This Continual Moving

Even in our new region many of the fields suffered quickly from erosion. When a forest is cleared there is a spongy humus on the ground surface that is extremely rich, but this washes away in a single season. The soil beneath is good, but thin on the hillsides, and its soluble, fertile ingredients soon leach out and vanish. Without terracing, which I have never seen practiced in the mountains of the South, no field with a surface slope of more than ten degrees (about two feet in ten) will last more than a few years. As one of my neighbors put it: “Thar, I’ve cl’ared me a patch and grubbed hit out—now I can raise me two or three severe craps!”

“Then what?” I asked.

“When corn won’t grow no more I can turn the field into grass a couple o’ years.”

“Then you’ll rotate, and grow corn again?”

“La, no! By that time the land will be so poor hit wouldn’t raise a cuss-fight.”

“But then you must move, and begin all over again. This continual moving must be a great nuisance.”

He rolled his quid and placidly answered: “Huk-uh; when I move, all I haffter do is put out the fire and call the dog.”

His apparent indifference was only philosophy expressed with sardonic humor; just as another neighbor would say, “This is good, strong land, or it wouldn’t hold up all the rocks there is around hyur.”