Back to the Land: 10 Acres Is Enough

This is a reprint from an 1864 book about city folk adjusting to the country lifestyle and going back to the land.

| January/February 1976

I don't know who said it first, but he or she was absolutely right: The more things change, the more they stay the same. 

Take today's "new" back-to-the-land movement, for instance. It isn't new at all. The whole history of this country is founded on one back-to-the-land movement after another, dating from the growth of the first towns established on this continent. In short, as long as great numbers of people have flocked to our cities, a lesser number of (possibly more intelligent) folks have been trying to getaway from them.  

Nor have the details of this constantly self-renewing swap changed in the slightest. Big farmers have always been squeezed out of the country by even bigger ones (and the lure of those "easy" dollars in town). And back-to-the-landers have always had a struggle getting enough money together to buy their little dream place out in the sticks. And they've always felt that most of the chunks of property offered to them "out there" are too big, or too small, or too expensive. And they've always worried about what life would be like once they really made the break and left the city behind. And they've always — at least the ones dedicated enough to roll up their sleeves and make a life for themselves out in the country — been damn glad in later years that they made the switch.  

You don't believe it? You don't think that the very same problems you're now facing have been faced ten times ten thousand times before? Then you haven't read the history of this country as it was written by the people who've gone before.  

Here, for instance (thanks to Mrs. Joe E. Hanauer of Dixon, Missouri), is an excerpt from Ten Acres Enough, a book penned by a fellow named James Miller away back in 1864. Sure, the prices were lower back then but everything Mr. Miller had to say 112 years ago is still being said in almost exactly the same words by the average homesteader of 1976.  

As the old saying goes, "The more things change."   

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