The Deliberate Agrarian Blogazine
June 2012

Dateline: 30 June 2012

June was the month for strawberries, and some of my strawberries were jumbo size.

Seven Years.... 
.....and plodding
(a reflective ramble about blogging and agrarian visions)

On June 18, 2005 I established this blog. I subtitled it, One Man’s Ruminations About Faith, Family & Livin’ The Good Life. And I began with a short first post titled, The Ruminations Begin, which stated the premise and purpose of The Deliberate Agrarian. I made it clear in the first paragraph of that essay that I was a “Christian agrarian,” a term that many people had never heard before (and some were wary of it).

Now, seven years and hundreds of archived posts later, this blog’s title, subtitle, premise and purpose remain unchanged. I think that reveals something about my personality and approach to life. I’m not a mercurial person. I tend to consider and chart courses, then plod along. I define the verb "plod" to mean steady, patient, persistent, committed... deliberate. It is much the same approach I take to hoeing a long row of potatoes.

A lot of people have stopped by here in the past seven years. My current site meter has recorded visits over the past four years, and shows over two million page views. That is, of course, not many compared to some blogs. But for a simple, unknown guy with an offbeat way of thinking, the number astounds me.

Along the way, there have been people who encouraged me to spread my Deliberate Agrarian “message” by taking my show on the road, so to speak. But I have no desire to promote my Christian agrarian beliefs in any way beyond my writings. As a rule, I have decline all interview and speaking requests. I’m content to let my readership grow organically—by word of mouth, and people doing internet searches—not by any significant attempt on my part to promote the blog. I like it that way.

Though I have written extensively about my family, my life, and my beliefs, I am a private person. I discourage visitors, not so much because I’m antisocial, but because there are only so many hours in the day, and my days are full to overflowing as it is. Besides that, I know better than anyone that I’m not the kind of person who it is worth making a special trip to visit. Those who have stopped by to visit were thoroughly underwhelmed. Please read My Christian Agrarian Reality for further details.

In my first year of blogging here I was more “philosophical” than I am now. I was more intent on explaining and espousing my Christian agrarian beliefs with personal stories. Many of those first essays were compiled into the book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. Though it is far from a best selling book, I was pleased to recently discover a few more very nice reviews at (my sincere thanks to those of you who took the time to post a review). Oh, by the way, that book is required reading for anyone who reads this blog. :-)

As previously noted, I’m not a person who changes much, but in the course of writing this blog I’ve certainly seen some changes in my life.

From a personal perspective, my children, once fodder for much of my writing here, have grown up and are largely independent, pursuing their varied interests, none of which seem very agrarian. Which reminds me of that agrarian aphorism that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. As I’ve pondered that old saying vis-à-vis my children, it has occurred to me that, eventually, the horse will drink the water—when he realizes that the water is something he has known before, that is good, and that it will satisfy him.

Another personal change has been the arrival of a grandchild. “Family” in the subtitle of this blog has now taken on a whole new dimension. Anyone who has read this blog for long has surely read, What My Grandmother Did For Me, and you know that I am especially cognizant of the responsibility and opportunity that I have to make a difference in the lives of my grandchildren, beginning with this first one. Being a good grandfather is but another well-considered course that I have set for myself (part of my multigenerational vision).

Speaking of visions, early on in the life of this blog, I told you of my vision to acquire land beyond the little country lot we’ve lived on for more than 25 years. I wrote about it in May of 2006 in an essay titled, My Agrarian Family Vision. At that time, I did not have any money saved to buy land and I did not have an income that would allow me to ever buy land, but I stated that my vision was to own more land, and to own it debt free....

“I am painting the picture of my situation for you here because, in the event that the Lord does “bring us into the new land,” it is going to be a truly remarkable thing.”

Well, on the first of this month, six years after I wrote that, a truly remarkable thing happened. My my vision and dream of owning more land, debt free, became a reality. That which seemed nigh unto impossible six years ago has come to pass. God provided the right piece of land for us, and he provided the money to buy it.

The money didn’t come out of the blue, in a lump sum. It came little-by-slow, then little-by-faster-and-faster. Most of it came in the last three years, and it came largely as a result of this blog.

Once I became comfortable with the mechanics of online blogging, I used what I learned to create no-cost web sites using the Blogger format. I used the web sites to market down-to-earth project  plan books that I self-published (like how to build a chicken plucker). Then I started selling various parts that are needed to build some of the projects. I mentioned my books and other products here and many of you who read this blog purchased them. Internet search engines have directed people to this blog and my other blogs. My little home business, now called Planet Whizbang, prospered. We were able to save money like never before.

Although I have invested a lot of initiative and time and work into the business (and continue to do so), the fact is that I’ve worked hard and put a lot of effort and initiative into other business ideas in my life prior to this, and none of those efforts bore much fruit. And my self-publishing book business was started almost 12 years ago, but has only done well in the past few years.

As I’ve noted in previous blog posts, our new land consists of 16 acres, right next to the 1.5 acres where we now live. Approximately two thirds of the land consists of field and the rest is hardwood forest with a beautiful shale-bottom stream running through it. It’s not a farm in the traditional sense, but it is a place where my family can be more self-reliant, and it can generate income if properly husbanded. It is a place where my grandchildren can explore, and discover, and in so doing, create great memories. There is also a doublewide house on the property and we are using it for Planet Whizbang business purposes.

From our perspective, this acquisition of land, debt free (the price being pretty much equal to our savings), is, as they say, "a God thing,” and that is exactly how I want to acknowledge it here. We are ever so thankful to God who has, in His time, provided for the vision that I believe He gave me so many years ago.

And I thank all of you out there reading this who have been, in a very real sense, part of the fulfillment of this vision, by purchasing my books and project parts, or making donations to my Agrarian Nation web site.

Before I leave this ramble, I want to say that there is more to my Agrarian Vision beyond the acquisition of land. Another part is the dream to come home from my wage-slave factory job and work full-time with my hands at a home-based “cottage industry,” and on the land. Lord willing, this will happen seven months from now. I’ll not leave the factory job because I have saved a lot of money to retire on (not hardly), but because, by the grace of God, I think I have a home business that should pay the bills.

The Deliberate Agrarian is my ongoing testimony about those things that matter most to me in life— my Christian faith, my family, and the integration of those things into a more self-reliant agrarian lifestyle (a.k.a., “Livin’ The Good Life”). It’s an ongoing process. It is a lifelong endeavor, and satisfaction comes, not in achieving some major goal, but in achieving many little goals in the journey. I will keep plodding along, and I’m pleased to have you join me in these monthly “blogazines.”

Why Food?

I have written an essay titled,
I invite you to read it.

Planet Whizbang 
Solar Pyramids

This Planet Whizbang Solar Pyramid contains a single tomato plant. It was planted at the same time as the tomatoes in the background, but it is twice their size. The tomato is also as healthy as a tomato plant could ever be. This single plant will be espalier-trained between two T-posts. Have you ever heard of espaliered tomatoes? I'll bet you haven't. I may have "invented" the concept. But maybe we've never heard of it because it just isn't possible. Well, I think it is and I'll let you know how it turns out.

Last year in one of my blogazine editions here I showed you a picture of some prototype solar pyramids I had in my garden. They were primitive but absolutely amazing devices for getting plants off to a great start in the garden. This year I refined my solar pyramids so they are easier to put up.

My solar pyramid idea is derived directly from Leandre Poisson’s Solar Cones® that are discussed in his book, Solar Gardening: Growing Vegetables Year-Round the American Intensive Way . Mr. Poisson’s cones are made out of Sunlite® plastic, which is a solid, sheet material that can be wrapped and joined together in a self-supporting cone shape. The only problem with Solar Cones® is that the cost for materials to make just one cone adds up to around $60.

Using Mr. Poisson’s solar cone pattern, I cut out a section of much-less-expensive greenhouse plastic and used a 4-pole frame to support it. Instead of a solar cone, I ended up with a solar pyramid. It serves the same amazing purpose.

Details of my system for making solar pyramids will be in my upcoming book, The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners, which I started work on last winter, and hope to finish this next winter. Here are pictures of how I used Solar Pyramids to get my zucchini plants off to a great start (click on any pictures to see an enlarged view)...

The picture above shows two solar pyramids over zucchini plants (courgettes if you're in Europe). I planted the seeds, erected the pyramids over them, and did nothing else. I didn't even water inside them. The plants grew healthy and lush.

This picture shows the plastic removed. Although the garden soil around the pyramids was dry and hard-packed, the soil inside the cone was still soft and moist just under the surface. All those tender weeds that grew up around the zucchini were easy to pull.

After cultivating the weeded soil around the zucchini plant, I spread a bucket of compost (full of wriggling little earthworms) around it, watered well, and mulched with straw. Lots of beneficial biological activity will happen under the straw mulch. This gets the plants off to a great start in life. By the way, I did the same thing with the tomato plant pictured at the beginning of this article—the one I'm going to espalier.

In Praise 
Of Garden Clamps

This fine specimen of a cabbage (picture taken on 6/30/12) was harvested from my garden nine months previously and stored underground in a simple clamp until earlier this month.

I’ve mentioned my garden clamps here before. Clamps are earthen mounds in the garden where northern agrarians can store their root crops over the winter months. Clamps are cheap and easy to make and they require no fossil fuel energy input. They keep some vegetables better than a refrigerator. I am a firm believer in the ability of garden clamps to keep food for long periods of time.

In early June I harvested a clamp of carrots, which were in excellent condition and made great carrot juice.  I also harvested a whole clamp of cabbages (eight of them). It was my first time clamping cabbages and I wasn’t sure how it would work. Well, it worked very well. A few outside leaves suffered damage, but the heads were firm and fresh. The picture above is proof positive that this can be done. I’m more enthused about clamping that ever.

Garden clamps are typically made with straw around the vegetables, and then a cover layer of soil. I’ve bought straw and used it to make clamps in the past but I’ve also used leaves, which are very plentiful around here in the fall, and leaves cost me nothing (straw bales are getting too expensive!). The only problem with leaves is that they don’t pack down like straw. But I’ve learned to make them work.

I’ll be writing about my simple, step-by-step garden clamp system in my upcoming book, The Planet Whizbang Garden Idea Book For Gardeners

Kitchen Gadgets
A Shaker Food Chopper
Last month I showed you pictures from my visit to Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts. I neglected to include the picture above. The Shakers grew, processed and preserved a lot of food. That chopper must have gotten a lot of use. I love practical old kitchen tools like that.

And speaking of kitchen tools, my Uncle Clyde Kennedy sent me a little kitchen invention he made. Here it is....


He made that thing to solve a problem he had in the kitchen. Can anyone guess what Uncle Clyde's invention is used for?

Send Me Books

I’ve stated here before that if anyone has a book that they think I might like, send it along. I’ve gotten books on theology (The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment) and science fiction (Farmer in the Sky). 

This last month, Julie-Ann over at Hamptonvictorygarden's Blog sent me a copy of two books her brother, Jim Baumer, wrote. The first, When Towns Had Teams, is about when town-team baseball was a big deal in Maine. Those were the days.

Moxie: Maine in a Bottle is Jim Baumer’s newest book. Moxie is a soft drink that was invented as a tonic called “Moxie Nerve Food” by Dr. Augustin Thompson, of Union Maine back in 1876 (and carbonated in 1884). Thompson’s concoction was made with gentian root, and claimed to cure a variety of ailments. Another claim was that Moxie drinkers would be “able to stand twice the usual amount of labor with less fatigue.” I like the sounds of that.

I remember my mother, a Maine native, telling me about Moxie. She said it was bitter, and a lot of people didn’t like it. Some people describe the smell as “medicinal.” I understand that, upon first tasting Moxie, the natural reaction is to spit it out. The same goes for your second taste. But on the third taste, you start to like it.

You can’t get Moxie just anywhere. But one sure place to find it is at the annual Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls, Maine (July 13—15). Lisbon Falls sounds like a great place. I don't know for sure, but I'll bet Jim Baumer will be signing copies of his Moxie book at Frank Anicetti's Kennebec Fruit Store in Lisbon Falls sometime during the festival. Frank's place is the epicenter of Moxie in Maine.

Although I haven’t drank a soda in years, I intend to make an exception for Moxie. I just have to find me some.

I’m wondering how many people reading this have tried Moxie. And, if so, were you able to stand twice the usual amount of labor with less fatigue?

Thanks Julie-Ann.

Send all books to:

Herrick Kimball
PO Box 1117
Moravia, NY 13118

Champion of England 
Pea Update

Aren't Peas beautiful!.... My "Champion of England" pea vines are now 6-feet high. They have slowed in their growth because we are having a bit of a dry spell. But the vines are producing lots of good peas. My Planet Whizbang T-Post trellis (it'll be in the book) makes harvesting easy, and when harvesting is easy, it's more likely that the peas will get picked and eaten. I also planted Sugar Snap peas this year for the first time. The pods fill out and you eat the whole pod with the peas in it. Sugar snap peas are very, very good!

Why Food?
(A Christian-Agrarian Perspective)

Dateline: 30 June 2012

The book of Genesis tells us that God created our world and all that is in it by the power of His word. Which is to say, He spoke it into existence. Frankly, I do not fully comprehend the totality of God’s omnipotence; His utter sovereignty; the intricate orchestrations of His divine providence. My shortcomings in this regard are, I believe, due to the intentional limitations God put on my human brain (yours too).

Nevertheless, by faith, I am open to enormous possibilities. For example, I think that God, if He so chose, could have created mankind to subsist without the need for food. He could have altered our physiology so that we lived and grew only by drinking water and getting a periodic dose of sunshine. Imagine that.

Or perhaps God could have created us so that, instead of a vast variety of foods to eat, there was only one food source, like, for instance, giant puffball mushrooms (which would grow everywhere). There's something else to ponder.

That is a giant puffball mushroom

My point is that the prerogative of God’s creative omnipotence is to do as He pleases. He could have chosen to sustain us with little, but He didn’t do that. Instead, God blessed mankind with a vast variety of foods. Beyond that, He gave the foods different flavors, and He gave us the ability to savor those many flavors. Then there is the whole aspect of appearance—each and every food that God created for us is beautiful and amazing in its own way (puffballs included).

The abundance, the variety, the flavors, the beauty—it is all, without a doubt, a manifestation of God’s greatness. But it is more than that. It is clear and compelling evidence of His love. He could have given little, but He gave much.

Thus it is that God created food for our subsistence, and for our enjoyment, out of love, but is there another reason for food? Yes there is. This other reason is tucked into 1 Timothy 4:3 where it says (King James Version):

"Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

Disregard the “Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from” part of the verse and you have a statement about “meats.” But the word “meats” in that verse does not mean just animal flesh. The original translation means food in general, or “victuals,” which is defined as food fit for human consumption. So that part of the verse could read:

“, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

I don't think we lose any meaning if we rephrase that to say that "God created food to be received with thanksgiving." 

Common interpretations of that part of the verse would point out that it means we need to thank God for our food. That is obviously correct, but I think there is more in that verse than just that. 

The verse can also be interpreted as saying that the reason God created food is so that it would be received with thanksgiving (by those who believe and know the truth). That understanding gives us a slightly different perspective on food and why we have food.

Understanding that the reason God created food in the first place was for us to remember and acknowledge and thank Him for it puts renewed importance on remembering and acknowledging and thanking Him for the food He has given us. This is no small matter.

Did it ever occur to you that God could also have created us so that we needed to eat only once a day? Or maybe even once a month? But, instead, He made us so that we need nourishment daily and, in fact, several times a day. 

If we figure that we consume food three times a day, that translates into acknowledging and thanking God at least three times a day. There is a direct relationship between food and our call to acknowledge the sustaining blessings of God in our life—three times a day. This is all by design!

God created food, our need for food, and our continual need for food so that we would be continually honoring and glorifying Him by acknowledging His goodness, and His greatness and his blessings in our lives.

I think that giving glory to God in the form of thanksgiving for the food we eat need not be a long and wordy prayer. A simple, “Thank you, Lord” is oftentimes entirely sufficient. It is less the words and more the acknowledgment of God’s provision and sovereignty in our lives. If you are among those who “believe and know the truth,” what you have just read has resonated with you, and perhaps you see more clearly that this really is no small matter.

A Further Thought ...

With this matter of food and thanksgiving in mind, let’s now consider God’s created order and purpose for mankind, as opposed to the Industrial order we live in, and the industrial order’s purpose for mankind....

Genesis tells us that God had created all the plants we find within nature and "...there was not a man to till the ground" (Genesis 2:5). So God created man. And then, "the Lord God planted a garden" (Genisis 2:8). He put the man in the garden. A garden is a place where food is grown. God created the whole concept of gardening, of growing food, of man (and woman, the man's helper) being involved in tilling the soil to feed themselves. 

This responsibility, this universal, divine calling of mankind to work in the earth is often referred to as the “agrarian mandate.” As far as I've been able to determine, God's agrarian mandate for mankind has never been revoked. It has been avoided and neglected by many people, but never revoked by God.

So it was that, originally, all mankind was directly involved in the work of growing food. Surely there were other things that people worked at too. They built houses and worked with their hands, crafting different things that they needed. But all the people in early agrarian cultures were well acquainted with, and never far removed from, the production of food.

Bearing that in mind, please note that nowhere (that I’m aware of) did God direct mankind to congregate into cities. In fact, He specifically directs mankind not to congregate in cities. It was men who rebelled against God’s agrarian mandate who built the first cities, with Babylon being the most notable (with its infamous tower). 

Cities are typically places where people do not grow their own food. Today, as in Biblical times, cities are places that serve as centers of power and commerce. They are far removed from the agrarian culture that supports them. Manmade cities represent the opposite of God’s ideal for a decentralized agrarian civilization. Small towns and villages, yes. Cities, no.

For most of the history of mankind, spanning thousands of years, the vast majority of people have lived close to the agrarian mandate. In those instances when centralized civilizations have developed, they have eventually collapsed. Is there a connection between the collapse of civilizations and the fact that those civilizations distanced themselves from the agrarian mandate? I happen to think so. Is it the only reason? No. But it may well be a fundamental reason.

In the modern world we live in, our concept of history is pretty much limited to the past 200 to 250 years, which takes us back to the rise of Industrialism. Modern culture celebrates the rise of industrialsim, and the hyper-industrialism we have today represents the ultimate in centralized, city-based civilizations.  Never before in history have so many people been so far removed from the agrarian mandate.

Today, at what I tend to think is the apogee, or near-apogee, of the industrial age there are many millions of people who do not grow any of their own food. What’s more, a surprising number of the industrial-world masses don’t  fully understand where food comes from, or how it is produced. To these people, food is made in factories, it comes from supermarkets, it is easily obtained, and there is plenty of it.

We live in a day and age when the industrial system has directed people off the land, into cities and suburbs, and assumed the role of Provider-God in our modern society. In so doing, the industrial system has usurped God’s glory. Praise be to the industrial system, is the modern attitude.
The anti-agrarian industrial system we now live in is a more perfect Babylon. Modern Industrial Babylon  is set up so that all its subjects will serve Modern Babylon, love Modern Babylon, and trust Modern Babylon. In return, Modern Babylon will give comfort, ease, security and a full belly.

There are now millions of people in this world who don’t even have to work to make money to buy food, let alone work to grow what they eat. Food is given to them by way of various government programs. And, amazingly, for the first time in the history of the world we have poor people who are fat.

We all know that if we work for something, we appreciate it more. That is the case with growing food. People who grow their own food (or some of it) work, and wait, and work some  more, and when that food is ready to eat, they appreciate it much more than if they bought it from a supermarket. When you grow your own food, you are much more cognizant of what a blessing it is. And you are more thankful for it.

I dare say that a civilization so far removed from the realities of food production, with so much food to choose from, living totally dependent on government and/or the Industrial Providers for its sustenance, can not be truly thankful to God for the food that sustains it.

There is trouble in store when a civilization, a nation, a community, families and people divorce themselves from God’s mandate to care for the garden; to be involved in the productive work of growing food.

The way I see it, God is glorified when His people reconnect with the heavenly-ordained work of growing food; when they turn from total dependency on the industrial order to dependency on Him. Whether it’s a single tomato plant on the patio (a place to start), or a larger garden, or a field, we who follow Jesus Christ should be people of the soil, co-creators with God through the wonders of His created order, and ever thankful to Him for the food we eat.