aloud to birds and animals as he tramped bare-footed through the woods.

He never accepted the hospitality of a bed but chose instead to sleep in the great haymows above the fat cattle and horses. The Indians regarded him with awe and veneration. He lived at peace among them, preaching brotherhood and goodwill.

Johnny went about planting apple trees in the wild frontier country. Some say that he scattered the seeds as he went along the edges of marshes or natural clearings in the thick, almost tropical forests. Others say that he distributed the seeds among settlers themselves to plant.
Johnny with his saucepan and poke

When in early spring, there drifts towards you the perfume of a wild apple tree, the spirit of Johnny rides the breeze. 

When in winter, the snow beneath a wild apple tree is crisscrossed with the delicate prints of raccoon or muskrat or rabbit, you know that they have been there gathering apples from the trees that would never have existed but for crazy Johnny and his saucepan and poke of seeds.

Johnny is alive wherever the feathery fennel or the flowering day lilies cover a bank. He is there in the trees and the caves, the springs and the streams of our Ohio country, alive and still in a legend, which grows and grows!

For Full Text of "Pleasant Valley" by Louis Bromfield: [Click Here]


YouTube Video: The Story of Johnny Appleseed: [Click Here]


Sunday, 1 April 2018


2018 0401 13  Louis Bromfield: His Life and Works

Louis Bromfield [1896-1956]

Louis Bromfield [1896-1956]:  Novelist, short story writer, political writer, playwright, scriptwriter, essayist, journalist, soldier, innovative farmer, nature writer and conservationist: Louis Bromfield was all of these, and more. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1927 (Early Autumn), the O Henry Memorial Short Story Award in 1927 (The Scarlet) and 1928 (The Skeleton at the Feast), and membership in America's National Institute of Arts and Letters (1928), he wrote prolifically. He received the Audubon Medal for leadership in conservation farming in 1952.

Initially educated in agriculture at Cornell University, Bromfield transferred to Columbia University in 1916 in order to study journalism. In 1917, he entered the war with the American Field Service in France and was subsequently decorated for his war contribution. Following the war, he returned to New York City and began working as a journalist. 

His first novel, The Green Bay Tree appeared in 1924 and is the opening of a tetralogy which made his literary reputation. In 1925, he moved to France and continued work on his tetralogy. The four works culminated in A Good Woman in 1927. The third in the series, Early Autumn won him the Pulitizer Prize in 1926. 

Louis Bromfield  [1896-1956]
He returned to America in 1938 when war seemed imminent and acquired a large farm near his Ohio birthplace. He became a strong adherent of organic farming and conservation. 

His works include Possession (1925), The Strange Case of Annie Spragg (1928), A Modern Hero (1932), The Farm (1933), The Rains Came (1937), Night in Bombay(1940), Mrs. Parkington (1943), Pleasant Valley (1945), Malabar Farm (1948), Mr. Smith (1951) and From My Experience (1955).


YouTub Video: Louis Bromfield: Life and Works: [Click Here]


Sunday, 25 March 2018


2018 0325 12  Spring: Robert Browning: Pippa's Song from "Pippa Passes"

"the whole sunrise...grew gold, then overflowed the world"  Pippa Passes*

Robert Browning [1812-1889]

THE year 's at the spring,
And day 's at the morn;
Morning 's at seven;
The hill-side 's dew-pearl'd;

The lark 's on the wing;
The snail 's on the thorn;

God 's in His heaven—
All 's right with the world!
"Pippa Passes": Robert Browning


Dear Reader, Please spare six minutes to see this video -- a perfect presentation! 

YouTube Video: Pippa's Song with Text and Explanation: [Click Here]

Sunday, 18 March 2018


2018 0318 11  Spring: Robert Frost: A Prayer in Spring

give us pleasure in the flowers today

A Prayer in Spring

Robert Frost [1874-1963]
by Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid-air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.



Sunday, 11 March 2018


2018 0311 10  Spring: William Wordsworth: Daffodils

"Ten thousand saw I at a glance, tossing their heads in sprightly dance"

Daffodils signal the start of spring. The poem that is the best at conjuring up a picture of an English Spring-time is "Daffodils" by WilliamWordsworth

The poem describes the beauty of seeing a field full of daffodils with their head nodding in the spring breeze. Here is it:

William Wordsworth [1770-1850]
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:

my heart... dances with the daffodils
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


For a complete analysis of the poem "Daffodils": [Click Here]

YouTube Video: Daffodils by William Wordsworth: [Click Here]


Sunday, 4 March 2018


2018  0304 09  Spring: Percy Bysshe Shelley: The Sensitive Plant

A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew,
And the young winds fed it with silver dew,
And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light.
And closed them beneath the kisses of Night.

And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

***                                  ***                                   ***

The snowdrop, and then the violet,
Arose from the ground with warm rain wet,
And their breath was mixed with fresh odour, sent
From the turf, like the voice and the instrument.

Then the pied wind-flowers and the tulip tall,
And narcissi, the fairest among them all,
Who gaze on their eyes in the stream’s recess,
Till they die of their own dear loveliness;

***                                  ***                                   ***

And the rose like a nymph to the bath addressed,
Which unveiled the depth of her glowing breast,
Till, fold after fold, to the fainting air
The soul of her beauty and love lay bare:

And the jessamine faint, and the sweet tuberose,
The sweetest flower for scent that blows;
And all rare blossoms from every clime
Grew in that garden in perfect prime.

***                                  ***                                   ***
The snowdrop, and then the violet, 
Arose from the ground


For the Full Text of Shelley's Poem "The Sensitive Plant": [Click Here]

For the Full Text of Shelley's Book "The Sensitive Plant": [Click Here]

For Analysis of Shelley's Poem -- "The Sensitive Plant": [Click Here]