For March 2015

Dateline: 26 March 2015

Marlene brought home that bottle of Fentiman’s Dandelion & Burdock a few days ago. She knew I would be intrigued by it. 

Ingredients: water, carbonated water, cane sugar, pear juice concentrate, glucose syrup, fermented ginger root extracts (ginger root, water, yeast), dandelion infusion (water, dandelion root, ethanol), burdock infusion (water, burdock root, ethanol) aniseed flavor.

It’s a soft drink, of sorts. Tasted pretty good. But at $1.99 a bottle, one was enough. Been there, done that.

A little internet research turned up the fact that dandelion and burdock are used to make a traditional brewed drink in the United Kingdom. You’ve heard of root beer?  Well, dandelion and burdock may have been the original root beer. You can watch a delightful little YouTube clip of the down-to-earth British bon vivant, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, making some dandelion and burdock brew At This Link.

I’m not much of a beer drinker. Fact is, I never drank a single beer in high school, nor in two years of post high school education.  My experience with beer is pretty much limited  to the summer of 1977. I was living with Bruce and Patty Womer in Craftsburry Common, Vermont, helping them to restore an old building (I wrote about it HERE). They were long, hot days of hard work, and every day after work, me and Bruce had a beer together. Just one. I can tell you that I really enjoyed those beers. 

I’m tempted to try Hugh’s Recipe. It’s the roots, the tradition, and the creativity that appeal to me more than the alcohol. I have a good supply of the necessary roots (for the digging), and spring is nearly here. But there are so many other things to be done in the spring.

Muskrat For Dinner

What, I ask you, would be better with a traditional dandelion & burdock beer than muskrat? 

In the comments section of my previous post, Everett Littlefield, the locally-famous native author of Block Island, related as how him and his brother once roasted a muskrat over an open fire, with the intention of eating it. But it didn't taste very good.

I'm no expert on the subject of cooking muskrat, but I did read my current Agriphemera pdf download from 1926, The Muskrat As A Furbearer: With Notes On Its Use As Food, and  it turns out that muskrats were once sold for food in retail markets in this country. They were labeled as "marsh rabbits," but everyone knew they were muskrats. The old bulletin is downright interesting, and it tells the right way to cook a muskrat.

By the way, I've read Everett's autobiography about growing up on Block Island, and it was a fun read, with some very memorable parts (getting a hatchet stuck in his forehead being the most memorable).

That Reality Show

About a month ago I Posted Here about a possible new reality television show with a Christian-agrarian aspect titled, For God and Country. I don't know if my mention of the show resulted in any responses to the casting call.

I had planned to write a lengthy commentary about the show but I don't have the time, and I really don't have the inclination. I will say that, in response to the show's producer asking me what I thought of the idea, I wrote him the following:

"Since you asked, I don’t think I like what you are doing with the program. I don’t think it is necessary or that it serves a good purpose."

Originally, I was going to supply the password to the Vimeo concept video of the proposed show, so that everyone would have a better idea of what it was about. But the producer changed his mind about that, thinking it might lead to a problem with the Discovery Channel, because the show is still  early in development.

The concept video showed people of differing Christian faiths who have decided to separate from the popular culture. They appear to have a decentralist, agrarian worldview. They are people who believe in limited government, and things like homeschooling, personal responsibility, and individual freedom. In short, they are people who think a lot like me (and maybe you). 

But these kinds of people can easily be misrepresented to mainstream television viewers. For example, one scene may show one of these Christian folk talking with great conviction about how they think the government is wrong to do such-and-such, or require such-and-such and, in so doing, the government is taking away Constitutional freedoms. Then, in the next scene, we see a group of Christians out shooting guns. That's part of what I saw in the concept clip for the show.

Now, there is nothing at all wrong with disagreeing with the government. And every good American should be vigilant about guarding the liberties that our founding fathers gave us in the Constitution. And there is also nothing at all wrong with being well armed, doing some target practicing, and teaching children how to shoot straight and safe. But when you create a television program for the masses and you juxtapose these two scenes, you are feeding into the totally absurd narrative that God-fearing, patriotic Americans are something akin to domestic terrorists. 

If you haven't noticed, America has become a police state, and a police state needs domestic enemies to perpetuate itself. American citizens who do not conform to cultural expectations, Who are hard working and self reliant, who disagree with unjust laws, and who hold to a "literal interpretation of the Constitution" are increasingly being characterized as dangerous threats to the state. 

There was a time in this country when such people were the backbone of a healthy Republic. But now they are looked at with suspicion. Welcome to the new America, where everything that was once good and honorable and commendable is now bad. And anyone who does not accept the warped new morality is an enemy of the state. 

The producer of the program told me that he was sorry I didn't see how this program would do a lot of good by getting the word out about a issues that are important to the country and to many Christian believers. Well, maybe so. I could be totally wrong. But, based on what I saw in the concept video, and based on the media track record of mischaracterizing many Christian believers, under the umbrella of entertainment, for propaganda purposes, I don't think it would be wise to participate in such a television program. 

One of these days, when time permits, I hope to write about Elijah and God's remnant (in the book of Kings, in the Old Testament), and my concept of the "remnant vision" that I think every Christian should have. Hint: the "remnant vision" is not about survival, and God doesn't need a television program to help preserve his Remnant.

Permaculture Orchard

Have you seen the Permaculture Orchard movie? If you are interested in developing a permaculture orchard, I recommend the movie to you. Excellent photography.

One of the surprises in the movie was the use of heavy plastic as a mulch in the mixed plantings. My Four-Day Carrots videos at YouTube have had some derogatory comments about the use of plastic mulch in my garden. I can understand the mindset, as I thought the same way for a long time—decades, actually.

But I had the best garden in 30 years of gardening last year, due largely to the help of plastic mulch. If you have a large garden (or a large orchard) and you do not have the manpower or hours to keep the ground cultivated, plastic is the solution. I'll have more to say about this in an upcoming blog post.

Raspberry How-To

If you are in a raspberry-growing region, you must have some raspberry plants. They are a perennial food source. Plant once, take care of the canes, and you have a perpetual, yearly abundance of berries. Planting time for raspberries is nearly upon us in the northern half of the country. The Raspberry Culture pdf download from 1948 that I have at (pictured above) is a good source of raspberry-growing how-to.

Hungry Deer
The Christian-Agrarian Calling

Dateline: 20 March 2015

(click picture for enlarged view)

After a winter of colder than usual temperatures and heavy snow cover, a bit of spring thaw has opened up some patches of bare ground in the field across from my house. The deer in the picture, are hungry. 
The soil they are browsing was a field of soybeans last year. The farmer who works that land routinely uses herbicides on his crops. So there is little to nothing of any good for the deer to eat in that field. But they are desperate for food. 
Wild deer don’t normally come out in the daytime in such large numbers to feed as they are now. But their need for food is such that they will do what they normally would not do; they will risk exposure and potential harm for the chance to satisfy their hunger.
It is the same for people. When a population of people is hungry, and food is scarce, they will agree to do or accept things they would not otherwise do or accept.
The following quote, from Conquest of the Land Through 7,000 Years, by W.C. Lowdermilk, written around 1946, presents a historical and fundamental understanding about food and civilization that all thinking people need to understand, and always keep in mind…
My experience with famines in China taught me that in the last reckoning all things are purchased with food. This is a hard saying; but the recent world-wide war shows up the terrific reach of this fateful and awful truth. Aggressor nations used the rationing of food to subjugate rebellious peoples of occupied countries. For even you and I will sell our liberty and more for food, when driven to this tragic choice. There is no substitute for food.
Seeing what we will give up for food, let us look at what food will buy—for money is merely a symbol, a convenience in the exchange of the goods and services that we need and want. Food buys our division of labor that begets our civilization.
Not until tillers of soil grew more food than they themselves required were their fellows released to do other tasks than the growing of food—that is, to take part in a division of labor that became more complex with the advance of civilization.
True, we have need of clothing, of shelter, and of other goods and services made possible by a complex division of labor, founded on this food production, when suitable raw materials are at hand. And of these the genius of the American people has given us more than any other nation ever possessed. They comprise our American standard of living. But these other good things matter little to hungry people as I have seen in the terrible scourges of famine.
Food comes from the earth. The land with its waters gives us nourishment. The earth rewards richly the knowing and diligent but punishes inexorably the ignorant and slothful. This partnership of land and farmer is the rock foundation of our complex social structure.

Food is fundamental to life. Food is fundamental to all economies. Food is fundamental to freedom. Any person who does not grow their own food—who depends on other people to do it for them—does not have the individual capacity for sustaining their life and freedom. 
Can a civilization consisting of such people, who are totally dependent on a centralized, and increasingly complex system of food production and distribution, survive a serious national or sectional crisis that would inevitably lead to a partial or total breakdown in the supply of food? 
The answer should be obvious.
America is a land of relatively rich soils. No man, no family, need be dependent on the centralized food oligopoly to provide every morsel of the food that sustains their life. Yet, the overwhelming majority of Americans want nothing to do with the hard work of growing a significant portion of their own food.
This sad state of affairs is, amazingly, even the case with most people who call themselves Christians. I say amazingly because gardening and the growing of food is clearly fundamental to biblical Christianity.
I don’t know how it is with other religions of the world, but as a Christian, I can tell you that, according to the biblical mandate provided in Genesis, the work of growing food should be a fundamental part of the Christian life.
It was God himself who planted the first garden in Genesis 2:8: “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.”
Then, in Genesis 2:15 : “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden.”
Later on, after the flood, in Genesis 9:20 we find Noah reestablishing the fundamental calling of all people: “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard.”
Please note that Noah did not go and establish a city. His rebellious progeny did that later on.  Noah, who we are told in Genesis 6:9 “walked faithfully with God” did not aspire to anything beyond the fundamental calling of a husbandman. Also, Adam and Noah were not large-scale farmers.  gardening and husbandry are both pursuits that imply small-scale, hands-on work.
Here is where I need to make it clear that I’m not asserting in any way that the growing of one’s food is central to Christianity. Not hardly. Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection are the central focus of the entire Bible (starting in Genesis), and of true Christianity. Jesus is the wellspring of the faith. 
The point I'm making is that God created a proper order for his creation. Every part of His created order has an appointed role. Mankind’s role is to husband the earth, which means to be involved in the work of responsible agriculture, and the Christian’s role is to glorify God in this work. 
The work of agriculture is certainly not central to Christianity, but I’m persuaded that it is fundamental to a proper expression of the faith.
What I’ve just attempted to elucidate (once again) is the Biblical-agrarian worldview. It is alien to the modernized Christian mindset. But when properly understood, I think it brings a clarity to the Christian life that is otherwise lacking in the midst of our techno-industrial era.
America faces a very uncertain future because, in part, Americans have distanced themselves from their place in God’s created order. They have distanced themselves from the work of providing their own food. And a great many Christians, who are called to be separate from the ungodly culture about them, have adopted the same way of life. 

All actions have consequences. Galatians 6:7 comes to mind:
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
From a different point of view, I would add that those who do not, as a way of life, sow for themselves, may one day go hungry.

Shortly after posting this blog, I took this picture. Click for an enlarged view and you will more clearly see the deer. I don't recall ever having a deer right in my back yard. The picture was taken from the patio door of our house.  My small orchard is in the field in the distance. I'm concerned about my trees.

March Update

Dateline: 16 March 2015

Well, I picked The Lovely Marlene up at the airport in Syracuse last Wednesday. After nine days of relaxation and sunshine at her sister's place in Arizona, her skin had a healthy glow, and she was all smiles. 

Unfortunately, I was on the verger of a hellacious cold, and have been dealing with that ever since. It's the usual achy-head-runny-nose-sore-throat-coughing-continually kind of cold. I seem to go trough a significantly uncomfortable bout of some viral thing once a year. Last year in January It Was The Flu. Thankfully, this cold is not equivalent to that flu (I have not heard the Gaelic war drums—nor the pipes).

My remodeling project in the upstairs remains to be finished. I have plugged away at it since Marlene's return. It will get done, little by slow, in the next week or two, after so many years, and it will be a very good thing.

That picture (above) of the Maine Farmer's Almanac of 1845 shows something kind of neat. The page was torn and carefully sewn back together. It was torn again, later on, and that part is missing. But the original stitched repair is holding very well, 170 years later.

A farm almanac was an important part every rural household back in those days. There were no wall calendars, like we have now, and the almanac was continually referenced throughout the year. These little publications were somewhat cherished, and I think that excellent stitching work, probably done by the farmer's wife, if not the farmer himself, gives us a clue about how cherished they were. Click on the picture to see an enlarged view of the old handiwork.

As I've mentioned here in the past, I am fond of the Farmer's Calendar essays in those old almanacs because many of them reveal something about the Christian-agrarian worldview that was a dominant factor in the "agrarian nation" America once was. The following Farmer's Calendar excerpt is an excellent example of this. If you did not know it was from the Maine Farmer's Almanac of 1865, you might think you were reading something written by the likes of Wendell Berry...

Let no one think meanly of an economical habit, but rather let every one esteem it a Christian virtue worthy of a high place in the Christian character. Indeed it is one of the results of uprightness of heart, for only the unfaithful steward wastes his Master’s goods. True there are those who advise economy because it favors the accumulation of riches, and these judge rightly of the means to the end; for most men become wealthy rather by what they save than by what they earn. But there is for the practice of this virtue a higher reason, which rests upon the fact that we ought to use carefully what we have as choice gifts from the Creator. The products of the field, the mine, and the ocean, are gifts to us; and he who wastes them robs mankind, and hence thwarts the beneficent Being working for our good. Moreover, He sets us the highest examples of economy; for in all His works He never wastes a single particle of matter. Though He has ample material for framing worlds, there is not so much unused as will feed the tiniest mite; so that in His works as in His Word, he commands to gather up the fragments that nothing be lost.

For those who are interested, I am hoping to have the April Farmer's Calendar essays from 1825 to 1900 compiled sometime in April (and it will be available at The work of farming and farm life really starts to pick up in April, and this is reflected in the essays for that  month.

Also, Planning a Subsistence Homestead, a 1934 Farmer's Bulletin reprint, is the current reprint being offered at Agriphemera. The next reprint, coming out later this week, is Raspberry Culture, a bulletin reprint from 1948. It is an excellent resource, and will be available for only $1.00 for the first four days (as is the case with all pdf downloads).

I have much to write about here. Gardening is, of course, on my mind, though the actual work of gardening in Central New York State is still some ways off. I will write about using plastic in the garden. Last year I used plastic mulch for the first time in my life.

But I don't think I will be blogging for the rest of this week. There is the remodeling project to tend to, and tax time is nearing.

Speaking of which, I got an e-mail from the NY State department of taxation informing me that I must now file my annual sales tax form online (it's due this week). If I do not file the form online, I may be in violation of the law. The e-mail then tells me that I can not reply to it, because no one will get it. This is a small, but powerfully annoying, example of modern bureaucratic tyranny. 

Have a great week.....

Rambling Thoughts,
And The Fall Of America

Dateline: 10 March 2015

And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. —Genesis 11:4

The Lovely Marlene is in Arizona, visiting her sister for nine days. I am home alone, doing what I always do… taking care of business and trying to finish some things, before I start some other things. 

One thing I really wanted to get done while I’m here alone is a little remodeling project in the upstairs hallway. It is a project that Marlene has been wanting me to do for years. Literally. So I’m into it, with clutter and mess everywhere. 

Carpentry and remodeling is what I used to do for a living. I know what has to be done, and I have the skills to do it. But I no longer have the physical capacity to do the work as quickly and efficiently as I once did it. So, unfortunately, the job is not going to be done before my wife comes home. But the worst of it will be over. And that will be a very good thing.

As I’m working along I am listening to my usual economic programs. A particularly good one was Chris Martinson’s recent interview with Grant Williams (Click Here to Listen). The short version is that the economy is broke and it’s gonna get a whole lot worse before it gets… different (“better” doesn’t seem like the right word). But you know that already, right? 

And, of course, I listened to Scott Terry’s weekly Christian Home and Farmstead Radio program. Scott says that his program is “the voice of the covenantal agrarian resistance.” Well, indeed it is, and Scott does a fine job with the program. 

I also listened to This Online Interview with Scott Terry (it starts at 10:50 into the recording). It’s an excellent interview, and Scott explains what “covenantal agrarian resistance” is. 

Another program that I wouldn’t miss is my daily dose of Kevin Swanson’s Generations With Vision. Yesterday’s Program was particularly good, for a number of reasons. First, the shows now start with “The Worldview in Five Minutes,” which is a daily five-minute news report with a purely Christian worldview. I don't think you've heard the news like this before.

Yesterday’s Generations program also mentioned that there is a town in Florida that's now requiring churches to obtain licenses…and pay for them. That’s crazy, but it is yet another symptom of a much larger problem. Mark my words, taxation of churches is coming. 

As the economy worsens, the government will find more and more ways to extract wealth from previously untapped sources. What better way to get a lot of money than to tax churches? We are, after all, no longer a Christian nation. We are an apostate nation. America has gone from being a Christian nation, to a post-Christian nation, to an anti-Christian nation. The majority of people in this country will see no problem with taxing churches. 

Personally, I’m more and more convinced that the Amish have a better idea about church. They have no church buildings. Church is held every two weeks in a different home. There are no mega-churches. If the congregation gets too big, they divide into two fellowships. 

And I’ll bet that none of those Amish home-fellowship churches are registered with the government as IRS-approved 501(c) corporations, which is to say… government approved churches. I never have been, and never will be, a member of a 501(c) church.

Kevin Swanson also spoke about the Obama administration's new push to take over local law enforcement. The federal government has now taken over education, the health care system, and the internet. They have almost total surveillance capability. And the mainstream media has become an agent of government propaganda and manipulation like never before.

We are witnessing an accelerated grab for more and more centralized control over all aspects of life and culture. It is a wicked Babylonian system going into overdrive. Anyone who does not comply with government decrees and secular/cultural norms will pay a price. The rule of law is crumbling. Our borders are no longer secure. Freedom of speech and assembly do not apply to dissenters. 

Welcome to the new America of the 21st century. Everywhere you look (if you have the eyes to see) this country is falling apart.

And (back to yesterday’s Generations radio program) Kevin Swanson responded to a Huffington Post article asserting that America was never a Christian nation. His discussion of that subject alone is worth listening to. 

Yes, Diesm and Unitarianism surged in America, but not until after 1800. America was founded decades before that by men who held to a sound and solid Biblical worldview. The foundations of the American Republic are based on Biblical law. That is an inconvenient truth that must be distorted and disputed by the propaganda masters.

We are on the cusp of an epic transition period in the history of this nation and the world. The economic situation currently unfolding is unprecedented. The challenges to America’s Constitutional form of government are unprecedented. 

Every institution that is built on the pride, and wisdom, and ability of mere men will fail, and fail miserably. I believe it’s a done deal. America has crossed the Rubicon. 

But will the fall of the great American Babylon, be all bad? 

I don’t think so. 

One thing is for sure... King Solomon (the wisest man who ever lived) summed everything up pretty well in the end of his fine little Book of Ecclesiastes:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.”  —Ecclesiastes12:13

Do the centralized forces of power and influence in America fear God? 

No. Not at all. 

But I sure do.

If I ever get this remodeling work done, I hope to write more about this subject. Stay tuned.

The Farmer's Calendar Project
1825 to 1900
(getting started)

Dateline: 6 March 2015

This is a picture of the March calendar page in the Maine Farmer's Almanac of 1870. The Farmer's Calendar essay is on the right side of the right page. If you click on the picture, you should get an enlarged view that is readable. Or, you can read a transcribed version of the essay in the MARCH compilation of my "Farmer's Calendar Project: 1825 to 1900"

It has been on my mind for the past five or six years to transcribe and publish a compilation of monthly "Farmer's Calendar" essays from my collection of 19th century New England farm almanacs. I did this to some degree back in 2011 when I posted numerous Farmer's Calendar excerpts at the Agrarian Nation web site. Reader response to the excerpts was very positive, but the idea of assembling a more complete, month-by-month collection of these almost-lost writings seems like a better approach. 

With that in mind, I've spent the last couple of weeks working to assemble 68 Farmer's Calendar almanac essays that were originally published between the years 1825 and 1900. All of these essays were for the month of March, which is, of course, the month we are now in.

These monthly essays, written for the farmers of pre-grid America, are a multi-faceted resource for better understanding the agrarian culture of that era. The collected essays for March contain some how-to information (for example, you will learn exactly how to treat an inflamed cow udder to prevent garget and "the loss of glands"—without modern medications), but reading them is more of a historical investigation into a way of life that is now virtually extinct. 

If you are the kind of person who enjoys visiting living history museums (as I do), and you are curious to learn more about how common rural people used to think and live in the the 1800's, you will appreciate this new resource.

The Farmer's Calendar excerpts for March are now available as a PDF download at The download is selling for only a dollar, but that reduced price is only in effect  until next Monday (March 9th). CLICK HERE to learn more. 

Also, while you are at, be sure to check out the many old how-to downloads that will be available in the coming months. I'll start offering them next week, beginning with "Dressing And Packing Turkeys For Market." All new downloads will sell for only a dollar for the first four days after they are introduced.

It is not my intention to post here about every new download I bring to Therefore, if you have an interest in any of the upcoming products, be sure to sign up at the web site to get e-mail notices when new products are introduced.

The one exception I'll make is when the capon downloads go on sale. I've been fascinated with capons for a long time and have some great how-to caponizing resources for understanding and learning this important homestead skill from days gone by.

This intriguing picture, from the
"Beuoy Bow Capon Book"
of 1917 will be part of a future
Agriphemera pdf download.
Click the picture for a larger view.