The Deliberate Agrarian Blogazine
August 2012

Dateline: 31 August 2012

How to Harvest Lettuce Seeds: Step 1) Let your lettuce plants grow tall and go to seed (visible in background). Step 2) Pinch a downy tuft of dried blossom. Step 3: Pull. Then save the seeds. Plant next spring, and repeat the process next August.

Bringing A New Idea 
Back To Life
What a fine looking wagon, eh?

Last month I wrote about Leland, my new/old tractor, and I mentioned that I was going to get an old manure spreader and maybe make it into a wagon for Leyland. Well, that’s the spreader in the picture above.

My son pulled it out of the weeds at my parent’s place, which I bought a couple years ago. He hooked his pickup to it with a nylon strap and towed it three miles to our place. The tires were no good. By the time he parked it in our driveway one tire was shredded. But the rims appeared to be undamaged.

The spreader was literally covered with weeds, most of which were bindweed, the most hellish weed I’ve ever had the displeasure to know. Look close and you’ll see some bindweed still clinging to the rusty frame.

When I was a teenager back in the mid 1970s someone gave the spreader to my stepfather. We took most of the spreading mechanism off back then and used the wagon to bring firewood in from the woods. An old Farmall F-20 tractor came with the house when my parents bought it in 1972. It started by turning a crank handle in the front. When Marlene and I were dating in our Senior year of high school, she and I cut and hauled firewood with that wagon. Back then it had a wood floor and sides. It was a good wagon. But it has sat in the weeds, neglected and pretty much forgotten for all these years.

So I had myself a free wagon, and a project.

This picture gives you a better idea of what my New Idea spreader once looked like.

Most people would see my rusted hunk of wagon from the weeds as valuable only for its scrap steel. It’s hard to imagine it was once a fine-looking New Idea 12A manure spreader, made in Coldwater, Ohio. That’s what it says on a little brass plate riveted to the frame. Serial number B39800. Can anyone tell me how old it might be? I figure it must be around 60 years since it rolled off the assembly line in Coldwater.

As rusty and decrepit as that old spreader looks, it is still solid.  That is a testament to the quality of steel, the design, and the workmanship that went into it. My concern was the wheel bearings. If they were still good, or repairable, and I could find new tires, I was confident that the old 12A could be revived and put to good use again.

This picture shows the tire axle on the left, a grease gun is on a grease zerk in the foreground, the grease is going down the tube to an inner bearing, and there is a bit of grease oozing out onto the rusty inner axle shaft. It's all good. (Click picture to see enlarged view)

I jacked the back of 12A up on blocks, knocked a pin out of the axle, and removed one wheel rim. It slid off easily and I was amazed to see a shiny axle under a very thin coating of grease.

There are no ball bearings or roller bearings that keep the tire spinning—just a steel axle inside a steel busing on the tire rim, and it is lubricated by a grease zerk in the rim. I could see no indication of any wear or corrosion in the axle or bushing. The axle and bushing on the other tire were the same. 

There are inner bearings on the axle, similar to the bearings that I had exposed. A grease fitting with a long copper tube went from a spot on the frame, down under where the floor had once been, to the bearing area. Fifteen pumps of a grease gun later and I had fresh lubricant oozing out onto the axle. Those bearings were thirsty but the lubrication system was still working and when I gave the jacked-up axle a spin, it turned smoothly. I concluded that the original bearings would easily last another 60 years if given a periodic shot of grease.

I had to burn and chip the old rubber tire bead away to get to the wire cords, then cut them to free what remained of the tires on the rims.

My next concern was removing the old tires (what was left of them) from the rusted rims. As you can see in the picture above I had to get to the multi-stranded steel cable inside the rubber tire bead and cut the wires. Once that was done, the tire beads came right off. 

I took the rims to a garage up the road—a place where they are familiar with farm equipment. They looked up the tire size (7.50 x 24) in their catalog and informed me that the tires are unavailable—they’re obsolete. I asked it they would mount the tires if I found some somewhere else and they said they would. Then I asked John, the mechanic, who is also a neighbor, if he would check the rims to make sure they were still in good enough condition to be used.

The tire rims were rusty and pitted.

John looked them over pretty good and picked at some bubbled up rust with his pocket knife before saying that they would work just fine. But he told me I would have to remove the rust out of the inside, where the tire tubes would be.

I asked if he knew of someone who could sandblast them for me. He said it would take hours to sandblast the rust away. Then he told me about The Wheelabrator

This is a Wheelabrator

John told me about a Wheelabrator in Moravia, the small town we live near. It’s in a metal fabrication shop on a sidestreet. He said the Wheelabrator uses tiny stainless steel balls to blast away rust, and that my rims would come out shiny after just a few minutes in the device.

The next day I went to the shop with the Wheelabrator and asked them about cleaning up my rims. The man in charge instructed me to drive around to a door in the back and wait while they put the rims in the Wheelabrator.

They put both rims on the turntable, closed the door and fired it up. Five minutes later, they opened the door, flipped the rims over and set the machine for five more minutes. When they opened the door, the rims were clean. No rust. Just shiny steel. I paid the man in charge thirty bucks and was off to the lumberyard for a couple cans of primer.

That's Not Paint! The rims in this picture look like they've been painted silver but they don't have a speck of paint on them. They have been blasted down to bare metal. That's what a Wheelabrator will do for you.

If you have something that’s rusty, and you want it cleaned down to bare metal, fast and easy, find yourself a Wheelabrator. 

Next, I went to the internet looking for tires. I found them at the M. E. Miller web site and ordered two, with tubes. Total cost (with shipping): $600.05   Ouch!

An angle grinder with a cutoff blade easily and quickly cut away all the metal I wanted to remove.

While I waited for the tires to arrive there were lots of bolts and other unnecessary metal pieces that needed to be removed from the wagon frame. I started cutting with a bimetal blade in a Sawzall. My son, James, told me I needed to use a cutoff blade in an angle grinder, and offered me his. Six cutoff blades later I had every part I didn’t want cut off, and I knew for sure that the rusty old steel was still plenty strong enough for the job.

12A's New Tires!

I painted the rims blue and got the tires mounted, then I greased everything up real well and put the tires in place.

12A Gets a new floor.

For the floor, I used 5/4” pressure treated decking boards, and bolted them to the bottom frame.

Something twisted the end of 12A's hitch

The old hitch was mangled, and the center of the hitch was bent 1.5” off center. A mighty powerful force bent that heavy steel and I sure wasn’t going to bend it back. So I cut off the mangled end and drilled a new off-center hitch pin hole. 


The last bit of reconstruction work to be done is to bolt the wood sides in place. I still have that to do. So I can’t show you a finished wagon yet. But it should be all together soon, and by the time of next month’s blogazine report 12A should be at work hauling firewood. I'll have a finished picture next month.

When all is said and done, my "new" wagon will  have cost me around $1,000. That's a whole lot more than I expected. But it was a fun project and this is a tool that should serve us very well for a lot of years.

Preservation & Agrarianism
An old log barn being restored (photo link)

Agrarians are, at heart, preservationists. We want to preserve things that are solid and dependable and worth preserving, whether they be old tools, old ways of life, or old virtues, like self reliance and personal responsibility. 

This inclination to preserve things that have stood the test of time is contrary to the industrial impulse. Industrialism encourages people to continually toss the old aside and to pursue the new. The industrial mindset believes that all new things are better and preferable to the old. New products. New ideas. New ways of life. 

It isn’t that agrarians are stuck in the past and don’t like anything new. The agrarian mind is just cautious, and careful about the claims and promises of our industrialized culture. Take, for example, the matter of wheat....

Rethinking Wheat
Dr. William Davis says modern wheat is not good for you.
Something significant has to happen for me, an avowed agrarian (and the inventor of granola bars), to start thinking that wheat is bad. But something significant has happened. It started to happen decades ago when BigAg plant breeders took up the task of “improving” traditional wheat varieties.

To “improve” wheat, the industrial manipulators  focused on increasing yield through hybridization. This crossbreeding resulted in much shorter (dwarf) wheat stalks with fuller heads of grain. And the new wheat grew faster too. As a result, the per-acre wheat yield of modern wheat far exceeds the yield of old wheat varieties. 

That wheat has been hybridized is not, in itself, a reason to think that wheat is bad. The bad part comes by way of a little-known situation that resulted when wheat was hybridized. Unlike with most other plants, when wheat is hybridized it is genetically altered by the addition of chromosomes. New genes that were never present in either parent were created. As a result, modern wheat varieties are profoundly different from the wheat that mankind ate for centuries prior to our industrial age. For example, the wheat mentioned in the Bible is most likely emmer wheat, which has 28 chromosomes, while modern wheat varieties have 42 chromosomes.

As is so often the case, the industrial manipulators focused on improving yield and profit (improving their bottom line) while totally neglecting to research and understand the human health ramifications of what they were doing. And now there is evidence to indicate that modern wheat is a likely suspect in numerous health problems.

My wife, Marlene (who buys books about healthy diet like I buy gardening books), told me about all this. She's been reading about industrialized wheat and its impact on human health from the book, Wheat Belly, by Dr. William Davis. Doctor Davis is a cardiologist, but his book goes way beyond just the negative impact of modern wheat on cardiac health.

According to Dr. Davis, modern wheat, with its new genetic code, and the newly-created constituents that came with cross breeding, is largely responsible for widespread obesity (wheat bellies), but it is also doing damage to people’s bodies in other serious ways. Dr. Davis provides convincing evidence to suggest that, in addition to heart disease, modern wheat is a player in such diseases as diabetes, bowel cancer, asthma, schizophrenia, autism, hypothyroidism, and dementia, not to mention Chron’s disease. 

When wheat is removed from people’s diets, they lose weight and their health improves. Sometimes the improvement is dramatic.

At 54 years of age I’ve never been a hospital patient and have no known health problems. I am, however, overweight. I’m 5’9” tall and I weigh 185 pounds. I weighted 145 pounds when I got married at 22 years old. I’m sure I’d feel better if I lost 20 pounds.

Doctor Davis’s book has me rethinking wheat in my diet. After discovering that the industrial manipulators have changed the wheat, and in changing it they have turned it into a food that may be harmful, I’ve decided to stop eating wheat.... for thirty days.

Thus far, it has been ten days of no wheat for me. No bread. No crackers. No pasta. I won’t say it’s easy to cut out wheat, but it hasn’t been all that hard. I have a technique for cold-turkey-quitting wheat that I used to quit drinking soda. This technique evolved from a comment my friend, John Flemming, made at breakfast 35+ years ago.......

What John Flemming Said

Memory is a funny thing. None of us has total memory recall. For example, do you remember any of the obscure conversations you had during breakfast 35 years ago? Of course you don’t. But you might recall one bit of conversation if, for some odd reason, it stuck in your brain. That’s the case with me and the following incident which has replayed itself in my mind numerous times in the decades since it happened.

It was 1977. I was a student at The Grassroots Project in Vermont. Me and some of my friends were sitting around a circular table in the dining room for breakfast.

I recall that Randall Blank was there. Randall had been a vegetarian from birth. He had never eaten meat in his life. And cow milk was off limits too. Randall poured orange juice on his bowl of Cheerios.

John Flemming was sitting across the table from me. John was a skinny kid with glasses and long blonde hair (we all had long, or longish, hair back then). I remember that John was wearing a blue and black buffalo-plaid shirt. He had a canning jar of goat milk that he poured on his cereal. The goat was a school project and John milked it every day.

I don’t remember who the other guys at the table were. But whoever was sitting next to John had a bowl of cereal too, and he was adding one spoonful of sugar after another to it. John was watching. As the number of spoons of sugar going into the bowl increased, the look of utter disgust on John’s face increased.

The sugar shoveler realized that we were watching him. I think everyone at the table was watching. He stopped, and may have said something like, “What?” To which John Flemming exclaimed: “That’s poison, you know!”

That’s it. That’s the memory. That’s all. But the picture of that little event so long ago lodged itself into my craw. And I think it taught me something. If you are truly persuaded that something is poison, you will not eat it. John Flemming was convinced that refined white sugar was poisonous, and he was careful not to eat it, at least not to excess. To John Flemming, I suppose that white sugar was akin to rat poison. And who in their right mind would eat rat poison?

I firmly made that association in my mind with soda several years ago. I consider all sugared soda as akin to poison . I won’t drink soda unless I’m powerfully thirsty and there is nothing else to drink (the only exception  might be Moxie, which, as noted here in a previous blogazine, I will try if the opportunity ever  presents itself).

And now, after learning about how wheat has been altered in recent decades by the industrial manipulators, and how it may even be unhealthy to a body, I have mentally placed it in the soda category. When confronted with a box of Ritz crackers, I think, “That’s poison, you know!” It works for me. Thank you John Flemming wherever you are.

Pre-Industrial Wheat
Einkorn wheat is on the left. Modern "dwarf" wheat is on the right. Click Here to watch the  movie this photo came from.

All this messing around with the genetics of wheat, and the dawning reality of just how deleterious it may be to human health, has created a renewed interest in ancient wheat varieties. It turns out that we can have wheat and eat it too if the wheat is of the einkorn or emmer variety. The old wheat's are still “carbs,” and they still have some primitive gluten, but they are not modern wheat, and are supposed to taste different. 

Einkorn (with 14 chromosomes) is said to be the most ancient of wheat's. Then, according to Dr. Davis, einkorn naturally crossed with wild goat grass to make emmer wheat (with 28 chromosomes). Both of these wheat's are still grown and available, though they are very expensive.

I bought two pounds of einkorn wheat, grown in Italy and sold by Jovial Foods. With shipping, it cost me nearly $20. I intend to try sprouting the seeds to see if they are alive. I expect that is the case. Then I’ll be planting a very small test plot next month. When I say small, I mean a clump in my garden. I’ll also plant some seeds in the spring. And I’ll get some emmer seed to do the same thing. I’d be curious to know if anyone reading this has planted emmer or einkorn wheat. Any tips you can give would be appreciated.

Don’t Miss The 
Howard Douglas King Interview
Scott Terry farms, traps, keeps bees, and hosts the Christian Farm & Homestead online radio program.

I was introduced to the whole idea of Christian agrarianism when I attended a Promise Keepers event at RFK stadium in Washington, D.C. over fifteen years ago. The numerous speakers were certainly not talking about Christian agrarianism. My introduction came by way of an issue of Patriarch magazine that was handed to me outside the stadium. 

I think that issue had an article by Howard Douglas King in it. Or maybe the issue led me to a web site where I read his articles. In any event, it was several Patriarch magazine articles by Howard King ( The Biblical Basis For Christian Agrarianism, in particular) that resonated with me in a powerful way. In retrospect, I believe those articles served to lay the foundation for the revival of Christian-agrarian thought and life that has become much more widespread in recent years.

With that in mind, I’m looking forward to hearing Scott Terry’s radio interview with Howard Douglas King that is scheduled for the evening of August 31. If you read this after the 31st, you will still be able to hear the interview online. Here is the link: Christian Agrarianism With Howard King at Christian Farm and Homestead Radio.

Only So Much

“In any consideration of agrarianism, this issue of limitation is critical. Agrarian farmers see, accept, and live within their limits. They understand and agree to the proposition that there is “this much and no more.” Everything that happens on an agrarian farm is determined or conditioned by the understanding that there is only so much land, so much water in the cistern, so much hay in the barn, so much corn in the crib, so much firewood in the shed, so much food in the cellar or freezer, so much strength in the back and arms—and no more. This is the understanding that induces thrift, family coherence, neighborliness, local economies. Within accepted limits, these virtues become necessities. The agrarian sense of abundance comes from the experienced possibility of frugality and renewal within limits.
This is exactly opposite to the industrial idea that abundance comes from the violation of limits by personal mobility, extractive machinery, long-distance transport, and scientific or technological breakthroughs. If we use up the good possibilities in this place, we will import goods from some other place, or we will go to some other place. If nature releases her wealth too slowly, we will take it by force. If we make the world too toxic for honeybees, some compound brain, Monsanto perhaps, will invent tiny robots that will fly about, pollinating flowers and making honey.”
Wendell Berry, The Agrarian Standard

Getting The Worker 
Away From Home

“To the corporate and political and academic servants of global industrialism, the small family farm and the small farming community are not known, are not imaginable, and are therefore unthinkable, except as damaging stereotypes. The people of “the cutting edge” in science, business, education, and politics have no patience with the local love, local loyalty, and local knowledge that makes people truly native to their places and therefore good caretakers of their places. This is why one of the primary principles in industrialism has always been to get the worker away from home. From the beginning it has been destructive of home employment and home economies. The office or the factory or the institution is the place for work. The economic function of the household has been increasingly the consumption of purchased goods. Under industrialism, the farm too has become increasingly consumptive, and farms fail as the costs of consumption overpower the income from production.
The idea of people working at home, as family members, as neighbors, as natives and citizens of their places, is as repugnant to the industrial mind as the idea of self-employment. The industrial mind is an organizational mind, and I think this mind is deeply disturbed and threatened by the existence of people who have no boss. This may be why people with such minds, as they approach the top of the political hierarchy, so readily sell themselves to “special interests.” They cannot bear to be unbossed. They cannot stand the lonely work of making up their own minds.”
Wendell Berry, The Agrarian Standard

In an Industrial Society
“To be landless in an industrial society is not at all times to be jobless and homeless. But the ability of the industrial economy to provide jobs and homes depends on prosperity, and on a very shaky kind of prosperity  too. It depends on “growth” of the wrong things such as roads and dumps and poisons—on what Edward Abbey called  “the ideology of the cancer cell”—and on greed with purchasing power. In the absence of growth, greed, and affluence, the dependents of an industrial economy too easily suffer the consequences of having no land: joblessness, homelessness, and want. This is not a theory. We have seen it happen.”
Wendell Berry, The Agrarian Standard

George Orwell,

Well, he did write Animal Farm, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that George Orwell was an agrarian. His Diaries have just been published and you can read a very interesting New York Times review at This Link. Here's a quote from the review...

"About Orwell’s gardening and fishing and rabbit skinning and bird-watching, however, clearly not enough scholarly work has been done. We find him here tending to dozens of types of flowers, fruit trees and vegetables. He dilates on how best to hobble cows, to cook rabbits, to make charcoal, to preserve eggs and to tie lobster claws. On Sept. 11, 1946, he wrote: “Made mustard spoon out of deer’s bone.”

There are drawings by Orwell in “Diaries” of lathes, plows, drills, scythes, fishing nets, stirrups and charcoal braziers. He cures pelts, shoots rabbits and makes apple jelly from windfall fruit. A not untypical entry (amusing from a man who composed the line “Four legs good, two legs bad” in “Animal Farm”) is: “Spent about two hours trying to get a cow out of a bog.”    

News From Planet Whizbang
"The shrink bags we bought from you worked great and the birds look professionally packaged, even with my hand-written labels." Todd Stevens, Portland, Oregon. 

Planet Whizbang is my home business. My wife and I run it. We sell poultry shrink bags, chicken plucker parts, wheel hoe kits, books and more. I've been working for many years to develop a home business that will provide sufficient income to allow me to leave my factory job in the city. I'm almost there. It'll be a dream come true. I am in countdown mode. T-minus five months....

My next book, The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners, due out in the spring of 2103, is on my mind daily. I am working at final touches in the refinement of various ideas.

The Planet Whizbang shoulder yoke is one such idea. I have four prototype shoulder yolks that I’ve made over the past few years. Every one was an improvement over the one before it, but I eventually concluded that each was not good enough. Now, however, I finally have a design that makes the grade. A person will be able to make this shoulder yoke for around $30 using basic 3/4” pine boards and some common hardware parts. It will be cheaper and I'm pretty sure it will be more comfortable than this shoulder yoke.

What does a gardener need a shoulder yoke for? Well some gardeners will find it useful for hauling water or compost. Things like that. I use a shoulder yoke to haul pails of maple sap out of the woods during syrup season. Shoulder yokes were common on pre-industrial homesteads. They will be common again on post-industrial homesteads. 

A friend of mine has an idea for rain barrel water storage that is simple, inexpensive, and borders on genius. You'll be amazed. I've never seen anything like it, and I've searched the internet to see if anyone else has done it. He gave me permission to put it in the book.

The book will also contain a lot of old ideas and advice about gardening from over 100 years ago. I've been gleaning interesting tidbits from my old farm almanac collection, and  from the many pre-1900 bound years of Cultivator & Country Gentleman newspaper that I have collected.

In other news, my 2003 book, Making Great Garlic Powder, has been out of print, but is now available as an inexpensive pdf download. Details are HERE. I expect to soon have the Garlic Powder Profits Report available once again, also  as an inexpensive pdf download. It will be available at This Web Page.

Next month is “clothespin month.” I will be setting aside a few days to make some Classic American clothespins, as discussed in previous blogazines, and to chronical the how-to process in pictures. Before I offer clothespins for sale, I plan to offer a sample clothespin and clothespin springs to woodworkers.  They will then be able to use my free online clothespin-making photo tutorial to craft their own heirloom clothespins.

My  Mother


I found the snapshot above among some old papers and remembered that my mother’s birthday was this month. She died nine years ago. Had she lived, she would be seventy-six.

My mother is probably around 10 years old in the picture. My Aunt Irene’s handwriting on the back says, “Mary Ann at Grandfather Elias Moses Philbrick’s farm in Easton.” That would be Easton, Maine. 

The old picture, showing my mother as a happy young girl, with a lifetime ahead of her, and her lifetime now passed, reminds me of the brevity of life. To borrow a couple of biblical metaphors, life is like a vapor, like the flower of the field—here for a short season, and gone. 

Then what? Then eternity. Where is eternity? It’s somewhere not here. 

My mother believed that the human soul is eternal. She believed she was a sinner saved by the grace of God through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ when He gave His life on the cross. And she believed that as a result of her faith in Christ she would spend eternity with Him. 

I believe that too. My mother’s love for me, and the godly example I saw in her life, were used by God to draw me to Himself when I was a teenager. I am both mindful and thankful for that this month.