Kimball Wedding #1
For 2015

Dateline: 31 May 2015

Mother and Father of the Groom

James, my youngest son, was married yesterday. It was a perfectly enjoyable country wedding, on a lovely sunny day, and proof positive that a wonderful wedding can be had without spending a small fortune. 

The ceremony and reception were held at an old, barn-like building known as the Venice Pavilion, in Venice, NY, about a half hour from our house. This next picture gives you an idea of how big the inside of the building is...

Here's a picture from the wedding ceremony, showing the ring bearer (brides nephew, three years old, with his father) delivering the rings...

This next picture shows James and Bekah (my new daughter-in-law) after the ceremony...

James, with some of his friends and his two brothers (in white shirts) after the wedding ...

A picture of other friends who attended (notice the wholesome glow and happy smiles of these farm-raised young folks)...

Pastor Tom Rofe of Dresserville Baptist Church, and his wife Apphia, filled out the official paperwork after the ceremony. The two of them gave several sessions of pre-marital counseling to James and Bekah (for which Marlene and I are very appreciative)....

James did not have a best man and asked me to give the official toast. I gave a short, prepared speech on the subject of love, as defined by God, then the toast. 

Giving short speeches is not easy when you are an introvert, but Marlene told me I did well, and I got several compliments (even from some of the younger, unmarried folk), so that was a relief. 

I have no picture of me giving the speech, but I have this one (next) of me talking to a man (Mr. Foster) who I never met until yesterday. He was familiar with my chicken plucker and some online writings. When he asked about the Classic American clothespins I make, I happened to have one, and gave it to him. He has some black raspberry plants for me whenever I'm ready for them. 

The unofficial Kimball family wedding portrait...

The official photographer for this wedding (we haven't yet seen any of the pictures) was my future daughter in law, Danielle. She and my son, Robert, are to be married in August. I took this over-the shoulder picture of Danielle at work during yesterday's ceremony...

The following picture is one I took and happen to like a lot. It is a friend, Rob Adsitt, taking a picture of the wedding cake before the wedding....

James and Bekah will be living in our "extra" house just down the road. They've worked at painting and fixing up the inside to make it nice. Last night, they entertained a LOT of friends at the house. Marlene and I kept our distance. 

This morning the happy newlyweds went to breakfast at the small-town diner Bekah's parents own, and where both of them (the newlyweds) work. Then they stopped in to visit Marlene and I before borrowing our car and taking off to the Adirondacks for a short honeymoon. 

It's all good.


P.S. The oddest moment of the day was when a woman came up to me and asked what church I pastored. That was a first.

True No-Till Market Gardening
($100,000 An Acre Income)

Dateline: 26 May 2015

Paul Kaiser appears to be doing something remarkable with his market garden micro farm in Sebastopol, California. Here's a quote from This Online Article....

Last year, Kaiser’s Sonoma County farm grossed more than $100,000 an acre, which is 10 times the average, per-acre income of comparable California farms. This includes Sonoma’s legendary vineyards, which have been overtaking farmland for decades, largely because wine grapes have become much more lucrative these days than food, at least the way most farmers grow it.
Kaiser manages all of this without plowing an inch of his ground, without doing any weeding, and without using any sprays—either chemical or organic. 

I learned about Paul Kaiser's unique farming methods from This Interview. His web site is At This Link.
An interesting part of Paul Kaiser's farming system is the use of occultation covers, much like Jean-Martin Fortier uses in Quebec. But instead of referring to the material as black plastic, he calls it "black fabric." 

My First Big
Entrepreneurial Venture

Dateline: 24 May 2015

Seven years ago, when I turned 50, I posted a 20-part series to this blog titled "Getting Started & Finding My Way." In Part 17 of the series I told the story of receiving $4,000 from my grandmother back in 1978 (when I was 20 years old).

When I plug that number into an online inflation calculator, it reveals that $4,000 in 1978 had the buying power of $14,500 in 2015 dollars. It was a lot of money, especially for me at that time in my life.

Having grown up in a family that always struggled to keep the bills paid (and often didn't keep them paid), and having just worked 10 months on a dairy farm to earn enough money to buy my first car (and pay the insurance), I knew the value of a dollar, and I knew that I wasn't about to waste the money my grandmother blessed me with.

One of the things I did with the money (as explained in Part 17 of my series) was use it to start my first "big" entrepreneurial venture, which was a chimney cleaning business. The advertisement shown above was my first. I put in the local Pennysaver newspaper. I made the advertisement myself, which should be pretty obvious. Remember, there were no personal computers back then. 

You'll note from the advertisement that I was "EXPERIENCED." It wasn't a lie. I had cleaned exactly two chimneys with my new chimney cleaning equipment, both of which were on my parent's house. This next picture is a Polaroid of me on my parent's roof. 

I worked hard at my new business. I cleaned a lot of chimneys over the course of several years. Though I never made a lot of money with the business I easily recouped my initial investment and earned a decent amount for that time in my life. 

It was, however, the learning experience of the endeavor that was most valuable to me. I learned that I was capable of making at least some money on my own by being brave, and bold, and enterprising. I also learned that I liked the freedom of self employment.

But I didn't just clean chimneys to make money during this time of my life. I also attempted to make money by self-publishing and selling a brochure for homeowners about chimney cleaning...

It was a simple trifold brochure. Lacking computer capabilities, I used rub-on lettering for the cover and careful hand lettering for the interior text. It was a sad looking, totally-amateur production, but I was pleased with the finished product and had high hopes for it.

I figured that every hardware store in the country would want to make the brochure available to their customers. So I sent a sample and pricing to over a hundred stores.

I got the addresses by perusing the yellow pages of phone books from throughout the nation. The phone books were in the periodical room of the library in a nearby city. 

This brochure idea was actually my second attempt at making money by self-publishing and mail order (I wrote about my first mail-order scheme HERE). Amazingly, one hardware store manager actually bought some brochures from me. And that was the end of that great idea.

The dream of self-publishing and having a mail order business never left me. There were other attempts and failures over the years. And then, come 2002, I finally found a measure of success when I self-published 100 copies of my book, Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker.

As many of you reading this know, the Whizbang plucker plan book was the beginning of a home-based mail order business that grew, evolved into Planet Whizbang, and has allowed me to break free from the wage slavery of a state prison job.

It's a good story. From my perspective, there is a sweet satisfaction in finally achieving my early dream. And There are important lessons in my story, especially if you are a young person...

For example, you are capable of making at least some money on your own, by being brave and bold and enterprising. Learn from your failures, but don't let your failures or shortcomings deter you from your dreams. 

If my modest example of persistence and success inspires you, then this little post will have served its intended purpose.

Clyde R. Kennedy

Dateline: 23 May 2015

Uncle Clyde & Aunt Dawn in 1958
(click picture for enlarged view)

Back in my July 2010 Blogazine I told about my Uncle Clyde Kennedy's new book, The Hard Surface Road: A Memoir of the Great Depression. It is the hardscrabble story of how one family, hard hit by economic devastation, managed to survive. The book begins as follows:

The stubborn pace of time cannot erase from my mind how fate, in one of its bleakest forms, set our family adrift in the throes of the Great Depression. Born on the first of January in 1923, I was seven years old when the Roaring Twenties curled up and died. Dad lost his job, the bank foreclosed on our mortgaged house, and our good life vanished like a dream at sunrise. Dad's brute strength, craving for work, and devotion to Mom kept our heads above water as we battled those cruel hard times. I wonder, though, what in the world would have become of us boys had it not been for our indomitable mother, who stood at the helm with her trust in the Lord.

The Grapes of Wrath, a famous novel of Depression-era hardship, won John Steinbeck the Pulitzer Prize. But that was just a novel, written by a man who did not personally experience the worst of Depression-era depravity. Clyde Kennedy's Hard Surface Road is, however, a firsthand account by a man who could never forget the reality of those days. As such, I believe it is a remarkable historical document.

The setting is Southeastern Ohio coal country, where Clyde's family on his father's side were moonshiners and Klansmen (he once told me his grandmother Kennedy was "a truly evil woman"—and the book gives some insights into that sentiment). 

I wish that Uncle Clyde's book was a little more affordable, but it is a self-published book. You can go to the Amazon link above and start reading with the "Look Inside" feature. 

Uncle Clyde passed away on March 1st of this year. You can Read His Obituary Here.

The picture above shows Uncle Clyde and Aunt Dawn (my mother's sister) in August of 1958. It was taken at my Grandmother Kimball's camp on Cross Lake in northern Maine. My mother took the picture. I would have been 7 months old at the time, and I'm sure I was there.

I remember the bear rug, though not particularly well. My best memories of that wonderful place are from when I was into grade school age, and by then the bear rug was gone.

My Old Roofing Hammer

Dateline: 22 May 2015

The weather has turned cooler here, which means it is an opportune time to shingle my roof. I tore off the old shingles (28 years old) and put tar paper on a few weeks ago.

This is only my first section of roof to do. There are three more sections after this one is finished. Total area to cover is 13 square (1,300 square feet). It will be a year-long project, as I have the time and energy to get it done. It might take two years.

You can tell I am something of an old timer by the fact that I'm hand-nailing the shingles. Most roofers now use a pneumatic nailer to get the job done quick. I've used pneumatic roofing guns in the past, but I'm not interested in getting the job done quick. Those days are behind me. The fact is, I happen to like nailing shingles by hand.

The hammer in the picture is one I bought back in 1979. The first contractor I worked for used such a hammer to hand-nail asphalt shingles. I got a lot of experience using it, and now I can't imagine not using it.

I've worked with several other people doing roofing over the years and none of them used such a hammer. 

The beauty of the roofing hammer is that, if used properly, it ensures perfectly straight rows of shingles. Start with a straight row, laid to a chalk line, and use the hammer to gauge the exposure of every shingle and row from there. 

I'm pretty certain the hammer was made for roofing with wood shingles (aka, "shakes"). The hatchet end would have been sharpened and used to split and shape shakes as needed. But the adjustable exposure-gauge works just as well with the modern Asphalt shingles I'm now using. In fact, the hammer has a maximum exposure setting of 5-5/8" which is exactly what the manufacturer of my shingles recommends.

When I (and my partner, Steve) had a home remodeling business, it was named, Bestbuilt Construction ("A company committed to excellence"). As I was working on my roof yesterday I thought to myself that if I were to go into the roofing business now, I'd have to name it Old Turtle Roofing. And the tagline might be, "Slow but sure."

My New Bee Hotel

Dateline: 21 May 2015

Bee hotel in foreground.
Bird house on a hops trellis pole in the background.
Bird on electric wire (click to see enlarged view)

I finally got around to building a bee hotel for my garden. That's it in the picture above. I made it with recycled pallet wood. It is mounted on top of a T-Post with a T-post platform (as explained on page 27-29 of my Idea Book For Gardeners).

You can learn more about bee hotels At This Link

Elimination of Cash?

Dateline: 20 May 2015

I mentioned Martin Armstrong here awhile back. His daily commentaries continue to set him apart in the world of alternative economic analysis and commentary. I'm sure he is not entirely correct in his analysis. No economic commentator ever is. But he has such a good a good grasp of history and current events that I'm powerfully intrigued by his future predictions.

Martin Armstrong's recent essay ( a short one) on the coming elimination of cash really got my attention. I'm seeing other articles on the internet about this too.

The elimination of cash and cash transactions does not in any way, shape or form benefit the citizenry of this nation. It only benefits government and the financial institutions. Here are three reasons why (from the viewpoint of the controlling elites) cash must be eliminated ....

1. Cash allows privacy in personal financial transactions. Privacy can not to be tolerated in a surveillance police state, which is exactly what America has become.

2. The elimination of cash and cash transactions in a surveillance police state means the government will be able to extract more money through taxation.

3. Many people are, evidently, saving cash (the government calls it "hoarding"). This is a normal human response to an increasingly unstable economy and uncertain economic future. If the use of cash is eliminated, enormous amounts of cash would return to the banks or be spent (while it still has some worth). This would benefit the banking industry and the economy.

Seeing as less and less people use cash anyway these days, and cash is so often associated with illegal activities, it's not hard to see that there will be a great many Americans who will support the elimination of cash. 

I wouldn't be surprised if the specter of terrorism (and fear mongering) are somehow utilized in a government sponsored propaganda campaign to condition the population to accept the elimination of cash. 

In the final analysis, many Americans are of the mind that if a new law doesn't affect them, then it's okay. But, as Frederick Douglas so famously said: "No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck."

Which brings to mind the famous quote by Pastor Martin Neimoller.

11-Day Parsnips

Dateline: 19 May 2015

(click picture for closer view)

Another short post....

 This Web Page About Growing Parsnips says you can normally wait a month for the seed to germinate.

That being the case, I wondered if the shade discs I used for tri-growing carrots (and getting carrot seeds to sprout quickly) might hasten the germination of parsnip seeds too.

Well, the picture above was taken 11 days after planting!

This is my first year to grow parsnips. I'm excited to be off to such a good start.

Tri-growing of carrots is in my Garden Idea Book (on page 87) and in my YouTube video series titled "Four Day Carrots."

First Spinach

Dateline: 18 May 2015

Spinach thinnings. Washed and dried.
(click for larger view)

Short post. Life is busy....

The first spinach of the season (pictured above) came from thinning one row of the spinach-planted bed I blogged about HERE

Fresh. Sweet. Delicious.

Pruning Grape Vines

Dateline: 13 May 2015

The Finger Lakes Region of New York (where I live) has numerous vineyards and wineries. In fact, there are currently well over 100 wineries in this area. These wineries and the tourism that they generate, are a big part of the agricultural economy.

But it's interesting to note that when I was growing up here in the 1970's, there were almost no wineries. What changed? Well, the change came about because New York State passed a Farm Winery Act in 1976. The new law allowed wineries to sell directly to the public.  

Imagine that! One of the most government-regulated states in the nation changed the law to allow more freedom and free enterprise. 

While many of the wineries that have sprouted up around here in recent decades are large and showy, a lot of them are very small, home operations. Chateau Dusseau is one local example.  Bob and Steve Dusseau grew up here in Moravia (they are around my age) and their aspiring winery is on a lonely country road.

Personally, I'm not a wine drinker. But I sure do enjoy a glass of homemade Concord grape juice, and my one row of grape vines have produced many such glasses of enjoyment. But, truth be told, I have neglected to prune my vines for the past two years. As a result, they became a dense tangle, and have not produced much of a crop. 

So it was that Futureman (my grandson) and I finally got around to pruning away all the superfluous grape vegetation a couple weeks ago. Actually, I did all the pruning, and most of the picking up, while Futureman played on the tractor and wagon. It was a good time for both of us.

Noam Chomsky
On Wage Slavery

12 May 2015

Noam Chomsky

Wage slavery is the accepted cultural expectation in America. But this has not always been the case. In the first few minutes of This Interview of Noam Chomsky he explains how the industrial revolution in 19th century America drove the farming class into wage slavery. What I found most interesting was Chomsky's assertion that the people of that time understood industrialism to be an attack on their freedom and their rich cultural lifestyle.

Noam Chomsky is a remarkably intelligent man. And he is an anarchist. 

I'm not an anarchist, and I don't think that Noam Chomsky is always right. You can be remarkably intelligent and wrong in your conclusions. Nevertheless, Chomsky is a brave voice in the midst of an imperialist nation that is now quickly slipping into a condition of ever-greater domestic tyranny.

The man interviewing Noam Chomsky at the above link is Chris Hedges. He is another very intelligent man and, near as I can tell, he is a Socialist.

I am not a Socialist. But I find Chris Hedges to be another brave voice, and I have listened to many of his online talks at YouTube over the years. Though I disagree with Hedges in some ways, I greatly respect his perspective and his opinion.

If you have never heard Chris Hedges, check out This  excellent YouTube interview with Alex Jones from a few years ago. I was surprised that he was on the Alex Jones show. Just do a YouTube search from there for more of Chris Hedges.

What intrigues me about Socialists and Anarchists, like Hedges and Chomsky, is that they do not buy into the obfuscation perpetrated by the Republican-Democrat political paradigm. They don't follow in lock step, thinking and acting as the media manipulators so skillfully direct the masses to think and act. They are equally critical of both political parties, and the statist agenda. They understand and chastise the corporate-capitalist takeover of American government. In other words, they see many of the true problems with America more clearly than most.

Unfortunately, though they can see many of America's problems more clearly than most, I do not think (as far as I've been able to understand thus far) that they grasp the best solutions. But that is something to discuss another day...

Scott Nearing
On Wage Slavery

Dateline: 11 May 2015

I've written here in the past about Helen & Scott Nearing. I have nothing more to add to what I said. But I recently watched This 3-minute YouTube Clip of Scott talking about wage slavery and the "good life." It's worth watching.

The Weed-Free
Garlic Bed
(Using Plastic Mulch)

Dateline: 8 May 2015
(click pictures to see enlarged views)

If you click on the above picture and look closely you will see something remarkable. The yellow arrows point to two garlic plants that speared their way through a layer of plastic mulch

Last fall, for the first time ever, I put plastic mulch over my garlic bed, marked out the planting spaces, cut the plastic with an X, and planted a clove into each X. The plastic cover shifted over the winter, so that many of the openings were not in line with the emerging garlic plants. But the growing tips made their own hole in the plastic.

It was kind of tedious planting garlic cloves in a plastic-mulched garden bed, but I wanted to have a garlic bed that I didn't have to do any weeding in.  Next year, however, I may just plant the bed, then cover it with plastic. Each growing garlic can make it's own hole, and I will just cut it a little bigger once spring comes.

In years past, when I grew a LOT of garlic, I used many bales of straw for mulch. But straw is surprisingly expensive these days, and much of the straw now has herbicide in it. I found that out the hard way one year when I used it to mulch some tomato plants.

So the black plastic (with a little old straw over the top of the plastic—mostly for appearance) will do fine now. This next picture shows the garlic bed in early spring. You can hardly see the young garlic plants in the fluffed up straw...

But, before long, the garlic plants are up and showing themselves, as you can see in this next picture. They will fill the bed nicely.

Garlic does not tolerate weed competition. If you don't keep the weeds down, you will have a very disappointing harvest. Commercial garlic growers typically use herbicides to keep weeds under control. Black plastic will do for me.


Speaking of plastic for mulch, check out This Article From Growing For Market, wherein Jean-Martin Fortier reveals the six best tools for the market garden. Plastic mulch is one of the tools.

My System
For Planting Raised Beds

Dateline: 7 May 2015
(click pictures to see larger views)

This blog post is the third in a three-part series about raised garden beds. The first post explained my Step-By-Step Way of Making Simple Raised Garden Beds. The second post showed a Novel New Way To Secure Plastic Mulch Over And Next To Garden Beds. Now it's time to take a look at one technique I use for planting in the raised beds. This next picture shows the already formed example beds in my garden. They are ready to plant...

I am going to plant three rows of spinach in the 30" wide bed. I should have planted four rows. That's what Jean-Martin Fortier does in his 30" wide beds. Next time I will plant four rows. I mark out the rows with a stake at each end and a string line, starting with the center row...

With the string line in place as a guide, I then use my homemade furrow compressor to compress the soil in the row, as you can see in the next picture. This furrow compressor is discussed on page 84 of my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners.

Seeds planted in a compressed furrow will get off to a better start because the compressed soil will allow capillary flow of subsoil moisture to reach the seeds. If I scratched a furrow in the soil, the seeds would not have good access to subsoil moisture until the soil in the bed naturally settled over time.

These compressed furrow rows are fairly deep because the soil was particularly soft. Please note in this next picture that I do not tie the string line to the stake on both ends. One end is held with a small spring clamp. If I had to tie and untie the line every time I stretched it between the stakes, it would be  more tedious and time consuming.

This bed will be planted with Space spinach from Johnny's. I have planted Space before and it grows well of me...

I pour some spinach seeds into the palm of my left hand....

Look closely in this next picture and you will see the seeds in the bottom of the furrow. I take pinches of seeds with my right forefinger and thumb, and plant them fairly thickly in the furrow...

Because the furrow is deeper than needed for spinach seeds, I don't fill it completely. I simply pull a little soil from the edges over the seeds...

Once the seeds are covered, I take the furrow compressor and firm the soil down along the furrow...

Then I water the planted seeds. I do not water the entire bed. Were I to do that, I would be watering all the weed seeds in the bed. The weed seeds will eventually sprout and grow but that eventuality will be delayed by lack of water from above and below (capillary subsoil moisture). Also, seeds do not sprout and grow so readily in the soil that is still light and fluffy.

This next picture shows three planted and watered rows in the bed...

And, finally, I label the bed, including the date of planting...

This next picture shows the same bed of spinach a couple weeks after planting. Just before snapping the picture, I cultivated the bed, using a Whizbang Pocket Cultivator. There were no visible weeds in the bed but there were a few sprouted weed seeds under the surface. The Whizbang Pocket Cultivator is my hands-down favorite tool for keeping my garden beds free of weeds. I tell how to make your own pocket cultivator on page 69 of my Garden Idea Book.

And here is a close up of the beautiful spinach seedlings...

Onion Addendum...

Several people who have seen my onion beds in My YouTube Videos have commented on the size and vitality of the onions. Onions grow very well for me and I plant them in the beds much the same as I plant spinach seeds, using the furrow compressor and three rows, as this next picture shows...

I plant Copra onions and get the sets from Dixondale Farms. Copra is a remarkable onion. It tastes great and the cured onions keep very well through the winter into spring. My wife says I should grow 365 onions—one for each day of the year. So I grow three beds with around 120 onions in each. Close enough. They are planted 4.25" apart in the rows. 

This next picture shows the Copra onions part way through the season, before they start to get really big. I cultivate and weed the beds a few times through the season. Again, my favorite tool for this is my homemade pocket cultivator. If the weeds get ahead of me, I pick them by hand (but I rarely let them get ahead of me).

This next picture shows a homemade Whizbang garden tote with some Copra onions. Directions for making the tote are on page 37 of my Garden Idea Book.