For March 2015

Dateline: 26 March 2015

Marlene brought home that bottle of Fentiman’s Dandelion & Burdock a few days ago. She knew I would be intrigued by it. 

Ingredients: water, carbonated water, cane sugar, pear juice concentrate, glucose syrup, fermented ginger root extracts (ginger root, water, yeast), dandelion infusion (water, dandelion root, ethanol), burdock infusion (water, burdock root, ethanol) aniseed flavor.

It’s a soft drink, of sorts. Tasted pretty good. But at $1.99 a bottle, one was enough. Been there, done that.

A little internet research turned up the fact that dandelion and burdock are used to make a traditional brewed drink in the United Kingdom. You’ve heard of root beer?  Well, dandelion and burdock may have been the original root beer. You can watch a delightful little YouTube clip of the down-to-earth British bon vivant, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, making some dandelion and burdock brew At This Link.

I’m not much of a beer drinker. Fact is, I never drank a single beer in high school, nor in two years of post high school education.  My experience with beer is pretty much limited  to the summer of 1977. I was living with Bruce and Patty Womer in Craftsburry Common, Vermont, helping them to restore an old building (I wrote about it HERE). They were long, hot days of hard work, and every day after work, me and Bruce had a beer together. Just one. I can tell you that I really enjoyed those beers. 

I’m tempted to try Hugh’s Recipe. It’s the roots, the tradition, and the creativity that appeal to me more than the alcohol. I have a good supply of the necessary roots (for the digging), and spring is nearly here. But there are so many other things to be done in the spring.

Muskrat For Dinner

What, I ask you, would be better with a traditional dandelion & burdock beer than muskrat? 

In the comments section of my previous post, Everett Littlefield, the locally-famous native author of Block Island, related as how him and his brother once roasted a muskrat over an open fire, with the intention of eating it. But it didn't taste very good.

I'm no expert on the subject of cooking muskrat, but I did read my current Agriphemera pdf download from 1926, The Muskrat As A Furbearer: With Notes On Its Use As Food, and  it turns out that muskrats were once sold for food in retail markets in this country. They were labeled as "marsh rabbits," but everyone knew they were muskrats. The old bulletin is downright interesting, and it tells the right way to cook a muskrat.

By the way, I've read Everett's autobiography about growing up on Block Island, and it was a fun read, with some very memorable parts (getting a hatchet stuck in his forehead being the most memorable).

That Reality Show

About a month ago I Posted Here about a possible new reality television show with a Christian-agrarian aspect titled, For God and Country. I don't know if my mention of the show resulted in any responses to the casting call.

I had planned to write a lengthy commentary about the show but I don't have the time, and I really don't have the inclination. I will say that, in response to the show's producer asking me what I thought of the idea, I wrote him the following:

"Since you asked, I don’t think I like what you are doing with the program. I don’t think it is necessary or that it serves a good purpose."

Originally, I was going to supply the password to the Vimeo concept video of the proposed show, so that everyone would have a better idea of what it was about. But the producer changed his mind about that, thinking it might lead to a problem with the Discovery Channel, because the show is still  early in development.

The concept video showed people of differing Christian faiths who have decided to separate from the popular culture. They appear to have a decentralist, agrarian worldview. They are people who believe in limited government, and things like homeschooling, personal responsibility, and individual freedom. In short, they are people who think a lot like me (and maybe you). 

But these kinds of people can easily be misrepresented to mainstream television viewers. For example, one scene may show one of these Christian folk talking with great conviction about how they think the government is wrong to do such-and-such, or require such-and-such and, in so doing, the government is taking away Constitutional freedoms. Then, in the next scene, we see a group of Christians out shooting guns. That's part of what I saw in the concept clip for the show.

Now, there is nothing at all wrong with disagreeing with the government. And every good American should be vigilant about guarding the liberties that our founding fathers gave us in the Constitution. And there is also nothing at all wrong with being well armed, doing some target practicing, and teaching children how to shoot straight and safe. But when you create a television program for the masses and you juxtapose these two scenes, you are feeding into the totally absurd narrative that God-fearing, patriotic Americans are something akin to domestic terrorists. 

If you haven't noticed, America has become a police state, and a police state needs domestic enemies to perpetuate itself. American citizens who do not conform to cultural expectations, Who are hard working and self reliant, who disagree with unjust laws, and who hold to a "literal interpretation of the Constitution" are increasingly being characterized as dangerous threats to the state. 

There was a time in this country when such people were the backbone of a healthy Republic. But now they are looked at with suspicion. Welcome to the new America, where everything that was once good and honorable and commendable is now bad. And anyone who does not accept the warped new morality is an enemy of the state. 

The producer of the program told me that he was sorry I didn't see how this program would do a lot of good by getting the word out about a issues that are important to the country and to many Christian believers. Well, maybe so. I could be totally wrong. But, based on what I saw in the concept video, and based on the media track record of mischaracterizing many Christian believers, under the umbrella of entertainment, for propaganda purposes, I don't think it would be wise to participate in such a television program. 

One of these days, when time permits, I hope to write about Elijah and God's remnant (in the book of Kings, in the Old Testament), and my concept of the "remnant vision" that I think every Christian should have. Hint: the "remnant vision" is not about survival, and God doesn't need a television program to help preserve his Remnant.

Permaculture Orchard

Have you seen the Permaculture Orchard movie? If you are interested in developing a permaculture orchard, I recommend the movie to you. Excellent photography.

One of the surprises in the movie was the use of heavy plastic as a mulch in the mixed plantings. My Four-Day Carrots videos at YouTube have had some derogatory comments about the use of plastic mulch in my garden. I can understand the mindset, as I thought the same way for a long time—decades, actually.

But I had the best garden in 30 years of gardening last year, due largely to the help of plastic mulch. If you have a large garden (or a large orchard) and you do not have the manpower or hours to keep the ground cultivated, plastic is the solution. I'll have more to say about this in an upcoming blog post.

Raspberry How-To

If you are in a raspberry-growing region, you must have some raspberry plants. They are a perennial food source. Plant once, take care of the canes, and you have a perpetual, yearly abundance of berries. Planting time for raspberries is nearly upon us in the northern half of the country. The Raspberry Culture pdf download from 1948 that I have at (pictured above) is a good source of raspberry-growing how-to.


Anonymous said...

Permaculture is very interesting there is many free videos at this website:

you might have to subscribe to watch.

Sheila Gilbert said...

I SO agree with you about the show. When they did a show about preppers, it went all through Youtube like a wild fire. Because I have been a regular on Youtube for many years, I can tell you that I knew a lot of them, and all were very upset how they were portrayed. They made them look like idiots, and fanatics. I knew that all of them, but maybe one, was not that way at all. It's happened many times too. You did the right thing, it's the worldly we are talking about here, and even those that want to do right, get overturned anyway.
If you want to watch a movie that will move your heart, and amaze you. Watch "Back to Eden" the FULL version. Not on Youtube, the original, here
It's free, however it is long, but one of the best examples of God's bounty for us, you will ever see. Many are using this method of gardening, and it is Outstanding. You will love it. Paul is a God loving, and God fearing man, and his life is dedicated to what God showed him when he got stuck with many problems, and growing with little water. I have started my "Back to Eden" garden too.
Well, it's time to start my seedlings, and I pray the sunshine is here by the time they need to be planted, but if not, I will start over. However, I can't wait another minute to get my hands into some dirt. So, thank you for another great post, and I hope to see you here again real soon. Blessings, Sheila

Everett R Littlefield said...

Hi Herrick, just downloaded the muskrat piece and read the whole thing. Might just have to re-try a hunk of muskrat cooked the way it said to. We skinned them the way it is recommended but stretched them on boards that looked like net mending bobbins, the illustration on the right.

Man you just keep on coming up with "good stuff"! I keep saying I'm going to print all these downloads in order to have a hard copy for when, not if, the internet goes down! Ought to be a big pile of paper.

Happy planting! I"ve just put my first whizbang tomato trellis up in the Greenhouse and will be setting out 2 plants to see if they will make it! Ground is warm but the air is still chilly outside the structure. We shall see! Regards Everett

Elizabeth L. Johnson said...

Thanks Mr. Kimball for all your writing. It's like getting a letter from a friend; a surprise waiting in the mailbox! Sheila was right, in my opinion about Back to Eden with Paul Gautschi. Superb! I run my garden the Back to Eden way, and the Deliberate Agrarian way, and they are quite compatible! I'm introducing your trellis style to others who are loving it! and your book!

Bart said...

We had the privilege of hearing Stefan in person a week or so ago as he tours New Zealand:

Purchased the movie and it has been on 'repeat' ever since, so much good information, very inspiring!

Some of the soundtracks from the movie are available here:

Quirky, upbeat and fun.

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks for the link.

I have watched the Back to Eden movie and the YouTube movies about Paul Gautchi and his wood-chip mulch. They are well worth watching.

I had some wood-chip mulch in a portion of my garden years ago and I had problems with slugs. Same with any organic mulch. Slug damage with black plastic was much less, or so it seemed to me.

Lee Reich has also long advocated wood chip mulch, and he has a great garden. I asked him about slugs at a seminar I went to and he said they were not a problem for him.

All of which goes to show that there is no one right way to garden. There are a few fundamental "truths" but, beyond that, different things work best for different people and different gardening locations.

But the Back To Eden movie makes a lot of sense, and is very inspiring.

Herrick Kimball said...

If you cook a muskrat your grandchildren will long remember that!

As for tomatoes, I'm persuaded more and more that the best place to grow tomatoes is in a greenhouse of some sort. Tomato blights can be a problem around here and they do not get to tomatoes in a greenhouse as quickly as out in the garden.

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks for the comment. I am going to try growing pole lima beans this year for the first time. I bought a packet of "Burpee's Best" (#51243A) which grow 12- feet long. A Whizbang trellis span (with extensions) will make for the ideal trellis.

Thanks for the link. If I were ever to tour, I would want to tour New Zealand!

Lyle Stout said...

Somehow all of these references to marsh rodents remind me of a famous speech given by Bert Lahr:


What makes a King out of a slave? Courage.

What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage.

What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist or the dusky dusk? Courage.

What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage.

What makes the Sphinx the 7th Wonder? Courage.

What makes the dawn come up like THUNDER?! Courage.

What makes the Hottentot so hot? Courage.

What puts the "ape" in ape-ricot? Courage.

Whatta they got that I ain't got? Courage!

You can say that again.

Keep smiling, Herrick!