This is a lightly edited version of Laura's column "As a farm woman thinks," from November 1, 1923.
While driving one day, I passed a wornout farm. Deep gullies were cut thru the fields where the dirt had been washed away by the rains. The creek had been allowed to change its course, in the bottom field, and cut out a new channel ruining the good land in its way. Tall weeds and brambles were taking more strength from the soil already so poor that grass would scarcely grow... as [my companion] looked over the neglected farm he exclaimed, "Oh, it is a crime! It is a crime to treat good land like that!"... It is a crime to wear out and ruin a farm and the farmer who does so is a thief, stealing from posterity.
We are the heirs of the ages, but the estate is entailed as large estates frequently are, so that while we inherit the earth, the great round world which is God's Footstool, we have only the use of it while we live and must pass it on to those who come after us. We hold the property in trust and have no right to injure it nor to lessen its value. To do so is dishonest, stealing from our heirs their inheritance.
The world is the beautiful estate of the human family, passing down from generation to generation, marked by each holder while in his possession according to his character.
Did you ever think how a bit of land shows the character of the owner? A dishonest greed is shown by robbing the soil: the traits of a spendthrift are shown in wasting the resources of the farm by destroying its woods and waters, while carelessness and laziness are plainly to be seen in deep scars on the hillsides and washes in the lower fields.
It should be a matter of pride to keep our own farm, that little bit of the earth's surface for which we are responsible in good condition, passing it on to our successor better than we found it.