Agrarian Criticism...
And My Response

Dateline: 1 November 2015

Yesterday’s blog post, The Christian-Agrarian Work Ethic, brought a comment that I am going to post here and reply to. The reason being, it reflects the modern mindset towards agrarianism in the 21st century, and the common misunderstandings about agrarianism. So, this is a great opportunity to clarify some things. I’ve written about this all before but it has been awhile, and few people have read all my writings here over the past ten years :-)

The Comment
"You do realize that if everyone returned to an agrarian lifestyle that we wouldn't have transportation, communication, healthcare, and a whole lot of other fields that make life healthy, pleasant and livable. Yes, we need farmers, and ranchers, but we also need almost every other worker also. I appreciate all the hard workers out there, not just the farmers. My husband in a retired Marine, now a school teacher; my father was a school teacher; his father was a painter/paperhanger; another grandfather owned a dry cleaning shop and was a tailor; another great-grandfather was a carpenter. I have brothers who are engineers and nephews who are in many of the trades (electricians, welders, plumbers). Unless you want to live like they did in the 18th and 19th centuries, we need workers of all kinds, and all honest work is honorable. We live in rural Iowa (though I was raised in suburban San Diego) and watch in wonder and amazement at the miles of fields of corn and beans raised here. I would not enjoy trying to raise all my own food; it would be too much work and never allow me to sew, quilt, write and enjoy travel. While I admire you in all your efforts to live the life you want, I don't wish that kind of life for everyone. Diverse specialization enhances life for the majority. Just an opinion here, from my 58 years on earth."

My Response
First, the excerpts from Mr. Nutting’s essay were primarily a celebration of the autonomy (freedom) and satisfaction found in the down-to-earth work of a homestead. Such work is vastly different from the common drudgery that so many modern-world workers experience as dispensable cogs on the wheels of various jobs in the industrial order.

Yes, there is honor in honorable, industrial-world work, but there is rarely the freedom and satisfaction that comes with honorable, creative, productive work done on one’s homestead.

That is no secret. Dissatisfaction with industrial-world jobs (“working for the man”) has been a driving force behind every back-to-the land movement (of which there have been many) since the industrial age started.

Willis Nutting’s essay does not imply that everyone should be a farmer, or that one need be a farmer to experience the human fulfillment found in agrarian work. He himself was an educator and, according to his biography, lived an agrarian lifestyle. His essay speaks of men working their industrial-world jobs for the necessary income and then, instead of pursuing industrial-world amusements, recreations or leisure in their spare time, they pursue productive, creative work on their homesteads.

That pattern for living an agrarian lifestyle is the one I have pursued most of my life. One can be a healthcare worker, engineer, teacher, tradesman, et., etc. and still pursue an agrarian lifestyle.

As for the world not being pleasant and livable if everyone returned to an agrarian lifestyle, that’s not an issue at all. Everyone will never (voluntarily) return to an agrarian lifestyle. Only those who see the wisdom of it. Or, from the Christian-agrarian point of view, only those who are called to it.

When it comes to understanding modern agrarianism, the matter of modern context must be taken into account. Modern-world agrarians can not live in an industrial world just like pre-industrial agrarians, and few would want to. The fact is, in many ways, it’s easier today to live an agrarian lifestyle than ever before in history. Electricity, the internal combustion engine, and all the helping mechanisms that come with those two world-changing technologies are something I happen to really appreciate. I also like it that I can use the internet as a creative, entrepreneurial tool to be able to break free from an industrial-world job and be home on my land every day.

I think it is worth defining what it means to be an agrarian, or to live an agrarian lifestyle. My fundamental definition of an agrarian…

An agrarian is someone who deliberately husbands (responsibly cares for) a section of land, working to make it productive, and drawing sustenance from it, while improving and preserving it for future generations. 

That definition is like a seed. You plant it in your life. It puts down roots. It grows bigger. In time, it becomes a tree that bears all kinds of good fruit (the tree needs to be continually pruned, but that's another story). 

"A section of land" can be something as small as a home garden, or as large as a farm. "Drawing sustenance" can mean  harvesting food, fuel, fiber, building materials, etc.

You don’t have to raise all your own food to be an agrarian, but agrarians naturally love to work the soil and grow food. You can be an agrarian and still sew and quilt and write and travel (though it’s hard to be a serious agrarian and travel a lot, or so it seems to me). Agrarian people are hands-on people, They naturally gravitate to being busy and creative in many different ways.

And a final clarification…. The typical modern mind is historically parochial. That is, it assumes that life in the old days (before electricity and internal combustion engines) was unbearably terrible; that we nowadays are intellectually superior and better off than our poor, brutish ancestors. 

Well, America today has it’s share of poor, and brutish people. But, more to the point, people of old got along just fine without electricity and internal combustion engines. The agrarian village-society of early New England had a lot going for it. It was a flourishing culture. And, lacking all manner of electronic amusements and distractions, there was more time for creative pursuits, human interaction, and true community.

Agrarians (especially Christian-agrarians) are people who look at the “old paths” of previous agrarian cultures with respect and curiosity, seeking to rediscover wisdom and worthy ways of life that were lost through the ravages of industrialism. The goal is not to create the old agrarian way of life, but a neo-agrarian way of life. Everyone who pursues this way of life for themselves and their families creates an island of grounded sanity in an insane industrial world that offers no real hope, and is coming apart at the seams. 

The Christian-Agrarian
Work Ethic

Dateline: 31 October 2015

The words and thoughts that follow come from an essay titled The Better Life, written by Willis D. Nutting. They are an excellent analysis of the beauty, the inherent value, and the "rightness" of autonomous agrarian work, as opposed to working as a drone in the the industrial system. 

I found this essay in The Rural Solution: Modern Catholic Voices on Going "Back to the Land."  The book is thin, but pithy. It is a clear and compelling call for Catholic families to flee the cities and suburbs and return to the land.

I have written here in the past about the Catholic Land Movement and the book, Flee To The Fields. And I have written about C.F. Marley, a remarkable man who introduced me to the Catholic-agrarian movement (my opinion of Catholic-agrarianism is expressed in my C.F. Marley essay).

The following excerpts refer to men but, of course, you can (and should) substitute the word "woman" for man, for this discussion equally applies to all of mankind.


"One of the most dismal things about the truly urban man is that he does not understand work, for he has not experienced it. Of course he knows physical exhaustion and mental drudgery; he has nervous breakdowns and high blood pressure, and he dies of coronary thrombosis—but all these things happen to him not because he works but because he does not work. This requires explanation.

For real work to be done several elements  must necessarily be present: (1) the mind conceives something to be done; (2) the hand, aided by tools, carries out the conception through the manipulation of certain (3) raw materials. The result is (4) a new creation, either something made, or some change brought about in the physical situation. 

When a man presides in this whole process—when his mind and hand work together, using his tools and his materials, to produce something which, when it is produced, is his, then he is really working. And this work is one of the greatest things man can do, both in the way of education and of satisfaction, for in it he is realizing a part of his likeness to God. Man is not only homo sapiens; he is also homo faber, man the maker. It is his nature to work. When he can not work he is restless and discontented.

In our modern world, with craftsmen almost extinct and artists an infinitesimal and professional minority, the rural home supplies almost the only setting in which a person can do work. Elsewhere the planner does not carry out his plans and therefore performs only part of what he is fitted to do. The man who toils does so by carrying out the plans made by someone else, and he performs only a mutilated function. Neither of them possesses the thing made as a result of the planning and the toil. That belongs to someone who has done nothing but furnish the money. Thus all the people concerned with the production of things are acquainted merely with isolated aspects of the work process. They are not doing what by nature they are designed to do. And as a consequence their labor is a chore, an unpleasant necessity which they indulge in as little as possible. They become abnormally interested in recreation and live for the weekend and the vacation."


"The opportunity for real, soul-satisfying work, so rare in our day, is found abundantly in rural living. Here a man can make long-range plans and can carry them out without exploiting his fellow man; for the things that he uses are things that exist to be used: soil, plants, animals, building materials, etc. he can live a whole life of work without once using another man as a mere means for carrying out his plans. And neither does he become a tool of someone else. With the materials at hand he can employ the splendid coordination of mind and hand to create something of value for his family. He can fulfill his real nature in real work. And this work is much more joyful than any mere recreation. As a matter of fact this work carries with it its own recreation, so that the man who works does not have to worry about how he is going to have his good times. The work itself is a good time even though it be hard. There is a joy in toil which the football player knows not. It is a quiet joy that comes from the knowledge that one has accomplished something, something of real value, and that the accomplishment is his own.

Around me live several men who are "homesteaders." They work in town or in school and live in the country. They spend long hours in the evenings working on their land. Their companions on the job or at school go to the movies or play poker in the evenings, but these men work at home. Their companions spend money; they save it. And when you talk with these men you come to realize that their interest, their real life, is in what they do at home. On the job they carry out someone else's plans. That is drudgery. But at home they are their own masters. They are exercising their autonomy which is necessary to human dignity. These few hours of autonomy constitute for them their real life. Their rural homes give them their one chance to be human."

A Deliberate Christian Response To An Agrarian Tragedy

Dateline: 30 October 2015

White Zimbabwean farmer, Ben Freeth, in 2008

Zimbabwe has become a recurring topic on this blog (like HERE and HERE, for a couple of examples). The reason being, the recent history of the country provides examples and lessons that we can all learn from. This became  more clear to me as I listened to this week's McAlvany Weekly Commentary podcast, titled Zimbabwe Inflation: "How We Survived." 

The show begins with David McAlvany talking about his book, Intentional Families, which will soon be in print. David's book is not about Zimbabwe but, evidently, part of it is about the importance of forgiveness. And that's where Ben Freeth comes into the broadcast.

Ben and an associate named Craig Deall are interviewed by David McAlvany about the history of Zimbabwe (the former Rhodesia), the recent economic and societal collapse, and how they and their families were affected by the crisis.

The picture above gives you some idea of how Ben Freeth was personally affected by it. He and Craig were prosperous, white, landowning farmers prior to Robert Mugabe's rise to power in Zimbabwe. 

With Mugabe's takeover came a breakdown in the rule of law. Farms and other personal property were forcibly taken from the white landowners. White farmers (and many of their black workers) were beaten and killed. Their homes were burned.

You can do a Google search and find the story of Freeth's harrowing ordeal in 2008. His father and mother-in-law were also severely beaten in the incident. His father in law, Mike Campbell, eventually died from the injuries sustained in the attack. In a prior incident of home invasion, Freeth's six year old son's leg was broken. This episode of societal breakdown and persecution was a living nightmare for Freeth's family, and many others in Zimbabwe.

Before Mugabe, Zimbabwe had been a prosperous, agriculturally productive nation. After the farms were taken, the national economy tanked. The now-infamous Zimbabwean hyperinflation came. It is very interesting to hear about what life was like in the Zimbabwe hyperinflation. And now, according to the interview, Zimbabwe is experiencing severe deflation. That's interesting to hear too.

But, what I found most interesting about this interview was the break from financial discussion (which is what the McAlvany podcasts are primarily about). Ben and Craig give their personal testimony about how the terrible ordeals they experienced have impacted their families and how they have chosen to respond to it all.

In short, it was their Christian faith that helped them to deal with the crisis events as they were happening, and it is their Christian faith that has compelled them to forgive in the aftermath. 

This matter of forgiveness and, in particular, choosing to forgive, is something I have written about here in the past—in my essay, How To Forgive Others

In the wake of the events of 2008, and the death of his father-in-law, Ben Freeth has started the Mike Campbell Foundation. I was pleased (but not surprised) to see that the Mike Campbell Foundation supports the Foundations For Farming ministry (another recurring topic on this blog). Ben Freeth has written about the ministry At This Link (I found out later that Craig Deall is part of the Foundations For Farming ministry). 

There are alarming past parallels, and potential future parallels, between the history of Zimbabwe and that of America. Prosperity and decline. The loss of agriculture. Racial animosity. The disregard for established rule of law. Dictatorship. Societal collapse. The scapegoating and persecution of certain classes of people. 

I recommend that you listen to the McAlvany podcast. Here's the link again: Zimbabwe Inflation: "How We Survived"

Ben Freeth today.

Old Tools

Dateline: 29 October 2015

If you love old tools, as I do (agrarian and otherwise), you need to go to the Martin J. Donnelly web site and sign up for their twice-weekly e-mail newsletter. You won't be disappointed. 

The corn sheller above was sold by Donnelly Auctions and featured in their most recent newsletter.

A Christian-Agrarian Magazine!

Dateline: 28 October 2015

Issue #2

I found out yesterday that there is a "new" Christian-agrarian magazine. Four issues have already been published, but I just found out, so it's new to me. 

Stewardculture does not identify itself as a "Christian-agrarian" publication, but it appears to be written for Christians who feel a calling to farm, garden, and otherwise work the earth in a responsible, contra-industrial way.

The magazine is published online. It's very well done. It's free. I encourage you to check it out at this link: Stewardculture Magazine.

Issue #1


Seeing this new magazine, coupled with the newly published book, Organic Wesley, has me thinking that the Christian-agrarian "movement" is growing. Or, at least, one important element of the movement is visibly taking more shape and getting a "voice." That is, the aspect of proper land stewardship and the ethical production of food by people who have a Biblical worldview.

There is, however, a second important aspect to the Christian-agrarian path, or so it seems to me, and that is the matter of separation from the ungodly industrialized culture we live in. While proper stewardship of the earth should be important to Christian-agrarians, so too should be the matter of separation.

Clearly, personal involvement of Christians in ethical land stewardship is a degree of separation, but I think there is much more to this biblical and agrarian mandate. 

Take, for example, the matter of debt. Should Christian-agrarians assume usury-debt in their mandate to steward the land? And what of materialism, which is an important aspect of the industrial culture. Should the Christian-agrarian ethic reflect a high level of materialistic accumulation and consumption beyond what is needed to properly steward the land? What about the education of children and our choice of vocation? What about the Christian-agrarian view of modern medicine?

Hmmm. I think the Christian-and-agrarian ethic can and should address such questions (and others), but these things can be much more difficult than land stewardship to parse and definitively resolve to everyone's satisfaction. 

So, it may not be necessary (or wise) to "officially" propound Christian-agrarian ethics beyond proper stewardship of the earth. However, I do think that the matter of deliberate separation, especially from industrial-world dependencies and cultural expectations, should be an important part of the thought process (and actions) of all Christians who embrace the concept of ethical stewardship of the land. 

How Dave Brown Surprised Me
In Corning, New York

Dateline: 27 October 2015

"Material Culture"
By: Beth Lipman

It was one month ago yesterday (September 26, 2015), right next to an example of modern art titled "Material Culture" when Dave Brown surprised me.....

Marlene and I were in Corning, New York that day. She had planned a rendezvous get-together with some old high-school friends at the Corning Museum of Glass

Peggy and her husband, Dick, came from out near Buffalo. Anne came up from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Roger came from Moravia, NY, which is where Marlene and I live, and where we all went to high school (Class of '76), but I rarely see Roger. Fact is, I rarely see anybody, because I really "don't get out much," which is what makes this story all the more amazing.

So we met our old friends in the entrance lobby. It had been four years since we were last all together for a nice visit. We did the hugging thing and meandered into the museum. It's a pretty big museum, and it's a nice one. I thoroughly enjoyed the blend of glass history, glass technology, and even glass art. There is old glass art and modern glass art. 

The modern glass art was first up on our self-guided tour. Some of the modern glass art is kind of strange. In fact, most of it is kind of strange, and hard to understand. But when I came upon Material Culture, I got it. The whole thing resonated with me.

As the picture above shows, Material Culture is a small black table piled with an odd assortment of clear glass pieces—glass goblets, and bowls, and plates, and such. The little table is crammed with more glass than it can hold. The glass objects are all jumbled and precariously balanced. Some  have fallen off the table and broken to pieces. In short, the little table is overwhelmed with excess.

Discussions of Material Culture revolve around the "fragility and transience of life and earthly delights." Well, okay, I can see that. But I also saw cultural excess, vanity, chaos, and the impending collapse of industrialized civilization. 

I was reading about the display and taking it in and telling Marlene about it and I said to Anne, "Anne, it's about cultural collapse." She looked for a moment, realized what I was saying, and said, "We've already collapsed." And I said, "Yes, but after it all falls apart, the little black table will still be there."

I was thinking on this—about the little black table and what it might represent—as we all started to move on to another display, and then I heard someone behind me say my name.

I turned around and, if I remember correctly, Dave Brown said, "Hi Herrick." I looked at him and tried to figure out who he was, but my memory wasn't helping, and he said something about reading my blog, and I realized that I didn't know Dave Brown, because I had never seen Dave Brown before in my life, but he knew me because he reads The Deliberate Agrarian.

Wow. This was a first.

A brief discussion ensued. Dave introduced me to his wife and two children. The old high-school friends looked on in amazement. Then Dick took a picture of us all with Marlene's iPhone...

Marlene, me, and the Brown family,
with "Material Culture" in the background.

The Browns are from Warriors Mark, Pennsylvania. I'm from Moravia, New York. We met, by chance or Providence (depending on your world view), at the Corning Glass Museum, right next to a piece of modern art depicting the impending collapse of industrial civilization. It was the highlight of the day for me.

Maybe I should get out more often.

Boiled Cider Syrup...

Dateline: 26 October 2015

(photo link)

My Aunt Carolyn in Kennebunkport sent me the Bangor Daily News article, Liquid Gold: Apple Cider Syrup From A Maine Orchard, a few weeks ago. That prompted me to remember that in the past I wrote about Boiled Cider Syrup at my web site, wherein I explained that I first learned about boiled cider syrup in October of 1977 (yes, I know the exact month and year). And it prompted me to remember that, ever since then, I've wanted to make my own boiled cider syrup. But I never have. And I decided that, seeing as it is cider-making season here in upstate New York, and a good apple year, and I have all the necessary equipment, it was about time I finally got around to making myself some of this old-timey "apple molasses." 

If you are interested in knowing more about boiled cider syrup, be sure to read This Informative and Insightful Article at the Slow Food, USA web site. 

Which makes me think...   

I reckon that contemplating the production of my own boiled cider syrup for 37 years would make me a very Slow Food enthusiast. Good things take time, eh?

I started with five or six gallons of home-pressed apple cider. Maybe it was seven. Or maybe eight. I didn't really keep track. It was in two plastic pails on the back patio.  

The boiling started outdoors in a big stainless steel pot over a propane-fueled turkey fryer. I got the pot up to a good boil, periodically skimmed off the froth that formed on the surface, and added more cider, a little at a time.

I boiled outdoors for several hours, until my propane ran out. Then I moved the big pot to the kitchen and boiled a few more hours. All the windows steamed up. With the wood stove going in the room next to the kitchen, and all the moisture in the air, and my house being kind of smallish, it was like a sauna.

As the cider boiled down, the boiling bubbles became smaller, just like when boiling maple sap to make maple syrup. The process is pretty much exactly the same. Just boil away excess water until you have a concentrated syrup.

I ended up with 3 quarts of boiled-down cider syrup. It looks exactly like you can see in the above picture. Reddish dark, and syrupy thick.

I expected the flavor to be sweet, sort of like maple syrup is sweet. But boiled cider syrup is not what I would describe as sweet. My first impression was that it's got a tangy, acidic flavor, with just a touch of sweet. The Slow Food article describes it as having a slightly smoky, burnt flavor. Yep. That certainly applies. "Pucker" is another appropriate word associated with boiled cider syrup. It's a complex flavor, for sure.

My youngest son, who has worked in a high-class French restaurant, tasted my boiled cider syrup and said it has umami.

Umami? What's umami?

Well, if you don't know (I didn't), umami is the 5th basic taste. After sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, there is umami. It so happens that umami has always been a basic taste, but it has only been discovered and recognized as a basic taste in recent history. You can learn more about it At This Link.

After reading all about umami on the internet, I'm not sure it applies to boiled cider syrup. But I'll be the first to admit that I really don't know umami. 

I do, however, love the word. Umami. I mean, it's simply beautiful. Umami is such a delightful word that, without realizing what I was doing, I found myself singing it to the tune of that old Dean Martin song, Volare. Click Here to listen to Dean Martin sing Volare

Umami can be substituted for the word "volare" and the song takes on a whole new meaning. I don't know what the meaning is (I never did understand that song), but it's new.

By the way, I'll have you know I sound just like Dean Martin when I sing UmamiBut, to be perfectly honest, I only know seven words of the song: "Umami... Oh Oh... Oh Oh Oh Oh."

Where was I...

It may well be that boiled cider syrup does have some umami, along with numerous varied nuances of sweet, sour, and bitter (but definitely not salty). Like I said, it's complex.

There are numerous ways to use boiled cider syrup. We are experimenting with it now. I like it drizzled over vanilla ice cream, and it's good mixed with yogurt and granola. It was also good on vegetable stir fry over rice. 

I'm thinking it might be good on different meats, kind of like chutney is good with meats. Actually, the flavor reminds me of some apple chutney Marlene once made. That was a complex flavor too. I think there is umami in chutney.

So that's my story about making boiled cider syrup... finally

I have a feeling that, as we experiment with, and find new applications for, this unique syrup, the three quarts will be gone by next cider season. And now that I've made it once, and know how easy it is to make, I'll be making it again.

Has anyone reading this ever made boiled cider syrup? 

And, if so, did you think it had umami?

What Would Wesley Do?
(A Deliberate Agrarian Book Review)

Dateline: 25 October 2015

I have just finished reading William C. Guerrant's newly published book, Organic Wesley. Subtitled, A Christian Perspective on Food, Farming, and Faith. It could more accurately be subtitled, John Wesley's Perspective on Industrialized Agriculture and the Modern Food System. That is not a criticism on my part. Just an observation.

For those who don't know, John Wesley was a famous 18th century Protestant evangelist. He lived from 1703 to 1791 and was a primary founder of Methodism, which was the beginnings of what would become the Methodist denomination, from which would later come the Wesleyan denomination. 

Organic Wesley begins by taking a look at The Rise of Industrial Agriculture and the Emergence of the Food Movement. That is, in fact, the title of the book's first chapter (which is available to read online). 

Guerrant statistically contrasts how agriculture and the food system once was, against how it now is. He makes the point that the modern revolution in food production isn't the agricultural panacea presented by those who have developed, perpetrated and profited from it. 

While, admittedly, industrial food is now relatively cheap, and certainly abundant, industrialized agriculture has also brought the proliferation of toxic chemicals, genetic manipulation (GMOs), increased use of synthetic hormones and antibiotics in the meat industry, and widespread, systematic animal cruelty (CAFOs). All of which has had significant adverse health effects on those people who are dependent on the industrial food paradigm.

An increasing awareness of the negative realities of industrialized agriculture has brought about a multifaceted populous reaction that Guerrant refers to as the Food Movement

I suspect that most everyone reading this is, to some degree, part of this food movement, which is to say, you are aware of industrial food dangers and make an effort to eat more natural, wholesome, ethically raised foods.

In Organic Wesley, William Guerrant makes the observation that many Christians are involved in the food movement; that various aspects of the Christian ethic compel them to be actively involved. It's an apt observation.

What I've just written is a summation of Chapter 1. After that, comes John Wesley. A brief biography of Wesley's life and ministry is in Chapter 2. Here we also learn that when John Wesley was a student at Oxford (1724) he read a book that would lead him "to connect food and faith in significant ways."

The book was Dr. George Cheyne's, An Essay of Health and Long Life. Here is a quote from Organic Wesley:

Wesley enthusiastically embraced Cheyne's teachings and became a lifelong admirer of his work. Cheyenne's call for temperance and dietary discipline resonated with Wesley, who along with his Methodist cohorts had already adopted the pratice of twice-a-week fasting and other forms of self denial that they believed were characteristics of the earlier Christian communities. Wesley immediately incorporated Cheyne's advice into his own personal practices, faithfully following Cheyne's recommendations for the rest of his life."

Wesley himself was a prolific writer, producing  more than 400 books and tracts, including some on the subject of living a healthy lifestyle. Guerrant states...

"Within this abundant body of work, including sermons, treatises, tracts, letters,and journals, there is evidence from which we can discern where Wesley's views might locate him within the contemporary food movement, and from which we can identify the elements of a Wesleyan food ethic."

With a background in law, Guerrant (now a farmer) proceeds to do an excellent job of presenting his evidence. After reading it, I'm now persuaded that John Wesley, were he alive today, would be railing against industrialized agriculture (along with industrialized medicine), and actively involved in promoting a contrarian (Wesleyan) food ethic among the faithful.

After presenting his evidence for a Wesleyan food ethic, based on Christian ethics and promoted by John Wesley over 200 years ago, Guerrant relights the torch. The last chapter of the book, Living The Ethic, is an encouraging call to action.

Though I am not a Methodist, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a well written thesis that brings together history, theology, and agriculture in a compelling way. It speaks to critically important issues of our day. It offers valid personal responses and solutions to the serious harm being inflicted  on individuals and families by the industrial food juggernaut.

Also, from my perspective as a Christian-agrarian, I interpret Organic Wesley as a contra-mundum book that should be in the library of every Christian-agrarian believer. 

As I've stated in the past, the dominant, modern, centralized, corporate-industrial food system is, ultimately, a Babylonian system of control and enslavement. Of all people, Christians especially should be actively working to lessen their dependencies and separate themselves from this ungodly system as much as they possibly can.


A pertinent quote from the book to close this review...

“…it is not just modern-day Wesleyans who stand to benefit from attention to a Wesleyan food ethic. Recovery of the historic Wesleyan food ethic might be profitable not only to those in Wesleyan traditions, but to all Christians who are looking for a point of entry into our ongoing cultural conversation about food that is grounded in faith and in the history and tradition of the church. Indeed, an ethic that explicitly defines good food as that which is nutritious, eaten in moderation, and ethically sourced, should resonate broadly among those of all backgrounds, whether Christian or not, who are looking for a way to engage the food movement that is motivated not only by a desire for personal well-being and pleasure, but also by a desire to improve the world, help others, and honor the Creator. 

Wesley’s teachings about food must be seen and considered within the context of his larger call to a cultivation of personal and social holiness and a striving toward the perfection that God intends. So while Wesley taught that disciplined ethical eating was a means of obedience to God and part of the cultivation of personal holiness, he was not merely some sort of food Pharisee. He did not call upon his followers simply to obey a list of rules about eating. Rather, he encouraged them to eat in ways that would contribute not only to their personal health, but also to the betterment of the world, celebrating the goodness of creation in life-affirming ways, while advancing God’s kingdom and glory.”


William Guerrant also has a blog that is well worth reading. Check it out at Practicing Resurrection.


A further thought... Perhaps the publication of Organic Wesley will lead to the writing of more theologically-derived Protestant (the Catholics have a few already) agrarian titles. How about Organic Luther, or Organic Calvin?

My Garlic-Planting Template

Dateline: 23 October 2015

Click the picture for a closer view.

I blogged about my garlic planting template several years ago. I also wrote about it in my book, The Complete Guide To Making Great Garlic Powder, and  The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners. But I think it's such a great idea that I'm mentioning it here again.

The template pictured above is one I made when I was planting a LOT of garlic (in my neighbor's field) as a homestead business. It is made out of Masonite and I keep it stored under my workshop. It is worse for wear, but still does it's job very well. 

This year, just like last year, I have planted a single garden raised bed with garlic cloves. The bed is 30" wide and 15' long (I wrote about my garden beds At This Link). I tossed a pinch of bread flour on each template hole. There are 75 spots. That's enough garlic for our needs and to provide seed cloves for next year. Here is a picture of the bed with planting spots all marked...

The bed is now planted. I will leave it uncovered until it gets a few fall rains and the soil settles down. Then, before the really cold weather comes, I'll cover it with thin a black plastic mulch and some loose straw.

The garlic cloves will first develop some roots, then they will send up pointed shoots. Ideally, the roots will form and the shoots will not emerge, or barely emerge, before the winter snows come and growth stops. Then, early in the spring the shoots will emerge.

Based on my observations from last spring, I believe the shoots will pierce their way through the thin black plastic next spring. This will save me from trying to make a hole in the plastic for every garlic plant, as I've done in the past. If they do not spear their way through, I will be able to see them under the plastic and will make a hole for them as needed at that time.

Here's a picture of what this bed should look like next year (notice that there are no weeds)...

My Son,
The Long-Haul Trucker

Dateline: 23 October 2015

If you are out on the roads of America and see a Schneider truck like the one pictured above, my oldest son may be driving it. His name is the same as mine, but we call him Chaz. He and a friend (also an Army veteran) recently started a team driving job with Schneider.

They started the job last week, and the company issued them a brand spanking new truck. 

On their first week they started in Indianapolis and took a load of shredded paper to Wisconsin. From there they took a load of paper to Virginia. In Virginia they picked up a load of something that I'm not allowed to reveal, and headed for California (they had an armed escort part way). That delivery was diverted to Dallas, Texas. From Dallas, they took a load of plumbing parts to Lebanon, Tennessee. From Tennessee they drove to Georgia, got a load for WalMart, and took it to Dayton, Texas. Then they picked up a load in Waco and are bringing it to Indiana. Altogether, they drove around 4,000 miles their first week on the job. That is, I'm told, a slow week. 

So keep a lookout for my son when your out there driving the highways and byways of the country. If you see him, tell him "Hi" and that you are a reader of my blog. It won't be the first time he has met a Deliberate Agrarian blog reader in a far-from-home place. Amazingly, when he was in the Army, stationed in South Korea, another soldier, seeing his name tag, asked him if his father wrote a blog.

Small world, eh?

That's him.

Birth Of An Orchard
Part 6.... Apples!

Dateline: 21 October 2015

(click picture for larger view)

Longtime readers of this blog will recall back in April of 2013 when I posted Birth of an Orchard: Part 1. Shortly thereafter I posted Birth of an Ochard: Part 2. In November of 2013, I posted an update with Birth of an Orchard: Part 3. Then, in September of 2014, there was Birth of an Orchard: Part 4. In May of this year I posted Birth of an Orchard: Part 5.

Now, only 2.5 years after planting my little apple orchard, I have my first crop of apples. That's the whole crop in the picture above. The 6 red apples are Black Oxford and the one yellow-green one is a Golden Russet. They are heirloom varieties. I couldn't be more pleased.

Even though I have neglected to take care of my trees as well as I had planned, they seem to be doing okay. I never expected to get any apples this soon. This is a real encouragement.

On the tree

Whizbang Cidermaking
Part 1
On YouTube Now

Dateline: 19 October 2015

Cider season comes and goes kind of quick and I didn't want it to go by this year without getting a YouTube video about Whizbang cidermaking done. I finished Part 1 this morning (it took nearly 12 hours to upload to YouTube). 

I have to admit that I rushed the filming and heavily edited the content (to get the time much shorter than it would otherwise have been). I have a lot to learn about making a good video, but I think I'm getting a little better at it each time. The main point is to show and tell the story as clearly as I can. And, hopefully, sell more Whizbang Cidermaking plan books.

The most endearing part of this little movie is the last part, where my grandson (Futureman) grinds a bunch of apples all by himself. 

Futureman was here for a week earlier in the month and learned all about making apple cider. He really enjoyed the process. Hopefully it can be something of a "tradition" for him and me in years to come. And if it is, he will have a great lifetime memory that he can look back on long after I'm gone.

Teaching my grandson agrarian ways and making good memories together, when we can, is my objective.

Firewood Progress

Dateline: 17 October 2015


Well it took me 8 days, working as I had the time and energy, to get that truck load of logs cut up and stacked....


I'm sure it amounts to 30 face cords, which will last two winters. I have it stacked on pallets, on the as-yet-unfinished side of my house (it's only been that way for 30 years)...

I'll cover the top of the wood with some inexpensive tarps next week. As mentioned in my previous post, the logs are green and need to season. So, for this year's firewood, I've ordered 7 face cords of seasoned and split wood. It was pricey at $70 a cord, delivered. That will be here next week.

Those seven cords, added to what wood we have left from last winter, and the handful of dead elms I plan to cut this next week, should get us through this winter. After I get it all stacked under cover, my firewood crisis will be resolved. And I'll get back to blogging. And I'm looking forward to it.

Firewood Crisis

Dateline: 11 October 2015

As explained in blogs past, we heat our house with firewood only, using a wood stove. I bought the stove used when we built the house some 30 years ago. We burn 10 to 15 face cords of wood every winter. It's a simple, inexpensive, dependable approach to heating a home. I'm sure I've saved many thousands of dollars over the years by not having a more sophisticated heating system.

For almost all the years we have heated with wood, I have purchased the wood from a neighbor. He is a small-scale dairy farmer who has augmented his low farm income by selling firewood to the locals. His prices have been very reasonable. But this year when we called to order our yearly supply of wood, he inform us that it was all spoken for. This was totally unexpected, and it presents us with something of a crisis.

It is October and, though the weather is not bad at this time, we have had snow in October in past years. There is some wood in our wood shed from last year, but not a lot. So I bought a truck load of firewood logs, as you can see in the picture above.

The man I bought the logs from didn't know how many face cords were in the load, but a friend who has bought similar loads says it is about 30 face cords. The cost was $700. Not bad when you consider that it will heat my house for two years. 

It's nice wood. But it's green, which is to say, it is freshly cut and full of moisture, which is to say, it will be good firewood for the winters of 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. But it really won't be good for this coming winter of 2015-2016.

I need dry wood, so I'm going to cut down several dead elm trees on the edge of my field, along with a few dead ones in the woods. That might get us through the winter. But probably not. I'll be looking to buy some seasoned firewood to help with the crisis.

My plan was to have the logs put off to the side of my property to season for a year before cutting them into chunks and splitting them. But the truck driver was concerned about driving on my lawn after a recent heavy rainfall, and there were overhead power lines to contend with. So he unloaded right by the road....

That's way too close to the road. The snow plow wing would surely hit the pile. So I'm faced with having to cut up the logs now, and then go and cut the dead elms. 

The work is not a problem. I love cutting and working with firewood. It's a bit more of a physical challenge that in past years, but it's doable. 

The problem is one of time. As usual, my Planet Whizbang business keeps me very busy most days until well past noon. And it gets dark earlier these days. So I'll be cramming to get my firewood issues taken care of. Oh, and I need to dig my potatoes. And plant some garlic. And Marlene has picked a LOT of apples to make more cider.

Thus it is that I must extend my blogging break a bit longer than I had expected. I have much to write about, but it will have to wait. And I have a YouTube 2-part video about making Whizbang apple cider that will also have to wait. And I was hoping to introduce an idea I developed (two years ago) for a new woodland sport, but that will have to wait. And making a production run of my new Whizbang tool for gardeners will have to wait. And...

So that's my story. I'll be back when my firewood crisis is resolved, (though I may return briefly for short blog post about a new Planet Whizbang product my youngest son is working on).

I'm sure you're busy too. Here's hoping you fellow Northerners finish all that you need to finish before the snow and bitter cold come.


Oh, one more thing, while I'm on the subject of firewood...

A two-wheeled garden cart is a great tool for moving firewood, especially heavy, water-laden chunks. You simply tip the front of the cart down by the wood and transfer it into the cart, then you can very easily lever the cart up and transport the load. This is much easier than lifting every chunk up over the edge of the cart.

Click picture for larger view. And check out the tires.

Of course, a Whizbang Garden Cart is better for this job than any other. But I'm using an old and decrepit cart of another kind for this job. That's because one of my Whizbang garden carts is holding my outdoor sink, and the other is chock full of apples. Note to self: make another cart.

I'm piling the chunks of wood on pallets by my wood shed, as this next picture shows. Pallets. Very handy on a homestead!