The Deliberate Agrarian Blogazine
November 2011

Land Ho!

The word “ho,” as in “Land ho!,” is used to “express surprise or joy,” or “to attract attention to something sighted.” And so it is that I use it here.

Those of you who have read this blog for the past few years know of my long-held dream to own and husband more land than our current 1.5 acre lot. Truth be told, I’ve had a longing for acreage since I was  16 years old.  My dream has, however, been hindered by my lack of money, coupled with my personal aversion to debt.

Years ago I provided for my family by working in the building trades. My wife, Marlene, did not work outside the home. Finances were always tight. But we lived simply, and frugally and managed to save some money.

In 1998 I was brought low, financially and personally. All savings, all retirement money—everything I had worked so hard for (except our little home on the 1.5 acres), was gone. I could hardly bring myself to work. I was depressed. It was a tough, humbling, Lord-God-in-heaven-why-me? time in my life.

The hope of owning more land was not on my mind when I didn’t have enough money to pay the everyday bills. But I came through the intense personal anguish of that time with a whole new perspective on life. I had worked hard and striven for a degree of success, only to lose it all. God had taken my little success away in order to let me know that I needed to focus on other more important things, like faith and family. He made it clear that He would provide what I and my family needed—that I should work hard to provide, but not strive for material success. Then He providentially provided me with a job that paid $12,000 a year. That was not much money to support a family of five in 1999.

I got through that humbling episode in my life and was a better man for it. The $12,000 job lasted a year and God again providentially provided me with a job that paid more. I started to think about someday owning a section of land again. The dream had not died, but it was tempered by the realization that it might be realized and it might not. If it did not happen, I was okay with that. But if it was to be realized, God would supply the land in His time. I needed to be patient.

In February of 2005 my Grandmother Kimball passed away. I thought I would receive an inheritance that would fulfill my vision for land. But it did not happen. That was a disappointment, but it was not devastating. God had prepared me to deal with such disappointment five years earlier when, in the time of anguish, I trusted in His sovereignty and providential will. If I was ever to realize the dream of more land, God would provide it some other way.

In June of 2005 I started this blog, The Deliberate Agrarian. Three months later, I posted a blog titled My Vision And A Fond Adieu, in which I told of my vision for more land (explaining why I wanted it) and let it be known that I was not going to blog much anymore in order to focus on the vision. In retrospect, I guess I did not realize at that time that this blog was to become a key factor in bringing the vision to reality.

Two months after my fond adieu I was back and blogging with a passion— a passion to share with others about my life, my family, and my Christian-agrarian worldview. Many of those early blog essays are preserved in my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian.

At some point in the course of blogging it occurred to me that I should mention the Whizbang chicken plucker plan book that I self-published back in 2002. My original intention was not to promote my little Whizbang home business with the blog. But when I did, people responded. Sales increased with the internet exposure.

Over the years I published more plan books and in December of 2007 I figured out how to use the free format to make my own web sites. A few months later, I realized I could easily integrate PayPal online ordering buttons into the web pages. Sales took off.

The money has not come easy, and it has not come fast, but it has come. Marlene and I have continued to live simply and frugally here on our little parcel, saving, and seeing something amazing happen in our lives. A couple years ago we came to the realization that God may well provide us with the resources to fulfill our land vision (it is Marlene’s vision too) through our home business.

Along the way, we came very close to buying three different properties, but they did not materialize. Two of them did not materialize because I would have had to borrow money from a bank. In moments of weakness, I had decided to do that. I had a friend telling me I was crazy to wait until I had enough money to buy land. He said “You’ll never have land if you wait to save the money." He strongly encouraged me to buy a nice big home and He said my wife deserved a bigger house. “That poor woman!,” he exclaimed.

But I came to my senses before getting the loans. My convictions against debt were too firmly ingrained. I loathe debt. I don’t believe God wants his children shackled to debt. Though I might (and did) justify a short season of calculated debt bondage early in life to acquire land or a basic home, I can’t justify personal debt for decades—or a lifetime. 

Therefore, I was persuaded that God would supply the money for land in His time. If He did not, that was okay. We are blessed. Our needs are met. More land than I now have has never been a need in the true sense of a need.

In the most recent almost-purchase last year (for a couple acres right next to our property) we had the money to buy and a signed purchase offer. The owner never followed through. We still don’t know what happened with that. Clearly, it was not in God’s plan for us to have that property. That’s the way we looked at it.

Except for a couple momentary lapses of faith (going to the bank for a loan) we have firmly believed that God would provide not only the finances, but the exact property that is right for us, and that He would do this in His time. Thus, I have not been consumed by the idea of finding land. Fact is, we have not spent much time actively looking for land. I have had a peace about this and a contentment that it would happen—or not—and if it happened we would just know when it was right. Once again, this surrender of outcome and patience came directly out of that time of loss and personal anguish that I went through back in 1999.

That is the story, the testimony of my vision, and the work of God in my life regarding this vision. Now, at almost 54 years of age, comes the next chapter of the story....

Last month I “just happened” to see my down-around-the-corner neighbor at the local lumber yard. Pat is a couple years younger than me and I’ve known him since high school. Way back then, my best friend Art, and Pat and another guy and I spent a few days hiking and camping on the Finger Lakes Trail. So we’re old friends but our friendship these days consists of friendly waves when one or the other drives by.

When I saw Pat at the lumberyard, I asked how he was doing. His father had died a couple months ago. I sent a condolence card. I told him in the card that I had liked his dad, that he was a decent down-to-earth man, and that was the truth. Pat’s dad lived down around the corner, right across the road from Pat.

Except for a stint in the Marines during WW2 (where he saw action in the Pacific theater), Pat’s dad had lived all his days right there on a section of land that was once part of his parent’s farm. Fact is, the road I live on, Murphy Hill Road, has his family’s name on it.

Years ago, Pat's dad, Mr. Murphy, would pull his car over on the side of the road when he saw me working in my garden, and we would talk. As he got older and couldn’t drive, one of his kids would take him for rides and they would drive by slow so he could see my garden. The last time I spoke with him was in the parking lot at the drug store in Moravia (the little town we live near). Pat was in the store getting something. Mr. Murphy and I exchanged pleasantries for awhile. He asked about my family, and was particularly interested in my “oldest boy” who he knew was in the Army.

When I saw Pat in the lumber yard I asked about his dad’s house. I had heard one of the grandchildren would move in. Pat said that no one in the family was interested in the place. So he was planning to list it with a real estate agent.

The house is a basic doublewide trailer on a full basement. I knew it was at least 30 years old. But Mr. Murphy kept it up nicely. I put four replacement windows in the south end of the house back when I was a contractor. I also knew Mr. Murphy owned the wooded gully on the west side of my property. So I casually inquired how much land went with the house.

“Sixteen acres,” he replied.

I expressed surprise. Pat told me all the woods down the road to his brother-in-law’s place were part of the property, as was the large field behind his father’s place.

I wondered aloud, “How much were you thinking to ask for it?

“Well, we had a realtor up to look at it and he said we should ask $90,000. But that seems kind of high. We would take less than that.”

We conversed on the subject a bit longer and I asked Pat to hold off on listing the property until I had a chance to think about buying it.

I went home and told Marlene. Her interest was piqued. Then I took a walk into the woods behind our house, down the gully, across the stream and up into Mr. Murphy’s field. As I walked, and thought, and came into the field, looking south and across the valley to the east, it occurred to me that this place was just right. A section of land that I had never considered before, that I never expected to be for sale, and that had been right next door to us all these years, was now available, and I had a good feeling about it.

I told Marlene what I felt. She and I walked the land together. She felt the same. A week later we looked at the house, and offered $55,000 for the property. Two weeks later Pat got back to us and said they needed $60,000. We thought about it another week and agreed to that price.

The small yellow circles are the corners of the property. Note the contrast between the size of my 1.5 acres and the new acreage. (click picture to see enlarged view)

That amount of money, plus closing fees, and the attorney’s charges will literally empty our savings account. God has provided us at this time with just enough. I can't imagine a better way to spend inflating dollars. It looks like the vision is about to become a reality. 

An autumn view from our current property line into the New Land. In the summer months the woods are lush with undergrowth and the trees are full with greenery.

I don’t usually share specific details about my personal finances, but I have done so here because I want to testify to the blessings of God in providing for us the way He has. It is a remarkable story because such a dream was far, far from reality just a few years ago, and none of it would have been possible were it not for God’s blessings and direction.

I'm also sharing these details here because so many of you who read this blog have purchased my books and the other Whizbang products I sell. And some of you have even donated money to me by way of my Agrarian Nation blog. So it is that  many people across America (and around the globe) have, in a small but tangible way, contributed to the fulfillment of the land-vision I have had for nigh unto 38 years. For that, I thank you.

Another view of the woods and stream in the New Land. The log in the foreground provides a convenient walkway across the creek.

Now, after having told you my story, I should add that it has not happened yet. The land is in sight, the land seems certain, but we are awaiting a survey and then the lawyers get more involved. Anything could happen to change this situation between now and the day we sign the official papers. If it does, we will faithfully accept the outcome and patiently wait on God for his direction. But, like I said, this property feels right for us, no problems are anticipated, and I believe it will happen. 

View from the northeast corner, looking southwest
 Stay tuned, Lord willing, I’ll have much more to say, and show, and share with you about this land in the months and years ahead. 

Deliverance From Debt

The economic system of our industrialized world is built on debt and the perpetuation of debt. National debt. Business debt. Personal debt. Wage and debt slavery is encouraged and perpetuated by the industrial system.

To work, and save, and do without, so as to avoid taking on debt, is to live in a way that is completely contrary to the industrial-world norm. But, to the extent that you can do it, you experience a degree of freedom that few people in the industrialized nations know. It’s a good feeling.

If you are in debt and want to get out of bondage, check out Gary North’s Deliverance From Debt web site. He has a completely-free 12-week course specifically for Christians who want to get out of debt.

Tent City in N.J.
Home Sweet Homeless Tent Home

While America is in the midst of a continuing economic depression that threatens to get a lot worse as a result of increased monetary inflation, and I am spending my life savings on 16 acres of land, there are homeless people banding into community on public land outside Lakewood, New Jersey. Good for them! If you have not seen this remarkable story, check it out At This Link (make sure you scroll down to see all the pictures). 
Professor Webb 
Makes The M.E. News

Professor Webb has been dead for 48 years, but his historical insights about our modern age, and his predictions about the future are still right on.

I was pleased to see Mother Earth News magazine publisher, Bryan Welch, mention the late Professor Walter Prescott Webb in a current-issue M.E.N. article titled, Unplugging Our Economic Ponzi Scheme.

Professor Webb should be no stranger to readers of this blogazine, as I’ve mentioned his remarkable book, The Great Frontier, and his “boom hypothesis of modern history” here numerous times (see This Essay for more information).

Mr. Welch mentions an “Economic Outlook” article published in Mother Earth News back in 1977 when the magazine’s founder, John Shuttleworth, was at the helm. Here is part of what Shuttleworth wrote back then:

“Western man’s clever technology, self-motivation, work ethic, economic system, and regard for the individual all came after and are all solidly rooted in the windfall resources and profits of The Great Frontier... And now that most of the cream has been skimmed from this windfall, capitalism (the economic system so ideally suited for the exploitation of a seemingly endless storehouse of natural riches) will decline, prosperity will slip through (our) fingers...

“...Western Man’s 450-year-long expansionary binge—which was fueled by inexpensive, plentiful energy and other natural resources—is now drawing to a close. And, just as Walter Prescott Webb predicted [in 1951!] ... the industrialized nations of the world are having a difficult time understanding what is happening to them.”

Thirty-four years have passed since John Shuttleworth wrote those words and, for that matter, Shuttleworth himself has passed on. In those three decades we have experienced something of an economic boom, predicated largely on the rise of the personal computer and internet (something that was unknown in 1977), as well as further exploitation of natural resources (including human natural resources) in undeveloped countries. Thirty-four years is, however, a very minor blip in the span of history, and such a blip does not in any way detract from the truth of Webb's historical prognosis. Not at all.

To read professor Webb’s book (published 60 years ago) and understand his boom hypothesis (it's very easy to understand) is to see the big picture of modern history like few people in the world do. Many people are now lamenting the current economic crisis and confused about the future, yet this current crisis (far more serious than a mere recession) was entirely foreseeable and predictable, as is the future course of industrialized civilization. The handwriting has been on the wall, but hubris, ignorance and denial keep most people from seeing it.

Bryan Welch makes the point (as did Webb) that the economic system of capitalism as we have known it, built on expansion, will have to adapt to the reality of limited resources. As Welch succinctly puts it: “Our economic tools ... are obsolete today.”

I couldn’t agree more. As I’ve stated here many times in the past, industrial capitalism will collapse. Another economic system will replace it. I’m of the mind that we are in the early stage of the inevitable collapse. Fortunately for us all, it has been a slow collapse thus far. I hope that will continue to be a slow decline.

But when “the system” is so huge, so interconnected, so centralized, and to a increasing degree, so tenuous, a trigger event can lead to a shockingly rapid collapse. Then what?
Well, obviously, when any life support system collapses (and industrialism is surely a life support system), lives that are completely dependent on the system, will be lost. At the least, life will get much more difficult for everyone—but especially for the most dependent.

That said, I feel compelled to reiterate the common theme of this blog since it’s inception back in June of 2005...

Eliminate as many of your industrial-world dependencies as you can!
If you would like to read the Economic Outlook published in Mother Earth News magazine back in May of 1977, Click Here.
Is Modern Day Homesteading 
Only For The Rich?

A home without a mortgage!

Early in 2008 (before the economic crash that came in the fall) I posted an essay here titled Agrarian-Style Economic Self Defense. A lot of people have read it since then. Some have commented. In the most recent comment a woman asks a question that I think is well worth considering and answering...

These are great suggestions and are certainly not radical to me, but they are not entirely practical. A few years ago, when the economy was crashing, my partner and I were thinking along the same lines as you. We moved from the city to rural Maine with the idea that we would buy a small piece of land, build our own home out of reused materials, and develop our own self-sufficient farm. My partner is a designer/builder, I have gardening experience, and we are both DIY, hard-working people. Our dream seemed entirely possible. Except for one big problem... we only had $50k for the entire project. Buying the land, building the home, etc. After spending 6 months looking for property, we realized that with $50k, we could not afford to buy land, let alone afford to build the house. We did not want to get a mortgage because we did not want to acquire debt (like you talk about). We also did not want full-time jobs, as that would leave us with no time for us to build the home and tend the farm. Also, what kind of jobs are there in rural Maine?! We could have looked for cheaper land way up North in the sticks, but then we would be far removed from resources and community. The cheaper land up North is also not suitable for gardening. We have now given up on our dream because, to put it bluntly, we are too poor. The modern homesteading idea isn't like how it was for the back-to-earth hippies in the 70's. Modern day homesteading is only for the rich. My question to you, Herrick: How can I, a low-income person with very limited capital, put your agrarian self defense suggestions into action?

My Answer

Having plenty of money makes everything easier! Judging from many homesteading-focused blogs I’ve seen, there are lots of people who have sufficient financial resources to buy everything they need for an “instant” homestead. There is nothing wrong with that. I can think of no better way to spend a lot of money than to establish oneself and one’s family on the land.

However, that doesn’t mean, and I do not believe for a moment, that a lack of money is any reason not to pursue a more self-sufficient homesteading lifestyle. All a lack of money means is that it will be harder to do and take longer to realize.

I’m afraid that many who dream of leaving their modern lifestyle of relative ease, wage slavery, and dependency on the industrial providers have an unrealistic vision of homesteading.

“Poor” homesteader wannabes are going to need some cash flow, which is to say, a job. And that usually means a job off the land, in the industrial world, at least until you can get a home business built up. Even those back-to-the-earth hippies of the 1970’s needed money (known as “bread” in the nomenclature of the era).

Therefore modern-day homesteaders will probably have to be part-time homesteaders, “working for the man” to get money while, at the same time working on the land towards their freedom and independence.

There is no shame in being a wage slave for a season in order to help establish a self-reliant homestead. The shame comes in being a wage/debt slave, totally dependent on the system, taking the easy way, for the rest of your life.

It is entirely possible to build your own home, raise and preserve your own food, cut your own firewood, and so on, while working a regular job. It just means you’ll have to work harder and more deliberately to achieve your goals. A lot of people are doing this.

Modern homesteading with little money may require a substandard house—not the homestead house of one’s dreams. For example, it’s possible to buy a used manufactured trailer home for real cheap, but how many moderns are willing to pursue their homesteading dreams in such a place? I dare say that most moderns who consider homesteading would rather have a mortgaged house in suburbia than a paid-off trailer on land in the countryside. There are, of course, other inexpensive housing options, but they are also far too humble for most people.

The point is that, in order to homestead with little money, you need to do two important things:

1.) Make your homesteading dream fit your finances and budget.

2.) Look at homesteading as a journey, not a destination, and pursue it one step at a time. It may well take you a lifetime of focused effort to arrive at your homestead dream.

Along the way, you’ll want to pursue a way to make money off the land or, more likely, from a home business that may not be directly connected to the land. The reality is that almost nobody can produce sufficient income to support a family from a small, affordable section of land. But you can husband the land to provide so many of your subsistence needs that far less money will be required to live on than you otherwise would need.

As for getting started at homesteading with $50,000 (an amount that many people would consider "rich").... there is a nice 5-acre rural lot a short way from my house that just sold for $20,000. Another nice 5-acre lot not far away is for sale for $30,000. Anyone with $50,000 to spend can get a homesteadable section of good land around me debt free. The remaining $20,000 would be enough to build a garage/ barn that could also provide living quarters. You would be in a beautiful rural community with small cities (jobs) about 45 minutes away in two directions. This kind of land is readily available in other rural sections of New York state.

In conclusion, let me state that simple living, raising one’s own food, and greater self-family-and-community reliance is the essence of modern homesteading (and the agrarian life). I categorically reject the notion that it is impossible for all but the rich to achieve this lifestyle!

Occupy Wall Street?
(I've Got A Better Idea)

As an afterthought to what I wrote about professor Webb, and the ongoing decline of the corporate-industrial economic system, I'd like to say something about the Occupy Wall Street protests. I have not followed the movement closely, but it appears to be composed of people who have bought into the industrial-world "dream" and they are now upset because they've discovered it's a pipe dream. They are frustrated, angry modern Dependents. I agree that legitimate political process has been hijacked by corporate interests in cahoots with politicians (one of the O.W.L. grievances I've heard). But  the frustration, anger and hopelessness is a breeding ground for all sorts of  half-baked solutions. 

These protesters might better accept that corporate capitalism is dying (it doesn't need any help from them), that socialism is also a failed economic system, and that it's time to deliberately and hopefully move into the "default paradigm" of  agrarian life and localized economies.

Government and business are not going to meet our needs; they aren't going to ensure freedom from want. Thus, the most positive thing Occupy Wall Street protesters can do is take active steps to drop out of the "system" as it is and work to create a new system of scaled-down, decentralized, self-family-and-community reliance. 

Get out of the cities. Get back to the land (Occupy The Land!).  Husband the land. Make it fruitful. Live in such a way that you don't need much. Work to learn and apply the ancient and practical skills of agrarian life. Work for your freedom—freedom from the industrial system. Anything else is an exercise in futility. Don't follow the angry herd. Lead by doing something radical but positive.
A Family Bakery

Nick Stam and his family (12 kids!)

I was perusing some past episodes of Kevin Swanson’s Generations Radio program and happened upon an exceptionally good story about a family bakery in Canada. The program is an interview with Nick Stam (pictured above with his whole family). It’s a half-hour program and well worth listening to if you have an interest in establishing a family economy.

Also, In the introductory commentary, Kevin Swanson makes an incredibly insightful statement. After giving some sorry social statistics about our modern culture, he asks why are these things so? And then he answers his question, saying it is because...

“Fathers left the family farms. That’s the most significant social change in 6,000 years of world history. Fathers left the family farms.”

You can listen to the program at this link: Family Life at a Bakery in Canada—Creating a Great Family Economy.

And for more details about the Stam's family business, read this article: Nick The Dutch Baker


More Big Sweet Potatoes

John Christ out in California sent me the above picture of his daughter and some of his homegrown Beauregard sweet potatoes. He says the biggest potato weighs 6lbs 13oz and the potatoes shown in the picture weigh as much as his daughter.

For those who missed it, I posted an essay on growing sweet potatoes in the north at This Link. My biggest sweet potatoes were half the weight of John's, and I thought they were plenty big.

From what I gather, longer growing seasons translate to bigger sweet potatoes. According to the 2007 Guinness Book of World Record, the largest sweet potato on record was 81 pounds 9 ounces and it was grown in Spain.

Every Day Religion
Serving God in Your Daily Calling
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834—1892)

In my Agrarian Nation blog I post excerpts from 19th century New England farm almanacs. The almanacs I take excerpts from were secular publications, but they were decidedly Christian in their worldview. The following excerpt is a case in point. It appeared in the 1871 edition of Thomas's Farmer's Almanac and is attributed to "Spurgeon"  which would be Charles Spurgeon, a British preacher of that era.  I recently watched a good documentary about the life of Charles Spurgeon on You tube. Here is the link: C.H. Spurgeon: The People's Preacher

"We must come back to our point, which is, not to urge all of you to give yourselves up to mission work, but to serve God more and more in connection with your daily calling. I have heard that a woman who has a mission makes a poor wife and a bad mother; this is very possible, and at the same time very lamentable; but the mission I would urge is not of this sort. Dirty rooms, slatternly gowns, and children with unwashed faces are swift witnesses against the sincerity of those who keep others’ vineyards and neglect their own. I have no faith in that woman who talks of grace and glory abroad, and uses no soap and water at home. Let the buttons be on the shirts, let the children’s socks be mended, let the roast mutton be done to a turn, let the house be as neat as a new pin, and the home be as happy as home can be. Serve God by doing common actions in a heavenly spirit, and then, if your daily calling only leaves you cracks and crevices of time, fill those up with holy service."

Into The Fray...

Rose Belforti, a Dexter-cow dairy farmer, artisan cheesmaker, and part-time town clerk in the little town of Ledyard, New York has been harassed and her business boycotted because, as a Christian, she could not in good conscience issue same-sex marriage licenses.

fray: noun, heated dispute or contest.

I am far less politically active and politically interested than I once was. Back in 2008 I wrote an essay titled Politics & Meeting Vice President Cheney, in which I explained my disgust with the political system and my strongly-held intention to no longer be involved with party politics.

Nevertheless, I left the door open, stating that I might help a political candidate in the future. My exact words were... "I will go to battle, but I will choose my battles carefully, as the Lord leads me.”

Well, four years later (this last election), the Lord led me to get involved in a very contentious political race involving a Christian woman, same-sex marriage, and religious freedom. It was a local race that made the national news. 

I got involved by creating an “unofficial” web site for Rose Belforti (pictured above). It was unofficial because I did it on my own, without asking or telling Rose (she had no web site of her own). I also mailed a postcard to every voting household in the town, inviting them to view the web site.

Those of you who are interested can see the web site at, and you can learn more about the gay activist shenanigans directed at Rose Belforti.

I created the web site with the same absolutely free format that I have adapted to make all my web sites. I paid $20 for the domain name. The internet is an amazing tool.

You can read a pretty good article about Rose Belforti and the courageous stand she took at this link: “Gay Marriage” vs Religious Freedom in N.Y. State

Politically Incorrect 
Raw-milk from grass-fed Dexter cows is used to make this amazing probiotic kefir blue cheese.

One of the things that really motivated me to create was the boycott of Rose Belforti’s Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery cheese. I explain the boycott on This Page of the web site. According to a local newspaper article, Rose has seen a 50% decline in her cheese sales as a result of the boycott.

Some of you may remember that Marlene and I toured the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail back in May of 2010 (mentioned in This Blogazine Post) and that was our introduction to Rose Belforti’s remarkable kefir cheese. I wrote...

Our most enjoyable stop on the trail was Finger Lakes Dexter Cheese Creamery. I think they are currently milking six Dexter cows and they make a probiotic kefir blue cheese that is absolutely remarkable (it is pictured above). Their web site describes the cheese as “ooey-gooey rich and pungent, zingy, saliva popping Kefir blue!!!” That pretty much sums it up. The cheese is alive!

 Lovely Dexter Blue on a wheat cracker. This cheese is the "official favorite cheese" of The Deliberate Agrarian. If you like blue, try some, and you'll see why I'm so enthused about it!

Rose Belforti tells about her truly unique cheese and how it is made, in this video clip...

If you are a cheese lover, I hope you will support Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery by buying some cheese at This Link

The Gift Of Soap
 (Made by Marlene)
Marlene's most popular soap is Lavender Calendula. She describes it as  "a wonderfully mild soap that offers the pleasing scent of lavender and the healing properties of dried calendula petals."

Last year at this time we offered gift boxes of my wife's homemade soaps here. I want to mention that they are once again available and you can learn much more at this link: Morning Glory Soapworks Gift Boxes

The Wisdom of
John Ploughman

An original copy of John Ploughman's Talk

Charles Spurgeon wrote a book titled, John Ploughman's Talk. He describes it in the Preface as follows:
In John Ploughman's Talk, I have written for plowmen and common people. Hence refined taste and dainty words have been discarded for strong proverbial expressions and homely phrases. I have aimed my blows at the vices of the many, and tried to inculcate those moral virtues without which men are degraded. Much that needs to be said to the toiling masses would not well suit the pulpit and the Sabbath; these lowly pages may teach thrift and industry all the days of the week in the cottage and the workshop; and if some learn these lessons I shall not repent the adoption of a rustic style.  

Ploughman is a name I may justly claim. Every minister has put his hand to the plow; and it is his business to break up the fallow ground. That I have written in a semi-humorous vein needs no apology, since thereby sound moral teaching has gained a hearing from at least 300,000 persons. There is no particular virtue in being seriously unreadable.

I will end this month with two quotes from John Ploughman. I found the first in Thomas's Farmer's Almanac for 1888...
"He who respects his wife will find that she respects him. With what measure he metes, it shall be measured to him again, good measure, pressed down, and running over."
This next Ploughman quote can be found in the chapter on debt in John Ploughman's Talk:
Scripture says, "Owe no man anything," which does not mean pay your debts, but never have any to pay. My opinion is that those who willfully break this law ought to be turned out of the Christian church, neck and crop, as we say.

Carrot Tote

Yet another view of the Whizbang Garden Tote

Well, on second thought, I'll end this month with my garden tote. I've been showing you pictures of my prototype Whizbang Garden Tote for a couple of years now. I've really put it through the paces. In the above picture, it's holding 42 pounds of just-dug carrots, which I'm about to store away in garden clamps (you can see a hole in the background). 

In addition to holding and hauling garden goods, I recently discovered that our cat, Pepper, likes to curl up in the tote.

This winter I'll be working on  my next book project. It will be an idea book for gardeners. One of the many ideas in the book will be the Whizbang Garden Tote (UPDATE 4/14: Inexpensive plans for making the tote are now available at This Link). Hopefully I'll get the book done before spring. If not, it will be a two-year project.

Stay tuned....


Brenda@MyBackyardFarmyard said...

Land HO! You certainly do have my attention! Actually, I have been eagerly looking forward to this installment to find out where your land would be located. I would have guessed Maine, but the Lord had a better plan. My eyes were welling up as I read of the impending fulfillment of your dream for land.

I haven't read the rest of your post yet. I was too eager to let you know how happy I am for you and your wife. The Lord is blessing your faithfulness and obedience to His principles.

Your news has been a great and timely encouragement to me, as we are also searching for land. It reminds me to keep putting it into the Lord's hands and wait to see how He will do "exceeding abundantly ABOVE all that we ask or think."

Anonymous said...

EXACTLY what Brenda said! Now I'll go back to reading the rest!! Karen

Jeff Consiglio said...

Boy oh boy...a lot of meat in this month's issue as usual. I also know a farmer who is being harassed...simply because he sells his organic foods directly to the consumer, and the local grocery store-chain (Which seems to have a lot of political connections) is going after him. I'm not industrial per-se, (I can't imagine life without air-conditioning!) but I do agree with your views on the need for a much more decentralized economic system, as well as a radical re-definition of what "economic success" really means. I must also credit you with helping my wife and I get motivated enough to start a plan for our exodus from big city life, and move to a small town. We plan to buy a few acres and produce as much as our own food as possible. We hope to subdivide the lot in later years so that our kids can build debt free homes in the future, if they so desire. Viva la family compound!

Graham Donahue said...

Congratulations on the land! I pray that the Lord will continue to bless you as I know you will use it for His glory.

I wonder how many meals you could get out of an 82 pound sweet potato...


Anonymous said...

I was blessed to hear of your impending land ho hope it all goes well. I would like you to think carefully about some of the statements you make. the protesters are here in my country too and maybe we have a more thoughtful worldview our people are talking about oppressed peoples across the nations not just themselves (americans are renowned for thinking they are the only ones on the planet) but it is alot more complex than you make it. I suggest you read up on modern day slavery and you will start to understand how evil these multinational giants are and because we the church are not speaking up and refusing to profit from their actions and the oppression of people all over the world. The counter culture people are and they are winning the westerners who have been displaced by the financial crisis. It is horrific in asia and parts of southern america people can't just get out they need us to speak up and even shout, remember Jesus turned over the tables when people were misusing the temple how much more should we speak when people are misusing His temples to make them rich. Remember it has been the christian church that stopped so many evil things (like wife burning, child labour, canniblism) it is not a time to be silent remember Esther; ask the Lord what you can do in this area and please don't make thoughtless simplistic comments. All the best, love your blog grace.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Brenda,

I like Maine and that's a good guess on your part. Marlene isn't keen on living there. We seriously considered going to a more southern state, but not too southern. We actually like a winter season. Our boys seem connected to this place and I suppose we are too. God bless your vision to have more land.

Thanks for the comment.

I like your plan.

It's good to hear from you. Using and caring for the land in such a way as to glorify God is a difficult concept for many people to understand but therein is the challenge and the responsibility of Christians. I'll tell you how many meals are in an 81-pound sweet potato after I grow one. :-)

Herrick Kimball said...

I try to think very carefully about all the statements I make here.

You are correct that many Americans are entirely parochial in their thinking. Such thinking is rooted in pride and arrogance. But I would be remiss if I did not point out that we are also a country that has a history of doing great things throughout history to help less fortunate people in other nations.

The giant multinational corporations are wicked (especially the ag corporations) and I have made that clear in my writings many times. Here are just a few examples:

Big Ag...Big Profits...Big problems
Roots of the Current World Food Crisis
Big Ag & Usury Kills Indian Farmers
Industrial Providers: Understanding the Oligopoly

And while I'm at it... check out: The Dirty Little Secret of How Corporations Became "Persons"

As for modern-day slavery and the oppression of poor people in other nations, I alluded to it in this month's essay when I said that the economic boom we have experienced in the past 30 years was predicated in part on the "exploitation of natural resources (including human natural resources) in undeveloped countries."

I agree with you that the Church and Christians should acknowledge the wickedness of the mega-corporations in their continual quest for more money and more power. But it isn't just the corporations, it's the entire industrialized system we live in. And I, as a Christian, have been pointing this out here in the many years that I've been blogging.

If you feel led to be part of Occupy Wall Street because of your indignation with the injustice of corporate oppression and exploitation, and you feel this as a Christian, then that is what you should do, and I have no problem with that.

But, to the degree that I've looked at it, I do not see what you have described in the movement as a whole. I see a lot of confusion. I see people who are clearly not Christians doing things that do not bring glory to God in their actions.

I admire your conviction and appreciate your comments here. I suspect that you and I actually agree on a great many points. But it is not clear to me what the Occupy Wall Street movement wants to achieve. If it is, ultimately, the downfall of corporate-government fascism (as I'm led to believe), what alternative system do you have in mind?

I happen to think the industrial system is going to collapse of its own, and the most positive thing I can do is encourage others to see and prepare for life in the new world that we will face. My solution is positively agrarian and positively Christian.

Sincere best wishes.

timfromohio said...

Mr. Kimball,

Sincere congratulations on the impending land deal! I'm so happy to hear that your patience on the Lord has been well rewarded. I can't wait to hear more details about how you plan on making use of the acreage.


TimfromOhio said...

PS to anonymous - I didn't see what overly simplistic statements were made regarding the Occupy folks. I agree with everything you state regarding multi-national corporations, slavery, and the lack of Christians doing anything about problems associated with these evils. However, I'd point out that even when normalized to GDP or population, America leads the globe in charitable giving. Further, it arguably appears that were it not for the Federal Reserve printing and subsequently giving away lots of dollars (which must be reckoned for at some point), the entire worldwide financial engine might have collapsed - this buys us Americans a bit of deserved self-focus. Regarding the occupy protesters themselves, video I've seen in which they are asked why they are there and what their objectives are indicates that they themselves collectively don't know the answers to these questions. The only unifed answer they seem to be able to provide is one of general anger and frustration. Probing deeper, it seems that their anger is largly due to self-pity from the situations they are in which are largely ones of their own creation - at least in the case of many of protesters who are ticked that the $50k in student loans they have for a degree in French literature doesn't result in a vast array of employment opportunities - yet, apparently they are somehow able to support themselves for weeks on end protest evil corporations all while wearing the latest styles, playing with idoo-dads, and organizing the payment of meals with donations made to accounts in the same evil banks they are protesting? I really don't think their motives are quite as altruistic as you portray.

Anonymous said...

I'll read the rest when I have the time, but until then, I'm sending prayers heaven-ward for y'all on this land deal, brother.

Prayers and blessings,
David Smith

Huskerbabe said...

I've been reading your blog for some time and I'm thrilled to hear of the impending land purchas. I pray it goes through without a hitch. Amazing how God had something right around the corner. :)

IggyRules said...

You are a gifted writer and entrepreneur. Give prayerful thought to starting a magazine. You'd pull a lot of subscribers away from MEN, Back woods Home, etc...
Can your boys write?
Great news regarding your Land!
Kind Regards,

Ray in Tennessee said...

Herrick & Marlene,
Congratulations! I will pray that the land acqusition is completed soon. I am so happy for you. God provided us with 8 acres here in Middle Tennessee 2 years ago...what a blessing. Herrick, you are my favorite blogger and you have inspired me to start a blog...hopefully this winter.
Ray in Christiana, TN

Herrick Kimball said...

TimfromOhio, David, Huskerbabe, IggyRules, & Ray in Tennessee—

Thanks so much for your comments here.

My boys are neither voracious readers nor interested in writing, as I was at their age. Your comment about starting a magazine reminds me that, believe it or not, when I was a teenager I had a dream (another dream!) to publish a Mother Earth News kind of magazine and, in a very real sense, that is what I do with this blogazine. I wrote about it back in 2008 at this link:

A Young Man's Wild Dream Actually Happens


And for those who don't know, I also have a spin-off "magazine" at this link:

Agrarian nation


Let me know when you get your blog going, Ray.

Matt B said...

Yes Ray, let me know as well. I live in McMinnville, TN. About 40 miles east of you. I would enjoy reading a blog about homesteading/gardening/etc from a fellow TN blogger!


Anonymous said...

Thats great. The Lord is AMAZING ,not only did he make land available to you but right where you were at . Our God is an Awesome God. Congratulations, we are so exited for you and your wife

Anonymous said...

To the people who read my comment I clearly stated that I Did not live in usa nor hold american values ( ihad to laugh at the response so american you guys need to look at the way other cultures respond we don't tell everyone how great we are we just quietly get on with it). Our ocuppy sites have been closed down but they contained alot of very thoughtful people and we don't have the religious right like you do so dialogue between groups is easier. My main point was not to judge people stuck in the system (which I'm not) because it is normally alot more complicated than you seem to make out I work in pastoral ministry and there are no simple answers (remember jesus said we would always have the poor) the main issue for westerns in this area is the HUGE numbers of drug damaged-mentally ill that strain the resources of all groups trying to help them and I'm sure some of them were at the oocupy sites. I'm also asking you to have compassion for people who are simple and brought the dream, your education system taught them not to think and they faithfully did want was expected of them -for what, and people who can't think get angry when threatened- no suprises here. America is in trouble and 2 cron 7:14 is your ONLY answer And there is nothing we who watch (and pray) from a distance want to see more than your land (and people ) healed. God Bless
And I love this and Herricks other blog I read it because it inspires me and contains thoughtful imformation and links to essays and other things of intrest (we bought victoria farm from the bbc thanks to this blog!) I intend to try sweet potatoes (one of my fav foods) next growing season and as herrick would understand am thrilled to think that they might grow here wow one can only try and that is what herrick is a 'can do' person who helps others have a go as well so thanks but pray and fast for your nation

Anonymous said...

Herrick, I listen to the "occupy" group, protest the greed of the corporations and rich and it doesn't make sense to me. Most of the people I know that have money are like you, they worked hard and sacrificed for it. The protesters are coming across as greedy by demanding that they be given money without making the sacrifices. My Dad used to say,"if you do the hard things in life then life is easy, If you are only willing to do the easy things in life then life is hard." As our government has gone around trying to make life easy for everyone, it has actually made life hard for all of us.
I read an article on business once that said every business has a beginning and an end but that family farms were the best at being multigenerational. Best of luck on your purchase of more land. Steve Westhoff

Mark Browning said...

I'm so happy for you in your new elbow room. It looks pleasant and full of potential. May God bless you and your tribe richly as you steward these acres.

James Christiansen said...

Herrick- I hope it works out for you, it certainly seems provident, adjoining your current property, and within your price range. It is encouraging to hear of something good happening to someone who so rightly has worked towards it.

I recently received a cookbook you would like, and maybe you know it. It is the "Victory binding of the American Women's Cookbook" edited by Ruth Berolzheimer. It has an addition at the end, of wartime recipes to deal with rationing, including substitions for ingredients in short supply, etc.

In any case, I wish you well, hope you enjoy some time with Marlene and your boys during the holidays. Merry Christmas!

Ulf said...

Herrick, Congratulations on the land, I hope it comes through. I hope you can indeed convert that useless money in the bank into a real and tangible wealth- good land and the will to use it. I firmly believe that money sitting in the bank only serves to make bankers wealthy.

IggyRules said...

Yes, but blogs just don't do it for hands-on people. I need hard copy to haul around the house, leave half read articles on the toilet tank, and stack in large unkept piles for future reference. Blogs just can't compete and never will. I know you're familiar with the publishing industry. Why not give a magazine a shot? You've got great content for many issues and you'd have yet another source of income!
Either way, keep up your great work - Howard

Anonymous said...

Herrick was so glad to hear that you and Marlene finally got your property and all in God's timing,he his never late. Looking forward to watch you use the land and all to God's glory. Keep up the good work.

Pat Tolbert

Cody said...

As someone who was at the UC Berkeley beatings and general strike in Oakland when we shut down the port, I feel the need to provide an accurate (read: not what you're getting from the mass media) picture of what Occupy (it's not just Wall Street anymore) is all about.

The way I see Occupy (only from my own observations) is that the movement has two main goals.

First, I think that Occupy is actually proposing specific policy changes (campaign finance reform, a more progressive tax policy, accountability in the banking sector, etc.).

Second, the reason it's sometimes hard to hear those proposals is because of the movement's second "goal" - decentralized and inclusive organization. The general assemblies are really interesting power structures. They often reach conclusions I wouldn't (i.e. failure to decry violence at Occupy Oakland), but they are part of the movement nonetheless.

I think Occupy is, in part, a practical reaction to discouragement over a society that's been disengaged largely due to lack of access (at least not the level of access that the wealthy have). Their reaction has been to include anyone who wants to be included, but not to elevate anyone above the group. I think it's a noble aim and it might just be the right track.

Again, I may not agree with some specific conclusions the process has reached, but I sure do respect the process.

I have two specific contentions with your post.

First, you simply can't expect people to discover the wisdom of agrarianism and drop out of the corporate economy. The vast majority of urbanites don't have the awareness, expertise, or ability to do anything like that. That sort of shift can only come from governmental action (as much as you may hate it) or apocalypse (meaning millions if not billions of deaths).

Second, I don't know what you mean by corporate capitalism dying (and I certainly don't know where you're going with socialism being a failed economic system), but neither system is going to "fail" in a way that strikes most participants as "failure."

You and I may agree that capitalism is dying (I'm not going along on socialism), but you write as if its failure is self-evident. It's not.

Also, I dig your blog.

Anonymous said...

you are totally correct about needing to have one foot in the current economic world while placing the other on the homestead. transitions take TIME, and current structures require a gradual migration to the different way of living.

my wife has relatives in northern maine, so we go there occasionally. (yes the growing season is short!) historically it has been an agricultural area for growing potatoes, broccoli, and soybeans. the farmers there, tethered to the industrial farming model, are slowly disappearing. That model is too capital-intensive, their places are not large enough, and the climate too cool to compete with agribusiness. elsewhere.

What is interesting though is that Amish folk from elsewhere are starting to move in. they see that the land is good, they have the right scale of operation and approach. They are getting good results. maybe a lesson in that for us all.


Herrick Kimball said...


That's a good observation about Northern Maine farming and the Amish. They are less interested in, and not as dependent on, making a lot of money. The main objective is to preserve their way of life and pass it on to the next generation. That can be done on a smaller scale and I'm glad to see them doing it. BTW, My grandfather's farm in Northern Maine— Fort Fairfield— Maine was bought a few years ago by an Amish family.

Diane in TX said...


Just wanted you to know that I purchased the Kefir Cheese Sampler Pack from Mrs. Belefonti to support her for taking a stand!

I encourage others to do the same!