Taking Leave...

Dateline: 5 November 2015
Edited: 24 November 2015

A Dead Elm
(click picture for larger view)

I've decided to take leave from blogging here for awhile and devote my writing time to posting updates to Jimmy & Bekah's Diner Dream project at GoFundMe. 

The campaign is off to a great start. Several readers of this blog have contributed. I greatly appreciate it. The project runs to the end of the year and I expect to be writing regular updates there until then.

I invite you to stop by the GoFundMe page and read my updates (if you make a donation of any amount, you will automatically receive the updates by e-mail). The most recent update will be at the top, and there will be a link at the bottom of the update to read previous ones.

They say that updates are an important part of a GoFundMe campaign. People want to know more about the story, how it plays out, and how their contribution is being used. I can do that. I'm into it.

I had not planned to take this break, but I can see that it is necessary. Something has to give, you know? 

I have so  much to write about from the Deliberate Agrarian perspective, but this little project is actually part of my deliberate agrarian life. It's important to me and my family. 

Lord willing, I'll be back.

Dropped Elm
(55ft long)

Elm Stump

Elm Branches in 12A
(Leland pulling)

Jimmy & Bekah's Diner Dream
(a gofundme campaign)

Dateline: 3 November 2015

Jimmy & Bekah in their future diner.

My youngest son, James, and his wife, Bekah, are buying The Gathering, a small-town diner here in Moravia, New York. It will be officially theirs on January 1st of 2016. That's two months away. James & Bekah are pretty excited about it. 

They don't have the money to buy a diner, but they have been given the opportunity to purchase it for a modest down payment and regular monthly payments for as many years as it will take to get it paid off. This opportunity has come by way of Bekah's parents who own the diner, and who have operated it for the past nine years.

The diner seats 80, is on the main road just outside town, and has lots of parking. The location really couldn't be any better. It's a nice little diner and has a good customer base.

I'm real pleased with this new development. A properly run small-town diner can support a family. And when a husband and wife work the business together, you have something rare and special in this day and age— a family economy. 

Besides that, if you want to see a great example of community in action, stop by a busy, small town, rural diner (like The Gathering) some morning for breakfast, or at lunchtime. It's a beautiful thing.

Bekah's parents will help with the transition. Marlene and I are looking for ways that we can be a help too. I expect I'll be poking away at various small remodeling projects, and probably posting about them here on this blog. But the first thing I've done (earlier today) is set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise some money to help James and Bekah get off to a solid start with this new opportunity.

Go to Jimmy & Bekah's Diner Dream and you can read all the details. I hope that many readers of this blog will feel like helping with a donation. It doesn't have to be much. A lot of smaller donations can add up. And every one will be a big encouragement. 

Thank you,

Herrick Kimball

Isaac Phillips Roberts
(Part 1)
Recollecting his Mother

Dateline: 2 November 2015

Isaac Phillips Roberts

"I was born In the Roberts' farmhouse, on the west bank of Cayuga Lake, July 24, 1833, at sunrise of a fine harvest morning."

Thus begins, Autobiography of a Farm Boy, by Isaac Phillips Roberts. The book was written in 1916, when Roberts was 83 years old. You can read it online At This Link.

Roberts is pretty much a forgotten figure in history, but he played an important role as an agricultural educator at Cornell university for thirty years. The college even named one of their new (in 1906) agricultural buildings in his honor. But Roberts Hall was demolished in the 1980s. 

Roberts achieved a great measure of success as a professor even though he never attended college and had no educational degrees. 

A NY State historical marker (click the link for a concise biography) is at Roberts' birthplace in East Varick, NY. It states that he was "representative extra-ordinary of the American farmer." 

As Isaac Roberts states in his book, East Varick is on the western shore of Cayuga Lake, directly across from the village of Aurora. Well, if you look on a map and track about 20 miles due east of Aurora you will find my house. The professor practically grew up in my neighborhood... 182 years ago.

This area of central New York state was largely unsettled back in those days. It was a land rich in resources, and well suited for an agrarian society.

Autobiography of a Farm Boy is a historical gem for modern-day agrarians looking to better understand what life was once like in the agrarian nation America once was. 

For example, the following description by Roberts of his mother gives us a glimpse into the role of women in the agrarian culture of early 1800's America. She was not highly educated, but she was highly literate. She did not seek to have a career and be an income earner outside her home. Instead, she was a helpmeet to her husband, performing the important tasks of managing her home economy; providing for and nurturing her children. Her life energy was focused on being a mother, as well as a friend and caregiver in her immediate community. In other words, she did not endeavor to be a leader in the society of her day, but to raise sons that would one day be responsible leaders. 

This is an old concept that is clearly biblical. But, of course, in the industrialized world, motherhood is not the high moral and social calling it was once universally considered to be. Managing a home and being a mother are, at best, now a part time task in the industrial order. 


"My mother, Elizabeth Burroughs, was also born near Harbortown, New Jersey, August 16, 1800, and came to East Varick with her parents when they settled there in 1812. It was she who stood at the center of the household. It was she who made It possible for me to go forth strong in body and of purpose, to work patiently and bravely for the farmers—for science, for justice and for truth. 

As I look upon the picture of her strong, rugged, placid face, I recall her self-sacrificing life for the good of everyone within the sphere of her influence; and I know that she was a Christian, although she belonged to no church and seldom attended one.

Soon after marriage at twenty years of age, her toils began, and as the years passed, griefs and burdens followed on one another's trail; but she bore them all quietly, lovingly, even smilingly. 

I see her now, the central figure in that numerous, growing family —commanding, handsome, but not beautiful, with that large benignity which comes to middle-life and age, from a well-spent, unselfish life. From the youngest to the oldest child, we all looked to her for comfort in trouble, for instruction and advice in all our undertakings, and for appreciation in our successes. 

After all these years I cannot forgive myself for having wantonly disobeyed her when she forbade me to attend a dance at a tavern of doubtful reputation. This was the more inexcusable since I was allowed to do almost anything that was not positively bad.

Such education as she had she received In the schools of Harbortown, but she never went to school after she was twelve years of age. She was, however, a great reader—considering her cares and opportunities—had a remarkable memory and was clever at mathematics. She could figure a problem "in her head " more quickly and accurately than any of her sons. She was particularly fond of Rasselas, Aesop's Fables in Rhyme, Thompson's Seasons and Scott's Lady of the Lake, the greater part of which she was still able to quote In her old age. She could not sing at all nor could any of her generation of the Burroughs family; but she had an unusual love of poetry and occasionally wrote letters In verse to her children.

My mother died at the ripe age of seventy-nine years In the house where she had lived for more than fifty years and In the midst of loving children and grandchildren. She had been"Aunt Betsy" to the whole neighborhood and a friend to everyone who needed anything she could give or could do for them."