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.....


the canned quilter said...

Dear Herrick,

I grew Champion Of England Peas last year and they did wonderful here in Missouri. I saved the seeds and got a great germination this spring. I planted double what i planted last year we liked them so well. I will be praying that the deal goes through with your land and that you will be able to quit work.

foutfolk said...

10 months! I am sooo happy and excited for you. And Marlene!

I have always hoped (since I met you here online) that you would be able to not necessarily quit work outside the home, but that you would have work that KEPT you at home.

I "hear" your heart in your writing to be a provider for your family, and have wondered when it would come for you to lead your family from home. CONGRATULATIONS Herrick.

If there is anything I can do to help you, please let me know.

Herrick Kimball said...

Canned Quilter—
I'm glad to hear the Champion of England peas did so well for you. Did they grow ten feet high? And thanks for the prayers.

One semantic clarification... I won't be quitting work. Just a job. Then I'll come home and do more actual work. :-)

Garth (foutfolk)—
Thank you. You've encouraged, inspired, and helped me in different ways in the past, and I appreciate that.
(P.S. I have not forgotten the banner—just haven't gotten around to it.)

Deelight said...


It's always a refreshment to the soul to read your wise words, and celebrate the progress of your dreams. If time permits, where may I order some of these Champion of England peas?

Blessings to your home from ours,

Herrick Kimball said...


Thanks for your comment. I got theChampion of England seed from Seed Saver's Exchange.

Robert said...


That is great news about the future change in jobs. I wish you the best, and hope to follow the same path one day.

God Bless,

Marion said...

Herrick: Would Marlene be so kind as to share her recipe for the Raspberry Popsicles? I believe I still have the molds. Need to dig in a few places for some of the oldies but goodies. Thank You. Marion

Justin said...

Hi Herrick,

Thanks for the marriage wisdom, my wife and I have just celebrated our 6 year marriage anniversary (in March) so we are still newlyweds.

It really is true that a husband and wife be yolked together (with Jesus) because when my bride and I work together we feel much closer and more appreciative of each other.

Thanks for the blog, I will meet you next month!

Jeff Consiglio said...

Always look forward to your monthly blog posts. Thanks for the heads-up on the Amish documentary. Very interesting. My wife and I also watched a very good one on the Amish on PBS recently which can be viewed online at the following link.

Herrick Kimball said...

Thank you!

1 cup raspberries + 1 cup vanilla yogurt + 1/3 banana + 2 Tablespoons maple syrup. Blend. Taste to see if it's to your liking. Pour into molds. Freeze.

I have seen that documentary and it is well worth watching. Here is a "hot" link for others to watch...

American Experience/Amish Documentary on PBS

Anonymous said...

My Thanks to Marlene for the recipe. A Blessed Easter to you and yours. Marion

Anonymous said...

I often read your blog for my husband during coffee time. We admire your way of life.Thanks Marlene for the recipe! Blessings!

Anonymous said...

I've missed your blog for the past several months so I wanted to offer a Belated "Congratulations" on your impending acquisition of the land adjacent to your place. I'm excited for you that you are beginning to realize your long-time dream. I'm also looking forward to hearing your plans for the new land. Your mind must be racing with the possibilities. I imagine a mixture of permanent crops (berries, fruit trees, etc.) and vegetables, perhaps even some area for livestock. Or is it your intention to plant cash crops (corn) on the open field? Anyway, I look forward to hearing the specifics from you and being inspired.


Old She dragon said...

I was just reading your account of the Amish teenagers on the TV program.
WE saw this in the UK early last year and this year they followed it up with 'Living with the Amish' in which a group of UK teens gets to go and live in various Amish communities in the U.S.
Very interesting to see the different levels of tradition.
There was a little bit on the last program about the strict Shwarzentrouber (not sure if that is the exact word but anyway) where a few of the young men were camping out as they had been reprimanded for not following the rules closely enough. I do wonder how many of the young people actually go on to leave because the rules become too strict.

Joel said...

You may perhaps have time to put in some cover crops on that new land, and/or to bury some waste wood or brush the way Sepp Holzer does.

I often get my cover crop seeds from the bulk bin of the grocery store. I've had good success with most of the grocery-store seeds, with two minor exceptions: beans seem to always be of the "bush" type, which makes them less good as cover crops in my opinoin; and sunflowers are F2 hybrids, and you would have to plant several times as densely as you would expect, in order to get a dense stand of tall plants. The shorter ones seem to fill in the gaps, and make them better at smothering, though, and it might be fun to undertake the project of stabilizing such a hybrid line.

Congrats on all the positive developments!


Anonymous said...

My parents recently gave me $100 as a birthdays gift. Being the single bread-winner and with child number 4 on the way, it's not very often that I have an extra $100 to spend any way I wish.

So, I purchased a copy of Webster's 1828 dictionary (the hardcopy reprint) as well as a hardcopy of Spurgeon's John Ploughman Talk.

Since I first heard of both of these books on your blog, I had to share. :)

Eric in Alberta

AJ said...

You're a great inspiration. All the best with your future move and business plans. Best Regards,