In With The Old

Dateline: 1 January 2015

This painting can be found at the
Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art.
(click for larger view)

Has anyone reading this been there?

Today's blog post has come about after reading This Blog Post that I wrote back in 2008. It was, in part, a story of how I nearly got hit by a train, and then, after blathering on a bit, I wondered if vintage gum might be the next investment bubble. 

I decided to update that old post by adding a picture (I rarely had pictures on my blogs in "the old days") and I updated the small font to Georgia large, which I think is easier on the eyes (you are reading it now).

One thing led to another and I ended up deleting some posts for various reasons. Then I decided to update a bunch of my writings from 2006. 

People who read this blog come and go. New folks are coming along all the time. So I'd like to start 2015 with a look back at a small collection some of my older writings....

Leaf-Bags For Easy
Garden Root Storage
(My Newest YouTube Video))

30 December 2014

Illustration of a traditional root clamp.
I have a better idea...

Clamps were once a reliable pre-industrial method of storing root crops through a cold winter and into spring. Clamps will once again be a reliable method of food storage in the post-industrial era ahead of us. Thus it is that using clamps to store potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, cabbages, and even apples, is a food storage technique worth learning. 

The best way to learn about keeping roots in garden clamps is to first read the literature about this ancient food preservation technique, then personally experiment every year with different ideas until you perfect your own clamping system that is relatively easy and consistently reliable.

The traditional-style garden clamp is an earthen mound with straw-insulated vegetables inside, like you see in the illustration above.

Old-time farmers used larger clamps for storage of various root crops, which they fed to their cattle in the winter. Turnips and rutabagas were popular cattle feed. Here is an illustration of a farm-scale clamp design...

Longtime readers may recall that I have made small garden clamps in past years to store root crops. I’ve used variations on the earthen-mound clamp, and have had excellent success keeping roots in such clamps, right in my garden, through a cold New York State winter, and into spring. It’s mighty satisfying to have mounds of perfectly preserved, “fresh”  root-food in the garden all winter. 

The only problem with making a traditional root clamp is that it requires a fair amount of shoveling and moving of soil.  Then, in the spring, the ground needs quite a bit of work to be put right again for planting. Also, traditional-style clamps require a supply of straw. If you have a farm, you may have all the straw you need. If you don’t have a farm (and most people do not) then you need to buy some straw.

Those drawbacks to the traditional clamp led me to try something very different this year. I made a clamp with a standard plastic pail, some hardware cloth, and 5 bags filled with dry leaves. A couple days ago I opened it up to see how 26 pounds of carrots had fared through snow, and rain, and cold. I made an impromptu YouTube video of the opening....

As the video shows, the clamp is very simple to make, and the carrots came out just fine. I will be using several of these clamps for root storage next winter. However, I will modify the design just a bit.

If you watch the YouTube clip, you can see that there is a lot of moisture under the top bag of leaves when I remove it. The moisture is due, I’m sure, to the fact that we have had lots of rain during the December thaw. But it is also due to the fact that the clamp has no ventilation shaft to let excess moisture out. 

So the one modification I’ll make in next year’s leaf-bag clamps is to add a small ventilation shaft consisting of a bundle of goldenrod stems. The shaft will extend from the screened top of the clamp cylinder, up through the middle of the top bag of leaves.

The plastic pail, the 1/2” hardware cloth, and even the poly twine used around the leaf-bags are an inexpensive, one-time investment that can be reused for many years. The thin garbage bags used for leaves are cheap. The leaves and goldenrod stems are free. 

Another advantage to my leaf-bag clamps is that you can get into them during the winter without destroying the integrity of the clamp. You can simply take the top bag off, remove the screened lid, reach in, take out a bunch of roots, then replace the top bag (and weight it down with a rock or chunk of firewood). With a traditional garden clamp, you typically have to remove all the contents once the clamp is opened.

New Developments
In The World
Of Handmade Clothespins

Dateline: 27 December 2014

Classic American clothespins with a different spring assembly.
(click picture for an enlarged view)

I first mentioned the idea of starting a business making high-quality, traditional-style clothespins In This Blog Post back in April of 2012. It was impossible to find a good, American-Made clothespin and I was going to change all that. There I wrote...

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and a new, made-in-USA clothespin manufacturing business (home-based, and on the family-economy scale, of course) begins with one clothespin. So that is my challenge—to handcraft one clothespin. Stay tuned."

One month later, I Blogged About My Progress.  I had lined up a spring manufacturer and had 50,000 springs on order. I had also made a few prototype clothespins, using a few prototype springs. I was very serious about this new idea.

But it would be 15 months later (August, 2013) before I blogged, We're Making Clothespins!  My oldest son, fresh out of the Army, helped me with the first production run. It was a long, tedious, and somewhat discouraging job. 

The clothespins we made in 2013 sold out quickly. And the clothespins I most recently made this year (2014) sold out very quickly (8,000 ClassicAmerican clothespins were sold in a 12-hour span of time).  

Now, there are new developments in the world of high-quality, handcrafted, traditional-style clothespins...

The Pete Lilja Spring Assembly

If you look closely at the picture at the top of this page you will notice that the springs on the clothespins are different. They are the same stainless steel, American-made springs I have been using from the beginning, but they are on the clothespins in a unique way.

That spring attachment method was “invented” by clothespin maker, Pete Lilja of Cedar Falls, Iowa. I have named it the “Lilja Spring Assembly,” as opposed to the "Traditional Spring Assembly”...

These handcrafted Classic American clothespins show the "traditional spring assembly."

What you can’t see in the picture at the top of the page is that the spring coils fit in their grooves in the clothespin halves so much better with the Lilja Spring Assembly. Besides that, the clothespins have a tendency to close more evenly, which is to say, without a “side bite” (Pete calls it “longitudal torque”).

I have added this assembly option to the Clothespin Assembly Instructions page at my web site. If you’ve purchased some Assemble-Them-Yourself Clothespins from me, I recommend that you give this assembly option a try and see if you like it better.

Speaking of web sites, I recently purchased the internet domains of:,,

All those domains lead people to a web site named Good Clothespins, which is a directory of artisan clothespin makers. There are only three artisans there at this time, but more will come along. Once I have six clothespin makers in the directory, I will do some extensive marketing to get the word out.

More clothespin makers need to come along because there is no way I can make enough clothespins to meet the demand. The idea of creating a decentralized network of independent small-scale artisan clothespin makers has been part of my dream from the beginning.

In an effort to attract more enterprising woodworkers to the idea of making high-quality clothespins, I have also bought the domain of

The web site (which is not yet made) will encourage woodworkers to make their own clothespins, either as a personal project, or as a small business. 

I have updated and revised the clothespin specifications I sell and I hope to have everything ready to go with in a week or two.

More Springs

With lots of clothespins in mind, I purchased a second order of clothespin springs this month. My initial order of 50,000 is almost gone. 100,000 stainless steel clothespin springs was a major investment, but by purchasing 100,000 springs I was able to keep the cost down to the 2012 price. In case you wondered, an order of 100,000 stainless steel clothespin springs weighs 900 pounds.

Clothespin Review By Jane

(photo by Jane)

And finally, I would like to recommend the excellent clothespin review, Clothespin Woes No More, posted by "you can call me Jane" at her excellent blog, Thy Hand Hath Provided.  Thank you, Jane!

Christmas Thoughts

Dateline: 25 December 2014

"Simeon's Prophecy to Mary"
by Rembrandt (1628).
This is a seldom mentioned but significant part of the true
Christmas story and can be found in Luke 2:25-35.
Click Here for information about the photo.

Jesus was probably born in the spring, not on December 25, and the Bible does not say Christians should celebrate the birth of Christ, and many Christmas traditions have their roots in paganism, and Christmas has been commercialized in order for merchants to make money, and many Christians throughout history (the Pilgrims and early Puritans among them) never celebrated Christmas at all, and I myself, knowing these things, have been ambivalent about Christmas in times past. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m good with Christmas now. Here’s why....

First, Jesus Christ, God incarnate, was born, and his birth changed the world. Any holiday acknowledging this event as something very special is, in my opinion, a very good thing.

Second, Christmas has become such a thorn in the side of secularism (the religion of popular culture and the state) that I can’t help but enjoy seeing how institutions and some people try to celebrate the holiday without celebrating the holiday, if you know what I mean. Christmas is an annual reminder, in the midst of post-Christian America, of our Christian heritage, and the advent of Jesus Christ.

Third, Christmas is a unique time of the year when families and friends typically gather together in an atmosphere of joy and celebration. It’s an opportunity to express kindness, to remember the past, and, hopefully, to acknowledge the reason for the season. That’s all good.

I respect fellow Christians who, for whatever reason, choose not to celebrate Christmas.   I think this old Christian refrain applies...

In the essentials, unity.
In the non-essentials, liberty.
In all things, charity (love).

So, do as you please, but I’m going to keep this tradition and enjoy the holiday. And you can be sure I won’t be wishing those I know a “joyous winter solstice.”

Merry Christmas, my friends.

Herrick Kimball


P.S. For a good perspective on the origins of Christmas, Click This Link from Answers in Genesis. There you will find this final comment...

What should be of greater concern to Christians is the extent to which we have adopted some of the pagan practices during Christmas-time. Some have gone overboard on this, and we should be cautious of making Christmas about mythical images like Santa, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, and so on, rather than the birth of Christ and why He came to save those who were lost.
What is important is that we understand the implication of the omnipotent Son of God leaving His heavenly throne to empty Himself! Why would the Creator of the universe choose to do this, knowing He would be raised by sinful parents in a sinful world to be rejected and to die a horrible death? 
Unbelievable as it is, it was to pay the penalty for the sin of humankind (Romans 3:23, 6:23) so that we, undeserving, hateful sinners—doomed to die, could instead live with Him in paradise for eternity. Now, that is worth celebrating! Find out more about this wonderful gift.

"The Shepherd's Adoration"
Bartome Murillo (17th century)

Raising Chidren To Be Christians
In Post-Christian America

Dateline: 23 December 2014

I’m sure that Christian parents have, through the ages, always been greatly concerned about passing their Christian faith on to their children. But it truly is so much more difficult today than at any time in the history of the world for Christian parents to raise their children to follow them in the faith

It is harder because modern American civilization has an incredibly effective tool for separating children from the faith of their fathers and mothers. It’s called popular culture (pop culture). Pop culture is the evil spawn of our industrialized world. Without the advanced technology of modern media (as it has evolved over the past 100 years, or so) pop culture would not exist. We would still be an agrarian culture and agrarianism is a cultural paradigm that best supports the generational transfer of the Christian faith.

Kevin Swanson contrasts faith-sustaining agrarian culture and faith-destroying popular culture in the following excerpt from his excellent new book, The Tattooed Jesus


Everything changed in the 20th century. The 19th century farmer boy in upstate New York was not rocking out to Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. For 5900 years, most children were far more influenced by their own parents, or by the Folk culture developed in their local communities, than by a cultural machine centered in a place called Hollywood or Nashville. The farmer boy had never heard of MTV, Lady Gaga, Star Wars, Two and a Half Men, hook-ups, shack-ups, iPods, and online pornography. If he wanted to find a Proverbs 7 sort of harlot, he would have had to ride his horse for two or three days, and he may have found one in New York City. Today, 80% of young men, 18-25 years old are hooked on online pornography, at a frequency of weekly or monthly visits. Hard as it may be for a young person to imagine today, there was no television, no YouTube, and no Top 40 songs for over 5900 years of world history. Pa played his violin during the long winter evenings as the family gathered around the fireplace. The local community showed up for the barn dance on Saturday night, and that was about it. Cultural patterns developed in a decentralized context. Pastors and parents acted as the cultural leaders in each community with every successive generation.

Popular culture is power culture. These cultural systems enter almost every home in the country by way of hundreds of 50,000-watt transmitters. This now provides for far more energy and reach than one man could ever produce even when speaking very loudly at a public event (such as the Superbowl). Expensive satellites beam signals into every home, whether it be in the most remote village in Ecuador, a farm town in Iowa, or an apartment in downtown Chicago. They all receive the same message, the same standard of “cool,” the same form of music, the same standards of morality (or lack of it), and the same role models in the same dysfunctional movie stars and singers. None of this would have come to pass without the centralization of media control in the cultural capitals of Hollywood and Nashville. 

In the music industry today, the top five recording artists lead the way for the top 40 artists in the nation. These, in turn set the cultural standards for the top 100 artists, who will set the cultural standards for the lesser artists in the genre who provide cultural guidance for the Christian Contemporary artists, as well as a million fourteen-year-old star wannabes in every neighborhood from here to Manhattan, Kansas. The modern cultural milieu turned into a semi-monolithic pyramid capturing billions of people in its web. To question the morality or worldview of it would be to suggest that human nature is something depraved, which is unthinkable for modern man. Most Christians prefer to keep culture in the category of adiophora—”things indifferent”—and assume it is harmless or of little influence.

Popular culture would never have achieved such a high degree of influence had it not been for the disappearance of family culture and Folk culture. Without a social revolution, there would have been no cultural revolution. Without age-segregated high schools and the disappearance of the family farm economy, there would have been no Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, or Katy Perry. As fathers left the family farm, and mothers disappeared from the home, children were drawn into a different social system with its own culture. Popular culture shapes youth culture. It is a culture more hightly influenced by Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber than by Ma and Pa. Media, social media, children’s literature, schools, peer groups,church youth programs, and extra-curricular activities have worked together to produce this new socio-cultural order. The sheer power of this system over a child’s social and cultural development is astounding. With the exception of certain immigrant communities, fragments of the homeschooling movement, and a few family economies, popular culture virtually consumes modern society. Even these exceptional movements have been largely incapable of overcoming the impact of Pop culture. The cultural war is more powerful and more fundamental than the political battles.


So it is that raising children to embrace the fullness of the Christian faith truly is an epic challenge for Christian parents in this day and age. The anti-Christ culture around us is so incredibly powerful. While it is relatively easy to guide young children in the faith, it is a different story when they get older and allow themselves to be influenced by popular culture.

But there is always hope....  hope that God’s grace will work in our children’s hearts, hope that the foolishness of the culture will not consume them, hope that the pride of life will not destroy them—hope that they will fear God, be humbled, and come to a life-changing place of discernment and repentance. 


And, frankly, as I ponder on all of this, I also wonder if perhaps I should be hoping for something like an 1859 Carrington Event, a repeat of which, many experts say, would would wipe out the American electrical grid for a very long time. The power of popular culture would wane and quickly disappear without electricity to fuel it. 

Missing Futureman

Dateline: 21 December 2014

Futureman, in the Fall of 2014, shortly before his departure.

One month ago today my daughter-in-law packed up her car and took Futureman (my nearly-three-year-old grandson) with her to the suburbs of Toledo, Ohio. They are now living with her family. The marriage is, I am led to believe, over.

Since starting this blog back in the spring of 2005, I have chronicled many of the events in my life and family. I do not, of course, tell all (that’s more of a Facebook thing, isn't it?), and I would not tell this except for the fact that it is significant to me, and it is the sort of reality that plenty of other parents and grandparents go through.

Future man helping me to count out chicken plucker fingers (which I sell). I put him to work at a young age. 

For the past 17 months, since my son was discharged from the Army, Marlene and I have seen Futureman nearly every day.  And we have cared for him to some degree nearly every day during that time. He was a sacred responsibility. He was near and dear to us. He was sunshine in our days. He was special. And now, just like that, he’s gone.

Marlene, Me and Futureman shortly after he got here from Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

It is a sad development, to say the least. I am sad for myself, yes, but I am more sad for the little boy who must now grow up in a broken family. He is a victim of the selfishness, immaturity, and foolishness of his parents.

While there is nothing at all unusual about divorce and broken families in this day and age, the commonness of divorce does not make it any easier for the children who are its victims.

Those who have been fortunate enough not to grow up in a broken family can not fully comprehend the psychological damage divorce inflicts on a child. It wounds the psyche, and though the wounds may heal in time, scars remain. 

Futureman helping Marlene make bread.

My parents divorced when I was young, much like Futureman. It was not a good experience for me. In retrospect, there was nothing good about it. Nothing.

My situation could have been much worse, and I’m thankful that it wasn't much worse. I’m also thankful for my Grandmother Kimball. She helped (in ways she probably never fully realized, and I did not see at the time) to give me a connection to my family— a family that would have been otherwise lost to me. In so doing, she helped to ground me and shape my identity. It made a difference. It made all the difference.

Me and Futureman Taking A Walk on the land.

My wife, Marlene, is one of the fortunate ones. She never experienced divorce in her family. She has five siblings, none of which have had divorces. Divorce is not in her generation, or the generations before her. 

Now, as did my grandmother, as have done so many other grandparents, Marlene and I will endeavor to stand in the gap. We will be an example of stability in an unstable world. Our home will be a place of peace, and patience, and joyful acceptance as long as we are here to keep a home. As the opportunity presents itself, we will give of our time and attention, when others do not have the time, or the conviction. And we will pray, without ceasing, more earnestly than ever before, for God’s grace and mercy to flow into this precious child’s life.

Me and Futureman taking a selfie


I am nearly 57 years old, but the little boy is still inside me. 

He was visiting his grandmother for the summer some 46 years ago. One day, sitting in her copper-colored Cadillac (with the big fins on the back), while she drove them to her camp on Cross Lake, the little boy was brooding. After some time, he asked the question which greatly nagged him (and which he never asked his mother)...

“Why did my parents get divorced?”

All these years later, the little boy remembers exactly what his grandmother said to him....

“I don’t know. I never asked. But there’s nothing that can be done about it now, and it doesn’t do any good to feel sorry for yourself.”

She said more, but I don’t remember it. I was struck by those words: “It doesn’t do any good to feel sorry for yourself.”

My grandmother, like many rural-raised folk, had a matter-of-fact outlook on life; she was more stoic than emotional. I think that she probably experienced her own share of personal disappointment and unfairness over the years, and her response to me was an expression of her personal credo: “It doesn’t do any good to feel sorry for yourself.”

So, I didn’t get any pity. My grandmother loved me, and she surely felt pity for me, but she didn’t give me pity. She gave me the unvarnished reality of the situation.

I grew up to be more stoic than emotional, at least outwardly. In time, I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I understand the Providential sovereignty of God, and I accept it. 

But I do feel powerful sorry for my grandson.

Futureman in the spring of 2014, helping in the garden (he helped me a lot in the garden).

The Lost Writings

Dateline: 18 December 2014

A Depression-Era farm Family.
Poor? Perhaps in Babylon, but not in reality.

(How can those children be smiling!)

Eleutheros had a blog titled How Many Miles From Babylon. Some of you reading this may remember it. 

Eleutheros apparently valued his privacy. His name was a pseudonym. It means 'free man' in Greek. He never showed a picture of himself or his family.

Eleutheros lived a self reliant, agrarian life in the mountains of Tennessee. He never said exactly where in the mountains of Tennessee.

Eleutheros blogged from June of 2005 to October 2006. He was an excellent writer and I thoroughly enjoyed reading his essays. But the writing stopped. In time, How Many Miles From Babylon disappeared from it’s location on the web.

If Eleutheros has reemerged on the internet in a different format, I don’t know of it. Maybe someone else knows and can share the information here.

I got to thinking about the writings of Eleutheros and decided to see if I could find his old blog at the WayBack Machine web archive, and I did. The blog is gone from where it was, but it was saved. Amazing.

So I've decided to post an example of one of the blogs of Eleutheros for you here. His writings should not be lost. I'm doing this without permission, of course.  I will remove it if the need arises. And I may take the liberty in the future of posting some other excerpts from this free man, Eleutheros.

The following essay was originally posted on December 3, 2005 at How Many Miles From Babylon....

(A View of Poverty)
By: Eleutheros

I have the advantage of understanding this century because I understood that last so well. And I understood the last becasue of my insight into the one that came before. Not personally, I'm not quite that old. But when I was a teenager, my great-grandmother was still with us. She was past 100 years old by then, having been born just a couple of years after the War for Southern Independence. Ah, if one could go back and ask her things now! But even as a 13 year old there was much to take note of. 

My mother was raised in very rural Lee County, Virginia, and was a small child during the Great Depression. She was two years old in 1929 and so the depression economics was all she knew until she was grown. When she and my father would wax nostalgic about the hard times, I asked her what 'hard times' meant. 

"Did you not have enough to eat?" 

"Oh, we always had plenty to eat, we lived on a farm just like almost everyone else in those days. It was common stuff, cornbread, beans, greens with fatback, milk, and such but there was certainly plenty enough."[This, by the bye, in a family of a widow with sixteen children (at the time)].

"Did you not have enough clothes?"

"Nothing fancy and one pair of shoes, but we had clothes enough."

"Were you cold?"

"Don't recall ever being cold."

"What did it mean then that there was a depression? What were hard times?"

"Oh, it was because no one had any money." 

So I talked to my paternal grandmother who was born in the late 1880's and who would have known the world before the hard times set in. 

"What was the depression like?" 

"Oh, hard times."

"Were you all in this hollow, hungry, cold, ill-clothed?"

"No, no, ate then about like we eat now." [Appalachian peasant fare].

"Then why were times hard?"

"Because no one had any money." 

My recources were deep and rich then. I went in to see 'Mommy-Mamaw', the Applachian term of endearment for the ancient matriarch of the fourth generation. She sat up in her bed and spoke in the whistling whisper of a voice from another century and listened patiently to my question. 

She told how just before the crash in '29 there was a brief spate of coal and logging activity and the silver dollars that was the day's wage for a working man flowed for a while. She told how she commanded the same wage as a skilled cook in the logging camp and how she'd fallen from the horse on her way home once and broke her pelvis and so had not had any more children besides my grandmother. You could tell by the expression in her ancient visage that her emotions were mixed, only the one child, and yet here was I, the next to the youngest great-grandchild of a considerable tribe and clan. 

"But what about not having any money?"

The question brought her back from her reverie and her high Cherokee cheekbones seemed to raise up in a crinkled smile as her pale grey eyes lit up with amusement.

"Lord, child, nobody in these hills ever had any money." 

My parents were dedicated post-war suburbanites but my grandparents still lived a horse-drawn eighteenth century lifestyle. The picture that emerged from my quizzing of my elders was that before the 1920's, the economy in this part of the world was subsitence and direct use. Money was not necessary, not much of it anyway. A person with a cow and few pigs and chickens and good stand of corn was well off. 

Then in the 30's electricity came to the hollow. Parallel to the hollow where my father was raised (Crooked Branch Hollow) was a far more arable draw (Hamblin Creek Hollow) which was abandoned and is now reverted to forest because the power company ran the electric lines up the former but not the later. 

This was in the wake of the rampant consumerism of the 1920's that helped bring about the depression in which washing machines and refigerators were being pushed on the public. Now by comparing themelves with people who had electricity, washing machines, refrigerators, and automobiles, the pastoral household was poor in comparison and by those standards. 

The poverty remembered by my parents did not come about as a result of a loss or diminishing of the livelihood of the folk, it came about because there was a new and external standard to which they did not measure up.


P.S. I blogged about Eleutheros' advice on debt back in 2008. Here is the link: Eleutheros on Debt