Getting Started & Finding My Way
(Part 1)


The grizzle-bearded guy in the picture is me. The picture was taken yesterday evening, when I was still 49 years old. Today I am fifty. Adding insult to injury, AARP has sent me a membership card and information about joining. To which, I exclaim:


People don’t exclaim ”Fie!” much these days. Fie is something that old-timers used to say. It is an expression of dislike, disapproval, or annoyance. I picked it up after recently reading some really old farm almanacs. This is my first opportunity to put it to good use.

Seeing as it’s my birthday, and I’m getting so old, I thought I might write a rambling essay about the heartache of getting on in years. But I’m pretty sure I’ve already done that here in the past. I’m not absolutely certain of it because, frankly, I just don’t remember like I used to.

In any event, perhaps, while it’s on my mind, and I still have my wits about me, I’ll ramble on instead about my younger days. That’s something that we old-timers like to do.

Why, you might wonder, would I want to ramble on about my younger days; the days when I was a teenager going into adulthood, looking to find my place in the work world? Well, part of the reason is that we’re going into the winter doldrums of February here in upstate New York; not much is happening around the homestead to write about. Another part of the reason is that there are a lot of young men out there (my own children included) who might be so bored that they’d find something interesting and maybe even instructive within the recollections of this ageing agrarian. You never know. Besides that, we old-timers are prone to ramble on about such things because. Just because. I don’t need a reason. You got a problem with that? (old timers get cranky with age too)

So here goes…

They tell me I was born in Bath, Maine, in 1958. My father was a student at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. He graduated from that fine institution, as did his father before him, and went on to become a medical doctor, as did his father before him. Both of them were, I’m pretty sure, good students. I, however, was not fond of schooling and did not do well at it.

Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. I was academically inclined and a very good student in the grades before high school. When I was in Jr. High, I fully intended to go to a good college (maybe even like Bowdoin) and become a doctor. That was my goal and I was very serious about it. But in the 9th grade things changed. My family moved from suburbia to the rural farm country where I now live, and my interest in school radically declined. I decided that medicine wasn’t for me. I wanted to be a homesteader or even a farmer. I wanted to work with my hands, to work the land, to start my own small business, to be my own boss, to be independent. I didn’t see how high school fit into those goals. How’s that for a 180-degree change of attitude and objective?

I managed to graduate from high school in 1976 and that was it for me and graduations. I did go on from there to some institutions of “higher learning” but I never graduated from anything again.

Well, on second thought, that’s not entirely true. When I was maybe 21 years old, I took an evening adult education class in automotive repair at the local vocational high school. I stuck with it for one night a week over the course of a few weeks, and in the end I got an “official” certificate of achievement. My stepfather called it a diploma and made a big deal out of it. Finally, I had graduated from some level of schooling after high school. He was making fun of me.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s what happens when old timers ramble. The story isn’t necessarily organized. We take off on rabbit trails. Which reminds me… my two sons, Robert and James, have been hunting rabbits this month, and having a great time of it.

Where was I?

Okay. Right. So…. ”Fie! And double Fie!” That’s what I say.

Hmmmm.... I’m feeling a little tired now. I think I’ll take a nap.

We shall continue this true tale of my confused young self, looking to find my place in the work world. I’m just getting started. This might end up being a 12-part series... or even longer. My epic saga of youthful angst. Maybe it’ll be even longer than that. I don’t know for sure cause I’m just rambling and I never know where such writing will take me.

To be continued.......


Click HERE to go to Part 2 of this series

My Puritan Roots

Dateline: 28 January 2008

After posting my last blog entry about my great grandfather Elias Moses Philbrick, I decided to “Google” his name. If you have never done a Google search of your great grandfather’s name, I recommend that you give it a try.

My search turned up two things. One was the blog story I had written. The other was an extensive Philbrick family tree. There was Elias and his children, including my grandfather, Percy. There was Percy and Gertrude with all their children, including my mother. That is as far as the tree goes in that direction. I am not on it yet. But it goes a long way back in the other direction. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Philbrick kin at the site and all are descended from one man, Thomas Philbrick of England. He emigrated to America in 1630. This man, Thomas Philbrick, is clearly my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather.

I wish my mother were alive so I could share this revelation of family lineage with her. She knew only as far back as her great grandfather, the father of Elias. I recall her telling me his name was Freeman Philbrick and he was in the Civil War.

Well, indeed he was. I found out Freeman was a private in the 20th Maine. It appears that he went in the military August 29, 1862 at 33 years old. A month later he saw action at Antietam where he was wounded. He was discharged February 24, 1863. According to the family tree, he died at 58 years old as a result of his war injury.

Antietam has the distinction of being the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. 12,000 Union soldiers died and just about as many Confederates in the one-day battle.

Until Antietam, Robert E. Lee’s army achieved stunning victories against the superior northern forces (superior in numbers, not leadership). Lee was leading a campaign into the north. It was likely that he would have succeeded if not for one little mistake. A Confederate officer lost a copy of his orders, which outlined Lee’s entire battle plan. The papers were discovered by two Union soldiers who took them to the Union general, McClellan. With the Confederate battle plan in hand, McClellan was able to know where Lee was and exactly what his intentions were. He made a decisive move to attack Lee’s army.

After the bloody day of fighting at Antietam, the sun arose the next morning and the Rebs had not moved. They were standing their ground. The North didn’t have the will to attack again. That evening, Lee retreated to Virginia. He would attempt a second invasion of the North in the summer of 1863. And, again, he would be stopped, this time at the tree-day battle of Gettysburg. But by then Freeman Philbrick was back home in Maine.

Perhaps Freeman had known Joshua Chamberlain. He was a professor from Bowdoin College (the alma mater of my father and grandfather Kimball) in Maine who led the 20th at Gettysburg. He came from a military family but had no military experience prior to his enlistment. It was Chamberlain and the 20th Maine who held Little Round Top and the Union left flank against repeated Confederate assault. With many of his regiment dead or wounded, and almost out of ammunition (and no reinforcements to back him up), Chamberlain ordered a bayonet charge down the hill at the Caonfederates. But it was not a wild free-for-all charge. The line of men swept ahead like a pivoting hinge. It was a bold and desperate frontal/flanking maneuver that surprised the enemy and saved the day. Joshua Chamberlain was one of the most dashing and admirable of Union war heroes. But I digress...

Were my mother still here I would have told here what I learned about grandfather Elias’s older brother Freeman Jr. He went to school in Maine until he was 12-years-old and worked on the family farm until he was 21. Then he struck out for Montana where he worked a couple of years on ranches before staking his claim and setting up a homestead of his own in the Rosebud Valley. In 1891 he purchased 600 acres of land. In 1899 he purchased an adjoining 6,000 acres of land. In 1901 he purchased another 6,000 acres of land. He had 7,000 Merino sheep,150 head of cattle, and raised “immense crops of hay” (kind of reminds me of Abraham in the Bible). In 1912 Freeman Jr. was president of the Rosebud State Bank. All that with a sixth grade education.

But the thing that would have most fascinated my mother would be the thought that our first recorded ancestor, Thomas Philbrick, was, undoubtedly, part of the great Puritan migration from England to America. From the book, “Genealogy of Families in Weare” is this entry:

Thomas Philbrick, with his wife and six children, emigrated from Lincolnshire, Eng., in company with Governor Winthrop, Sir Richard Saltonstall and others. They arrived in Massachusetts Bay, June 12, 1630, after a temptuous voyage of seventy-six days. They attempted a settlement where Salem, Mass, now is, but in July went to Watertown, Mass.

Such information requires some more historical background:

First, we need to understand that the Pilgrims of Thanksgiving fame were English Puritans, which is to say they were Calvinist Protestants. They wanted nothing to do with the “Popish” Anglican Church of England. But the Anglican Church was the State church and everyone in England was compelled to not only be a member, but abide by the rules. If you didn’t (and these Puritans didn’t) you were persecuted by the government and church authorities.

That being the case, these Puritans (then known as Separatists) fled England for Holland. Then they eventually set sail for America. They were the original Mayflower Pilgrims who, by the grace of God, established a colony at Plymouth Massachusetts in 1620. [See my essay, Pilgrins & The Christian Agrarian Exodus of 1620 for more information.]

Now, the rest of the Puritan believers in England, the ones who were not Separatists, believed they should remain in the Anglican Church and endeavor to make changes from within. Because of their contrarian beliefs and efforts to change the established state church, they were not popular with the church and government leaders.

When King Charles I became king of England in 1625, he allowed Anglican bishop William Laud to crack down on the Puritan dissidents, with the full force of the government. When this happened, the Puritans realized they had to get out of the country.

In 1629, under the leadership of John Winthrop, the Puritans managed to get Charles to grant them a charter for a joint-stock company known as the Massachusetts Bay Company. This charter gave the Puritans the power to rule and govern all Englishmen residing in the colony they established. This was an opportunity for them to not only be free from the religious persecution in England, but to also establish a better form of self-government.

In 1630 a fleet of eleven ships and hundreds of Puritans left England. Winthrop and the actual Charter were on the ship, Arabella. It was the first time a company ever left England carrying the King’s Charter with them. If they had it with them, the King couldn’t take it back.

One Puritan pastor, Francis Higginson, upon leaving for the new colony, said:

“We will not say, as the Separatists were wont to say at their leaving England, ‘Farewell, Babylon!’… but,…’Farewell, the Church of God in England!’… We do not go to New England as separatists from the Church of England; though we cannot but separate from the corruptions of it.”

Twenty-thousand men, women, and children fled England for the new Puritan colony over the next ten years. Though the Massachusetts Bay Company was ostensibly established for the purposes of business enterprise, their primary intention was to establish a network of Protestant, church-based communities, and a form of government that was based on Biblical law.

These people helped lay the philosophical and spiritual groundwork for the American Revolution of 1776 and the establishment of the new American Republic. They were not perfect people. They made their share of mistakes. And they are largely misunderstood by the average modern American. Nevertheless, they stand out as remarkable people who sought to glorify God in all that they did. Christians of today can learn much by studying the Puritan writings, many of which are still in print.

And so we conclude this little foray into my family line and history. Thanks for reading along.

Faith, Family & Stewarding The Land...

Allen Shropshire and his family live on six acres in southern Idaho. The Shropshires homeschool, homestead and have a "multi-generational vision for faith, family, and stewarding the land." As of January first of this year Allen has entered into the world of Christian agrarian blogging.

I just discovered Promised Land this morning after finding it linked to at Scott Terry's blog. When I clicked on the link I found Allen's most recent blog titled Way to go Herrick!. Wow, that was a surprise. I thought I was going to find a blog about the demise of a hometown church and I see my name "emblazoned" across the top of the page.

Well, the article I intended to see is also there, as are a few others, and they are all very good reading. I recommend Promised Land to you. And it is my pleasure to add it to this site's list of agrarian bloggers.

Welcome, Allen Shropshire and family, to the Christian agrarian blogging community.

Elias Moses Philbrick’s Farm

Dateline: 26 January 2008
My stepfather gave me yet another box of my deceased mother’s personal papers. There are numerous notebooks, and in one notebook she wrote out something her brother, Jim, had written to her sister, Irene, in response to her wanting to know something about their grandmother. Jim was a much older brother and he lived with his grandparents. I’ll give you a little background before I get to the point of all this...

My mother was born, Mary Ann Philbrick. She was the daughter of Percy and Gertrude Philbrick of Fort Fairfield, Maine. My grandparents were potato farmers. I have written about them some in my book Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. On the cover of the book is a picture of me (at two years old) with Percy.

Percy's father was Elias Moses Philbrick (1869-1953) of Easton, Maine. Seeing as I was born in 1958, I never knew my great Grandfather Elias. I have seen one photo of him in his later years. He looks like you might imagine an old farmer with the name, Elias Moses, to look.

Elias married Myrtle Francis Bean in 1895. They had five children. My grandfather, Percy, born in 1896 was their first child. Myrtle was pregnant with child number six when she died in 1907. she was killed in a carriage accident. The horse pulling the carriage was frightened by a car. It was the first car the horse had ever seen.

Family lore has it that Elias placed an advertisement in a large downstate newspaper for a woman to help take care of his children. He wanted a teacher with some nursing experience. A woman by the name of Lillian Rose Dow from Charlestown, Maine met the requirements, answered the ad, and was hired. Elias and Lillian married in 1909.

My grandfather, Percy, established his farmstead a short ways from his father's place on the Forest Avenue Road, over the town border in Fort Fairfield. He married Gladys Louise Sawyer from Presque Isle, Maine in 1917. They had three children, Jim, Lillian, & Phil. Then, in 1922 Gladys died. Once again, I think the death was due to a horse & carriage accident.

Percy’s children from his first wife went to live with Elias and Lillian. Percy married my grandmother, Gertrude Alena Lang (1902-1999) in New Brunswick, Canada in 1923. They had eight children (Ellen, Dawn, Irene, Nathan, Dorothy, Lorraine,Jean, and Mary). You'll notice that was seven girls and one boy.

My mother had fond remembrances of Elias and “Grammie Dow” and their farm. Being so close, they were frequent visitors. When the girls got older and started having boyfriends. They would bring them to meet Grammie and Grampie. Family lore again has it that Elias would meet his granddaughter’s suitors at the door with his shotgun in hand. Maybe it only happened once. But my mother told me that Elias got real cantankerous when he got older.

One summer, early in the 1970s, when I was visiting my grandparents, my mother and another aunt and some cousins went up to Elias’s farmhouse. Elias had been dead for years. Grammie Dow had passed on. The farm was owned by someone else. The house was abandoned and wide open. The grass and trees about the place had not been cared for in a long time. I remember thinking how big the old house was. And, though I was young, without an understanding of architectural beauty, it registered in my mind that the white clapboard farmhouse was once beautiful. 

We walked in and the rooms were large. My mother and aunt were walking through, remembering the way it once was, where things had once been, what things had once taken place in the old house. I had the sense that this was a very special place. It was certainly more special than the little ranch house in the suburban subdivision outside Syracuse, New York, where I lived at the time.

After wandering our way through the house, we started to explore the grounds. In the back was a derelict outbuilding. We looked inside and discovered old beds with dirty mattresses and clothing and such. It looked lived-in. My aunt said that migrant workers or Indians were probably living there. That's when I felt like I wanted to be leaving.

In later years, when I asked my mother about the old place, she told me that sometime after we had been there, the owners burnt it down. She said my grandfather Percy, an old man, stood in his house, looking out the window, watching the smoke in the distance billow to the sky, and he wept.

My mother transcribed in one of her notebooks what her older, half-brother, Jim (born, 1918), wrote about Elias’s farm:

“When we were growing up in our younger years we never wanted for food or clothing. We never had any money so we didn’t miss it. Grandmother [Grammie Dow] saw to it that our clothes were clean as well as ourselves. Grandfather [Elias] had the first car in our neighborhood, the first indoor plumbing and the first lights. He planted more grain of all kinds and raised more potatoes than anyone else. He had more horses, cows, sheep, hogs, hens, & turkeys. We had all the meat we needed—-chicken, turkey, pork and beef, our own eggs and milk. We had lots of apples, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, and choke cherries. We even had our own honey. We were very fortunate.

Grandma sure did a good job of raising us three and having some of you little ones visit once in awhile. She always said, “Poor Nate, with all those girls.”

Isn’t it wonderful to consider a farm with such diversification, productivity and independence? That sort of thing was once the norm in rural areas of this nation, back when we were an Agrarian Nation. I strive to achieve a small measure of that kind of life here on my little homestead, and it is satisfying. But it is so far removed from what once was.


Further thoughts....

Time passes. People come and people go. Things change. Few people living today remember my great grandfather, Elias Moses Philbrick. Those who do will be gone from this earth shortly. We will all go the way of our fathers. We will all slip into obscurity as they have. One hundred years from now, who will remember you? The prosperity that Elias knew means nothing now. It is all gone.

Those are the kinds of thoughts that pass through my mind when I look at very old pictures of people now long dead. In recent weeks, I have been studying old almanacs. They are farm almanacs that were once owned by men such as my great grandfather Elias. They are fascinating relics of a bygone era.

Reflecting on the past always brings me to the present, to myself, to my own life, to my purpose and goal for being. There is much confusion in the world about purpose, but as a Christian I see my purpose clearly. It is not to become great by the world’s standards. It is not to build a fortune. It is not to make a name for myself. All of that, in itself, is vainglory. The thing of primary importance is that I live a life that glorifies God. That is my purpose. That is the only thing that brings substantial meaning to life. It’s not about me. It’s about Him.

How can we glorify God within our personal lives? We read His word. We delve into its meaning and its practical application for our lives. We pray, seeking God’s help and guidance in all that we do. We love our families. We care for our children and grandchildren and lead them into the faith. We forgive those who do us wrong or harm. We love our neighbors. We give freely as the Lord leads us. We testify to God’s redemptive grace and his incredible mercy towards us. We trust him completely. We give Him all the credit for the blessings we enjoy in this life, no matter how small. We humbly accept His chastisements. In so doing, God is honored. In so doing, He is glorified.

Our modern culture looks at such thinking as strange and foolish. It flies in the face of “conventional thinking.” Well, of course it does. Modernity is at war with Christianity. That is why Christians are called to be sanctified; to be set apart from the worldly ways of thinking and living.

And that means we who call ourselves Christians should distance ourselves from the dependencies we have on the modern, industrialized world. We need to get back to basics. We need to get back to faith, family, and simplicity of life. It all ties together. 

End of sermon.

Re: Recent Changes To This Blog

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will notice that it looks a bit different than it did a few days ago. I finally switched to the new blogger format. I could have done so a long time ago but I’m a procrastinator when it comes to things like this. The new format allows me to change colors and sizes of lettering and stuff like that. It also allows me to more easily arrange sidebar elements.

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time with this blog is develop an archive of past essays. That formidable task is now done. New readers and old readers can now easily hone in on various past essays here that have been previously buried. And I can direct readers from my other blogs here with a link to the archives.

I hope these new changes will be more “user firindly” and that they will result in more people being exposed to the whole idea that a life focused more on faith, family & “livin’ the good life” is worthy of pursuing.... Much more worthy than the industrialized, urbanized, materialistic, spiritually shallow, typical modern lifestyle

I still have a few changes to make here in the days ahead. But the task of “remodeling” this site is now mostly done and I will soon get back to my regular blogging. I will, however, post with somewhat less frequency while I am also working to complete my next book project.

I appreciate those of you who come here, lurkers and commenters alike. I really do enjoy writing this blog and hope to be able to do so for a long time yet to come.

The Deliberate Agrarian Archives

Welcome to the Deliberate Agrarian,

Over the past few years I have posted close to 300 essays about faith, family, & livin’ the good life here on this blog. I invite you to peruse these writings. You can do so by clicking on a category below. Each link will take you to an archived listing of past essays. Not all the essays I've posted here are in the archive. Many of the earliest posts were taken and compiled into a book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. A few others are not worth listing here but they are still buried in the blog. I hope you will find The Deliberate Agrarian to be an enjoyable, thought-provoking blog with a good measure of inspiration and some useful instruction.

Best wishes,

Herrick Kimball
(a.k.a., The Deliberate Agrarian)


Christian Agrarianism
Livin’ The Good Life
My Younger Days
My “Older” Days
Rural How-To
Raising & Processing Poultry
Rural Enterprise
Odds n Ends

To find your way to the most current Deliberate Agrarian Blog Posting, CLICK HERE.

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Faith

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Essays About Faith

The Sermon I’ll Never Forget
Hope For a Troubled America
Obama: America's New Hope
Isaac Watts, John Piper & The Sovereignty of God
This is My Father’s World
Light in Our Dwellings
John Calvin & Me
Our Father’s God to Thee
How to Forgive Others
Apple Seed Theology
Goodness, Beauty & Loving The Earth
Giving Thanks & Thanksgiving
A Reflective Ramble About Salvation & Prayer
A Personal Story of God’s Faithfulness Unto The Generations
Christian Community
Beauty in March
Two Steps Forward. One Step Back
Bifurcating Eschatology & My Nifty New Compost Sifter

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Christian Agrarianism

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Essays About Christian Agrariansim

What is Agrarianism? What is Christian Agrarianism?
Delmar Ain't So Stupid
The Jeffersonian Solution (My N. Y. Times Op-Ed)
Was Jesus An Agrarian?
The Christian-Agrarian Writings of Howard King
Christian Agrarianism: Some Perspective & Analogy
Christian Agrarianism: It’s All About Repentence & Redemption
A Christian-Agrarian Disclaimer
Marching Away From Babylon
Pilgrims & The Christian Agrarian Exodus of 1620
Agrarianism Reborn
Emerging Crisis, Population Shift, & The Rural Remnant
Syncretism vs Christian Agrarianism
John Calvin: Father of the Industrial Revolution
A Christian-Agrarian Creed
The Desperate Agrarian?
King on Biblical Agrarianism
Crunchy Cons & Christian Agrarians
Christian Agrarianism Gets Noticed at Chalcedon
Diary of an Early American Boy
My Christian Agrarian Reality
C.F. Marley: The Elder Agrarian
Flee to The Fields
Starting a National Christian Agrarian Association
The Christian & Agrarian Writings of Michael Hennen
City Living & Some Thoughts on Christian Agrarian Community
Time & Work & Family & The Struggle
A Christian Agrarian View of Genetic Modification
Industrial World Problems & The Christian Agrarian Solution
The Christian Agrarian “Awareness” of Eric Sloane
Christian Agrarians in Christianity Today Magazine
E.P. Roe: Christian Agrarian Writer of the 1800s
A Short Selection of Quotes From E.P. Roe
More Agrarian Wisdom From E.P. Roe
E.P Roe Quotes: The Final Installment
Donald Hall & Ox Cart Man
Christian Agrarianism
Looking Back on Three Years of Blogging

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Family

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Essays About Family

What My Grandmother Did For Me
Twelve Years Old Today
Thirteen Years Old Today
Good Memories & Big Money in Scrap Metal
Elias Moses Philbrick's Farm
The Story of My Grandfather's Ring
The Charging Woodchuck
First Deer
Four-Wheelin' Stone Pickers
Our Annual Garage Sale Safari
Great Agrarian Vacations
Our 2006 Family Vacation
My Agrarian Family Vision
A Son’s Identity (Part 1)
A Son’s Identity (Part 2)
A Son’s Identity (Part 3)
Trapping Class
Dump Day
The Bad Cut
Hay Hooks
Rabbit Hunting Boy
Boys Will Be… Warriors (Part 1)
Boys Will Be… Warriors (Part 2)
Goin’ to the Trapper’s Convention
My Great, Great Grandmother’s Diary
New Discoveries About My Family History
The Cherished Letter
Vacation 2007: Sustainable Living Festival
Vacation 2007: PawPaws & Scott Nearing
Vacation 2007: Lancaster Amish
First Goose
My Puritan Roots
First Turkey
Inventorboy's New Snow Plow

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Livin' The Good Life

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Essays About Livin’ the Good Life

Gardening & Hope in the Springtime
Summer Felicity 2008
Homeschooling With a Shovel, in a Ditch
Morning Glories in September
Working Boys
Family-Scale Venison Processing
Pre-Winter Homestead Preparations
One Man's Memories
Ida's Example
Room & Board For The Birds
Earl The Bee Man & My First Hive
Can You Feel The Energy?
Facets of The Good Life (October 2007)
”Every Bean’s a Blessing, Boys!”
Sun, Sap, a Muskrat & My Favorite Hoes
Last Weekend in Review
Another Weekend in Review
Blackstrap Molasses
Stinging Nettle, Scything & Plagues
Sharing The First Fruit
Preparing to Celebrate
Boys & Field Cars
Return of the Field Car
Farewell to the Field Car
August Homestead Photos
Cheap Cars & Chicken Stock
Another Summer Evening’s Meal
Diggin’, Bluegrass, Bibles & Rip Grinners
Harvesting Potatoes
Pruning Vines, Critters in the Hen House & My New “Agrarian Abs” Video
A Blog in May
Tractor Drivin’ Mama & Her Rock Pickin’ Boys
Returning to the Garden
Finding Palatable Pleasures in the Midst of my Forlorn Spring Garden
Potato Blossom Reflections
Oh, The Joy of Lavender
Haymaking Adventures
August Ramblings From This Deliberate Agrarian
Dunking James
Some Random Thoughts For August
A Perfectly Ordinary Sunday in October
Some Spring Happenings
My Deer Boy

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Community

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Essays About Community

Thinking About Community in a Cook Book
New Hope Mills
Planting Potatoes With a Little Girl
Digging Potatoes With A Little Girl
Defending The Amish
Defending The Amish, Part 2
Fusco’s Law, The Amish & Upstate New York in 2050
Followup on the Locke Amish

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: My Younger Days

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Essays About My Younger Days

Getting Started & Finding My Way in The World
The Grassroots Project in Vermont
When Me & Ed Made Apple Cider
My Youthful Experiences With “Easy Money”
My Young & Short Poetic Phase
The Wife of My Youth
Life Lessons From an Old Maine Woodsman
I invented Granola Bars

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: My "Older" Days

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Essays About My Older Days

My Experience as a Government School Teacher
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Grange Hall
2006/2007 Looking Back--Looking Ahead
My Non-Agrarian Day Job
Meandering Thoughts About Getting Old (er)
My Mother Was a Writer Too
Woe is Me
2007/2008 Looking Back--Looking Ahead
A Young Man's Wild Dream Actually Happens....

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Rural How-To

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Rural How-To Essays

Vacuum Bottle (Thermos) Cooking: Cheap, Wholesome Meals
Organic Weed Annihilation (Any Weed!)
Backyard Sugarin'
Cider Pressin’ 2005
My Whizbang Squash Planting Secret
Confessions of a Wheat "Hoarder"
Winter Tomatoes
My Vinegar & Hard Cider Experiment
Making an Agrarian Family Calendar
My Cider Vinegar Experiment: The Remarkable Final Report
Marlene’s “New” Hearth Oven
Summer Vacation
Finding Good Land Cheap
Yeoman Furniture & My New Woodbox
Make Your Own Whizbang Soap Display Stands
Introducing My New Apple Crusher
The Fun, Fast, Way to Skin a Deer
Yeoman Furniture, Part 2 (Waste Not, Want Not)
My Simple Emergency Power Backup System
Introducing My Homemade Automatic Compost Sifter
How to Butcher a Hog
Earth Oven Inspiration
How to Make & Enjoy a Peppermint Zing Sinus Sauna
Establishing Family Traditions
A Nice Little Family Tradition
Children Making Habitats

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Raising & Processing Poultry

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Essays About Raising & Processing Poultry

How To Butcher A Chicken
How To Properly Whizbang-Pluck A Chicken
How To Properly Scald A Chicken
Talkin’ Bout My Chicken Tractor (Part 1)
Talkin’ Bout My Chicken Tractor (Part 2)
Backyard Poultry Processing With My 11-Year-Old Son
The Whizbang Plucker Story
Frequently Asked Questions About the Whizbang Chicken Plucker
Introducing My Deluxe Automatic Chicken Scalder
My Chicken Plucker Parts Business
The Best Place to Buy Plucker Fingers
Getting Started With Turkeys
Turkeys in Tractors & Comfrey For Feed
Me and My Turkeys
Thank You Harvey Ussery!
Our 2008 Chicken Harvest
Grow HUGE Red Mangle Beets! (For Your Chickens)
Mangle Beet Harvest

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Rural Enterprise

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Essays About Rural Enterprise

Garden Salad Flakes: Rick Machado's Great Idea
Index to My Series On Home Business Ideas
Marlene Blogs About Her Bread Business
Farm Market 2006
Home-Based Agrarian Enterprises & Garlic Powder Profits
Selling My Garlic Powder at the Farm Market
Mary Jane’s Bed & Breakfast
Random Thoughts About Being an Entrepreneurial Peasant & The Momentous Struggle

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Garlic

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Essays About Garlic

How I Plant My Garlic
Making Pickled Garlic Scapes
Harvesting Garlic
Curing Garlic
Making Great Garlic Powder

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Agriculture

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Essays About Agriculture

James Howard Kunstler on the Future of Agriculture
Peak Grain
George Washington The Farmer (Part 1)
George Washington The Farmer (Part 2)
An Exemplary Farm
Roots of the Current World Food Crisis
Chinese Agrarian Demographics & Us
The Elements of Agricultural Sustainability
The "Smell" From a 7,800 Cow Dairy
Farming Without a Pickup Truck
Wendell’s Wisdom
Horse Sense in the 21st Century
Wendell Berry on Industrial Ag
They Are Not Human
Big Ag & Usury Kills Indian Farmers
Catching a Glimpse of the Future... In the Past
The Garden Seed Monopoly
Monsanto Pig Patents
Atrazine Anger
Do Not Mortgage The Farm
Agrarian Common Sense in an Industrial World
Is it Really Milk?
Aroostook’s Wood Prairie Farm
Shame! Shame on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Broken Limbs & Grant Gibbs
Earthworms & Sustainable Farming

Industrial Providers:
Understanding the Oligopoly

Dateline: 24 January 2008

The following essay was first published to this blog in the summer of 2005. It was removed later that year and published in my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. I have decided to bring it back here on the third anniversary of this blog because the information is pertinent to understanding the current food crisis the world now finds itself in.


Few people realize that a small group of huge, wealthy, and powerful global corporations control the overwhelming majority of food production and distribution in the world today. Con-Agra, Cargill, and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) are among the biggest. These corporations are continually entering into partnerships and joint ventures with other huge global corporations, like Monsanto, DuPont, Philip Morris, Nestle, and numerous others, to create profitable economic alliances.

The net result of these alliances has been the creation of an incredibly complex and ever-changing global food oligopoly. An oligopoly is exclusive control and power by a few, as opposed to a monopoly, which is control by one. There is, in the final analysis, not a whole lot of difference between the two.

The industrial food oligopoly is supranational; it transcends national boundaries, interests and, to a large degree national authority. Furthermore, it has a single overriding purpose for existing; to make money in order to make its stockholders wealthy.

These mega-corporations have the financial resources to buy anything they want. Their money talks. It says, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you." Politicians are cheap. Grants to supposedly unbiased college research programs are more costly. But it is all just another business expense that serves to add more money to the bottom line.

With that bottom line always in mind, the oligopoly endeavors to own and/or control every aspect of food production, from the genetically-modified and patented seed that must be purchased from them, on through the food system to packaged food on your grocery store shelf. To an astounding and alarming degree these Industrial Providers have been very successful in their endeavors.

Within this modern system of food production, farmers are not the independent producers they once were. Instead, they are pressured to integrate into the industrial system, to join alliances where they become “growers." They provide labor
and sometimes a bit of capital, but they are, for all practical purposes, servants to the global corporations. They must play by the industrial provider’s rules or they are out of the game. Those rules are notmade by people who understand and appreciate farmers; they are made by white-shirted corporate strategists with soft hands and clean fingernails who are always, always looking at the bottom line.

The Leviathan corporations own research labs, mills, grain storage facilities, broiler factories, hatcheries, feedlots, stockyards, meat packing facilities, food-processing factories, fertilizer factories, pesticide factories, railroad cars, barges, trucks, and so on. They have close control over the “vertically integrated” food system that serves their best interests.

Global industrial control and manipulation of food and agriculture by the oligopoly has destroyed and continues to destroy the vitality of rural farming communities. Such areas are nothing more than mining outposts to the globalist masters.

Proportionately little of the monetary wealth that is derived from the land stays and circulates in the communities where it is produced, as was once the case. Now the wealth flows out of the mines and into the coffers of the ologopoly. It reinvests profits wherever it best suits the bottom line... Africa, Asia, South America... wherever there is cheap natural wealth and labor to exploit.

When an agricultural mining operation is no longer profitable, it is shut down and abandoned. The biblical concept of sustainable farming is anathema to the corporate profiteers. The idea of being good stewards of God's creation is a joke to them.

In the wake of its irresponsibilities, the oligopoly will "make it all better" with the slickest public relations campaigns that money can buy. Television commercials, glossy magazine placements, whatever it takes. When it is done with its marketing magic, gullible Moderns will believe that the industrial providers are the best friend a farmer and the environment ever had!

But they are liars. Industrialism has done more to destroy healthy farming communities, the productive power of the soil, and natural resources than any other destructive force on earth. Farm families, rural communities, and the environment take a back seat to the almighty dollar that the oligopoly worships. That, my friend, is the real bottom line.

God has never looked upon concentrations of human power and control favorably. Manifestations of greed and pride invite judgement. God alone is sovereign over His creation. He will not suffer the oligopoly to stand indefinitely. It will run its course and, in His time, fall apart because it is neither physically nor spiritually sustainable.

For those who have the mind to see, the vulnerabilities of the Industrial Food System are clearly evident. Primary among these is the following reality:

The free flow of cheap food is entirely connected to, and
dependent on, the free flow of cheap oil

Cheap oil is history. Continued easy availability of oil at any price is threatened by four tenuous factors: terrorism, war, natural disasters, and economic breakdown. Each of these things has the potential to disrupt the free flow of oil. Each of these variables can and will, to some degree, negatively affect the hyper-refined division of labor and the just-in-time delivery system that the free flow of industrial food depends on.

The price of food will go much higher. You can count on it. Oil shortages and high energy costs must trickle down to the food consumers. Perhaps the trickle will turn to a flow. God only knows how things will play out.

One thing is certain; when the global food system fails to any significant degree, millions of people will go hungry. Those who are unable to provide for themselves and their families could starve. I am not talking about this happening in some third world country (though it will). The industrial providers do not cater to and depend on third world countries. Their primary customers are those who live in developed nations of the world. People like you

As I said when I began this story, few people understand how the global food system works. They do not realize how dependent they are on the oligopoly. And they really do not care. But they should. Someday they will. Unfortunately, by then, it might be too late to do them any good.

By the way, it was not all that long ago that America had a decentralized system of agriculture and food production. It worked very well. Decentralized agrarianism always does.

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Odds n Ends.

Deliberate Agrarian Archives: Odds n Ends

Visiting Thomas Jefferson's Monticello (Part 1)
Visiting Thomas Jefferson's Monticello (Part 2)
Visiting Madison's Montpelier & The Big Woods
Visiting Mount Vernon
People Like Audrey
A Little Amish Mystery
Scott Nearing's Horse Chow
How NOT to Shoot The Bull
Of Small Houses & Cheap Alternative Housing Options
Benny’s Grandfather Was a Ditch Digger
Boy Shoots Raccoon in His Underwear
Me & My Honda Are Famous
Making Apple Cider in The Old Days
Two Kinds of Men
Noble Womanhood
Reflections on Pushing the Lawnmower
Scriptural Eldercare
Politics & Meeting Vice President Cheney
Quirky Things
Free Range Children
John Calvin: Father of America
It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s a Wonderful Movie
The Most Challenging “It’s a Wonderful Life” Trivia Quiz in the World
A Journey Home (Movie Review)
Building Code Blues
Letter From An Albany Hotel Room
The Government Wants to Know More About Me
Cake Like That
Rethinking The Smoothie
Steam Pageant Discoveries (Part 1)
Steam Pageant Discoveries (Part 2)
Refrigeration Without Electricity
What a Man Needs
Peak Oil: Myth, Reality & Response
I Support Ron Paul For President
The Better Future We left Behind
Ruminations From Downtown Albany, N.Y.
Home Again & About Cheerfully Slitting Chicken's Throats

An Agrarian-Style
Economic Self Defense Plan

[Dateline: 22 January 2008]
[edited & shortened on 16 December 2014]

It occurred to me today that one of the nice things about not having much money is that I don’t have to worry about loosing it in the stock market.

But I realize full well that a falling stock market and an overall failing economy will take its toll on me and my family, just as it will on you and yours. If you don’t think so, you’re in for a rude awakening.

You don’t have to be a prophet or an economic expert to see that America is heading into a deep, dark decline. Just open your eyes. The handwriting has been on the wall for years. Ignorance won’t be bliss for much longer. I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet. I’m not being pessimistic. I’m being realistic. And, believe it or not, I’m actually optimistic about the future. But it is pretty certain that we are going to go through some very tough times in the years ahead.

I came to realize that the modern American economic system was fundamentally flawed, and destined to fail, back in the 1980’s when I read a book titled "Miracle on Main Street" by F. Tupper Suassy.

Another impressionable volume was a black & white picture book of the 1930’s depression era that my parents had. It was titled The Desperate Years I was in grade school when I first looked through and studied the pictures of sadness and misery in that book. I thought to myself that if it happened once, it could happen again.

Over the years, there were other books, and there were stories from people who had lived during The Great Depression. One of my uncles wrote a book about his recollections of the depression era. Now in his eighties, he was just a small boy during the depression, but he remembers it in great detail. 

Prior to the crash, Uncle Clyde's family’s home was paid for. But his father took out an equity loan to do some remodeling. Then came the crash and his father lost his job. There was no money. They lost their home. The family moved something like 12 times in eight years. They lived with kin in West Virginia and Ohio. They lived in abandoned houses way out in the middle of nowhere. Times were hard. Real hard. Harder than most people alive today can imagine.

People think that sort of thing can’t happen again. Don’t bet on it. 

The bottom line is that the whole fractional reserve banking system with its fiat money is unsustainable. It may be years before it totally collapses but, then again, it may be only months. We are undoubtedly headed for an epic socio-economic transition.  That said, I would like to give you the following seven suggestions for agrarian-style economic self defense.

If you live in or near a city or high population center, get out. It was crystal clear to me as I looked through the old photos in “The Desperate Years” book that people in the cities were not in a good place.

Buy land or get to some land in a rural area where you can fend for yourself. You need to be able to plant a garden, raise a few chickens, hunt, fish, trap, and forage for wild edibles. I’ll take fields and forest over city dumpsters any day.

Eliminate debt if at all possible. I’ll take a humble little country home on a little piece of paid-off country land over a big, fancy, comfortable house with a mortgage any day. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what I’ve done.

Most modern Americans can’t bring themselves to downsize. Many have enough equity in their big mortgaged homes to sell and buy something far below their current standard of living, and have no mortgage debt. But they just can’t do it. I suspect many, in the years ahead, will wish that they did sell and downsize when they could. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (that's an old agrarian saying).

Stop being totally dependent on the industrial matrix. Start putting your hands to work. Do more for yourself. Be creative. Learn important basic manual skills like gardening, sewing, cooking from scratch, woodworking. 

Acquire the basic tools of self sufficiency. What, you may wonder, are the basic tools of self sufficiency? Well number one would be some debt free land out in the country. Then there are the actual tools--- like garden tools. A shot gun with ammo is a tool too. A grain grinder is an excellent tool for self sufficiency. A woodstove to heat your debt-free home is another tool of self-sufficiency. How-to books are tools too. Start with Carla Emery’s "Encyclopedia of Country Living." It'll tell you how to do just about everything.

Stock up on some basic food items. You can buy things like oatmeal, beans, rice, wheat (for the grain grinder), and other staples through food co-ops for cheap. That’s what we do, in addition to freezing and canning and drying food from the garden. It’s a good feeling to have a well-stocked pantry.

Find community and get involved. Get yourself into a small rural church where folks care about and will help each other. Country people look out for and help each other. That’s always been the case. It’s not going to change when times get bad. But they won't be paying your mortgage for you.

I think you get the idea. What I’m suggesting here is that you simplify, downscale, and adopt a more self-reliant, self-responsible, lifestyle. It is going to be easier to do now than later. If nothing else, get a section of land in the country. Family members could pull together to buy land... debt-free land. It would be a place where you can go if it gets bad. With the land, you have the ability to provide, even if you have to live in a camper or a tent. Land and community are fundamental to surviving the worst of times. Land is fundamental to survival and personal freedom.

Does what I’ve just told you sound radical? Well maybe it is to you. But it isn’t radical to me. It’s the way I now live. It’s the way I decided I wanted to live years ago when I came to understand that the economic system was not sustainable. It’s not a bad way to live. I recommend it to you.

to read my other financial and economic essays.