The Deliberate Agrarian Blogazine
March 2012

Dateline: 31 March 2012

I'm excited about growing these Champion of England pea seeds. They are an old variety that is supposed to grow up to ten feet high. I have a trellis almost 8ft tall for them. Presprouting the seeds is something I've started doing after reading Steve Solomon's excellent book, Gardening When It Counts.

Well, there goes another March. As far as Marches go, it was a rare one, with milder-than-normal temperatures. I have four varieties of peas planted in the garden, along with spinach, lettuce and Kale. That’s all good.

But March was also the month that I gathered my tax information together which, with my Whizbang home business, is always a detestable labour. I spend so many hours adding up invoices and figuring expenses that it puts me in a foul mood (I complain about this here every year).

It looks like I won’t have as much reason to complain about it next year. My wife, Marlene, is now helping me even more with the business. She is doing the “bookkeeping” like it should be done (on an ongoing basis, not all at the end), and I feel very good about that. Come next March, tax time should be much easier.

Marlene has also been doing the online postage for mail-orders that we send out. And she helps count poultry shrink bags. I couldn't run the business as well as I do without  my wife's help!

This is the way I believe a good marriage should function—with husband and wife yolked together in a home economy, providing for the needs of their family, at many different levels. It is, of course, totally contrary to the industrial model, which encourages husbands and wives to be economically independent earners and consumers.

Which reminds me of the excellent quote from Allan C. Carlson in his book, From Cottage to Work Station: The Family's Search for Social Harmony in the Industrial Age, which can be found on page 48 of my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian...

"Nor is love enough to hold a family together... Meaningful family survival depends on the building and maintenance of a true household economy, one that exists apart from the national and international economies... Toward [this end], both men and women are still called home to relearn and recommit to the deeper meanings of the ancient words husbandry and housewifery."

And this quote, also from Allan Carlson, expresses much the same thought... 

Before the rise of modern industry... virtually the whole of humankind lived in family-centered economies. The family was the locus of the most productive activity, whether it be on largely self-sufficient farms or in small family shops... husbands and wives relied on each other, needed each other, shared with each other, so their small family enterprises might succeed. They specialized in their daily tasks, according to their respective skills. Marriage was still true to its historic definition: a union of the sexual and economic."
Right there, in those two quotes, is an enormous bit of wisdom that I think all young people, looking towards a sound and lasting marriage, should understand and pursue. 

Countdown To My Homecoming

“Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest” —Robert Montgomery

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I work in a factory. The factory is inside a maximum security state prison. It is not a job that I have ever liked or gotten any satisfaction from. But it has supported my family without my wife needing to work outside the home. So I’ve been very thankful for that. Nevertheless, it has been my hope and prayer for a very long time to be able to leave the wage-slave job and the bureaucratic foolishness.

My desire has been to work for myself and provide for my family with a home-based  business. Truth be told, I’ve dreamed of working from home since I was a teenager—back when I invented granola bars. I have pursued several ideas over the years (which didn't succeed) to achieve the objective.

When I wrote the Whizbang chicken plucker plan book back in the spring of 2002, I hoped it might help me get home. And now, ten years later, I can see that the book, and my home business that grew out of it, and my dream of coming home, has been greatly blessed by God. It has been an amazing thing to experience. I don’t need the government/industrial job anymore. Home is in sight.

I have, however, decided that it is financially prudent to stay with the factory job for ten more months. So I’m in countdown mode. I am ten months away from my next step in the long journey to escape from industrial-world bondage. Ten months to a way of life centered more closely around my home, my land, a cottage industry, and a more true home economy. Lord willing, I will come home next February.


Speaking of Land...

This survey stake is on the northeast corner of the land we are about to purchase.

We are very close to finally buying the 16 acres of woods, field and water that I told you about back in November. The survey is finally in process. The purchase offer is signed. A closing date of May 11th is set.

We will have no time to do much of anything with the land this year, but the doublewide home on the property will be immediately put to use as a much-needed Planet Whizbang warehouse and packaging facility. The house is  a short walk or bike ride from our house and my workshop.


My Next Book

My next book, The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners, is still in the works. I made absolutely no forward progress on it in March. I am uncertain about how much I’ll be able to get done on it now that spring is here. Between the factory job (three days a week now), the Whizbang business, and the garden, I have more than enough to occupy my days. The book project will likely languish until next winter. But I do harbor a hope that I’ll fit in time to get a little done on it through the coming months.

In any event, I will continue to limit my monthly blogging reports here until the book is finally done. With that in mind, I have one thing I’d like to share with you this month....

Rumspringa in The UK
Leah Miller, a young Amish woman with strong Christian convictions, faces the hedonism of modern teen culture in the UK... and the light of her witness doesn't dim.

Rumspringa is a period of time when older Amish boys and girls may experience life in the world outside the strictures and order of their community. It is a time when they decide if they want to be baptized into the Amish church and abide by the Amish rules (the ordnung), or not.

I recently happened upon a British television program in which five American Amish young adults in the rumspringa stage of their lives travel to the United Kingdom and are introduced to the teen culture of that country.

Over the course of a month, the Amish youngsters live one week with four very different kinds of families. They begin by living with an inner-city black family. From there, they experience life with a rural-based, suburban-cultured middle class family. Then they spend a week living with a very wealthy family (in their castle) in Scotland. And the final week is spent living with a non-family group of surfers by the ocean.

In those four weeks, the five Amish youth (two girls and three boys) are introduced to various manifestations of the industrialized, Babylonian, Vanity-Faire-culture that they have been insulated from for their entire lives. If you have an interest in the Amish, or in Biblical-agrarian separation, you will find this program fascinating.

Though I enjoyed the series, I admit to having  mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it makes me uncomfortable to see the Amish youth exposed to certain aspects of modern culture, and to see them face the moral dilemmas presented to them. But, on the on the other hand, I found this unusual secular documentary profoundly inspiring and uplifting, primarily because of the Christian witness of the two girls, Leah and Becky.

In my opinion, 22-year-old Leah Miller comes across as a Christian heroine. It is abundantly clear that her life and her actions are shaped and directed by her faith in Christ, and her biblically-informed worldview. Leah is a young woman full of godly discernment, wisdom, grace, and steadfast conviction.

Becky is much like Leah, but Becky is prone to compromise with worldly customs, though in ways that  most people would think are ridiculously minor.

As for the three boys... well, two of them (Jerry and Leon) clearly do not have the depth of faith and conviction as the girls. Only Andrew, Leah’s younger brother, is more reserved, cautious, and thoughtful. 

Andrew Miller "loves to hunt with bow and arrow, and knows how to skin a deer, milk a cow by hand, go ice fishing and plough a field....Andrew was home schooled by his father along with his 12 brothers and sisters. His family truly embrace the simple Amish lifestyle and have lived their lives very conscious of Amish values. Andrew is the main income earner in the family after his father, but turns all his earnings over to his father to manage. He will get 10% of his earnings back once he turns 21."

It is 18-year-old Andrew Miller who provides some of the best quotes (in my opinion) of the movie. In one instance, after spending a day at a private school for wealthy kids in Scotland, Andrew observes,  “Even though a lot of Amish leave school at the age of 14, I’ve never seen an Amish that wasn’t able to successfully provide for his family.”

Those who put this program together did a remarkably good job of showing the stark contrast between dominant modern culture and that of the Amish. Also, to the show’s credit, Amish beliefs are fairly presented, without ridicule or bias.

The show is named, Amish: World's Squarest Teenagers (click to go to the official web site). If you go to the web site, you can learn more about each of the Amish youngsters, about Amish history & culture, and about rumspringa.  

You can watch the entire series in 16 parts on YouTube. Part 11 (below) gives you a good idea of what the show is like (without too much craziness). And you can see what I mean about the witness of Leah and Becky.

Please Note: Some parents will want to preview these programs to decide if they are something they want their younger children to watch.


My Raspberry Surprise

Raspberry-Maple Smoothie Popsicle by My Raspberry Canes in the Spring
When I was a kid, my mother used to make popsicles with KoolAid in a Tupperware mold. Marlene latched onto two of the "six-pack" molds when we were cleaning out my parent's house last fall. Then, just a couple days ago, she made the surprise shown above. The frozen blend is a mix of homegrown raspberries, maple syrup and yogurt (no high fructose corn syrup & no artificial anything!).

We have lots of raspberries still in the freezer from last year, and have been using them in various ways. A couple of the best ways is in smoothies and on French toast with maple syrup... and  the smoothie pops are real good too!

If you're feeling nostalgic for Tupperware popsicles like your mother used to make, you can get the old molds on Ebay.


Let's plan on meeting back here on the last day of next month.....