Random Thoughts About Being An Entrepreneurial Peasant & The Momentous Struggle

I am busy with the stuff of my life these days. The industrial stuff and the agrarian stuff. The industrial stuff (my factory job)is not physically hard but the drudgery makes it hard to take. The agrarian stuff is physically demanding but enjoyable and satisfying.

I, like so many men (and women) am trapped within the industrial paradigm while embracing as much of the agrarian paradigm as I possibly can. Is agrarianism a hobby to me? Am I a hobby-agrarian?

I looked up the word, “hobby.” This is one definition I got:

“An activity engaged in for pleasure and relaxation during spare time.”

Well, it appears that I may be, to some degree, a hobby-agrarian, at least in the sense that my agrarian activities are part time, and I do find pleasure in them. Relaxation I’m not so sure about.

But my agrarian pursuits are considerably more than just an enjoyable pastime. They are the outward expression of my Christian beliefs, and my understandings about how life is best lived. It is my conviction that, as a rule, individuals grow stronger in their Christian faith when they live a more simple, agrarian life. Families relationships are also generally stronger and deeper when those families live within the agrarian paradigm.

It is a momentous personal struggle to embrace agrarianism within a world that has, over the past 150 years, become so industrialized. But to struggle against the predominant cultural current of industrialism is, I am persuaded, the calling of every Christian who takes his Christianity seriously.

More Granola Thoughts
My previous blog essay was about how I invented granola bars 32 years ago. Bearing that in mind, I would like to say that I think the best granola bars on the market are the Kashi TLC Granola Bars and, specifically, the Honey Almond Flax bar.

Hmmm…. I wonder if I should contact the good folks at Kashi about maybe doing endorsements?

“Hi, I’m Herrick Kimball. I invented the granola bar back in 1975. I love Kashi TLC chewy granola bars. In fact, I think they’re the best tasting, most nutritious granola bar I’ve ever eaten. Try the TLC Honey Almond Flax bars. They’re my favorite.”

Oh, but wait... a deliberate agrarian, seeking to do endorsements for factory-made food? That’s an industrial-minded idea if there ever was one. I’m such a hypocrite. Okay then, I’ll not contact Kashi.

I’ll wait until they contact me. Then I’ll deal with the moral dilemma.

Whizbang Soap Display Stand Update
Last November I posted a blog story here titled Make Your Own Whizbang Soap Display Stands. I told about the wooden soap stands I made for my wife, Marlene, to display her handcrafted soaps when selling them.

I also offered to sell a plan sheet for the unique soap displays for only one dollar and a self-addressed-stamped-envelope. People who wanted an actual display could buy one for $20, postage paid.

I said that I would report back here after four months with the results of my sales. The whole thing was an experiment of sorts. How many plan sheets and soap displays could I sell from a simple mention here on my blog?

Well, 8 months have gone by. I’m a little late with this report. But I have finally tallied up my sales numbers and the results are in (drum roll please)...

Over the past eight months I have sold 3,645 plan sheets and 498 soap display holders. Thank you everyone who purchased either the plans and/or the display. This goes to show that the internet is truly a great opportunity for marketing quirky little things.

I’m in “Farm Show”
And speaking of quirky things, there is an article about me and the Whizbang Chicken Plucker in the latest issue of Farm Show Magazine

Strength of The Agrarian Movement?
The Farm Show magazine article was written by Christian-agrarian octogenarian, C.F. Marley. I wrote a blog story about Mr. Marley here: The Elder Agrarian.

C.F. called me earlier this week and asked if I had any idea of how big the agrarian movement might be.

I have no idea.

The current agrarian revival, particularly among Christians, is a slow, quiet tide moving people out of the cities and the industrial way of life. It is not a political movement. It isn’t violent. It isn’t centrally organized. So it’s not news.

But it is happening.

Why is it happening? That’s a question to consider. I believe it begins with an awareness, and an understanding, of two things. First people begin to see more clearly the spiritually shallow, unfulfilling, all-consuming, destructive nature of industrial-dominated culture. We could call this the present reality we find ourselves in. Then they consider the future reality that the industrially dominated world presents us with.

One need not be a rocket scientist or a prophet to see that the corporate industrial juggernaut is on a self-destructive course. Our government, our economy, our environment, and yes, even the Christian church, have been ravaged by the industrial malaise. It is not sustainable. What will be left when it falls by the wayside?

God only knows. But I suspect that the civilization that lies before us will look more agrarian than anything else. And I don’t see that as a bad thing.

New York State Population
And speaking of people moving, I heard recently that the population of New York State declined by almost a quarter million people last year. The population of this state has declined or remained static for the past 20 years. Among states to move to, New York ranks 47th in popularity. I know so many people who have left this state. I know so many more who talk about it. I’m one of them.

If you are familiar with Central New York State, you know the land is beautiful. The soil is good. The climate is varied and mostly pleasant. But people are leaving because the government has messed things up. Taxes, regulations, and bureaucracy have become too oppressive. It’s that simple.

By the way, I have an agrarian friend who tells me that the population of Central New York will be increasing in the future, and land prices will skyrocket, as global warming floods the coastal cites of America.

My Newest Agrarian Tool
I love to acquire basic agrarian hand tools and use them here on my homestead. My scythe is one example of an agrarian hand tool. My garden hoes are another. And I’ve been an interested collector of old muscle-powered woodworking tools since I was a teenager. Such tools are, essentially, the implements of peasants.

I am, by choice, and I dare say, by calling, something of a peasant, albeit a “hobby-peasant,” at least for now.

With the specter of post Peak Oil civilization staring us in the face, I have decided to acquire more tools of the peasant (if nothing else, Peak Oil is a good excuse to get some tools that I've wanted to get anyway).

My latest acquisition is a hay rake. After you mow hay with a scythe, you need to rake it up. The best rake for raking mown hay is a hay rake. I bought mine for $38 (plus shipping) from Carol Bryant at Scythe Supply in Perry Maine. If you are interested, check out this web page.

The “Standard Hay Rake” I bought is reasonably priced, light in weight, remarkably strong, and very pleasing to the eye. It also does a fine job of raking hay.

Firewood cutting tools are now in my sights.

I’m a Fibber
Oh, I couldn’t resist having some fun with those numbers above. I wish I had sold so many plans and soap holders. Truth be told, I sold ten soap display plan sheets for a dollar, and three soap displays for $20.

Such is the story of my entrepreneurial life. Were it not for the relative success of my Whizbang Chicken Plucker, I would be pretty much a total failure in my home business ventures. Someday I’ll tell you about my first foray, many years ago, into the world of mail order. But it is a painful tale to tell.

Poultry Update
As noted in a previous post here, we purchased 12 turkey chicks (poults). Two have died from unknown causes. I guess that is par for the course with turkeys.

We have since ordered 65 Cornish X chicks. 67 were sent to us in the mail. They are almost four weeks old now, and we still have all 67.

The Ice Cream Business
The Lovely Marlene, my bread-baking, soap-making, entrepreneurial peasant wife, is interested in the ice cream business. She is intrigued with the idea of making ice cream in an old-style ice cream maker and selling it at summertime events where lots of people congregate.

Has anyone reading this ever done such a thing? Do you know someone who does?

The biggest problem with such a business idea is health department regulations. The government again! The blasted government makes it hard for agrarian entrepreneurs to establish their home enterprises. The industrial paradigm has erected a multitude of laws and regulations to harass We the struggling peasantry, yearning to be free of its nefarious grasp.

And so, the struggle continues...


Grady Phelan said...

I read you blog a lot and recently moved to NY for an internship. You talk a lot about the government and how it makes it hard for you to live the way you want. I can't agree more with you about the government and how big it seems to be getting. I hate to sound like a crazy campaign person, but have you looked up Ron Paul (presidental canidate). He seems to be the only canidate that wants to reduce government. Check him out at www.ronpaul2008.com. Good luck with the ice cream, chickens, and turkeys.


Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Grady,

Thanks for your comments and your link to Ron Paul's web site.

I've been reading good things about Ron Paul for many years. I have a lot of respect for the man. I believe he would make an exceptional president. In fact, I intend to send a contribution to his campaign. That is something I have never done for a Presidential candidate.

Anonymous said...

Mmm, I might take a closer look at him, too. I've mainly been following Huckabee's campaign, because I like the fact that he's a strong Christian who was a minister but is also a fan of limited government, preventative healthcare (you know... taking responsibility for your health... weird, huh?), and the FairTax. But, I'll have to look into Ron Paul, too. Is he a Christian? Just out of curiosity.

Anyway... for the reason I originally wanted to leave a note... I have to endorse Herrick's comments about the beauty of central NY. I plan to stay here and farm it, to whatever extent the Lord allows in the years to come. I'd love to see more Christian agrarians move into the area...

Did I mention that there's a six-acre parcel up the street from us, with a fairly recent barn (~10 years), hayloft, stalls, etc, an outdoor arena/paddock, and some pasture... with a trailer that goes with the property, and elderly rental tenants with a trailer as well?

*sigh* I want to add that piece to what we've currently got, but barring that... I'd love to see someone with Christian-agrarian motivations in there. All right, enough of my rambling.

Grady Phelan said...

Herrick and Countrygoalie,

As far as I can tell by his writings and what others write about him, he's a Christain. Here is an article that I found that Ron Paul wrote about Christain beliefs and the role of the government.


I how you both enjoy.


Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks for the article link Grady.

Anyone who wants to know what Ron Paul believes need only click on and read through the "Ron Paul Archives" at the end of that article.

I don't know his particular Christian beliefs but his past voting record and stated positions are, I believe, consistent with someone who holds a Christian worldview.

Huckabee is a fine candidate but I do not believe he has the broad base of populist support that Paul has.

Anonymous said...

Ron Paul question of faith.

Joel Salatin's new book is coming out in August: "Everything I Want to Do is Illegal"

WA state NAIS is going manditory with registration beginning in September and required by 1/1/09. That may put us out of agrarian homesteading.

I read an article today that indicated that Bush has now put into law that it is illegal to demonstrate, etc. about the Irag war. Things are coming to a head.

Time to be in much prayer!

Jim Curley said...

Mr. Kimball-There is an interesting article on "hobby farming"-here is the first line: "If part-time farmers want to be taken seriously, they have to take themselves seriously. It starts with a word." You can read the article (from the the "New Agrarian") at this site:
http://www.newagrarian.com/essays/hobby.html. thought you may be interest.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi jcurley,

Thanks for the link. I am interested in the story but the link did not work for me. I'll go to the site and find it from there.

Carla Lynne Klimuk said...

Hi Herrick,

Stopped by while I have a signal on the road...;-)

Regarding the agrarian movement, it is a 'quiet' exodus... as you describe. But let me assure you more and more and more folks are doing it. I'm meeting them daily...

I'm overwhelmed, completely, by the amount of folks coming by our covered wagons, asking about our decisions and plans, and currently, we are helping two other families by counseling them on 'how we did it.' My husband and I have been keeping good notes, and perhaps I'll pen this into how we made our exodus and began life pioneering. :-)

Concerning Marlene's desire to sell ice cream, the problem is that most farm markets, fairs and carnivals, etc... only allow foods that are wrapped/packaged before selling... no cooking or preparing food and distributing after. For example, you can't sell hotdogs or corn on the cob, etc... but you could take orders for your homemade turkey hot dogs and sell them as a package. Those types of vendors that actually prepare the foods on site are unfortunately scrutinized (heavily) and also under the regulation of health department.

Ughhh... regulations and permits...

Hope all is well with you and your family, Herrick, and that you are all enjoying the bounty of sun and good eats our Father has set before us...

Carla Lynne

Anonymous said...

With respect to the ice cream idea, Lehman's has an expensive way of attracting customers. We saw one of these when travelling a few years ago. Perhaps the idea could be implemented more economically by an enterprising handyman :-)