Firewood Crisis

Dateline: 11 October 2015

As explained in blogs past, we heat our house with firewood only, using a wood stove. I bought the stove used when we built the house some 30 years ago. We burn 10 to 15 face cords of wood every winter. It's a simple, inexpensive, dependable approach to heating a home. I'm sure I've saved many thousands of dollars over the years by not having a more sophisticated heating system.

For almost all the years we have heated with wood, I have purchased the wood from a neighbor. He is a small-scale dairy farmer who has augmented his low farm income by selling firewood to the locals. His prices have been very reasonable. But this year when we called to order our yearly supply of wood, he inform us that it was all spoken for. This was totally unexpected, and it presents us with something of a crisis.

It is October and, though the weather is not bad at this time, we have had snow in October in past years. There is some wood in our wood shed from last year, but not a lot. So I bought a truck load of firewood logs, as you can see in the picture above.

The man I bought the logs from didn't know how many face cords were in the load, but a friend who has bought similar loads says it is about 30 face cords. The cost was $700. Not bad when you consider that it will heat my house for two years. 

It's nice wood. But it's green, which is to say, it is freshly cut and full of moisture, which is to say, it will be good firewood for the winters of 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. But it really won't be good for this coming winter of 2015-2016.

I need dry wood, so I'm going to cut down several dead elm trees on the edge of my field, along with a few dead ones in the woods. That might get us through the winter. But probably not. I'll be looking to buy some seasoned firewood to help with the crisis.

My plan was to have the logs put off to the side of my property to season for a year before cutting them into chunks and splitting them. But the truck driver was concerned about driving on my lawn after a recent heavy rainfall, and there were overhead power lines to contend with. So he unloaded right by the road....

That's way too close to the road. The snow plow wing would surely hit the pile. So I'm faced with having to cut up the logs now, and then go and cut the dead elms. 

The work is not a problem. I love cutting and working with firewood. It's a bit more of a physical challenge that in past years, but it's doable. 

The problem is one of time. As usual, my Planet Whizbang business keeps me very busy most days until well past noon. And it gets dark earlier these days. So I'll be cramming to get my firewood issues taken care of. Oh, and I need to dig my potatoes. And plant some garlic. And Marlene has picked a LOT of apples to make more cider.

Thus it is that I must extend my blogging break a bit longer than I had expected. I have much to write about, but it will have to wait. And I have a YouTube 2-part video about making Whizbang apple cider that will also have to wait. And I was hoping to introduce an idea I developed (two years ago) for a new woodland sport, but that will have to wait. And making a production run of my new Whizbang tool for gardeners will have to wait. And...

So that's my story. I'll be back when my firewood crisis is resolved, (though I may return briefly for short blog post about a new Planet Whizbang product my youngest son is working on).

I'm sure you're busy too. Here's hoping you fellow Northerners finish all that you need to finish before the snow and bitter cold come.


Oh, one more thing, while I'm on the subject of firewood...

A two-wheeled garden cart is a great tool for moving firewood, especially heavy, water-laden chunks. You simply tip the front of the cart down by the wood and transfer it into the cart, then you can very easily lever the cart up and transport the load. This is much easier than lifting every chunk up over the edge of the cart.

Click picture for larger view. And check out the tires.

Of course, a Whizbang Garden Cart is better for this job than any other. But I'm using an old and decrepit cart of another kind for this job. That's because one of my Whizbang garden carts is holding my outdoor sink, and the other is chock full of apples. Note to self: make another cart.

I'm piling the chunks of wood on pallets by my wood shed, as this next picture shows. Pallets. Very handy on a homestead!

Available Tomorrow...
Classic American Clothespins
(The 2015 Production Run)

Dateline: 2 October 2015

My short hiatus from blogging here has been due, in part, to my need to be at the work of finishing this year's production run of Classic American clothespins. Long-time readers will recall that I blogged about the idea of starting an American-made clothespin company back in my Blogazine Entry For April 2012. It was the positive feedback from that bog announcement that solidified my commitment to actually follow through with the idea.

But it would not happen until over a year later when (in August of 2013) I announced here that We're Making Clothespins. My oldest son, then fresh out of the Army, was gung-ho about helping with the new idea. Three months later the very first clothespins were available: Finally... Classic American Clothespins

My first clothespins were sold in assemble-them-yourself kits. The primary reason for offering the kits was that I was unable to get the clothespins tumble-sanded as well as I had hoped. Instead of hand-sanding every single piece, I figured that the folks who bought the kits could do that.

Last year (2014) I managed to crank out a production run of about 8,000 clothespins and I put them up for sale on December 1st. They sold out within 12 hours. It was mail-order chaos around here for the next week as I struggled to get the orders packaged and shipped out as quickly as possible. Some people were unable to get their clothespin order in before my inventory ran out (and a couple of them expressed anger at me because they were unable to get their clothespins).

This year, once again, I have around 8,000 clothespins to sell. The manufacturing process has been improved so that no assemble-them-yourself kits are being offered. Only finished and assembled clothespins will be sold this year.

The price per clothespin is the same as last year. Two dollars each (plus a flat-rate shipping charge of $6) is a high price for clothespins, but not really. The material and labor costs that go into making these clothespins is high, and the resulting product is superior to any other clothespin on the market. Which is to say, my clothespins are made to last a lifetime. Besides that, the strong, American-made,  stainless steel springs will dependably hold laundry on the line, even in a stiff breeze.

That said, here is an excerpt from note sent to me by a woman named Jacquie, who recently purchased a sample kit of my clothespins:

"It seems just shy of crazy to get so worked up over clothespins but what I have before me is nothing short of perfection—each clothespin is a mechanical work of art and unique. They are beautiful, practical pieces and I admire and value the efforts you have  made to create them."

I have received other notes with similar sentiments from other people, but Jacquie recognized, and succinctly captured the essence of what I wanted to create, and have created, in a clothespin. 

And so, I am very pleased to announce that this year's crop of Classic American clothespins will go on sale tomorrow, October 3, 2015 at 11:00 AM (eastern time). They will be sold on a first come, first served basis. Click Here to Order Clothespins.

Aphorisms Of The Fathers
(And The Mothers)

Dateline: 21 September 2015

The grandfathers and  the grandmothers too.
(photo link)

I have been blogging regularly for a couple of weeks and it has been fun, but I'm going to have to take a break. While I'm away, I invite readers of this blog to contribute (via the comments section below) to a little idea that has come to my mind (and gone from my mind) several times over the years.....

I was prompted to start thinking about this idea again last month after writing my blog post titled, Here's Why Modern Banking Is An Evil System Of Economic Oppression. It wasn't anything I wrote that revived the little idea, but part of a comment from David Smith, whose comments I always find to be thoughtful and insightful. In particular, David stated...

"My depression era father, growing up here in rural TN said that one of the family mottoes was "Take care of what you need, and then maybe you can have some of what you want."

Family mottoes? That phrase, and the words of David's father, reminded me of a book I once thought I should write. The book would be titled, Aphorisms of the Fathers

An aphorism is a bit of wisdom expressed in a few words. A well known example of an aphorism comes from the movie, Forest Gump, when Forest's Mama tells him, "Stupid is as stupid does."

Aphorisms of the Fathers would be a book that served to equip fathers (and grandfathers) with a selection of sage aphorisms. Conscientious fathers would select and deliberately adopt a few key aphorisms to pass on to their children, through the years, whenever the opportunity for a sage aphorism presented itself.

Such aphorisms, oft and appropriately repeated, would become part of a family's lore or tradition. And the grown children who had heard them over the years would one day say, "My father always used to say..."

More importantly, this fatherly wisdom would be absorbed by the children. 

There are some fathers who are naturally inclined to have a good supply of aphorisms for their children. Perhaps that's because their own fathers were full of wise sayings. But I'm pretty sure that a lot of boys did not grow up hearing a lot of wise fatherly sayings. I say that because I don't recall hearing any myself.

With that thought in mind, I once asked a room of co-workers (several men) if they recalled any words of wisdom that their father or mother always used to say. There was silence. Then one guy said, "Yeah, my father always used to say..." and he repeated some perverse saying with cuss words in it. I forgot exactly what he said, but everyone laughed. I was kind of shocked. It was sad.

Anyway, after Aphorisms of the Fathers was published and became a best seller, I would, of course, then come out with Aphorisms of the Mothers. The was my plan.

But I have way too many plans and, alas, my Aphorisms of the Fathers project will never be. The same goes for two other books I planned to write (and actually started writing): Work is Not a Four Letter Word, and The Father & Son Spud Gun Fun Manual

Nevertheless, I still think the concept of adopting and using a selection of wise sayings should be an important part of wise fatherhood (and motherhood). So it is that this blog post will serve to take the place of the book I will never write. And this is where you, my dear readers, are needed...

During my absence from blogging (a week, or so) I invite you to provide one or more short, wise sayings that you think a mother or father might commit to memory with the intention of passing them on to their children whenever the situation was right.

If your own mother or father (or another family member) "always used to say" something that you remember, and that would be considered an aphorism, that would be especially good (no cuss words, please). But any simple, wise saying that you have otherwise heard or read, and think is particularly good, is also welcome.

Biblical words of wisdom may certainly be included. The book of Proverbs is full of aphorisms, and it was actually written by a father (Solomon) to give wisdom to his son.

Which brings to mind, Proverbs 16:18: Pride cometh before a fall. I distinctly recall my mother telling me that once. And it was a prophetic aphorism.

Please post your Aphorisms of the Fathers (And The Mothers) in the comments section below. The more, the better. If the overall participation is good, I will put a link to this post on my sidebar, where new readers will be more likely to read it and learn from it.

Thank you.

(From 1943)

Dateline: 19 September 2015

After my previous blog post I started looking at some of the other films at the Canadian National Film Board's web site and was delighted to find Alexis Tremblay: Habitant.

"Habitant" is an old word for a farmer of French descent in Canada. The documentary film, made in 1943, is a chronicle of the life of a habitant family living in Les Eboulements which is a small village northeast of Quebec, on the Saint Lawrence River.

Another way to picture the location of Les Eboulements is to consider the farthest-north town in the state of Maine (Estacourt Station, population, 4), then go directly west (as the crow flys) about 50 miles. The funny thing about Estacourt Station is that, as they say in Maine, "You cahn't get theyah from heyah." The town is accessible only from Canada. But I digress.

The 72-year-old film is nothing short of a celebration of Christian-agrarian life and culture. As such, it is idealistic, but it is not unrealistic. It portrays a way of life (and a worldview) that most Moderns would see as outdated and undesirable. 

After all, the Tremblay family has little in the way of modern labor-saving devices and modern amusements. How could they possibly be as happy as they look? Don't they realize how deprived and poor they are? 

Surely, these habitants of old need a television in their home so they can more clearly see their material poverty. And they will want to start buying more manufactured stuff. You know, stuff that's made in factories. Stuff that the family couldn't possibly make in their limited home economy. Their problem is that they just don't realize that they need more of this stuff... yet.

And, of course, Alexis will need to start farming more than the 40 acres that came to him from his father, and which supports his large family. More stuff will require more income.

But, again, I digress, and with both sarcasm and contempt.

Instead of lack, I see the family in this film has a rich and rewarding family economy. Furthermore, they are rooted in a small rural community. Family is all around and families help each other. Their friends and neighbors share much of the same local history. In short, the Tremblay family is woven into the fabric of land, faith, family and community in a way that was once common. 

It is a beautiful way of life.  It is a pattern for living that is practically extinct. But, lost though it may be, I firmly believe this way of life is something that can, to some degree, be reclaimed by anyone who has a vision for it.

The pursuit of this agrarian vision within a family must be deliberate. And to bear the best fruit, it will require a multi-generational effort. 

I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I did (I've watched it three times).

Potato Harvest

Dateline: 17 September 2015

Thanks to my Aunt Carolyn in Kennebunkport for sending me the above documentary movie. It's about harvesting potatoes in 1955 (three years before I was born) in the St. John Valley of New Brunswick, Canada. 

New Brunswick is a few short miles east of Fort Fairfield, Maine, where my maternal grandfather, Percy O. Philbrick was a potato farmer. There was no difference between harvesting potatoes in Canada and Maine back then. The potatoes were all picked by hand. I've written about this before, but to watch a 60 year old movie telling the story is something special.

Back in those days, in those rural areas, there were a great many small farms and agriculture (mostly potatoes) supported the local communities. What's more, people in the local communities supported agriculture by helping to bring the potatoes in. The schools shut down for two weeks because the children were needed for the harvest. 

Even my grandfather, at 71 years of age, and retired from farming, worked at helping on a neighboring farm to pick potatoes. This was in 1967. I know he picked potatoes because I have his journal for that year and he mentions it. I suspect my grandfather had helped with the potato harvest every year from the time he could walk and pick up a potato (three years old?).

I remember my grandfather had a flat bed truck just like shown in the movie (except his was red). And seeing the wooden potato barrels brings back some very early memories. I wrote about helping my grandfather repair potato barrels in the July 2010 Deliberate Agrarian Blogazine.

My other writings on this subject are....

A BitGold Update

Dateline: 15 September 2015

It has been about five weeks since I posted my blog essay titled, Considering BitGold (It’s Not A Cryptocurrency). Since then, I have put more money into BitGold than the initial $100 I mentioned in that post. And I have watched the price of gold go up quite a bit, then go down quite a bit, as this next graph of the 5-week period shows…

My 5 weeks of BitGold value
(click to see enlarged view)

Then, yesterday, I received my BitGold debit card in the mail…

I’m looking forward to transferring some of my BitGold account into the debit card, and using it as needed for everyday purchases. However, I’ll wait until the price of gold climbs up to the point where the value of my account exceeds the amount of money that I’ve put into the account. Then, when the price of gold dips down again, I’ll buy more BitGold

That’s my plan and it will be interesting to see how it works out. It isn’t important to me that the price of gold goes up and up and up, as many precious metal buyers hope and expect it will in the months ahead. I have not bought into the BitGold concept to make a profit, but to utilize an alternative currency—a currency that integrates with the central banking monopoly currency we are all familiar with, but is, at the same time, outside the banking system.

BitGold is what Bernard Lietaer would call a “complementary currency.” I’ve been listening to some of Lietaer’s YouTube talks and I like how he likens the central banking, debt-money system to a monocrop. A farmer who grows the same crop over and over every single year is inviting trouble. Diversity brings health and vitality to natural systems, and Bernard Lietaer believes the same is true for monetary systems. It’s an interesting concept, and I’m inclined to think Lietaer is on to something important in his thinking. 

From my agrarian point of view, I see BitGold as a decentralized form of money. Decentralization is fundamental to the agrarian way of thinking. Agrarians see decentralized social systems as being safer for the people who live in them, and more resilient. 

So I remain invested in the grand idea of BitGold. However, in keeping with my own advice in my first essay, I’ve not invested more money in BitGold than I’m willing to lose if the idea fails. 

One of my concerns about the BitGold concept is the ability to purchase gold at only 1% above the official gold price. While I really like that aspect, I wonder how it is sustainable. My understanding is that the demand for gold is currently so high, and the supply of physical gold is so low, and the official price of gold is so disconnected from reality, that there is currently a high premium (added cost above the official gold price) to purchase gold. No business can survive if it buys high and sells low. I’m assuming that there is something I’m unaware of in this line of thought, and that BitGold knows what they are doing.

In any event, I’m pleased to be an early adopter and supporter of this new idea. I’m hoping that BitGold will survive and thrive as a complementary currency. 

Reflections On The
French Poultry Killing Knife
(Blood Cups & Brain Sticking Too)

Dateline: 14 September 2015

(click pictures to see enlarged views)

Last month I blogged here about some Vintage Butchering Tools I have acquired, one of which is a 100-year-old French Poultry Killing Knife, made by the G.P. Pilling Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That knife, coupled with the excellent 100-year-old how-to information in the Agriphemera PDF download, How to Kill and Bleed Market Poultry, had me champing at the bit to butcher this year's crop of homegrown chickens. 

The common way to kill and bleed a chicken (or other poultry) these days is to tip them upside down into a killing cone, slice their neck arteries, and let them bleed out. The killing cone restrains the bird, while bleeding them with an artery cut allows the brain and heart to continue working (axe-chopping a bird's head off does not allow the heart to pump the blood out). As blood drains, life ebbs, the animal weakens, and soon dies, with a minimum of pain and trauma.

Unfortunately, many people who thus bleed poultry will unnecessarily (and often inadvertently) sever the bird’s trachea and esophagus when making the neck cut. This causes unnecessary suffering to the animal. Neck-slicing of chickens also results in a bloody head and neck.

One hundred years ago the approach to killing and bleeding poultry for market was much different than it is today. Back then, whole birds were sold with the neck and head intact (this is explained in the Agriphemera download, Dressing and Packing Turkeys For Market). Plucked birds that were sold in the marketplace also had certain feathers left on them. And, amazingly, the bird’s innards were left in. 

Seeing as the head and neck were left intact, a bleeding cut to the outside of the neck was cosmetically unacceptable. Therefore, the birds were killed and bled with the precise slice of a major artery at the back of the mouth. The cut was made with a short, narrow, sharp blade, like the French Poultry Killing Knife.

The 1915 bulletin, How To Kill And Bleed Market Poultry, goes into great detail explaining (and showing) the anatomy of a chicken’s neck and head. It reveals exactly where, at the back of the throat, the main artery can and should be severed for efficient bleeding. You simply will not find a better tutorial on the subject.

And so, with my first chickens in the killing cones, and my vintage French Poultry Killing Knife freshly sharpened for the task, I held a chicken’s head exactly as the illustration in the old bulletin shows, and I inserted the knife into the back of the mouth, exactly where I was supposed to. I made the cut and, to my delight, a steady stream of blood began to flow out the bird’s mouth. 

I bled several chickens this way and the technique worked but it seemed that the birds did not bleed out as quickly as they did when using a neck cut. So I bled some chickens using a neck cut. I did not time and compare how long it took the birds to die, but I’m pretty certain they died more quickly with the neck cut. Though they bled well at first when using the French Poultry Killing Knife through the mouth, the blood tended to clot and the flow slowed down.

I should mention here that, in conjunction with a cut in the back of the mouth, the old-timers also used a poultry blood cup. These cups were weighted receptacles that were hung on the bird’s beak immediately after making the cut through the mouth. They served to keep the head down (and the neck straight) as well as to capture the flowing blood. I believe this weight made a significant difference when it came to facilitating the steady flow of blood.

My search for an antique French Poultry Killing Knife was a long one; they very rarely come up for sale on Ebay. But I’m pretty sure that finding an antique poultry blood cup would be even more difficult. I don't imagine the sons and daughters of the old-timers wanted anything to do with inherited poultry blood cups. And were a few to survive to this century, who would have any idea what they were once used for?

The aforementioned bulletin, Dressing And Packing Turkeys For Market has pictures of a blood cup. This 1913 Article From Country Gentleman Magazine shows a blood cup for chickens. I may fabricate a couple of blood cups of my own design to use next year, come poultry processing time.

It may be that the neck cut is a better approach for this day and age. After all, it's no longer important that the head and neck of the birds we butcher be presentable. They are typically removed when butchering. Times have changed. 

Even still, I'm not going to give up on my French Poultry Killing Knife and the through-the-mouth artery cutting technique until I've fabricated a couple of blood cups and tried them out. That will be a project for next year. If a blood cup does help to keep the blood flowing smoothly, this old technique may be worth reviving for the simple reason that it is far less messy. As anyone who processes chickens knows, blood tends to splatter all over the area as a result of the head-and-neck death spasms of a throat-cut bird. 

In any event, if you butcher your own homegrown poultry, I think it is worth knowing how to bleed a bird through the mouth, as How To Kill And Bleed Market Poultry explains. And even if you decide not to use the technique, the explanations of artery location in a chicken’s head and neck are very useful when it comes to making an efficient outside-the-neck cut. I am now, without a doubt, making better artery cuts from outside the neck after reading the old bulletin and knowing where the arteries are. And I now understand why the blood flows better from one side of the neck than the other.

Brain Sticking

Another topic that is explained in detail in the How To Kill and Bleed Market Poultry bulletin is that of brain sticking to loosen feathers. It so happens that after cutting the artery at the back of the bird’s mouth, the old-timers would stick their knife into the chicken’s brain just-so, and that would loosen the feathers for easy plucking. 

Since I have a Whizbang Plucker, I did not try the brain-sticking technique. But it’s one of those intriguing old skills that would be good to know how to do if the need arises. As I understand it, a properly placed brain stick loosens the feathers so well that most of them can be easily wiped off the bird’s carcass… without the need for scalding. Imagine that!

Here are a couple more poultry killing knives from the G.P. Pilling & Son Catalog of 1914..

I am skeptical of the claims made for this instrument.
Cutting the jugular vein, is plausible. But severing 

the spinal cord to loosen feathers does not
correspond with the old how-to instructions I've read.

American Gothic
(By Jax Hamlin)

Dateline: 12 September 2015

(click picture to see a larger view)

It's hard to believe that five years have gone by since I created a web site to let the world know about my friend and alter ego, Jax Hamlin, the amazing whimsical chicken artist. I myself have not even visited Jax Hamlin's Chickens in three years!

But today I went looking through my file of Jax Hamlin chicken art and it brought back memories of what I hoped to do with the Jax Hamlin site. 

I was looking specifically for a Hamlin original titled, "A Broiler's Highest Calling" to illustrate an upcoming blog post. Unfortunately, I couldn't find that most excellent piece of whimsical chicken art, but I did find the drawing pictured above, and I thought I would share "American Gothic Chickens" with you here today.

That particular picture is a work in progress, not the finished concept, but it's close, and good enough for a peek into an example of Jax Hamlin chicken art that the world has not yet seen. 

"American Gothic Chickens" is, of course, inspired by Grant Wood's iconic American Gothic painting. Jax is an admirer of American Gothic and got to thinking that there might be more to the painting than most people realize. He imagined what the painting might show if the curtain was not in that Gothic window in the background. 

(click picture to see larger view)

Chronicle Of
An Onion Crop

Dateline: 11 September 2015
(click pictures to see larger views)

If you never saw my garden in person, and judged my gardening abilities solely on the pictures I post to this blog, you might assume I'm one of the best gardeners in the country. That would be an entirely incorrect assumption. I may be among the most avid and enthusiastic of gardeners, but I have my share of crop failures, and the weeds often get ahead of me in some areas. There is a lot of room for improvement in my gardening. Onions are, however, the exception.

I have gotten to the point in my gardening journey (now some 40+ years long) where, in  my soil and climate, I feel like I can dependably grow a good crop of onions.  The following pictures chronicle the development of this year's onion crop.

This next picture shows two of the three beds of onions I planted in the spring. Those are raised beds, made as I explain HERE. The onions are Copra. They are the most dependable storage onions I have ever grown. I buy the sets from Dixondale Farms in Texas. 

This next picture shows the three beds. The onions are growing nicely. I have laid plastic in the walkways to keep weeds down. I have shallow-cultivated the beds a couple of times to keep the weeds from getting established. I also cultivate after a rain to aerate the rain-compacted surface of the soil.

In this next picture, you can see that the onions have progressed nicely. Again, I have cultivated the soil repeatedly to eliminate all weed competition from getting a foothold. I cultivate with a Whizbang Pocket Cultivator, which I tell how to make on page 69 of my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners. Cultivating three rows gets difficult when the onion tops get bigger. With that in mind, I'm going to plant two-row beds next year. 

Another picture of the growing onion beds...

And yet another....

Most storage onion varieties let you know they are nearing harvest time when the necks weaken and most the tops fall over. But the Copra variety has such thick necks that they rarely fall over. They just start to die back, kind of like a garlic plant does. The trick with garlic is to harvest it while the top is still mostly green. Doing so leaves a good supply of intact paper wrappers around the bulb. I've come to the conclusion that is the same with Copra onions—they need to be harvested when still mostly green and standing tall.

Unfortunately, this year I did not harvest my Copras when I should have. I waited too long. 

Growing and harvesting are two different things. I have my growing system down pat, but there is room for improvement when it comes to my onion harvesting. Nevertheless, the Copra will still cure and store very well, even if, as a result of late harvesting, the cured bulbs do not have as many intact papery skin wrappers on them. I know this because I have late-harvested these onions in the past.

In this next picture I am using my Whizbang garden cart and some drying trays to cure the harvested onions...

The trays are just 2x4 and 2x6 frames with poultry wire stapled to the bottoms. I've used them for many years. I pull the onions, cut the tops off about an inch from the bulb, and layer the bulbs in the trays with the necks facing up. The objective is to get the necks dry. If the necks are dry, the onions will keep a long time. I leave the trays in the sun most of the time. The tarp is secured over the trays when rain threatens, and at night to prevent dew from getting on the bulbs.

Once the necks are dry, I take the bulbs inside and store them in an upstairs bedroom. I have grown larger Copra bulbs in the past. But, large or small, these onions are superior all-purpose onions that will last us well into springtime. The Whizbang garden totes are ideal for holding onions. Instructions for making the totes is in my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners.