Deliberate Agrarian Update:
31 July 2009

This last month was like a rural crossroads town that you drive through on your way to somewhere else. I checked my speedometer and adjusted the air conditioner. When I looked up, July 2009 was in my rearview mirror. It seemed like a nice little month....

Plastic or Galvanized?
”I can’t think of anything I really need. So I don’t see any sense in going.”
That’s what I said to my wife, Marlene, one day this last month when she asked me to go with her to a nearby antique shop that was hosting a weekend flea market. Her reply:
”But you might find something that you don’t know you need.”
Well, I ended up going, not because of her tongue-in-cheek reasoning but because we needed to take a break from the daily grind and do something a little different, together. Besides, I do enjoy “window shopping” at antique stores and flea markets.

But then, within five minutes of our arrival, I had bought something that I didn’t know I needed...



I spotted that old galvanized-steel watering can from afar. It drew me, past tents and tables loaded with flea market treasures and refuse, to itself like a magnet. It was love at first sight. I handed over $28, and couldn’t be more pleased.

I already have two other galvanized watering cans. They serve their purpose and earn their keep. But they have no grace or character beyond mere function, as does this newest can.

Besides that, my two plain-jane watering cans suffer from collateral damage. They happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, innocent victims of a son shooting rats with 20-gauge bird shot on a dusky summer evening. He put a little pile of chicken feed in the driveway in front of my shop, then waited patiently for his prey to take the bait. The watering cans were out of the way, but not far enough.

Shooting rats in the driveway is good fun. It’s an example of what kids can do when they grow up in the country. It’s much more fun than watching television or manipulating the controls of a video game.

As for little shot holes in the watering can, I sealed each one up with drops of candle wax.

My “new” can reminds me of the stylish Haws watering cans from England. The Haws even has something of a pedigree: the name goes way back, sort of like Wellington boots (a.k.a., "Wellies"), which are named after Arthur Wellesly, the 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852).

I once considered spending the big bucks for a Haws can. But better sense prevailed. Now I don’t have to struggle with such watering can fantasies. All of which goes to prove an oft repeated axiom in my family:

No matter what you want, if you wait, you’ll eventually find it at a garage sale (or flea market) for a whole lot less money than you would otherwise pay.

All of this brings me to the notable fact that my “new” watering can is fabricated from eleven individual pieces of sheet steel that were carefully formed and soldered together before the whole assembly was dip-galvanized. Machinery was surely utilized to make the can, but a fair amount of hand work was also involved. I have respect and admiration for well-crafted, functional tools like this watering can.

I ask you....How much handwork is involved in making one of those plastic watering cans that are sold at WalMart? Answer: Just about none. And is it possible to have respect or admiration for plastic watering cans that are spit out in vast quantities by some industrial machine? Answer: No. Only indifference and loathing.

Speaking of Television
I understand that the switch to digital television happened last month. I didn’t notice because I don’t submit to television. But I’m delighted to know that our little garage sale tv is no longer capable of emitting the visual and mental trash that it once did. Perhaps I’ll set it in the driveway and let my kids shoot it. I could tie a rope around it and drag it along. That would be a little more sporting. But it’ll be a long rope.

The Big Party
It has become something of a tradition for my family to have us a 4th of July party. Independence and freedom are worth celebrating, even if those things are now, for the most part, like this last month (in the rearview mirror). I’m of the mind that most Americans really don’t want personal freedom from big government. That would entail personal responsibility. People would have to suffer the full consequences of their poor choices and the hardships that naturally come with life. Yes, life in general would be a lot more difficult for a great many citizens if the government did not intrude and take from some to give to others. And that just wouldn’t be fair. Life has to be fair, right? Surely that’s in the Constitution. So it is that a great many Americans give lip service to the idea of freedom and liberty, but they don’t really want it for themselves because, ultimately, they couldn’t handle it. Or so it seems to me. But I digress.

Our 4th of July parties are typically low-key events (because I’m a low-key person) with a few close friends and their children in attendance. But this year we had our party a week later and it was a much larger affair. That’s because we were celebrating more than just Independence Day. We were also celebrating the graduation of one son from high school (homeschool high school), and the fact that another son is leaving soon to be an Army soldier.

I can tell you it was a beautiful party. After a week of overcast skies and rain, we were blessed with a clear and pleasant day. As the sun was setting, the just-harvested hay field across from our house was bathed in clear, golden, summer-evening light. Illuminated, oversize round hay bales were silhouetted against a deep-blue eastern horizon. At one point, we all stopped to admire the surreal image.

Just as beautiful was the fact that so many of Marlene’s girlfriends had volunteered to help her get ready for the party. They helped clean the house and prepare food and decorate the cakes. It was community in action, which is always endearing. And Marlene was blessed by these special friends.

We ate good food and had good conversation. The kids played good games on the front lawn and in the field across the road. When it got dark, I lit the bonfire which consisted of an alarmingly-tall stack of wood pallets. Later, the older boys provided everyone with a fireworks display. That was the highlight of the night for them. Here is a picture of my son Robert’s grand finale fireworks setup. He had one, long, main fuse that, once lit, fed all the individual fuses:



It was an impressive down-home pyrotechnic exhibition that, afterward, upon reflection, elicited this heartfelt response from an appreciative 17-year-old neighbor boy (who was way too close to the action): ”It was like being in ‘Nam!”

Hmmm. Not quite. But close enough.

My Garden in July 2009
I have a hard time imagining my life without a garden. And when I say “garden” I’m speaking of a vegetable garden. I have nothing against flowers at all. I just like to grow things I can eat. Yes, I know some flowers are edible. But no flower can compare to a fresh carrot or cucumber right out of the garden.

This year’s garden has grown very well. I utilized my Whizbang row cover hoop system to keep the bugs off my squash and cucumber plants until they were grown and starting to blossom. Here is a picture of two zucchini plants a day after removing the floating row cover material.



Once the plants are established like that, a few bugs don’t make much difference. Here’s another shot of a zucchini plant with blossoms:



And here’s a close-up of a lovely baby summer squash. Again, there is no insect damage to speak of on these plants because they were well protected by the row cover through their formative growth period.



Isn’t this cabbage the picture of health and vitality! the thought of fresh coleslaw and homemade sauerkraut from cabbages like this makes my mouth water:



And here is an absolutely beautiful beet with large, leafy, tasty tops.



The Difficulties Of Old Age
Juxtaposed against bucolic scenes and sentiments, and the youthfulness of my sons, is the reality of my stepfather who was once again admitted to the hospital this last month. Added to a list of serious chronic ailments was a new one—pneumonia. He is 77 years old and his health is declining steadily. Some days he can get around slowly with a walker. Some days his legs won’t move for him.

Marlene and I visited my father in the Veterans Administration hospital. He was lying in bed, his skin white-yellow and waxen. His arms and hands still functioned but there was little strength in them. And there was no strength in his voice. Only despair. It was a pitiful sight being played out in a dreadful place. And, suspended on a bracket from the ceiling at the foot of his bed was a television. As my stepfather’s life was drawing yet closer to its end, healthy, energetic people with beautiful smiles were only a few feet away, hawking junk food, and some gangster was shooting another in a parking garage in Los Angeles.

We got a hospital bed for my father to use at home. He did not want it because when my mother was sick and dying of cancer a few years ago, we got her a hospital bed, and two days later she was dead. Nevertheless, the bed is now there, right where my mother’s hospital bed was.

After a week at the VA hospital, my stepfather came home. He used his walker to get into the house but it took a very long time and I had to help hold him up when his legs would not. A long, clear tube now supplies him with oxygen 24 hours a day.

The “oxygen man” came to set up the necessary equipment and show us how to operate it. With his voice louder than normal, he said to my father: “What war were you in?”

My father, sitting in a chair, head in hands, gasped: “Korea.”

Oxygen man: “Oh yeah? Well we hauled your butts all over the place.”

My father: “Huh?”

Oxygen man (his voice even higher): “I was Navy. We hauled you jar heads all over the place. And we fed you too.”

The old Marine lifted his head, forced a weak smile: “Yeah.”

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

A week after getting home my father was doing very well. He had bounced back. He has always bounced back from such things. He is a fighter. But he no longer bounces back as fast and to the same degree of vitality.

My little sister and my Marlene, with a little help from me, are going to do what they can to take care of my father in his home (not a nursing home) for the rest of his days. It is not an easy thing to do. God help us all.

The Question of Facebook & Twitter
The Amish are famous for evaluating new technology and deciding how such technology, were they to utilize it, would affect them. If they decide that some technology would be destructive to their faith-family-work-and-community-centered culture, they eschew it. Whether you agree or disagree with their conclusions, you have to respect their intentions. And their example is inspiring to those of us who are cognizant of the virtual destruction of godly agrarian culture by modern mankind’s eager, unquestioning adoption of virtually all technological newfangledry.

Thus it is that I approach the matter of my participation in things like Facebook and Twitter. Do I or don’t I get involved in these ever-evolving manifestations of information and communication technology?

Well, no, I don’t. After giving it some thought, I’m persuaded that Twitter, Facebook, et al. are not consistent with my ideology, philosophy, or theology.

My primary reason for arriving at such a conclusion is the time that pursuing these mediums would take from my life. Lord knows, I’ve spent hundreds of hours over the past four years writing essays for this blog. And I have now reduced my blogging time significantly (to one posting a month). I justified blogging because it allowed me to write in depth, communicating important ideas and how-to information (peppered with a fair amount of trivial commentary....like this). Along the way, I came to realize that the numerous essays I’ve written were being discovered by web surfers on Google searches, and they were contributing to sales of my various self-published books. I must say that I do like that outcome. But the time factor involved in blogging as I once did was no small matter. Now that I’ve pretty much broken away from the blogging habit, I don’t want to take up another time consuming internet activity in its place.

Besides that, I’m not impressed with the ephemeral nature of twitter and Facebook writings. It strikes me as mostly pointless electronic socializing, kind of like a long, never-ending virtual party where everyone takes turns at being “the life of the party.” Granted, all of this can be mildly exciting and amusing but I’m wary of modern amusements. I feel like there are more important and rewarding things to be done with the short days I have. Thus it is that this deliberate agrarian has decided to steer clear of Facebook and Twitter.

Please understand that I am not disparaging those who do use and enjoy Facebook or Twitter. Not at all. Everyone’s situation is different. Besides, I’ve always been something of a party-pooper. And opinionated too. I think I'm especially opinionated this month.... which brings me to another matter:

So Long Suzy Shortnose
Those of you who have been reading here for awhile may recall that my wife, The Lovely Marlene, bought two female beagle pups last year. They were sisters. We named them Lucy and Susan, after the sisters in the Chronicles of Narnia. Lucy has a long nose and Susan has a short nose. That’s how we distinguish between the two.

I have not been particularly happy with these canines because I’m partial to bigger dogs and—dare I say it—more intelligent dogs.

Of the two, Susan was more wayward and a bad influence on her sister. So, this last month, Marlene gave Susan away to a good home. The new owner is an older man in our community who, for reasons I can’t fully understand, has a fondness for beagles.

Lucy Longnose was lonesome for a few days but we gave her a lot of special attention and she’s doing just fine now. One beagle is far more tolerable than two.

We still have our old mongrel, Annie. When she passes on someday, I hope to fill the opening with a “real” dog, preferably a cur of the black-mouth variety.




Your Money....Or Your Life
I’ll take my life, thank you. Starting next week something new is happening that I’m pretty excited about. I applied for and was granted a 20% work reduction at the factory where I am employed. That means I volunteered to work one less day a week and not get paid for it. My coworkers think I’m either crazy or rich. Well, I might be crazy but I’m sure not rich.

The fact is, I live differently than most people, and I look at the world differently, and my attitude about money is not mainstream either. I drive to work in a rusty old Nissan Sentra that I paid $600 for a few years ago. I love the car because it is dependable and economical (and it has a stick shift). Appearance (and lack of a fifth gear) is beside the point. My home, which I built with my own hands, is basic and paid for. I don’t take frequent or expensive vacations. I don’t golf or gamble or eat out at fancy restaurants, or buy expensive new clothes, or speculate in the stock market. I don’t have a bass boat or a mistress or a condominium in Florida. I live a simple, low-consumption, no-debt, rural existence, and I live this way deliberately.

All of which is to say that I don’t need a lot of money.

And then there is Whizbang. In recent years my part-time home business (Whizbang Books) has, by the grace of God, grown to the point that it brings in some money. But the business also demands a LOT of my time. So I won’t be sitting by the pool (if I had one) sipping Pina coladas (if I drank them) on my day off. There is plenty of Whizbang work to be done. I do, however, look forward to a quiet lunch date with my wife on our back patio on those days.

There is something of a drawback and conundrum for me in this move to a four-day factory work week. If I subsidize my day off with Whizbang money, I give up thousands of dollars a year that I could earn and apply to buying some land.

To own and husband acreage beyond our 1.5 acres is my life dream. But I do not feel, as stated here in past essays, that I should go into debt to purchase the land, and I have nowhere near enough money to buy land now.

So, it would appear that giving up the money I could be earning at my factory job is counterproductive to achieving my dream. But the dream is so far from probability that it may never happen. And I refuse to be consumed by this dream. I do not want it to be an idol in my life. For now, I feel that coming home one day a week is a step in the right direction, and I am thankful for it.

Now, as I write this, I am wondering to myself why I feel compelled to tell you about it. I think the answer is that, as a Christian man living in 21st Century America, I have to deal with the same spiritual/material tensions that most other Christian men (and women) deal with. Material desires (in my case, for a larger section of land) vs. financial limitations, coupled with the desire to live a life that is in accordance with scripture, which is to say, pleasing to the Lord, is a real balancing act.

I’m a firm believer in working diligently, but not to the extreme. Is striving to acquire abundance far beyond basic needs pleasing to the Lord? I think not. In the final analysis, I think we Christians who live in this materialistic civilization need a lot of grace and wisdom to deal with it all. I don’t know but that maybe my struggles and attitudes, laid out here, will prove useful to others who are also looking to find the proper balance.

Agrarian Medicine
I’ve written here before about comfrey. This amazing plant derives its name from the latin, conferveve, which means to heal or grow together, and that is exactly what it does!

I’ve related about the time I got something in my eye and scratched it (or the underside of my eye lid). The irritation and watering was considerable so I decided to apply a blended mash of comfrey leaves to my closed eye. After an hour on my back, with the mash setting there, I removed it and opened my eye. It felt perfectly fine. All irritation was gone. It was amazing.

Now I can report another comfrey-induced healing: I had a pain between my neck and right shoulder. The pain ran down my arm, depending on how I used it. After awhile, I self-diagnosed the pain (which had worsened) as an inflamed muscle tendon. The tendon attaches to my shoulder bone. I have an image of the tendon and muscle in my mind because I’ve butchered deer and they are put together much the same way. The attachment point got extremely painful and sensitive. It was also swollen. Sleeping on the shoulder was painful enough to sometimes keep me awake at night. After a couple weeks of this ailment, I decided to try a comfrey poultice.

I placed a walnut-size glob blender-mashed leaves directly over the inflamed spot on my shoulder. On top of that I placed a large gauze pad, followed by a small plastic sandwich bag. Then my son, Dr. James Kimball (he is 14 years old), crisscrossed some medical tape over the poultice to hold it in place. I went to bed, and the next morning, less than eight hours later, my shoulder felt a lot better. I removed the poultice and went to work. The pain was hardly there. Over the next couple of days, without any more applications of the poultice, the pain went away completely.

Pain was so significant and which had bothered me for so long, was gone overnight. I would not believe this was possible if I didn't experience it with my own body.

As I reflect on the wonders of effectively healing a body ailment with nothing more than a glob of wet, ground-up leaves, gathered from a plant that grows so easily (almost wild) here on my little homestead, it occurs to me that people go to medical doctors for hurts like I had. And no government-approved medical professional would prescribe a comfrey-leaf poultice to heal a sore shoulder. He would, instead, prescribe some sort of synthetic chemical pharmaceutical manufactured in a factory. And when the chemical cure did its job (if it did its job) the person who received the relief from pain would, figuratively speaking, sing praises to the effectiveness of the pharmaceutical and its creator.

But when you just use a plant that grows in your yard to do the same thing, who gets the recognition and honor and praise? Well, I’d say He who created the plant with its amazing healing properties deserves all the credit. That’s one of the great things about natural “medicine.”

This isn’t to say that natural cures negate the usefulness of doctors and modern medicine. But it’s pretty neat when you can get the same (or better) results without going to a doctor. And I, for one, prefer the natural options.

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

I’d also like to say that we feed the coarse, hairy, nutritive comfrey leaves (blended with a little water into a paste) to new chicks. Later, we hang entire leafy stems in their cage for them to peck clean. If you give them a taste of comfrey when they are little, they will eat it when they get older. We believe that this “comfrey treatment” results in much healthier birds.

Here’s a picture of my current batch of broilers feeding on some stalks of comfrey. If you just toss the comfrey on the ground, they don’t eat it that well. But if you hang it up, they’ll eat it all except the hard central stem.



And I found out this year that chickens also like broccoli that has gone to flower.



Modern Public Education Is A Failure.....
...especially in New York State. I heard on the radio today that my state spends $15,981 per student to give them a “free” government education. That’s per year. We here in N.Y. have the highest per-student cost of government education in the nation. The national average is $9,600.

Marlene and I (mostly Marlene) have homeschooled our three boys. The oldest went to a private Christian school for a couple years (and that was, in my opinion, a mistake). The way I see it, we saved the State of New York at least a half a million dollars by educating our own children.

Remarkable Children Are Reading This Blog
Naomi and Jeremiah, who are sister and brother, ages 12 and 10 respectively, each wrote me a letter this past month. I remember feeling a bit down the day I got the letters and they really picked me up.

Naomi is the oldest in her family of five children (with another on the way). She wrote telling me about her family and the beautiful rural area where she lives in the Pacific Northwest. And she gave me some good feedback on the two Planet Whizbang wheel hoes her family purchased:
”...we have a few gardens that we use our Whizbang wheel hoes in—they work great! We can get alot more done in a short amount of time than with regular hoes. Thanks a lot! I’m reading your blog nearly every day and eagerly awaiting your next update—they all have thought provoking articles. Thanks again.”
Well, thank you, Naomi, for such a nice letter. It was a pleasure to get it and to know that you and your family are not only readers of this blog, but satisfied Planet Whizbang users.

I was equally pleased to get Jeremiah’s letter, which is a work of art. Here’s a picture to prove it:



For those who may not be able to see the letter, it shows all the parts of a Planet Whizbang wheel hoe and there is a drawing that shows the completely assembled tool. Here is what Jeremiah wrote:
Dear Mr. Kimball,

We bought two Whizbang wheel hoes. They work very very well. They were pretty easy to put together. We have already saved more time than it took to make them.

My name is Jeremiah. I am ten years old. I really enjoy reading your blogs.

love Jeremiah
Thanks Jeremiah. I sure did appreciate getting your letter. Your printing is very neat and I like your drawings. Maybe someday when you are a little older, you can use your writing and drawing talents to publish your own books, kind of like I do.

Children Butchering Chickens
One of the most read and most maligned internet essays I’ve written is Backyard Poultry Processing With My 11-Year-Old Son.

Some people just don’t feel comfortable with me teaching my young son how to butcher chickens. They consider it something akin to murdering humans. Several people have gotten downright angry and foul mouthed in their response to that article (and I've deleted those comments). So it’s always good to hear from someone else who sees the value of teaching their children how to butcher chickens when they are youngsters, as in this e-mail I received last week:
Thanks for your great website.  We processed chickens for the first time this year and used your tutorial [www.howToButcherAChicken.com] for a guide.  Next year we are definitely building a Whizbang chicken plucker!  I appreciated your post about processing chickens with your son.  My oldest son is 3 and he had a blast processing chickens.  I helped him hold the knife to slit the throats.  My favorite memory is Elisha holding a chicken in his arms and saying "Daddy, can I kill this one?"
 
Love your books.  As an engineer, I appreciate your simple practical designs.  Creativity is not my strength, but I am learning to think differently than the industrialized norm.
 
I have a question about the apple grinder.  We have made apple sauce for several years.  Last year we used our Vitamix to transform slightly heated or raw apple chunks into mash.  We want the most healthy applesauce available so we include the skins and small chunks.  I saw your design and instantly thought -- apple sauce!  Is the consistency of the mash OK for apple sauce?  I see much less processing time in our future....
Let me first say that the image of little Elisha asking his daddy if he can kill the chicken in his arms is not only endearing, it’s also downright funny, primarily because I know how horrifying such a scenario is for the rabid animal rights crowd, as well as squeamish Moderns who are completely disengaged from the reality of where their food comes from and how to feed themselves without being dependent on the Industrial Providers.

It is a wonderful thing to know that this dear child, Elisha, will grow up eating wholesome chickens that his family grew, and he helped to butcher. Elisha will surely not grow up to be a helpless man in a modern world full of helpless men.

Now, about the question of using a Whizbang apple grinder to easily make a lot of applesauce, I think it is a real possibility, and I intend to give it a try in a couple of months when apples are ready to harvest.

Whizbang Cider Update
In addition to applesauce, I’m looking forward to once again making lots of fresh-squeezed, raw (unpasteurized), unadulterated (no preservatives added) sweet apple cider.

As many of you already know, I developed my own Whizbang home cidermaking system after four seasons of experimentation. And then I published a Whizbang Cider Plan Book earlier this year. I also established the web site, www.WhizbangCider.com, and the Yahoo discussion group, Whizbang Cider Makers.

This last month, Mother Earth News purchased a quantity of the books to sell. My assumption is that they will be featuring it in an upcoming issue of the magazine. That is good news for this little self-publisher, and welcomed affirmation that my Whizbang cidermaking system is filling a void in the area of practical home cider production information. There really is no other home cidermaking equipment that comes close to that of the Whizbang apple grinder and press for simplicity, affordability, ease of use, and efficient cider production.

I Have Read “The Great Frontier”
In last month’s letter I mentioned the Texas historian Walter Prescott Webb and his 1955 book, “The Great Frontier.” Since then, I have had an opportunity to read the book and it is an eye-opener. I will give you an overview here because this understanding of history bears heavily on our current world situation.

The Great Frontier is, essentially, an explanation of Webb’s Boom Hypothesis of Modern History. This hypothesis is well worth reading about and understanding. It begins with what Webb calls The Metropolis, which is pre 1500 Western Europe. Apart from Asia, Western Europe was all the known world. The Metropolis was unified in culture, densely populated, and static. It was a civilization of well-defined classes and customs. It was a period in time and place that was defined by limitations. As Webb writes:
The population pressed hard on the means of subsistence. There was not much food, and practically no means of escape for the people living in a closed world. the idea of progress had not been born.
As a subsistence civilization, there were no corporations or joint stock companies. There were no banking institutions. Money was scarce. Work was limited to the tasks of subsistence... or war—plundering other nations was the time-honored way for kings to acquire more wealth.
Then came the miracle that was to change everything... Europe, the Metropolis, knocked on the door of the Great Frontier, and when the door was opened it was seen to be golden, for within, there was undreamed of treasure, enough to make the whole Metropolis rich. The long quest of a half-starved people had at last been rewarded with a prospect beyond human comprehension.
This Great Frontier was the newly discovered and almost vacant lands of North America, South America, Australia, and numerous smaller islands. These new lands were rich with natural resources and it was all an incredible boom for the Metropolis.
You can get everything of a material nature you want, more than you ever dreamed of having, from gold and silver to furs and foods, and in any quantity you want, provided only that you are willing to venture and work. And something you never had within your historical memory will come to you as a byproduct, and that is an extraordinary degree of freedom.
Did you catch that? Freedom. Personal freedom and democratic forms of government were one of the many fruits of the Great Frontier. In a static civilization, confronted with limitations, civil liberty and individual freedom for the masses was unheard of. But all that changed with the Great Frontier.

Here, in the following quotes from the book, Webb provides more insights into the Boom Hypothesis. Intimations of what it means to us in 2009 begin to emerge:
When this great area was made available to the crowded and impoverished people of the Metropolis, they swarmed out like bees to suck up the nectar of wealth, much of which they brought home to the mother hive. This sudden, continuing, and ever-increasing flood of wealth precipitated on the Metropolis a business boom such as the whole world had never known before and probably can never know again.
This boom began when Columbus returned from his first voyage, rose slowly, and continued at an ever-accelerating pace until the frontier which fed it was no more. Assuming that the frontier closed in 1890 or 1900, it may be said that the boom lasted about four hundred years.
Assuming that there was a boom, and that it lasted four hundred years or more, it follows that a set of institutions, economic, political, and social, would in that time evolve to meet the needs of a world in boom.
Therefore, these boom-born institutions, economic systems, political systems, social systems—in short, the present superstructure of Western civilization—are today founded on boom conditions.
Wow. So the superstructure of Western civilization is founded on boom conditions. But, as is painfully obvious to anyone in Western civilization these days, the boom is over. Fact is, for the most part, it has been over for decades. We’ve been coasting on the momentum of the 400-year boom. Is the current economic depression we are experiencing an indicator that we s a civilization are dangerously close to running out of momentum? What does the Boom Hypothesis “predict” for the future? In Chapter Thirteen of the book, titled Conclusion, Webb writes the following:
If there is no substitute boom-maker, or one that is much less effective than the Frontier was, then we are faced with radical changes indeed. The society we have would tend to go through a process of devolution and retrogression rather than evolution and progress. It would lose much of its dynamic character, just as a boom town does when fortunes are lost there and not made.... Rural life would tend to become more important, and city life less alluring. Theoretically, society might become somewhat medieval in character, and new ideals would have to be formulated to make that life tolerable.
Though there is much talk of new frontiers, a careful examination of those suggested reveals that most of them are trivial, and none will compare in magnitude or importance with the Great Frontier. The most plausible claims are made in the name of science and technology. There is no doubt that science has made and is making valuable contributions to the luxury and comfort of those who have the price, but the tendency is to overate what science can do.
The last two sentences of the book:
Our challenge consists in finding out what modifications should be made, and our opportunity will come in making them. Our inspiration may come from history, in looking back to the early 16th century when the lamp was lifted beside the golden door of the Great Frontier to change the destiny of mankind.
My translation (and I’ve said this before): The modern industrial age is drawing to a close. We are not necessarily heading back to the “dark ages.” But history is moving ahead to something very different. It will be a civilization without excess and ease and relative opulence, which modern man has grown accustomed to. In other words, the future will, of necessity, be far more agrarian-centered than it is now. And I don’t see that as a bad thing. But making the transition could be particularly difficult for many Moderns.

The Great Sovereignty of God
As much as I enjoyed reading Walter Prescott Webb’s, “The Great Frontier,” and as much as I think he is right on with his “boom theory,” I must make it clear that Webb’s worldview, as presented in his fine book, leaves out any acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty over all of history. Though Webb does mention religion and the changes wrought by the Great Frontier on religious institutions, as a secular historian, he is incapable of understanding that every jot and tittle of history is a manifestation of God’s almighty providence; that all of history serves its divinely-ordained purpose of glorifying God.

It is, therefore, necessary for we Christians to “read between the lines” of such secular books using our biblical worldview and that, of course, makes any history book all the more exciting.

Those who are given to understand something of the absolute sovereignty of God really don’t look at anything that happens in this world as chance or happenstance. It is all orchestrated, as I’ve said, by our sovereign God for His glory and that right there is a message that the sheep of His flock must never forget, which brings me to another book that is my “reading project” for next month:

I have been meaning to read A.W. Pink’s The Sovereignty of God for some time. Michael Bunker recently mentioned the book at his blog and provided THIS LINK to an online copy. That has prompted me to finally read the book.

As I started reading the Introduction, I found myself thrilled with Pink’s writing and his exhortation. As long as I live, I will never tire of hearing or reading of God’s sovereignty, so I am really enjoying what I have read so far. Here, to give you a feel for the book are the first two paragraphs of Chapter One, titled God’s Sovereignty Defined:
The Sovereignty of God is an expression that once was generally understood. It was a phrase commonly used in religious literature. It was a theme frequently expounded in the pulpit. It was a truth which brought comfort to many hearts, and gave virility and stability to Christian character. But, today, to make mention of God's Sovereignty is, in many quarters, to speak in an unknown tongue. Were we to announce from the average pulpit that the subject of our discourse would be the Sovereignty of God, it would sound very much as though we had borrowed a phrase from one of the dead languages. Alas! that it should be so. Alas! that the doctrine which is the key to history, the interpreter of Providence, the warp and woof of Scripture, and the foundation of Christian theology should be so sadly neglected and so little understood.

The Sovereignty of God. What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the god-hood of God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou? (Dan. 4:35). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psa. 115:3). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is "The Governor among the nations" (Psa. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the "Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.
In the third and fourth paragraphs of Chapter One, Pink proceeds without delay to apply this doctrine of God’s sovereignty to one of the most egregious tenents of “modern Christendom.”
How different is the God of the Bible from the God of modern Christendom! The conception of Deity which prevails most widely today, even among those who profess to give heed to the Scriptures, is a miserable caricature, a blasphemous travesty of the Truth. The God of the twentieth century is a helpless, effeminate being who commands the respect of no really thoughtful man. The God of the popular mind is the creation of maudlin sentimentality. The God of many a present-day pulpit is an object of pity rather than of awe-inspiring reverence. To say that God the Father has purposed the salvation of all mankind, that God the Son died with the express intention of saving the whole human race, and that God the Holy Spirit is now seeking to win the world to Christ; when, as a matter of common observation, it is apparent that the great majority of our fellowmen are dying in sin, and passing into a hopeless eternity; is to say that God the Father is disappointed, that God the Son is dissatisfied, and that God the Holy Spirit is defeated. We have stated the issue baldly, but there is no escaping the conclusion. To argue that God is "trying His best" to save all mankind, but that the majority of men will not let Him save them, is to insist that the will of the Creator is impotent, and that the will of the creature is omnipotent. To throw the blame, as many do, upon the Devil, does not remove the difficulty, for if Satan is defeating the purpose of God, then, Satan is Almighty and God is no longer the Supreme Being.

To declare that the Creator's original plan has been frustrated by sin, is to dethrone God. To suggest that God was taken by surprise in Eden and that He is now attempting to remedy an unforeseen calamity, is to degrade the Most High to the level of a finite, erring mortal. To argue that man is a free moral agent and the determiner of his own destiny, and that therefore he has the power to checkmate his Maker, is to strip God of the attribute of Omnipotence. To say that the creature has burst the bounds assigned by his Creator, and that God is now practically a helpless Spectator before the sin and suffering entailed by Adam's fall, is to repudiate the express declaration of Holy Writ, namely, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain" (Psa. 76:10). In a word, to deny the Sovereignty of God is to enter upon a path which, if followed to its logical terminus, is to arrive at blank atheism.
Athiesm! How’s that for an accusation to wake smug evangelicals out of their stupor! This, my friends, is a powerfully compelling book. It could change your whole view of God.... for the better.

Debt Slavery
Speaking of Michael Bunker, chapter four of his book, Surviving Off Off-Grid is now available online. I’m enjoying this book-in-process very much. You can read the new chapter here: Debt Slavery.

Hops Update
My hops plant, (the growth of which I have been chronicling in these monthly reports) did very well in July. it has grown to the top of it’s 11-foot pole and has another three feet of vine at the top, looking for something to cling to. I have learned that hops is not a vine, is is a bine. I’ve never heard of a bine before. If it has support, the hops bine can climb up to 50 feet. And hops is a relative of hemp. Here’s a picture of my hops plant showing the “cones” that are forming.



Thanks for stopping by. See you next month........

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Herrick, just a comment about comfrey.

It can also be used as a poltice for poison ivy.

I am very allergic to poison ivy and it is a good salve after the oil from the poison ivy has been removed.

Robin said...

A few years back my best friend, a teacher in a low-income urban school, hosted a "kill your tv day". He brought some old tvs, safety goggles and sledgehammers. If a child agreed to give up tv for a month, he allowed him to have a whack at one of the tvs. It was a joy to watch.

Also, thanks for the links to the great books.

The GrimesTimes said...

Mr. Kimball,

I very much look forward to your posts every month. I liked it when the posts came more frequently, but I am thankful that you have your priorities straight. I am a young dad with two young children and God has changed my heart away from vain things, to them and my wife.

The agrarian lifestyle excites me and I have dreams of living it one day. And I am thankful for your blogging about your passion which has inspired me to start blogging as well. I am posting Dad's Discipleship Tips everyday on my blog for awhile. It's mostly aimed at men of my generation to grow up and start being men and start leading their families in Christ. Thank you for the pointers about blogging. I try to keep it simple like you do. If you would like, you can probably find the link to it by clicking on my name.

A.W. Pink is great. If you haven't heard Paul Washer, you must look him up. His ministry is Heartcry Missionary Society. He's on itunes and youtube.

Thanks again. Be encouraged. Stay faithful. I look forward to the next post.

A brother in Christ,
Adam

Steven Martin said...

Herrick,
I think you've jumped to the wrong conclusion about Facebook. Its a good tool. We use it to keep in touch with our farm customers and friends. Its quick, practical and effective. You can still use the blog for essays. Facebook is more for quick updates, bulletins, announcememnts. In a very short time, you can send a quick message to hundreds of folks. Its a real time saver. Personally, I have not found a practical use for Twitter. But no one could really forecast how Google could evolve all their tools (Blogger, Chrome, Reader, Gmail etc) either at the very outset. TV is the same. It can be a tool if used to watch an informative documentary. Its also a life wasting time sink if used just for "entertainment". Facebook is the same. Can be used either way.
Steve M
Romney, WV

Carolyn K M said...

Hi HCK - I happen to agree with Steven Martin about FB. It's my way of communicating with the family and seeing pictures of all the children as they grow up. It's a nice way to stay in touch with relatives and old classmates and it's FREE! You don't have to write an essay every time you sign in, just look around and say HI if you feel like it or write a few lines. Just thought you might like to see some of your half-brother's and sister's and their children. You seem to be more interested in the "Old Kimball" relatives. Sorry you won't be joining us on FB.

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks everyone for your comments.

Steve & Carolyn,
Using Facebook as a tool to keep in touch with farm customers is a fine application. If I had a farm and wanted to market to customers in my area, I would seriously consider using Facebook. Likewise, if I were older, less absorbed with my immediate family, and so many other pursuits, and had more time to spend at it, I think that Facebook would be a great way to keep in touch with extended family, who I am interested in but I barely know. It is true that Old Kimball relatives interest me, largely because I am interested in the older days, and older, unknown influences in the family tree. My days are currently way too full and I'm feeling more and more stretched thin by the demands on me, especially by the Whizbang business. So I'm faced with prioritizing. Facebook doesn't make the list. Fact is, this blog barely makes the list any more. Besides that I see my younger boys spending way too much time on Facebook doing silly socializing with their friends, when they could be doing other, more productive and beneficial things,and I see their friends spending even more time and being even sillier. So my impressions are, I'm sure, skewed by that. In any event, we all have to evaluate these things for ourselves and try to do what we think is right and, like I said in the essay, everyone's situation is different.

timfromohio said...

Great post! I'm glad to see there is at least one other person out there that has not been affected by the switch to digital TV broadcasting. In all honesty, we did buy a converter box (didn't have cable before the switch and our TV is not digital ready, so we got a rebate coupon and got the converter box) but have not yet removed the converter box from its packaging. We haven't missed network TV at all. I will confess that I'll likely install the box before mid-winter. When it's really cold outside (too cold to work in the workshop on our whizbang cider press) my boys and I like to sit by the wood stove and watch "The New Yankee Workshop" and "This Old House", so eventually the converter box might be used, but until then I know we're not missing much.

Kevin Kossowan said...

Really enjoy your perspective, and look forward to future updates.

Also - thanks for all your thought and research re: fruit pressing and grinding. You inspired a similar design that I just posted about to handle this fall's bounty. I've been gushing about your work to my food-blogging-friends.

Take care,
Kevin

Anonymous said...

Amen, yes God is sovereign. It is the well spring of so much hope & peace, to know that He is He & that he laid the very foundations of creation. What greater hope could we have but to trust in him and to temper that perspective w/ the knowledge that his ways are not our ways (that in itself is a relief).
As odd as it may sound, this is the very reason I like to watch the Weather Channel. As I sit & watch the meteorologists talk & get excited about a storm or heat wave, I chuckle to myself as I will never expect to hear them say "God has stationed a cold front here...".

Daisyblend said...

Hey Herrick,
Saw your chicken scalding article in Countryside this month. Great job! You had mentioned the magazine a couple years ago here on your blog and I was hooked from my first issue. Thanks!

~K~

Art said...

Hi, can anyone tell me if and/or where I can purchase the chicken plucker kit that the kid is making? thanks

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Art-
You can get complete details about the Whizbang plucker parts I sell at this link: www.WhizbangBooks.com.

George Craig said...

Herrick,

I am the dad of Elisha from the story in your blog. I enjoy telling the story and watching people's reactions. Many people respond with a face that says "Yuck! I could never do that!" In fact, that would have been me several years ago. Since this was our first year processing chickens, I was a little unsure about my reaction to the bloodiness.

Here is a surefire way to overcome the squeamishness about blood and butchering animals. Just make sure your children are around you when you start. You can't be a sissy when your children are watching! The first time I plunged my hand into a chicken carcass I was thinking "I can't believe I got myself into this." But the first chicken meal was wonderful. So the next butchering task (hopefully a deer this fall) I'll just make sure my boys are by my side. They cheer me on!

I agree with you about Facebook (and others). It is a tool that can easily waste time if not used properly. You could easily look at the telephone of 50+ years ago the same way. The stereotype of women chatting the day away on the phone has some truth. I wouldn't go without a phone or the internet, but they sure can use up your most valuable asset - time. Just be sure to use your tools wisely. I see most people spending lots of time in electronic relationships and little time in real-life face-to-face encounters. I prefer the latter.

Comfrey - have you found an online source to buy plants? I would love to start a patch but haven't found a local source to dig up some roots.

Apple grinder - can't wait to assemble my whizbang apple grinder. Still collecting parts. Since I will be building a chicken plucker also, it makes sense to me to use a single motor that can be switched between the two (apple grinder and chicken plucker). So I'm thinking that the chicken plucker is the "bigger" motor requirement. Do you think the same motor can be used for both?

Thanks for your writings. Very helpful for someone who is a few years behind you in the journey of life.

geo

Southern Agrarian said...

HK:"In other words, the future will, of necessity, be far more agrarian-centered than it is now. And I don’t see that as a bad thing. But making the transition could be particularly difficult for many Moderns."

Spengler says:

"The "civilization" phase witnesses drastic social upheavals, mass movements of peoples, continual wars and constant crises. All this takes place along with the growth of the great "megalopolis" -- huge urban and suburban centers that sap the surrounding countrysides of their vitality, intellect, strength, and soul. The inhabitants of these urban conglomerations -- now the bulk of the populace -- are a rootless, soulless, godless, and materialistic mass, who love nothing more than their panem et circenses. From these come the subhuman "fellaheen" -- fitting participants in the dying-out of a culture.

With the civilization phase comes the rule of Money and its twin tools, Democracy and the Press. Money rules over the chaos, and only Money profits by it. But the true bearers of the culture -- the men whose souls are still one with the culture-soul -- are disgusted and repelled by the Money-power and its fellaheen, and act to break it, as they are compelled to do so -- and as the mass culture-soul compels finally the end of the dictatorship of money. Thus the civilization phase concludes with the Age of Caesarism, in which great power come into the hands of great men, helped in this by the chaos of late Money-rule. The advent of the Caesars marks the return of Authority and Duty, of Honor and "Blood," and the end of democracy.

With this arrives the "imperialistic" stage of civilization, in which the Caesars with their bands of followers battle each other for control of the earth. The great masses are uncomprehending and uncaring; the megalopoli slowly depopulate, and the masses gradually "return to the land," to busy themselves there with the same soil-tasks as their ancestors centuries before. The turmoil of events goes on above their heads. Now, amidst all the chaos of the times, there comes a "second religiosity"; a longing return to the old symbols of the faith of the culture. Fortified thus, the masses in a kind of resigned contentment bury their souls and their efforts into the soil from which they and their culture sprang, and against this background the dying of the Culture and the civilization it created is played out."

- http://www.toqonline.com/2009/06/spengler-an-introduction/