18 November 2018

Government Cheese,
Aunt Ruth's Equities, And
That Virgil Caine Song

Please Note: The following is a cross-post from my new blog, The Deliberate American. Please stop on over sometime and check it out. Thank you.

I remember the day my parents came home from town with a bunch of free food from the government. I was 12 years old. It was 1970. There were a couple big bricks of yellow cheese, and powdered milk, and white rice, and some other things I don't recollect. The cheese was pretty good, but the powdered milk wasn't.  

The food was for poor people. It was "welfare" food. I didn't like knowing that my parents were poor. 

We were poor because my stepfather had experienced a serious health setback. 

He didn't look or act sick to me. I saw him as a fit, hard-working Marine veteran. But he wasn't as fit as he looked because he went into the VA hospital for surgery. A couple weeks later he came home a different person. He was so pale and weak and helpless that  only with my mother's help could he get up the four steps into our house. He was only 39 years old. I remember it well. It was a shock to my senses.

My stepfather had been the manager of an industrial laundry in Syracuse, NY. But when he went into the hospital, the company let him go. I don't know exactly how long he was out of work but it was long enough to be an economic hardship. Thus, the government food.

I'm sure my parents didn't like taking that free government food. To my knowledge, they never did again. And I suspect that is how they came to sell Aunt Ruth's stocks.

Aunt Ruth was one of only two living relatives my stepfather had. She was his mother's sister and she lived in California. Aunt Ruth had no children. I met her once, when she came to visit some years earlier. She was a pleasant, white-haired, old lady. Aunt Ruth died a couple years before my stepfather went into the hospital. She left him some stocks in her will.

We started getting mail in big envelopes from different companies. They contained colorful photos and financial details. Marathon Oil and Phelps Dodge were two I remember. They were blue-chip stocks from long-established companies. Aunt Ruth had invested her money wisely.

Back in those times, the daily newspapers had a couple of pages reporting how each and every stock was doing. I was such a nerd back then that I made graphs and charted the daily progress of several stocks.

In time, my stepfather recovered and got back to work. I noticed that the information from the various stock companies stopped coming in the mail. I asked why. My stepfather told me he sold the stocks.

I've always thought that selling those stocks was like selling the seed corn. Between 1970 and 2011 (when my stepfather died) the average annual return on stocks was around 10%. One dollar in the stock market in 1970 grew to be worth around $50 in 2011.

In retrospect, selling Aunt Ruth's stocks might not have been the smartest thing to do, but it was the responsible thing to do. My stepfather had a family to support, and he was down on his luck. 

Unfortunately, my stepfather struggled with one serious health crisis after another for the rest of his days. Finances were always tight. My parents were always struggling to keep the bills paid. There were periods of time when the bill collectors called. Our phone service was shut off once for awhile. My parents would manage to save some money, and then another health and financial crisis would come.

My stepfather worked well past retirement age, because he had to. And when he died (my mother had died a few years earlier), his estate amounted to a small amount in a checking account, along with the contents of his house.

That's a sad story, but it's not an uncommon story, and it's not a bad story. In fact, it's actually a good story. That's because my stepfather was a remarkable example of a responsible man. He was a diligent and hard worker who sacrificed for his family. I can't recall him ever wasting money, or spending a lot of money on something special for himself. No boats, no fancy cars, no expensive hobbies, nothing like that—it was all about providing for those he loved. And, at times, I saw my parents being generous towards others with money they really couldn't afford to be generous with.

Life dealt my stepfather one cruel blow after another, but he took the blows and he fought back to the best of his ability. He did the best he could against difficult odds. I admire him greatly for the example he was to me.


That phrase, "selling the seed corn," got me to thinking about the song, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. The YouTube video below shows Levon Helm singing the song, while playing the drums. 

I can't play a musical instrument, and I can't sing, but Levon Helm can do both at once. It's a fine song and a remarkable performance by a very talented man.

So, anyway, there is a place in that song where Levon sings: "You can't raise the cane back up when it's in the feed."

I always thought those words had something to do with using up the seed corn. But I have recently learned that I have long misheard the lyrics.

He is actually singing: "You can't raise a Caine back up when it's in defeat." 

He is referring to Virgil Caine (who served on the Danville Train).

10 November 2018

I've Started A New Blog!

My wife says that is not a good picture of me. But it projects a message. The narrowed eyes are all about focus and determination. The serious face is, well, it's all about seriousness. Such things are necessary when you start a new blog.

If you have been a long-time reader of my online writings, I know what you're thinking...

Another blog?! What's wrong with this one? Or the one before this? And how come you left the first one anyway— the one that so many people used to read? I never really understood that.

The answer is...

I'm restless. I'm searching for my best social media niche. The Deliberate American seems right at this time. 

Please note that it is The Deliberate American, not Agrarian. 

Don't worry... I'm still a solid and deliberate agrarian. That will never change. And I expect to have some agrarian-themed posts on the new blog. But I'm pivoting to a few things I've mostly avoided in the past.

For example, I will not shy away from political discourse. Political ideology is, after all, a key part of what it means to be an American. A Deliberate American is, in part, an American who embraces and celebrates fundamental right thinking about  "the American Experiment," as embodied in our founding documents.

I plan to post one blog every day. Or maybe a couple. They will be relatively short posts. I invite you to stop on by and sign up to get notified of each new post. Or just stop by daily, as you think about it. Perhaps during your morning cup of coffee. Here's the link: The Deliberate American

P.S. This blog, and my two previous blogs will remain online, as long as Blogger supports them. I have no backup or archive of any of my internet writings. Hopefully, the WayBack machine has been storing them away!

P.P.S. And if I feel the urge to post a long, thoughtful, essay on some subject, I'll probably post it right here, then link to it from the new blog, which will have shorter posts.

Thank you for your understanding. I'll see you at The Deliberate American....

28 September 2018

Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Take
On The Brett Kavanaugh
Confirmation Hearing

Dateline: 28 September 2018

Were he still in this realm, Alexander Solzhenitsyn would surely have found the recent Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearing of particular interest. 

Solzhenitsyn had, after all, seen this sort of thing before. Not the 21st century American version, but the early 19th Century Soviet, Bolshevik, Marxist version. Not only had he seen it, he had experienced it. 

The experience should have killed him, like it did so many of his countrymen. But it didn't kill him. Instead, he hung on for years. He survived. And when the time was right, he fought back with a literary and truth-speaking ferocity that knocked the Leviathan Soviet system on it's heels. 

No one person, more than Alexander Solzhenitsyn, did as much to destroy the Soviet system. Ronald Reagan gets a lot of credit for the fall of the Soviet Union, but Solzhenitsyn did the heavy lifting, and he paid a hard personal price.

Which brings me to Brett Kavanaugh, a man of rare personal accomplishment, public service, and sterling character. Literally hundreds of people have attested to his sterling character, many having known him for decades. 

But Brett Kavanaugh has one very serious problem. He is not a Leftist. Were he such, he would have been confirmed to the Supreme Court by now, without any significant objections.

In the early 1900s, as the Bolsheviks were taking political control of Russia, with the hollow promise of their Marxist utopia, those who did not believe and conform to the Marxist tripe, were routinely arrested and sent to gulag prison camps throughout the country. Or, in many instances, they were summarily killed.

An accusation of some wrongdoing was all that was needed. Corroboration with an accusation was helpful, but it really wasn't necessary. Once you were accused, you had to prove your innocence. The burden of proof was not on accusers, but on the accused. You were assumed guilty until you proved your innocence.

Millions of law-abiding citizens in the Soviet Union were accused of crimes and sent to the gulags with little to no evidence or corroboration. Their "crime" was that they did not conform to the political correctness of their day, which was Marxist-Communism. 

In America today, with the growing popularity of Marxist ideology on the political Left, those who do not fall in line with the Leftist causes are regarded as enemies of the Left. As such, they must not not be allowed to speak freely, or to hold positions of influence and power in government. 

The direct opposite of a Leftist is a Conservative.  We on the Conservative side of the political spectrum don't conform to speech and thought control mechanisms (like political correctness). We see the logical disconnects and enormous dangers in Neo-Marxism. We know the lessons of history and refuse to be indoctrinated by the Leftist media manipulators, the Leftist academics, and the Leftist cultural engineers. As such, we are pretty much the only hindrance to the Neo-Marxist agenda. We are those who, if the radical Leftists achieve their goals, will be herded into the gulags, or simply and unceremoniously executed.

So, in the minds of the Leftists, Brett Kavanaugh's biggest crime  is that he is not one of them. The Leftist-fueled character assassination and media circus surrounding his confirmation is really a fairly mild Marxist response. They are capable of so much worse.

In the Soviet Union of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's day, police would come to your house, or your place of work, or stop you on the street, and take you away for questioning. Often, your family would never see you again. You would appear before an unelected Marxist bureaucrat who would, in due time, provide you with a written confession to sign. 

If you refused, you would be tortured. Sleep deprivation was an "easy" torture. But they had other ways, some deviously creative, and far more effective. Resisting was of no use. 

Political, bureaucratic power is a magnet for psychopaths. Such people rise to the top in a Marxist system. They are necessary, and they are rewarded.

In Solzhenitsyn's case, he was sentenced to the Soviet gulag  prison system for penning a mild joke, critical of Stalin, in a personal letter to a friend. In his instance, there was a bit of evidence. But the ironic thing was that Solzhenitsyn was a well-indoctrinated and devoted Marxist (as well as an atheist— all good Marxists are atheists). He was a high ranking military officer and decorated war hero. It was WW 2, and the Russians were fighting the Germans on the Western Front.

Solzhenitsyn was called back from the front lines and imprisoned for the next 8 years. He nearly died in prison. Millions of Russian citizens died in the gulags. Their so-called crimes varied, but multitudes of them were there because of unproven accusations or mere suspicions. Few had honest trials. A trial was, after all, not needed with a signed confession.

All of this is chronicled in Solzhenitsyn's powerful book, The Gulag Archipelago. It is a Red Pill book. Read it and you will see reality behind the facade. It is a disgusting, terrifying, dystopian expose of Marxism. Put aside the modern zombie and horror fiction novels and read The Gulag Archipelago if you want a real scare.

America in 2018 is under attack from within and without by Neo-Marxist revolutionaries, just like Russia prior to the Revolution of 1917. They are seemingly nice people... as long as you go along with their Leftist agenda. 

If you don't conform, if you stand in their way, if you are a stumbling block to their plans, the Leftists will morph into monsters intent on destroying you. They will stop at nothing to advance their cause. Their desired end justifies any means.

They may be a minority at the upper levels of the cause, but they are a well-entrenched and fully committed minority. The foot soldiers of this revolution are patsies; they are tools controlled by the deviously cunning, well funded higher-ups. 

So it is that Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation is a bellwether event. The Marxist Leftists have made so much progress in recent years. Now they are losing ground. Their gains will be seriously jeopardized by a more Conservative justice on the Supreme Court.  The character and qualifications of the Justice mean nothing to them. Ideology is everything. His confirmation must be stopped. 

Solzyhenitsyn would have seen this all too clearly. Before he died in 2008 he warned that America was following in the same path as Russia prior to the October Revolution of 1917. That's when the Bolsheviks took over. That's when the Soviet nightmare began.

God help us all.

20 May 2018

Snap-Back Farm Hats
From The 70s And 80s
Are Worth Big Money!

(click the picture to see a larger view)

The screen shot above shows a common John Deere hat from the 1980s that recently sold on Ebay for a whopping $880. 

I remember people wearing that exact hat back then. My father-in-law wore a John Deere hat just like this one...

You'll notice that one sold for only $455. I think he got it free when he bought a JD lawnmower.

It's not just John Deere hats. This relatively plain hat from Henderson, NC, brought $288...

Did you realize these hats are worth so much money? Here's another from a farm association...

$375 for that hat!  These kinds of hats were once ubiquitous. Just about every rural man in every rural community in America wore them. They were often given away for free. Now they are worth hundreds of dollars. Here's another recent top seller...

Who spends eight hundred bucks for a cheap old hat like that?  I don't get it. But I sure do wish I had a few of them to sell!

Just imagine... if we who lived back in the 1970s and 1980s had known those old hats would one day be worth so much money today... well, just imagine. 

I wonder what is commonly available and inexpensive today that will be worth BIG MONEY thirty years from now? 

I'll be 90 in 30 years. I might make it that far. Any suggestions?

27 April 2018

I'm On Day 5 of The Whole30 Diet...
Ain't So Bad!

At my wife's urging, I have embarked on the Whole30 diet. We are doing it together. Marlene has been through the Whole30 diet before. She lost weight and she felt better.

It certainly wouldn't hurt me to lose a few pounds, but it is the the health-maintaining and health-improving aspects of this diet that appeal to me more than anything.

At 60 years of age, I am healthy. Or, I should say, I am healthy as far as a know. I have not been to a doctor for decades. I have not had a physical exam since I was 18 years old. 

But I am feeling the effects of my age. There is a decline in vitality, and my capacity for physical work seems greatly diminished. There are little aches and pains; little concerns that come and go. And I am seeing people all around me (my age and younger) dealing with serious health afflictions. 

Being mindful of what I eat, and how I take care of the body God has entrusted to me (for awhile) is just being responsible. I feel convicted that I need to be more responsible.

There are so many amazing testimonials of improved health with this diet that it deserves more attention. We have a friend who has lost 80 pounds and has experienced remarkable healing in her body as a result of this diet. She is not just following it for 30 days. She is on a Whole365. 

I am now five days into the diet. At this point, according to the calendar below, I'm supposed to be feeling a little cranky. But I'm not. So far, so good. In the words of Rocky Balboa, "Ain't so bad!"

It helps immensely that my wife is something of an expert on this diet, having read the book, and much more. And she is willing to invest the time in preparing the right foods. Marlene tells me what I can and can not eat. She is my Whole30 coach. And we're in this together.

Speaking of the right foods, Whole30 can be reduced to the following...

No sugar.
No soy.
No dairy.
No grains.
No legumes (including peanut butter).
No bad fats.
No alcohol.

We eat three meals a day. Each meal has a protein (eggs or meat), a good fat (ghee, avocado oil, coconut oil, olives, or avocado), lots of vegetables. Fruit is allowed, but not fruit juices. Snacking between meals is frowned on.

You can eat all you want of the approved foods at each meal.

If you have read my Minibed Gardening Report, you know that Marlene and I started roasting vegetables last year (when she was on the Whole30 diet). This may be the best part of the diet. We are now huge fans of oven roasted vegetables, breakfast, lunch and supper!

The hardest part of Whole 30 for me (so far) is the coffee. Although coffee is allowed in moderation (before noon), sweetener is not.

For the past six years I have treated myself to a morning cup of what I call "special coffee." It is a mix of coffee, heavy cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, and coconut oil. In recent months I started adding a pinch of diatomaceous earth. I whizz the mixture to a satisfying froth in a Magic Bullet. It is soooo good!

Black coffee is not so good. But my mother always drank her coffee black. It can be done. "Ain't so bad!"

According to the Whole30 calendar (see above) "The Hardest Days" are ahead of me. But 11 days from now, I get "Tiger Blood." I'm not exactly sure what tiger blood means, but I think it is a good thing. 

26 April 2018

Eight Potato Varieties in Minibeds

This is the Purple and Red Trial Collection
from Maine Potato Lady.

I'm pleased to report that I have finally started planting my garden. This year, pretty much all of my garden will be grown in Minibeds. 78% less weeding, no watering, no rototilling, and focused, high culture in manageable, 6-square foot beds worked very well last year.  My wife says it was the best garden I ever grew, and I've been growing gardens for the 37 years of our marriage. 2018 will be year #2 with the Minibed Experimental Garden.

But my results growing potatoes in minibeds last year was only partially satisfying. Although my Onaway potato minibed was a superstar (see ThisYouTube Video), the others were not. This year I'm anxious to see if I can improve my yield, while experimenting with some new potato varieties.

Now, mind you, Minibeds are not suited for growing a winter's supply of spuds. They are, however, ideal for growing some potatoes for fresh eating through the summer, and they are ideal for trialing some new varieties. After all, part of the joy of gardening is trying new varieties.

It is with trialing potatoes in mind that Maine Potato Lady offers  a Purple and Red Trial Collection of seed potatoes. Five seed potatoes of six varieties, as you can see in the photo above (click the photo for a closer look).

And Wood Prairie Farm up in Bridgewater, Maine has their Potato Experimenter's Special. This year I opted to try two varieties of fingerling potatoes from Wood Prairie...

All the seed potatoes got here over a week ago. I put them in a warmish spot and they started to sprout, which is a desirable result. Seeing the sprouts allowed me to position the tubers just right for growth (sprouts up).

I planted all the potatoes whole. The larger ones were planted four to a bed, near the center, about 8" apart, as this next picture shows...

They are 4" to 5" deep. I filled them with a couple inches of soil. I'll fill the depressions in more as the plants emerge and grow.

Then I covered each bed with a cloche. A Whizbang Solar Pyramid cloche. I think that Onaway Minibed did as well as it did last year because I cloched it right after planting. Here's a photo of my garden after planting potatoes today...

The 10 cloched Minibeds that you see are all planted to potatoes—8 different varieties. 

I have some Kennebeck and Yukon Gold potatoes yet to plant. They will go into rows outside the Minibed garden.

It was overcast, cool and dreary outdoors today, but I feel good about having those potatoes planted. I also planted parsnips, parsley, beets, and Romaine Lettuce.

How is your garden coming along?

21 April 2018

Waiting For Spring

Snow and cold are persisting here. I've been dealing with an annoying cough for two weeks.  but it is waning. Not much new to report. 

If you watched my Clear Dawn Onion Experiment video on YouTube four weeks ago, here's what the onions look like today...

The little peat pots were not providing the growing plants with enough root space, so I filled some toilet paper tubes with potting soil (mixed with a little alfalfa meal) and set the peat pots into the top. They fit just right, and the onion plants perked right up.

It's supposed to warm up next week. I hope to get the onions planted soon. And there is much more to do.... once it warms up!

14 April 2018

Planet Jr. Factory
In 1955

The short video above provides a rare look into the old S.L. Allen factory in Philadelphia, which I mentioned (and showed a photo of) in Yesterday's Blog Post. It shows not only Flexible Flyer sleds being made, but Planet Jr. planters, and walk-behind tractors too. The company even made snow skis.

The film provides a historical glimpse into a bygone era. America was once a country full of people who made things and, for the most part, made things to last (planned obsolescence was surely not something that S.L. Allen believed in). 

I think that hands-on work-making-things is the next best thing to hands-on-work-growing-things. 

But now, most Americans don't grow or make much of anything with their hands. They sit at cubicles and "work" on keyboards. Or they push buttons on machines and watch the machines do the work that humans once had more of a hand in doing.

The bottom line is that we all do what we have to do to provide for ourselves and our families in the techno-culture we live in. But there is surely a richness and satisfaction in life that comes with hand-work, and creativity outside of the modern paradigm.

If we can't find this satisfaction in our daily livelihood, we can at least pursue it at home, on our own time. 

But the culture we live in seeks to dominate and consume our spare time with an endless stream of entertainment, amusements, and techno-gadgetry. Such things are a cheap substitute for actually doing something constructive and creative.

I hope I'm wrong, but I sense that many of the younger generation today are missing out on this important aspect of life.

Probably every older generation going back to the earliest days of the industrial revolution have thought and said the same thing of the younger generation.

13 April 2018

The Planet Jr. Museum...
And A Planet Jr. Book In The Works

S.L. Allen and his wife, Sarah, in 1901
(photo link)

I've written about Samuel Leeds Allen in the past. He's the man who started the Planet Jr. company. This Essay In Particular is one I like because I shared some of the "Precepts of Samuel L. Allen," and they are very good precepts.

I admire Samuel L. Allen for his character, his inventiveness and for building a company that was known for treating its workers very well. 

Allen's unusual Planet Jr. name and logo was the inspiration for my equally unusual Planet Whizbang name and logo, which came about after I invented a wheel hoe design back in May of 2009. I Tell The Story Of The Logo Here. And you can learn all about my Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe Here.

Since I first wrote about Planet Jr. and S.L. Allen back in 2009, interest in his company and the Planet Jr. line of tools has grown considerably. Planet Jr. wheel hoes, seeders, and ephemera can fetch big prices on Ebay.

The old Planet Jr. catalogs, in particular, are sought-after collectibles. I myself sell PDF downloads of the 1898 Catalog and the 1941 Catalog.

Last year, someone named S. L. Allen, IV purchased a PDF copy of one of my catalogs. I couldn't believe my eyes. S.L. Allen purchased a copy of a Planet Jr. catalog from me? I had to write this person.

It turns out that Mr. Allen is a direct descendent of the S.L. Allen of Planet Jr. fame. I told him that he has a great family heritage.

Then, a few weeks back, I wrote Mr. Allen with a question. I have long wondered if there is a Planet Jr. museum. I had heard that the Brandywine museum had a Planet Jr. display, but I couldn't see where that was the case online. If anyone would know of such a museum, surely it would be S.L. Allen the fourth! He replied as follows...

Sadly, I don't know of any one museum that has a very broad collection of great great grandfather's equipment.  There is a nice Flexible Flyer sled display in the Moorestown Library and I know of a very early Planet seeder in a different New Jersey museum but for the most part no one has dedicated a display of any large size to the bulk of the 99 years of the company.  The references you mention to the Brandywine museum I believe came from comments from my aunt Penny.  But while chasing down that lead I found that while there is still something called the Brandywine museum, it is not in the same state as the one originally referenced and it is an art museum, not one housing farm equipment. 

The state of NJ also had a collection that was run by one of the colleges in the midstate, but that museum closed some years back and they reportedly gave all of the equipment back to whomever leant it in the first place.
Thus, I'm sorry to say, there is no Planet Jr. museum. But there are a lot of serious collectors out there who are gathering old Planet Jr. tools. Perhaps one day it will happen.

In the meantime, I'm pleased to report that the great, great grandson of S.L. Allen is working on a book...

On a related note, I am personally trying to gather as much data as I can in the hopes of putting out a Planet Jr. book.  I hope for it to be similar to Joan Palacia's Flexible Flyer book, but I'm still collecting, scanning and collating at this point.  And while I personally own a fairly sizeable collection, I know of at least 4 people each of whom have collections that dwarf my own.  One fellow has close to 50 different Planet Jr tractors, another has several hundred seeders, etc.  It is my hope to work with them to help me with images for the book.  I suspect I'm over a year away from completing the research though-  I still need to scan several hundred more parts lists, manuals, ledgers and catalogs to have the base from which I begin the real work!
A lot of people are not aware that Planet Jr. made motorized, walk-behind tractors with all kinds of implements. Check Out This Link to learn about a guy who is farming with restored Planet Jr. walk-behind tractors. 

If you are interested in the history of Planet Jr. and the company that produced Planet Jr. tools, be sure to check out This Story about the old S.L Allen Factory in Philadelphia.

Fortunately, the remarkable home that S.L. Allen built in 1894 is in better shape than the factory. You can learn more about it At This Link.

Lacking a museum to visit, I'm really looking forward to Mr. Allen's Planet Jr. book. I'll be purchasing a copy, for sure. And I'll let you know all about it here when the time comes.


04 April 2018

Speaking of Maple Syrup
And Communists

I'm sorry to see that the frog has been boiled in Quebec, Canada. 

Maple Syrup Rebellion tells the sad story of government tyranny over independent maple syrup producers. Translation... 

"You must join the collective, Comrade. You have no choice in this matter. After all, it is for your own good. If you do not play by our rules, we will destroy you."