Just A Little Bit...Every Day...
Until I’m Done

I'm blogging "little bits," one each day until the book I'm currently working on is done and handed off to the printer. Each day I will post one, simple, “little bit.” These “little bits” will not have their own blog post; I will just add them, one on top of the other, below.

My target date to be done with the new book is January 31. I may be a few days late. But hopefully not. In any event I invite you to check out my special prepublication discount pricing for the newest Whizbang book... Details Are Here

Little Bit For Day 22
30 January 2009.....Gerald Celente (see little bit for day 17, below) has done another podcast interview with Lew Rockwell. Celente is president of Trends Research Institute. It is his business to look ahead and see what future trends are. He has been at it for a long time. He has a good track record. He says that current events form future trends.

In the newest interview Celente refutes the idea some people have that the economic situation is going to get better sometime soon. Lew Rockwell says it took 17 years to get out of the last great depression. Celente says the depression we are moving into this year “is going to go on and on.” Celente asserts that “It’s going to be the worst living conditions that we’ve ever, ever seen in this country.”

That is quite a statement to be making, but Calente backs it up with the kind of frank logic that has made him successful as a trends forecaster. He states that “the only way out” is for America to develop a new “productive capacity,” and he explains exactly what he means by that. But it doesn’t sound like he is expecting it to happen. I don't either.

In the second half of the interview Celente tells what he is doing to prepare for social and economic collapse. You can listen to the 13 minute interview at this link: Interview #94: Gerald Celente, The Greatest Depression in History

Little Bit For Day 21
29 January 2009.....Over the past few years, since starting this blog and writing my Deliberate Agrarian book, I have received a LOT of letters from individual Christians who tell me they feel the Lord is convicting them to pursue the agrarian lifestyle. I am blessed by these letters and these families that see the foolishness of our God-hating neo-Babylonian culture with its heavily industrialized way of life. Such a way of life is characterized by selfishness, dissatisfaction, covetousness, vanity, pride, and independence from God.

Industrialism has a clear track record of destroying the earth, destroying families, destroying community, and destroying fundamental understandings of the Christian faith. Industrialism forces its minions to be helpless and dependent on the industrial providers and a messianic state.

This industrialized way of life is clearly contrary to the Biblical model. And so it is, in this day, that God is calling out a “properly grounded remnant” who will repent of the foolishness, separate from Babylon, and pursue a way of life defined by a completely-biblical worldview.

The complete Biblical worldview reveals a distinctly agrarian framework for living. It is unmistakable. This Biblical-agrarian paradigm is characterized by a simpler way of lif; a life that is satisfied with little and thankful to God for the smallest things; a way of life that is focused on faith, and family, and working with our backs, our hands, and our minds to provide the basic needs of life.

Well, enough of the editorializing. My primary intention with today’s little bit is to share with you a portion of a letter I got today. It is similar to many letters I get. The writer began by telling me that he has felt for some time the Lord calling him to a simpler lifestyle. I’ll let him take it from there....

Well, every barrier that I placed between me and that calling, (i.e.corporate job that consumed most of my day, big house with a big payment, etc.) has been jerked out from under me in the last few months, starting with the loss of my job in October.
 
In the midst of all this chaos, the LORD placed in my path an older man in our church, who out of nowhere, started using this unique word, AGRARIAN, of which I had never heard. A few weeks later, I take my dryer blower motor, which died, to another older man in the community, and unprompted, he begins talking to me about the calling, biblically, of man to lead an AGRARIAN lifestyle. I get the point, LORD>>>>>
 
So, as all of this is coming together, while still unemployed, 3 1/2 months later, I am at such peace and know what the LORD is calling me to do, and I am pursuing that calling with all I have.


Little Bit For Day 20
29 January 2009......We are in the midst of a snowstorm here. When I got home from work today, two of my sons were out shoveling the driveway. I backed in and when I got out of the car they informed me that the back bumper on my car was falling off.

Sure enough, a clip holding the bumper on one side had rusted out and the plastic bumper was hanging. I asked Robert if he could fix it for me. "You mean wire it up?" he asked. "Yes just drill a couple of holes and wire it together," I replied.

I backed up to my workshop. Robert was waiting with the drill and zip ties.

I've written about this car before. I call it "Little Red." It's a 1994 Nissan Sentra on its second hundred thousand. I paid $600 for it a few years ago. It doesn't have a 5th gear. It gets around 30 miles per gallon. It has been a remarkably reliable car. It's great in snow. I love the stick shift. I love the car.

One morning on the way to work this winter I was traveling over a very icy country road. I came upon a full-size state plow with a sander on the back. It had run off the road, over the ditch, into a field, and turned on its side. Another state truck was nose down in the ditch nearby. Two men were standing by the road. Me and Little Red slowed down. I got out and shuffled over to the men. "Is everybody okay?" I asked. One man replied,"Yeah. Just a little hurt pride." I told him that would heal in time. Then I asked if they wanted me to pull them out with my car.

So, anyway, Robert fixed my car in no time and, I am well pleased with his repair.




Little Bit For Day 19
28 January 2009....
Pa planted a pickle patch every year, sometimes as much as two acres but generally around an acre. When we planted a crop in a small field, say three acres or less, Pa called it a patch.

One time, a Wisconsin relative told Pa he was wrong to call our pickle patch a pickle patch. "What in blazes is wrong in calling a pickle patch what it is?" Pa asked in exasperation. He often lost his patience with city relatives who knew not a wit about farming, gardening, or anything else outside their homes or the paper mills where they worked.

"You should call it a cucumber patch. Cucumbers become pickles once they've been processed," the relative said in his high-minded way, "like dill pickles and sweet and sour pickles."

"Well, out here in the country, this patch of ground is a pickle patch," Pa said, looking the city relative square in the eye. And that was the end of the conversation. Pa was not much for city folks telling him anything, especially what to call his pickle patch."
From the book, Every Farm Tells A Story, which I have written about here.

Little Bit For Day 18
27 January 2009....I have a sedentary job as a supervisor in a factory. And for many weeks now I have spent many after work and weekend hours at home seated in front of my computer, working on my next book. I am not getting the exercise I need. I feel out of shape. I am out of shape.

Meanwhile, my wife, who is also out of shape (that's what she tells me, but I like her shape) has taken to cross-country skiing. We’ve had the skis for many years. Some years they get more use than others.

Cross country skiing is inexpensive, simple to do, relatively safe, and it is incredibly good exercise for a body. If you live in the country, you simply step out your door, snap your boots into the skis, and take off. And cross country skiing is also fun to do.

Marlene has been encouraging me to come skiing with her. And I’ve been telling her I can’t because I’m laser-focused on this book thing. But last weekend, I had my fill of the book. I needed to break away and do something physical. So I went skiing. I walked across the road and blazed a trail up through the field across from our house. It was a brutally cold but gloriously sunny day. The fresh air and exercise did me good. The picture below is looking back, across the valley. Our house is in the background on the left side of the view. I’m about to head back down the hill.

Book Update: Barring any unforseen problems, my Whizbang cider book project is on schedule to be done by the end of the month. I will hand the pages to my printer on Monday next, which will be February 2. Then I’ll launch into my next project which will not be a Whizbang book. It will be a Whizbang product. I’m pretty excited about this product because I came up with the design, prototyped it last spring, used it in my garden through the growing season, and it worked so well. It is a garden tool. I’ll reveal what it is in February. Then I’ll gear up my small work shop to produce the product in time for spring (hopefully).

But I intend to take more time for cross country skiing too.

Little Bit For Day 17
26 January 2009....If you have not yet visited the blog, Granny Miller, I recommend it to you. And Granny’s husband, The Midland Agrarian has a fine blog too.

I mention this because I was over to Granny Miller's yesterday and saw that she blogged about Gerald Celente, president of Trends Research Institute. Mr. Celente has made a career of looking ahead and seeing various trends (business, economic, political, and cultural) before they hit the mainstream consciousness. He is a man of some renown because he has an accurate track record going back many years.

I’ve been aware of Celente for some time, but not until I read Granny’s recent blog did I learn of his 13-minute interview with Lew Rockwell last month. The interview discusses the “trends” Mr. Calente sees coming to pass in the American economy and government in the very near future. It is an insightful and sobering analysis. These are very serious times we live in, and they are going to get much more serious. You can Download The Interview Here

Little Bit For Day 16
25 January 2009.... It has been very cold here in Central new York. So cold that my son James has taken to sleeping downstairs, on the fold-out sofa bed, near the wood stove. He says his bedroom is too cold. That’s the way it is when you have one wood stove in the living room to heat your whole house. We don’t just turn up the thermostat and maintain a comfortable temperature at all times. That’s a modern luxury our house does not have. We get temperature swings and sometimes in the winter, the temperature swings uncomfortably low.

So I had to tell James how it was when I was a boy....

We lived in a drafty old farm house and heated it with two wood stoves. My bedroom was upstairs, far from the wood stoves. The windows in my bedroom were so loose that a winter storm would often leave a little drift of snow on the windowsills. It was so cold in my bedroom on some winter days that I could see my breath. The inside of the windows would ice up 1/4” thick in places. And, yes, I’m serious when I tell you that it was so cold that a glass of water by my bedside iced over one night.

But my mother made sure I had plenty of blankets on my bed and I slept well.

Winter mornings were the coldest. I would get out of bed, make a beeline for the wood stove in the downstairs kitchen, and hover in front of it, trying to heat up each side of myself before getting ready for school.If I was up before everyone else. I had to get the fire going to get warm.

Kids these days just don’t know how good they got it. :-)

Little Bit For Day 15
24 January 2009..... There is an old agrarian aphorism that goes like this: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Such simple wisdom holds true for finances as well as eggs. I can not help but feel very badly for people like This Woman who had so many eggs in one basket and has lost them all.

Little Bit For Day 14
23 January 2009......Have you heard of biochar? If you are a gardener, you should know about this low tech way to enhance soil fertility. The current issue (Feb/March 2009) of Mother Earth News magazine has an article all about biochar. Here is a quote:
”...coarse lumps of charcoal are full of crevices and holes, which help them serve as life rafts to soil microorganisms. The carbon compounds in charcoal form loose chemical bonds with soluble plant nutrients so they are not as readily washed away by rain and irrigation. Biochar alone added to poor soil has little benefit to plants, but when used in combination with compost and organic fertilizers, it can dramatically improve plant growth while helping retain nutrients in the soil.”
For more details, here is a link: International Biochar Initiative

Little Bit For Day 13
22 January 2009....Last November (while I was on break from blogging here) Marlene and I celebrated out 28th wedding anniversary. We rarely go out together on “dates” these days, but it is our custom to spend the day after Thanksgiving together by going somewhere. The routine is to go shopping at a big mall (where I experience culture shock) and eat at a nice restaurant. Last year we broke with tradition. We drove an hour or so from home to visit an antique mall that a friend had told us was really nice. Turned out it really was a neat place. We spent at least a couple hours there, and then ate lunch at a little diner in a nearby town, and that was nice too. Then we went to two thrift stores. I think we had a whole lot more fun together than going to a megamall and fancy restaurant.

Someday, when our kids are just a bit older, Marlene and I will spend more time going places together—just the two of us, like we did eons ago, before we had children. Who knows, maybe we’ll explore some foreign lands—exotic places we’ve never been to. Places with names like Tennessee and Missouri and Kentucky. And if we’re really adventerous, maybe we’ll even go to northern Alabama. And we’ll try eating the strange foods of these places—like hominy.

But last November, for our anniversary, we went to the antique mall and the little diner. It was a memorable day because I bought something special at the antique mall. I didn’t expect to buy something. But I saw something there that I have never seen for sale before and it’s something I’ve been wanting for a few years now. Here’s a couple pictures, with explanation below:

That, my friends, is a treadle-powered bean sorter. Someday, I still dream of having the land and time to grow heirloom dry beans of various kinds as a home business. When that day comes, I’ll need a bean sorter, just like that one in the pictures. I paid $80 for it and am pretty happy about that (even if it did sell brand new for around nine bucks....but that was a long time ago). There is no room to store the thing here at our place, so it is now in my mother-in-law’s garage. We’re busting at the seams with Whizbang prototypes and parts and books and various homestead projects.

Here’s a link to a dry-bean blog I wrote awhile back: ”Every Bean’s a Blessing, Boys!”

Little Bit For Day 12
21 January 2009....Today I’d like to share with you the following passage from Every Farm Tells a Story by Jerry Apps, which I reviewed HERE. I find it fascinating that this family purchased a 160 acre farm during the Great Depression and paid it off in a few years with income generated by the farm. That used to be possible and I think it was fairly common. Those of you who are in the diary business will find the milk pricing of interest. Can someone tell me how many gallons is in a “hundredweight” and what the current price is?

“When the stock market crashed in 1929, Pa was renting the home farm from a landlord named John R. Jones. Rent was one-third of the farm income, and Pa furnished everything. Eight years later, Pa managed to buy the farm for four thousand six hundred dollars with a mortgage at 3 percent interest. With backing from Emmett Humphrey, a lawyer friend in Wautoma, Pa purchased the farm for one dollar down. Taxes were sixty-five dollars a year and interest was one hundred thirty-eight dollars a year.

The price of milk, our primary income source, more than doubled during the war. Ma’s record books show that, in January 1938, milk fetched $1.20 per hundredweight, and milk sales earned us $10.76, our two-week income had increased nearly threefold—up to $31.68. By January 1945, milk prices had risen to $2.48 per hundredweight; with Pa and me milking even more cows on the newly purchased milking machine, our two-week income was up to $100.52.

The war also posted the price of pork. In fact, hogs became known as “mortgage lifters.” That was surely true on our farm. We had always raised pigs, mostly Chester Whites and Berkshires. Just before the war, pork sold for around six dollars a hundred pounds. One year into the war and it was selling for ten dollars a hundred. By the middle years of the war, Pa sold as many as a hundred pigs a year and earned enough to pay off the farm’s mortgage.”


Little Bit For Day 11
20 January 2009....The very cute little boy in the picture below has some odd marks on his nose. If you have not yet seen this on the internet, prepare to be shocked. Go to THIS LINK for the full story.


Little Bit For Day 10
19 January 2009....I’ve been thinking a lot about brain tumors recently. I can’t help myself. A guy I work with found out he has a cancerous brain tumor on the right side of his brain. He is having surgery this week. That sort of thing makes one think about brain tumors. I don’t recall brain tumors being as prevalent as they seem to be these days. It would be bad enough if one co-worker got a brain tumor, but this fellow isn’t the only one. At least three other coworkers have gotten brain tumors in the past few years. Two have died as a result. I’ve been told there are others. There are around 800 employees in the maximum security prison where I work, and 1,800 felons. Inmates come and go. Some die. We don’t know their medical histories because they are private and protected by law. But the rumor is that some of these guys are dying from brain tumors.

I don’t drink the water at work. I bring my own food. But I breathe the air. I breathe the chemicals that are used in the manufacturing processes. I’ve written here in the past about My Non-Agrarian Day Job

So I did some internet “research” on brain tumors. I came up with the absolutely amazing story of people getting brain worms from imported pork. No kidding. It was a Fox News report. It features the woman who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It shows the actual surgery and the surgeon finding the worm. The neurosurgeon says this is not uncommon. Watch The Brain Worm Story Here. WARNING: You will never eat storebought pork again after watching the video. And it's just as well.

Then I came upon the story of how Aspertame, NutriSweet, and Equal artificial sweeteners cause brain tumors in people. I’ve heard about this in the past but didn’t really look into it. Here is one of many links about this subject. You can also watch a series of YouTube movies about it. A major source of Aspertame ingestion is diet soda. I don’t drink soda, diet or otherwise. But a lot of people do. If you’re one of them, I suggest you check out the information.

=======

Today I have another day off from work. I’m continuing to work on my next book project. I have only eight pages to go and the book wil be done. I’m still planning to get it to the printer by the first of February, but it’s going to be close. My thanks to those of you who have prepurchased a copy of the book at the special prepublication price. You have put a lot of trust and faith in me by doing so. I appreciate that.

Little Bit For Day 9
18, January, 2009....While listening to news on the radio radio yesterday in my workshop, my son Robert, said to me: “So they’re going to try to fix the economy by spending more money?”

I replied, “Yes. Can you explain that to me?”

==========

This continual spending of hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars by government as it bails out and, in the process, nationalizes huge banking, insurance, and other companies is a futile act of desperation. It would be comical if it were not so serious.

It took them a long time to admit that we were in a recession when it was obvious to us "little people" that we were in a recession. How long after the fact will it take the “experts” to admit that we are in a depression?

James Turk wrote a few days ago:
”I don’t like to start any new year on a gloomy note. I am by nature an optimist, but I am also a realist who readily faces facts. Right now those facts are not very pretty and suggest to me that the world has entered into another Great Depression.”
It is common knowledge that our government “cooks” the unemployment numbers. They now say U.S. unemployment is just under 8%. Turk says it is more likely just over 17%. And that percentage is certain to go higher.
”Given the current 17.5% rate of unemployment, it would appear that I am not far off the mark to suggest that we have entered another Great Depression, and I am not alone in my thinking. Others who are more attuned to the economic situation see it the same way as I do.

For example, the following quote is from an OpEd piece by Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman that was published in The New York Times on January 5th: “The fact is that recent economic numbers have been terrifying, not just in the United States but around the world. Manufacturing, in particular, is plunging everywhere. Banks aren’t lending; businesses and consumers aren’t spending. Let’s not mince words: This looks an awful lot like the beginning of a second Great Depression.”
But Krugman’s “solution” to the problem we face is for the government to spend massive amounts of money. That is exactly what the new president is going to do. Here is what James Turk says about that:
”Increased borrowing and spending by an overleveraged government in an overleveraged country that is already the world’s largest debtor will not make the economy strong or lead to an economic revival. It will lead to a collapse of the currency, just like it has done in dozens of countries throughout the world. By pursuing defunct Keynesian dogma the new administration is ringing the bell that signals the death knell of the dollar.

In short, the biggest bubble of them all – that the US dollar is ‘money’ – is about to pop. The US dollar is on the path to the fiat currency graveyard, and will soon get there.”
Bottom line: for all practical purposes, the next Great Depression has started.

Little Bit For Day 8
You can not homeschool and get a high school diploma in New York. Therefore, my son Robert (age 17) is now homeschooling through Penn Foster, which is a correspondence school. When he gets done, he will have a diploma from the state of Pennsylvania. We are of the mind that he should get a high school diploma.

The Penn Foster program does not have a Christian world view. But we offset things like evolutionary dogma with discussion and clear evidence to refute such foolishness.

Robert just got his 12th grade “Literature” program from the school. It includes eight books for him to read. They are all published by Dover Publications. They are as follows:

The Call of the Wild
Great Short Poems
Songs For The Open Road
Civil Disobedience and Other Essays
Great Speeches by Native Americans
Narrative of Sojourner Truth
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Great American Short Stories

I’ve decided I will read some (or all) of the books myself. I started with a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, titled Young Goodman Brown. I started reading it and fell asleep. It is very strange. I don’t yet know how it turns out. Robert is more inclined to read short stories from hunting magazines, or a repair manual for his four-wheeler. This Literature is going to be tough for him (and I'm not convinced it will all be beneficial for him). But, as much as I was an avid reader as a boy, it would have been tough for me at his age.

In any event, I did find a great short poem in the book titled “Great Short Poems.” I suspect you have read it before. Even still, I will print it here because it is so “right on!” Here is an example of truth and beauty in simple poetry, by Joyce Kilmer:
Trees

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
and lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.


Little Bit For Day 7
It is Friday January 16, 2009. Today I'm taking a day off from my factory job to work on my Whizbang cider press plan book. The book now has it’s own blog. Today’s “little bit” is three select quotes, gleaned from the pages of my book,Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian
”It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature. There are not hothouse blossoms that can compare in beauty and fragrance with my bouquet of wildflowers.”—Laura Ingalls Wilder
”There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third is by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.” —Benjamin Franklin
”Before the rise of modern industry... virtually the whole of humankind lived in family-centered economies. The family was the locus of the most productive activity, whether it be on largely self-sufficient farms or in small family shops... Husbands and wives relied on each other, needed each other, shared with each other, so their small family enterprises might succeed. They specialized in their daily tasks according to their respective skills. Marriage was still true to its historic definition: a union of the sexual and the economic.” —Allan C. Carlson, Ph.D.


Little Bit For Day 6

Corn beef + Swiss cheese + rye bread + sauerkraut + Thousand Island dressing = a Reuben. Oh, and the bread is buttered, then the whole thing toasted on a cast iron griddle. You've eaten a Reuben, right?

I took a picture of that half of a Reuben sandwich because it was one of the first ones we made with Marlene’s homemade rye bread and our own homemade sauerkraut, which was made with our homegrown cabbage. The making of our own sauerkraut occasioned the making of Reubens. I don’t know if the sandwich looks good to you but it looks good to me. That’s because I ate it, and it was good.

Last year in the fall we made sauerkraut for the first time. It was so simple to make, and so doggone good, that I’m wondering why we did not make sauerkraut sooner. I guess the mystery of it all was something of a stumbling block for us. Neither Marlene or I grew up in a family that made sauerkraut. And none of our friends around here ever made sauerkraut (that we know of). Making sauerkraut just wasn’t part of our culture. Funny how that works.

But, after finally just doing it, we now know there is nothing to it, and homemade is, as is usually the case, far better than storebought. I think there is a moral to this story. Maybe the moral is: “What are you waiting for? Just do it!”

Now, does anyone out there make their own corned beef?

Little Bit For Day 5
”Or take another example: the taxes on property. Now you and I know that no government may lawfully tax the ground. God says that the earth is his, and the cattle on a thousand hills. Nowhere in scripture is there such a tax. When the state imposes such a tax, it is declaring that it is god!

“Besides, it was constitutionally an impossible tax. Almost every state constitution specifically abolished feudal land tenure and established allodial freehold. Allodial land tenure is absolute and indefeasible title to the land. Feudal land tenure is where you hold the land only during performance of some service or payment of some fee to an overlord. Now ask yourself: if your continuance upon the land was subject to the payment of some yearly fee, called a property tax, and if you could be ejected and lose title for non-payment of that fee, was that feudal tenure? Of course it was, and it was blatantly unconstitutional and unscriptural.”
Spoken by protagonist, Claude Heiland, in the futuristic novel, Heiland, by Franklin Sanders.

Allodial is a new word to me. I had to go to an old dictionary to find it. It is an adjective meaning: of an alodium, freehold. So I looked up Alodium, which is a noun: in law, land owned independently, without any rent, payment in service, etc.; a freehold estate. Wikipedia has this to say about it.

Oh how I loathe property taxes. If I ever acquire some acreage, more than the 1.5 acres I now have, something akin to a small farm, debt-free, as is my dream, I think I may name the place Alodium. I like the sound of it, even if it is no longer the case in America.

Little Bit For Day 4
”Farmers in the mid-1900s needed each other to survive. Farmers had strong independent tendencies, but they possessed equally strong feelings about community. Work such as threshing, silo filling, and wood sawing could not be accomplished by the farm family alone. Every family needed outside help, and the “bee” was all-important. A threshing bee, a wood-sawing bee, or a quilting bee meant neighbors exchanged work to get the job done. No money ever changed hands.”
”Neighbors also provided quick emergency help. Volunteer fire departments did not venture outside the village limits, leaving farm communities on their own when disaster hit. If lightening struck a farmhouse, if a bull gored a farmhand, if a tornado toppled a barn, if a child took ill—a quick phone call, and help was immediately at hand. Farm people relied on the party line telephone to summon their neighbors. A series of short rings meant someone needed their help. No matter what a person was doing when he heard the general ring, he stopped doing it and headed to the farm in question. Within a few minutes, the neighbor in trouble had a yard full of farmers. Depending on the seriousness of the emergency—a barn fire for instance—the farmwives would follow with food for the emergency crew.”
Those two excerpts are from the book, Every Farm Tells A Story, which I recently reviewed here.

Little Bit For Day 3
My understandings and convictions about Christian Agrarianism began several years ago when I read a series of essays by Howard King in Patriarch magazine.
"Christians today are deeply divided on many issues that are vital to the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Some believe that the world has no future and that it is therefore a waste of time to debate what the future ought to look like. Others imagine a future that looks a lot like the present technological society, only "cleaned up" by the influence of a dominant Christian majority. A small minority of us see a radically different design for the establishment of God's Kingdom in the world. We believe in a kind of Christian Agrarianism."
That is the beginning paragraph of an essay titled, Machines And Families by Howard King. I recommend it to you.

Little Bit For Day 2
It is my desire that my sons will experience hard, productive, physical work and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with such work. Last summer my 17-year-old son, Robert, worked full time helping a local building contractor. It was hard, physical, satisfying work, and it was a great experience for him. When he started they were just getting underway with the basement. He left the job to focus on his homeschooling around Thanksgiving. At Christmas time his boss invited him to a little party at the house (which is still a work in progress). He took this picture then.



Little Bit For Day 1
”But we would do well to think of ourselves in the same way we used to think about the lost people of the mission field. We have become the new heathen. We Americans are the ones now in thrall to primitive superstitions, such as believing in the power of positive thinking and having faith in ourselves. We are the ones held back by a materialistic worldview that has little conception of the supernatural. We are the ones with brutal customs, such as aborting our infants, neglecting our children, and abandoning and sometimes euthanizing our elders. We have simple, pounding music, and we are uneducated about the realities outside of our tribe. With our limited mind-set, we have trouble grasping the truths of scripture.”
From an article titled, The Old Mission Field by Dr. Gene Edward Veith, in the November 2008 issue of Tabletalk magazine.

A Chronicle of The Loss of Agrarian Culture


Every Farm Tells A Story: A Tale of Family Farm Values, by Jerry Apps is a 71-year-old man’s recollection of growing up on a 160-acre farm in Central Wisconsin.

I have just finished reading this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mr. Apps writes so well of his childhood experiences and the rural farming culture he grew up in. It is a culture that is now gone.
In those closing years of the Depression and into World War II, our family farmed not too differently from the pioneers who had arrived nearly a hundred years earlier. Horses and humans powered the machines that worked the land. Kerosene lamps and lanterns lighted the house and barn. A windmill pumped water; later a gasoline engine replaced the less dependable windmill. A one-room school provided the education for all the area’s farm children, ages five to 13.
On the one hand, this book is a heartwarming memoir of America’s agrarian past. But it is also a historical revelation of the significant change that came to agriculture in this nation after World War II.
What we didn’t realize during those years was that the family farm was changing in profound ways. Some historians claim 1940 to 1955 represents the second great revolution in agriculture; the first occurred hundreds of years earlier when horses and oxen replaced human power.
But there is another facet to this book. Mr. Apps saw not only profound changes come to the work of farming, he also witnessed the unraveling of a once-strong culture of family and community that was so common in the farmland of America.

As Apps tells it, life was much harder back in those days, before electricity, running water, milking machines, hay balers, combines, corn huskers, and local fire departments. But families and communities worked together and were closer.

The Apps family’s farm had dairy cows, pigs, and chickens, not to mention work horses. They raised hay and corn and oats in the fields, as well as big patches (acres in size) of potatoes and pickles. Ma Apps had her own strawberry patch and a pick-your-own business. They were a diversified farm, as were all farms of that time.

One story that I found particularly poignant revolved around the morning milking. When Jerry Apps was in fifth grade he helped his Pa milk their ten cows every morning. He would milk four and Pa would milk six.
The barn was warm and rich with cow smells—clearly the warmest place on the farm these frigid winter mornings. Pa already sat milking when I arrived. I hung my kerosene lantern on a nail back of the cows, grabbed a milk pail and stool, and slid under a Holstein, embedding my head in her warm flank.

“Thirty-five below.” Pa said. “Coldest morning so far this winter.”

“About froze running out here,” I said.

Two streams of milk zinged against the bottom of my shiny milk pail; soon a layer of milk covered the bottom of the pail. Foam formed in the pail as I continued milking, alternating between one hand and the other. When the front two teats were milked out, I switched to the back two. the pail was about half full. In a few minutes, the back two teats were milked out as well. The rich smell of milk wafted up as i carried the nearly full pail to the milk can back of the cows.

Although tedious, hand milking had its advantages. One was the cows warmed you up, no matter how cold the morning. Milking was also a time to think. The repetition—squeeze and release, squeeze and release—had a mesmerizing effect. I thought about school. I thought about the neighborhood kids. I thought about spring. I thought about summer vacation. I thought about high school and what I would do when I graduated.

Milking put you in the closest possible relationship to an animal, even closer that riding a horse. You heard the animal chewing her cud and smelled her many smells, ranging from sweet to pungent. You learned her personality, what she liked and didn’t like. You found out quickly how hard to squeeze her teats to get a steady stream—not so hard as to irritate her, but hard enough to make the milk flow easily. You learned that she had good days and bad days. Some mornings she seemed genuinely pleased to see you; other mornings you were an annoyance.

Milking also allowed me to have Pa to myself. If I wanted to talk with him about something, ask him a question, this was the time. He usually milked a cow right next to mine, and the barn was quiet apart from the cows rattling in their stanchions. So conversation was easy.
That quietness, that time for father and son to work together and talk easily, was not to last. After initial resistance to the idea of a milking machine, Pa changed his mind. All the agricultural magazines of the day proclaimed that milking machines were the way to go. So Pa bought a milking machine. It was powered by a big gasoline engine. He got it from Sears and Roebuck. The milker made work easier and they were able to add more cows to the heard. But there was an unexpected cost...
The coming of the milking machine also brought an end to our once quiet, peaceful milking time. Whereas the barn atmosphere once invited easy conversation, now I had to raise my voice to be heard. With the milking machine operating, I only asked the necessary questions because unless Pa was standing near me, he couldn’t hear me and I couldn’t hear him. The constant whir of the engine and whoosh of the vacuum also overshadowed the subtle sounds of cattle eating, stanchions rattling, and barn cats meowing for handouts.
Emotions welled up in me as I read some parts of this book. Chapter 19, Ma’s Illness was one. When Ma goes to the city for an operation and is gone a long time, Pa and Jerry and his two younger brothers come to a better understanding of just how important Ma is to the family economy. And the chapter titled, Fire, wherein all the neighbors turn out to save the Apps farm from certain ruin was enough to bring a lump to my throat. Later, a violent wind storm threatens to destroy the barn. Large timbers fall onto the cows inside, injuring them, and, again, the neighbors show up.

Through the setbacks, Pa is stoic. But when brucelosis hits the herd, that’s the hardest for him:
Fourteen of our fifteen cows had to be destroyed. We had known the cows since they were calves. They had names—Mary, Jane, Eleanor, Sandy, Lorraine, Mildred. They had personalities, special traits, likes and dislikes. We knew each one as a member of the family, as indeed they were. Now they had to be destroyed, all except Violet, who for some reason, tested negative and continued to do so each time she was tested.

Ross Caves, the local trucker, sent two cattle trucks to our farm on a Monday morning in September. Each cow walked up the ramp to the truck. They looked at us through the slats, wondering what now, after all they had been through that summer. It was a sadder morning than when the barn nearly blew over. it was one of the few times I ever saw Pa cry, as his prized possessions walked up the ramp to their slaughter.
In the final analysis, I think Every Farm Tells A Story is a wonderful book because it provides a glimpse into the cultural beauty of traditional farming in America. But, at the same time, it is a terribly sad book because it chronicles the destruction of that way of life by the forces of industrialism, under the guise of “progress.”

I wonder, is such progress really worthwhile when it destroys family and community?

In the last chapter of the book, Jerry Apps tells of how he and his two brothers all left the farm for greater opportunities in the world beyond. It is the common story in that regard. Ma and Pa continued on with farming as long as they could, then retired to a small town, and lived into their 90s. The farm was bought and subdivided. It is a bittersweet ending.

==========

P.S. I see that Jerry Apps has written several more books. I look forward to reading them and telling you about them here in the future.

How To Write & Publish A Book (Part 2 of The Whizbang Story)

In my previous essay here I told you a little about the different books I’ve self-published. In this essay I’ll reveal to the world what a low-tech simpleton I am when it comes to the work of creating a book. The fact that I don’t know a lot about how to create a book with advanced computer software hasn’t stopped me. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Every book begins with the writing and conceptual drawings. Here is an example of what I mean:



Those crumpled pieces of paper with scribbling all over are part of the book I’m now working on, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Apple Grinder And Cider Press. I keep such "original manuscript" papers in my shirt or pants pocket all day. Whenever I get a few minutes of spare time, I work on the book.

From those pages I type the text into my iMac computer. I use the basic AppleWorks word processing program that came with the computer. I print the pages of text off and carry those folded in my pockets for editing and rewriting when I get free moments of time. I’ll edit, rewrite and retype what I’ve originally written many times before I’m satisfied with it.

Meanwhile, I’m also working on the illustrations for the book. A picture is worth a thousand words. As with everything else, I’m an amateur when it comes to drawing. Rarely will you see a drawing of mine shaded. They are flat and bland drawings but they get the point across adequately. You would be surprised how much time goes into drawing an illustration that looks like I drew it in a couple of minutes.



Some illustrations are first drawn to scale on a portable drawing board. Often they are drawn as large as a full sheet of 8-1/2” by 11” paper (or larger, as shown above) but will be much smaller on the final page. I reduce the drawings to the desired size on a copy machine at an office supply store. Good copiers allow you to make reduced copies with a lot of precision. I may make half a dozen copies before I get the size I need. But it only takes a few minutes and costs very little.

Another way I get some of my illustrations is to take a picture with my digital camera, load it on my computer, print off a copy, and trace over it with carbon paper underneath. And yet another way is to go to Google images, find an appropriate picture (i.e., a pair of vice grips) and print that off, then trace it over carbon paper.



The above picture shows a page of my current book project. The drawing on the left, of the Whizbang cider press, was made by tracing over a large digital-photo-printout of the press. It has been reduced on a photocopy machine to get the size I need for the book page. The next page over is the book page with the illustration traced onto it (I use a light box to trace with) and I’ve handwritten wording onto the page that I want to be printed there. The third page over shows the handwritten elements in print with arrows pointing to parts of the press, which isn't yet on the page because I still need to draw it. The final page on the right (barely visible) is the finished “master copy” of the page. All the wording is exactly where I want it. All that remains is to ink the drawing and all the pointing arrows. I do that by placing the drawing under the master and tracing it. Then I'll draw in all the pointing arrows.

Each page of text is composed using the same AppleWorks software program but in the drawing mode. I've figured out how to use AppleWorks by trial and error over several years. It's very basic. And my printer is an old hp Laserjet 1200 series. It makes clear, crisp copies.

Putting a how-to book together the way I do is very time consuming. It also uses up a lot of copy paper and printer toner. I end up printing off a lot of copies before I have all the words exactly where they need to be in relation to where the drawing will be. Last weekend I spent a whole day getting two pages of the book from concept to finished master copies. If I kept track of all the time I spend writing, editing, sketching, and creating pages, I’’d bet it would amount to around 250 hours for a 48-page book like I’m now putting together.

And so it is that producing a book is a long, lonely endeavor. It takes focus and determination to get the job done. The whole process can be hard on a family. My wife, Marlene, can tell you about that. When I’m in “book mode” I’m like her two little beagle dogs when they have caught an animal scent. They are so absorbed in following that scent that they don’t hear when they are called, they don’t care about eating or drinking, they are on the trail and out of sight! But they always come back, and so do I. :-)

Actually, it isn’t all that bad. But it used to be that bad years ago when I started writing books. It was an all-consuming process. I would sequester myself in the bedroom with my computer and be absent from the family for hours and hours, and days and days. That was not good. Now the computer is downstairs in the living room. I’m in the middle of family life, and I’m not nearly so consumed with the task as I once was. But still, you can't make progress at something unless you deliberatly focus on making progress.

Marlene is a big help. She gives me time and space to get the book done. She takes care of little things that would distract me. Sometimes she proofreads what I’ve written and finds mistakes. Or she will tell me what doesn’t make sense to her. For example, in my current book I referred to something as costing less than “one and a half Ben Franklins”. I thought that was a clever way of saying less than $150. Well, Marlene didn’t like it. So I took it out. I trust her judgment and appreciate her help. Thank you, Marlene.

My objective when drawing is not to make illustrations with perfectly straight lines. Years ago, when I was new to writing books and wrote three of them for The Taunton Press (and illustrated two of them) I tried to make perfect line drawings. But the graphic designer putting the book together told me that drawings with hand drawn “wavy” lines were far more pleasing to the eye. What a relief it was to hear that. And that’s why you will almost never see perfect line drawings in my books. In fact, even if I do draw along a straight edge, I’ll wobble the pen on purpose to soften the line.

Each of my Whizbang book master pages is something like an original piece of art. I treat them with great care. They are what I will give to my printer. He will take a photograph of each page and make a printing negative. He prints the book pages on large sheets of paper. Then the big sheets of paper are folded into page size. These folded sheets are called “signatures” or “sigs.” For an 8-1/2’ by 11” book, a sig consists of 16 book pages. My new book will be made of three sigs. They are joined with the cover and stapled in the center (called "saddlestitched"). The sigs are oversize and since they consist of big folded sheets of paper, you can’t open the individual pages. So each book is trimmed down a bit on the three sides (not the binding side). This allows the pages to open, and the book is done.

My printer is local. He uses an offset printing press that is 35 years old. A lot of new technology has come along in that time, but his press still does a fine job.

My approach to creating pages for my books is akin to the way most all printing was once done. It is now outdated but it works for me as a pseudo Luddite. A professional (or someone smarter than me) would do everything on the computer. There would be no need for carbon paper and drawing boards and pencils and pens. There would be no “master copies.” Everything would be digital.

I guess the point is that, even without the advanced computer skills, and new technology, you can still create a book. Here's another picture...


That's a view inside the Whizbang Books storage and packaging room. It’s a room inside my workshop. Though not very big, it’s organized and warm in the winter. I have a Toyotomi kerosene heater in there that does a great job. My computer is not in this room but the nice big table makes it a great place to work on drawings for my book. The briefcase at the far end of the table has all my master copy pages in it. After all the work that goes into them, they are precious.

How To Write & Publish A Book (Part 1 Of The Whizbang Story)

Every so often someone will send me an e-mail asking for my advice about how to self-publish a book. I’ve written and self-published eight books thus far and am currently working on book number nine. I’ll tell you some specifics about how I produce my books in my next essay. First, though, I’ll share the story of, and give some insights into, all my Whizbang books. The point with both of these essays is to provide my example with some details as encouragement for others out there who think they might want to produce a book.

A lot of people have the desire to write and publish a book. That’s great. And the fact is, there has never been an easier time in the history of the world to produce and market your own book. If I can do it, you can too.

My first two self-published endeavors were pitiful-looking learning experiences. The information I provided was related to the business of kitchen remodeling, which I was once involved in. Though the information I provided was good, the target audience was small, and the books so poorly produced, that sales were disappointing. Even still, I recouped my costs and actually made a little money. The best thing about those books (in retrospect) was that they taught me a lot about what not to do when publishing your own book.

Then came the Whizbang Plucker Plan Book. My third foray into self-publishing was an improvement from pitiful in appearance to downright homely. But people will give a homely book a chance if it is a narrowly focused how-to plan book. Then, if it really delivers the goods, people can love a homely book. That is what happened with the plucker book. More than a few people have written to tell me it was the best how-to book they have ever seen. That is very gratifying feedback.

So, people bought the plucker book, and made their own pluckers, and the pluckers worked (15 seconds....no feathers), and word spread, mostly by way of the internet. Part of the reason it has never been easier in history to market your own self-published book is because of the internet. Sales of the plucker book were slow but encouraging the first couple years. Then sales really picked up when I started posting essays about the plucker here on the internet.

Thus far, the plucker book has sold around 6,000 copies, and it continues to sell quite well. 6,000 copies of a book about how to build a chicken plucker?! It’s not going to make any bestseller lists but I’m pleased (not to mention, amazed). Profits from the plucker book have financed all my Whizbang books after it.

The plucker plan book was put together in a very low-tech way. It was, I dare say, handcrafted. In many respects, all my how-to books are handcrafted, and I’ll have more to say about that in my next essay.

My next book, The Complete Guide To Making Great Garlic Powder: Homegrown & Homemade Secrets From a Garlic Powder Guru was produced very differently. Since the plucker book was making a profit, I decided to pay someone else to put the garlic powder book together. I supplied the text and drawings to a professional graphic designer. The result was a professional-looking 38-page book. I had 2,860 copies of the book printed in July of 2003. That was 36 boxes of books. I stashed them all over the place, even inside an old freezer. I wondered if I would ever sell them all. The book sold real slow for a few years. It looked like I would have a lifetime supply. Then sales picked up. Now, five and a half years later, I think I’m down to only two boxes left.

I have decided not to reprint that book because, at a retail price of only $6.95, it has not been particularly profitable. However, if I were to publish a whole series of small, subject-specific books like the garlic powder book, I think that could be profitable. Storey publications has done this with their popular Country Wisdom bulletins, which have been around for many years. I actually contacted Storey to see if they would want to turn my garlic powder book into one of their bulletins. They told me they are reevaluating that portion of their book line.

As a publishing company gets bigger, they tend to phase out less profitable endeavors. That doesn’t mean those endeavors are not profitable. They are just less profitable. But something that is less profitable to a big company could be significantly profitable for a home-based business like mine. So that idea is always in the back of my mind. But there is such a clutter of other ideas back there that it is sometimes hard for me to look straight ahead.

My next book was a 27-page Garlic Powder Profits Report. I have the pages printed at a quick print shop and put the book together myself with a comb binding machine. Marlene bought the machine for me at a garage sale.

Comb binding is well-suited to binding a simple how-to book, especially one that is sold direct. In fact, the first two hundred copies of my chicken plucker plan book had photocopied pages and comb bindings. Once I knew the book was going to sell, I took it to a “real” printer and had a lot more copies printed (for less money).

You rarely see comb bindings in a “brick and mortar” book store. But you will never see any of my Whizbang books in a store. They are sold primarily through mail-order catalogs and internet book sellers. I sold a LOT of garlic powder books when two seed catalog companies finally put it in their catalogs last year. Cumberland Books>sells a lot of my books over the course of a year too.

When it came to self-published book #6, Anyone Can Build a Whizbang Chicken Scalder, I returned to the exact same “handcrafted” approach I took with the plucker plan book. I designed a similar, homely, monochrome cover and put the pages together, as I’ll explain in my next essay. The book is a companion to the plucker book so I didn’t change the formula.

Then came book #7, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. It is a very different book from anything I’ve ever done. Not only is the autobiographical and “philosophical” content a departure from my usual how-to, the book itself is different. For one thing, it is sufficiently thick to have a spine with the book title on it. It is a book that would fit nicely in a “brick and mortar” bookstore. But getting someone to distribute the book (which is about the only way to get it in bookstores) has been a futile endeavor. The book’s subject (Christian agrarianism) just doesn’t fit into any accepted niches. Well, of course not.

Also, "Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian" was my first “hybrid” book. I hired a graphic designer to design the cover and work with the printer to get it right. I designed the interior pages on my computer. The book was easy to produce compared to a how-to plan book because there were no illustrations (the pictures come into your mind as you read).

For book #8, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart, I stayed with the hybrid approach. I paid my graphic professional to come up with the cover and I created the interior pages.

I like the hybrid approach because a book’s cover is critically important when it comes to marketing. The cover may be less important with a narrowly-focused plan book, but beyond that, cover design is key to selling books.

The most valuable bit of advice I can give to a person who wants to self-publish their own book (and actually sell it) is to pay the money to have a professional graphic designer design the cover. My designer has many years of professional experience and a great reputation. That’s the kind of person you need to find in your area. If my experience is any indication, it will cost you $600 to $800 to have an experienced pro put the cover design together for you.

Most new self-publishers will balk at that kind of expenditure and that is understandable. I published three books before I wised up. The first two were real losers, and I just got blessed on the third.

Now I am putting together Whizbang book #9. It will be called, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Apple Grinder & Cider Press. The cover design will be very similar to the garden cart book cover.

Looking back at what I’ve written here, two things stand out. First, I think I have learned the hard way about self-publishing (and I’m still learning). Second, I’m persistent. The fact is, I love to write and create books. Lord willing, I will continue doing this for many more years . Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to come home from the drudgery of my factory job and do this thing full time. That’s the dream. That’s the hope that springs afresh with every new book I publish.

I’ll tell you how I create my pages and get them printed in my next essay....

Pigs Get Slaughtered

Mr. Deshais had sawed through the pigs' skull. The brain cavity opened like the halves of a walnut, revealing an organ not much larger than a potato.

"When I was a boy," he recalled, handing me the slimy glop, "the kids always got to eat the brain. Tell Madame Bonner to cook it with a little olive oil and onions. It is delicious, probably the best part."
As I've noted here in the past, I enjoy reading Bill Bonner's Daily Reckoning newsletter. In a recent installment, he described the killing and butchering of a pig on his farm in France. It is an interesting read.

You can read about it at THIS LINK (The article begins down the page a short way).

And that reminds me of a previous essay I posted here titled How To Butcher A Hog. It's a good skill to know.

If you eat pork, you really should consider raising your own, or not eating it any more at all. I say that because I recently watched an amazing YouTube clip about a woman who got a brain worm from eating pork. The clip shows the neurosurgeon and the surgery.

And he says he's seeing a lot of this!

Brain Worms From Storebought Pork


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I Loved New York

It is snowy and cold here in Moravia, New York, my hometown. Moravia is in Central New York’s Finger Lakes region. I was born in Maine and moved to N.Y when I was six years old. After nine years in a suburban tract house outside Syracuse, my family moved out here in the countryside. It was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Except for a year of school in Vermont, I’ve always lived here.

I have loved this place. The rolling, fertile farmland, lakes, streams, gullies, hardwood forests, and even the winter snow and cold, all add up to a remarkably beautiful environment, one that is well-suited to living the “good life.”

I have a friend who lives on a very nice 200-acre farm in these parts. He never travels on a vacation away from home. “Why would I want to?” he asks me before saying, “I already live in Paradise.”

Granted, New York is blighted with more than its fair share of cities, but they can be avoided. And there are so many beautiful little rural towns and villages, like Moravia, that it offsets the ugly cities. There is, however, a blight on this state that can not be avoided, and it is on the verge of becoming very serious.

I’m speaking of that blight known as government taxation and over regulation. It’s enough to ruin paradise.

This is on my mind because I got my property tax bill a few days ago. I own 1.5 acres with a plain house of less than 1,500 square foot. I also have a shop that measures 24 x 32. And I’m out in the countryside. My property tax bill is $1,439.61. When school taxes come due, the amount will be roughly the same as property taxes.

A neighbor up the road has 50 acres of woods with a doublewide trailer and a small pole barn. Their property taxes are almost $3,000.

I can afford to pay my taxes, but I know there are people around here who are struggling with their tax burden. I have a close family member who is old, retired, sick, with no savings, and on a fixed monthly income of Social Security. He can not afford to pay his taxes on a run-down old farmhouse and 25 acres of mostly swampland.

This reality makes me angry. Any government system of taxation that drives people from their homes and land is immoral. It is evil. That’s what I think.

It is my understanding that New York State has one of the highest property tax rates in the nation. And now, to add insult to injury, this state is in serious financial trouble. Booming Wall street profits have contributed many hundreds of millions of dollars to state coffers in recent years. Now, with the crash of wall street, and the loss of so much, the state has lost a huge income source. N.Y taxpayers are now left holding the bill for overgrown government.

What now?

Seeing the handwriting on the wall, our governor has proposed 88 new taxes and fees. An 18% “obesity tax” on non-diet soft drinks has garnered national attention. He also wants state employees to forgo a 3% yearly raise that their union recently got them. There are more ideas being proposed. But resistance to cutting the budget is strong. Nobody wants to give up any government money to help alleviate the fast-approaching budget crisis. It is a train wreck in the making.

It is impossible for overgrown government to cut its size to any significant degree. There is too much momentum. Too many special interests. Too much politics as usual.
But, clearly, the size of state government, and the scope of government regulations, must be reduced. There is no other viable option. Unfortunatley, it isn’t going to happen easily, and isn’t going to be pretty. N.Y. residents (especially property owners) are going to pay dearly in the years ahead.

To compound the problem, the population of N.Y. is sure to decline as a result of the increasing tax burden. There will be an even-greater Exodus out of New York. This will make the tax burden even more onerous for those who remain behind.

I have told my wife, The Lovely Marlene, that we need to start thinking more seriously about where we will move to. For now, we are tied to this place because we have two elderly parents who need our help. Then there is the matter of my job. It is a state job. It pays the bills. But I think the state will have to eliminate my job in the years ahead. Really, they should eliminate it. That will make it much easier to leave New York.

Marlene has reservations about leaving. She has some close friends here. She doesn’t like the thought of leaving her friends. But I’m of the mind that it will be an economic necessity for us. I will never have an abundance of money. We must find a place where property taxes are low, where we can live simply, inexpensively, close to the land, and be secure from the burden of immoral property taxation.

Where is that place?

Michael Bunker recently blogged about Why he chose to move to Central Texas. His reasons are very compelling. But I’m not convinced that is the best place for my family to go. I have an aversion to hot, dry places (not to mention big rattlesnakes and hurricanes). I’m more of a forest dweller. And I like the change of seasons.

I’ve been thinking about the Tennessee/Kentucky area. I understand the taxes are low there. Western PA sounds appealing but I imagine their property taxes must be up there. Does anyone actually live in West Virginia? I have a mail order business that ships things all over the country. I almost never send anything to West Virginia (Maybe people in West Virginia are waiting for a really good sale on my Whizbang Books).

It occurred to me that maybe I should return to the land where my roots run deep—Aroostook County Maine. That is where my parents and grandparents and great grandparents lived. Like Central Texas, northern Maine has few people and is far from big cities. But the land is fertile and beautiful. Just check out Paul Cyr’s Photo Album if you need proof. The land is also reasonably priced. I have no idea what the taxes are.

Then there is the question of how do you move to a strange place, with relatively little money, and find a community of like-minded people? The Amish (who are now moving into Northern Maine) move in groups. They bring community with them.

There are plenty of questions and concerns and unknowns that come with uprooting one’s family and transplanting it to another place. I feel like a North American Abraham being called out of Ur of the Chaldees to a foreign place. The call is a quiet one right now. But I have a feeling it will get louder.

I welcome your insights and suggestions.

Reestablishing Biblical Families Within The Agrarian Paradigm

Scott Terry over at Homesteader Life has posted a link to a very good article by Rev. Brian Abshire. It begins...
Evangelical Christianity has never come to grips with the massive sociological changes resulting from the Industrial Revolution. Until that time, agrarian culture and values undergirded Biblical concepts of the family. However, mechanization, immigration, urbanization and rapid transportation radically transformed the entire Western world. If we are not aware of the sociological impact on the family, we have no objective basis to evaluate the changes that resulted. There is a real danger that we will accommodate ourselves to prevailing cultural norms, rather than Biblical ones. And hence, the Christian family becomes salt that has lost is savor.
To that I say, “Amen!”

A particularly perspicacious paragraph later in the article states...
In all this, the Church badly fumbled. Rather than influencing culture, we allowed ourselves to be influenced by it. American Christians eagerly grabbed at the promise of the “good life.” We sacrificed our families at the alter of a growing economy, good jobs, career progression and a house in the suburbs stuffed with toys. The industrial revolution was accompanied by the rise of antinomian and Arminian theology. Both heresies focused on the individual because both had no concept of covenantal living. Thus Christians were hit with a one two punch of deviant theology and a changing society. We’ve been staggering around the ring ever since.
Mr. Abshire does a great job of summing up the little-understood history of the destruction of the biblical family in America. As he points out, it happened when Christian-agrarian culture acquiesced to industrial culture.

The article goes on to offer several suggestions for “reconstructing the family” and they are all good. There is, however, one glaring omission.

Mr. Abshire correctly understands and states that agrarian culture and values undergirded the biblical family. This was clearly the case for centuries. But his solutions for reconstructing such families do not include a voluntary and deliberate return to agrarian culture. This choice to pursue Christianity within the agrarian paradigm is, in my opinion, an absolutely necessary element in the reconstruction equation. To ignore it is a huge mistake.

Can biblical families live and grow and prosper within the paradigm of an industrial culture?

Well, I suspect someone can come up with examples of such families. They, like Daniel in Babylon, are able to resist the pressures to conform to the ungodly dominant culture. But I’m persuaded by what I’ve seen that “Daniel Families” are very few and very far between. More often, Christian families are consumed by the dominant culture through syncertism.

And, though I may be wrong (without looking it up), it seems to me that Daniel was taken to Babylon by force. He did not choose to live there. I rather doubt any devout Jew of the day would. So why would any devout Christian choose to live fully within today's Babylonian culture?

Then there is the matter of Abraham and Lot and city culture (the closest thing to an ancient “industrial” paradigm) vs agrarian culture. Here is an excerpt from an essay I wrote awhile back:
...Abraham goes and lives his agrarian life while Lot goes and pitches his tent toward the city of Sodom.

Before long, Lot is seated in the gates of Sodom, which I understand to mean he was one of the leaders of the city. It appears that it was not so much the good land of the plain that appealed to Lot as much as the cities that were in the plain. Wicked cities. What is the final outcome? The cities of Sodom and Gomorra are justly destroyed. Lot, along with his wife and daughters, are rescued by angels. Mrs. Lot, so in love with her urban life, looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt. Lot’s two daughters don’t turn to salt, but it appears from their actions afterwards that they were heavily influenced by the ungodly city culture. Lot, a godly man by every account, made a foolish decision to leave the simple life of an agrarian herdsman and brought his family into the more "exciting" city. I suspect there were more "opportunities" there, more things to do, better entertainment. One can easily justify urban life on such grounds. But it was flat out wrong for Lot’s family to get involved in the culture of the city. That’s the way I read it. And I don’t think much has changed since then.
It is perfectly clear to me that the culture of the city and of the industrial world around us is at war with the biblical family. And I can’t help but think that it is folly to attempt to reestablish biblical families without separating from that culture as much as possible.

Historically speaking, agrarianism was the most “fertile ground” for raising biblical families. That has not changed.

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You can read Rev. Abshire’s full article here: Reforming The Family

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2008 Whizbang Garden Cart Contest Winners

There were six contestants in the 2008 Whizbang Garden Cart Contest. That is a six hundred percent increase in entries over the 2007 contest. We have had the official drawing (from a hat) of the winners. They are as follows:

First Place Winner: David Larson in Connecticut wins a $100 gift certificate to a seed catalog company of his choice.

Second Place Winner: Bantry Bay Farm in New Brunswick, Canada, wins a $50 gift certificate to a seed catalog company of their choice.

Third Place Winner: Gabe Acrich in California wins a $25 gift certificate to a seed catalog company of his choice.

Fourth Place Winner: Dana Buckley in North Carolina wins a $25 gift certificate to a seed company of her choice.

Congratulations to each of these winners!

And to the other two entrants who did not win a prize but are, nevertheless, still winners in my mind.

If you would like to know how to build a Whizbang Garden Cart of your own, check out my book, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart

Death Of The Prosperity Gospel

Here’s an object lesson: Take an egg, hold it aloft, let go, and watch what happens.

Last year (2008) will go down in history as the year that our Humpty Dumpty economy fell. Now all the king’s horses and all the king’s men are trying to put it back together again. It will never be the economy that it once was.

For a lot of people, Humpty Dumpty was the focus of their life and their being. Their hopes and joys and self worth were in the fragile egg.

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With the fall of Humpty Dumpty, my feeling is that America is in the beginning stages of a journey back to a more agrarian-centered culture.

Some will laugh off that statement as absurd. But as the economy declines and, thus, standards of living decline, and oil-based energy resources decline, a more agrarian way of life is the only viable option. More people are going to be working in the earth, growing food, working to provide their needs with their own hands. That is not the industrial way. It is the agrarian way.

But I don’t suppose it will be an easy and painless transition. I suspect we are in for higher unemployment, economic deflation, inflation, depression, food shortages, civil unrest and maybe even the imposition of martial law in America before all is said and done. Maybe all of that will be the easy part.

I don’t pretend to know what will happen. But I know many things are fundamentally wrong. I know that the industrialized culture with it’s prideful, self-centered greed, and corporate pillaging of people, and communities, and the planet is wrong. And I know debt-based economic systems with fiat money schemes are wrong. I know strong centralized government, run by the moneyed interests, for their benefit is wrong. And I know that a nation that strays from God’s laws, to the point where it condones and proudly practices things like sodomy and the murder of unborn children, is wrong.

Because those things are wrong, they will prosper only for a season before they crash and burn, and justifiably so. I think their season maybe drawing to a close.

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And, justifiably so, we will also see the “prosperity gospel” that has been so prevalent in America suffer an ignominious death. You know, that heresy that proclaims that God wants you to be wealthy and have an abundance of possessions. Are Christians still believing this now that Humpty Dumpty has fallen?

One of the most powerful messages I have ever heard about the wickedness of the prosperity gospel is less than three minutes long and it is on YouTube. It is by John Piper. I have watched it probably thirty times now. It hits me in the gut every time. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean. And take note of the words of John Piper’s prayer. It is being answered.

Less than three minutes....

John Piper on the Health, Wealth & Prosperity Gospel

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P.S. Last August I posted an essay titled A Missive on The Prosperity-Driven Life. You can Read it Here


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