The Deliberate Agrarian Blogazine
May 2011

Dateline: 31 May 2011

Marlene and I made a compost pile early in May. It became "Active" very quickly. And we have had an active month ourselves!

This last day of May marks the end of the first month of my five-month sabbatical from blogging. But I am here to give a brief report.....

The big news within our family is that our oldest son is now married. His new wife, Sammy, (Samantha), is from Ohio. They met online and corresponded most of last year when he was stationed in Korea. Congratulations Chaz & Sammy!

In other news, our middle son, Robert, completed a 8-month Auto Technology class at a local vocational school. At the end of the class he had a two-week internship, after which the auto dealership offered him a job as a mechanic. He has his own bay, and has been working now for a few weeks, and it's all very good.
It is worth noting that Robert's $6,000 tuition to the vocational school was paid with chicken plucker fingers. Some of you long-time readers may recall that back in 2007 I posted an essay about Robert getting into the business of selling rubber poultry plucker fingers (you can Read it Here). Well, Robert sold a LOT of plucker fingers and was easily able to pay for his own schooling. Plucker fingers have been a real blessing to this family.

Our youngest son, James, has a job working at a popular local diner. He washes dishes, cleans, serves, and even cooks. It's a good job for him. And when not doing that, he continues to help a local farmer part time.

James bought himself a chain saw this month. A Husqvarna. I asked him how he settled on the particular model that he bought. His answer: "It was the biggest one they had."

Then Robert bought a Stihl chainsaw. He e-mailed me this picture a couple days ago......

Robert & his new chainsaw. The tree was next to a church we used to attend. He climbed up and limbed his way down, then dropped the trunk without hitting the church or nearby power lines. He told me about this the next day. It's just as well I didn't know about it when it was happening.

This is James with a turkey he shot in May. He has also been hunting frogs with a pellet gun. I was surprised to learn there is a frog hunting season here in New York. James says the frog legs are delicious (they taste like a "fishy chicken"), but I have yet to try them.

As for Marlene and I, we are adjusting to an "empty nest." Although Robert and James still live at home, they are gone most of the time doing their own "thing." It is different around here.

Our garden is a big focus these days. Marlene started our tomato and pepper plants, as she usually does. I am impressed with how well she does without any heat mat, lights or hoop house. She starts the plants inside, puts them on the windowsill and then gets them outside into a cold frame, which is nothing more than a garden cart with a sheet of clear plastic over it...

Marlene's tomatoes in May
I am continuing to develop my own approach to growing tomatoes. All of our tomatoes this year will be grown on trellis supports and all of them will be mulched with grass clippings...

Tommy Toe tomatoes are great for trellising. The ones we transplanted into a plastic-covered "hoop-house" (like the one shown here) have done exceptionally well. The hoops have now been removed and trellis strings are in place.

This is my busy season with the Planet Whizbang business. I continue to work a 28-hour week at my factory job, but am thinking more and more that it is time to leave. It is increasingly difficult for me to work both jobs... and tend to my garden.

Speaking of Planet Whizbang and gardening, if you have been holding off on getting yourself a Planet Whizbang wheel hoe, now is the time. I have dropped the price on metal parts kits to $99. That is a significant discount. I have maybe 100 more of the kits to sell at that price. Then I will have more parts fabricated and I'm sure my costs will be much higher. Everything is increasing in price. 

A completed Planet Whizbang wheel hoe. It's not just beautiful and affordable, it's a remarkably efficient tool for destroying weeds!
And while I'm marketing things.... if you are a reader of this blog and you have not yet read my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian, I can't think of a better summer reading recommendation. Here's the link: Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian
Not only is the book available at Amazon, you can also purchase a copy directly from me at This Link (it's on sale through the summer).

Men with Mangel Wurzels (or maybe they're sugar beets). Read all about it at Agrarian Nation.

I have been posting regularly (every Monday and Friday) to my Agrarian Nation web site. Here are excerpts from this past month:

#10— A Farmer's Creed (1881) 
#11— May Farmer's Calendar Excerpts (1840-1858)
#12— The Milch Cow (1825-1849)
#13— Maxims For The Farmer (1866)
#14— Hot-Beds (1880)
#15— Corn (1835-1889)
#16— May Farmer's Calendar Excerpts (1859-1874)

#17— Sweet or Carolina Potatoes (1830)
#18— Culture of Roots (1871)


At any one time I am reading half a dozen books. Some are better than others. The one pictured above, Healthy at 100, is

a very good book, though I have only read Part 1 (the first 85 pages) which is titled, "The World's Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples."

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Abkhasia people of Russia, the Vilcabamba people of Ecuador's Andes Mountains, the Hunza people of Pakistan, and the Okinawan people of Japan. All of these cultures have unusually long life spans. But they don't just live long, they are healthy for longer. 

Reading about the Abkhasians brought to mind an old Dannon Yogurt commercial I remembered from the 1970s, and I found it on YouTube....

We hear claims that modern medicine is helping people in industrialized nations live longer lives, but many of them are not living healthy long lives. I'm not impressed with medicine that prolongs life but not health. There is a big difference.

There are common denominators with cultures that live longer and are far more healthy into their old age. One common denominator is that they do not eat the typical industrialized food that is so common in America. Another common denominator is that they live simple, agrarian-based lifestyles. 

I'll probably have more to say about this book when I return from my blogging sabbatical. In the meantime, if you have an interest in this subject, I recommend the book.

Now for something completely different. I'll bet you have never heard of Alben W. Barkley. He was Harry Truman's Vice President. His last words were spoken in 1956 when he was 78 years old and giving a speech at Washington & Lee University. It is worth listening to.

And here is a picture of something that some of my female readers may want to consider....

"Homemade pie crust, enclosing a filling of Minnesota Haralson apples. The steam vents in a fern design is a family tradition, passed from mother to daughter for several generations, from what is now the Czech Republic to the United States."  Have you ever heard of such a family tradition? What a great idea! Perhaps you baking mothers and future mothers out there would want to develop a family heirloom steam vent pie design. And if you do, I'd love to know about it.

That's it for this month. I'll be back for another quick blogging-sabbatical update on June 30th........