Clothespin Update
(The Current Planet Whizbang Newsletter)

Dateline: 21 June 2014

Custom grip-groove saw, in the making

I don't lack for things to blog about these days, but I do lack for the time to get them written down and posted here. That said, I'm going to take a little "summer vacation" from blogging. I can assure you I will not be sitting on a beach, basking in the sun. I'll be doing something much more enjoyable (from my perspective)….  I'll be working at my home business and in the garden. The letter below is an e-mail I sent out to my Planet Whizbang e-mail list. If you haven't subscribed to the list, you can do so Here. Lord willing, I will return from my summer vacation and begin blogging here once again on July 1st. 

The Newsletter…

Dear Friends,

Hardly a day goes by that I don't receive at least one e-mail from someone wondering when I will have more Classic American Clothespins back in stock to sell. And I have gotten numerous requests from retailers who want to buy the clothespins in quantity at wholesale prices. I have, thus far, made and sold around 12,000 clothespins, but I think that I could have sold half a million if I had them to sell.

My problem with getting enough clothespins made is, first, that Planet Whizbang is pretty much a one-man operation, and making clothespins is just one small part of what I do to make a living.

Last summer my oldest son was just out of the Army and he helped me get the first two production runs of clothespins made. But he has since moved on to a job with an electrical contractor. Making clothespins with dad was "boring." Truth be told, handcrafting clothespins is a long, tedious, monotonous process and I can understand my son wanting to pursue other things.

The second problem I have when it comes to getting more clothespins made is a severe lack of room to make them. My home workshop is smaller than a 2-car garage and literally packed to the ceiling with Planet Whizbang product inventory. I also have inventory packed into my house and down the road in another house where my son lives.

Last year's first two production runs of Classic American clothespins were actually made under a 10' x 10' canopy tent set up on the lawn outside my shop. The tent-workshop worked very well… until cold weather came in the fall.

And then there is the matter of tools… I am making clothespins using basic woodworking equipment, which isn't well suited to commercial production.

Upon hearing of these problems, most people would suggest that I build a bigger workshop, buy some production tooling, and hire some help. Problem solved.

Well, I've certainly considered those things but they are not possible for a couple of reasons. One reason is that I don't have the finances for that, and I am dead set against borrowing money. I'm a pay-as-I-go guy. I have no debt. None. I like being a free man, as opposed to being a slave to the money lenders.

Besides that, I don't want a big operation with a lot of employees. I like having a small-scale, hands-on, home-based business. The allure of making more money is not enough for me to trade off the simplicity of my current business model.

I have related all of this for those of you who may not know my situation, and who may be wondering why it is taking so long to get more Classic American clothespins in stock.

Now, here is my plan, and an honest assessment of when I expect to have more clothespins for sale...

During the month of July, I will be working to get caught up with various other Planet Whizbang business demands. I will also get my custom grip-groove saw (with a power feeder) finished. The saw is pictured above. The new saw will (hopefully) allow me to cut the three saw grooves on each clothespin with one pass, instead of three separate passes. And I will get the workshop-tent set up again. Then, as time permits through the months of August and September, I will make clothespins. I will hopefully get at least 40,000 clothespin halves made.

During October and early November, I will work at getting some of the clothespins tumbled, sorted and packaged, so they are ready to sell by Thanksgiving and Christmas. During the cold and snowy months of winter, I will work at getting the rest of the clothespins finished.

That schedule for making clothespins is pretty much how it went last year, and it will probably be how it goes every year, as long as I remain a small-scale clothespin crafter.

Thank you for your interest in my Classic American clothespins. If you stay subscribed to this e-mail newsletter I will be sending out a notice when the clothespins are once again available.

In the meantime, I invite you to read This Great Clothespin Review by Jane.

Best Whizbang Wishes,

Herrick Kimball

The Planet Whizbang
Toe-Tapper Faucet Switch
(prototypes for sale)

Dateline: 17 June 2014

Planet Whizbang Toe-Tapper Faucet Switch
Version 1.0
(click picture for enlarged view)

I have met my self-imposed one-month-long deadline to make 100 prototype “Toe-Tapper Faucet Switches." Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will recall that I wrote about this idea back on May 18th. That was the day after I had finalized the design (Click Here to read the post). 

Interested persons can now buy a Toe-Tapper, put it to use, evaluate the design and, hopefully, give me some feedback. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. I need to explain exactly what this Toe Tapper is for and how it works....

The Toe-Tapper...

The Toe-Tapper is a foot-switch designed to be used with an outdoor sink that is hooked up to a garden hose. 

Sinks are often set up outdoors by people who process (butcher) their own chickens. An outdoor sink can also be handy for washing produce from the garden before bringing it in the house. Or, if you are into putting up your own food (canning and freezing), you might have a temporary outdoor summer-kitchen (with an outdoor sink) set up under a tent in the back yard. The toe-tapper faucet switch allows you to turn the sink faucet on and off with a tap of the foot. One tap to turn the water on. Another tap to turn it off.

Another view of the Toe-Tapper. 

What You Should Know
Before You Buy A Toe-Tapper

The pictures on this page show you exactly how the Toe-Tapper is constructed. It measures 4” wide by 11” long, and is 3” high. 

The prototype Toe-Tapper faucet switches I’m selling here have no warranty or guarantee. They are being sold at a reasonable price for the purpose of field testing. Based on the feedback I get, I will decide to proceed with making and selling more Toe-Tappers, or to not make any more. One thing is for sure... I will not be making any more of these Toe-Tappers in 2014.

I believe the basic design of the Toe-Tapper is sound. What I don’t know, and hope to find out, is how dependable the push-button water valve is over an extended period of use. I have tested one Toe-Tapper by putting it under my computer desk (not hooked to water) and clicking it on and off repeatedly. Thus far, the internal spring has held up to at least a couple thousand clicks.

A top-down view… Two holes are drilled in the Toe-Tapper base for anchor spikes. Two 6" spikes (visible in this picture) are included with the Toe-Tapper. Position the switch on the ground under your sink where you want it to be and hammer the spikes into the soil. If the Toe-Tapper is positioned on wood, just use a couple of screws to hold it in place.

I purchased the push-button water valves (they are sold as "tap adapters") from Gardener's Supply. Click Here to go to the web page for the valves. You can read a lot of customer feedback there.

I had to purchase the fittings at full retail price from Gardener’s Supply because they didn’t want to sell wholesale to me. Gardener’s Supply is the only place I know of that sells them. I couldn’t locate the manufacturer. I would not be surprised to see these unique fittings being sold in major home centers before long. That would be a good thing. Perhaps the price would come down.

The white HDPE used to make the valves came from plastic pieces I have saved over the years from making Whizbang cider press and chicken plucker parts. Some of the plastic is scuffed or scratched and there may be sawblade marks on the edges. So don't judge these prototypes by the cleanliness of the plastic. I would like people to judge the functional usefulness of the design concept, as well as the durability of the tap adapter.

With HDPE plastic in mind, I got an e-mail from a man who said he left a piece of 1/8” HDPE outdoors for a year and it degraded to the point of crumbling apart. It is possible to buy ultraviolet-resistant HDPE, but I’m pretty sure the HDPE I’ve used to make these Toe-Tappers is not UV-HDPE. 

However, I've had a roll of the 1/8” HDPE outdoors behind my shop (not in direct sun) for more than a year and have seen no degradation at all. Common plastic buckets are HDPE and they hold up to the elements outdoors for years. It remains to be seen how the HDPE in these Toe-Tappers will hold up if left outdoors, in direct sun, for a long period of time. If you are concerned about UV rays, you can put a coat or two of paint on the plastic. Paint will protect the plastic from ultraviolet degradation.

Some of the Toe-Tapper prototypes have 3/4" thick base plates. Some have 1/2". I don't think one is any better than the other.

All metal hardware used to assemble the Toe-Tappers is stainless steel. No rust!

Every prototype is stamped with a serial number: 001 to 100.

Side view of the Toe-Tapper Faucet Switch

How To Buy A Toe-Tapper

If the simple practicality and functional usefulness of this hands-free outdoor faucet switch appeals to you,  you can purchase a prototype with the order button at the bottom of this page. 

The price is $21.95. An additional $8 will be added to the order for USPS Priority shipping to any US. address. 

Sorry, but I am not shipping any of these prototypes outside the United States. They are all packaged in Regional-Rate Priority mail boxes which are only for shipping within the U.S. Also, I am limiting the sale of these prototypes to one per customer

I am keeping three of the prototypes for myself (#098 to #100). The other 97 will sell as the orders come in, beginning with #001, until they are all sold. First come, first served.

Sold Out. 

PDF specifications for making your own Toe-Tapper faucet switch are now available at This Link

This picture shows one option for plumbing a water line from the Toe-Tapper to your faucet. Your garden hose will thread into the valve on the right. A 5/8" "female mender" (which I bought from Lowes) can be used on the opposite side. A length of 5/8" inside diameter hose would go from the female mender up to your sink faucet. Female mender and hose are NOT included with the prototype Toe-Tapper.

Please leave questions and evaluation feedback in the comments below. I also welcome feedback by e-mail:

Thank you.

Making Hay
While The Sun Shines

Dateline: 16 June 2014

Photo Link

This is the busiest time of year for my Planet Whizbang home business. I'm a bit overwhelmed with the orders that are coming in lately. I try to get orders shipped out the day after I get them, but I'm having trouble doing that. I'm thankful for such a problem, but there is little time for blogging.

That said, I am on schedule to introduce the Whizbang Toe-Tapper Faucet Switch here tomorrow, as I have been planning to do for the past month. The 100 prototype Toe-Tappers are done, and boxed and ready to ship. It was a challenge to get them all done, but I like challenges.

Barring any unforeseen problems, I'll be back here tomorrow with the full details.

Toe-Tapper faucet switch prototypes, boxed and ready to ship.

Deliberate Agrarian
Snippet #40

The Greatness of America
Was Founded On Agriculture

Dateline: 14 June 2014

I subscribe to the Wood Prairie Farm newsletter. The farm is located in Bridgewater, Maine, just down the road from where my Uncle Bill and Aunt Irene Yerxa used to live. I have fond memories of visiting Bridgewater in the summer vacations of my youth, and playing with my cousins, Mark and Morgan. 

Today's newsletter from Wood Prairie Farm featured the 1922 pictorial map pictured above. It is well worth taking a closer look at the map and you can do so At This Link. The web page at that link also shows 39 other maps with statistics related to agriculture and food in America.

The Old Farmhouse
Of Our Dreams
(An Update)

Dateline: 11 June 2014

Back in November of last year (seven months ago), I blogged about The Old Farmhouse of Our Dreams. I showed lots of pictures of the run-down house and property on two acres of land that is down the road a short way from where we now live. We had agreed on a price with the owners and gave a deposit with the official purchase offer. All that remained to be done was get a survey, make sure there was a clear title, and get the lawyers to do their thing. I expected it would all come together in the spring.

Over the winter I concluded that the old house with its leaking roof of just-plywood (with little scraps of tar paper clinging here and there) was probably too far gone to remodel into the farmhouse of our dreams. But it was not too far gone to turn it into a barn-like workshop/warehouse that I could start using right away for my Planet Whizbang business. 

Planet Whizbang is currently being run out of a shop that is smaller than the average two-car garage. I’m significantly hampered by a lack of space.

The big old house, with it’s solid post-and-beam frame would be an excellent (and affordable) solution to my lack of room. For less than the cost of a mid-priced new pickup truck, I could buy the property, put a good roof on the house, clean out all the trash, and have ten times the square footage of workshop and storage area that I now operate my business with. 

The big lawn with full-sun exposure would give me at least four times the garden area I now have on my 1.5 acre homestead. The layout of the property would accommodate  a retirement home for Marlene and I at a later date. These things (and more) added up to an ideal situation.

But it looks like it’s not going to happen. 

According to my attorney there is a holdup because of issues with the title. There may be liens on the property. He wasn’t too optimistic about the deal going through any time soon, if ever.  

At this point, my guess is that the owners will not pay the taxes on the property. If that is the case, it will go up for auction by the county in three years. By then, with a severely leaking roof, the house will probably be beyond salvaging.

Marlene and I are disappointed but not real disappointed. We’ve been through this sort of thing in the past and we have the same attitude now as we did then. We believe that God orchestrates the events of our lives and He knows better than us what is right and best. We are content with that.

Though the analogy may be a bit silly, I look at this like a child going through the checkout lane at the grocery store with his father. The child is looking at all the candy that is always positioned in those places. The child sees a candy bar that looks particularly good and asks his father if he will buy the candy bar for him. The father looks at it, thinks about it a moment, and says:  “No, you don’t need that.” 

We all know that some kids get upset and even make a scene in such a scenario. But I’m not one of those kinds of kids. The fact is, as nice as I think it might be to have that candy bar property, I really don’t need it.

So we will wait and see if anything develops in the next few months. If nothing positive happens by the end of the year, I’ll get the deposit back and keep my eyes open for other possibilities.


One more thing. it's a little off topic but I want to pass on something of interest that my attorney told me. He says that credit card companies are now putting liens on houses. This is evidently something new. Also, I've read articles about people who are now being put in jail for not paying their bills. This Article is one of several on the internet about the return of "debtor's prisons."  

& The Destruction of
America's Food Security

Dateline: 11 June 2014

This ancient way of making cheese is now against the law

Every living American consumes food, but precious few Americans produce any of the food they consume. So it is that when the American bureaucracy imposes increasingly burdensome regulations on those who produce food, relatively few citizens know, and even less care. 

Government regulates under the auspices of “food safety.” Average Americans, because they are disconnected from the realities of food production, and because they are easily manipulated by fear, are in favor of more government-imposed food safety regulations.

However, increasing regulations imposed by the centralized government bureaucracy are destroying the food security of our country. Food security comes when there is a vast, decentralized network of small-scale food production, which is what America once had. But those small-scale food producers have been, and are being, systematically regulated out of business.

Who benefits from the imposition of this kind of destructive overregulation? First, the bureaucracy benefits. Hundreds of thousands of government employees make a good living through food regulation. These people are not producers in the economy of this country. They are a parasitic class that feeds off the hard work of those who do produce.

The large-scale food producers (Big-Food) also benefit from government overregulation of food-production. They have the advantage of an economy of scale; it is no big deal for them to comply with regulations that are onerous enough to drive more and more of the small producers out of business. 

Large food-production industries have no problem with regulations that eliminate their small-scale competition. And if it happens that Big-Food isn’t happy with some point of regulation, they have the influence (money) to get their way in the circles of centralized power.

Do the masses of ignorant food consumers in America benefit from government overregulation of small-scale food producers? Is the food they eat safer? No. 

Most, if not all, of the food poisoning and food safety scares that hit the news come from Big-Food. Rarely does one hear of anyone getting sick from food produced by small-scale, local producers. And if it does happen, it is a relatively minor occurence.

I have related all of this as a lead in to a recent blog post by Doreen Hannes at Truth Farmer. Doreen does an excellent job of keeping Americans-who-care informed about the destructive regulation of small-scale food producers by America’s expanding bureaucratic dictatorship. Please take a moment to read No More Artisan Cheese For Americans and learn about the latest food-regulation absurdity.

This matter of bureaucratic overregulation, leading to the controlled consolidation of food production in America, is no small matter. The financial vibrancy of free enterprise is being strangled by the force of this bureaucracy. America is in decline and this is but one of so many examples of tyranny coming from the centralized power structure of this nation.


12 June 2014

The USDA has changed its mind. 
Read the good news At This Article

Deliberate Agrarian
Snippet #39

Transplanted Beets
(No Thinning Required)

Dateline: 10 June 2014

click pictures for larger views

5:45 AM: It's a cool, damp, misty morning and I have just returned from my garden. In a few minutes I'll have my one cup of coffee for the day. After that I'll walk about 50 feet, out the door of my house, into my small work shop, part of which is sectioned off into a mail-order packaging room.  I'll get my orders done for Ricky (the mail-man), who will be here around noon. Later in the day, Beaver (the UPS man), will stop in to pick up packages. These are busy days. Yesterday I worked in my shop until 10:00 at night. 

If it clears off and the ground dries up a bit, I will take some time to do some cultivating in my garden. The weeds are small and inconspicuous throughout most of my garden (where there is no plastic mulch) but they have high hopes.

Back in Deliberate Agrarian Snippet #26 and Snippet #27 I explained how I transplanted spinach seedlings from a low-rider tire nursery bed to a raised bed in my garden (we are now eating and juicing the spinach from that bed). I also transplanted kale, romaine lettuce and beets in like manner.

I never transplanted beets until this year. It's a whole new concept for me. I planted three rows in the 30"-wide bed. The rows are spaced 10" apart. The beet seedlings are spaced 4" apart in the row. 

It was tedious work to transplant and space the beets. And the plants did not look good for well over a week. I wondered if they were going to die. But every single one survived, and they are now starting to grow green and healthy.

I'll be planting more beets in July for a fall crop. I'll probably transplant again. But instead of transplanting from a tire bed, I think I'll try growing in plug flats. Transplanting each beet with a bit of soil around it will, I'm sure, not be such a shock to the young beets.

Yet Another...
Whizbang Toe-Tapper
Faucet Switch

Dateline: 9 June 2014

More parts to make the Whizbang Toe-Tapper 
(click the picture for a closer look)

I have come up with an idea for a foot-operated switch for an outdoor faucet. I finalized the design last month (on May 17). My goal is to have 100 prototype Planet Whizbang Toe-Tapper faucet switches available for sale on June 17. I introduced the idea Here, and have provided updates Here and Here

Today is June 9. Time is short. I'm focusing on getting this nifty new idea ready to sell by the deadline. I won't have time to develop a web site for the Toe-Tappers, so I will unveil the finished product at this blog on the morning of June 17th. I will provide order buttons here at that time. Sorry but I can't pre-sell or reserve Toe-Tappers. Just be here on the morning of the 17th. 

The first 100 Toe-Tappers will be sold as prototypes with no guarantee of satisfaction. They will be sold at a reduced, pre-production price for the purposes of field testing. Each Toe-Tapper will be stamped with a prototype number.

After the prototypes are made, my plan is to make a unique outdoor garden sink design that has been bouncing around in my head for awhile. It will have a homemade faucet that is operated by the Toe-Tapper. I'll be introducing the garden sink here at this blog.

Thank you for your interest.

The Perfect
Father's Day Gift

Dateline: 8 June 2014

I was walking into a Home Depot store yesterday and saw a sign that said…

Father's Day is June 15. Think tools.

…so I did what the sign said and I thought of one of the handiest tools I own, which happened to be right in my hand. It was a Whizbang NOTES pocket notebook with a list of things I wanted to get in the store. 

And then I thought to myself that I should tell all of my blog readers…

Father's Day is June 15.
Think Whizbang Pocket Notebooks.

And then I started to think about well-known father role models and I thought about John Walton of The Walton's television series which ran from 1972 to 1981. That was back when I still watched television, and I loved the program.

Oh sure, John Walton was a fictional character, but as a teenager and a young man, I identified with him. He was a down-to-earth, hard-working family man. The Waltons were a  multi-generational family, with Grandpa and Grandma living in the same home with John and Olivia and their seven children. Their home and the land they lived on (Walton Mountain) was land that Waltons had lived on for generations. The land was important to them. The rural life they lived was full and rich and they had something that is largely gone in modern America…. rural community.

There were aspects of The Waltons that irked me but, overall, the show had so many redeeming qualities. 

And then, of course, with fathers and rural families and television programs in mind, there was also Little House on the Prairie, which ran from 1974 to 1984. Michael Landon's character as Pa Ingalls was powerfully endearing, as was the entire program.

It's interesting to note that, back in the 1970s I liked The Waltons somewhat better than I did Little House on the Prairie. But as an adult, I like Little House on the Prairie much better than The Waltons.

In any event, I'm pretty certain that Grandpa Walton ("Zeb"), John Walton ("Daddy"), and Charles Ingalls ("Pa") used pocket notebooks (all those old timers did). So they would have been very pleased to get a package of Whizbang Notes Pocket Notebooks for father's day. And I'm sure that your grandpa or daddy would be equally pleased.

Orders are shipped promptly and will get to most US locations within three days. Don't tarry….

The Mystery Of
My Bug-Free Garden

Dateline: 7 June 2014

My Kennebeck potato plants, after the first hilling.
(click picture for a closer view)

I planted eight, 30-foot-long rows of potatoes in my garden this year. Five rows are Yukon Gold. Three rows are Kennebeck. And I have one short row of fingerling potatoes too. I planted the potatoes on the same day I saw the first bright yellow dandelion blossom in the lawn by my garden (I explained the dandelion/potato connection in This Post).

The potatoes have grown very nicely. I sprayed the leaves with a seaweed foliar application when they were a couple inches high, and they responded remarkably well. That was a first for me. I think I'll continue to do the foliar feeding, which is recommended by Wood Prairie Farm in These Instructions

I did have some "skips" in my rows. Maybe a dozen. The potato seed pieces rotted instead of growing. But I dug them out and replanted with some seed pieces I had saved.

By now, in previous years, I would have had Colorado Potato Beetles laying eggs on my potato plants. But it isn't happening. I've seen only two adult beetles in my garden. One wasn't even near the potatoes. And I've not found a single beetle egg.  This is an amazing mystery to me.

I don’t know how long it will last, and I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but I’m sure enjoying the fact that there are no Colorado Potato Beetles destroying my potato plants yet.

If (when) they eventually show, I'm ready for them. I bought some Bulls-Eye Bioinsecticide. I've never used the product before but my friend Steve Lonsky has used it for years, and he says it works great. And I think it's organic-approved.

Kale and Romaine in my garden

The mystery of the missing Potato Beetles is not the only good insect conundrum in my garden. The usual flea beetles are missing too. I don't think I have ever grown kale in the spring and not had the plants savaged by flea beetles. But I have a whole row of Dwarf Blue Kale that is growing beautifully, and there is not a flea beetle in sight. 

Unfortunately, my green beans have not done well at all, but it isn't because of insect damage. I planted three rows of beans, they sprouted nicely, then the fledgling sprouts turned brown and most of them died. This has been a recurring problem in my garden for years. I think it is some sort of a virus. It's discouraging.  Does anyone have any advice for me about this bean problem?

I have a theory about why the flea beetles are not destroying my kale this year. Maybe it explains why there are no potato beetles too. No, I did not slather my whole garden with pesticide. I've never used a bug spray in my garden in well over 20 years. I'll present my theory in an upcoming blog post.

Meanwhile, I'll not only continue to patrol my potato rows looking for potato beetles, I'll be watching to see if bugs attack my young squash and cucumber plants. If they don't, that will be even more amazing.

The Best Place To
Plant A Garden

Dateline: 6 June 2014

click picture to see a larger view

The best place to plant a home vegetable garden is on well-drained soil in a spot that gets full sun exposure. Beyond that, I think it is important to have the garden close to your home.

If your garden is far from your house, you aren't as likely to give it the attention it deserves. 

My garden (pictured above) is in an ideal location. I took that picture a couple days ago when I was on the roof of my house. There is a small bit of lawn between my house and the gravel driveway, then the garden. My workshop is at the end of the driveway, which is just to the right of the picture (out of sight). Right behind the workshop is a sharp drop down to a stream.

With the garden so close, it is much less likely to get neglected. Unfortunately for me, the amount of garden I can grow close to my house is limited to what you see in the picture. 

The front yard of my house (at my left as I took the picture) is less than half the size of my garden and does not get full sun. The back yard is even smaller and shaded by trees most of the day. Years ago I did have garden beds in the back yard and they did not do well. 

The other side of my house (behind me as I took the picture) is pretty close to wooded land, which also goes behind the house. I have 1.5 acres of land on this home site but most of it is woods and steep bank.

So, though I have what I believe is a perfect place for a home garden, I don't have any room to expand the garden. My property line is the row of grape vines at the end of the garden. 

The field beyond would be ideal for expanding my garden and, in fact, I used to use part of that field to grow a lot of garlic and potatoes and squash, but the neighbor who let me use his land moved. Now the field grows weeds.

We tried to buy a portion of that field a few years back, but the deal fell through. Then, a couple years ago, we bought 16 acres of land on the other side of our house (behind me as I took the picture). Part of the land is a field, with lots of room for expanded gardens.

But it turns out that to get to the field I have to walk a distance through the woods and over a stream. Or I have to drive down the road, around the corner, and up into the field. Such a location is not ideal for a home garden. It's too far away and out of sight. It's also not a good place to pasture animals for the same reason.

In the time it takes to get to a farther-away garden, and back, I can have a lot of work done in the garden close to my home.   If I had nothing much else to do but garden, a farther-away garden might work, but I'm super busy with my Planet Whizbang home business. For some reason, none of this occurred to me when I bought the 16 acres of land.

Besides that, there is the matter of varmints… In 20+ years of gardening next to my home, I've rarely had a problem with rabbits, woodchucks, or deer. If you have a good dog, it will make sure the critters keep their distance. If you don't have a good dog, it's much easier to see and shoot a critter in a garden next to your house than a garden far from your house.

My idea of the ideal homestead would be a house and workshop positioned on a piece of land where I could plant garden plots and fruit trees, and have pastured animals, all around, close to the house. Mown lawn would be at a minimum. For now, I'll continue to do the best I can with what I have. And that right there is a good bit of garden advice in itself… Do the best you can with what you have to work with.

"Freedom Isn’t Free"
(And Other Propaganda)

Dateline: 5 June 2014

“Freedom isn’t free” is described by Wikipedia as: “a popular American idiom, used widely in the United States to express gratitude to the military for defending personal freedoms.”

I’ve been thinking of this phrase lately and I don’t agree with the supposition it promotes. While I am grateful that America has a strong military, and I support American soldiers for their bravery and the sacrifices they make, I strongly disagree that they are “defending personal freedoms.”

If our military, under the direction of whoever directs them (ostensibly, the President), were defending the personal freedoms of Americans, through various military actions all over the world, especially in recent years, then why am I less free that I’ve ever been?

The fact is, as the American empire wages war in so many different nations, and is involved in destabilizing subterfuge in others, We The People live under a government system that is taking away more and more personal freedom.

No matter what political party is in charge, our enormous government bureaucracy continues to inflict more and more regulations on us. Increased regulation does not equate with personal freedom. Our government also routinely invades our privacy, which is antithetical to freedom. Our police forces are becoming more and more militarized. We all know this is the case, and some people are more aware of it than others.

It is not only ironic that with more militarization, America has become less free, it's also alarming. 

Americans are told that we have to give up our freedoms (and support a police state) because of the threat of terrorism. It so happens that fear is a powerful motivator. You can get people to willingly give up basic freedoms and rights if you can first create sufficient fear. 

Creating fear in the people is a propaganda art that governments, including our own, have employed for a very long time. Average Americans are easily manipulated by government fear mongering. But is the fear of things that might or could happen reason enough to give up freedom? Patrick Henry didn't think so…

"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death."

Americans venerate men like Patrick Henry who not only said such words, but actually believed and acted on them. Yet few modern Americans share the sentiment. Or, if they do, they are deceived into thinking they are free when the are actually in bureaucratic chains and treated like slaves. Or, if they do believe Patrick Henry, and they do expect to have personal freedom, they are looked at like they are a little crazy.

This discussion begs the question of why we are seeing an increase in the loss of American freedoms in recent years. The reason, as you probably know, goes back to 9/11. America was attacked. Fear swept through the nation. The government responded with "shock and awe"warfare on foreign countries (and millions of people in those countries) that were no threat to the United States. And the American police state was given a powerful boost. 

There is an old saying that "war is the health of the state." In times of war, the citizens rally around the central government, volunteer to serve in the military, and accept the loss of freedoms. They also assume the costs of the war. Thus it is that it's in the best interests of a central government to perpetuate wars, or to define a common enemy that is a threat to the nation.

Most people in America were in favor of  going after the Islamic terrorists that attacked us on 9/11. I was among them. But my neighbor, Mr. Murphy, was not in favor of the war. He was an older man who saw action in the Pacific as a Marine during WW2. He was very angry at George Bush for taking America to war in the Middle East. In recent years, I've come to think more like Mr. Murphy.

My mind changed when I saw Building 7 fall. The 47-story building was never hit by a plane on 9/11, yet the entire structure collapsed into it's footprint at free-fall speed. It is stunning to watch the film clip of the collapse. If I understand correctly, it is the first and only time that has ever happened, without using carefully-placed demolition charges. 

If you go to Architects & Engineers For 9/11 Truth and watch some of the documentary evidence they present, you can't help but conclude that Building 7 did not just collapse as a result of some fires. That sort of thing doesn't happen. At least it doesn't happen according to many professional architects, engineers, and people who build tall buildings for a living. They question the official story given for the collapse of Building 7.

Many Architects and engineers (and people who demolish buildings for a living) have no doubt that Building 7 was demolished with explosive charges. If this is true, if the government has attempted to cover up the truth about this event, what else are they not telling the truth about. 

Many of the same architects and engineers (that are not working for the government) also believe the World Trade Center towers could not have collapsed like they did as a result of an airplane being flown into them on 9/11. Once you learn about Building 7 and wrap your mind around the possibility that the official story of Building 7 is not true, you can't help but wonder about the official story about the collapse of the Twin Towers.

The 9/11 disaster provided the justification for America's prolonged war in the middle East, and the significant loss of personal freedom in America. Were these actions based on deceptive pretenses? My mind doesn't want to believe it, but there is a lot of evidence that this is the case.

If you have never heard of Building 7, or you have not seen the building fall,check out Architects & Engineers For 9/11 Truth. You'll notice that they aren't the kind of people who wear tinfoil hats and talk about UFOs. They are serious professional people who question the veracity of the official story. There is more to all of this than meets the eye. 

And when you hear that "freedom isn't free," I hope you will remember what I've written here today.

My Gardening
Without Cultivation Experiment
(Part 1)

Dateline: 3 June 2014

Last month I blogged here about Tom Doyle's "Plant & Pick" Vegetable Gardening System. I mentioned that he wrote a book about gardening by planting in rows of small holes in large sheets of black plastic. I finally got a copy of the booklet and I'll post a review of it here soon. But before I received the book I went ahead and bought a roll of 12-foot-wide Long Lasting Plastic Mulch to try making some permanent plastic-covered sections in my garden. 

The picture above shows the first piece of plastic going down. I dug a 6" trench around the perimeter to bury the edges of the plastic. Where the plastic came up to my sheet metal walkway, I just tucked it under the metal.

The picture above shows the first sheet of plastic mulch in place. It is 10' 6" wide and about 30' long.

I spaced the three plastic-covered sections apart 12". That Fiskars flat-blade shovel visible in the above picture is the tool I used to dig the perimeter trench for burying the plastic edges.

I've learned from previous experience with this woven plastic that if it is cut with a knife it frays. It has to be cut with heat so the edges melt. I used a propane torch to heat up a 3" diameter biscuit cutter to make the rows of planting holes. The plastic has lines on it, which help with keeping the rows of holes straight. I used little sticks of wood, as shown above, to help space the holes at 12" on center. Melting holes with a biscuit cutter and torch is tedious.

The rows of holes are spaced around 28" apart. I have five rows of holes per sheet of plastic. 

I will keep you updated on how this idea works.