A Whizbang Poem

Original Dateline: 23 June 2006
Repost Dateline: 10 August 2016

My son, James, looking way too enthusiastic
about plucking chickens (back in 2006).

Earlier this month, fellow Central New Yorker Mike Miller contacted me by e-mail to see if his 11-year-old daughter, Clara, could interview me for a school science project on inventors. The Miller family raises and processes their own polutry with a homemade Whizbang plucker which, as many of you know already, I developed and published plans for. 

I did not actually invent the plucker. I took the mechanical concept employed by expensive commercial plucking machines and figured out how to make an inexpensive homemade version using common materials and basic handyman skills. So I invented the Whizbang design. Anyway, I agreed and Clara e-mailed six questions which I promptly answered.

A few days ago, Clara wrote to thank me for answering the questions. She said: “I ended up getting 100% on my report and my teacher is a hard grader! Plus, I had to write a poem to go along with my report and I thought you might want to hear it.”

Well, I certainly did, and with the author’s permission, it’s my pleasure to share with you....

The Whizbang

by Clara V. Miller

We grab a chicken from the pot,

Toss it in while it’s still hot!

Spray some water and pull some levers,
Pretty soon there’re no more feathers!

So stop by our farm if you get a chance,
and you can see the chicken dance!

After you enjoy our chicken dinner,
you’ll say this plucker is a real winner!

So thank you Mr. Herrick Kimball
for making our plucking job so simple!

Thank you Clara Victoria Miller for such a thoughtful and delightful little poem!

Atrazine Anger
(A Christian-Agrarian Response)

Original Dateline: 26 April 2006
Repost Dateline: 7 August 2016

I heard on the radio a couple days ago that the European Union has recently banned the use of atrazine in E.U. countries. That got my attention.

The report stated that atrazine is the #1 selling herbicide in the world. 70 million pounds of the chemical killer are used by farmers in the U.S. each year. It is used primarily by corn growers to suppress weeds.

The E.U has banned atrazine because it recently came to light that the toxin has a significant “adverse biological effect.” What that means, in part, is that atrazine was found to destroy the reproductive ability of frogs. That understanding led to further research where it was found that atrazine causes breast and prostate cancer in mammals. Not coincidentally, people who work closely with the chemical have significantly higher rates of those cancers.

Atrazine runs off the fields, into streams and lakes, and finds its way into the drinking water supply. The acceptable U.S. drinking water standard for atrazine is 3 parts per billion. But new studies have found that as little as .1 part per billion (that is 1/30th of the standard) is enough to do harm. According to the news report, atrazine has been found in groundwater as far as 600 miles from where it was applied.

In light of the new findings, the Environmental Protection Agency here in the United States has NO intention of eliminating or even limiting the use of atrazine. Why would an agency of the government, charged with protecting the environment (which includes the people who live in the environment), NOT ban a widely-used synthetic poison that is making people sick?

I’ll tell you why. It’s because the EPA is a government bureaucracy, and like every government bureaucracy the EPA is subject to political influence. And the chemical companies have a lot of political influence because they rake in a whole lot of MONEY when American farmers slather 70 million pounds of atrazine over the earth each year. Atrazine is a cash cow. Safety is really beside the point. MONEY is what it’s all about. And keep in mind that we are discussing just one of many such chemicals.

Atrazine is yet another example of how corporate-industrialized agriculture is a sham and a failure. The monster proudly boasts that it “feeds the world” but, in the process, it poisons the environment, causes innocent people to suffer and, in many instances, kills them with impunity. Such lives are sacrificed on the altar of profit and success.

When technology kills innocent people as a “side effect” it is inherently wrong. I dare say it is evil. It is the result of sin and rebellion against God. He created the earth and all that is in it and when He was done He said, “It is good.” God made it good and sinful man destroys it. In the book of Romans, Paul says that creation longs to be set free from the bondage of sin. Creation longs to be set free from things like atrazine.

I don’t believe the average modern Christian really cares much about atrazine. Most modern Christians do not really believe in exercising responsible stewardship of the earth. The concept of sustainability is foreign to them. They see the earth as expendable—something to be exploited and used up in the process of supporting the ease and comfort that come with their high standard of living.

This is, I believe, the natural extension of modern evangelical thinking that Christians are going to be raptured out of this world at any moment. That being the case, so the thinking goes, why should Christians give much concern for husbanding the earth? Few Christians will outright admit to that way of thinking, but actions (or lack of actions) speak louder than words.

And, by the way, doesn’t the Bible say that God is going to replace the earth with a new one someday? If that’s true, then we can exploit and destroy to our heart’s content, right? Let us eat, drink, be merry, and ravage the earth, for tomorrow we get a new one. Such thinking is also a sham and a failure.

That God will one day create a new earth does not give His people license to destroy the one He has placed us in now. I do not think God winks at the pillaging of creation for vainglory achievement and personal profit. How presumptive and prideful and evil it is to assume such an attitude.

Any government that protects the corporate-industrial destroyers has forsaken it’s God-given mandate to protect the innocent. And Christians who buy into the technological destruction should be ashamed of themselves.

The Bad Cut

Original Dateline: 1 June 2006
Repost Dateline: 6 August 2016

I was working in my garden yesterday afternoon, preparing the soil so I could plant tomatoes, when my son, Robert, called out to me from the kitchen window...

”Hey Dad! James cut his finger. It’s pretty bad. I think you should come in.”

I stood up, straightened out my stiff back and marched toward the house, wondering what I was going to encounter. Just how bad was the cut going to be? Would I have to take my 11-year-old son to the emergency room? I wished Marlene was not away running errands.

James was waiting for me just inside the door. He was clutching his finger. There was a very concerned look on his face. “”How did you cut it?” I asked.

”On the top of a can,” he replied.

”Let me see it.”

He extended his right hand, and let off his grip around the finger. The cut was in the fleshy thumb-side of his middle finger, between two knuckles. It was a bit over an inch long, and deep. But not to the bone. It was hardly bleeding and that surprised me. I shook my head and pronounced in mock seriousness, "Well, it looks like we’re going to have to amputate.” James managed a weak smile.

I took my work boots off and walked into the kitchen with my wounded son following, and clutching. ”Tell me again how you did that.” 

He showed me an empty can of Bush's Baked Beans on the counter. The round top, held to the can by a small section of rim metal, was hinged straight up. James had reached into the cabinet over the counter for a drinking glass and brought his hand down on the sharp lid.

It so happened that James and Robert were hungry. Marlene wasn’t there to feed them so they opened the can and satisfied their empty stomachs with the beans. I like it when my boys fend for themselves, but I stated the obvious: ”You shouldn’t leave the lid up like that. Next time, fold it down into the can and throw the can away.”

”It’s starting to hurt a little now,” James said, looking at his finger.

I replied, ”Oh it’s gonna hurt all right! I expect you’ll be screaming in pain in a few minutes.” He didn’t say anything.

”I’m going to have to wash it real good,” I announced. ”Because if I don’t wash it out, it could get infected and swell up and turn green and ooze pus and gangrene will spread up your arm and they’ll have to cut yer whole arm off.”

He protested with a frown... ”That’s not a nice thing to say. It doesn’t make me feel good.”

I quit the kidding, grinned, and told him, in all seriousness, ”You’re going to be fine, Buddy. Dr. Kimball’s going to fix you up real good.”

My hands were soiled from working in the garden. I made a big show of sudsing, scrubbing and rinsing up to my elbows, with him waiting patiently by the sink. Once clean, I regulated the water to a comfortable warm, worked lots of fresh soap suds into my hands and gently washed his hand in mine. Then I rinsed his hand off and patted it dry with a clean towel.

The gaping wound showed meat and was, frankly, a little unsettling to me but I didn’t tell him that.

”That’s a good one, James. Did I ever tell you about the time I cut myself bad and your Mom sewed it back together for me?”

He responded by showing me a diagonal scar on the base of his left index finger, where he had cut himself with a knife a couple years ago. I had never noticed the scar before, but it sure did look familiar. I looked at the same spot on my own left index finger and there it was.

”Look at that, James,” I said, proudly showing him the scar on my finger. ”That’s the one Mom sewed up. You and me got the same scar!”

I reached for a bottle of Betadine in the kitchen cabinet.

”Is that going to sting?”

”No, it shouldn’t sting.

I flooded the cut with the solution and told him to wait while I went to my shop. There, in a file cabinet drawer, I keep a bunch of first-aid supplies, including a selection of military surplus sutures....

But I did not get any sutures. I got the next best thing—little butterfly bandages. Butterfly’s will hold most cuts together very well, especially if they are not bleeding too much. They are, to my down-home, self-sufficient way of thinking, a satisfactory substitute for stitches. I always keep a supply of butterfly bandages.

One butterfly, carefully placed, pulled the wound together very nicely. To keep it clean, I applied a couple of oversize Band Aids. Then I told my patient not to get the hand dirty or wet for at least a couple of days, and not to put a lot of stress on the finger— Doctor’s orders.

This Deliberate Agrarian's
Long Swan Song

Dateline: 6 August 2016

A swan song is a metaphorical phrase for "a final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement."

My swan song as "The Deliberate Agrarian" is in process, and it will be a somewhat drawn out final gesture. It will conclude with my retirement from this blog. Hopefully not my death. But wouldn't that be dramatic... concluding this Deliberate Agrarian swan song and then dying! One never knows.

This blog, which began in the spring of 2005, now has 1,110 posts in the archive. That's a lot. I am in the process of going through each one, starting with the first. 

I'm closing off the comments so the posts don't get loaded with spam comments (I am continually removing them). I'm deleting some of the posts. And I'm reposting a few, as you may have noticed the last few days.

It's not like I have nothing else to do, so all of this could go on for a couple of months. 

And then that will be that.

My future plan is to launch another blog. It will NOT be about "Faith, Family and Livin' the Good Life."

Well, maybe it will be a little. But my main focus will be on.....

Oh, but I'll save that for later. 

(I don't think it will be a big surprise, but it's still an idea in its infancy). 

So, with the end in sight, I hope you will enjoy my swan song of selected blog reposts.

Not Isolationism,
But Counter-Revolution

Original Dateline: 14 April 2006
Repost Dateline: 4 August 2016

Please note that Isaiah's vision of the future
was peaceful and agrarian.

I believe God is actively working in the hearts of more and more of His people to convict them of their “industrial” sins. As a result, He is bringing about a modern day Exodus. We who feel this calling (and it is a calling) desire to leave the bondage of corporate-industrial “Egypt.” We are leading the way for our families, for the generations that follow, and for other believers who will, in God’s time, come to the realization that agrarianism is not an option, it is a mandate. God has always intended for His people to live primarily within the agrarian paradigm, and for good reason. It is inevitable that Christian agrarianism will become more of a movement that gets noticed by more and more people within the community of Believers. In fact, it already is.

One case in point is a recent Chalcedon Foundation blog article titled, Babylon, Agrarianism, and the Military-Industrial Complex. My thanks to Carmon Friedrich who recently mentioned this article at her blog.

The article is well worth your reading, as is just about everything that Chalcedon puts out. But the following excerpt is the part I find most compelling...


“I find it interesting that when Isaiah prophesied (chapter 2) of the glorious kingdom he described it in terms of a repentance in technology: swords are made into plowshares, and spears are converted into pruninghooks. Converted hearts lead to converted technology. This is ably demonstrated by the present emphasis upon agrarianism. The movement is emblematic of a righteous "restraint" upon the abuses of technology and the sin it inspires. All to say, the fulfilled kingdom may appear more Amish than the steel and stone of Huxley's Brave New World.

The same has often been said about hunting -- old-school rocker Ted Nugent is one of the most outspoken advocates of this idea. Christians are rediscovering a lost world, by discarding much of the plastic society and the cultural control grid of corporate advertising. By removing their children from public schools, and by disengaging from certain social tentacles, today's Christian can better taste the potency of God's creation.

The issue here is not isolationism -- far from it. It is a counter-revolution to an exclusively institutional and industrial existence. It is a self-imposed restraint upon the use of certain technology, and the adoption of older technology that is pure and God-sanctioned.

The new Tower of Babel is a vast system contrived and built by humanistic man, and is intended to have dominion over every area of life. We, as modern Christians, are plugged into this system. We should always be looking for ways to "unplug" so as to circumvent its control in our lives. Educating our children is the first step. Removing ourselves from the neo-babylonian churches is next. These mega-wonders of institutional worship are drenched in technology, and serve as faithful ambassadors of the state.

I find other movements, such as agrarianism, as helpful to the cause of Christ. I also see a helpful trend within the family-based churches, despite the shrills of patriarchy. My goodness, so long as sinful people are involved any system can be abused! But centering on the family helps to de-tox Christians from their slavish adherence to institutions. We can only rejoice then as faithful Christians work to decentralize a one-world order. Bureaucracy is a great opponent to the expedient application of Biblical law.”


"History has never been dominated by majorities, but only by dedicated minorities who stand unconditionally on their faith."
—R. J. Rushdoony

Trapping Class

Original Dateline: 16 March 2006
Repost Dateline: 4 August 2016

Trapping Class
(photo link)

My two youngest sons want to trap wild animals, skin ‘em, and sell the hides. I know several men my age who trapped when they were boys. But I grew up as a suburban kid and I didn’t trap any animals. Fact is, I almost never saw a wild animal. So I don’t know a single thing about how to trap and skin and sell furs.

Years ago, it was common for rural men and boys to trap. Trapping is a craft that goes back to the founding of this country. The fur trade was once a vital part of our national economy.

That’s what my boys and I learned a couple weekends ago when we went to an all-day trapping course at a small sportsman’s club in Navarino, N.Y. Marlene had called the N.Y. Dept of Environmental Conservation (DEC) over six months ago to find out about taking the class, which is needed to legally trap and sell furs. She was told that trapping courses aren’t given very often these days because there isn’t a lot of interest. But we were put on a 4-county list— as soon as someone somewhere in the four counties had a class, we would be notified. We signed up for the first class that came up.

So it was on a cold, snowy February morning that Robert (now 15) and James (now 11) and I (now 48) drove 45 minutes to Navarino. There were maybe 25 people taking the class. There were a couple of other dads there with their sons. The rest of the class were mostly average-looking, young and middle age rural guys. A couple were sort of “gnarly” lookin’ rural types— the kind that would scare you if you happened upon them while walking in the woods, especially if the woods was their property.

We had several teachers that day. There was Al and Bill and Bob and Mike and Karl. All of them, with the exception of Mike, were old timers, which means they were older than me. Each of these men were avid trappers and I think they have been trappers most all their lives. Judging from the looks of our trappin’ teachers , I’d have to say that trappers are a special kind of people. They’re not the kind that you’d ever imagine would spend one day working in a Dilbert-style cubicle. They are independent outdoorsmen—there is a old fashioned wildness to them. You might say they are “a little rough around the edges.”

Well, me and my boys learned a LOT that day. Bill, the oldest old timer there (he looked to be in his 70s, and maybe even older than that) showed us all kinds of traps and supplies that trappers use. Al told us about the N.Y. State trapping regulations and safety. Bob, the biggest man of the bunch, wore a vest of shorn beaver fur (absolutely beautiful fur!) and spoke about how to properly “euthanize” a live animal after you catch it. Karl gave us a skunk skinning demonstration. Mike skinned a good-size mink that he saw get hit by a car. He brought it home and put it in his freezer to save it for the skinning demonstration. Mike stretched the skinned fur over a special wood stretcher board and showed how to flesh it and pin the hide down for drying.

When Mike was skinning that mink, one of the trappin’ teachers gave the class some marital advice: “If any of you boys finds a woman that will skin for you, marry her!” This comment met with nods of approval from the trappers and laughter from everyone else. By the way, the only woman in attendance was Bill’s wife, a nice older lady who we were led to believe, helped her husband with his trap line.

A DEC officer showed up and spoke to the class. He said that he had two daughters who spent most of their life at the shopping malls and he thought it was great to see dads and sons trapping together.

Most of our trapping teachers were involved in nuisance animal control (trapping is more like a sport and part-time money making hobby). During breaks, we enjoyed listening to Al regale us with nuisance animal stories. He told us about how suburban people get all upset when a wild animal, like a coon or skunk or fox shows up around their house. He said most of those people don’t even own a gun (to which Mike commented: “That’s why I have 25 of ‘em.”) and even if they did, they can’t legally shoot it in the suburbs. As a result, there’s lots of wildlife control work around.

Coyotes are a big nuisance hereabouts. Sometimes they eat those expensive little suburban dogs. Al says some folks want him to trap the coyotes alive and take them two hours away into the Adirondacks and let them loose. But, he says they would die there because there is very little food for a coyote in the Adirondacks. There is, however, lots of food in the farmlands and suburbs of central N.Y.

Some nights I can hear coyotes yipping in the near distance outside my house. I’m hoping me and James and Robert can trap us one or two next season. That would be a thrill. Al says that coyotes thrive in adversity— you can trap and shoot and poison them and the population increases.

Al also told us about the time he and a friend used an electronic raccoon caller at a farm that had a lot of coon problems. They turned the caller on and Al says the coons came swarming down the sides of the barns and out of the nooks and crannies. They shot 47 of ‘em before his friend’s gun jammed and they hightailed it back to their truck. After getting the gun unjammed, they went back and found the calling equipment had been destroyed by the angry animals. Now that was quite a story! I think trappers have some of the best stories.

After lunch we all went outside to learn how to set traps. It’s not like setting mouse traps in the basement. There is a lot more to learn and know than you might think. It was freezing cold and windy outside. Everyone was visibly chilled and looking forward to getting back inside— except, that is, those gnarly-looking fellows. They had half as much winterwear on as anyone else and didn’t look cold at all.

At the end of the day we took a two-page multiple choice test and we all passed it. So now my boys and me are certified trappers. That doesn’t mean we’re experts, but we know the basic rules and we know a whole lot more about trapping than we knew before. Now we need to get some equipment and actually do it!


I have to admit that I don’t really have a lot of interest in trapping and skinning wild animals. But, like I said, my boys really do, and that pleases me to no end. Trapping offers adventure, excitement, and reward for the work and effort and skill that is put into it. It gets boys outside in the fresh air. It gives them self-confidence. It teaches them about God’s creation. It teaches them responsibility. The way I see it, there is no downside to lawful and responsible trapping. And when a father and his boys can learn and experience all of this together, that is all the better. It is exactly the sort of thing that fathers and sons need to be doing to build strong relationships and lasting memories. So I’m going to be a trapper next season. Stay tuned.


Update 2016

Well, as with a lot of things in life, we get enthused about something new and pursue it for a season, then our interests trail off into something else new and different. That was the case with my kids and trapping. We went to a trappers convention after the trapping class. That was powerfully inspiring. And we came home with the trapping supplies we needed to get started. We set a bunch of traps along the creek behind our house. But the wild critters did not cooperate. The enthusiasm for trapping waned. 

In retrospect, though we did not get far with our actual trapping pursuits, taking the class and going to the convention was a lot of fun. These many years later, my sons will often recollect something from that trapping class. It was a good experience. 

Though they are not trappers today, my two youngest sons are avid hunters. That's a boyhood interest that has not waned. Both of them bought lifetime NY state hunting licenses when they were teenagers. And they have put them to good use. 

BitGold Update
(one year later)

Dateline: 5 August 2016

It was exactly one year ago that I posted here about BitGold... Considering BitGold: It's Not a Cryptocurrency. BitGold was only a few months old and I really liked the idea. 

Today I went to my BitGold page and it had changed completely. Now it is Goldmoney. I'm not sure what that means to me, if anything. The concept appears to be the same.

The screenshot above (from the Goldmoney web site) charts the value of gold (in grams) over the one year that I have had a BitGold account. I purchased my first grams of gold on August 5, 2015 for $35.09 a gram. The price today is $43.88. That is a 25% increase. 

I put a total of $2,500 into BitGold from August to December 2015. Then I stopped. That was all I cared to risk on a new idea like BitGold. I also stopped because I wasn't sure how to handle the tax implications. Today, my $2,500 investment is valued at $3,094.28.

There are people who remain skeptical of BitGold (or Goldmoney) because it relies on other people (the Goldmoney company) to hold the gold and be completely trustworthy. They say the best way to own precious metals is to actually have them in your possession. 

I completely understand that skepticism. I feel it too. And I agree with the saying that the best way to own precious metals is to have them in your possession. Nevertheless, I still like this BitGold/Goldmoney idea as an option for diversifying one's savings. 

So, I'll just leave my 70.443 grams of gold in the Brinks vault in Zurich, Switzerland (where I chose to keep it). Maybe it really isn't there. How would I know for sure? But that's what they tell me. And it's kind of neat to be a country hick in upstate New York, USA, with my very own Swiss bank account. 


P.S. You can watch a realtime audit of Goldmoney transactions at This Link.

Crunchy Cons
And Christian Agrarians

Original Dateline: 8 March 2006
Repost Dateline: 3 August 2016

I stopped by Carmon “Prairie Muffin” Friedrich’s Blog, Buried Treasure Books, this morning and read her most recent post about Crunchy Cons.

Crunchy Cons is the name of a book written by Rod Dreher. Cons is short for conservatives. Crunchy is a reference to eating granola. Crunchy Cons are people who embrace conservative ideology, but do not fit into the dominant conservative stereotype. The book’s subtitle sheds a bit more light on what it is all about:

How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party)

Since I just learned about the book this morning, I have not read it. But I did read an interview which Carmon provided a link to. The interviewer describes Dreher’s book as “a manifesto that celebrates faith, family, community and nature against the forces of greed and lust.” Hey, that sounds a lot like the subtitle found up at the head of this blog!

Though I do not necessarily agree with everything Mr. Dreher says in his interview, he and I are definitely on the same page when it comes to a lot of things. It sounds to me like Crunchy Cons and Christian agrarians have a lot in common. In fact, it would appear to me that, even though he lives in an urban setting, Rod Dreher is a Christian agrarian.

I predict that it is only a matter of time before he and his family start a garden and get a few hens for eggs.

Here are some quotes to give you a taste of where Rod Dreher and his Crunchy Cons are coming from...


“I'd say that Crunchy Conservatism is nothing new. It's a rediscovery of the kind of traditionalism espoused by Russell Kirk and Richard Weaver and others in the 1940s and 1950s. It's a conservatism that values religion, family, and culture...”


“The institution most essential to conserve is the family. Beauty is more important than efficiency. Small, local, old and particular are almost always better than big, global, new and abstract.”


“There are a lot of people out there who don't fit into left-right categories. Robert Hutchins, one of the Christian farmers I wrote about, told me that he sometimes feels that he and his family have more in common with hippy organic farmers than with Republicans living in the suburbs ... and Robert is very Republican.”


“God did give man dominion over animals, but he didn't intend for us to turn these creatures into widgets. That's what's so foul about factory farming.”


“I interviewed a woman for the book who lived with her family in Midland, Texas. She and her husband were Presbyterians, and they were church planters there, and they had eight kids, and they were home schooling, and they ate a lot of natural food, and no TV, the whole magilla, and you know she told me, "It's the weirdest thing, we're living in the most Christian, most Republican place we've ever lived, and we look around and we can't see how people's faith affects the way they live their lives at all. They're all captives to the consumer culture. They're all buying their kids the most expensive new things. She said that's not how Christians are supposed to live; that's not how conservatives are supposed to live. They've sold out to the values of the world, and think that as long as they profess to hold the beliefs of the Christian faith, that that's enough.”


“What we try to do with our kids is teach them the tools they need to spot when they're being manipulated. If parents don't see their role to be actively countercultural—not passively countercultural—then they're going to lose. We see people losing all the time, good conservative people who don't see how the messages of mass consumer marketing work against their values.”


“I think that as Christians we know that the world is filled with God's presence and everything is given to us as a gift, and perhaps that's the secret to joy—being grateful for everything and taking joy in small things, and realizing through a sacramental mentality that this is how the Lord shows himself to us, through these little things, and we should rejoice in it.”


“The point is though that if you're going to attract people to a way of life, you've got to show them not only that it honors God and our conservative convictions, but that it's joyful, it's a fun way to live. And I really do think that if you live by the principles I outline in Crunchy Cons, where you place your faith and your family at the center of everything, and you learn how to value things like food and wine, and aesthetic things, beauty as the expression of the divine, then life becomes a lot more colorful and interesting and passionate.”


“I think only religious faith has the power to resist our very powerful commercial culture.”


“...Crunchy Cons is not primarily a book about policy; yes I have a few policy changes I'd like to see. I'd like to see laws passed to make it easier for families to homeschool, for families to start small farms and small businesses, but ultimately Crunchy Conservatism is about what Vaclav Havel called anti-political politics. And what he meant was the idea that the only way to rebuild society after the horrors of communism was through individual ethical choices and collective ethical choices made every single day...”


“I have no illusions that I'm going to be able to change America by what I believe, but I can change my family. I can change my parish. I can change what Edmund Burke called the "little platoons" of which I am a part. And I think that's enough. That's got to be enough because that's what I have control over. And maybe other people will see by the examples we live—I'm not talking about withdrawing and becoming neo-Amish—but by making these small changes, by living a good, virtuous life every single day, we can effect a more lasting change, a change that comes from deep within.”


Okay, I’m back...

Did he say neo-Amish? That’s the first time I’ve heard that term. As a Christian agrarian, I think that withdrawing from the popular culture or, as Pastor McConnell has termed it, cultural secession to some degree is a necessary part of living a successful Christian agrarian life. And I dare say it is part of what Crunchy Cons are also doing.

Whatever the case, it looks like the fundamental beliefs of Christian agrarianism are starting to attract a larger audience and that is a good thing.


Update: 2016

Well, ten years after posting this essay, Carmon Friedrich's blog, Buried Treasure Books, is no longer on the internet. The interview I mentioned with Rod Dreher is no longer on the internet. Pastor McConnell is no longer on the internet. And I don't think the Republican Party is worth saving. But the contra mundum worldview expressed by Rod Dreher in the above quotes is still, in my opinion, right on. And Rod Dreher's last quote pretty much sums up the question of "What can we do?" in the midst of the slow collapse of American civilization.

To Be Of Use

Original Dateline: 7 March 2006
Repost Dateline: 2 August 2016

I'd like to share with you the following poem by Marge Piercy. It is in the book, Circles on The Water. I love the agrarian analogies. I appreciate the words that celebrate the value of hard, diligent work.... "work that is real."

To Be Of Use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.