Are Old Woodstoves
Going To Be Outlawed?

Dateline: 30 September 2013

A Vermont Castings Vigilant wood stove (photo link)

I have heated my home for some 25 years with a wood stove just like the one pictured above. I bought it used way back then for a couple hundred dollars. Mine doesn't look as spiffy as the one above, and I'm sure there are better quality woodstoves on the market, but it has been, and continues to be, a reliable heat source (and my only heat source). 

So you can imagine my feelings this morning when I read EPA Takes An Axe To Self Sufficiency: Most Woodburning Stoves Will Soon Be Illegal

If this article is to be believed, the government, through the EPA, will require that all new woodstoves be EPA approved. Old woodstoves will have to be scrapped (the law will not allow old woodstoves to be sold). And the enforcement of this new measure will most likely be effected through home insurance companies. 

The writer of the article states that "The EPA is just another tool of subjugation." That pretty much sums it up.

I'm breaking with my "clothespin break" to blog this because I want to spread the word. If you were ever thinking of getting an old wood stove, better do it soon.

Clothespin Break
Update #2

Dateline: 27 September 2013

I Dreamed A Word

This is a true story. Last Monday, in the early morning hours, as I was lying in bed, soon to awake, I dreamed a word. I don't recall ever dreaming a word before in my life. I was cognizant in my dream that it was an English-language word I had never used before, and I had no idea what it meant. 

I must have read or heard the word before in my life, and that is how it was in my brain, but I don't know when that would have been. Surely not recently.

Anyway, this word was foremost in my dream. In my dream I said the word repeatedly and I thought to myself that I had to remember the word so I could look up its meaning when I awoke. 

Then I woke up. Who knows, it may have been seconds after the dream, or minutes, or even an hour. But when I woke up I remembered that there was a word that I wanted to remember....  and I couldn't remember it.

Yes, that was frustrating. But it's not the end of the story. 

I laid awake, thinking "deep" for a few moments, trying to remember the word. I even prayed: "Lord, please help me to remember that word." And the word came to my mind. 

The word was "assiduous."

I immediately got out of bed and made a beeline to the computer to look up the meaning of assiduous. For those of you, who don't know the meaning, this is what I found:

assiduous: "marked by careful, unremitting attention or persistent application." Another definition is, "showing great care and perseverance." Yet another: "constant in application or effort; working diligently at a task; persevering; industrious; attentive."

I thought about that word and the strange circumstance that brought into my life as I drank my morning cup of coffee. When Marlene woke up and came downstairs I told her about it. She expressed mild interest. Then I told her, "I think God is telling me something." She did not say anything in response to that.

Whatever the case, it was a memorable dream, and I took it as an encouragement. I took it as encouragement to be diligent in pursuing the clothespin-making, home-economy business idea that I've been working on for the past few weeks. And that is what I have been doing.

I'm making progress, but I'm still not ready to launch this idea, and so I'm still officially in clothespin break mode. This is just another Friday update.

Futureman Makes Bread

Well, he doesn't actually make bread himself. He's only a year and a half old, so he helps Marlene, if you know what I mean. That's six loaves of oatmeal bread in the making. It's a recipe from Marlene's grandmother, and a family favorite—only to be bettered by oatmeal-raisin.

Dave Ramsey Class Update

As noted in last Friday's clothespin break update, my oldest son and his wife are attending Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. It is being hosted by a nearby church. One of the early class activities is to add up the total debt and savings of the class. 

The class consists of four couples. Three couples are quite a bit older than my son and daughter-in-law. Between the four, there is a total of $190,000 of non-mortgage debt. The highest non-mortgage debt of one couple is $93,000. Much of the debt is for non-essential things, like a camper, and snowmobiles, and so on. The total amount of savings between the four couples is around $15,000. 

Fortunately, very little of that debt belongs to my son. Better yet, my two other sons, have no debt at all. Although son #2 will assume some debt when he buys my parents house & property from me, it will not be bank debt, and I certainly won't charge any interest.

What I find appalling about the above example of FPU class debt is that those people are Christians. If there is any class of people who should not buy into the industrial-world greed and materialism, and put themselves into debt-slavery to fulfill their covetous desires, it's Christians. Granted, there are times and circumstances when we have to put ourselves into debt-bondage, but not so we can acquire stuff (a.k.a., playthings) that we don't really need. 

My kids have all heard me rail against debt for years, and they've seen that this family has never borrowed money for playthings. Never.

My aversion to debt goes way back in my life. My parents had a tendency to get into too much debt with their credit card. And they  often struggled with not enough money to pay the bills. I remember collection agency people calling and my mother talking to them. I remember the phone company shutting the phone off for not paying the bill. And I remember, as a teenager, helping to pay the bills a few times. As a kid, I worried a lot about my parents finances. That had an impact on me.

They say that people who went through the Great Depression grew up to be very careful with their money, not wasting it (not wasting anything) and saving. Well I can relate to that in a small way. My youthful experiences were nowhere near as bad as those of people who suffered during the Depression, yet I have always been wary and fearful of debt. I cherish freedom too much.... and the opportunities that come with freedom.

Like, for example, the opportunity to finally come home, be home all day, spend time with my grandson, and work a small family-economy business. If I were in debt, if I were a slave to debt, I would never have been able to come home and do this. If you are free from the bondage of debt, you are free to pursue interests and ideas that you otherwise couldn't pursue, and you can better afford to help and bless your family and others.

Franklin Sanders
On Getting Out of Debt

I subscribe to Franklin Sanders' free daily e-mail Moneychanger commentary. I suspect that many of you who read this blog also subscribe. If you don't, go to The Moneychanger and check it out. 

Earlier this week Franklin was urging his readers to get out of debt. On Thursday's e-mail commentary, Franklin wrote:

Questioning my urgent encouragement yesterday to get out of debt, one reader wrote, "I thought it's good to be a borrower during periods of high inflation. I was thinking of keeping a modest mortgage on this place."
Logic here is that you will repay in dollars cheaper than you borrowed. While that is abstractly true, there's no guarantee that those cheaper dollars will come easier to you than today's dollars. Suppose your wages don't keep pace with inflation, as they never do.
Ignoring also the larceny that dwells in that logic, my get-out-of-debt warning springs from a far deeper motive: you can't break a man that don't borrow. Debt makes you vulnerable because unlike the yankee government, you can't print dollars. You must earn dollars to make payments on the debt, or lose the collateral, maybe even go bankrupt. Problem with a "modest" mortgage is that debt, like whiskey, intoxicates. We take on a little, it makes us feel richer, stronger, braver, better looking, smarter, so we keep adding modest amounts until we're debt-drunk & have sold ourselves into lifetime debt slavery.
Getting out of debt won't deliver you entirely from our lunatic financial & economic system, but it will extricate you from the banks, & put your feet on your own, owned dirt, small and lowly tho it be. You'll be that rarest of creatures today: a debt-free man.
To me that outweighs the delicious pleasure of cheating a cheater, i.e., paying a bank back with cheaper dollars.

Working Boys

I was listening to a past episode of Kevin Swanson's Generations Radio broadcast and he was telling of a single mother in his church with a young teenage son. The boy may have been 15 or 16 years old. The mother was having trouble paying her rent. The elders of the church advised the son to get a job and help his mother pay the bills. Their belief is that boys should stop playing video games and start taking on the responsibilities of men. How often do you hear that these days?

It used to be (in pre-industrial civilizations) that boys went straight from boyhood to manhood. They skipped the problematic modern adolescent stage. Those were the days, eh?

Think Clothespins

I plan to be back here next Friday for another clothespin break update. Maybe I'll dream of another word by then too.


P.S. keep an eye on the Classic American Clothespins web site.

Clothespin Break Update

Dateline: 20 September 2013

These oiled-and-waxed hardwood clothespins are air-curing.

Boy Howdy! I sure am an optimist!

A week ago I wrote that I hoped to have assemble-your-own, "Classic American" clothespin kits ready to sell on this day. Well, that aren't happenin'. Not yet.

It turns out that bootstrapping an heirloom-quality hardwood clothespin company into existence (in a tent in my side yard) is taking longer than I anticipated.

But I'm making good progress. The kits are coming together nicely. They're going to be a unique product. I'm pretty sure people will be very pleased with them. Here's a picture of bags of selected clothespin halves that will be part of the kits...

(Click picture to see an enlarged view)

In addition to getting the kits ready, I'm working at milling out a second production run of clothespins. I'm doing it all myself now that my son is in school, and I want to get it done while the weather is still good. Cold autumn rains will be here soon, then snow. You know that old saying... Make your clothespins while the sun is shining.

So I'm putting in a lot of hours, but I'm enjoying myself. I've been a woodworker for years. I love to work with my hands, and tools, and wood. Woodworking outdoors, under a tent, with the sides up on a sunny day, is much nicer than working in my crowded workshop. 

Keep an eye on the Classic American Clothespins web site. I'll  be getting that together soon. I'll be posting prices there too. But the price for clothespin kits there will be more than the introductory price I'll be selling them for here at this blog. The introductory price per 20-clothespin kit will be $20 each. They will be on sale here for 5 days, or until they are all sold, whichever comes first. Then the kits will be available at the clothespin web site for the higher price. If you want advance notice of when I will be selling them here, be sure to sign up for the Planet Whizbang newsletter.

Other News....

I'll not be blogging regularly again until I get this clothespin business up and running. But I'll post a little weekly update (on Friday), like I'm doing now.


Goes To The Hospital

Futureman at the emergency room

It's always sad to see a baby or young child in the hospital, but it's especially disconcerting when it's your own child, or grandchild, as was the case with my grandson, pictured above.

Marlene and our daughter-in-law were shopping at WalMart when Futureman got sick and threw up. That's understandable. I was at WalMart a couple weeks ago and I felt like throwing up too (WalMart has that affect on me). But Futureman quickly developed a high fever and Marlene took him out of the store while his mother went to get some Tylenol.

As Marlene was holding him he had a seizure. It's a freaky thing when a child has a seizure. Fortunatly, Marlene knew what was happening. The same thing happened many years ago with Futureman's father. It's called a febrile seizure. When a baby's temperature rises too high, his brain short-circuits. That's my non-technical explanation.

Marlene took Futureman back inside the store (to a Subway restaurant) and asked them to call an ambulance, which they did. The 911 operator was asking all kinds of questions of the one employee who called and another woman employee said, "Just tell them to get an ambulance here quick!" Then she said, "I'll drive him to the hospital myself if they don't get here soon!"  In other words, they really did a great job responding to the mini-crisis.

The ambulance came and took Futureman and his mother to the hospital. Marlene caught a ride to the auto dealership down the road (where our car was being worked on), then headed to the hospital.

Everyone was home a few hours later. Futureman looked tired but was in pretty good spirits.

He's fine now. We took a hike down the creek behind our house yesterday. Futureman doesn't actually hike, but he likes to ride in a backpack carrier that Marlene bought at a yard sale.

One of the absolute best parts of making clothespins in a tent next to my house (and running the Planet Whizbang home business) is that I can spontaneously stop what I'm doing and spend some time with my grandson. The home business is necessary to pay the bills, but spending time one-on-one with my grandson, and other grandchildren to (hopefully) follow, is far more important to me. Speaking of which.....

An Engagement

My #2 son (of three) has asked his girlfriend to marry him. The happy couple, pictured above, are planning a summer 2014 wedding. 

Dave Ramsey

Last winter I paid to send my two youngest sons (with their girlfriends) to Financial Peace University. They really enjoyed the classes. Now my oldest son and his wife are going to FPU, and I'm downright pleased about it.

Dave Ramsey is a great communicator and he has a lot of good financial wisdom. I think his Financial Peace University program should be taught in every public high school and to all US military recruits. But, alas, that will never happen. It will never happen because the teaching is overtly Christian.

We can't have anything Christian in the government schools anymore, and, from what I hear, Christianity is becoming less tolerated in the military. The secularists are running the place now and they say it's an establishment of religion, to teach overtly Christian principles in government schools. But the man-centered religion of secular humanism is perfectly okay.

Anyway, it has occurred to me that if a lot of Americans took Dave Ramsey's advice, if they bought only what they could afford, and didn't go into debt, the American economy, and the industrial era, would crash much more quickly than it is. 

Game Cam

Son #2 set up a game camera in the swamp out behind my parents place, which is 3 miles from here (he is buying the house and property from me). The land has a lot of deer on it, and the buck above is the one he wants this hunting season. 


See you back here next Friday. Maybe I'll have Classic American Clothespins to sell by then. :-)

A Clothespin Break

Dateline: 14 September 2013

Today is Marlene's birthday. We had breakfast at The Gathering in Moravia, N.Y. The Gathering is a small-town diner. It's nothing special inside, but the "home cooking" is pretty good, and the price is right. But more than that, it's the kind of place where, if you've lived in these parts for four decades (as I have), or your whole life (as Marlene has), you always see folks you know when you go there. 

When we walked in a few people looked up. I nodded and smiled to a man sitting at the counter who looked familiar, then said good morning to Mr. Randolph, an older farmer who was sitting next to the door.

We met our friends-from-high-school, Ken and Mary, and had breakfast together. That was nice. When the waitress came, she wished Marlene a happy birthday. She had heard it was her birthday from our daughter-in-law who was working in the kitchen, making salads for the day.

A bit later some young folks—farm kids we know pretty well—came in for breakfast. They ended up wishing Marlene a happy birthday. One of the boys gave her a hug. That was nice too.

Then, a few minutes later, in came two of my sons and my grandson. They sat at a booth on the other side of the room. My grandson was in a high chair and we got his attention. He was all smiles and gave a wave. He's 17 months old now. Later my son brought him over and I held "Future Man" for awhile. He was glad to see me. He's quite the talker, though I don't know what he's saying.

Ken paid for breakfast. That was nice.

We talked about making cider at breakfast. It's a good apple year and Ken said he has lots of good apples on his trees. I suggested that he bring his apples to my place some weekend and we'll all make a few gallons of cider together. So that's the plan, and it ought to be a lot of fun.

Then we came home and Marlene picked tomatoes to make tomato sauce. I headed to my shop to try and clean it up and work some more on the clothespins I'm making. Now that I have decided to sell make-them-yourself clothespin kits (as explained in yesterday's blog post), I'm motivated to get this idea launched.

Besides that, yesterday I picked up another load of lumber for the 2nd production run, and my son, who put a lot of hours in on the first production run, won't be helping me now that he's going to school. I'm doing all the woodworking in a tent outside my shop. The weather is getting cold. I want to get the 2nd production run done before it gets too cold. Then I'll pack the outdoor workshop away for the winter. I need to be about my work. 

And so it is that I'll be taking a little break from blogging here. The next time you hear from me, I'll have clothespin kits ready to sell. I'm shooting for next Friday. And I'm also putting a new web site together at Classic American Clothespins.

See ya later.....

"Classic American Clothespins" in the tumbler.

A Whole New Concept
For Hand-Crafted Clothespins

Dateline: 13 September 2013

The "Make Your Own Clothespins" Kit

A couple days back I blogged about my hand-crafted clothespin business (and showed lots of pictures of the finished product). I told about how I was working to get the first production run of pins ready to sell, and I let it be known that the price would be $1.50 each for ten finished clothespins.

Someone commented and asked if they might get some unfinished clothespin halves, with springs, for less money. The more I thought about that idea, the more I realized it was an excellent concept. It's kind of a variation on the old Frostline sewing kits I wrote about recently (HERE).

So I'm going to give it a go. I plan to have make-your-own clothespin kits ready to sell by next Friday, and I'll be shipping orders the following Monday. Here's how it will work...

The clothespin kit will contain 19 of the high-quality stainless steel springs, 38 unfinished hardwood (ash) clothespin halves (enough to assemble 19 clothespins), and one sanded, oiled and assembled clothespin. That makes a total of 20 clothespins in the kit. 

When you get the kit, you will need to finish-sand the clothespin halves with some 120 or 150-grit sandpaper. If you have an emery board, that will work perfectly. A lot of sanding will not be needed because the halves will be already tumbled and mostly smooth. But there will be some touch-up sanding here and there, as this next picture shows...

The unfinished wood will be tumbled and mostly smooth, but there will be some touch-up needed. You can do the touch-up with an emery board. Click picture to see an enlarged view.

After the wood is sanded to your satisfaction, you can assemble the unfinished clothespins and put them right to use. Or, you can give them a protective coating of boiled linseed oil. If you coat them with linseed oil (recommended) you will need to let them air-dry for a week or so (until thoroughly dry) before you assemble and use them. If you want to wax them after the linseed oil is dry, you can do that too.

When you're done, you will have made your own heirloom-quality, multi-generational clothespins...

This new make-your-own clothespin concept allows me to get the clothespins on the market so much faster. And it allows me to be able to sell the clothespins for less. The price for a make-your-own clothespin kit, as shown and described above, will be $20 (plus $5 for shipping).

I still intend to offer completely finished clothespins, but don't see this happening before the end of this year, and the price will need to be more than the $1.50 I had thought I would sell them for. The labor to finish-sand, oil and assemble the pins is turning out to be much more than I expected.

I have a feeling that most people who use clothespins, and who will truly appreciate the quality of these clothespins, are the kind of people who are fully capable of using a little sandpaper and linseed oil. It won't take that much time or effort, and when you're done you'll have some really special clothespins.

How does this idea sound?

Your own homemade clothespins, with their powerful stainless steel springs, will hold jeans on the line.... no problem. 

Awareness of Distributism
is Growing

Dateline: 12 September 2013

I've subscribed to The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener magazine for many years, and I always enjoy getting it in the mail. I was pleased to see that my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners got a little review in the current issue (pictured above), which is the yearly Common Ground Fair issue (a large printing). And I was downright surprised to see the same issue had an article about distributism.

Distributism: A Third Way is, in my opinion, not written all that well, but the fact that it's in the magazine is notable. It's an indication that more people are looking for an alternative to failed capitalism.

Unfortunately, distributism is a terribly misleading name for an economic system. It conjures up ideas of taking what's mine and distributing it to others. But that's not what distributism is all about. That's pretty much what socialism does, and we already have that to a large degree in this country.

Another unfortunate aspect of distributism is that it isn't easily explained. I've yet to find an article that neatly sums it up. And the articles that I do read, leave me with a lot of questions.

Nevertheless, it's hard for an agrarian-minded person not to have an interest in distributism. That's because it is profoundly agrarian. And it's also biblical, or at least far more biblical than capitalism ever was.

Foundational to distributist economics is the idea of decentralization. Another fundamental is the reformation of the family, and the idea that as many families as possible should should own and live on productive land and property. Vibrant small communities are also essential to the whole theory of distributism.

Many Protestants dismiss distributism because it's distinctly Catholic. Others are skeptical of it because they think it just isn't practical; that it simply won't work. And a few, like myself, are concerned that it would require too much government coercion to implement.

One thing is certain... capitalism (and the capitalist powerbrokers) will not tolerate distributism in its midst. Distributism is, after all, powerfully antithetical to both capitalism and socialism. 

But capitalism, propped up by keynesianism, has run its course. Even John Maynard Keynes knew his economic ideas were unsustainable. When confronted with the inevitable failures of his economic theory he famously quipped, "In the long run, we're all dead."  

Keynesianism, the lifeblood of modern, corporate-facist capitalism, was never a sustainable economic paradigm, and the system is coming down. Post mortems on capitalism and keynesianism are now being performed by perspicacious people all over the world. And so it is that the principles of distributism are getting a closer look. I'm glad to see it happening.

Hand-Crafted Clothespins
(Made in America)

Dateline: 11 September 2013

As many of you already know, my son and I are working on the first production run of our hand-crafted wooden clothespins. The clothespins will be offered for sale right here (a web site will be developed later). But they are not yet ready. This is an update.

I posted pictures and some explanation of the clothespin-making process HERE. Since then, we have gotten to the point where we are ripping pin halves out of the "flitches." After that is done, they're going into a homemade clothespin tumbler. Here's a picture of the tumbler...

The tumbler is filled about half way with the clothespin sections and they are tumbled for 3 to 4 hours. Ground corn cobs are added to the cylinder (you can see some pieces of corncob on the deck under the tumbler). This action eases the sharp edges. Here's a box of tumbled clothespin halves...

The sections are then tumbled with beeswax, linseed oil and turpentine. This coating brings out the color of the hardwood and helps protect it from the elements (but no wood clothespin should be left out in the weather). The coating also makes the clothespins smell good, until they are thoroughly cured. This next picture shows some finished clothespins...

(Click any of these pictures to see an enlarged view)

Here's a view of the open clothespin...

And here are some finished clothespin doing what they are made to do...

Beth Stoneking, a reader of this blog from Ohio, sent me a few old clothespins she had, along with her opinions of them. Here is a picture of two of the clothespins she sent, along with one of my new clothespins...

The old clothespin in the back of the above picture has DENMARK stamped on it. Here it is (click picture to see an enlarged view)...

I appreciated getting the gift of old clothespins and sent Beth a gift of four of my new hand-crafted clothespins. I was hoping she would give me some honest feedback, and she did. Beth wrote a nice letter back and critiqued the clothespins as follows...

1. Thickness of the wood is outstanding
2. Gauge & strength of the spring is outstanding
3. Finger grips, outstanding
4. Finish is outstanding. Love the smell of them.
5. Love the larger size! 
6. There is one slight drawback with the clothespin. I really don't even want to mention it because as far as function goes it is irrelevant but here goes...
When I'm holding the clothespin and snapping it open and closed, the jaws, or the gripping ends, become askew. There may be no way to avoid this and again, you may think I'm silly but my oh my does it bug me. Almost all clothespins do this and it has always bugged me. 
Anyway, that's the only thing I could say that is even remotely bad because they are so perfect. I really hope you are successful selling these, they are by far one of the most professional hand crafted items I've had the pleasure to own. 
Now there's an honest review. I wrote Beth back and told her that what bugged her about the clothespins is exactly what bugged me about them. I spent a lot of time trying to design a clothespin that always closed perfectly—never askew. I came to the conclusion that it's impossible with the spring and traditional design I'm using. Here's a picture of askew clothespins...

If you have a bunch of old clothespins, go look at them and you'll see that most of them are, to some degree, askew, like in the picture above. If they aren't, please send me a sample. It's just the nature of the implement to not always close perfectly.

Availability & Pricing

My son is starting school next Monday. He is taking a one-year program in electrical maintenance. So he will not be helping me as much as he has been, if at all. That means I'll be hard pressed to have the clothespins done and ready to sell by the end of this month. I have so much else going with the Planet Whizbang business. Nevertheless, I'm going to try hard to have clothespins ready to sell by the end of September (or shortly thereafter).

I've decided on a price that is, I'm sorry to say, relatively high. These first clothespins will cost $1.50 each. They have to cost that much to pay for the materials and labor. Fact is, I'll probably have to charge even more in the future. I'm still crunching numbers and looking to see exactly how many clothespins I end up with this first production run.

With price in mind, I am thinking of making a "budget" clothespin in the future, something more like the old ones Beth sent me (pictured above). They will have a lower profile, no grip grooves, and only one "tooth-groove" (instead of two). The budget clothespins will have the same stainless steel spring and be made with ash wood. I might not oil & wax them. I'd like to get the price down to a dollar each.

I will be offering these first clothespins in packages of ten or twenty. I'm limiting the size because I want as many people as possible to get some, try them out (which means, to actually use them), and give me some feedback. I wouldn't want someone to spend a lot of money on a lot of clothespins, only to find out that they don't like them. 

So, a box of ten clothespins will sell for $19.95, postage paid (to any US address). A box of twenty clothespins will sell for $34.95, postage paid. Yes, it's a lot, but you will be getting some very special clothespins that you (or whoever you give them to as a gift) will cherish for a lifetime. And that's the whole idea—to make a top-quality clothespin that will be loved and passed on to the next generation.

Here's a picture of ten, perfectly useful, hand-crafted, multi-generational clothespins...

One More Thing...

If you would like to be notified by e-mail when these clothespins are finally available for purchase, simply sign up for the Planet Whizbang Newsletter. I will let my newsletter subscribers know the day before the clothespins are going to be made available here. The supply will be limited and they will sell first come, first served, until gone. Thanks!

Morning Glories in September
(and homemade soap)

Dateline: 10 September 2013

(Click picture to see an enlarged view)

My wife, Marlene, loves her morning glories. She took this picture a week ago. 

When she had her soap business, it was called Morning Glory Soapworks. The following snippet of verse from Exodus 16:7 was printed on each soap wrapper...

And in the morning, 
ye shall see the glory of the Lord.

After more than a decade of making and selling soap as a  little home business, Marlene decided to stop making it a few months ago. She just doesn't have the time. Making soap was becoming a burden. 

She will still make soap for our family (I've not used "industrial" soap or shampoo for 13 years), but she gave some of her soap molds and recipes, along with a soap-making lesson, to a friend who would like to have a home-based soap business.


It has been on my mind for years to make a Planet Whizbang pine tar soap and sell it online. Pine tar soap is something special. I don't know if I'll ever get to it, but it's another idea. I have far more ideas than I have time to pursue.


If my wife didn't make our soap, you can bet I'd be buying it from another agrarian, home-based soap-maker, like either of the following people...

Robert Lewis Dabney
On The Destructive Force
of Business Corporations

Dateline: 9 September 2013

R. L. Dabney (1820-1898)

Robert Lewis Dabney, was a famous Southern Presbyterian pastor. Though he was originally against secession, he became a Captain in the Confederate army and Chief of Staff to Stonewall Jackson. He survived the war and went on to found a school of theology in Texas. Dabney was firmly opposed to the proliferation of business corporations. He recognized (as many people of his day did) that Northern corporations influenced Northern politics and benefitted greatly from the war against the South.

Many people do not realize that the proliferation of business corporations that we have today came into existence as a result of the devious misapplication of the 14th Amendment in the late 1800s. I have written about this at: The Dirty Little Secret of How Corporations Became "Persons."

The rise of the business corporation has served the best interests of capitalism and industrialism, but it has not served the best interests of families, and communities, and the nation as a whole. Dabney clearly saw this and wrote against the personal corporation in: The Philosophy Regulating Personal Corporations. The following excerpt comes from that essay...

I urge, third, that the forms of industry promoted by the powerful corporations tend to undermine the domestic and personal independence of the yeomanry. The associated means of production supplant the individual, the products of the older and more independent forms of industry retreat before those of the corporations. 
The time was when manufactures were literally “domestic,” the occupations of the people in their homes. The producing yeoman was a “free-holder,” a person whose vital significance to British liberty our times have almost forgotten. He dwelt and laboured under his own roof-tree. He was his own man, the free-holder of the homestead where his productions were created by the skill and toil of himself and his family and servants. Now all this is changed. 
The wheel and the loom are no longer heard in the home. Vast factories, owned by corporations, for whose governors the cant of the age has already found their appropriate name as “kings of industry,” now undersell the home products everywhere. The axe and the hoe which the husbandman wields, once made at the country forge, the shoe upon his mule’s feet, the plough with which he turns the soil, the very helve of his implement, all come from the factory. The housewife’s industry in brewing her own yeast can hardly survive, but is supplanted by some “incorporated” “baking powder,” in which chemical adulteration may have full play. 
Thus the centralization of capital leads at once to the centralization and degradation of population. The free-holding yeoman citizen is sunk into the multitudinous mass of the proletariat, dependent on the corporation for his work, his wages, his cottage, his kitchen garden, and privilege of buying the provisions for his family. 
In place of the freeman’s domestic independence, he now has the corrupting and doubtful resource of the “labour union” and the “strike.” His wife and children are dragged from the retirement of a true home into the foul and degrading publicity of the festering manufacturing village... 
The fourth, and chief argument against our system is found in its influence on the virtue of the people. Every one remarks on the alarming relaxation of business and political morals. But unless we can refute the testimony of not only Washington, but of Moses, David and Solomon, correct morals are the very foundation of public safety, and this unfashionable, homely, and simple old truth must stubbornly hold its place, notwithstanding nineteenth century smartness. I shall show that the species of legislation I criticise furnishes the occasion for much of the corruption which all sensible men dread.

As I contemplate what an agrarian-based economic system would look like, I'm certain it would not contain business corporations. The establishment of corporation status would be granted very rarely and only for the public good, as was once the case.

Beyond Off-Grid Fundraiser
Comes To A Close

Dateline: 7 September 2013

Mr. Gower empties his cookie jar! 
(click the pile of money to see all the smiling folk)

I was hoping to sell maybe 40 books and raise $200 for the Beyond Off-Grid documentary project when I announced the fundraiser idea here ten days ago. But your response far exceeded my hopes. As of this morning, I have sold 81 books and y'all have contributed $405 to support the documentary!

Thanks to everyone who helped promote this fundraiser by telling others about it at your blogs and Facebook pages. And my sincere thanks to those of you who purchased a copy (or more than one) of my Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian book.

If you missed the special-price offer and would like to participate in this fundraiser, you still have time, but not much.... 

You can click on the "Add to Cart" button below and get the $12.95 book for only $8, postage paid (cheaper than at Amazon). Five dollars of your purchase will go to support the documentary.

Can we make it to $450?

Whatever the case, I'll be sending a check for the amount raised to Sean Tounn on Monday.

Remember that you can also support the documentary project directly at the Beyond Off-Grid Web Site.

Thanks again to everyone who chipped in and made this a successful fundraiser!

Sept 7, 9:00 pm
The Fundraiser Has Ended. 
Books Sold: 87
Amount of Money Raised: $435.00

The Book


Rural Americans:
Cannon Fodder
For The New World Order

Dateline: 6 September 2013

Sergeant Alvin C. York  (this farmboy knew how to shoot!)

"They say farmers are good warriors because they learn to shoot at an early age. Sociological profiles done for the United States Army found rural, conservative boys from farms had a natural propensity to take orders, were in good physical shape, and naturally were accustomed to the outdoor life of nights on the ground. I suppose it is no accident that Sergeant York was of rural stock. The Roman strategist Vegetius over sixteen centuries ago agreed. “I do not think,” he wrote, “that there has ever been any question that rural people are the best equipped for military service.”

At the heart of the rustic’s ability to fight both effectively and brutally is [his] combative attitude toward nature—the very hard-headed view of the unending struggle to grow food. In my own family my Swedish grandfather who was gassed in the Argonne—my namesake, Victor Hanson, Jr.—who was blown apart on Okinawa a few weeks before the war ended, a cousin, Holt, with a bullet in his brain at Normandy, my late father who flew on the big B-29 thirty-four times over Tokyo, were all good warriors—the latter especially a lethal man with either a .50-caliber machine gun or 20-mm cannon. I think now that their skills derived from the years on this farm. These pest-sprayers and -dusters understood that you must—no, want to—kill things that destroy to survive, must obliterate those who would eradicate civilization, must as part of nature itself use muscle and brain to slay the slayer. When the warriors of this family recognized the character of the satanic Nazi or imperial German or racist Japanese, I’m afraid that not one of them blinked when his finger was on the trigger, and so slew many of those blindly obedient to an evil cause before being wounded, poisoned, and shot down themselves."

—Victor Davis Hanson
“The Land Was Everything”


American Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, has recently stated that 150 years ago, when the USDA was established, 90% of the people in this country were connected in some way to rural America. Today it is 16%. 

With most Americans now crammed into high-density population centers, separated from the culture and values of rural America, rural citizens have virtually no political clout. Rural Americans are now pretty much disenfranchised.   Those in power recognize that we have a problem—but the problem they see is not the same problem that rural Americans see.

Joel Salatin, small-farm advocate, and a voice of rural-agrarian sanity, has recently written of a meeting he attended where Tom Vilsack expressed the main concern that the centralized "powers that be" have about the loss of population in rural America. What Joel heard upset him very much. He posted about it at His Facebook Page. The quotes below come from his commentary:

“...although rural America only has 16 percent of the population, it gives 40 percent of the personnel to the military. Say what? You mean when it's all said and done, at the end of the day, the bottom line--you know all the cliches--the whole reason for increasing farms is to provide cannon fodder for American imperial might. He said rural kids grow up with a sense of wanting to give something back, and if we lose that value system, we'll lose our military might.

So folks, it all boils down to American military muscle. It's not about food, healing the land, stewarding precious soil and resources; it's all about making sure we keep a steady stream of youngsters going into the military. This puts an amazing twist on things. You see, I think we should have many more farmers, and have spent a lifetime trying to encourage, empower, and educate young people to go into farming. It never occurred to me that this agenda was the key to American military power.

Lest I be misread, I am not opposed to defending family. I am not opposed to fighting for sacred causes. I am violently opposed to non-sacred fighting and meddling in foreign countries, and building empires. The Romans already tried that and failed.

But to think that my agenda is key to building the American military--now that's a cause for pause. I will redouble my efforts to help folks remember why we need more farmers. It's not to provide cannon fodder for Wall Street imperialistic agendas. It's to grow food that nourishes, land that's aesthetically and aromatically sensually romantic, build soil, hydrate raped landscapes, and convert more solar energy into biomass than nature would in a static state. I can think of many, many righteous and noble reasons to have more farms. Why couldn't he have mentioned any of these? Any?

No, the reason for more farms is to make sure we get people signing up at the recruitment office. That's the way he sees me as a farmer. Not a food producer. When the president and his cabinet have their private conflabs, they don't see farmers as food producers, as stewards of the landscape, as resource leveragers. No, they view us as insurance for military muscle, for American empire building and soldier hubris. Is this
outrageous? Do I have a right to be angry? Like me, this raw and bold show of the government's farming agenda should make us all feel betrayed, belittled, and our great nation besmirched."

Joel Salatin