The Deliberate Agrarian Blogazine
September 2011

Dateline: 30 September 2011


Holland Congregational Church in Holland, Massachusetts (photo link)

On the 17th of this past month we buried the ashes of my mother (who died eight years ago) and my recently deceased stepfather. That’s a load off my mind.

My stepfather, a Marine Corps veteran, was buried with military honors. Before folding the flag, as shown below, a third Marine off in the distance played taps. 


Military honors for my stepfather, Richard C. Murphy
 
It was a lovely day to be buried, and the rural New England cemetery in Holland, Massachusetts provided a quiet, beautiful final resting place. I especially like that old stone wall in the background.

Pastor Bruce Plumley of the Holland Congregational Church (pictured at the top of this page) conducted a fine, God-honoring graveside service, with 8 family members and five old friends of my father in attendance. Though Pastor Plumley had not known my stepfather, he read my June blog essay and utilized some of the information therein.

Holland Massachusetts is really off the beaten path and I assumed the little old Congregational church was a small fellowship, struggling to keep the light shining, like so many little old rural churches in America. But it turns out that is not the case.


According to Pastor Plumley, "Holland Congregational Church was founded in 1765 by 80 local people who all signed a covenant to hold fast to the Word of God, to preach the Gospel and to provide a place of worship for families to be raised up in the faith.  At this time we have approx. 300 people that attend on Sunday with three services at 8,9:30 and 11."
 
 

After the short service, we enjoyed a nice luncheon in the Pineapple Room at the historic Publick House (General Lafayette visited there in 1824) in Sturbridge, only eight miles from Holland.

Marlene and I stayed two nights at the Publick House and spent one day together at Old Sturbridge Village. We’ve been to the Village a number of times but it had probably been six years since we were there last. Not much has changed. It is a Village frozen in time and that time is mostly around 1830. Here’s what the Sturbridge Village web site says...
 

The period portrayed by Old Sturbridge Village, 1790-1840, is of major significance because it was a time in which the everyday lives of New Englanders were transformed by the rise of commerce and manufacturing, improvements in agriculture and transportation, the pulls of emigration and urbanization, and the tides of educational, political, aesthetic, and social change.

I snapped this picture of Marlene in a garden gazebo by the Salem Towne house...
 

Marlene at Sturbridge Village
 
And here’s a picture of yours truly by the water-powered grist mill...


This place is an ideal vacation destination for deliberate agrarians.

That granite stone I’m sitting on caught my eye. It looked like it might make a good sink stone. I was thinking of sink stones because I had just been to the Freeman Farm house and saw this...

 

Granite sink at the Freeman Farm house (click to enlarge)



I don’t recall ever seeing a hand-carved granite sink like that before and it really struck my fancy. It reminded me of This You-Tube Clip from the great British series, Victorian Farm, in which they show the making of a granite sheep feeder. Wouldn’t it be something to make your own kitchen sink!

In the kitchen of the Freeman Farm house, three women in period dress were making cheese. I asked if they milked the cow that morning and it so happens they milked two of the village cows. I believe they are Devon cows. We met them a little later....



 Sturbridge Devons, viewed through the bars

The Freeman Farmhouse kitchen with its large fireplace was quite sparse. That’s because in 1830 the industrial revolution in America had not yet made so much stuff for people to buy and cram into their houses.


Ladies in the Freeman Farm kitchen. They are making cheese in the wood tub on the left side of the table. The one lady looks like she might be talking on her cell phone but I can assure you that was not the case.


DETOUR

Before I talk about making cheese at the Freeman Farm, I’d like to tell you about something that has been on my mind for some time and this seems as good a place as any to talk about it....

I’ve come up with a new/old idea that I hope to implement someday. I call it the post-industrial kitchen. Unlike the modern kitchens of our time, my post-industrial kitchen will have no fancy built-in cabinetry and countertops. It will have work tables and a few freestanding “yeoman furniture” cupboards.  Where will all the food and small kitchen appliances go? Those things will go into a walk-in pantry room immediately adjacent to the kitchen. The pantry will have an abundance of floor to ceiling shelves . There will be a place for everything and everything in it’s place, and everything will be readily accessible, not stuffed into so many built-in cupboards.

Speaking of which, Marlene and I have acquired an old, freestanding cupboard that would be perfect in a post-industrial kitchen...
 

The "Wainscot"
 
That big, homemade cabinet came from my parent’s house and we have always called it “the wainscot.” An auctioneer that came to the house told us the cabinet was made in the late 1800’s. He told us that a few years ago, when middle class people had more money to spend at his auctions, a wainscot cabinet like that would have sold for around $1,500. But these days, it might only bring $600. So Marlene and I kept it. 


See that hole in the corner of the drawer? It's a genuine mouse hole!

Years ago, my stepfather and I hauled the wainscot out of a run-down old house. It was in rough shape. Tin can lids were tacked over spots where mice had gnawed holes into the cabinet. My mother spent a lot of hours cleaning and refinishing the piece. So it has a lot of sentimental value.

Another genuine mouse hole. That one had a rusty tin can lid tacked over it when my parents first got the cabinet.

Once the mice ate their through the door into the bottom of the cabinet, they proceeded to chew their way up through the two shelves above, as you can see in this picture.

How much do you think it would cost to make a kitchen with no built-in cabinets and fancy countertops? Answer: Wayyyy less than the average modern kitchen (the average mid-range kitchen remodel is now around $20,000)

I dare say my post-industrial kitchen, with it’s adjoining pantry room, will be very inexpensive to make. Yet, it will be functional and convenient to use. It will also be much easier to keep clean.

A hand-carved granite sink might be nice.



Another Detour

I hope to implement this idea of a post-industrial kitchen in seven years ( I will be 60 years old). That’s when I would like to build a new country home for Marlene and I— a “retirement” home, if you will, on a little more acreage than we now have. It will be a practical, functional country home. And it will be bigger than the little place we now have. Bigger so we can be a little more hospitable.

When I tell Marlene of this plan (which she likes), she wonders how I will ever find time to build another house. Good question. I can barely find time to keep the lawn mowed these days.

Well, maybe it won’t happen. I’m used to my plans not happening, and don’t hold too tight to any of them, but I still think it’s good to have plans. And now that you’ve endured my post-industrial kitchen idea, and my daydreaming, it’s time to get back to Freeman Farm....



Freeman Farm at Old Sturbridge Village (photo link)

As I was saying, the ladies at Freeman Farm were making cheese the day we visited. I asked them about rennet, which is what gets added to the milk to firm it up. The cheese ladies informed us that rennet comes from the lining of the fourth stomach of a cow. I must admit that, though I knew a cow has four stomachs, I did not know rennet came from the fourth.

Being the inquisitive reader that you are, I’m sure you are wondering what the names of the four stomachs of a cow are. Well, let me tell you... In sequence, they are the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. Now, I wonder if the old timer’s knew those names?

On the table was a short length of tree branch bent into a circle and a section of abomasum was stretched flat and tight with a web of string inside the circle (if you click on the picture of the cheese ladies above, you will see an enlarged view and the circle with stomach is there on the table). 


The old timers scraped some lining off the stomach and added it to the milk. I asked the ladies if that is what they were using and they reluctantly admitted that they used commercially available rennet tablets. But one of the ladies told me they once did use some stomach lining to make cheese. 


Vegetable storage bins in the Freeman Farm root cellar

In the basement root cellar of the Freeman Farm house we found a man with a candle sifting sand from one box to another. He was getting ready to layer vegetables in the sand for winter storage. Here’s what a sign at the top of the root cellar explained...
After the harvest, root vegetables like turnips, beets, and carrots were buried in bins of slightly damp sand to stay moist and firm. Potatoes keep well in bins without sand; their tough skins keep moisture in. Cabbages are strung from the ceiling rafters. The outer leaves shrivel around the cabbage head to provide a barrier that keeps the head moist.

Also on the sign was this quote...

The cellar...was a vast receptacle... In the autumn, it was supplied with three barrels of beef and as many of pork, twenty barrels of cider, with numerous kinds of potatoes, turnips, beets, carrots and cabbages.
Samuel Goodrich
Recollections of a Lifetime, 1857


Twenty barrels! That’s a lotta cider. And it’s not sweet cider that they kept in those barrels.

Before leaving the Freeman Farm I made sure to take the following picture...

 

Boot Scraper at Freeman Farm


I love practical little details like that hand-wrought iron boot scraper. Mud was, of course, much more prevalent in the old days.

Here’s another detail that I liked...



A stone gate post at Old Sturbridge Village

Split rail fences were the typical wood fence on rural New England farmsteads. The rails were commonly referred to as "bars." 



Agrarian Economics


Allan C. Carlson

In last month’s essay here I stated that modern corporate capitalism as an economic system is destined to fail. Some readers of this blog get a little bit miffed when I say something negative about capitalism. After all, we have all been brought up to believe that capitalism as we know it today is as American as apple pie. There are even people who think that modern capitalism is biblical!

 
The so-called conservative talk show hosts of America all love modern capitalism. In their minds the only other option besides such capitalism is communism or socialism, and if you don’t like capitalism, than you must be a socialist or a communist. These media talking heads appear to be completely ignorant about agrarian economic principles. And since most rank and file American "conservatives" get their information and talking points from the talk show hosts, agrarian economics is pretty much unheard of.


It behooves thinking people to understand what an agrarian economic system would be like because, as I mentioned last month, modern capitalism is not sustainable, and both socialism and communism are clearly unjust economic and political systems.

If this subject interests you as much as it does me, I recommend professor Allan C. Carlson's speech...


(if you click that link you can listen to a recording of Allan Carlson giving his speech to an audience at Washington State University back in 2010)




Family Based Economics

At the heart of any agrarian economic system is a prevalence of productive home economies. That said, it's nice to see Kevin Swanson at Generations Radio not only talking about “family economics” but  actually having a family economics conference...





 

Here’s how Kevin Swanson introduces the conference at his blog:
“What if you didn’t have to rely on a big corporation to make a living? What if your family could work together to build an economy that not only provided for your needs, but even produced extra for you to give to others? What if you didn’t have to give the best hours of your day to support the vision of your boss, your bank, or some bureaucrat in Washington DC?

What if you had a fruitful family economy?

As the economies of the world teeter around us, more and more families are discovering the vision for work and economics that has existed for over 4,000 years. This vision is family-based production in the context of the household. Forget about world GDP, population implosion, or the CPI for just a moment, and consider the power of a family unit knit together in relationship, love, and honor—all diligently working toward the single goal of being productive for the kingdom of God."

I hope this Family Economics Conference is a great success. However, I have a feeling that "family economy" as it will be discussed at that conference will be defined and limited to a "family business." I may be wrong (and I hope I am in this respect) but if the conference emphasis is solely on making money in a family business in order to support the family by buying everything the family needs (or wants), that would certainly not be a "vision for work and economics that has existed for over 4,000 years."


Traditionally speaking, the 4,000 year history of family economies was something much deeper and more intimate than just a family business.

Of course, true family economies predated the industrial era. As industrialism spread, it destroyed the traditional family economy. First it lured men (husbands and fathers) away from family farms and home-based cottage industries to the cities and factories where traditional ways of life and work were exchanged for a narrowly-focused job and a wage. Sons & daughters and wives followed the menfolk into the industrial work world. Instead of working together, individual family members went their separate ways; the family economy was sacrificed to support the industrial economy. 

Traditional family economies involved immediate and extended family members all working together (and typically within small communities) to supply their subsistence needs for food, fuel, clothing, shelter, health care, education, entertainment (and so on) largely from the land, without being subservient to or dependent on any other economic system. A broad spectrum of skills, responsibilities, and interdependencies came into play. Yes, a family business certainly was part of traditional family economies, but only a part.

I applaud any effort to reestablish any semblance of the  family economy (this is a critically important thing to be doing, especially as the dominant industrial economy of the developed western world is now in decline), but to do so without embracing the richness and wisdom of traditional understandings is a mistake.
 

The Agrarian Urbanist


Richard Grossman, a.k.a., The Midland Agrarian, has a new blog titled The Agrarian Urbanist. If you have read Richard’s online writings (and the late, great “Granny Miller” blog of his wife) you know that the Grossmans have a very well informed understanding of agrarianism, both practical and philosophical.

I’ve never given much thought to the combination of agrarianism and urbanism because I've always believed that agrarianism and urbanism are opposite concepts. But I have no doubt that urbanism can be improved by applying agrarian concepts, and I'm curious to read what Richard Grossman has to say on the subject.


Also, I know that many people who read this blog live in urban areas and have agrarian inclinations. So you may find The Agrarian Urbanist of particular interest.

In the Agrarian Urbanits's first blog post, Richard mentions Andres Duany and provides a link to a web page where we learn...

"Duany believes the metaphorical asteroid -- call it peak oil, climate change, the collapse of complex structures -- is on its way. He's trying to push the body of planners and architects toward a small-town America that more closely resembles pre-1850 America than pre-1950."

Hmmm... this Duany fellow has my attention. Another quote from the same link...

Agrarian urbanism, he explained, is different from both "urban agriculture" ("cities that are retrofitted to grow food") and "agricultural urbanism" ("when an intentional community is built that is associated with a farm)." He was thinking bigger: "Agrarian urbanism is a society involved with the growing of food."


On Raising Children 


I support my family in part by writing how-to books, and I have a lot of ideas for books that I'd like to write someday, but I can assure you that I will never write a book about how to properly raise children. That's because, when you write a how-to book it's important to know your subject well and be good at it. I don't feel I am either of those things when it comes to parenting.

I'm compelled to mention this because I have received a number of e-mails over the years from parents who are concerned about their children and how to raise them so that, first, they follow the parent's Christian faith and, second,  they embrace the wisdom of agrarian life.

Parenting with such goals in mind is a high and important calling. It is also incredibly difficult to do because it is so downright countercultural. To make matters worse, numerous internet bloggers present their children and their family as remarkable examples of virtue and wisdom. I fear that I myself may have been guilty of this in past essays, and the thought of it prompts me to recommend a "disclaimer" essay I wrote a few years ago titled: My Christian-Agrarian Reality

I dare say, well-intentioned and God-fearing parents can get mighty discouraged when they compare their family to some of the "model" families found on the internet. I know this because I've compared, and I've gotten discouraged. I should know better. You should know better.

I mention all of this as prelude to the following excerpt from the essay, "Family Work," by Wendell Berry, and found in his book, The Gift of Good Land.

The point of Berry's message in this essay is the vital importance of passing on important family values by establishing a productive, family-centered, home economy (not, I hasten to add, defined as a "family business"). Though Mr. Berry presents the family-centered home economy as a healthy concept and fundamentally agrarian, it also happens to be biblical (and I'm sure he knows that). 

I'm persuaded that anything biblical is also contra-industrial and, therefore, as I've already stated, difficult to do. But spiritual conviction coupled with righteous indignation is a powerful force for industrial-world nonconformity, especially when we're talking about the sacred responsibility of raising children. 

Thus it is that so many Christian families in this day and age are coming to understand that establishing a healthy and functional agrarian-based home economy is profoundly and fundamentally important. In short, it's the right thing to do.

That said, I present the following perspective from Wendell Berry. This excerpt is only the end portion of a larger essay, all of which is well worth reading. The final two paragraphs sum up nicely what we concerned parents need to keep in mind, especially as our children get into their adolescent/teen years.


If we consume nothing but what we buy, we are living in “the economy,” in “television land,” not at home. It is productivity that rights the balance and brings us home....

[Home-based] productivity, however small, is a gift. If we are parents we cannot help but see it as a gift to our children—and the best of gifts. How will it be received?

Well, not ideally. Sometimes it will be received gratefully enough. But sometimes indifferently, and sometimes resentfully.

According to my observation, one of the likeliest results of a wholesome diet of home-raised, home-cooked food is a heightened relish for cokes and hot dogs. And if you “deprive” your children of TV at home, they are going to watch it with something like rapture away from home. And obligations, jobs, and chores at home will almost certainly cause your child to wish, sometimes at least, to be somewhere else, watching TV.

Because, of course, parents are not the only ones raising their children. They are being raised also by their schools and by their friends and by the parents of their friends. Some of this outside raising is good, some is not. It is, anyhow, unavoidable.

What this means, I think, is about what it has always meant. Children, no matter how nurtured at home, must be risked to the world. And parenthood is not an exact science, but a vexed privilege and a blessed trial, absolutely necessary and not altogether possible.

If your children spurn your healthful meals in favor of some concocted by some reincarnation of Col. Sanders, Long John Silver, or the Royal Family of Burger; if they flee from books to a friend’s house to watch TV, if your old-fashioned notions and ways embarrass them in front of their friends—does that mean you are a failure?

It may. And what parent has not considered that possibility? I know, at least, that I have considered it—and have wailed and gnashed my teeth, found fault, laid blame, preached and ranted. In weaker moments, I have even blamed myself.

But I have thought, too, that the term of human judgment is longer than parenthood, that the upbringing we give our children is not just for their childhood but for all their lives. And it is surely the duty of the older generation to be embarrassingly old-fashioned, for the claims of the “newness” of any younger generation are mostly frivolous. The young are born to the human condition more than to their time, and they face mainly the same trials and obligations as their elders have faced.

The real failure is to give in. If we make our house a household instead of a motel, provide healthy nourishment for mind and body, enforce moral distinctions and restraints, teach essential skills and disciplines and require their use, there is no certainty that we are providing our children a “better life” that they will embrace wholeheartedly during childhood. But we are providing them a choice that they may make intelligently as adults.


Cidermaking 2011

This picture shows my son James (part of him) feeding apples into our homemade Whizbang Apple grinder. The grinder will chew them up as fast as he can stuff them in, and the mash flows into a bucket, ready to be pressed.

If you have read this blog for long, you know that our family makes apple cider every year about this time. And you know that, after several years of development, I came up with my own Whizbang Cidermaking equipment. If you have a source of apples, I recommend cidermaking as a great family activity, and I can assure you that no other home-scale cidermaking equipment on the market is as easy to use and productive as my Whizbang system.

Yesterday morning my son James and I made cider on the back patio. We worked together for an hour or so to press a bunch of free-for-the-picking apples (maybe three bushels in all) that Marlene got from a friend earlier in the week.


My Whizbang cider press utilizes a simple 2x6 board and small hydraulic jack to press a basket of apple mash.

We ended up with about ten gallons of wholesome, unadulterated sweet apple cider. Eight gallons of that were put into jars and set aside to ferment into vinegar (just like I tell and show how to do in This Essay). 


With my Whizbang cidermaking system, a stack of pressing discs and cloth-wrapped bags of apple mash are layered up inside the pressing tub. Pressure is put to this "cheese" (a traditional cidermaking term) and the result is faster, easier, more thorough juice extraction. In this picture I am holding some of the just-pressed mash. No other home-scale cidermaking system on the market utilizes this very effective pressing technique.

Yesterday was our first cider pressing of the season. There will be more. And we will also be making Whizbanged applesauce!


Agrarian Nation

Shucking corn with grandma.... The traditional family economy in action!


I continue to post twice-weekly at my Agrarian Nation web site. Here are links from September...









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Thanks for reading this edition of the Deliberate Agrarian monthly blogazine!

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21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Herrick,

Your idea idea and description of a "post-industrial kitchen" reminds me a lot of kitchens in old European rural homes (as opposed to kitchens in city houses or apartments). So far as I can tell these are usually referred to as "un-fitted" kitchens. I've long been a fan of this type of kitchen. You can get a kitchen REALLY clean when you're able to move things out of the way. Modern American kitchens, even those with "farm" influences always seem cluttered to me; by the same token any pictures I've ever seen of Shaker community kitchens seem too sparse, but somewhere in the middle lies a happy medium. Maybe in an Amish kitchen, perhaps?

Cheers,

John

Herrick Kimball said...

John,

I've never heard of an un-fitted kitchen, so I've learned something new. Amish kitchen? I don't know. Maybe. Or perhaps, if I ever do really make this happen in my home, it will be a Deliberate Agrarian kitchen.

With movable and portable work tables and such, the room could be arranged to accommodate different homestead tasks, from large-scale tomato canning, to pig processing, to making apple cider. When the work is done, all the equipment goes out of sight into the pantry room, the portable work tables are put away, and, yes, cleanup is much easier. The kitchen could be transformed into a workshop.

I think I can do this in a pleasant way, with a traditional look of wide baseboards, wainscot part way up on the walls, topped with chair rail.

Without a mass of upper cabinets built into the kitchen, there could be more windows to let in natural light and ventilation.

Also, many modern kitchen layouts do not accommodate a family of workers helping with canning and food preservation. A Deliberate Agrarian kitchen would be more user friendly when a lot of people are there to help.

Thanks for the comment.

timfromohio said...

Holy Vinegar Batman! What are your plans for the 8 gallons of cider vinegar - do you use that much within a year?

The Agrarian Urbanist is a great idea - many of us are more or less stuck where we are and unable to make livings with webpages while living in "un-named Western states". Yet, there is enormous potential on even small plots, more so if neighbors work together.

I like the kitchen concept but must ask if your wife likes the concept? The enormous pantry idea I know my wife would like. A huge farmhous sink is a must - we remodeled our kitchen into a quasi-agrarian kitchen, by your description, and it included an enromous farmhouse sink (not handcarved ...) which is excellent! It makes cleaning out huge stock pots and processing vegetables so easy. It's so practical - why people ever switched to the dual sink make of tacky SS I cannot figure out - once you do some work in a huge farmhouse sink, you'll never want another type.

Great update!

timfromohio

vdeal said...

Herrick,

Your kitchen concept is very interesting. Google "unfitted kitchens" and "Johnny Grey" and you'll get a lot of info. Also check the internet for pages on retro kitchens for information. The history of the fitted kitchen is interesting and parallels the movement away from an agarian lifestyle to an industrial one.

hisandhershomesteading said...

Herrick,

I love your idea of the Deliberate Agrarian Kitchen. My wife and I are renting a home, but looking for a little homestead of our own. A kitchen that has plenty of open space is a priority.

We're pressing apples too! I just posted a blog today about my inaugural batch made with my Whizbang Apple Grinder and Cider press. I'll be writing more about it in the next few days. Many thanks for all you do. You're a true inspiration, Herrick.

Robert

Herrick Kimball said...

timfromohio—
8 gallons of vinegar is more than we have ever made before, but it's so easy to make, and we really do enjoy our homemade cider vinegar, and it keeps pretty much forever, and it makes a nice little gift to people who appreciate such things.

I have entertained the thought of making it in five gallon containers and selling it (or trading) in quart jars, not so much as a business but as a local "enterprise."

I like the sounds of your sink. My wife isn't sure what to think about the "Deliberate Agrarian" kitchen idea. She likes the large walk-in pantry room, but says she would have to see it on paper to better understand my idea.

I will say (and I'm sure she will agree) that when all is said and done she has always liked my ideas when it comes to design and building and remodeling around the house.

vdeal—
Interesting. My growing disdain for "fitted" kitchens must be as a natural result of my increasing anti-industrial thinking.

And, to think... I used to make my living as a "fitted" kitchen remodeler.

Robert—
What a great looking Whizbang cider press and your photos are so inspiring!

My son James and a friend collected some free apples over the weekend and made several gallons of 'Whizbang" cider. It warmed my heart to see it.

Next weekend we have a young couple from our church coming over with their three young children. They're bringing the apples and we're supplying the grinder and press. That should be fun.

Yesterday we ran a 5-gallon pail of Concord grapes (homegrown) through the grinder. Then we put the juicy mash into a stock pot and Marlene heated it up for awhile. After that she strained it and canned it. It's a super concentrated grape juice and making it with the Whizbang apple grinder was far faster than the steamer thing we've used in past years.

I encourage everyone to stop over to your blog and see the Whizbang grinder and cider press you made. Here is a hot link: Robert's Inaugural Cider Batch

Anonymous said...

The trouble with many tables is that they are not as sturdy as counters, although I suppose you could make something heavy enough yourself. Nor are they typically the right height. Counters are a more ergonomic height for standing and working for long periods of time which you need to do for cooking, canning, etc.

Many people have always lived in towns or cities and created goods or provided services to others, for thousands of years. I'm fairly sure Jesus and Paul did.

Herrick Kimball said...

Anonymous—
Standard kitchen countertop height is 36". That is not an ergonomic height for many people. Industrialsim is great at determining standards and expecting the masses to conform to them.

An anti-industrial kitchen need not, and by definition, would not conform to the modern industrial expectations.

The table in the picture that the cheese ladies at Freeman Farm are using is not standard countertop height, and it is not heavy, yet it is sturdy, attractive and serves multiple purposes very nicely.

As for people living in towns and cities and providing services etc., I agree. What's your point?

timfromohio said...

The vast majority of modern cabinets are particle board bodies with solid wood used only on the face frames. A stout, solid wood table will stand up to far more use (and abuse) over time than any modern cabinet. One bout with water and the particle will swell and is compromised - not so with wood with a proper finish. However, to me the real benefit of the large work tables is that they could be configured for the task at hand - lots of visitors, throw a table cloth over it pull out some benches and you have instant seating. Processing apples - clamp the hand-powered peeler to the end of one and get the assembly line operation going. Cutting up that side of pork, no problems. Further, there are plans galore out there free for the asking to construct basic, functional work tables that can be made to look very nice. A woodbutcher like me with modest skills can build something functional and nice that my kids could use when I'm compost.

Herrick Kimball said...

timfromohio—

Clearly, you have grasped the concept. :-)

Anonymous said...

In a word: inspiring!

I've followed your blog for over a year now and I always enjoy it. I've had the thought of your 'Agrarian Kitchen' for many years, but have never been able to nail it down as you did. My wife is on board with the idea and we're all fidgety about my pending retirement from the Army in a year, or four. The one certainty is, our home will include the 'Agrarian kitchen' as the crown-jewel of our home, with the adjoining pantry/larder as we anticipate having a robust 'family economy.

Thank you for your monthly words of reason and wisdom, keep them coming!

Soldier-Yeoman

jengod said...

I love the mouse holes!

The Midland Agrarian said...

Hi Herrick,
Thanks for the kind words.

Perhaps you need to write a book called "Yeoman Furniture Making"? I would be first in line to buy it.

Richard Grossman

Anonymous said...

http://books.google.com/ebooks/reader?id=JQECAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&pg=GBS.PA58
I thought this might be of interest to you. Especially the page 56 letter to the editor.

Joanna said...

Not sure what happened to my last post so I am trying again. I have just found your site, from a link on the cottage smallholder forum, and it looks like there are lots of interesting posts that will be very useful to me. Only this year I have been learning about making my own vinegars, and I have been bottling lots of our own produce. We are managing a piece of land and two allotments but we don't have a farmhouse and so the fitted kitchen was much needed in our small apartment. Having said that, the fitted kitchen was designed between me and the owner of a local joinery firm and so is locally made, not from one of the big corporations.

I have to say, having spent, two years in the US it is refreshing to hear someone who is a Christian stand up for an alternative economics view, along with you and David Korten then there is much to hope for. I found the two years in the US depressing at times for the lack of insight into the misery caused by the current economic ideologies and I am more than happy to see them under attack.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kimball:

I particularly liked the quotation from Mr. Berry. As a southerner of course we have a long tradition of agrarianism. Unfortunately, since the War Between the States, and particularly during and post-WWII, we've seen the acceleration of the capitalist/industrialist model of economy and agriculture. Come to the South today and you'll see the "vanilla-ization" of our region with Wal-Marts, McDonalds, Bath and Body Works, et al. To speak seriously of a return to our agrarian traditions is thought at best to be mere nostalgia or at worst reactionary (or probably racist, whatever that means).

As I see, however, and obviously you do as well, there is nothing more hard-headedly practical than agrarianism. Indeed, it is the most conservative of ideas. After all, what is more practical than the recognition that if we're going to eat, we must take care of the soil and nurture all institutions that support this pursuit (e.g. the family, community, etc.)?

Thank you for a wonderful website and blog!

Blessings,
David Smith

Anonymous said...

Talking about functional plans - see this great site:
http://ejackson.net/

Thanks for the updates Mr. Kimball,
H.Munson

Anonymous said...

Herrick, I've been reading your blog for a number of years now and look forward to your posts. This months entry caught my eye as I grew up in the Holland/Sturbridge area. You should read "Our Own Snug Fireside" (http://books.google.com/books/yup?vid=ISBN9780300059533)written by a former Old Sturbridge Village curator. The book reveals how people lived in New England in the early eighteenth century and the benefits of that agrarian lifestyle

Elizabeth said...

Dear Herrick-
Help! I'm (trying) making some homemade ACV with about a gallon of fresh squeezed apple juice (which I squeezed myself!) and I'm about a week into the project. But this morning I see what looks like green stuff growing on top. I can see the formation of the clear gelatinous mother just beneath the surface. But I'm worried- do I need to scrape off the green or is the batch ruined? I don't know anyone but you who has (successfully) made their own ACV.
Thanks!

Elizabeth

Herrick Kimball said...

Elizabeth—
Just let it be. I don't think the green will be any problem. Maybe you shouldn't watch it too closely. :-)

Let me know how it looks in a few months.....

Elizabeth said...

Will do. (Maybe I am watching the boiling pot too carefully.)
Thanks.