Hungry Deer
&
The Christian-Agrarian Calling

Dateline: 20 March 2015

(click picture for enlarged view)

After a winter of colder than usual temperatures and heavy snow cover, a bit of spring thaw has opened up some patches of bare ground in the field across from my house. The deer in the picture, are hungry. 
The soil they are browsing was a field of soybeans last year. The farmer who works that land routinely uses herbicides on his crops. So there is little to nothing of any good for the deer to eat in that field. But they are desperate for food. 
Wild deer don’t normally come out in the daytime in such large numbers to feed as they are now. But their need for food is such that they will do what they normally would not do; they will risk exposure and potential harm for the chance to satisfy their hunger.
It is the same for people. When a population of people is hungry, and food is scarce, they will agree to do or accept things they would not otherwise do or accept.
The following quote, from Conquest of the Land Through 7,000 Years, by W.C. Lowdermilk, written around 1946, presents a historical and fundamental understanding about food and civilization that all thinking people need to understand, and always keep in mind…
My experience with famines in China taught me that in the last reckoning all things are purchased with food. This is a hard saying; but the recent world-wide war shows up the terrific reach of this fateful and awful truth. Aggressor nations used the rationing of food to subjugate rebellious peoples of occupied countries. For even you and I will sell our liberty and more for food, when driven to this tragic choice. There is no substitute for food.
Seeing what we will give up for food, let us look at what food will buy—for money is merely a symbol, a convenience in the exchange of the goods and services that we need and want. Food buys our division of labor that begets our civilization.
Not until tillers of soil grew more food than they themselves required were their fellows released to do other tasks than the growing of food—that is, to take part in a division of labor that became more complex with the advance of civilization.
True, we have need of clothing, of shelter, and of other goods and services made possible by a complex division of labor, founded on this food production, when suitable raw materials are at hand. And of these the genius of the American people has given us more than any other nation ever possessed. They comprise our American standard of living. But these other good things matter little to hungry people as I have seen in the terrible scourges of famine.
Food comes from the earth. The land with its waters gives us nourishment. The earth rewards richly the knowing and diligent but punishes inexorably the ignorant and slothful. This partnership of land and farmer is the rock foundation of our complex social structure.

Food is fundamental to life. Food is fundamental to all economies. Food is fundamental to freedom. Any person who does not grow their own food—who depends on other people to do it for them—does not have the individual capacity for sustaining their life and freedom. 
Can a civilization consisting of such people, who are totally dependent on a centralized, and increasingly complex system of food production and distribution, survive a serious national or sectional crisis that would inevitably lead to a partial or total breakdown in the supply of food? 
The answer should be obvious.
America is a land of relatively rich soils. No man, no family, need be dependent on the centralized food oligopoly to provide every morsel of the food that sustains their life. Yet, the overwhelming majority of Americans want nothing to do with the hard work of growing a significant portion of their own food.
This sad state of affairs is, amazingly, even the case with most people who call themselves Christians. I say amazingly because gardening and the growing of food is clearly fundamental to biblical Christianity.
I don’t know how it is with other religions of the world, but as a Christian, I can tell you that, according to the biblical mandate provided in Genesis, the work of growing food should be a fundamental part of the Christian life.
It was God himself who planted the first garden in Genesis 2:8: “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.”
Then, in Genesis 2:15 : “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden.”
Later on, after the flood, in Genesis 9:20 we find Noah reestablishing the fundamental calling of all people: “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard.”
Please note that Noah did not go and establish a city. His rebellious progeny did that later on.  Noah, who we are told in Genesis 6:9 “walked faithfully with God” did not aspire to anything beyond the fundamental calling of a husbandman. Also, Adam and Noah were not large-scale farmers.  gardening and husbandry are both pursuits that imply small-scale, hands-on work.
Here is where I need to make it clear that I’m not asserting in any way that the growing of one’s food is central to Christianity. Not hardly. Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection are the central focus of the entire Bible (starting in Genesis), and of true Christianity. Jesus is the wellspring of the faith. 
The point I'm making is that God created a proper order for his creation. Every part of His created order has an appointed role. Mankind’s role is to husband the earth, which means to be involved in the work of responsible agriculture, and the Christian’s role is to glorify God in this work. 
The work of agriculture is certainly not central to Christianity, but I’m persuaded that it is fundamental to a proper expression of the faith.
What I’ve just attempted to elucidate (once again) is the Biblical-agrarian worldview. It is alien to the modernized Christian mindset. But when properly understood, I think it brings a clarity to the Christian life that is otherwise lacking in the midst of our techno-industrial era.
America faces a very uncertain future because, in part, Americans have distanced themselves from their place in God’s created order. They have distanced themselves from the work of providing their own food. And a great many Christians, who are called to be separate from the ungodly culture about them, have adopted the same way of life. 

All actions have consequences. Galatians 6:7 comes to mind:
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
From a different point of view, I would add that those who do not, as a way of life, sow for themselves, may one day go hungry.


Shortly after posting this blog, I took this picture. Click for an enlarged view and you will more clearly see the deer. I don't recall ever having a deer right in my back yard. The picture was taken from the patio door of our house.  My small orchard is in the field in the distance. I'm concerned about my trees.


27 comments:

Pam Baker said...

It's funny Mr. Kimball, I was just posting something to my blog and was pondering on some of my "town" friends. These are friends I met thru my job and other social activities. I have attempted to "enlighten" them, not necessarily on the Christian Agrarian theme but on the self sufficient/sustainable theme. One of these friends is an avid gardener but does not grow enough food to sustain her for a year despite a large garden.
They listen politely, ask some questions and they even prefer to buy my excess eggs. But plant something? Lay in a stock of food in case something bad were to happen? They can not even conceive that there would ever be a need to do either. One even went on record as saying, "if the electricity were out for good, I would want to die".
No, I did not laugh. Or shake my head or any of the other things I would have liked to do. I did ask her if she thought her grandparents and great grandparents lives were irrelevant. She did not make the connection.
I know for a fact these people would come to me if such an event were to take place. They have said as much. I told one of them, who I believe understands better, despite not following my suggestions to store or grow food, that if she came, I would have nothing for her as my stores are for my family.
I find it incomprehensible how they can go about their days blithely ignoring the fact that they are 5 or 6 days away from deprivation. They would be the ones sitting at home endlessly checking their smart phones or computers wondering why the electricity is out. And then on day 2, would start thinking about going to the store. Not even comprehending the ramifications, short term or long term, of their situation.
And I know for a fact, they think I am strange, maybe eccentric. (Although I would have to be rich to qualify for eccentric, right?) They humor me and if I mention anything relating to self sufficiency (like making a maple sugar evaporator) they get defensive and say..."why don't you just buy it?" These are nice people and I enjoy their company but it is limited. I've done what I can to enlighten them but I'm not going to waste any more time on those relationships. In fact, my husband and I are looking for more like minded folks in our area. It isn't easy.
You once said you wished whatever might "happen" would go ahead and happen. I think you were feeling like, "lets get this going and move on". I know I responded saying you really don't want that to happen because the fallout would be devastating. Complete breakdown of civilization and society such that more that half the population may perish. But I totally get where you are coming from. I cannot abide ANY of popular culture. The things my "friends" are interested in are inane. And I would like to move on. I just hope I can get a barn and draft horses and milk cows before that happens.
I guess it's a good thing I live a long ways from town. They wouldn't walk that far and couldn't if they were starving.
Mr. Kimball, what would you do if acquaintances or neighbors came knocking on your door in a long emergency?
Respectfully,
Pam

Herrick Kimball said...

Pam,

Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

In an emergency, long or short, I will share as I can, with anyone who asks for help.

But my food resources are not in any way excessive, especially when I consider that, as it now stands, my children will be among the needy.

That said, I am accumulating more gardening tools than I really need, and more garden seeds than I would normally need, and I have more land than I really need (though, unfortunately, it is not near my house).

A story...

I have a friend whose grandparents lived in Italy when the Germans cam into that country in WW2. He told me his grandparents were farmers. They had grown and put up more than enough food to get them through the winter months. It was their traditional way of life to do so.

The German troops came through and took all their food. Every bit of it. They had food hidden and the Germans found it. They were left with no food to get through the winter.

He said they survived by eating tree bark (the inner layer is edible) and by digging through the snow to find edible weeds.

Even when the usual food is all gone, if you live in the countryside, there is still food, if you know where to look. It's not food that will make a body fat, but it will keep a body alive.

I hope it never comes to that, but I will not be surprised if it does.

I have heard people say that if things get bad, they will just shoot deer and eat them. That will work for awhile but the deer will be gone in short time.

A better idea would be to trap muskrats or other small rodent-like animals, and learn to eat them.

It turns out that muskrats were once commonly eaten in this country. My next download at Agriphemera.com will feature an old bulletin about trapping muskrats for fur and food.

Lyle Stout said...

Herrick-

My pastor once asked me if I were a "prepper." I replied that I were no more a prepper than my grandparents had been. We spoke briefly of what might happen if the economy were to really collapse - a topic which he quickly withdrew from. I told him my greatest fear in such an event was to have 100 people whom I know show up on my lawn with empty hands.

BTW - you should check those trees. I've had cattle that were malnourished do to a feed ration problem destroy a large grove of trees by ripping off the bark and eating the cambria underneath. If it's not too late, wrap the trunks in chicken wire until the grass grows.

Lyle
stout

Everett R Littlefield said...

Back in the day, my brother and I used to trap skin and sell the pelts to Sears & Roebuck for $2.50 each if they were in good shape.

We tried roasting one of them ONCE on a stick over an open fire. It is an acquired taste to say the least.

I would venture to say that there are no traps on this island except for the 8 I have hanging in the barn! Can[t believe they never got tossed. Although my Dad was also a packrat like me.

Herrick Kimball said...

Lyle—
That's a good reply to the pepper question.

Living some form of traditional, agrarian lifestyle certainly does look like prepping to those who don't understand.

The difference being that, even if a crisis was not looming ahead of us, we would still live the way we do.

Everett—
According to the bulletin I have, back around 1917...

"...muskrats are sold extensively in some of the markets of the East and Middle West. They are a particular delicacy on Block Island, Rhode Island. They are bought and eaten by well-to-do citizens and by the poorer people who seldom indulge in high priced game."

Furthermore...

"The flesh of the muskrat for human food is variously esteemed, considerable diversity of opinion being expressed as to its palatability. One writer declares emphatically that it's musky flavor would keep any but the starving from eating it. Another declares that the muskrat is game worthy of an epicure, with a flavor somewhat like the wild duck that has been shot in the same marshes where it has fed."

P.S. I added in that part about being a particular delicacy on Block Island. You don't need to eat muskrats. Aren't there fish in the water all around you?

Herrick Kimball said...

One more thing...

My apple trees have hardware cloth around the trunks and each one is surrounded by fencing. But a hungry deer could surely reach some of the tender branch ends. My neighbor, who can see the orchard from his house, said the deer were up there yesterday. Not good.

Paula said...

I've actually given a lot of thought to what I'd do if someone came and took all my food. I'd try to catch fish in the river that is less than half a mile away (and, thankfully, 150 feet lower than my home). I'd try to trap raccoons, which I've read are good braised (I really hate raccoons, so I wouldn't feel bad about offing them). I have a garden, but I'm also planning a food forest, so I figure I may have to do some foraging in my yard. Hopefully, the miscreants stealing my food from me wouldn't have the smarts to know a food forest when they saw one.

Even though I've influenced some of my neighbors to plant gardens, none of them are doing it to the extent that I am. Since I have chickens, and plan rabbits (and possibly quail), I fully expect that I'll have to feed the neighborhood. I just hope that by the time this all happens, I'll have gotten really good at growing. That, or have the country property I so desperately want....

Dennis Renner said...

Herrick, Your post reminded me of what the Apostle Paul spoke to the church in Thessalonica: "11 Make it your aim to live a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to earn your own living, just as we told you before. 12 In this way you will win the respect of those who are not believers, and you will not have to depend on anyone for what you need." It is the responsibility of all Christian, who are capable, to provide for ones own needs. Growing one's own food should be a part of that endeavor.

Kyle Sonnier said...

Mr. Kimball,

Insightful post. When you mention "Note that Noah didn't go establish a city," I always think about a sermon I heard about based on Genesis 13:12

"Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom."

The sermon talked about the fact that Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom and the next thing you know, he was within the city gates, subjecting he and his family to unholy influences. We all know what happened. The interesting thing about it was that in order for his family to be saved, a person (Abram) who lived outside the city and separate from that culture's unholy influences, had to come and rescue them.

Obviously, cities aren't inherently evil, but a simple life filled with purposeful work and self-sufficiency, whilst dependent upon the Almighty and His provision from His land, is the better choice.

Abram was a husbandman, living an agraian life. The Bible speaks of him being wealthy in terms of numbers of livestock. He was wealthy also in means that can't be quantified by material goods. He had great faith. He believed God and God credited him righteousness.

As you posted earlier from the writings of Elutheros, we get caught comparing ourselves to others, trying to keep up with the Jones'. We sometimes think ourselves poor in comparison to others. A life of simplicity - Biblical agrarianism is a great life and not poor by any means. True joy and contentment can be found in that life walking with the Lord in the garden and working the land.

Thank you for your posts and especially your encouragement to do our best to separate ourselves from an ungodly culture.

BenP said...

There is one qualification to the assertion that people can provide for themselves directly. One cannot cultivate land they do not own. In my great grandparents day, there was land to be hand simply by claiming it. Nowadays, it takes money to acquire title and to retain ownership. This is money most young folk do not have to start out with, so they are unable to sustain themselves without first obtaining employment, saving enough money needed to buy land, learning how to cultivate crops, and investing in tools, equipment, materials and supplies necessary to grow a suitable crop they can independently sustain themselves with. For the vast majority of Americans and Christians these days, that is an unrealistic goal, as they are just trying to live paycheck to paycheck and only a few have the opportunity and wherewithall to actually pursue and obtain your objective. You have to be both willing and able to do what it takes to acquire these things before you can being to sustain yourself directly, so we are forced in this day and age to do so by indirect means. Hence, you have adults working at McDonalds and such.

RonC said...

The old people have the money but no strength and the young people have the strength but no money. Maybe if they worked together, they could survive. Don't let the lack of funds or strength justify your inaction.

Herrick Kimball said...

Ben,

I appreciate your comment, but I'm not buying your argument.

I can relate very well to what you're saying because I was in that position as a young person. My wife and I lived in a cheap 2-room apartment when we got married and both worked to save the money for a piece of rural land. After a couple of years of living cheap and saving our money, we paid cash for 1.5 acre lot. The first thing we did was plant a huge garden.

We bought a canner and learned how to pressure can our own food. I made shelves in the apartment and we filled them with homegrown, home-canned food. We had baskets of squash and potatoes in a closet. It was a great feeling.

Then we lived with my wife's parents for awhile in order to save even more money. We got a small personal loan to build our own small house on the land.

It's a step-by-step process. Where there is a will, there is a way. If a young person has an agrarian vision, and they pursue it wisely, it will fall into place surprisingly quickly.

There are small rural lots of decent land around me that are cheaper than a used car. Scrimp and save, buy the land, and you are on your way. Even without land, if you are tapped into a rural community, there are plenty of people with land who will be more than happy to give an ambitious young person the space for growing a big, yearly garden.

It is not an unrealistic goal. It just requires a lot of sacrifice and dogged determination.

Sheila G said...

I only wish the old and the young could get together. I have offered to pay a very high pay, for this area, to anyone that would help in my garden, and not one was willing to do so. Over twice the going rate, and not one taker. These are the same young adults that are very frustrated that they can't find a job, even with their degrees, and skills. Now, $400.00 a month and only 16 hours a month is not a lot of money for a months pay, however, it is something when you have nothing. I offered only 2-4 hours a week, once a week, or any way they want to do it. Even just 4 hours a week for 4 weeks, no takers. No it's not a regular job, but it's cash in hand. No takers. To me it is very sad that the young are so used to having so much, that they can't see, that there are different ways to "get by"
I'm on a fixed income, and have to really pinch to be able to pay for help, however with no debt, it is easier for me, than most.
Even my family sees no food shortages, and are busy making money to pay for their way of life.
However, that is ok, I'm ready. It has taken me years to get where I am, and although I still have a way to go, my children and I will be safe.
I have been "at it" for years now. I doubt that there is a vintage book out there on growing food, that I don't own, along with new ones too. I purchased (very cheap) property 16 years ago, and purchased the lot next to it 2 years ago. It took that long to "get there" it takes time, and that is something the young can't handle today.
I have every tool, a garden, a 12x32 shed that is actually a home if needed. It's got a living room, Kitchen, bedroom, bath, and three lofts that are sleeping areas. So, my children are covered. Now, if what I believe will happen, happens, then my family will not only have a place to go, but will work, if they want to eat. I have promised that I will not even feed my own children, if they do not work. That's what the Lord requires, that is what I will do.
My children are my life, and I have not demanded that they believe as I do, however in my home, we will serve the Lord, and if they won't, I will leave them in the hands of my Lord to deal with. Is this a very strong message? Yes it is, but I have already been warned, and I will follow what I have been shown. AND THAT is the difference between us all. Don't get me wrong, my children love God, however, they are trapped into the current way of life, and one day, they will have to decide, and that, is up to God to show them the way. I know He will turn them around. Too bad it takes a situation like the one we are facing, to get them to understand.
As soon as the weather dries up here, I start my greenhouse, the new garden, and many other things at my property, I will go there to live a few weeks at a time, and get it started, and I pray that we have enough time to get most of it in before we will actually need it.
Never have I felt the way I do now. The speed at which life is changing is beyond anything I have ever seen, and something is coming to a head, lets pray we are ready. No fear, only trust in the one that showed us, that we are His, and He is with us.

PS I'm an old woman, have a heart problem, and can sometimes hardly walk, but I will build the greenhouse, and the garden, God willing, and never give up.
IF I CAN DO THIS, the young should have no problem.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like there are quite a few of us slightly older folks who are planning for family that may "return to the farm" so to speak. I'm converting a loft into another bedroom with additional storage for other self sufficiency items. One of my kids and his family have already returned to the farm and his lovely wife is slowly learning how to grow food, milk goats, tend to chickens, use the dehydrator, etc. Praise God for the extra help around here! They are Christians, too, but need to be re-programmed from years living in a university town. They'll get there...

Herrick Kimball said...

Paula,
I like how you have put so much thought into your options. Braised raccoon for the whole neighborhood. You have the mindset of a resilient person and I think you'll be eating well no matter what.

Dennis,
That's an excellent passage to keep in mind. I put it right in the front of my "Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian" book. Thanks for mentioning it.

Kyle,
I appreciate your comment. I have written about Abraham and Lot and lot's choice of city life in my essay titled, City Living & Some Thoughts on Christian Agrarian Community

Herrick Kimball said...

Ron C,
Well said.

Sheila G.,
You may be, as you say, an old woman, but you are a wise old woman. That's what I think.

Anonymous,
That's a good report. Very encouraging. The whole concept of "family" may take on a whole old meaning in the days ahead.

Jonathan Sanders said...

I think Mr Lowdermilk's premise is best supported (as any premise is) by Scripture.

The account of Joseph in Genesis 47 tells how the famine drove everyone to sell everything -even their own liberty- for food.

Jon S. in Indiana

Elizabeth L. Johnson said...

What you say is "spot-on", Mr. Kimball. I appreciate the scriptures that back it up. The Lord has purposely and intentionally placed my family on a large acreage and expressly told my husband to "enlarge your gardens and orchards" for the future coming to us. Probably not a physically good-looking future, but it is a future of promise with the Lord for those who have left their lives in His hands. Yes, we have been mandated to provide our own sustenance. I understand that that is not all; that we have skills and abilities that are meant for more than just growing good. My husband and I are putting the finishing touches on our electric fence around our orchards. The deer are out and so are the bears. Our fence will always have power because we are off grid under only solar power, and soon-to-be, wind power. God bless, Mr. Kimball.

Elizabeth L. Johnson said...

Correction: "food", not "growing good". Anyway, Mr. Kimball, I see your message is one of hope, and is a good report. A great fault among our people is that we have to be realists. But, how about the Truth. Truth gives hope, more than reality ever will. Dennis Renner mentioned a scripture in Thessalonians. Now there's a mandate!! Our family, too, all say they will move to our house in case of trouble, because we have prepared and look to the future with great Hope. Mr. Kimball, thanks for broaching the subject, and thanks for all you do on here, and at home, to live the good life worthy of the calling you have received (Eph. 4). To be a great example! Never easy, but it does get easier!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kimball, we made a dilution of iodine and water and sprayed it on our fruit trees. Didn't seem to affect the trees, kept the mice and deer from eating them, and since we did it when there was snow on the ground, the "red" let us know which trees were done and which still needed to be sprayed. Believe me, after circling a dozen or so trees, I did not know where I had been.

Elizabeth L. Johnson said...

Mr. Kimball, just as the Lord has laid it on our hearts a few years ago, to prepare; he has raised you up as an example for all of us, For Such A Time As This! My firm belief.

Thoughts At My Back Door said...

Mr. Kimball,

Have you ever read John Senior (literature professor at the University of Kansas)? Or Vincent McNabb?

Everett R Littlefield said...

Hi Herrick just got back and was reading the comments. I thought you had found another BIRI when I read the part about the "delicacy" eaten here!

Just getting ready to put a few trial tomatoes into the 48x30 high tunnel. With no heat but the sun during the day, tthe temp is still holding to about48-50 degrees over night.
we shall see what happens!Everett

Herrick Kimball said...

Thank you, Elizabeth. I appreciate your comments.

Thoughts At... McNabb, yes. Senior, no. I'll check him out. Thanks.

Anon.. Never heard of the iodine spray. Will look into it. Holder's "bone sauce" is the remedy I would like to make. I thought someone commented about this but don't see it now. Maybe it was an e-mail I got.

This post generated more comments than I expected. And, as is so often the case, the comments were a wonderful addition to what I wrote. Thanks, everyone.

deborah harvey said...

dear mr. kimball,
was hoping you would remember to comment about the tv or film man who asked people to be in his documentary.
deb harvey

it was february i think.

Anonymous said...

My Dad killed a muskrat for my Mom (city girl) to roast when they first married...she was willing , but after a bit my Dad came back into the house and grabbed the pot and threw it into the yard ..he had forgotten to take out the scent glands...we ate plenty of squirrel growing up, but muskrat never made another appearance.Karen

Herrick Kimball said...

Deborah,
I will do that in my next post here.

Karen,
I've never had squirrel. But everyone I know who has, says it's good. Kudos to your mother for roasting a muskrat!