On the following wiki entry, dated 08/29/2005, http://wiki.jboss.org/wiki/Wiki.jsp?page=JBossFarmDeployment it states
Question: If I add applications to the JBoss farm folder before starting the application server, will the new/updated applications be pushed to the cluster during startup? Answer: No, applications are only pushed for farm folder updates that occur while the cluster node is running. If the node is the first member of the cluster, then it will define the applications that other cluster nodes deploy when they start up (see pull description below).
Currently, due to an implementation bug, the farm deployment service only works for hot-deployed archives. If you put an application in the farm/ directory first and then start the server, the application would not be detected and pushed across the cluster. We are working to resolve this issue.
The wiki is still correct; the issue hasn't been resolved.