WKSU News Feature >> NEW WORK NEW FAMILIES: America's Juggling Act
"Money Doesn't Matter: Author and Farmer Gene Logsdon on Enjoying Life" -- Transcript
While many people find their lives getting busier with work and family responsibilities, others have decided to simplify.

Author Gene Logsdon runs what is called a "cottage farm" in upper Sandusky and advocates living at nature's pace. Julie Grant visited with Logsden as part of WKSU's "New Work, New Families" series and she files this report...

The vegetable gardens on Gene Logsdon's front lawn lead up to a modest white brick house. Walking through the fallen leaves in back, there's a small woodlot, the barn, and 14 acres of crops. Logsdon is a farmer and a writer. He knows he's a rich man...

Logsdon: I am happy! Oh, come on, Gene, nobody's happy. You know, they say the world is...and then, they use a nasty word and then you die. Well, yea, life sucks in many ways. But I'm pretty happy.
Logsdon is not successful in the traditional sense. He's over sixty-years-old and usually makes less than $30,000 a year. But he believes he is lucky to have good health and a loving family. He's also enjoys what he does for a living: farming and gardening, and writing books...
Logsdon: They're both the same thing. Neither one of them--small scale farming and writing like I do it--they're two careers absolutely certain not to make any money. They are alike in that way. But they are alike artistically. My fields back there--and when I do a garden, it's art to me. But I'm creating something beautiful, just like when I write something.
Logsdon's farm is nearly self sufficient...they grow a wide variety of vegetables, catch fish from a stocked pond, eat homegrown poultry and cattle...even heat their house from the woodlot. Logsdon didn't always believe he could spend his life farming. He grew up in Wyandot county, just a few miles from the cottage farm where he and his wife Carole now live. His family farm was contiguous to fourteen other farms, where his cousins and extended family lived, worked, and played. But his father's farm went bankrupt in the 1970s. After high school, Logsdon felt he had to leave the farm to get an education...
Logsdon: Because I was told that really bright people, Gene, they don't become farmers. The worst bias in the world and I swallowed it. Well, I don't know if I actually swallowed it, I just did what my elders thought I ought to do. I was a good little boy. I did excel. I excelled in a whole bunch of things that I had no real interest in. They were not me at all.
Logsdon moved to Philadelphia with his wife and two children and wrote for Farm Journal magazine. But success at the office wasn't the same as it was for his coworkers...
Logsdon: Instead of being ambitious, instead of seeing how long I could stay at the office, I was trying to see how quick I could get out. In one of my books, I have a statement that says that I never stayed late for work and I never came in early.
He found his rewards outside of the office.
Logsdon: Because I could spend more time with my children--we started out in the very beginning to make our home the center of our lives, not our jobs. Of course, Carol was always home. I didn't play golf, I didn't go out Saturday with the guys. We all played together. We gardened together and took hikes, went ice skating. Anything we could do within our little neighborhood outside of Philadelphia.
Twenty-five years ago Logsdon decided it was time to return to the farm. He and Carole bought the house and 32 acres where they still live. He says it was scary at first, to leave a job with a regular paycheck. They work hard, he says, and make only about $25,000 a year. The Logsdons decided that they didn't need a lot of money to live the life they wanted...
Logsdon: Often I was even criticized for being tight, which I guess I am. We didn't spend any money we didn't really have to. But it was because that we were very conservative with money, we could make a success of writing books. If I had to worry about money, I could never write, I'd just go crazy and go get a job.
Logsden has become known as the contrary farmer...writing books and articles about his alternative farming practices, organic gardening, and rural life. He writes about his own fields and pastures and garden...
Logsdon: This is chard. It will last until it gets really cold. There are some young onions. That's turnips. There's some carrots. There's some spinach, that's late spinach.
Logdon's modest lifestyle allows him to enjoy the finer things...
Logsdon: To me, good food, well, the kind of food we eat here you could buy at the most expensive restaurants in the world. So look at that big happiness thing.
He gets frustrated with farmers who buy more than their share of land...
Logsdon: When you go to auction after auction, these guys already got two-thousand acres, you know, got plenty. They go and they are gonna buy this farm. And there's four young farmers there who really needed to stay in business...that's when I say these people need to go to a psychiatrist. There should be some way to cure them. They have a mental disease that is harmful to others.
Logsdon is amazed that even people who are retired stress about the interest rate on their 401k plans instead of enjoying life. When people write to him and say they make a good salary but aren't satisfied, Logsdon advises them to stop worrying about money and make sure they're doing things they enjoy...
Logsdon: We just got this notion that you can't win, you can't look up there on the bulletin board and say, "I make $85,000 or a $125,000." If you can't do that, somehow you are a failure. And that's dumb. That's really dumb. Relax. I say things as much to myself as to anyone else. You know? Relax.
Logsdon does not think parents should bankrupt themselves to send their children to college, unless the kids really want to go. He supported the decision of one of his sons not to attend college. Logsdon tries to explain this to university students...
Logsdon: When I go to give talks at colleges, I say 3/4 of you people should get the hell out of here and get an honest job. Some will laugh, like you are, but some are shocked. The professors don't invite me back there, either.
Logdon's son is building a farm next door and Logsdon is helping to raise his grandkids...
Logsdon: Brainwashing 'em, I call it. Don't go out there and try to make a million bucks. Stay home. Fry yourself a good sandwich.
Gene Logsdon has written more than a dozen books. His latest is called "Living at Nature's Pace: Farming and the American Dream". I'm Julie Grant, 89.7 WKSU.
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