The Deliberate Agrarian Blogazine
January 2012

Dateline: 31 January 2012

An Old Family Picture: From left to right, my grandfather, Dr. Herrick C. Kimball (at 38 years of age), Roger T. Hall, and Carl Johnson. The picture was taken in 1940 at Camp Munsungan in Northern Maine. My grandfather was one of seven original owners of the camp. Those were the days, eh?

As explained last month, The Deliberate Agrarian is now in sabbatical mode as I focus my energies into producing The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners

Progress on the book has been slow and it has ground to a complete halt in the past week or so as I've diverted my attention to more pressing local concerns, as you can see in this new web site.

The land purchase I've written about here in the recent past is still moving ahead. We are still waiting for the land to be surveyed.

In other news, today, this last day of January, marks another trip around the sun for me. I'm 54 years old. I don't like birthdays like I used to. :-(


###

On a more upbeat note, I received a nice letter this past month that I think is well worth sharing with you here, and I do so with the author's permission.... 
Mr. Kimball,

My name is Noah Partridge, and I have been enjoying your blogozine for several years now. 

I am a young farmer leasing land in central Oregon, and I would like to thank you for the many contributions you have made to small-scale, productive agriculture, through your wonderful designs, products, and positive moral message.  I love a tool which lacks nothing, and has nothing in excess--and your tools certainly qualify.
 
Also, I have noticed that many people have commented on your blog about the frustration they experience, with wanting to homestead, but not having sufficient money to buy land, equipment, seeds, livestock, etc. 

I would like to offer up for consideration, an approach which I have found to be extremely simple and surprisingly effective.

Across this nation, there are countless millions of acres of arable land which are untended, but which could be yielding a wealth of foodstuffs. The owners of these properties, are generally pained to watch the heritage of their grandfathers (and the inheritance of their grandchildren), lay fallow and unmown, year after year. 

When I began looking for land to lease (I could not even conceive of buying land, with my tiny nest egg), I decided to focus on these properties, and bring the "house" to the field, so to speak. 

I realized the least expensive way to live comfortably (relatively speaking), was to either live in a yurt, a canvas wall tent, or used RV.  I had lived in a wall tent in Wisconsin for a season, while interning on a farm (Not winter, I might add), and found it very comfortable, even without plumbing, or electricity. My fiance refused to live in an R.V., so that left some shelter with canvas walls.

I knew where I wanted to live, so after selling all unnecessary valuables (what do you really need, in a yurt?), I posted an ad in the local Craigslist farm section, just to test the waters. My ad went like this:

Wanted: Pasture For Lease

Hello, I am a young farmer looking to lease 10-20 acres of pasture in this area.  I will raise a wide variety of vegetables and animals, without using any pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, etc. I would need to live on the property, and will build a small yurt, or a canvas wall tent. I am a honest, hard-working, and positive person.  I do not smoke, drink, or do drugs of any kind.  I am a competent carpenter, and handyman, and own a number of high quality tools. I will work hard to improve your property, and can provide as many references as you would like. Thank you very much for your time, and your consideration.
 
Within 2 weeks, I had well over 30 serious responses.  It was unreal.  People offered to build me studios, lease me their equipment, and more.  They were, I dare say, competing for my services, or more likely, competing to share in my dream.   

I ultimately found a wonderful, god-fearing couple, who were overwhelmed with their 40 acre property.  They offered the house, and half of the property to me, rent-free, in exchange for providing the labor (and skill) needed to remodel it. 

I also help them with any small jobs which they find difficult.  I bring them firewood, mow their pastures, and keep up their fencing.  They allow me the use of their tractor, and any other equipment that is just "laying around."

I am finally farming, and they are finally improving their property, both at almost no cost.

In conclusion, you do not need money to live simply, and richly.  When a man has the earth and skies before him at all times, he wants for almost nothing. 
 
Please keep up the good work Mr. Kimball, and I look forward to using your tools.

Noah Partridge


Noah,

Your letter is an inspiration to me, and I hope it will be to others. You are living proof of that old adage, "Where there's a will, there's a way."

P.S. When I was 19 years old, and working in Vermont, I lived for a summer in a tent. Actually I just slept there at night. As I tell the story in This Essay, "I don't think I've ever slept better in my life."


###


I dug the following Abe Lincoln quote this past month and posted it over at my Agrarian Nation blog. I present it here as Abe Lincoln's response to the Occupy Wall Street movement (he seems to be echoing my previously discussed "Occupy The Land" advice). 

"Populations must increase rapidly, more rapidly than in former times, and ere long the most valuable of arts will be the art of deriving a comfortable subsistence from the smallest area of soil. No community whose members possess this art can ever be the victim of oppression in any of its forms. Such community will be alike independent of crowned kings, money kings and land kings."
—Abraham Lincoln (1859)

###

Last month I posted here telling you all about the places in the world that I've sent a Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe parts kit. Then, two days later, I got an order for a wheel hoe kit from Vanuatu. 

Vanuatu? Where in the world is Vanuatu? Well, Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands 1,750 kilometers east of Australia. Here's a bird's-eye view...

Vanuatu

That looks like a great place for me to get away from it all, so I can focus on getting my book done!

And then I got a nice e-mail from the person in Vanuatu...

Hi Herrick,

I'm a reader of your Deliberate Agrarian and Agrarian Nation Blogs. I am managing a 20 hectare prawn farm in Port Vila which is inside a cattle ranch so we have land to spare. We have 2 hectares of pig pasture with about 40 pigs of different sizes and age, roughly an acre of vegetable garden, free ranged Sasso chickens and a duck yard with about 250 Muscovy ducks.

I'm actually from the Philippines and am working here on a contract. We're saving money to buy a farm back home where we can do prawn and fish farming mainly and raise vegetables and farm animals too.

Your blog and the links you share are a inspiration to me. We are Christians too and attend the Potter's House church in Vila.

I bought the wheel hoe kit to help you a little in your quest to own that 16 acre piece of land. God bless!
###


And while I'm posting letters, I got this one in the mail yesterday...
Herrick,

Just a quick, long overdue note of thanks for your effort! Your writings are extremely meaningful to me, as a 67 year old reborn Christian agrarian.

Several years ago, I picked up your book, "Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian," at a conference. Been hooked ever since!

Should you find yourself in eastern NYS with time on your hands, stop for a visit! All the best to you and yours!

###
Letters like I have posted here this month are proof positive that some of the nicest folks in the world read this blog. My life is enriched and blessed by your thoughtful comments. 

It makes turning 54 seem not so bad. :-)

Thank you!

###

That's it. I really want to get this new book I'm working on done before spring. Here's wishing you all a great February.

###


...LATE BREAKING NEWS...

I just got home from work today and Marlene informed me that our high school friend, Roger Phillips, sent me a congratulations because my Whizbang chicken plucker plan book made Jimmy Fallon's Books You Shouldn't Read List. I never heard of Jimmy Fallon but that's him in the picture above. Click on the picture to go to the short movie clip and see what Jimmy Fallon says (it's at 3:20 into the movie).

Thanks Jimmy!

11 comments:

Brenda@MyBackyardFarmyard said...

As usual, I skim quickly through your monthly installment and then come back again and again to savor it in depth.

I'm looking forward to reading your new site concerned with fracking. I don't understand it, yet, but my husband has been interested in following news reports about it. I plan to link to it in my latest post about what to look for when purchasing land.

My birthday was on Sunday, the 29th, and I turned 57, so I understand your mixed feelings about being another year older. In fact, when I was shopping this past week, another customer in the supermarket asked me if I was a senior! I must have looked 65 to her, ouch!

Just remember that this year, although you are older, will mark, Lord willing, your debut as a grandfather. How wonderful! It is so satisfying to be able to pass on what you know and love to a receptive young mind ~smile~. I know that you are looking forward to that.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Brenda,

Happy belated birthday. I appreciate your comment here.

Our town board is divided on the issue of hydrofracking. I am the only board member who has publicly stated my opposition to it. I have established the web site to make sure everyone in my town (with internet) can get my perspective and know what the rest of the town board is doing. I mailed a postcard invitation to every voting household.

IggyRules said...

Mr Kimball, Read your post on the other blog. Curious - can't you get the lease and determine what the gas company can and cannot do? I've had easements on city property that clearly spell out what they entail. I'll pray this works itself to a satisfactory end. Muns

kathi dunphy said...

Hi Herrick : Here in NB, Canada our provincial government is gung ho for fracking, we are part of the marcellus shale formation and gas companies are itching to get at the gas. This small province has 30 active anti fracking community groups. If you can possibly get Dr Anthony Ingraffia brought in to educate your community to the dangers of fracking you can find nobody more qualified. Please look him up on youtube! He is a university prof with 30 years of gas industry experience. Another good youtube video is " Fracking Hell-The Untold Story". Please readers, watch and pass these resources on.

Lynn Bartlett said...

Happy birthday, Herrick! I reached the 55 mark in October, and my only consolation is I now receive the Senior Citizen discount at one of our local stores ...

We have a lot going on in ND with all the oil drilling, and it's definitely not what people thought it would be like. Lots of people thought they would get rich quick with oil companies renting or purchasing their mineral rights. We own our land but don't own the mineral rights, so the owner of the rights can allow an oil company to come in and start drilling. We would receive some compensation for damage they could cause -- but prefer they would stay away. We just heard this week a retired farmer is getting 2 oil wells on his land, and that's only a couple of miles away. We'll see what happens on our land. When we moved here 7 years ago there was no talk of oil drilling in the Turtle Mountains but it's now becoming a reality. It's good that you can consider all the facts before purchasing the land.

Herrick Kimball said...

IggyRules—
Yes, I'll be getting the lease shortly and will be going to a landowner's lease workshop to see exactly what it means and how/if/when I might be able to get out of it.

kathi—
Thanks for the feedback. I am familiar with Professor Ingraffea, and I couldn't agree more that he is one of the absolute best people to give a clear view of the truth regarding hydrofracking. I've watched several hours of him speaking on YouTube. He happens to be a professor at Cornell, which is less than an hour from my home. Bottom line: the industry has a lousy track record for safety. He wouldn't want gas fracking in his community and I don't either. I'll check out "Fracking Hell."

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Lynn—
It's good to hear from you, and I'm glad to know there are benefits to turning 55. :-)

Two guys I know went out your way (from here in NY) to see about getting a job. Things are booming in North Dakota, or so they say. I'm thinking that the process of drilling for oil is different than hydrofracking for gas. I hope so, for your sake. I'm sure the money would be nice but not if they ruin your water with toxic chemicals, and that's the track record with hydrofracking. It's a wicked process.

My best wishes to the whole Bartlett family!

fact said...

Concerning hydrofracking, I am reminded of something a Polish priest friend used to say -
"hurrying is only needed for catching flies".

then there's:
"the devil wants you to hurry. That way you will act without all the facts."

Lynn Bartlett said...

Herrick,
I'm a bit off topic, but wanted to say that yes, fracking is used in the oil patch as well. That is why it was possible to extract the oil from the Bakken Formation. I had Jim explain it to me. Just recently there's been a big problem with the ceramic proppant used in the process -- apparently the sand came from China, and has a high amount of radioactivity. So, the local landfill is refusing to accept the bags filled with the stuff. The State is supposed to be investigating. We heard from a friend that by the end of 2012 there will be a minimum of 100 oil rigs pumping in the Turtle Mountains. Scary thought.

Anonymous said...

Dear Herrick:

Happy Birthday, more than a bit late. I’m a year or two ahead of you, and so far, it’s not too bad. I used to say that it beats the alternative, but in Christ the alternative is unbeatable. I was sorry to hear about your “introduction” to hydrofracking. I pray that God will direct you regarding the property purchase.

Perhaps you can use some good news. Much as I appreciate ideal of plowing, it seems possibly better to leave the soil unturned. Here’s a couple of sources along that line:

http://www.farming-gods-way.org/home.htm
http://backtoedenfilm.com/

Blessings,
Kent Potter

Muns said...

Hello All,
I've been doing some research into hydrofracking. I've found a lot of conflicting information. Here's an interesting film project that is being developed in support of the technology.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1009530098/fracknation
The project seems to focus more on the economic benefits. I'll look forward to reading what they say about any real and possible health related issues. Interestingly, this site is one of the few counterpoints to the plethora of anti-hydrofracking material on the internet.
We live in rural west central Wisconsin. There are large deposits of highly valued northern white sand used in hydrofracking within a 75 mile radius our homestead. Using misinformation lies, and scare tactics the liberal fascists have successfully stopped all new mining in most WI and MN counties with sand deposits. Silica sand mining (almost exclusively done on the surface) is now considered dangerous and highly undesirable in modern America… Ridiculous.
Obviously I am biased due to the Left’s involvement in this topic, but I am reserving any hard decision pending further investigation.
So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.
1 Thessalonians 5:6
Kind Regards,
Muns