Monday, January 31, 2005

The F-Word

In todays sophisticated world of Agri-business the word word Farmer has become a dirty word. In these enlightened times we are now supposed to be called "producers". Yes thats right, Milk producer, Corn producer, and so on and so forth. Now I for one am not ready to trade in my title of Farmer for some meaningless economic term that the global capitalist elite want to pin on my bib overalls. The two words mean different things. A "producer" just produces stuff. He has no moral code which he operates by. It is just a cold, drab economic term that has its place.........but its place isn't describing me and what I do. I am a farmer, and I'm pretty proud of that. Farmers are more than producers. Farmers are stewards of God's wonderful creation. We inherit land and pass it on to our children and they to theirs. We have a vested interest in the land. The farmer's most important crop is their children. Farmers actually like their animals. A farmer's cows have names, those who proudly call themselves "producers" own cattle who have numbers. A farmer can have you point out a cow in the field and then tell you about her mother, grandmother, how much milk she gave last year, what bull he chose to breed her to and why. A "producer" will squint to read the ear tag and say " that's # 5679, I think shes a two year old." "Producers" tend to be glorified pencil pushers who drive around in brand new trucks with a cell phone and a walky-talky strapped to their hip. They can't really do anything, that's why they hire so much help. A real farmer is a vet, nutritionist, plumber, mechanic, welder, accountant, horticulturist, electrician, and a host of other things. No sir, I'm not ready to throw out the time honored title of Farmer. The next time you are talking about me......Feel free to call me the F-word.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Shoot the Rooster, Buy an Alarm Clock

I suppose my hectic week finally caught up with me. I get up at 2:30 AM, and if I don't.... Things just don't get done. On the Lord's Day it is even more important because I have to do the whole days work before 8:30 or so. We have to leave by 9:00 and the church is about 30 miles from the farm. This morning I woke up and looked at the clock.............OH the horror......5:15Am and all ain't well. I was milking by 6:00 and usually I'm done by then. Just when I thought I was gonna pull it off..........yep you know, the barn cleaner broke. I finally Got the barn cleaned by 10:30 and still had to feed hay and bed the milk cows. I sent the wife and kids to church and I had to stay home. I hate missing the Worship service. It dose not happen often, but when your farming; sometimes it can't be helped. I often wonder what it would be like to roll out of bed Sunday morning and lazily prepare for church. God made me a herdsman, so I don't think I'll ever know what its like. I made the best of a bad situation. First I listened to a Wilkins sermon, which was a free gift from the fine folks at Southern and Reformed Books. It was actually a whole church service on tape, very good sermon. Then I listened to the Psalms being sung for the remainder of my chores. It was a heat wave today, 30 above! I hope it stays warm for a few days. I've got alot of work to catch up on.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Agrarian Foundation

While clicking links on Chad's Blog , I came across this wonderful website. The Agrarian Fondation must be checked out by anyone who is interested in devoloping a distinctively Christian agrarian culture. I had no idea it even existed until yesterday. Their mission statement says it all.

The mission of The Agrarian Foundation is to change the world by establishing sustainable, largely self-reliant, Covenantal Agrarian communities upon productive landed property throughout the North America and the world.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The American Farmer

"We must keep faith with these Americans, by ensuring that their dreams are not buried beneath dumped imports, or plowed under by transnational corporations with no allegiance to anything but their own bottom line. Family farmers are not begging for federal handouts. Proud, hearty stock, they have, for love of the land, weathered droughts, overcome disease, and outlasted depression. They simply want their labor to be valued, their products to be competitive, and their own government to take their side in the global marketplace. America's farmers are asking nothing more. They deserve nothing less. "

Patrick J. Buchanan 1999

Pat has made me mad more than a few times in the last couple of years. His endorsement of Bush in 2004 realy ticked me off. But the one thing I still admire about him is this, He has been the only national figure in politics who has addressed the "farm problem" in an honest way. If you would like to read the rest of this 1999 speach Click Here.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Ground Cherry

This is an interesting fruit that I had never heard of. I think I will try to grow some this year. This is what I have learned about them.......Ground cherries were recorded as early as 1837 in Pennsylvania. Fruits are ½ to ¾" in diameter and are encased in a papery husk that turns brown when the fruits ripen. Stores 3-4 weeks in the husk.They are extremely productive plants that have a sprawling habit and grow 18" tall and 24" wide.They have an excellent citrus flavor, can be used for preserves, pies, over ice cream or in fresh fruit salads. They start fruiting by the end of July and continues until frost and a little beyond, and are very productive. Has anyone out there ever seen one before? Ever ate any? I am always looking for a new kind of jelly to put on homeade bread, and I think this may be worth trying. I also look foward to eating my first slice of ground cherry pie.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I'm Back....

We had a busy weekend out here. We ended up staying at the "main house" down by the cow barn. Sat it was -20 when I got up. The milkhouse was frozen, the cow's drinking cups were froze, a cow freshened, and an assortment of other problems lead to a very long day. It started at 2:30am and ended about 8pm. Sat night we had a big snow storm. We spent most of the Lord's Day digging paths to the barns and trying to get everything fed and watered. Crown and Covenant cancelled church services. I hope we can start to get things back to normal soon. We still have not got the batch of homebrew bottled. Snow storms and the illness of Elder Newman have held us up. Perhaps we will get it done this week. The first thing I did when I got home and turned on the computer was check my new favorite Blog.....The House of Degenhart. Low and behold, his latest post has a quote from this Blog. Check out his site, it has alot of good stuff on it.

Friday, January 21, 2005

For the Glory of God

Well, its -10, the ground is covered with snow and all I can think of right now is flower gardens. There are few things that are as beautiful as a well kept flower bed. Before we moved to the hill country our farm always had huge perennial flower gardens. Sure, there is no real economic advantage to them, but hey; who cares. My Dads specialty was Iris. People would come from all over to see the Iris in bloom. They were younger then and could keep up with the weeds and such. Dad could tell you the history of each one, when and where it was developed, and any awards it had won. He had a nack for placing them in just the right spot. I never thought much about them back then. In hindsight I wish I had paid more attention. Flower beds are more than just eye candy. They tell others about our faith and our God. As Christians we are made in the image of God. We mimic his creative nature, usually without even realizing it. We take flower plants (raw creation) and make something with order and beauty. We find just the right spot for each one according to size and color and time of bloom, all so we can maximize the beauty of each while complementing the whole. We are fulfilling our biblical mandate, if only in a small way, to develop the earth into a garden/city of God. Those with the "why polish brass on a sinking ship" mentality will never experience some of most rewarding work that our God has given to his people. Yes we are to preach the gospel to all the world, but we are also to subdue and replenish the earth. So order your seed catalogs, dig out your trowel, and get prepared for spring. May we garden to the glory of our God.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Little Farmer

The other day someone told John that he was handsome. John's response was priceless. " I'm not handsome, I'm a FARMER." I just smiled. John dosen't know that he is poor. He dose not know that the rest of the world feels sorry for us backwards country folks. John dose know that the other little kids at church can't go to "work" with their daddy and grampa when ever they want. He knows they have never dipped and wiped off a cow. They don't have "cool" pets like baby goats and calves, which are more fun to play with than goldfish. They don't get to spend lunch time pickin' berries in the wooks or setting traps in a muskrat pond. You know, sometimes I think John has done more with his hands at 2 and a half years old than most adults I've met. Yes these are the words of a proud papa. John is proud of his heritage, and he dosen't even know what the word heritage means.

Monday, January 17, 2005

In Defense of Multi-generational Homesteads

I really pray that the church moves back to an optimistic eschatology. The fruits of years of premill and amill views are started to show, and its not pretty. This year I am planning on planting some maple trees on the homestead. When Christians hear this, instead of praising my foresight, they ask why I would waste my time. "Don't you know it will be 30-40 years before you can tap them?", they ask. Well I've got children and am sure they will have children. "Well, just look at the news, the Lord will be coming soon", they answer. This pessimism is evident throughout rural America. Barns that have stood for 150 years are falling down because no one bothers to fix the roof. The woodlots that were once managed by looking 100 years down the road are now managed with a selfish "right now" attitude. "Why drive around that oak sapling, I'll never live to harvest it. I'll just run it over." 300 hundred years from now, our descendants will ask "How could our ancestors have been so selfish and shortminded". They will have to build everything from scratch! I saw a recreational travel rig one day that must have cost $500,000. Two gray haired elderly folks were driving it and the bumper sticker said, "We're spending our kid's inheritance." We should expect that from the pagans. My brothers and sisters of the covenant.......We should be different.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

SAP on the Brain

Well, as I type this post I can just see the steam rolling off the evaporator, the smell of sweet maple sap boiling away. Doing maple syrup is my favorite job. It is such a wonderful process and my favorite time of the year! Tonite I'm thinking about what we'll need to get for the upcoming season. Its about time to start dragging out the equiptment and make needed repairs, the ones that should have been made before it was put away. At the end of sap season I'm always so tired and wore out that I'm lucky to get the stuff put away! I skipped the last 2 seasons because of help shortages and babies being born. But this year we're going at it full STEAM ahead (pun intended). I can't wait to start collecting sap in the dark, tripping over tree limbs, freezing to death, and all the joys that come with working into the wee hours of the morning. It will be such fun to run the chain saw in the dark, holding the flashlight in my mouth as I try to cut more wood for the hungry evaporator. And OHHH, the first batch to come off....nothing sweeter. Filtering, bottling, and cleaning up the pan.......I'm nothing but smiles just imagining the hole ordeal. As you may have guessed.......I love maple syrup. Later this week I will be placing my Leader order. When the boxes get here I'll be in Maple Heaven. Waiting for those chilly nites and 45 degree days. Be sure to stop by for a visit, and don't forget the beer.

Time For Change

There was a time when agriculture was beautiful. We have traded beauty for industrial ugliness. Just in the 30 years that I have roamed this earth, I have seen agriculture make so many changes. You used to be able to go to other people's herds and see cows that typified their breeding philosophy. They were different, but they had beauty. Today most herds are all out of the same breeding. America is plagued with deep uddered, chicken chested index cattle. These poor beasts are happy if they live to see their 3rd birthday. Milk per cow, right now, no time to worry about tomorrow. Barns were different. They all had one thing in common though, they were built to last 200 years or more. Today every barn built is the same. Sheet metal and canvas, and built to last 30 years. Why in 30 years the barn will be to inefficient to compete anyway. Names replaced by numbers, dirt by concrete. While the American Farmer rushes to get bigger, meaner, and leaner they are going broke faster and faster. To hell with profit, its production that matters.....That's the cry we hear. So after years of listening to pencil necked geeks from Cornell, who for the most part have never had manure an their boots, how far ahead are we my brothers? After years of selling our products at a loss to the big agri-giants, how much of the food dollar is in our pockets. After years of running to the lairs, murderers, and thieves in Washington for "help", will we ever learn to help ourselves. The time for change is now. If we don't learn to change we will perish. We must rebuild the agriain community, and bring the buyers and the farmers together. We need to take back our industry.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Bye-Bye, Middleman

The future of the small farm is direct marketing and on farm processing. Why not revive the ART of cheese making. No more stamped out, same as the other brand, postmodern-americanized crap. If you want some resources for on farm dairy processing
click Here.

Seed Savers

I've been reading this catalog from the
Seed Savers Exchange.

First of all, as you know, I have no problems with using hybrid seeds. However, I do see some wisdom in keeping the Heirloom plants around. There are times when it makes sense to be able to save your own seeds and not have to rely on "store bought" ones. For example, if we had some sort of economic collapse we would not want to spend all of our Liberty Dollars on seeds, now would we. The stories behind some of these seeds are fascinating. They have some dry bean that was brought over on the Mayflower, and other plants with interesting histories. I think I'll plant some just for fun this spring. As you know; I like the old, odd, and different. You can confirm that statement by looking at my friends!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Shadow on a sheet

Lakenvelders are one of my favorite chickens. They are just a fine looking bird to have foraging about the homestead. They are not the most productive chicken in the world, but sometimes beauty has value too. Dad had a few when I was growing up and I have always loved them. You can see a painting of them

Sunday, January 09, 2005


I love Blackberries. Me and little John spend alot of time in the woods that time of year. John can spot berries like no nobody can. Of course the little cuss eats his share before we get back to the truck, but hey... thats half the fun of pickin'. Harvesting wild berries takes alot of time. You have to know which patches are ready and when......and it helps if you can beat Mrs. Johnson to the patch! Dry summers tend to kill alot of the harvest in our area. Last year was a great year, but many times just before they are ready the berries dry up and dehydrate on the vine. This spring we plan on planting a few rows where we can water them and watch them closer. I'm thinking very strongly about planting thornless plants. I hate getting cut up and the kids don't care for it either. They have some thornless hybrids that make alot of fruit. One that I am considering is the
Doyles Thornless There are some others out there, and I am still researching. The Doyle will produce 10 to 20 gallons of berries per plant. Fruit is in large bunches with 40 to 100 berries. The only down side is the price. They sell for $15 a plant, but if they yield like they say they do it could be well worth the money. Sure we'll still pick some wild ones.....good excuse to scout new traplines and look for deer sign, but most of the jelly will hopefully come off the cultivated plants.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


One Bog is just not sufficient. You can always get news and commentary on church and state at
Reformed Farmer. This ones about the joys and superiority of country living. Its also about living the good life, enjoying the little things, and learning to provide for yourself. Country living by its very nature grows people of faith. When your crops require rain, what can one do but pray? When your fields are flooded, who can you ask to stop the rain......but God Himself. When you very existence depends on things that are so out of human control, the Christian becomes more dependent on Christ. The country also has a handy way of teaching our children responsibility. Gathering eggs no matter how cold it is, helping papa milk the cows even when your sick and tired, these thing make for a strong race of men and women. When the money is all gone, and it looks hopeless.......We are once again forced to recognize that God provides for his people. I hope this Blog will spur you on to move to the country if you are a city slicker, and I hope it will be a place for folks already living the good life to exchange ideas and learn new skills. After returning from our Alaskan adventure, we have slacked off in our dream of being more selfsufficient. As we move to the place on top of the hill, we are returning to that dream. Plans are in the works for the new chicken coop, the berry patch, garden, fur shed, a new sap house and many other things. We hope to produce most of our needs and profit from the surplus. We will continue to rely on the dairy cows for income, but hope to cut our living expenses even more than we have. Well now that Blog #2 is up and running, I hope you enjoy it.