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........


Robert said...


Love the picture of Robert in the tree. I agree that it is better you didn't know in advance. Glad you're able to get a laugh out of it too.

Keep up the great work and enjoy your growing season.


teekaroo said...

That pie crust is beautiful. My mom has a certain design that she does, but I have yet to be able to copy it.
That picture of Robert in the tree made my heart skip a beat and then wish he were here to take care of this bothersome tree. I don't feel like sending my husband up to the top with his chain saw in hand.

timfromohio said...

Nice update. Congrats to your son. I mulched our entire "traditional" garden area last year with newspaper (double layer) followed by grass clippings. The grass clippings alone were not sufficient in keeping weeds from growing - newspaper did the trick and will biodegrade by the end of the season. Regarding your sons and chainsaws - have them go to, look at the forums, and check out some pics and stories of folks injured. At their age I know they feel invincible, but it only takes one oooops with a chainsaw to cause some serious damage. Be safe!!!! Like you we heat with wood and I harvest, cut, and split a good deal of wood each year.

Provident Planner said...

Glad to hear from you...wasn't sure how I was going to make it a full 5 months without your excellent blog. I may not agree with all of your conclusions (Can't please everybody all the time anyway.) but I can honestly say your blog is one of the most thought-provoking one's I've ever come across. Will look forward to your occasional reports this summer, and hope your summer is a good one.

Diane in TX said...


Have you seen this?

Thought you would like it.

Janet collester said...

Dear Herrick - I really love your 1892 Diary of a Housewife blog. It is charming.

My husband and I are genealogists, and I found your g-g-grandparents in the 1900 census for Aroostook County, Maine. Josephine is listed has being born in October, 1843.

And, you mentioned that you didn't know who her husband was... SURPRISE! Your g-g-grandfather's name was Cyrus J. Jordan and he was born in October of 1848 in Canada (Eng.) In 1900 they lived in Caribou town in Aroostook County, Maine. His occupation is listed as farmer.

Laurie is living with them. His birthdate is listed as January 1877 and his occupation is a farmer.

Gertrude A. is living with them, and she was born in July, 1882 in Maine. (Everyone else was born in Canada (Eng.))

Their son, Frank P. (Born August 1873), and his wife Anna (born May, 1869) and their children May J. (born Oct. 1896) and Earle D. (born April, 1899) live next door. Frank's occupation is listed as "farm laborer".

My e-mail is If you will send me your e-mail I will send you any other information I can find this afternoon. I got over heated this morning and then wrenched my knee, so this will be a nice way to "beat the heat" this afternoon.

Janet Collester said...

Just found this GREAT link with information on your g-g-grandfather, Cyrus's, family. He was the son of Edward M. Jordan. Josephine's maiden name was Johnson.

Edward M. Jordan was the son of Amos Bill Jordan and was born in Horton, Nova Scotia in 1825; he died there in 1909. Edward married Sarah Johnson, born in Horton in 1823 and died there in 1903.

Anyway, here is the link for the page. It's a great read! These are fascinating people! Enjoy!

Janet Collester said...

Found this death notice for Josephine:

Jordan, Josephine, w/o Cyrus J. Jordan, d/o James W. Johnson, died at Presque Isle, Maine, 6 March 1914, 71 years, burial Grafton, NS.[18 Mar 1914 obituary + notice].

Herrick Kimball said...

Yes, they are in the invincible stage of life and it is a matter of concern. I will check out the web site you mentioned. Thanks.

Provident Planner—
I'm glad to have you as a reader. I just looked your blog over and I like it. Nice job.

Thanks for the link. I had not seen that movie but managed to watch it all, a few minutes at a time through the day.

They are right. It is only a matter of time before everything comes undone. Too much complexity. They are advocating what I started saying five years ago when I started this blog. Get out of the cities. Get away from dependencies on the industrial system. I called it Christian agrarianism. They don't. It doesn't matter what one calls it. The important thing is that one does it.

Thanks again for the link. The movie drags a bit in spots but is overall very good and well worth watching.

Thanks for the information. A few people have contacted me since I posted the diary blog to let me know some of what you have related, but not as much.

The link you provided starts out telling about the problems Cotton Mather had with his wife. Interesting but I couldn't spend the time to read all the way to info about my kin (unless maybe me and Cotton is kin!). I'll go back and peruse it some more at a later date. Thanks again for the details.

Marinco said...

Thanks for the update.

I am adjusting to a more "empty house" as well. I have 3 kids and 3 step-kids, 2 girls and 4 boys, ages from 22 to 32. The girls have their own families now and moved away, but we still have 3 boys (men?) at home. I have mixed feelings about them all moving away but my grand kids are such a joy.

I just got your book, read and enjoyed the first few chapters. Keep up the good work.

Jeff said...

Herrick, just wanted to leave this link for you and your readers. Very good video about survival, self sufficiency, and agrarian living.

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks, Marinco. I'm glad you are enjoying the book.

Diane in Texas beat you to it (see above). Yes, it's a good movie. And this is a good place to let people know about it.

jules said...

I really thought that was a chicken pot pie, and those were chicken tracks!

Susan Humeston said...

My Uncle Joe lived in Frankfort, NY all his life. He gardened there in his back yard and the lot across the street, and always had tons of delicious fresh produce. He also used to hunt frogs and knew how to prepare frogs legs. I tried them once when I was a kid - and they do indeed taste like chicken. I remember thinking they were very good, but then both my aunt and uncle were fabulous cooks.

The pie crust looks like the type my mother always made. She always fluted the edge that way, although no fern design - just a few vents in strategic places. She also never put sugar on top - we loved the pie to be tart and have very sharp cheese with it or home made vanilla ice cream.

Anonymous said...

There is a natural conclusion when you discover a tiny enclave of people who live long lives. But what we fail to understand is we are looking at the survivors not the entire population. For every 90 year old active great great grandmother tens of thousands of her age group died over the years. Of course they don't figure into our calculation and wonderment about these long lived cultures because they aren't visible. Another common problem when these cultures are investigated is often these people don't know how old they are and their estimates are often incorrect. Now none of this is to say that in certain places in Russia and Northern Italy etc that there weren't groups of people with some very old amongst them. But it does say that the average life expectancy is NOT 90 or 100 but probably closer to 50 or 60. hardly astonishing. But more to the point we aren't looking at a secret like the water or the food that allows them to grow old.