Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Contrary Farmer

We lost a good one this week.  I would have guessed this guy would out-live us all, just due to sheer stubbornness.  He was one contrary son-of-a pup, with an incredible sense of humor.  God, I am gonna miss him.

Jean Taddie and Don Wolverton, in the Master Gardener glory years.
Don Wolverton wouldn't give a dang if you don't remember his name.  He wasn't about to fill out the paper work for your data base, either. He was a rebel.. of the dirtiest kind.  He loved the land and the soil. He was all about compost.  In fact, one of the first public speaking programs I gave was a program on compost- with Don.  I was so nervous, you know, we Master Gardeners must always tell the truth: based on the O.S.U. line.  I dotted every i and crossed every t. 

 Don told folks they could put dead animals in their compost.  I was mortified.  And the more I was mortified the better Don liked it.  That was Don.

Our mutual friend, John Makley, gave him a moving eulogy.  He equated Don with the "Contrary Farmer."  If you haven't read Gene Logsdon's works, I suggest you get a' hold of them.  My favorite (so far) is The Man Who Created Paradise.   And just to prove how contrary he is, you can read it for free right here.

But I think this is the book Don would have liked best. Just for the title.  He could have made some serious compost in conjunction with Gene Logsdon.

Last of all, as we said "goodbye" we had a reading from the good book, the Berry.  Wendell Berry that is. If you really want to know the kind of man Don represented, you simply must read Berry's poem- Manifesto:The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.

You can follow that link to read the entire poem, but friends will understand when I say, my heart lies within these lines:
Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millennium. Plant sequois. Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest.  Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold. Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years.
So yes indeed, "Plant sequoias." And when you are told life is to be short, take a grand tour, fall in  love, make new friends, and cherish the people around you.  Make them your family.

I am still learning from Don.  Always a trooper, his last words were, "It could be worse..."


  1. I remember him so well, he was so down to "earth". Rest in peace Don.

  2. Rest in peace Don. So down to earth.