Taking Leave

Dateline: 30 November 2013

I'm taking a break from blogging for the month of December. There is a lot I need to get done in my workshop. If I am diligent now at getting things like chicken plucker parts, and wheel hoe kits, and cider press parts, and Classic American clothespins, and other Planet Whizbang things in stock this winter, I'll be better prepared for spring, when the orders typically pick up. That's the plan.


I'm also hoping to come out with a new Planet Whizbang product a month from now. It  may be my only new product for next year. It is a simple, inexpensive item that embodies the Planet Whizbang motto of "down-to-earth books, tools and inspiration" in a unique and very useful way. I'm excited about the idea and am looking forward to introducing it to the world.


Around this time of year the Google search engines start directing a lot of people to The Most Challenging "It's a Wonderful Life" Trivia Quiz in the World, which I posted to this blog back in December of 2006. I also wrote an analysis of the movie At This Link.


Thank you all for reading my blog this past year. Here's wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas season.

Herrick Kimball
(The Deliberate Agrarian)

Thirty-Three Years
...And Counting

Dateline: 29 November 2013

As of today, I have been married to the same woman (my first and only wife) for 33 years. In retrospect, we've been through a lot…. together.

If you want a metaphor for a good marriage, think of two well-matched draft horses, harnessed together, pulling together, working together, towards a common goal.

Our common goal has never been to have a good time (though we've had our share of good times), or on acquiring material possessions (though we've acquired some material possessions, especially in the past few years). Our common goal has been to build a simple, active, creative, home-based, Christian life, close to the land, and to raise our children within that paradigm

I have some regrets in life, but I don't have a single regret when it comes to the woman I married, or the common goal we have worked towards. Indeed, one of the greatest blessings of my life has been my wife, and our marriage.

So, I declare, on this day I am especially mindful of what a greatly blessed man I am.

Thank you, Lord.


If you would like to read about how Marlene and I met, and all such as that, I invite you to read my 2005 essay, The Wife of My Youth.

Pilgrim Ruminations

Dateline: 28 November 2013
Thanksgiving Day

This beautiful 1857 oil on canvass painting by Robert Walther Wier is titled, "Embarkation of  the Pilgrims." Click on the picture to get a much closer look.

December of 2020 will mark the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim landing at Plymouth, Massachusetts. I don't know what America will be like seven years from now, but I know what it was like 400 years ago. It was a vast, wild, pristine, unexplored, sparsely populated, resource-rich continent. We have come a long way in 400 years.

I am looking forward to the quadricentennial celebration. I am looking forward to Americans reflecting to a greater degree on their Christian heritage, on the remarkable story of the Pilgrims and their coming to this land. Perhaps some of the amazing faith and courage they modeled will penetrate the consciousness of so many mainstream-media-manipulated, and pop-culture-distracted, Americans. Yes, I hope and pray that many more Moderns will take an interest in such godly people and their example.

I am in awe of these Separatists who refused to conform to the dictates of government-endorsed religious tyranny,  who endured extreme persecution for their beliefs, who lost so much of their material wealth, and who fled the comfort of their their homes and families… all because they wanted to worship God and raise their families according to biblical truth.

As you may already know, the English Pilgrims fled to Holland for religious freedom. But you may not realize that, after a number of years in Holland, they then fled to America for another reason. It wasn't for religious freedom that they came to America. It was to escape the ungodly culture of Holland that was drawing the children away from the Christian faith.

I wrote an essay about this back in 2005. It is, in my opinion, one of the better essays I've ever written. Here is the link: Pilgrims and the Christian-Agrarian Exodus of 1620


This 1897 oil on canvass by Henry Mosler is titled, "Pilgrims' Grace." Click the picture for a close-up look.

A couple moths ago I was feeling like I had to start thinking more seriously (again) about getting out of New York State. The political situation in New York is something akin to a socialist dictatorship. Tyranny is on the rise here. This is getting to be a worse and worse place for God-fearing people to live and raise their families.

So I did some internet research (again) on states where people still have a degree of freedom (more so than in New York). Specifically, I looked at homeschooling laws and gun laws. The less of both, the better. I didn't want to live where there was any chance of natural gas hydrofracking. And I wanted a place where there is good agricultural land with lots of good water. I also wanted to be a distance from any large cities. Some Amish neighbors would be nice.

I decided that somewhere in south central Kentucky looked pretty good. I checked out property prices online. I talked to my family about it. They were surprisingly receptive—more receptive than they were about south central Missouri, which I had my eyes on a couple years ago. I was ready to drive down there and check it out.

Then I started thinking about how comfortable I am right here in the rural community I live in. I have land and my family has put down roots here. We have a lot of long-time friends—people we have known for decades. It would be very difficult, especially at my age, with somewhat limited financial resources, to just up and leave and start all over again somewhere else. 

As I was mulling all of this over in my mind, I thought of the Pilgrims of 1620—of what they gave up and endured. Driving to another state and buying a house and making new friends would be ridiculously easy compared to what they did. They truly were remarkable people.


This 1846 lithograph is titled, "Pilgrims Landing at Plymouth."
They were alone in a cold and harsh environment.


Back in my January 2010 monthly blogazine (remember those?) I gave a little report about the book, Mayflower, which I had finished reading. I have reposted it below…

In my teen years I spent a good portion of two summer vacations at a rustic little camp (no electricity or running water) on a small pond not far from Plymouth, Massachusetts. During that time I became acquainted with the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims who landed and settled in Plymouth in the winter of 1620.

As a result, I developed a special regard for these brave and devoted Christian separatists. Later on, back home in New York, I attended a series of lectures by Peter Marshall, co-author of The Light and the Glory: 1492-1793 (God's Plan for America). Then I found out from my Grandmother Kimball, keeper of the family history, that I am a Mayflower descendent.

Many Americans claim such lineage and it is not an outlandish thing because it has been calculated that more than 35 million Americans are, indeed, Mayflower descendants. It should be noted that not all the passengers on the Mayflower were Pilgrims, so it is possible to be a Mayflower descendant and not a Pilgrim descendant. Whatever the case, there is a good chance that your kin and mine shared in the adventure and tragedy of that amazing time in America’s history.

And so it was with great anticipation and interest that I read the book, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, by Nathaniel Philbrick this last month. The book drew me, not only for its subject matter, but for its author. My mother was a Philbrick of New England ancestry.

“Mayflower” turned out to be an exceptionally fine historical narrative. In fact, I found it riveting. If you have an interest in Pilgrim history, you must read this book. You’ll learn many things you did not know about the Pilgrim story. But I must warn you—some of it will disappoint.

The historical account begins with who the Pilgrims were and why they fled to America. Philbrick aptly presents the incredible hardship and providential events (though he does not attribute them to Providence) that the dedicated Believers encountered on their way to Plymouth, and in the beginning years of the colony. Then the book goes into the story of the Pilgrim/indian relations and culminates with a fascinating chronicle of King Philip’s War, which, hitherto, I knew almost nothing about.

You may already know that the original Pilgrim settlers made a peace treaty with the indian sachem, Massasoit, of the Pokanoket tribe (later known as the Wampanog), and that this peace treaty lasted for more than 50 years. But you may not realize that the Pokanokets were only one tribe among many in the Cape Cod area, and Pilgrim relations with these other tribes was not always rosy.

In one particularly fascinating part of the book the story is told of the Pilgrims, led by their military leader, Miles Standish, making a preemptive military move against an unfriendly tribe to the north. They had heard that this tribe intended to attack another English (not Pilgrim) settlement, then sweep down to Plymouth.

Standish and his small band of Pilgrims lured two indian warrior leaders (with the invitation of a meal) into a building in the English settlement. Once the indians sat down to the meal, Standish grabbed a knife that was around the neck of one warrior (the leader) and proceeded to stab him. While Standish and the indian fought it out, the other Pilgrim men fell on the other indian. Both indians were killed.

The story goes that the indian Standish killed had boasted to him the day before that he would one day kill Standish with the knife around his neck. The indian had taken it from a French sailor who he had killed. Though the indian was much bigger than Standish (a noticeably short man) Standish was a stocky bulldog of a man who wasn’t afraid of a fight.

The Pilgrims brought the severed heads of the two indians back to Plymouth and mounted them on poles for all other indians to see. This image doesn’t seem to fit with the usual image of the Pilgrims, and the event was a matter of great concern to their spiritual leader back in Holland, Pastor John Robinson.

As for King Philip’s War (which occurred many years after the preceding incident), it turns out that King Philip was an indian sachem, the son of Massasoit. He led an indian uprising against the sons and grandsons of the original Pilgrim settlers in June of 1675. For the next 14 months all of southern New England was involved in the brutal, bloody war (with lots of head severing).

Philbrick says it was one of the most horrendous wars ever fought in North America, and that comes across pretty clear in the book. Large numbers of English settlers (8% of the population) and indians died. Captured indians were kept as “servants” or sold as slaves and shipped off to sugar plantations.

Out of the drama of the conflict emerged a remarkable historical figure named Benjamin Church, who is described by Philbrick as “part Pilgrim, part mariner, part indian, and altogether his own.” Single-handedly, Church made allies with various indians (an option the Pilgrim and Puritan forces refused to consider—until Church proved it could work), and led them in an unconventional but successful campaign against King Philip.

Mayflower is certainly not a mythologizing eulogy to the Pilgrim era of American history. It is a gritty and human account of gritty and enigmatically human people struggling with circumstances like you and I will never know. It’s worth noting that the historical account is one man’s historical interpretation of events that took place some 350 years ago. So some of the story, like all such stories, is undoubtedly inaccurate and incomplete. Nevertheless, it is clear that the book was very well researched and, though Philbrick is a secular author, his account is probably as honest and fair-minded as you’ll find. I recommend this book to you.


"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" by jennie A, Brownscomb, 1914.


There is, of course, no better history of the Pilgrims than that of William Bradford, who was a Mayflower Pilgrim and governor of the Plymouth colony for 30 years. His History of Plymouth Plantation is well worth reading. It is Available Online For Free, or you can buy a paper copy from a number of online booksellers.


And finally… 

If you are still reading this, may I recommend my 2006 Thanksgiving blog post… Giving Thanks & Thanksgiving… for a Christian perspective on the Thanksgiving holiday.

Here's wishing all of you who read this blog a blessed Thanksgiving day!

The Westminster Catechism
In Cartoons
By Vic Lockman

Dateline: 27 November 2013

Something different….
Vic Lockman's Westminster Catechism Books
(click pictures to see enlarged views)

I grew up reading comic books from a young age. I loved comic books. I mostly liked the Mickey Mouse mysteries, and Uncle Scrooge McDuck, and Richie Rich (the poor little rich boy), and Sad Sack. But I read all sorts of other comics back in the late 1960s. 

After visiting my Grandmother in Maine one summer, I came home to find that my mother had cleaned my room and thrown out all my comic books. I had a comic book stack  probably two feet high, and they were all gone. I couldn't believe it. I thought my mother was kidding me when she told me.

So maybe it was a sort of nostalgia for comics that attracted me to Vic Lockman's catechism cartoon (not comic, but cartoon) books. That, and, of course, an interest in the Westminster Catechism, which has come only in recent years.

My family started going to a evangelical Baptist church when I was a teenager, and I've pretty much gone to evangelical Baptist churches ever since. If my experience is a reliable indicator, evangelical Baptist churches don't have anything to do with catechisms of any kind. And I don't think Pentecostal churches (which I have a little experience with too) have anything to do with catechisms either. Mostly, those churches are concerned with getting people saved.  And when I was younger, they were really focused on end-times prophecy and the rapture.

So I grew up thinking that getting saved, and getting other people saved, and being ready for the rapture was mostly what Christianity was all about. 

Only when I got much older did I come to realize that there is this thing called "sanctification," which, biblically speaking, is what is supposed to happen in a Christian's life after salvation. It turns out there is much more to Christianity than realizing you are a sinner, and putting your faith in Jesus Christ and his shed blood to save you (from going to hell when you die, which is what we we all deserve). 

Catechism Q & A  #35: What is Sanctification?
How many evangelical Christians can answer this simple question?

I'm still trying to figure out why the word "sanctification," and the work of sanctification in the Christian life, is almost never mentioned in evangelical churches. I listen pretty close to most sermons and I've rarely heard it. 

This is confusing to me because when I read the Bible I see almost nothing there instructing all Christians to be evangelizing, or "winning souls to Christ," but I see hundreds of verses encouraging and instructing Christians to live godly lives. 

Sanctification is, as the page picture above indicates, about growing in knowledge and faith as we live life in accord with the teaching of Jesus Christ and the apostles. It's about spiritual maturity and spiritual discernment which comes with obedience to God's word. It is about loving, and forgiving, and helping others. It is about becoming more Christ-like by following Christ daily. I think the word "obedience" is something of a synonym for sanctification.

Anyway, when I came to know about The Westminster Shorter Catechism, put together in 1643 by a gathering of mostly Puritan theologians, that was once widely used to teach children the fundamental doctrines of Christianity (Reformation Christianity), I was interested.  

I have a lot of respect for the Puritans. Fact is, I am a descendent of Puritans who came to America with John Winthrop in 1630 (see My Puritan Roots). So I bought a book about the Westminster Shorter Catechism a few years ago. Right from the start, I learned something I never knew….

Question #1: What is the chief end of man?

(Another way to ask the question is, "What is the primary purpose of man?")

Answer: Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

I had never heard such a thing, stated so direct and clear, in my history of evangelical church attendance.

We live in a world where everyone (a whole lot of church-going Christians included) is searching for purpose and meaning in their life, and there it is, plain and simple, in Question #1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. 

The theology in just Question #1 of the Westminster Catechism is powerfully significant and life changing. 

I don't exactly remember how I found my way to Vic Lockman's web page and his two catechism cartoon books, but I'm glad I got there and I'm glad I now have the books. Together, the two volumes cover all 107 Q & A of the Westminster Shorter Catechism—they are packed with the fundamentals of Orthodox Christian doctrine. 

Even though this catechism was originally developed over 350 years ago for teaching children, it is perfect for me (at 55 years old) as I am trying to better understand what aspects of the Christian faith have been lost (or maybe just neglected) in the rise of modern evangelical Christianity.

My purpose in posting this essay is not to get into a theological discussion (or argument). It is to encourage any Christian readers here who are not familiar with catechisms (and I know that's a lot of evangelicals) to check out The Westminster Shorter Catechism. This Link will take you to all 107 Questions and Answers. If you'd prefer some visuals and additional exegesis, then get Vick Lockman's two books.

You may discover, as I have, that the more traditional doctrines of the Christian faith feed you and resonate with you more than the modernized variations.

I'm Not
Sirius Anymore

Dateline: 25 November 2013

I’ve been hooked up to Sirius satellite radio for five years. I got it so I would have a variety of listening options as I worked in my workshop or Planet Whizbang mail-order packing room. I  mostly listened to Fox news, the Patriot channel and NPR. Occasionally I would listen to BBC radio. 

I would much rather listen to people talking than music—to ideas and information being expressed, even if I disagree with the ideas (which I often do on mainstream media). There is very little in the way of music that I like to listen to for very long. I have no interest at all in sports. 

I don’t have cable television, and have not watched television for many years. I know virtually nothing about any Hollywood personality or pop singer who has come along in the past 10 to 15 years. They mean nothing to me.

A few months ago I decided to stop listening to the satellite radio. I had had my fill of Fox (the sensational, tabloid-like reporting in particular) and everything else on the satellite radio. 

I came to the conclusion that I did not want to submit to them anymore; I did not want them deciding every day what my thoughts would dwell on, and the pictures that would play in the “theatre of my mind.”  Too often, the discussion was inane, or foolish, or perverse. 

When I need some talk to listen to I can now choose from a variety no-cost, independently-produced, decentralized-media options on the internet. I simply plug a speaker into my laptop computer and I can hear fine while working at things that I need to get done.

This last week I finally got around to calling Sirius to discontinue my satellite service. It took around 15 minutes. They offered me a year’s service for half price (a considerable savings). I didn’t bite. I’m done.

The money I would have paid Sirius for another year of listening will be donated to Generations With Vision. Two guys in a basement in the eastern plains of Colorado produce a daily Generations internet-radio program that, in my opinion, far surpasses anything the mainstream media puts out. They've been doing it for a lot of years. I’ve mentioned this program on this blog before. I’ll probably mention it again.

Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner host the Generations With Vision radio broadcast. Both men are pastors. I believe they are Reformed Presbyterians. What I like about these men is that they are biblical worldview warriors. They fearlessly take on cultural issues that many mainstream preachers shy away from. They not only provide cultural analysis on the decline of Western civilization from a biblical worldview, they also monitor the growing Christian apostasy. But more than that, they present biblical solutions to the problems that they see.

The solutions they offer begin with the fear of God, and the recognition that sin is the fundamental problem of mankind. God’s law/word, as found in the Bible is looked to as the blueprint for personal and cultural reformation. This reformation begins with individual Christians and Christian families who get a vision for thinking and living that is contra mundum, which means against the world (see Romans 12:2). 

I often use the term, "contra-industrial" to define my writings on this blog. Contra industrial and contra mundum are pretty much the exact same thing in my Christian-agrarian mind. 

When Kevin and Dave talk, they sound like Christian-agrarians to me. They encourage their listeners to not be dependent on government handout-schemes, government schooling-schemes, government medical-schemes, and political promises. They say that Christians should provide for their own needs and the needs of their families apart from government. They promote the biblical concept of self-government and personal responsibility. They identify cities as ungodly places. They encourage entrepreneurship and the development of family economies. They think multi-generationally. They refuse to bow to the cultural demands of people who would redefine marriage and the family as something totally contrary to what God designed it to be. 

As the economic and social structures of our industrialized, Babylonian world system are crumbling, Kevin and Dave offer a vision to their Christian listeners of "islands of freedom" where God-fearing families live lives of obedience, wisdom, and Biblical responsibility, set apart to God, for His glory.  

When I listen to Generations radio I am presented with ideas and biblical worldview opinions that I never hear from the mainstream media and, frankly, that I rarely hear discussed in church. 

I encourage those of you who read this blog, and are believers in Jesus Christ, to listen to the daily Generations Radio internet broadcasts. There is certainly nothing like it on the mainstream media, and I've yet to find a more insightful and biblically pertinent program anywhere else on the internet.

John Suscovich,
His Nifty Chicken Tractor
The Young-Farmer Movement

Dateline: 22 November 2013

Kate and John Suscovich

Some younger people don’t aspire to doing much with their life. Most, however, probably aspire to getting some sort of good-paying job working for someone else, putting in their 40 hours a week and, hopefully, getting ahead. 

And then there are those few who make things happen for themselves; they catch a vision for a desired way of life or an entrepreneurial enterprise (or both), then pursue the vision with vigor and passion. They work long days, with dogged determination, to make it happen. They harness initiative and creativity. Such people almost always eventually achieve the goals they seek. And, all along the way, their example inspires others.

I believe John Suscovich is one of those people. I want to introduce you to this young man and what he is doing...

John’s passion is agriculture. His wife, Kate, shares the passion. After visiting many small-farm enterprises on a 5,500-mile cross-country bike trip, they apprenticed at an organic farm in Connecticut in 2012. Then, in 2013, John and Kate started a chicken and herb CSA. John processed 60 chickens a week this past year and sold them for six dollars a pound. As I understand it, he also worked for another farmer during that time. And Kate had their first baby, Mabel Grace, this last summer.

There are many aspiring small-scale agripreneurs like John Suscovich in the local-food, sustainable, "young-farmer movement" and it is great to see. 

John, however, may be a bit different than most because he has some better-than-average marketing skills, especially when it comes to the internet.  His web site, Foodcyclist.com is an ambitious effort that reflects John's focus and creativity. He has a farm blog, and a farm podcast, and has produced numerous YouTube videos. 

Beyond that, if you watch some of John's YouTube videos you'll see that he is an affable guy, which is another plus when it comes to starting an agripreneurial venture. 

John also has a web site called Farm Marketing Solutions, which is dedicated to helping start-up farmers better market themselves and their farms. If I were an aspiring young farmer, I would learn everything I could from John—from his example, and from his marketing savvy. With that in mind, check out John's YouTube movie telling How To Start A Farm With No Money

 Suscovich Chicken Tractors

Those are some nice chicken tractors, eh?

I know about John Suscovich because he sent me an e-mail and told me he had created an e-book telling how to make chicken tractors. I don't know how he happened to e-mail me. Maybe he has seen my Whizbang chicken plucker, or the amazing poultry shrink bags we sell. Whatever the case, he did exactly what someone who has created a new product  should do—start spreading the word.

I've been there, especially when it comes to marketing a how-to book. I know how much work it is and I know how I appreciate people who  have taken an interest in my books along the way and helped me by telling others about them on their blogs. 

Some bloggers are so focused on making money with affiliate links, advertising, and selling their own products that they aren't really interested in helping someone else, unless they can make money at it. That's not me. I don't have affiliate links, I don't have any advertising (unless it's for my own products), and I am delighted to use this blog to help anyone with a useful, "down-to-earth" product or service that I think my readers will enjoy knowing about.

So I checked out the complimentary copy of John's new "stress-free" Chicken Tractor E-Book, and I must say that I really like his design. Fact is, I like it so much I plan to make one (at least one).

John's chicken tractors are made to fit on the 6' x 12' trailer he uses to haul things on his farm. The tractor footprint is just about 60 square feet. He built 12 tractors for his chicken operation and puts 30 chickens in each tractor.

The structures are made with pressure treated lumber frames, 2' high on the sides. The roof is made of 3/4" electrical conduit "rafters" covered with a tarp. The door on one end allows people to walk into the tractor.That is a great feature. The chicken feeders and waterers are suspended and travel with the tractor as it is moved.

The tractors are moved by hand, pulling them with a rope on one end. Moving is made easy by two wheels that are temporarily slipped over a protruding bolt at the other end. 

John uses his chicken tractors only for raising broilers, but he says they could be outfitted with nesting boxes for a few egg-layers. They can also be covered with plastic and be used as a small greenhouse. I like that idea. 

John's e-book has a material cost breakdown and he figures each tractor has around $160 in materials in it. He makes it clear that he chose to use high quality (pressure treated) lumber, but the tractors can be made for less using other materials.

The e-book is 31 pages long. It has clear specifications for each component. It has lots of photos. It has links to YouTube movies that better explain certain things. It has additional information about the feeders and waterers he made, and how he raises his chickens. The book has a nice overall appearance.

On the downside, the tractor design requires a conduit bender to get the proper bend in the "rafters"…. and the know-how to use the bender. That's probably a stumbling block to a lot of people. The plan also calls for half-lap joints in the wood frame. It is possible to mortise the wood for these joints with an electric skillsaw and a chisel, but a dado blade in a radial arm saw is a much better tool. So, if you follow John's plan exactly, you will need some equipment that most people don't have—or you will need a friend with the equipment to help you.

Like I mentioned, I intend to make one of John's nifty chicken tractors, but I haven't done so yet. Therefore I can't tell you how well the tractor goes together. Chances are, when I get to making one, I will modify the design to some degree. One modification I'm pretty sure I'll make is to add some sort of long diagonal brace on the 2' high sides. A long brace would give the structure a whole lot more racking strength. And I think I would like to have the tarp on the roof come all the way down over the sides. But the finished product will retain the same overall look, and all the best design features. 

John's book sells for $19.95. If you Listen To This Podcast (at least the first few minutes) John gives a discount code you can use to get the book for 25% less. Discount or not, I think the book is worth the cost if you want to make yourself a nifty looking chicken tractor with some real nice features.

By the way, John Suscovich also has an affiliate program for anyone who wants to sell his e-book at their blog or web site. If someone clicks through and buys a copy, you get a commission. I considered doing this but I decided against it. The guy is working hard, providing worthwhile products, and  trying to support his family. I'd like to see him get the most from every book he sells.  

Well Buckets
(An Unsolicited Product Review)

Dateline: 21 November 2013

"WaterBoy" well bucket with tripod.

I hope it doesn't happen, but I do expect the electric grid to really go down someday.  If/when that happens, I won't be surprised if the power is off for weeks, months, or even years. It's not a scenario I'm obsessed with, but I do feel compelled to consider the possibility enough to have a plan in place to keep my family supplied with clean water.

For short-duration power outages I have a small generator and a few cans of gasoline. The generator will run the 110 volt submersible pump in my drilled well.

For a long-term outage the plan was (and still is) to collect rain water into drums using Steve Lonsky's  Amazing Siphon-Tube Rain Barrels (as explained in This Informative Book). I have the barrels and siphon tubes. 

I also planned to collect buckets of water from the creek behind my house and carry them with a Whizbang  Shoulder Yoke (See The Same Book for How-To Plans). I have the buckets and yokes.

To filter water for drinking, I have a Big Berkey water filter (do a Google search for Big Berkey).

Aside from the short-term fix (a generator), the plans I have to gather water are all very low-tech, which means they  are relatively cheap and very dependable.

But the fact is, I have a drilled well not far from the door of my house. It is easier to get to than the creek, which is down in a gully.  And the well is full of good drinking water that doesn't require any filtering or other treatment. The well is about 80 feet deep and the water level is down about 25 feet. 

So it has been on my mind for some time to try making a well bucket. There are numerous designs for homemade well buckets on YouTube. But I wasn't impressed with any of them. Then I saw the Heavy Duty WaterBoy Well Bucket that is made and sold by Darren and Linda Holliday, who are located in Missouri.

I watched This YouTube video of Darren showing how his well bucket works, and I decided that, instead of making my own well bucket, I would buy one from him. I placed my order back in September. While I was at it, I bought the tripod kit too. The total cost, including shipping, was $216 ($84 of that was for the well bucket).

My order arrived in a timely manner and I was impressed. The well bucket is intelligently designed. Darren is obviously a talented "shade tree engineer," meaning he has taken commonly-available parts (made for things other than well bucket components) and put them together to make a product that not only works very well, but looks to me like it will hold up for a lot of heavy use.

It's a good feeling to know that I can now fetch good drinking and cooking water out of my well in the event of a crisis. But to be ready for that crisis, I needed to make the tripod.

The tripod kit I bought isn't the whole tripod. It is only the top assembly. I needed to purchase three 12' lengths of 1.5" square tubing (1/8" thick). I bought the tubing new from a local welding shop. The cost was $110.

To attach the legs to the top assembly I had my youngest son help me drill some holes and bolt the assembly on. It took only a few minutes. I explained to my son why I had bought the bucket and tripod. I told him that I might be dead and gone before the electrical grid crashed, but I wanted him to know about the well bucket and the tripod and hang onto it if something happens to me. If he thought I was being kooky for thinking and planning for the grid to go down, he didn't say so. We tied the tripod up to the rafters of one of my storage sheds. I bought a length of good-quality rope and put it up there too.

As for the well bucket, I confess to taking it apart and studying the design for awhile. Then I got to thinking about my neighbors. What good is my family having water if those around us don't have water? Maybe they've got plans of their own. I sure hope so. But the thought entered my mind that I should have half a dozen more well buckets for  my neighbors. 

I identified six strategic locations on the country roads that are near my house—six locations where there are small groups of houses, usually at crossroads. If there were a sturdy well bucket at each of those locations, everyone in a fairly wide radius around me would have access to fresh well water in the event of a long-term grid crisis.

When that thought entered my mind, I pondered on it for awhile and came to the conclusion that I should act on it. There is no reason why I shouldn't, except that it would cost me a lot of money to buy six more WaterBoy Well Buckets. Unfortunately, I don't feel like I have that kind of money to spare. So I decided to buy all the components needed to make six well buckets. I would have the components on hand, and if the crisis comes, the well buckets can be made at that time. 

It has been two months since I decided to do that, and I have gradually been buying the parts.  I bought the last hardware I'll need a couple days ago. I'm not buying tripod parts or rope—those parts can be figured out by others when/if the time comes. Everything will be stashed up in the rafters of my shed, along with my tripod. And I have informed my son of this plan, just in case I'm not around.

I have related all of this so you will consider your own plans to have drinking water in a long-term crisis. Water is more critically necessary than food. You don't want to be dependent on others for water. You don't want to be part of the problem. You want to be part of the solution.

The WaterBoy Well Bucket is an excellent product that I am pleased to recommend. And I want to make it clear that I have not been compensated in any way for this product review.

Ken Badman's Good Example

Dateline: 19 November 2013

This picture brings back great memories (photo link)

When I was half way through 9th grade my family moved out of our little ranch house in a suburban housing project outside Syracuse N.Y. My parents bought an old farmhouse with 25 acres of land (mostly swamp) out in the country. It was a good thing for me to get out of the urban environment at that time in my life. I realized it then, and I realize it even more now.

Shortly after moving, we started going to a small Baptist church about a mile down the road (I wrote about the church in The Sermon I’ll Never Forget). We got to know several people in the community by attending that church. 

In retrospect, I realize one of the things that had a profound affect on me was the example of several of the men who attended that church. Here’s what I mean...

Every man I knew who lived back in the suburban housing project left their home every morning and went to a job where they worked for someone else (the only person I can recall who didn’t go to a job was old Mr. Place and he was retired). But when we moved to the country, and started going to the little Baptist church down the road, most of the men who went to that church were self employed. Their work was at, or very near to, their home.

Leland Weed owned New Hope Mills (YouTube link of Leland Weed). His house looked over the mill. Herm Mau owned a boatyard on the lake. He was a mechanic. His house was near the boat yard. Skip Mau, Herm’s son, was a mechanic too and his workshop was attached to his house. Ken Badman was a dairy farmer. His house was across from his cow barn.

Those were the men of the church and they were hard working, hands-on, entrepreneurial people. They were not helpless moderns, dependent on some factory or office job to meet their needs. They were capable men with useful skills and an independent mindset. Their families helped them in their work. I had never been exposed to such people before, and I held them in high esteem. 

All of which brings me to Ken Badman (don't let the last name mislead you), and a small thing he did that made a powerful impression on me....

It was 1974 and I was 16 years old. A farmer in the neighborhood (not Mr. Badman) needed help unloading bales of hay out of the “kicker wagons” and into his barn. I  was asked if I wanted to help and I was eager to do so. I worked for a couple hours. It was my first time working with hay bales. It was hard work and I did the best I could. When the job was done, I went home. I wondered if I would be asked to help again (I hoped so), and I wondered if I would get paid.

Well, I never did get paid, and I was disappointed. My mother told me that I should go talk to the farmer. But I didn’t have a whole lot of self confidence back then. I figured maybe he wasn’t happy with my work. 

Some time went by and Ken Badman’s son asked me if I wanted to help unload hay wagons at their farm. I was excited to be asked and I worked a few hours. I found out that the Badman family were very hard workers. They were, far and away, the hardest working people I had ever known. Ken’s three sons, Allan, David and Tom, were strong, hardy farm boys. I did the best I could to keep up with them, and went home mighty tuckered out.

When I got home I wondered to myself if maybe Ken Badman would be like the other farmer and not pay me. But I didn’t wonder for long. The next morning, right after the cows were milked, Mr. Badman was knocking on the door of my house. He had a check for me. It wasn’t for much. I think I might have made two dollars an hour, and the check was for six or eight dollars total. 

I was shocked that Mr. Badman had driven to my house the first chance he had, just to make sure he paid me. Better yet, he asked me if I wanted to help again.

That little act of respect from Mr. Badman had a tremendous impact on me. I knew he was a professing Christian, and I saw his faith in action when he cared enough to make a special trip to my house to get me paid. I was just a 16 year old neighbor kid but Mr. Badman treated me the way he would want to be treated. That’s Christianity in action.

I ended up working quite a bit for the Badmans, and I got a whole lot better at dealing with hay bales. In fact, after high school,  I worked most of a year, full time, on the Badman farm, and saved up enough money to buy my first car.

Every so often I’ll see the other farmer—the one who never paid me—and the same thought always comes to my mind.... ‘that’s the guy who never paid me.’  Thirty-nine years later and I can’t forget the debt of a few bucks that was never paid to me. In all fairness, the man is a decent fellow; he probably had other things on his mind and simply forgot. I’ve forgiven him long ago. But money is a funny thing—it’s hard to forget when someone owes us.

Ken Badman’s example has guided me since that day. He was (and is) an honorable, God-fearing man who takes his Christian faith seriously. I’ve tried to be the same, especially when it comes to making sure people I owe money to are paid.... promptly.


I can’t help but take Mr. Badman’s example and contrast it with an experience my youngest son had a few years ago. I think he was 13 years old at the time. He did some work for a man and was never paid. The man didn’t forget. He just never paid.

That in itself is bad, but it gets worse. The man who never paid is a professing Christian. Worse yet, it turns out he has a reputation for not paying people who have worked for him.

There is a slogan that I have heard pastors mention from the pulpit a few times over the years: “You are the only Bible many people will ever read.”  Which is to say that Christians  must live a life that reflects what Christianity is all about. Which is to say that Christians should treat others with kindness and respect, just as they would want to be treated. Which brings to mind the following quote from S. Parkes Cadman:

“Personally, I would not give a fig for any man’s religion whose horse, cat and dog do not feel its benefits.” 

I think that’s profound.  And it makes me think Who would give a fig for any man’s religion whose employees did not feel its benefits?