The Deliberate Agrarian Blogazine
April 2013

Dateline: 30 April 2013

Farewell to The Blogazine
(it's time for a change)

Oh no. Not again....

Dear Friends,

Well, here it is, the last day of the month, our regularly-scheduled meeting time for another issue of the Deliberate Agrarian blogazine, and I am only now just sitting down to the computer, with a few half-baked ideas in my head to write about. This is no way to run a blogazine, and I've come to the point where, to borrow an analogy from Richard Grossman, The Midland Agrarian, "I am going to be parking this weblog for a while, removing the battery, draining the oil, taking off the tires and putting her up on blocks."

But I'm not putting the whole blog up on blocks—just the monthly blogazine approach.

You long-time readers may recall that I started The Deliberate Agrarian back in 2005. Then, come April of 2009 (four years after starting the blog), I posted The Ruminations End, wherein I stated that I was no longer going to blog. But, for awhile, I would post a Deliberate Agrarian update letter on the last day of each month. 

I assumed The Deliberate Agrarian would fade away, but readership went up, and the monthly update letter soon turned into the monthly blogazine format. Those four years of blogazine "issues" are all archived at this link: The DA Blogazine Archives.

I am taking a new direction with this blog because my life has taken a new direction. Since getting out of prison back in January I just don't have the time I once had to put a monthly blogazine together. It is something of a paradox that I "retired" from a job and have less time to write. But you would understand perfectly if you knew what my job entailed.

To  make a long story short, for 13 years I had a job that didn't require much of me. I didn't actually work. Fact is, I'll never forget when I was interviewed for the job I was told that they did not want me doing any work. That's what the inmate employees were for. So I "supervised" inmates in a shop making office furniture. I handed out and collected tools at allotted times, and I handed out orders that needed to get done, and the inmates pretty much ran the shop. Oh, sure, I truly had some serious responsibilities, it being a maximum security prison and all, and I had to deal with numerous issues as they arose. But, for the most part, I had a lot of time each day (and sometimes entire days), when I had nothing to do.

Many people, when they have nothing to do, do nothing. They idle away the hours gossiping, or engaging in pointless discussions, or doing Suduku, or crossword puzzles, or playing solitaire, or reading trashy novels, all of which amounts to, as I said, doing nothing.

As a person who likes to write, or, more specifically, is inwardly driven to write, I can keep myself productively occupied for hours with nothing more than paper and a pen. And that's what I did with my free time for thirteen years. I didn't have access to the internet or a computer to write, so I did it the old fashioned way.

I would sit behind a desk in my shop, where I was available when needed, and where I could keep an eye on everything, and I would write. Most of the hundreds of blog and blogazine posts I have written here since 2005 were first written longhand in prison, as time presented itself, on folded pieces of copy paper. I kept the folded pieces of paper stuffed in my pockets. Some days I'd come home with a couple pages of writing. Other days I'd have a large wad of papers. I don't think a day went by that I did not write something.

Truth be told, I wrote most of all seven of my self-published Whizbang books in prison.

I did not realize going into the job that it would allow me so much time. But when I did realize that I had time to spare, I saw it as an opportunity to be productive in my own way, with the hopeful goal of building a home business that would pay the bills so I could get out of prison. And that's the way it eventually played out, thank God.


Now, 3.5 months after breaking free of the drudgery of a government non-work job, and the guilt of collecting a check for not doing much of anything, I am joyfully busy doing real work, full time, at the home business and around my homestead. 

Real work is a beautiful thing. I can report that I feel stronger and more healthy after coming home. I am on the go every day, bouncing from task to task, from early morning until I "hit the wall" in the evening. Then I drop into bed, exhausted. And I sleep better than I have in years. And I'm working on getting my desk-job-softened hands back into callused shape.

So, you see, I don't have the time to blog like I did in the past. Now, instead of blogging once a month on the last day, I'm going back to blogging intermittently, when I feel inspired to share something here, like I did for the first four years, but probably less often than I did in those early years. My future blog posts here will probably also be short and contain less depth of thought and detail. They will be similar to the two essays I posted earlier this month. In case you missed them, here they are...

Birth of an Orchard
Part 1

Birth of an Orchard
Part 2

Subscribe By E-Mail

This blog now has a place where you can sign up to get new posts by e-mail. It's on the right side of the page, near the top. Go ahead and sign up, so you don't miss a blog post. Don't worry about me getting your e-mail and sending spam or anything like that. It's not going to happen.

My Newest Book 
Is Now Available For Purchase

This Planet Whizbang logo will be prominently featured on the front cover of the book.

If you are subscribed to the Planet Whizbang newsletter, you already know that The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners is now available for pre-purchase. In fact, it may well be that you have already purchased a copy. 

If you go to the web site you can read the Introduction to the book, and learn what's in it by reading the Contents.

I've been surprised (and a little bit overwhelmed) by the volume of orders that have come in over the last couple of days since I sent out the newsletter. If you did order a book, I sincerely thank you! And I will be confirming your order with an e-mail, but it will be a few days before I get confirmations to you all. If you don't get a confirmation e-mail from me by this Sunday, don't hesitate to send me an e-mail query... I don't want to mistakenly miss anyone's book order.

For those of you who missed the newsletter, I summed up my new book as follows:
You will enjoy the adventure of discovery that awaits you in this one-of-a-kind book. You will be a smarter, more clever, and better gardener as a result of reading this book. And you will also be greatly inspired.

The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners is being launched without a lot of fanfare. I don't Twitter and I don't Facebook. I just don't have the time for that sort of thing. And I'm really not all that sophisticated when it comes to electronically hyping my books. I tend to rely more on word-of-mouth marketing—and time—to sell books. With that in mind, I would be grateful if those of you who are familiar with my past books (and liked them) would pass the word about this newest book (and the book's web site), via e-mails, blogs, twits, and face-bookings. 

Whizbang Solar Pyramids 
Make Great Coldframes!

These tomato seedlings are in an ideal solar pyramid environment on sunny days, and brought into the house when the temperature outdoors drops. (click to see an enlarged view)

Back in the June 2012 Blogazine issue I showed a remarkable picture of a Whizbang solar pyramid in my garden. That picture generated a lot of interest, as well it should. The solar pyramids are amazing cloche structures. I tell how to make and use them in my new book.

But it never occurred to me that the solar pyramids would make ideal cold frames for starting plants in the spring. That is, it never occurred to me until a few days ago. It is past practice for us to start tomato seedlings inside the house on the windowsill and, when sunny spring days come, we transport them outside into a garden cart with a sheet of clear plastic spring-clamped over it. The makeshift cart-as-a-greenhouse has worked for years, but it is a bother because the cart has to be continually repositioned to get full sun into it. Besides that, if it gets hot outside, the plastic has to be vented.

But I have discovered that if I simply put a solar cone on the lawn, in full sun, and put a flat of seedlings under it, the solar "appliance" is all set for the day—no need to continually move it to get sun, and it self ventilates, which is one of the amazing features of the pyramids. The plastic I use provides an environment of diffuse sunlight. It is ideal for getting young plants, in the ground, or in a flat, off to a great start.

When it cools down at night, it's no big deal to just pull the cover off and bring the flat of seedlings inside.

Howard Phillips Has Died

I feel compelled to mention the passing of Howard Phillips. I heard him speak once at a homeschool convention and I sensed that I was listening to somebody special. 

Mr. Phillips was was a wise man of rare integrity. Though not known as an agrarian, he believed and fought for several principles that have historically been embraced by agrarian-minded people. He was an advocate of smaller, decentralized government, and personal responsibility. He believed in the sanctity of life, and the value of strong traditional families 

Like anyone who stands for such things in post-Christian America, he was criticized. But from what I've been able to discern, he didn't compromise what he understood to be true and right for either convenience or personal advancement. I admire that in any man.

Howard Phillips's son, Doug, recently wrote a tribute to his father and I encourage you to read it at THIS LINK.

Dave Ramsey Gets A Plug

Not that Dave needs any promotion from me, but the guy has a way of very effectively communicating some fundamental economic wisdom to the masses, and I believe he has blessed my family in doing so.

I signed up two of my sons (and their girlfriends) to go through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. It amounted to a 1.5 hour class once a week for nine weeks. Cost was a couple hundred bucks. It was worth every cent. My kids loved it. They want to go again.

I don't agree with everything Dave teaches, but I sure do agree with his advice on debt, which is to not go into debt. I've tried to drive that bit of rock-solid, contra-industrial wisdom home with my kids for years. But I'm not the master communicator that Dave Ramsey is. When Dad says it, and then Dave Ramsey says it (in his own special way), well then maybe it's important enough to take really seriously.

By the way, I see that Dave Ramsey has built a new house. I dare say, if I had the money to build a house like that, I sure wouldn't build a house like that! 

Gardening & Hope 
In The Springtime

I've blogged here for so long that I've forgotten what I wrote. When putting together the web site for my newest book, I came across the following 2008 post. I'm reposting it here because I like it, and it's fitting for this season of the year....

I have a section of good soil for my garden. I have gardening tools. I have seeds. I have compost. I have strength in my body, and the will to use it. And I have hope. It is springtime. 
Already I have removed the detritus of last year’s garden: straw-mulch, remnants of floating row cover fabric, trellis frames, and long-dead vegetative refuse. Then I tilled the slate clean. I am ready. I have hope, because it is springtime.
The freshly-turned earth in my garden is moist and soft and sensual. We have been apart too long. The separation of winter has made my heart grow fonder. It is good to once again be back with my garden. It is springtime, and my hope runs high.
Long lengths of sisal string, stretched taunt between stakes, mark my rows. Below a line, my hand slices through the soil, making a furrow, just so. As I work with my hands, the cool earth packs in dark crescents under my fingernails. Each fingertip has a smile, as does my face. It is springtime in my garden, and I have hope.
Freedom can be found in a garden. Great masses of modern men are shackled to the degrading work of our industrialized economy. We submit to the drudgery of efficiency, of specialized, repetitive, trivial tasks. We are, at the same time, active participants and victims of the exploitation. But when we work in our gardens, the chains fall off. We find escape. There is hope, and it is strongest in the springtime.
I have commenced to plant some seeds in my garden: lettuce, spinach, and parsley. To plant these properly, I must kneel in the soil. There are devices that allow one to plant while standing. But, no, I must kneel. And I will bow my head as I place the hard, lifeless specks in the furrow. Planting seeds in the garden is, after all, an act of faith. Faith and hope, seed-in-furrow, hand-in-hand, in the springtime.
The planting of seeds in my garden, by hand, on my knees, is a simple action of rebellion against the modern order. It is an act of wisdom and significance in the midst of a foolish and vacuous world. It is voluntary submission to an older, higher calling. There is hope in this doing, in this calling. And this hope is greatest in the springtime.
Like every gardener, through every age, from the beginning of time, I envision what will be as I plant seeds in my garden. I see the entire garden planted. The seeds have grown to lush and fruitful maturity. I see divinely-inspired beauty. I see the bounty of the harvest on my family’s dinner table. I see the goodness preserved and stored in our pantry. I see into the future, with hope, in the springtime.
Food, fresh food from the garden, is, of course, on my mind when I am planting. I imagine the satisfaction of eating what I have grown. The flavors of steamed summer squash, of cucumber slices in vinegar, of fresh peas and young potatoes, of just-picked, peak-ripe tomato slices mixed with cilantro, of cabbage salad, of cantaloupes, of green beans, of cold, juiced carrots in the fall, and more. My mouth waters at such thoughts. They fill me with hope in the springtime.
There are people who are repulsed by the idea of growing their own food. They consider it wasted time, or an outward expression of poverty. They seek a richer life in modern leisure and amusements. Blinded by the fog of industrial-cultural, they search far and wide, in vain, failing to see that the answer is directly under their feet. They too could be co-creators, they too could be partakers in the mystery, and the wonder, and the beauty. They too could know the hope that comes to a gardener in the springtime.
I do not yet know for certain, but I believe gardening is eternal. One day, after my lifeless body, a mere speck in the vastness of creation, is placed in the soil and covered over, after my soul is transplanted into the realm of He who, out of love, created the garden and all that is, then I will know. But one thing is sure now: Hope is eternal in the heart of this gardener... especially in the springtime.


Anonymous said...

that is such a nice bit of writing Herrick. There is so much to do everyday, I find it hard to do my record keeping even though it is important. But I did find time to listen to the birds, sense the wind in my hair, feel my muscles work, sweat a little. And now I'm tired. It is a good day,


Ulf said...

All things must come to an end in time and so I just wanted to thank you for the wisdom you have posted over the years.
I have been reading- quietly in the background, for many years now, your blog is on my shortcut list and is checked in on at least once a week, I intend to continue doing so.
Your writing fascinates me in the same way as the writings of John Seymour as we discussed in a few brief e-mails some time back. You have the most wonderful knack of crystalizing my own thoughts- although you are able to do it in one crisp sentence where I would take a paragraph.
I was also surprised beyond belief when I read your stories concerning working in a prison. As an uncanny parallel I also work in a prison, I am a Custodial Corrections Officer in my own country (Australia) in our equivalent of your Max security prisons there. Your description of the conditions within a prison was uncannily accurate and came to me at a time when I was going through a very hard point in my life. It was just such a relief to find someone else who felt the same way as I do.
In another parallel I also am an Agrarian, living on a small farm with my wife and child where we grow our own food insofar as is possible. Understandably perhaps, our conditions are radically different from your own. Different climate and culture, and therefore I don't really make much use of the how-to side of your blog- although I will not say I haven't found some absolute pearls of wisdom here and there!

So what I am trying to say is: Thank You for giving such a gift to this complete stranger whom you have not ever met nor are you ever likely to. I wonder if you really realize the value of this gift you have given me? The words "life changing' are bandied about so carelessly these days so please understand that when I say your writings have been life changing to me, I mean it in the most serious and deliberate way.
Julian Daniels (Ulf)

Marinco said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to write your blog. I live in the suburbs, commute to the city, work at least 9 or 10 hours a day and then commute back home. I am happy to hear the stories of your agrarian life and especially so about your fine sons. God bless you and your family.

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks for the comment. It's much appreciated.

Thank you for your thoughtful and kind words. I'm blessed to know that my writings have impacted your life in a positive way. I don't suppose there is any higher compliment I could be given.

I've added your blog, "Life in The Clouds" to my sidebar. That is quite a view you have way up there! And the picture of the blue cheese you made makes my mouth water. As for coming face to face with that python.... wow.... I'm glad to report that we don't have those here in upstate New York.

Best wishes,


Ulf said...

Gee thank you Herrick, I am really quite flattered.
Snakes, well they are a fact of life here but they still get the old heart going when you get too close.

RonC said...


Thank you so much for the effort you've put into your blog. The wife and I bought a 10 acre farm site last year, so I have an idea of how the days get filled. I call it my "10 acre fitness program." I signed up for your blog updates as I missed the apple tree articles.

I was a bit relieved by your confession about work. You see, I have been having an inferiority complex after reading your blog this past year and a half. I seem to get a lot done in a day, but I have no time to document what I've done. I never could understand how you accomplished so much and where you found the time to write about it all. Now I don't feel so bad.


Herrick Kimball said...

Thank you.

Ron C.—
Yes, my secret is revealed. And it turns out I'm not really a superman after all. :-)

I am pleased to report that in the past three months, with your (our) multi-acre fitness program, I have lost nearly 10 pounds (it's more like 7, but that's nearly 10, right).

Gorges Smythe said...

Congratulations! Our loss is your gain, and more power to you!