Whizbang Garden Cart Update

My newest book, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart is on schedule to be published by the end of this month. I’m anxious to have those finished copies in hand and I’m sure that those of you who have purchased a prepublication copy are anxious too.

I have posted four more informative stories (with photos) about the Whizbang Garden Cart to The Whizbang Garden Cart Blog. I invite you to read them:

The Whizbang Picnic Table Mover

How to Properly Maintain Your Whizbang Cart

Puttin’ On The Metal Edges

Drilling & Countersinking Screw Holes

It’s A Big Capacity Garden Cart

If you would like to get in on the special, reduced pre-publication pricing, you can still do so until the end of this month. click here for full details


Finding Palatable Pleasures
in The Midst of
My Forlorn Spring Garden

Dateline: 21 May 2007

Were you to casually look upon the 24 wood-framed garden beds that comprise my “kitchen garden,” you would not be impressed. It is early spring and the soil is mostly bare, with a smattering of weeds and other odd greenery. Much work and good weather must happen before the beds are graced with the beauty of order and verdant fruitfulness.

I began the work of this year’s gardening last weekend. As I walked among my raised beds, I was faced with the reality of decay. Since I am loathe to use chemical laden pressure treated lumber, I have to replace the 2x pine lumber framework every few years. That is not an economically sustainable situation and, after eight years, I have decided to remove half the beds. I’ll roto-till the ground until it is level and plant in the flat land.

Some perennial plants in the beds-to-be-removed needed to be transplanted. This work of transplanting and removing wood frames gave me an opportunity to reconnect with my garden. It was akin to seeing beloved old friends after a season of separation. And I was able to experience a variety of fresh, earthy tastes that I have not experienced for many months. We who garden are privy to fresh, and sometimes unusual, culinary delights that the non-gardener will never know.

The most prominent plant in my spring garden is the rhubarb. I look under the mass of greenery and select a slender, tender stalk. You can’t buy the slender, tender stalks of rhubarb in the store. It is succulent and tart. My boys help themselves to a lot of raw rhubarb stalks in the springtime.

Dandelion leaves are the next course. Reaching down I select a clean leaf and put it in my mouth. I do not find he bitterness of raw dandelion to be especially enjoyable, but it is especially good for a body. I once made a “spring tonic sandwich” of dandelion greens. The sweetness of my wife’s homemade oatmeal bread, and some salad dressing, helped to offset the bitterness of the Taraxacum but it was still a difficult sandwich to swallow.

Chives come on strong in the spring and I ate more than a few of the long, thin, tubular, green tops. Chives are the smallest member of the Allium family. They tasted especially sweet this spring.

In one bed, all by itself was a small growth of miners lettuce. Also known as Claytonia, I planted this salad green back in 1999. It has come up of its own accord here and there in my garden every year since. If I see it growing in the corner of a bed, I’ll often let it alone to grow bigger. The round leaves, with a tiny gemlike flower in the center are a mild and pleasant tasting green.

Marlene came out to visit me in the garden and noted that there were many dill seedlings starting to grow where we planted dill last year. She picked some small, feathery sprigs and tasted them. I did the same. Baby dill. It was good. I love it when plants reseed themselves. It took only a few moments for me to transplant a few bunches of the small seedlings to a new bed.

Then Marlene plucked a leaf of spearmint and urged me to try it. Spearmint’s Genus is Mentha and the menthol flavor was unmistakable. Later, in the summer, we will make naturally-mentholated iced teas with the leaves of our spearmint and peppermint. But, for now, I must move the plants to another bed. I will transplant only a small section of these plants, but they will flourish and spread quickly.

Last year’s parsley roots have put up a lot of fresh, curly green leaves. Marlene and I have a special fondness for parsley. I like it in “summer sandwiches” and she likes to juice it with carrots. In fact, a short while after rediscovering our spring-garden parsley, Marlene brought two glasses of vividly-green, carrot-apple-parsley-and-a-bit-of-chives juice out for us to enjoy together. Ambrosial "earth juice." It just doesn't get much better than that.

Late last summer I planted some radishes in part of a bed. I never really tended them like I should have. I don’t remember even eating one of them. This spring the roots put forth 3-foot tall stalks topped with lots of small yellow flowers. I pulled the plants out and threw them on the ground. A short while later I looked over and saw one of our hens eating the flowers. She wasn’t just idly pecking at them. She was intently devouring one flower after another in rapid succession. The flowers were too high for the hens to get to before I pulled them out. Seeing the bird’s enthusiasm I went over and tasted some of the flowers myself. They were dry and sweet. Not bad. But I left the rest for the birds.

When my son James came out to the garden he focused on some small carrots that never got harvested last year. There were several rows of them in one bed and they were putting up fresh green tops. We pulled a few and they looked perfectly good. James pressure washed one....

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And then he tasted it. And it was good....

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Finally, there was the lavender. I love lavender, but not to eat. In my next blog entry, I will share with you a unique way I've discovered to enjoy fresh lavender greens. You won’t want to miss it.



Returning To The Garden (Spring 2007)

It all started in Genesis, in a garden. The garden was an integral part of God’s plan for man. And so it is that the Christian-agrarian “good” life revolves around God and the garden. As a young boy, I recall a plaque on my grandparent’s kitchen wall that said:


The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in the garden
Than anywhere else on earth.


That portion of a poem by Dorothy Frances Gurney could well be the first bit of poetry I ever committed to memory, and I still like it. The statement may not be 100% theologically accurate, but it expresses an element of truth that I feel strongly about.

All of creation testifies to the greatness of God, and if we who call ourselves Christians live and work close to His creation, in accord with His creation, and dependent on His creation, we can not help but grow nearer to Him. That is my experience and my desire. All of which brings me to my garden.

Spring is Here and the Ash leaves are late, as usual
It is springtime here in central New York. The trees have now leafed out. The hillsides are once again green and it is a welcome sight. However, as always, the leaves of the ash trees are only now starting to emerge. Ash trees in the spring often look as if they have died over the winter, but they are just waiting their turn to leaf. Everything happens in its season, as God has ordained it.

When you work in your garden you notice the seasonal peculiarities of plants and trees and animals. Such little things are a wonder to discover. They never ceases to amaze and delight me.

Mangle Beet Update
Those of you who have followed this blog for long may remember the mangle beets I grew last year. Dave Taylor in Georgia sent me the seed and I chronicled the growth of the crop here. I harvested the massive beet roots in the fall, stored them in my basement, and fed them to my chickens over the winter.

But I saved some choice mangle specimens for spring. Yesterday I selected three of the now dry and shriveled roots and planted them in my garden. My hope is that the roots will put forth plants that will yield an abundance of mangle beet seeds. I’ve never done this sort of thing with a root crop before, but I desire seed independence and sustainability. Delicious mangle beet greens, roots for poultry feed, and seeds to replant—what a beautiful thing. I don’t know how well it will work for me. But the story continues, and I will keep you informed.


Introducing The Wire Weeder
I managed to plant some peas and spinach a couple weeks ago. This picture shows the spinach…

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Yes, the plants are small but they are doing well. I am using a wire weeder tool in the picture to cultivate between the rows. The secret to keeping weeds out of the garden is to cultivate the ground often and to do so before you can clearly see the weeds. A wire weeder is nothing more than a piece of stiff wire that is run through the soil, just under the surface. It disrupts the freshly-sprouted weed seedlings-- those short, white, filaments of plant life looking to make their way in the world. Hundreds, even thousands, of determined weed seedlings can be destroyed with a simple swipe of the wire weeder. Gardening is a form of warfare.

I made my wire weeder myself. I utilized the stiff wire that is found in the support frame that holds those ubiquitous political signs that sprout up in front yards all over America every autumn. I cut a section of wire, clamped it in a vise, shaped it using a hammer, then inserted the end in a a block of wood (for a handle). I’ve made several such wire weeders. They don’t cost anything and they work just fine in my soil. But they do not work once the weeds have established themselves. Then it’s necessary to haul out the heavy artillery (a hoe).

Copra Onions
I like to grow an onion by the name of Copra. It grows very well in my soil and is an incredibly good keeper. Fact is, Marlene is still using Copra onions we harvested last fall. And they taste great too! Layer a few Copra slices between two thick slabs of Marlene’s homemade bread, add some mayonnaise, and sea salt, and you have an onion sandwich that can’t be beat.

I confess, Copra is a hybrid onion. I can not save seed from such an onion.So I have not reached total seed sustainability. But I’m working at it. Onions come sometime after mangle beets. I like to buy the Copra onions in sets. I’ve bought them from Johnny’s Seeds before. But when I went to Johnny’s site to get some, they were sold out. I did a search and found Dixondale Farms. To my relief, Dixondale had Copra sets in stock. I bought 10 bunches. That’s more than we need. But, like I said, they grow well for me and keep a long time. Perhaps we will be able to barter or sell them through the winter.


Tiller Boy
Here’s another picture from my spring garden…

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That’s my son, James, doing some tilling. You can see my garlic patch in the background. The garlic is doing very well. If you look closely, in the upper right hand corner of the picture is my kid’s field car. It is still stuck in the neighbor’s field.

That tiller is made by BCS, an Italian company. Some people own fine Italian sports cars. I own a fine Italian rototiller. It’s the tiller that I purchased with profits from Herrick’s Homegrown Stiffneck Garlic Powder. That tiller actually cost me more money than the car I drive. But the car I drive only cost me $600.

============


The point of all this is that after a winter of waiting, I and my family are at last returning to the garden, and it is a very good thing. I’ll have more to say about this subject in the days ahead.

Tractor Drivin’ Mama & Her Rock Pickin’ Boys

My younger sons, Robert and James have been picking rocks for a local dairy farmer in the afternoons. They picked rocks every day last week. Since they are home schooled, my boys are available to work during the day when other kids are in government school. I guess we could say rock pickin’ is part of their curriculum. The farmer also hires three other home-schooled boys.

Robert and James work hard and when the farmer brings them home in the late afternoon, they are covered head to toe with dusty soil. It does my heart good to see my sons come home filthy after working in the field. It does them good too. They look forward to picking more rocks and, in a few weeks, helping the farmer to load hay in the barn.

Today, another farmer neighbor needed my sons to pick rocks from one of his fields. The other boys were not available so it was just Robert and James. When I came home from work I found out that Marlene had also helped. She didn’t pick rocks. Instead, Mom, the teacher, drove a tractor through the field while her boys loaded the front bucket with rocks. I was amazed to find this out because Marlene doesn’t have much experience driving a tractor. Fact is, I’ve never known her to drive a tractor. But our neighbor needed help and he asked Marlene if she would drive the tractor. She agreed to do it because she wanted to help our neighbor. That’s what you call being neighborly. That's what you call community in action. James took the camera and snapped this very rare picture of his Ma driving a big Farmall.

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First Cutting
Speaking of hay, I mowed my north pasture (also known as my front lawn) last weekend. It was the first cutting of the year. A friend of mine told me he has mowed his lawn three times already. That gives you an idea of how high the grass was.

Lawnmower Man
Before I could cut the grass last weekend, I had to get the lawnmower going. The beat up old thing wouldn’t start. So Robert and I spent part of the morning working together to get it going. We took a bunch of parts off, including the carburetor, which we completely disassembled and cleaned. And we took care of some other mechanical maintenance. Then we put it all back together and pulled the starter rope. To our surprise, the thing started right up and ran. It ran like brand new.

The reason we were surprised that it ran was that we have never disassembled a broken lawnmower and actually got it to work again. And I have surely not ever taken a lawnmower carburetor apart to clean it. But we were fairly confident about doing this sort of thing after watching Johnny Siebert, the Lawnmower Man on his lawnmower repair and maintenance DVDs.

According to Siebert, “99% of lawnmower and small engine problems start with the carburetor.” If you want to know something about small engine repair, check out the Lawnmower Man teaching videos.

Even though we got the mower going so nice, we needed a part to properly affix the lawnmower blade. It would have to be ordered. The grass needed mowing. So we went to town and bought a new lawnmower. It’s a basic push mower, like the old one. Robert encouraged me to buy a rider, but I resisted. Next best thing would be a self-propelled mower, but I resisted. Here’s a picture of Robert and our new (but very basic) lawnmower.

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See that nice pile of first cutting piled in the Whizbang Garden Cart? That’s some ideal material for making compost. I love a rear bagger on the mower because I can capture the clippings and put hem to good use.

After Rock Pickin’
What is there for a couple of rock pickin’ boys to do after an afternoon of rock pickin? How about build a tree fort....

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Robert and James have embarked on a new tree house project in the woods behind out house. Robert is even purchasing new lumber for the platform framework. He built a treehouse in these same trees a few years ago out of salvaged lumber. This new structure will be much higher up in the tree and built better than the old. You can see the pipe scaffold they are working off in the background.

Whizbang Garden Cart Book Update
Today I signed off on my new book’s cover and it will go to the printer. The interior pages are being worked on by another printer. I’m still expecting to have first printing copies by the end of this month.

If you have not yet taken advantage of the prepublication special pricing for this book, you still have time. Details about the cart and special pricing can be found at this link.

And if you have not been to The Whizbang Garden Cart Blog lately, I have posted a couple of how-to blog entries that compliment the book's how-to instructions:

Drilling & Countersinking Screw Holes

Puttin’ On The Metal Edges

Discovering Adrenal Fatigue

I first learned about adrenal glands in sixth grade. Mr. Quirk was my teacher. Science was my favorite subject. We were learning about the human body. I was seriously thinking that I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. My grandfather was a doctor. My father was a doctor. My stepfather was an insurance salesman. Being a doctor appealed to me more than being a door-to-door salesman.

All of that changed when I was half way through ninth grade. As I’ve mentioned here before, my family moved from our suburban tract house outside Syracuse, NY to an old farm house in New York’s beautiful Finger Lakes Region. I was in a different environment. A better environment. I started reading Mother Earth News magazine. I decided I’d rather be a farmer, like my mother’s father, Percy O. Philbrick—the man pictured with me on the cover of this book.

Of course, I went to government school back then. Homeschooling was unheard of. The suburban high school I attended had a class size of several hundred. The rural school where I moved had a class size of less than 100.

I remember three things from my first day in the new rural school. My gym teacher, Mr. Derenberger showed an interest in me. He took time out to speak with me before class. He welcomed me to the school, and told me that if I ever had a question or problem to come see him. He was a genuinely nice man. Years later, I remodeled his kitchen (when I was in that business).

The second thing I remember about that first day in the new school was in gym class. I was standing against the wall, watching, and the biggest guy in the class sauntered over to me. Two guys were right behind him. I thought to myself that I was probably in for trouble. I had come from a school that was culturally Darwinian(survival of the fittest). Bullying and fighting were common. It was a rough place and I had no reason to expect anything different in this new school.

However, to my utter amazement, the big guy smiled, extended his hand to shake, and said, “Hi, I’m George. This is my friend Ben and this is Wayne.” There was no intimidation. These guys were friendly. Everyone seemed friendly. In the next three and a half years, I saw only one fight.

The third thing I remember about that day was walking into a room where a girl named Mary greeted me with a big friendly smile and a welcoming hello. This was one weird school.

Now you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with adrenal fatigue. It so happens that girl, Mary, is my wife Marlene’s best friend. She and her husband, Ken (another school mate), have been good friends of Marlene and I since high school days. That’s more than 30 years.

Mary went to college, got a degree in occupational therapy, and worked for awhile before leaving her well-paying job to be a full-time mother. Marlene did the same. And, like us, Mary and Ken have struggled along on one income ever since. Ken worked for many years in the building trades, just like I did. And Ken and Mary have homeschooled their four children, as we have done.

In recent years, Mary has become interested in natural health and she has become a N.D. (doctor of naturopathic medicine). If you wonder what exactly a naturopathic doctor does, you can find a decent explanation at this link. Unlike many modern doctors who go into medicine primarily for the money, Mary has chosen to go into natural health out of a genuine desire to help people get better. I know this to be true because I know Mary.

Mary did some testing of me over a year ago and found that I’m in generally good health. But she told me my adrenals are stressed. The adrenal glands (there is one located on the top of each of your kidneys) serve numerous functions, one of which is to help your body deal with stress. So if your adrenals are stressed, then your body can’t deal with stress properly. As a result, you are chronically tired, prone to colds and flu, and the list goes on. You can find out more about adrenal fatigue symptoms at this link: About Adrenal Fatigue

When Mary first told me about Adrenal Fatigue, I didn’t consider it much of a problem. But this last winter was difficult for me. I’ve had to deal with one virus after another. Each knocked me out of commission for a couple of days. I got over the sicknesses fairly fast. But then I got hammered again. It’s a bummer. One guy at work quips that I’m the sickest healthy person he knows. He likes to tell me that because I don’t eat junk food at work, but he does, and he doesn’t get sick.

I think most men who are faced with the job of providing for their family in the midst of our modern culture are under stress. I have an especially stressful non-agrarian job (which I once blogged about here). I can tell you that I deal with it better than many who I work with. But I guess you can’t fool your adrenal glands.

So what does one do to combat adrenal fatigue? Well, that’s what I’m researching now. There are books (I purchased one online today). There are diet routines (which I’ll be focusing on more). There are herbal and mineral supplements. Marlene bought me a colloidal mineral & Chinese herbal tonic to take. I’m hesitant to consume anything with a Chinese background these days, but the company that makes the product (Nature’s Sunshine) has a reputation for testing & purity.

For the past couple of weeks I have been taking a tablespoon of the herbal tonic morning and evening. It is vile tasting, so it must be good, right? I do think it is helping.

So there’s my story about Adrenal Fatigue. Does it sound familiar? If so, perhaps you should take a moment to do a Google search and learn more. Adrenal fatigue is a common malady.

If, perchance, you already know more, I’d appreciate learning what diet, or herbal/mineral supplements, have helped you.

One thing I know for sure, working in my garden is one of the most de-stressing (and, therefore, adrenal-strengthening) things I've ever done. So you can bet I'll be doing more of that.

Life Lessons From An Old Maine Woodsman

 Roger T. Hall
of Fort Fairfield, Maine


Childhood memories and experiences help shape the kind of person we become as adults. Though my mother and father divorced when I was young, and I grew up in a scrappy suburban housing development (until 9th grade when my family moved to the countryside), I feel I had a decent childhood.

That's because I have some special memories and experiences, most of which revolve around my grandparents. I have written of my mother's parents in my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. And I have blogged here about What My Grandmother Kimball Did For Me. Today, in this blog entry, I'd like to tell you about another person from my childhood.

I wrote the following story several years ago. I was, at that time, just starting to write articles for "Fine Homebuilding" magazine. I was coming to realize that I had something of a talent for writing. At least that is what people were telling me.

I was buying books about how to write and looking for ways to express some of the writing ideas I had. So I wrote a few small articles for the "Citizen" newspaper, which is the city paper in Auburn NY (about 20 minutes from my home). I mailed them to the Features editor and suggested that I could write a weekly column. I didn't want any money. I just wanted to write.

The editor liked my idea and named my column "Kimball's Corner." I wrote about things related to home building, remodeling, and carpentry. But I injected a lot of personal experiences and opinions into the writing. The article that follows was originally titled "The Lesson of The Carving Chisels."

I hope you will enjoy the story and I hope you will come away from it with a renewed realization that, if you have children or grandchildren, you have a special opportunity and reponsibility to provide them with memories that they will one day cherish. And there will surely be other children who you will have an opportunity to influence in powerfully positive ways with your time and example, as this story illustrates.

Life Lessons From An Old Maine Woodsman

The fondest memories of my childhood are of the summers I spent in northern Maine, living with my grandmother, Mary Kimball. Much of that time was spent at her camp on Cross Lake.

When the weather was good, there was the lake and its stony shore to keep me occupied. On bad weather days, we’d stay inside with a snap-crackling fire in the big stone fireplace. My grandmother would knit or sew and I would tease her Siamese cat, Sammy, or read comic books. Aqua Man, Sad Sac, and Scrooge McDuck were among my favorites.

I can clearly recall the picture of golden sunsets over the pine trees, reflecting on the still lake. Many evenings, I remember lying in bed on the screened front porch, safe and warm under a Hudson Bay blanket, listening to the night sounds.

I remember the food too: corn-on-the-cob, grilled hot dogs in toasted buns, fresh peas with cream, lobster and melted butter, potato salad, and my Grammy’s homemade pecan rolls. My grandmother, undoubtedly the best cook in Maine, was always concerned that I have plenty to eat.

Despite its remote location, there were often lots of people at the camp. Friends and relatives would come for birthday picnics, garden club meetings, or to stay the weekend. But when I think of Cross Lake, I always remember one person in particular. His name was Roger T. Hall.

Roger and his wife, Max, lived for the summer months next door to my grandmother’s camp. Roger had been an insurance broker but was mostly retired. When my grandfather was alive, he and Roger had been good friends.

Roger lived to hunt and fish and garden and work in the woodshop behind his camp. I remember him as a tall, ruggedly handsome, weathered old woodsman, and I have to admit that he scared me a bit. I think it was because I was naturally shy and Roger talked so loud. My grandmother told me he was hard of hearing.

It was a beginning of summer ritual for me to stop over and visit Roger and Max. They were always delighted to see me and I was fascinated with their camp. Going inside was like visiting a natural history museum. Besides their yapping and snorting little Boston Terrier, there were things like a stuffed horned owl, and a gigantic paper wasp nest (less the wasps) on the porch. Inside the camp were deer hoof coat racks, mounted deer heads, a bear rug, and the most intriguing thing to me—-a full-size snarling bobcat (stuffed, of course).

Out behind the camp, Roger’s workshop held a special allure for me. The first time I was in it, I was eye-high to the bed of his table saw. On the floor, piles of wood shavings and sawdust beckoned to me. The place had a sweet, mysterious smell. Every so often, I’ll saw through a pine-board knot in my workshop and catch a whiff of that long ago aroma.

Roger did all kinds of woodworking. He had built his golden-colored log camp and much of the furniture in it. But what I remember most were his carvings of birds and fish. My grandmother had a small wood-stave maple sugar bucket that Roger had made. Each of the bucket’s side handles was a salmon, arched as if jumping through the air on its journey upstream to spawn. As a young boy, I carefully examined and
marveled at Roger’s handiwork.

My grandmother sold her camp and the last time I saw Roger I was probably twelve or thirteen years old. But in 1977, when I was nineteen, I carved and painted a small duck and I thought of Roger. Maybe it actually happened the other way around. Anyway, though I hadn’t seen him in many years, I knew Roger was still alive. I got his address from my grandmother and sent him a letter along with a photo of my carving. I didn’t expect to get a reply. I just wanted him to know that I remembered and appreciated the old days.

He wrote back: “This partially shocked right hand has ached day and night since my heart operations" (five years earlier). He was deaf and his eyesight had failed him in the last year. If he made it another month, he would be 82 years old “and useless!” But he had read my letter and was “very pleased” to hear from me.

That bad hand turned out five long pages of encouragement, advice, and stories. He said he wished my grandfather could see me now. He suggested I might want to go to Middlebury College where he had graduated from in 1922. He told me about two boats he had built, and the sugar buckets with “jumping salmon” handles, and the bear and the bobcat (he’d shot both). He told me he used to enjoy tying fishing flies and would make 100 to 300 every winter.

For every year from 1939 to 1970, Roger and Max had journeyed to Anticosti Island, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence River, fishing for Atlantic Salmon. He loved the island because it was “as near a wild country as one could get.”

And Roger related that he had carved many birds. his favorite work was some “chickadees on willow branches, showing the white pussy willows.” He said my carving looked good to him and offered to send me some pieces of poplar carving wood he still had, as well as his old set of oil paints, and his carving set.

I wrote him back. Again he sent a long letter with more stories and, at my request, shakily hand-drawn instructions for making a simple box trap like he and I had once used to catch chipmunks. My old friend also sent the things he said he would, and I was astonished to see his set of carving tools.

I had envisioned this master carver would have a fine collection of special imported swiss knives with well-worn rosewood handles, or something like that. Instead it was a boxed set of ten simple hobby knives made in Japan. I had seen an identical set of such tools in a plastic package at K-Mart for $1.99. The really funny thing was that he said he hadn’t used the knives that much. Most of the time he just used a sharp jackknife.

I still have the set. While I don’t carve animals, I occasionally use the knives for various odd tasks around my workshop. Roger Hall’s carving tools are a reminder to me that lots of exotic and expensive tools are not necessary ingredients of craftsmanship. More important are the heart and hands of a craftsman.

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Roger passed away shortly after our correspondences. I cherish my memories of this man and the lesson in simplicity that he taught me with the gift of his carving tools. But I have come to realize that there are more important lessons to be seen and understood in this story—lessons about the brevity of life, and the value of friendship, and that you may never really know the impression you’ve made on a young child’s life.

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If you like hunting, trapping, guns, and stuff like that, I invite you to read some more of my essays...

How Not to Shoot The Bull

Trapping Class

The Charging Woodchuck

Going to The Trapper's Convention

Boys Will Be....Warriors (Part 1)

Boys Will Be...Warriors (Part 2)

Rabbit Hunting Boy

Shootin' Dad's Handgun

Needed: More Americans With Guns

How to Butcher a Chicken

The Fun, Fast Way to Skin a Deer

A Blog in May

Things are busy hereabouts on my little piece of earth, as I’m sure they are around yours. It has been difficult to find time to blog. I have, however, been thinking a lot about blogging. That doesn’t really count, does it? Well, anyway, here’s a little about what’s been going on in my brain and my life lately….

The Yoke is off
Last Saturday I Finally finished my newest book, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart. Writing a book is akin to yoking yourself to a heavy burden. It is work and getting the work done requires focus and determination. Finishing is the best part of the process. Then the yoke comes off and there is the freedom to pursue other projects.

Projects like the garden. I was turning the soil and planting some seeds Sunday afternoon. It felt good to be outside in the sun and wind with my hands in the soil. Very good.

BTW, the book is now at the printer. All I have to do is pay for it when its done and hope I sell enough copies to make it all worthwhile. My thanks to those of you who have already purchased a copy.

Chinese Roulette
I’m sure you have heard of the dangerous game of chance called Russian Roulette. There is a new variation. It’s called Chinese Roulette. You don’t use a revolver and a single bullet to play. You just go to the grocery store and buy some food. If you’re lucky, it didn’t come from China. If you aren’t so lucky, it came from China, contains toxic substances and will kill you (or at least make you sick).

But we really should look on the good side... Food imported from China is reasonably priced. And it’s a whole lot easier than growing your own.

Freedom Gardens
Back in the difficult days of WWII, many people of America provided for themselves and their families by growing “Victory Gardens.” I think it’s time for America at large to return to the garden, this time for freedom from the Industrial Providers.

Those of us who advocate growing your own and buying local are, I believe, the vanguard of a movement that will continue to swell as more and more people see the dangers of industrial food. Perhaps we are a new generation of Soldiers of the Soil.

Goin’ to the Gun Show
I need a real good reason to go to a city. A couple weeks ago I had one. There was a big gun show at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. My boys and I went. We got there an hour after it opened and this was what it looked like:

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The picture shows a very long line. The place was mobbed. It was great. Here’s a picture I took of a nice, grey-haired, older lady and her WWII German trench gun:

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Look closely and you will see the gun’s barrel is bent. It was made that way. There is a mirror sight on the gun (also visible in the picture) so the soldier can be down out of the line of fire and see to shoot.

Look even closer and you will see a man with a baby stroller behind the nice older lady. I looked twice when I saw that because there was no baby in the stroller. The guy had outfitted the thing into a rolling gun rack.

Foreclosures
I heard part of a radio program in which the host noted that home foreclosures are up 200 percent over last year at this time. I don’t think that is a good sign.

Looking For Cheap Land
A thoughtful reader of this blog sent me a link to the United Country Realty web site (America’s rural realtor). It’s a nifty site.

I went to New York (my state) and looked for a “General Farm” with a minimum of 40 acres for $75,000 or less. I found out that there are none of those in New York. I changed the category so I would be looking for a general farm, minimum 40 acres, for less than $100,000.... Bingo!

There is currently one general farm that fits that description in New York state. It has 42 acres, a “nice two-story barn,” “great views,” and a “quiet location,” for $78,000. Doesn’t that sound perfect!!

And here’s the amazing thing about this piece of propert.... It’s in Lisle, N.Y. Some of you may recognize that as the home of fellow Christian-agrarian blogger, Scott Terry. Scott’s blog, Homesteader Life is at the top of my blog list (over on the right side of this page).

Wisdom and One Wish
My pastor, Dale Weed, said in a recent sermon that wisdom is seeing things from God’s point of view. I had never heard that before and I like it.

Later he asked everyone to think what we would want if we were granted one wish by God. What would it be? I thought a second, leaned over to Marlene and said, “Godly wives for our sons.”

Then Pastor Weed asked the congregation how many people wished for something not involving money. Most everyone raised their hand. I thought that was interesting.

Agrarian Realtor
Speaking of land and real estate, I happened upon real estate agent Andrew Mooers blog awhile back. Mr. Mooers actually recommended my book, Writings of A Deliberate Agrarian at Andrew Mooers Maine Real Estate Blog. Check out the 50-acre farm he has just blogged about.

Whizbang Garden Cart Update

It has been a few days since I last blogged here. I continue to be busy with the Whizbang Garden Cart plan book. The cover design is complete and will go to the printer next week. The inside of the book will be done this weekend and go to the printer next Monday. I still expect to see the first printing of the book by the end of this month.

I have been busy with blogging about the cart over at The Whizbang Garden Cart Blog. I invite you to check out the following:

All About The 2007 Whizbang Garden Cart Contest

Comparing Carts (seeing is believing)

Cutting The Plywood Pieces

Here's An Old Carpenter's Trick You Can Use

And if you have not already done so, you can read all about the cart and learn how to get a reduced-price, pre-publication copy at this link:

All About The Whizbang Garden Cart