The Deliberate Agrarian Blogazine
February 2011

Dateline: 28 February 2011

This Writer’s Life
or
“Ain’t No Sunshine....”

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I have heard of some book writers—the more successful ones— who have their own secluded writer’s cabin that they can withdraw to in order to better pursue their craft. And I’ve also heard that there are writers who will take a writing vacation to some beautiful, muse-inspiring place, like the oceanside, where they can better focus their creative energies. Those things sound mighty fine.

After eleven published books, I myself have not yet reached the level of success where I can afford to indulge in such a vacation. I just try to get a book written while otherwise trying to make a living and taking care of the already-busy routines of everyday life, and that is exactly what I have been doing for the last two months.

But this current book project has been a little unusual in that, for the first time ever, my wife, The Lovely Marlene, decided she would take a vacation while I worked on my book. She went to visit her sister in Arizona for eight days.

So, while I sat alone, disheveled and bleary-eyed in front of my computer, for hours, reading, rereading, typing, editing, and composing book pages, with snow storms howling outside the window, Marlene was basking in the sun, socializing, eating out, shopping at all the best thrift stores in Phoenix, and just having a grand time.

It was a first. Thirty years of marriage and she took off on her own vacation. Though I am glad she had a good time, and she certainly deserves a vacation, and she made sure I was well stocked with clean clothes and good meals for the duration, it sure was nice to have her home again. All the time she was gone, that old Bill Withers song, Ain’t No Sunshine When She's Gone,  kept playing in my mind (Oh, it’s so true). 


Here's a picture that isn't of me but I think it is a good representative picture of what I did during my wife's vacation:

A typical book writer at the end of a long day.
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As for the book, which I planned to have done and handed off to the printer by today, the last day of February, it is still undone. I am discouraged about that but, we lonely, struggling writers of the world are well acquainted with discouragement. I  take solace in the fact that discouragement, like pain, builds character, or so I’ve heard.

Now, with March upon me, I must set the book project aside, change gears, and devote the life force within me to another character-building endeavor—income taxes. It’s time for the annual gathering and tallying and recording of numbers which the government demands, with threat of ruination (that's not rumination, mind you, it's ruination) if I do not comply. 

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I will hand my numbers to an accountant who will charge me a lot of money and who will tell me that I have to send the government a lot of  money,  none of which came easily. And they will, of course, waste it like only Behemoth Government can do.  It’s the most dreadful time of the year, and it never fails to leave me in a foul mood. There. That was my annual tax rant. Now I won't bother you with such negativity for another 12 months. Thank you for your indulgence.

Once I have gotten beyond the evilness of tax time it will probably be spring here, with at least a few warm, sunny days, which will be nice. But who wants to sit inside working on a book when the weather gets nice? Not me. There will be maple syrup to boil down (see below) and I fully intend to get peas planted in March. They alone can tolerate very early planting, as long as the ground is no longer frozen.

Perhaps March will have its share of nasty days and I’ll have some more time to attend to my book project. I’ve purchased the domain name www.AgrarianNation.com for the book’s web site. That isn’t the name of the book but it relates to the book's content and www.AgrarianNation.com will be a place where I can post a continuing series of essays that expand upon what the book has to say. That is the plan. Stay tuned for upcoming details.


Here's An Actual Picture...
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Marlene on her 2011 Arizona Vacation.
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Surviving Off Off-Grid
(a book review)


Speaking of books, I have read a prepublication copy of Michael Bunker’s soon-to-be-released new book, Surviving Off Off-Grid: Decolonizing The Industrial Mind. Fact is, I’ve read most of the book twice, and underlined numerous passages. Yes, it’s that good.

I noticed that another blogger has reviewed this book and described it as “profound.” I thought that was an interesting conclusion because it was exactly the descriptive word that came to my mind as I was reading it. My dictionary defines profound as “penetrating beyond what is superficial or obvious,” and that certainly does sum it up.

The way it looks to me, there are three categories of people who will appreciate what this book has to say, and who will benefit from it. First would be anyone who is thinking of living off grid. Second would be anyone who has an interest in surviving economic and civilizational collapse. Third would be those people who have an interest in Biblical agrarianism and cultural separation. I suppose I would fall into all three categories, but my primary interest is Biblical agrarianism, so I’m going to focus on that in this review. I should mention that Michael makes the point that readers of his book need not be Christians to benefit from the practical outlook and ideas in the book. That is true.

In the foreword of his book Michael writes:
“it is our intention to offer a philosophy that, whatever may be said of it, stands Contra Mundum (against the world), and against the prevailing foundational philosophy of industrial consumerism, thoughtless consumption, and the dependence on systems that are contrary to our own best interests.”
.Look in the top right corner of this page and you will see that I say this here blog of mine is a "rich resource of contra-industrial thought...” It so happens that Michael Bunker and I are on the same page when it comes to seeing wicked industrialism for what it really is.

Our  disdain for industrialism comes from our scriptural understandings. We believe the Bible calls Christians to separate not only from common forms of worldly immorality, but also the more subtle immorality of worldly dependencies too.

Of course, those who hold to Christian-agrarian beliefs are not just a minority, but a minuscule minority. That fact is probably sufficient to discount the legitimacy of Christian-agrarianism in the minds of the majority. But God has always done his greatest works through a humble minority of faithful followers.

Nevertheless, I must say that I still find it amazing that mainstream evangelical Christianity, with its continual end-times observations and prognostications, doesn't seem to realize (or care) that its followers  support, and draw their sustenance from, a one-world, industrial-beast system, right here and now. They cleave to the system, and they love the system. Hello?

So it is that precious few people who consider themselves to be Christians see the corporate-industrial system as something to separate from. Their minds have been “colonized” along with everyone else’s. After all, no mainline denomination or popular televangelist is espousing separation from the industrial system. It’s not even on their radar screens.

Where Michael and I differ in our Biblical agrarian apologetics is in the ability to formulate a cogent and comprehensive contra-industrial argument. I only scratch the surface in my writings, while Michael Bunker digs deep. His new book makes this abundantly clear.

The other difference is the degree to which each of us has separated from industrial grid dependencies. I feel like I am physically positioned to live off-grid if/when the system crashes—not for a week or a month, but for the rest of my life. That isn’t to say I’m stocked with a good supply of batteries and fuel and survival food, because I’m not. I’m stocked with tools and hands-on experience for living very simply, and providing for my basic life needs apart from the industrial system. To this end, little by slow, I continue to make more progress all the time. I also believe that, by the grace of God, I have the spiritual resources to deal with the transition. But Michael and his family are already living off grid, or beyond off-grid, or, as the book says Off Off-Grid. So he is well qualified to write this book.

Fact is, he is uniquely qualified—no one else I know of is saying, or putting into words, the things Michael Bunker is saying in this book. It is an incredibly thought provoking read. And, as far as I’m concerned, what he is saying is not only contra mundum, it’s right on.

You should know that, regardless of the title,  this book is not so much about surviving the inevitable crash of the industrial nations, it’s about deliberately choosing to live apart from the industrial grid for philosophical and religious reasons, regardless of whether it crashes or not. The subtitle of the book, “Decolonizing the Industrial Mind” is really more to the point. 

 
I was struck by a biblical reference in the book under the heading of “Old Paths.” Much of Michael’s book is about thinking in pre-grid ways and dealing with problems creatively. Michael mentions Jeremiah 6:16. That verse and the idea of returning to the “old paths’ just happens to figure prominently in the book I am currently working on. Coincidence? Hmmm. Here’s what Michael writes:
Looking towards the old paths is not a melancholy dream, or some fantastical wish for a mythical bygone paradise. We don’t look to the past as if it was the perfect, idyllic, pastoral utopia. We know it wasn’t perfect. We look to the past for a few great reasons: Because the Bible tells us to (Jer. 6:16); because there is wisdom and reason in learning these old and valued skills; and because the way the world has chosen. though it seems to be right for a time, has wrought nothing but damage, destruction, intellectual and spiritual entropy, and mental colonization. The product of the modern way of doing things is spiritual emptiness and sadness, is fraught with disappointment and unrealized expectations, and creates a crazed urge to fill the void with consumption and “stuff.”
Surviving Off Off-Grid touches on many different specific subjects: debt slavery, acquiring land, off-grid heat, light & refrigeration, water, food, housing, and much more.


If you are a thinking person, if you don’t mind having your ingrained industrial-world suppositions challenged, if you are desiring to live a more genuine and satisfying life, if you are a person concerned about the coming collapse of western civilization, if you are looking for some rock-solid nuggets of real wisdom in the midst of a world that is blinded by fools gold, this book is for you.

In the final analysis, I’m not sure what category Surviving Off Off-Grid would fall  into. It is full of philosophy, psychology, sociology, religion (Christianity), history and (to a small degree) there is some general how-to. Perhaps it would best fit in the just-plain-down-to-earth-good-sense category. Contra mundum, of course.

Surviving Off Off-Grid has a real nice web site (Click HERE to go to the web site). If you decide to buy a copy of the book, please do so by Ordering Here on the official Book Bomb date of March 4th (Michael explains the book bomb on his web site). 


Even though I have a copy of this book, I’ll be ordering two more on the 4th. They aren’t for me. I have a couple of contrarian-minded friends who haven’t drank too deeply of the industrial-world Kool-Aid, and I’m sure they will be blessed by this book.
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My New Birthday Present

It will arrive in a big box, but I don't think it will be THAT big.

Last month I told you about getting another year older. And I told  you about buying myself a banjo a few years ago as a birthday present. As I explained, I am a failure as a musician. It's not an easy thing for me to deal with but I'll get through it. 
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In the meantime, to help assuage my humiliation and sorrow, I decided that I needed to buy myself another birthday present. No, I didn’t get a tamborine, as Marlene so wittily suggested. I bought a tool.  I have a much better track record learning to use tools than I do learning to make music.

I bought this tool on Ebay. The seller said it was a tool from the 1700s, and that it was therefore over 300 years old. I asked how they came to that conclusion and where the tool came from. I was told that the age was ascertained by the patina of the wood, which the seller believes is walnut. The tool was found hanging on the wall of an old barn in Connecticut.

Though it could be that old, I doubt it. More than likely, the tool is from the 1800s. It looks to be in usable condition and that is important because I intend to use it. Most people would think this thing should be in a museum, but I'm going to put it to work, just like people three hundred years ago (or whenever) did.

You are probably wondering what this tool is. Well, I bought it a few days ago (a belated birthday present) and don’t even have it yet, so I’m going to wait until next month to tell (and show) you. I think you need a good reason to come back here for next month’s blogazine installment and this is the reason...

Next month I will reveal to you what the 300-year-old walnut mystery tool birthday present is.

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 Cereal Revolutions
You may recall that there were food riots in poorer nations of the world in 2008. The situation is worse this time.

Last month I told you that the current Mideast turmoil was being sparked by food price increases and shortages. That is now something that’s being recognized more and more in the mainstream media. In a February 22nd article by Bill Bonner at The Daily Reckoning he coined the phrase, “Cereal Revolutions,” to describe what is happening. The word “cereal” meaning cereal grains, like wheat, corn, oats and so forth, not cereal breakfast foods, like Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Cap’n Crunch, and so forth.
The American press hallucinates that the people of North Africa and the Middle East have suddenly woken up...as if from 1,000 years of sleep. Stretching their arms and rubbing their eyes, they yearn for 'liberty' as though it were a cup of coffee. The Herald Tribune refers to "winds of freedom" supposedly blowing across the hot sand.

But here at the Daily Reckoning, we see the picture differently. These are 'Cereal Revolutions,' we say. The idea came to us from our old friend, Jim Davidson. He believes the real cause of the uprisings in the Arab world is the rise of cost of food....
For a more in-depth perspective on the worldwide food supply, here is a quote from a February 17 Bloomburg Businessweek article:
The hunger that has roiled the Middle East was not caused by the whims of autocrats and cops. It began last year with crippling drought in Russia and later Argentina, and torrential rains in Australia and Canada. The deluges in Saskatchewan were so sustained and intense that farmers couldn't plant some 10 million acres of wheat, according to the Canadian Wheat Board. "What is typically the driest province was never wetter," said the governmental agency Environment Canada. Shrunken wheat harvests in those countries, along with cool, wet summer weather in the American Midwest that delayed the U.S. harvest, helped drive wheat prices at the Chicago Board of Trade up by 74 percent in the past year. Corn traded in Chicago rose by 87 percent during the same period. More recently, grain prices have spiked even higher because of yet another drought, this one threatening China's wheat crop, the world's largest. In that country's eight major wheat-producing provinces, some 42 percent of winter wheat cropland has been hurt by a dry spell, according to Agriculture Minister Han Changfu.
So, there is a significant worldwide food crisis happening right now and it may get much more significant...
Whether the world tips into agricultural catastrophe this year depends on the fate of the wheat on the North China Plain. "You need two perfect harvests through the summer of 2012 to get stockpiles back to an acceptable level," says Jason Lejonvarn, a commodities strategist at Hermes Fund Managers in London. Unless sufficient moisture reaches the parched seedlings, a net exporter of wheat could become a net importer of wheat, further stressing world markets. Short of that, a Chinese ban on wheat exports would also send prices higher, meaning that global grain shortages—once thought to be a disaster of the past—could return. Even American commodities buyers are feeling the pinch. "There is not one crop you can point to that is without supply problems," says Steve Nicholson, a commodity procurement specialist for International Food Products in St. Louis. "Production is not keeping up with demand."
Two perfect harvests, eh? What do you think the chances of that are?
At the most basic level, the crisis is a test of mankind's ability to feed itself. Industrial agricultural techniques have boosted crop yields and kept food prices low for decades, but the era of predictable abundance that fueled the world's population growth to almost 7 billion people may be over. Relief agencies, already lashed by hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and government budget cuts, are ill-equipped to handle severe food shortages.
In yet another article I read that there is currently only an 18-day supply of corn on the planet.  That doesn’t sound like much to me. To Bonner’s new term of Cereal Revolutions we might add another term....The Perfect Storm.  

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On a related note, a recent NPR news story about farming in Nebraska reported that farming there is very profitable right now. If I heard right, the average farm in that state is 3,600 acres, and to make a go of it, a farm there needs to be at least 800 to 1,000 acres. Good farmland in that state is now selling for more than $8,000 an acre. The same news program also reported that 150 bushels of corn an acre was once considered a very good yield, but with advancements in technology it is now possible to get over 200 bushels an acre, and they believed that 300 bushels an acre was only a matter of time.

Yes, indeed, industrial agriculture has wrung remarkable yields out of the earth over the past 50 years or so. However, this kind of farming is totally dependent on a plentiful supply of cheap oil. As Mideast stability disintegrates, plentiful and cheap oil will fade into history even quicker than it already was. One wonders if the first dominoes of a significant industrial-system collapse are starting to tumble?

As for the Cereal Revolutions, with all these people rising up and over throwing their governments in the Middle East, their fundamental problems of poverty and lack of food will not be solved by such uprisings. These nations will still be unable to feed themselves. They will still be nations of dependent people—dependent on the industrial providers.

Meanwhile, if that’s not crisis enough for you to wrap your mind around, we’ve got super serious problems of our own right here in the U.S. of A. Did you hear that well-paid, well-fed, public employees across the nation are facing the horrible reality of a decrease in their employment benefits!  It’s hard to sympathize with those Middle Eastern people when we have such hardships of our own to deal with.

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The Year of The Garden
I like this picture a lot. Prints are available at this link

I’ve said it before in the past but it bears repeating every so often: In the final analysis, there is nothing you or I can do to “solve” the major problems of the world. All we can do is try to understand how major and minor events will affect us. Then we can respond wisely by taking positive steps to adapt to emerging new realities. Personal agrarianism, in all it’s manifestations is, to my way of thinking, a tremendous positive step, and at the heart of personal agrarianism is the task of growing food.

If there was ever a time to have a garden, this is it. I mean a big garden—one that gives you lots of good food to stock the larder. My favorite larder-stocking foods are potatoes, onions and squash. Those foods require little in the way of processing to store them for many months. You simply dig, pull, or pick the food and put it away. It’s a real good feeling to have a few bushels of all three of those foods on hand through the winter.

Right here is a good place to recommend the best gardening book I’ve ever read: Gardening When it Counts: How to Grow Food in Hard Times, by Steve Solomon.

There are some people who don’t like Steve Solomon’s book because it is contrarian. One of his contrarian approaches to gardening is to discourage intensive (close together) plantings. Solomon takes a more “old fashioned” approach to planting and spacing his garden crops. He does this because such plantings require much less in the way of additional watering.

Solomon says that in “hard times” people may not have access to municipal water supplies and without that, intensive garden plantings will suffer. The old-timers didn’t have automatic drip irrigation systems and sprinkler systems and all that. Yet, they managed to grow very productive gardens. Gardening When it Counts tells just how they did it, and how you can do it too.

When I first read Steve Solomon's book, and his recommendations contrary to intensive gardening, I thought of the Dervaes family out in Pasadena, California. They have a 1/5-acre “Urban Homestead” on which they grow remarkably lush gardens and harvest admirable quantities of food. They have been looked upon as a shining example of “urban homesteading.” But their way of gardening, which is so dependent on the public utility water supply, doesn’t impress me.

Their web site says that they spend $600 a year on water. Take away the public water supply and their “square inch” gardening methods will fail.

Urban “homesteading” and urban “farming” is a great concept. It’s fun to see and I applaud those who are involved in such efforts. But these imitations of the real thing may not be sustainable in the years ahead.

By the way, if you have not yet read about the recent internet tumult regarding the Devraes' trademarking of the popular term “Urban Homestead” (so that other online folks can't use it) stop on over to Granny Miller’s blog and read her essay titled, St. Jules and Our Ladies of Pasadena

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A Seasonal Plug For My Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe
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A homemade Planet Whizbang wheel hoe with an 8" oscillating stirrup blade. It's an incredibly efficient weed destroyer.

Some bloggers sell advertising space on their blog. I don’t do that. But I  do let it be known from time to time that I sell books and chicken plucker parts and other down-to-earth products.

That said, a couple years ago I introduced the Planet Whizbang wheel hoe that I developed, and I posted a step-by-step-build-your-own-wheel-hoe tutorial to the internet. 

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To make the job of building your own wheel hoe as easy as possible, I started selling 1.) parts specifications packages, or 2.) precut, bolt-together wheel hoe kits, or 3.) fully assembled and ready-to-go wheel hoes. Since then, I’ve sold just about 250 wheel hoes or parts kits  (You Can Read Some Really Nice Feedback Here).

The Planet Whizbang wheel hoe offers a low-tech, highly efficient way of keeping weeds under control in a traditional-style garden. THIS LINK tells how to use the wheel hoe. THIS LINK reveals the secret to easy weed control (with either a wheel hoe or a hand hoe).

I’ve decided to stop selling assembled wheel hoes this year and to sell only the kits and plans. I have only a few of the assembled units left in stock. The reason I’m not making the assembled units any more is that I need to cut back on some aspect of my Planet Whizbang business in order to have more time to work in my own garden. Making the painted-and-assembled hoes is the most time consuming thing I do. 

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It’s not a good thing when the guy who “invented” the Planet Whizbang wheel hoe has a garden full of weeds because he’s so busy making wheel hoes for other people that he doesn’t have time to use his own. No, that’s not good at all.

Wing Road Farm
Aaren Hatalsky of Wing Road Farm
with Planet Whizbang wheel hoe #119
(picture from the Wing Road Farm blog)
Every so often, while browsing the internet, I happen upon a farm that really strikes my fancy—a farm the likes of which I think would suite me just fine. Wing Road Farm is such a place. It is in Greenfield, New York. You can read about this small-scale, diversified farmstead at their web site, but I'm going to give you a link here that will take you to their Photo Gallery, where you will be treated to one of the most pleasant farm photo slideshows you'll ever see (I love the old house!). Click this link to get to the automatic slideshow: Wing Road Farm Photo Gallery.
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The Planet Jr. Mystery is Solved!
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Samuel Leeds Allen
(1841—1918)
Founder of the Planet Jr. company





While you’re over at the Planet Whizbang wheel hoe web site, check out my story about Samuel Leeds Allen, the man who made the Planet Jr. wheel hoe and so many other agricultural implements back in the 1800s. In my story about Allen, I say that I would like to know more about him, and I’d really like to know how in the world he came up with the “Planet Jr.” name.

Well, a couple weeks ago I got an e-mail from Leslie McManus, the editor of Farm Collector magazine, with the following information.
A Planet drill was developed by S.L. Allen from two washtubs riveted together, rim to rim, with a wooden tire and handles added in subsequent iterations. Allen, an amateur stargazer, noticed the device’s resemblance to the planet Saturn, hence the name of the implement. Later he developed a smaller version of that seed drill, and called it the “Planet Junior.”
For those who may not know, a “drill” is a tool for planting seeds, in the ground, in a row. Mr. McManus also told me the following...
Allen’s daughter, Elizabeth R. Allen, wrote a book about her father; the book (“Samuel L. Allen — Intimate Recollections and Letters”) published by Franklin Printing Co., Philadelphia, in 1920. Obviously small run and out of print but perhaps an eBay search will prove fruitful.
I checked and print-on-demand versions of that book are available at www.abe.com (you can get just about any used book you need there).


All of that was great to know but the story gets even better because four hours later, I got an e-mail from S.L. Allen’s great granddaughter:
Great grandfather invented a fertilizer drill for spreading guano.  He named it the "Planet Drill" because of its resemblance to the planet Saturn and its rings.  The seed drill that immediately followed was called "Planet Jr". These were the first of the Planet Jr. family.  This occurred in 1866.  Hope this helps your desire for information concerning the naming of the farm implement line.

Well, isn’t the internet just an amazing thing! I asked Mr. Allen’s great granddaughter a couple questions and she wrote back...
Great Grandfather had the first mail order company in the US.  The Brandywine Museum in Delaware has an exhibit which is interesting.  At one point, the farm implements were being pulled by water buffalo and camels as well as horses and mules--in other words--all over the world.

Elizabeth was never married.  Charles Jackson, the son, was my Gramp.  The book, which is on line amazingly, is a collection of letters and Elizabeth's recollections as well as others who knew him.  Hope you enjoy it.  I didn't know that copies were still available as it was a private printing by Franklin Press.  The book ends with tributes offered after Samuel's death.  I particularly like the Goethe quote at the end.  I also carry it with me.
So the book was online? I went looking for it, and FOUND IT HERE.


I have not read far into the book yet, but right in the beginning I discovered.... 



Precepts of Samuel L. Allen
(found among his earliest papers)

[slightly edited]

Acquire the Habits of : 
Punctuality in everything. Attention. Observation. Patience. Doing things systematically. Finishing everything undertaken. Untiring industry.

Cultivate the Habits of : 
Thoroughness in every study. Doing everything well. Learning something from everyone. Thinking deeply, powerfully, and comprehensively. Reviewing — remembering that next to perseverance it is the great secret of success as a student.

Cultivate the Habits of a Gentleman:
 
Politeness. Cheerfulness. Good humor. The memory, by observation, reading, conversation and  reflection. Command over my temper. The conscience.

Cultivate the Habits of: 
Daily prayer. Self-control of the tongue. Self-control of the feelings. Self-control of the thoughts. Self-control of the heart. Soundness of judgment. Humility and liberality of heart.

Beware of: Temptations: 
Light reading (which enfeebles the mind and corrupts the heart). Silly speeches. Silly acting. Fault finding. Bad company. The first step in sin. Secret sins. Bad books. Indulging in reveries of imagination. Contracting the habit of procrastination. Levity upon sacred subjects.

Do not refuse to walk in a difficult path of duty.  Never neglect any opportunity of self-improvement. Strive to improve thoughts when alone. Have a plan laid beforehand for every day. Have regard to the position of the body. Be simple and neat in personal habits. Treat properly my parents, friends and companions. Seek to " know thyself." Form fixed principles on which to think and act. Faithfully review my conduct at stated intervals. LiveNever neglect any opportunity of self-improvement. Strive to improve thoughts when alone. Have a plan laid beforehand for every day. Have regard to the position of the body. Be simple and neat in personal habits. Treat properly my parents, friends and companions. Seek to " know thyself." Form fixed principles on which to think and act. Faithfully review my conduct at stated intervals. Live to do good and make this my aim in company and conversation. Do not waste the company's time or my own by talking trifles. Do not endeavor to be a wit or punster. Do not view words in an unnatural light for the sake of smart sayings. Beware of severe speaking. Be careful in introducing topics of conversation. Say as little as possible about myself, friends, deeds, etc.
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Those precepts remind me of George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation, which he transcribed when he was a teenager. I’m thinking it may have once been popular for young men to put into writing some personal guidelines for how to best conduct themselves in life. What a fine idea. 
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Jennifer Needs Chicken Feathers...
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Do you know how many feathers are on a chicken?
Well, you're about to find out.

If you need yet another proof of how amazing the internet is, consider this question posted at the Yahoo discussion group, WhizbangChickenPluckers (2,888 members, and growing):
Hi!— I'm am with the University of Alabama, and we are doing a production of Big River. One of the characters needs to be tar and feathered. And I am looking for chicken feathers. Does anyone have any extra feathers? We're really hoping to get natural coloring.

Thank you!
Jennifer
A response...
How many do you need? Where should I send to? I can send you some once the feathers dry out after plucking.
And Jennifer from the University writes again...
I'm not sure how many I need... I need enough to cover a person. I'm using about 2 feather per square inch. And the body is about 2160 square inches, so that's roughly 9,000 feathers. According to the internet, a chicken has about 8,000 feathers. Does that sound accurate to you?

It would be awesome if you could send the feathers though! I can send you money for shipping, and if you want, I can send some photos of the costume when it's completed!

Our address is
University of Alabama
Jennifer Bronsted
Box 870239
Rowand- Johnson
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-023
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Maple Time
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That's me and the late, great Annie collecting maple sap in back of our house a few years ago.

It is just about time around here to be making maple syrup. Last year was a poor maple syrup season here and our backyard syrup operation didn’t yield enough. We bought a gallon from our neighbor and it cost fifty bucks. So we’re very motivated to make our own syrup this spring. If you would like to read a series of how-to essays (with pictures) about our home-scale maple syrup system, you can do so AT THIS LINK.

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That's it for another edition of The Deliberate Agrarian monthly blogazine. Let's do this again next month. All the best to you and yours..... Herrick Kimball

11 comments:

Ivy Mae said...

Ha, your writing situation definitely strikes a chord with me. I was actually reading your post as procrastination--I'm a third of the way through revising my first novel and the prospect of picking apart chapter 8 just felt a little daunting tonight. :) I justified my procrastination by saying that your blog is totally relevant to my novel, which has "collapse of industrial civilization" themes. That makes sense, right? Oh well, back to the revisions, and good luck on your book!

Beth West www.northernskyart.wordpress.com said...

I'm a little late reading February's blogazine, but I was in time to vote in the Stonyfield contest.

I laughed over your writing woes and loved the picture of the man collapsed over the stacks of books. And I was laughing WITH you, not AT you :) I used to write 200+ page novels and I toiled away in a walk in closet sans windows. I could relate to what you said all too well.

I've moved on from writing to the much messier yet equally solitary pursuit of painting these days.

I just ordered a copy of Gardening in Hard Times from the library. Thank you for your sense of humor and your recommendations.

Ryan and Kara Powers said...

Hello Herrick,

I always look forward to your monthly updates, and the diverse ground they cover. Thanks in large part to your inspiring example, I tried making maple sirup here in NW Arkansas this year. The results were far above the store-bought maple syrup. We made about 1.5 quarts on the stovetop, and hope to expand our attempts next winter.

Thanks also for the review of Michael's book, I look forward to purchasing and reading it in March.

The Lord bless your growing efforts this season.

Ryan Powers

Anonymous said...

Hi Herrick,

I enjoyed your review on Michael Bunker's book Off Off-Grid, I pray that the book will be a blessing to many.

Your bloazine monthly report is always and interesting read and to the point, like the pictures.

Pat Tolbert

Christopher T. Patton said...

Herrick,

I enjoyed your post this month and your review of Michael Bunker's new book. I am really looking forward to reading it after the Book Bomb on March 4th.

Could you could give me more information about the S.L. Allen exhibit at the Brandywine museum in Delaware? I was just in the Brandywine valley on the Pennsylvania side this afternoon and the museum is probably not far from where I live.

Anonymous said...

I just went to Bunkers web site and read his chapter on the evils of electrification, "the begining of a new spiritual dark age" he says. Funny place to read words like that. I felt strange sitting at my computer, hooked to the grid, reading that, until I realized the only way to get those words there was to be hooked to the same grid. Odd.

Anonymous said...

If there was no grid you wouldn't need to read those words anonymous. Mickameyer

Hal said...

Hello, I just discovered your blog looking for ideas on chicken pluckers, and am enjoying it very much. Thanks for all of the great information.

I'm an ex-scientific agnostic pagan who has recently found a very loving Christian community to call home in a small Episcopalian Church in a small city in the Miss. Delta. I've staked out a small claim on a larger farm that's been in the family for four generations, and every season teaches me how much more I have to learn!

What drove me to comment, though, was the haunting photo that accompanied the "Cereal Revolutions" item. When I look at those people and think of the suffering in store for so many of God's children, it almost makes me weep. It definitely makes me tremble.

Herrick Kimball said...

Ivy Mae—
Sure, that makes sense. Best wishes with your book project.

BethWest—
Thanks very much for voting for Sunny Cove Farm in the Stonyfield contest. And thank you to other readers who answered my call to help the Snyder family win a farm grant.

The contest ended yesterday and Sunny Cove Farm won fourth place out of the six. So they did not get the $10,000 grand prize, but they got $2,000.

Now that the contest is over, I have removed what I wrote above, but I wanted to let those who voted know the results. Thanks again.

Rayan and Kara Powers—
Thanks for your comment. 1.5 quarts is a great start. We hope to get 6 gallons this year. I'm going to tap 25 trees this week.

Hi Pat—
I appreciate the positive feedback.

Christopher—
I wish I could tell you where the museum is. I went online and the only Brandywine museum I could find was an art museum. I'll have to see if I can get more details. If you happen to figure out where it is, please let me know.

Hal—
It is, indeed, heartbreaking to think of the people who are unable to feed themselves and the suffering that is likely to happen.

Huskerbabe said...

This western Nebraska gal just recently heard of an irrigated pivot being sold for $12,000 an acre. And yes most farms and ranches here are over 1,000 acres. Ranches are bigger but then we need more land for free range cattle. Unfortunately it also require huge amounts of property tax to raise those tasty beef. Thankfully ranch ground is much lower than farm ground.

Ron C said...

It’s not a good thing when the guy who “invented” the Planet Whizbang wheel hoe has a garden full of weeds because he’s so busy making wheel hoes for other people that he doesn’t have time to use his own....

Some food for thought: I was reading some of the other blogs that are displayed on the side of your blog and stumbled across the book, "Weeds - Guardians of the Soil" by Joseph A. Cocannouer You can read it here:

http://www.journeytoforever.org/farm_library/weeds/WeedsToC.html#contents

I also recently purchased the book "Edible Wild Plants" by John Kallas, PhD This book talks about many of the "Weeds" that grow in a typical garden. Some of them are more nutritious than any of the conventional plants we grow in our garden!

I've been pondering Genesis 3:17-19 lately and have wondered if God didn't simply confuse man's understanding of the order of things rather than mess up his creation by introducing weeds. I'm thinking the weeds were there all along.

I'm going to study weeds a lot more this summer. Looks like there could be a lot less labour expended on this gardening project. I would imagine one would need to keep the weeds from crowding out the veggies, but that could be done with mulching. But I think weeds have their place in the scheme of things.

As always, I enjoy your blog and all the information you and others make available on the Internet. Thank You!