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." 


02 April 2018


Cousin Herbert
Outsmarted The Commies



I recently came across a February, 1992 copy of Yankee magazine that my mother had saved. On the front cover, as you can see above, she wrote "Keep this. Page 52. Herbert Philbrick." Page 52 and 53 of the article are pictured here...




My mother's maiden name was Philbrick. She told me that Herbert Philbrick was a relative. I think she knew the genealogical connection (some sort of cousin). Herbert Philbrick was famous for infiltrating organized Communist activities in the United States (as the article excerpt below explains).

People these days look back at the "Red Scare" of the late 1940s and 1950s and think of Senator Joe McCarthy's claims that Communists had infiltrated American politics, as well as other influential cultural institutions, like universities and the media. McCarthy's Senate investigation into Communist activities is most often portrayed as a witch hunt that ruined the careers of many innocent Americans.

A new word, McCarthyism, came into the dictionaries shortly thereafter: "The practice of making accusations of disloyalty, especially of pro-Communist activity, in many instances unsupported by proof or based on slight, doubtful, or irrelevant evidence."

What gets lost in the recounting of American history is the fact that Communists were, in fact, well organized and actively working in American politics and culture during that time. Herbert Philbrick understood this because he was one of them. Here's how the article begins...
His name today sounds vaguely familiar, an echo from nearly half a century ago, a time when fear of Communism gripped America. From 1940 to 1949 Herbert A. Philbrick led three lives. In one of them, he lived in the suburbs of Boston, taught Sunday school at the neighborhood Baptist church, worked as a press agent for the New England office of Paramount Pictures. In a second, secret life he was a dedicated Communist conspirator who attended cell meetings in Beacon Hill, demonstrated against the government, and was twice arrested. His third and most secret life ended on April 6, 1949.
In the spring of that year federal authorities charged 11 top American Communists with conspiring to advocate the forcible overthrow of the U.S. government, a violation of the Smith Act. The trial in Manhattan's Federal Court quickly became one of the most controversial in American history.
On the tenth day of the trial the prosecution called 33-year-old Herb Philbrick to the witness stand. He was dressed in a a suit with a red-white-and-blue tie, and he told the packed courtroom he had been a member of the Communist Party. Then he stunned the defendants. "During the entire nine years of my activities," he said, "I have been continuously in touch with the FBI."
Philbrick was the government's star witness. He told how he had been trained to blow up Boston bridges and railroads and disrupt communications lines. The jury found the defendants guilty.
The article explains that Herbert Philbrick was encouraged to start the Cambridge Youth Council. He thought the purpose of the organization was to help kids, but those who encouraged him used it as a Communist front. When he realized what was happening, he went to the FBI. Philbrick is quoted in the article...
"As time went on during the nine years, as I advanced to higher levels in the party, I became aware of the absolute evil of this thing."
Here's another excerpt from the article...
Philbrick reached the inner circle of one of the most important cells of the New England branch of the Communist Party. Meeting on Beacon Hill to discuss tactics and strategy, he worked face to face with some of the people he was later to accuse in court. "You should have seen their faces when I stepped up to the witness stand," he says, "I thought they were going to have heart attacks."
And another excerpt...
Communists are professionals at duping people. Our State Department people, on the other hand, are amateurs. Put an amateur boxer into a ring with a professional prizefighter. Now this amateur may be a splendid fellow, love his mother, and go to church every Sunday. But if he gets into the ring with the professional, he's going to get his block knocked off, and that's what's happening."
And, this last quote...

"According to the best estimates I've seen, about 1,000 avowed Marxists are teaching in schools and colleges today and some of them are so hateful. Their message is 'Hate America.' We keep track. I have people— for example, recently the Marxists had a weeklong conference at a Big Ten university. I can tell you everyone who was there, and what was said, and what they decided. Marxists can teach, but not me. I was banned by many universities. Maybe due to McCarthy's excesses, there's a great suspicion and fear of anyone who is anti-Communist. McCarthy damaged us with his bumbling. But he was basically right. Still, people think we're nuts and screwballs."

Nuts and screwballs? For being concerned about subversive Marxist activists in America? 

Well, I must say, the media manipulators have done an amazing job (since McCarthy) of marginalizing any American who is concerned about any organized, subversive threat to our nation. The mainstream media are the the prizefighters that Herbert Philbrick spoke of in the above quote. And average Americans are total amateurs in the ring.

Americans no longer need to understand real history and true facts in order to come to their own conclusions. The media will interpret these things for us and tell us what our opinions should be. That's the way it works. 

And now, 26 years after that Yankee article was published, I'll bet there are considerably more than 1,000 Marxists teaching in the schools and universities of North America. Marxism has become fashionable. College campuses are now dominated by masses of duped fellow travelers and useful idiots.

Cousin Herbert died in 1993 at 78 years of age. I never knew him, but I sure do miss him. 

I'd like to think that there are a few Herbert Philbricks out there, infiltrating the subversive Marxist cells in America today. But I'm not optimistic about that.

This is Herbert Philbrick...







  


31 March 2018


Farewell To
Howard's Gouges





Two years ago I had an e-mail exchange with Howard King. In the course of our discussion, he sent me a photo of a wood dough bowl he had carved. I was impressed, and I told him I had always wanted to carve a dough bowl myself. Howard replied that he had most of the tools I needed and was looking to sell them. I said I would buy them. 

Howard told me exactly what tools he had to sell and the price he wanted to get. I hadn't really looked into the price of such tools and was surprised at how expensive they were. But when I did an internet search, I found that the price he wanted was not out of line. I ended up paying $600 for seven different carving tools.

After acquiring those implements, the only tool I lacked for carving my own dough bowl was an appropriate broad hatchet. For another $150 (or so) I could buy a decent hatchet online. Two or three times that would get me a more serious, top-shelf carving hatchet. But, considering what I had already spent, I decided to hold off on the hatchet. I didn't have the time to be carving a bowl then anyway. It would be a future project. So, Howard's carving tools went up on a shelf in my shop, and they have been there ever since.

That is, they were on the shelf until last week. That's when I reasoned with myself that I would probably never get around to carving a dough bowl, and I might better sell those tools. It's a lean time of year, and I really do need to do some purging in order to to better organize my small workshop.

Among Howards's tools were three unique, and somewhat rare gouges (pictured at the top of this page). When I first got them, I noticed that they had my initials on them. It hadn't occurred to me that Howard and I have the same initials of HK. But the initials were actually forged into the metal of the tools, and they were the maker's mark of Hans Karlsson, a man from Sweden. 

The HK

Hans Karlsson is famous for making the finest carving tools in the world. Karlsson's hand-forged tools are so famous, and in such short supply, that you can't buy them. 

In the US, you have to get on a waiting list to buy Karlsson's tools from a single seller, and the list is no longer taking names. Evidently,  there are more people who want to purchase Karlsson's tools than there will ever be tools to sell. Even the online European sellers of HK carving tools are all sold out. 

So, I listed all of Howard's tools on Ebay, hoping that I might recoup my initial cost, as well as the Ebay fees and PayPal transaction fees. The three HK gouges were listed in the auction format.

There was a lot of interest in the gouges. Over 40 watchers on each one. The auction ended last night. Those three hand tools fetched enough to recoup my original cost, along with selling fees. And there was some extra left over. So, in the end, spending $600 on the tools a couple years ago wasn't as crazy and fiscally foolish of me as I had thought it was at the time.

I'm relieved at the outcome of this story, and I'm perfectly okay with not making a dough bowl. But I have also long wanted to make a twig coffee table. The nice thing about twig furniture is that it requires only basic (and cheap) tools. A hand saw. A knife. A drill. 

Stay tuned for the HK twig coffee table. Someday...

And, in the meantime, keep watch for HK tools. Perhaps someday you will see a Hans Karlsson chisel for sale at a flea market. Wouldn't that be something!