Ruminations
For October 2014
(and a change in this blog)

Dateline: 31 October 2014

Kennebecks on the top and Yukon Gold on the bottom

I'm relieved to report that my 2014 crop of potatoes is now dug and in the basement. I got a decent yield from about 240 feet of rows. The best and biggest spuds are now in the basement, and we were able to share some of the harvest with three other families. Now I can cross that off "the list" and move on to other pressing tasks, like getting this year's firewood split and stacked…


Futureman at work

My two-year-old grandson (a.k.a., Futureman) "helped" me dig the potatoes this year. He now knows where potatoes come from, how to pick and place (not throw) them into a container, and that they get stored down in the basement.

Now the eating of potatoes at the dinner table takes on new meaning. It involves shared memories of harvesting and putting the crop away. Next spring, I'll have Futureman help me plant the crop. And by then, maybe he will be able to say "potato." 

Futureman can repeat the syllables. "Po"… "ta"… "toe". But he can't put them together yet. 

Mostly, he calls them "toes."





The child's wooden wheelbarrow in the two pictures above (click pictures to see enlarged views) is an antique that I recently bought. It's a good size for a two-year-old. I bought it as much for the inspiration as for my grandson.

I hope this winter to find time to develop plans for a similarly-sized child's wheelbarrow. I will offer the plans as an inexpensive PDF file. Every rural child should have a first wheelbarrow. In time, I also hope to come up with plans for an adult version.


chopped peppers on a tray to be frozen

In retrospect, this year's garden was probably the best I've ever had. Marlene takes care of growing the peppers. She also has a few blueberry bushes. I take care of everything else. And she cooks what I grow. The pepper pieces pictured above were frozen on the tray, then put into bags. I took that picture to use as my screensaver image (click for an enlarged view).




Speaking of gardening, I listened to the Survival Gardening Secrets audio-book (pictured above) this past month.

Most of the audio presentation is done by David Good, of the Florida Survival Gardening blog, and David has done a remarkably good job with this product. He has a great audio persona.

Presentation aside, the audio book really is packed with truly useful information for anyone who wants to learn how to garden. 

Personally, I know how to garden pretty well but I'm open to learning new things. For an experienced gardener, this audio book is the equivalent of comparing notes with another experienced gardener, which is something that I always enjoy doing.

In addition to David's discussion, there is an excellent, informative introduction to seed saving by Lucinda Bailey of Texas Ready. Another presentation by Paul Wheaton of Permies.com (on the subject of permaculture) is good, but marred somewhat by a few profanities.

In the final analysis, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to David Good's "Survival Gardening Secrets."




The above-pictured book is just-published and should be of interest to anyone who is yearning to break away from the rat race of wage slavery by making a living at home, on their land. It is exactly the kind of book I would have bought when I was a teenager. 

Fact is, I did buy several books along the same lines back in the 1970's. One, in particular, that I remember (and probably still have somewhere) was How To Make a Living in The Country (Without Farming), by William Osgood. 

How to Make Money Homesteading includes "18 inspirational real-life profiles," one of which is my story, which is to say the story of my Planet Whizbang homestead business. You will, of course, want to get a copy just to read my profile. :-)

I confess… I haven't had time to read How to Make Money Homesteadingyet, but Anna Hess, over at The Walden Effect has, and she wrote a review At This Link.



Marlene and I were recently at a Mennonite grocery store and gravitated to the book department. We bought a copy of To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl and started reading it. Though we haven't finished reading, our impression is that this is a profoundly good book on child training.

But it turns out the book is very controversial. When I see the media animosity directed towards Michael Pearl for what he has written in the book, I'm kind of shocked.

I always thought that parents were supposed to train their children to listen and obey. This can be, and should be, done without anger or abuse. The Pearl's book outlines how to train a child without anger or abuse. It's a sensible book. I think the parents of America should be embracing the wisdom in this book!

I can relate to what the book teaches because it is, essentially, the way Marlene and I trained our children to behave and listen to us. Our children never misbehaved in public when they didn't get their way. And it didn't happen at home either. Neither Marlene nor I were the kind of parents that yelled at our kids (or each other). Our children grew up in a peaceful, loving, Christian home. 

I don't think my sons fully appreciated the blessings of their home life when they were growing up, but they have come to realize how rare our home was as they've gotten older. I just hope they are able to raise their children in the same kind of home atmosphere.

Anyway, back to the Pearl family…. If you have young children, or grandchildren, I encourage you to watch The Fruit of Child Training Webinar on YouTube. What a pleasure it is to watch the Pearl family and listen to them discuss how they were raised. It is obvious that this is not only a Christian family, but a Christian agrarian family. And a deliberate Christian agrarian family at that.

One of the comments to the YouTube video is worth posting here…


"I heard the things the media were saying about your book, and about you. My 1st reaction was horror. I bought your book and read it myself, and now I know that the media lied about you. I wish your book had been available when my children were young. May God Bless you and your family."

A "new" energy drink.

As yet another example that "agrarian" is trendy, there is now  bottled switchel. The Vermont Switchel Company boldly declares on their web site: "Our Agrarian Heritage in a Bottle."

The Vermont Switchel Company's switchel is made with apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, ginger, lemon and molasses. 

Then there is Up Mountain Switchel, which plays on it's Vermont connection, but is made in Brooklyn, New York. Up Mountain Switchel is just vinegar, maple syrup and ginger.

I've had switchel a few times in my life. I liked the novelty of it. I liked the traditional-historical aspect. I liked the healthful qualities. But I didn't much like the taste. However, if I'm ever someplace where Vermont Switchel or Up Mountain Switchel is for sale, I'm going to give it a try.



I've blogged here a couple times in the recent past about ebola and colloidal silver, wondering if ebola is truly a threat and if colloidal silver may be an effective treatment or preventative. 

Something doesn't "add up" with ebola in the US. I can't quite put my finger on it but this whole thing, as it is unfolding, doesn't make sense to me at the moment. So I'll put my ebola comments on hold.

But I'm convinced that properly made colloidal silver is an effective treatment for any kind of bio-infection. And, after thinking about it for several years, I decided to buy a "silver generator" that is more advanced than my 9-volt battery generator (that I haven't used in a very long time). 

I got the Silver Lungs "system."  Delivery time is four weeks out. I think a lot of people are buying these things.

One of the 2014 Classic American Clothespins
For those who missed my most recent Planet Whizbang e-mail newsletter, this year's production run of Classic American Clothespins is scheduled to go on sale the morning of December 1st. I am pleased with how these clothespins turned out and will have approximately 10,000 clothespins to sell. First come, first served. 

The Toe-Tapper Faucet Switch

Some of you may recall the Toe-Tapper Faucet Switch I made and Sold Here Back In June. I've gotten feedback on the switch from a few people but not many. 

If you purchased one of the Toe-Tappers and used it, please e-mail me or leave a feedback comment below. A Farmshow magazine editor has expressed some interest in the Toe Tapper. I can forward all honest feedback on the prototypes to him.

I have no plans to make and sell these Toe-Tappers in the future. I will, however, put the specifications together in pdf format and make them available for a couple of dollars. That is a this-winter project.

One person has contacted me about producing Toe-Tappers to go with an outdoor fish-cleaning table he makes. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who wants to make Toe-Tapper faucet switches and sell them can go right ahead and do so. I don't want anything from it. All I would ask is that you give credit where credit is due and let people know I developed the idea. That way I get a little marketing exposure (PlanetWhizbang.com) from it. Thank you.


A Change In This Blog

The US Postal Service found me this last month. I got a call from a regional representative. He wanted to stop by and meet me and maybe help me save some money with shipping. The fellow stopped by for a half hour or so. He was was downright nice and genuinely helpful not what I expected from a government employee.

I spent over $53,000 in postage last year, shipping over 4,000 packages. I think it will be even more this year. Planet Whizbang continues to grow, and I am continually boggled by it.

Back in December of 2007, when the business was much smaller (and it was named, Whizbang Books), I posted a blog titled, For Sale: Whizbang Books (The Business). Some people wrote expressing an interest in buying the business. The blog post was up only a couple of hours before I quickly removed it. I changed my mind. 

Here is part of what I wrote at that time

Years ago (the 1970s), there was a business similar to what I believe Whizbang could be. It was called Garden Way. The business published how-to books, sold cider press kits, rototillers, garden carts, and a whole lot of other products for the homesteading crowd. Garden Way tapped into a growing trend for getting back to basics. Garden Way became a multimillion dollar business.
Whizbang Books could easily be another Garden Way. There are so many possibilities for building on the Whizbang foundation that I have established. But I’m not sure I’m the person to make this business much bigger. I work a regular full-timejob to provide for my family and it leaves little time for Whizbang expansion. My mind is not geared for marketing and big mail-order business. I don’t even have a computerized list of my customers. I don’t do bookkeeping very well. I don’t like to talk on the phone. I am reluctant to spend the money it takes to expand. For that matter, I don’t even have the money to spend to expand. I do not “think big enough.” That is what I’ve been told, and it is probably true.
I’m more of an idea person. I like to create things. As much as I would like to do it (and to a small degree am doing it) developing a big, profitable, mail order business is not necessarily something that suits me. That’s just the way I am. 
This last year saw enough growth at Whizbang Books that I am wondering if I can continue to handle the demands if the business grows much more. There is only so much that one man, with a little help from his family, can do in a part time capacity. So, today, as I was working in my shop, it occurred to me that I should offer the business for sale.

It's kind of funny for me to read what I wrote seven years ago, and how I felt about my business. It's funny because the business has grown, I'm still the same guy, and I'm still overwhelmed.

At this point, I'm not looking for a buyer, but I am looking to get more organized and efficient in the small space I have to operate out of. I'm also intent on getting ahead on much of my product inventory (this things that require manufacture or assembly on my part) through the slower business months of winter.

That is one reason I am deciding to cut way back on my blogging. I need to focus on doing more productive work and running my business more efficiently. If I can do this, I will have more time next summer for doing the other things of life, like, for example, keeping my lawn mowed, doing some long-overdue home repairs, and spending more one-on-one time with Futureman. As much as I love it, working at the business 12 to 14 hours a day, all summer, is getting to be too much.

The other reason I need to cut back on blogging is that my eyes are beginning to really bother me. I spend way too much time staring into a computer screen answering customer e-mails and processing orders. My vision is getting worse, and I'm getting concerned about it.

So, as it stands now, I will be blogging only once a month, on the last day, like I have done today. This new blogging format will be similar to the Monthly Blogazines I posted here from April 2009 to March 2013. But the Blogazines tended to be longer productions with more thoughtful ruminations. My  new format will, of necessity, reflect less depth of thought and be more brief.

My thanks to all of you who read this blog, and who often comment. I have learned from you and been blessed by your insights. I hope you will continue to meet me back here, Lord willing, on the last day of every month.

Herrick Kimball









Cancer
The Quest For The Cure
(free to watch this weekend)

Dateline: 25 October 2014



Over the last 11 days, Marlene and I have watched the 11-part video series "Quest For the Cure" with Ty Bollinger. It is excellent and well worth watching if you want to better understand alternative cancer treatment options. 

It is also worth watching if you want to know what you can to avoid getting cancer.

I am posting about this today because the whole series is free to watch for this weekend. THIS LINK takes you to a page where you can click and watch each episode for free.





Four-Day Carrots
(Part 3)

Dateline: 10 October 2014




I've decided to extend my break from blogging to the end of this month. But I'll probably stop in once or twice between now and then, like with this here post….

I've just uploaded another short movie to You Tube. I made it kind of fast, so it's not as good as it could be. But it shows the "Four-Day" carrot beds (featured in previous film clips) at three months of age. The tri-planted carrots in black plastic mulch are looking good!

Click Here to watch the 8-minute film clip.



Complexity & Collapse
(An Interview With Joseph Tainter)

Dateline: 6 October 2014

This flow chart illustrates the amazing complexity of America's new health care system, also known as, Obamacare.
Click Here for more details

If you have read this blog for long you know that I often make the point that complexity (and dependency) leads to vulnerability. And vulnerability eventually leads to failure.

That being the case, I've long believed that our incredibly complex, interdependent, modern civilization will eventually collapse. That is, after all, what has happened to all complex civilizations throughout history. 

So it is that I found This Recent Interview with Professor Joseph Tainter at the McAlvany Weekly Commentary to be of great interest. I recommend it to you.

Joseph Tainter is an anthropologist and historian who has studied the collapse of various civilizations throughout history. He is author of the 1988 book, The Collapse of Complex Societies

I think Professor Tainter has a remarkably insightful understanding of how and why complex societies always eventually collapse. I think he is right on with his understandings of how our modern civilization will collapse. A few notes from the McAlvany interview:

—Complexity is the cause of societal collapse (Dr. Tainter does not think resource depletion will be the cause of collapse). Other factors certainly enter into the picture, but it is, essentially, complexity itself that leads to collapse.

—Complex societies become more complex as they work to solve problems that arise. Complexity happens slowly, incrementally, over a period of time.

—Collapse, defined as the loss of a complex way of life, happens relatively quickly.

—Our modern complex civilization is trapped in its complexity. There is no way to lessen complexity and avert collapse.

—Complex society is a historical anomaly. Civilizations throughout most of history have not been complex.

I hope you will take the time to listen to the whole interview. And maybe you'll come to the same conclusion I did

Our complex civilization may be trapped in complexity but we as individuals and families don't have to be. To the extent that we can, we who are wise to the lessons of history can simplify our way of life, lessen our dependencies on complex civilization, and learn to be more self reliant. 

It's the same old bottom line. I've been blogging about it here for the past nine years. The good news is that more and more people are seeing the connection between complexity and collapse, and they are being seriously proactive about it.

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I'm on blogging break until the 15th.
See you then.




EBOLA
&
I'm Taking A Little Break

Dateline: 2 October 2014



Back in early August I blogged about Ebola and colloidal silver, wondering if colloidal silver might help prevent or cure the disease. Now that Ebola has landed in the United States, I'm thinking more about this.

I'm also thinking is that it is incredibly foolish of our government to allow people from countries where Ebola is now pandemic to freely come into the United States. If they do let them in, such people should be quarantined for a period of time. Doesn't that seem like a wise thing to do? But folly on top of folly seems to be the way of American government these days. And we will all pay a price for it.

I have a friend from high school who went on to get a PhD in biochemistry, then did post-doctorate studies in microbiology, before a teaching gig at Harvard Medical School. He recently wrote on his Facebook page… "Did you know that the RNA 'genome' of ebola codes for only (8) proteins?? That is scarier to me than any horror film I've ever seen…" And he provides This Link for more details.

I have no idea what he is talking about with genomes and protein coding, and the link is only to be understood by microbiologists, but I do understand "scarier than any horror film I've ever seen."
Fortunately for America, the health authorities in Dallas (the current ground zero for American Ebola) have everything under control there. The wicked disease is contained. That is what they have said in news conferences.
Some translation may be needed here…. 
What the health authorities mean is that the disease is not contained and it is not under control. 

Understanding government talk is easy once you realize that the truth of any situation is almost always the exact opposite of what the government people and the government-controlled media say it is. 
Back to colloidal silver 

The US Government asserts that colloidal silver is not a cure or preventative measure for Ebola (Note: see "government-talk" translation tip above). 

The government says this because there are concerned about people who are trying to get silver solutions into ebola-affected countries in order to help the sick people.  And government authorities are putting a stop to this

As usual, there is more to the story than meets the eye. This Article brings some interesting facts to light and tells how our government is now going after anyone who asserts that colloidal (or nano) silver could help with ebola.

One of the people that the government is going after is Dr. Rima Laibow. She has issued This Protocol with instructions for the use of 10ppm nano silver (and vitamin C) for helping to prevent ebola, and for treating ebola symptoms if they arise.

I'm not endorsing Dr. Laibow. You can read her protocol, and the information on her web site. Then you can come to your own conclusions about her. Yes, she sells nano silver, but, personally, I'm inclined to think she is more apt to be telling the truth than our government.

There is a lot of talk about a vaccine for ebola, and mandatory vaccination for all Americans is expected at some point. There are a lot of people who have concerns about the safety of vaccinations. But not to worry, the government says they are safe (Note: see government-talk translation tip above).

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I'm taking a break from blogging for awhile. I will post a blog update here on October 15. If you are not yet signed up to receive this blog by e-mail, there is a link to do so at the top right of this page. 

Here's wishing all of you the blessings of a strong immune system and abundant health, now and through this potential pandemic.


My Grandfather's Farm
As It Is Today

Dateline: 30 September 2014


Photo by Paul Cyr
(click to see enlarged view)

My Aunt Carolyn recently sent me the picture above. It shows my maternal grandfather's farm, on Forest Avenue Road in Fort Fairfield, Maine, as it looks today. 

I sent the picture to a cousin and he wondered if I might be mistaken. That's because the old place looks a whole lot different than it once did. The red barn with silos was never there before. Neither was the long back addition on the white house, nor all the other outbuildings and additions. There was only the house and the red-roofed barn in the foreground.


The barn on the right was the only barn on the farm when my grandparents owned it. I remember the barn very well.
(photo by Paul Philbrick)

My grandfather died in 1971. My grandmother sold the farm a few years later. It changed hands several times before an Amish family (the Yoder family) from northern New York state bought the place and moved in back in the summer of 2007.

Near as I can determine, Noah and Lovina Yoder, along with their 11 children, were the first Amish family to settle in Aroostook County, Maine. Noah is a farmer and a carpenter. He builds barns and furniture. I'm pretty sure all the buildings and additions to buildings on the farm have been made since the Yoders arrived. It is great to see.

This DownEast magazine article, featuring Noah Yoder's story and that of the Amish in Northern Maine, is particularly good. The picture at the top of the article of the Amish boy making a snowman shows a little bit of my grandfather's barn. Sadly, the article reveals that Noah's 22-year-old son was killed in an auto accident one winter. He was a passenger.

This Web Page shows pictures of an Amish barn raising in Easton, Maine, which is right next to Fort Fairfield. If you look closely you'll see that the barn is not a traditional post and beam structure. It turns out the Amish rarely, if ever, put up post and beam barns anymore. 

These days, Amish barns are nailed together using 2x6 lumber. You can learn more about the specifics of how Amish barns are made in Maine from This Link

I have a lot of memories of my grandfather's barn. Back in the July issue of my 2010 Deliberate Agrarian Blogazine I told the story of helping him repair potato barrels, and getting split ash hoops from the indians, and nearly blowing my hand off with a firecracker I found in the barn. Click on that link and you will also see a picture of my grandparents back in the day (there's a picture of me too, back when my memories were fresh and real and lodged themselves into my brain).

The barn was built by my Uncle Clyde Kennedy (author of The Hard Surface Road: A Memoir of the Great Depression) after WW2. Clyde married my mother's sister, Aunt Dawn. The lower half of the barn is a potato cellar. If I remember correctly, the upper floor of the barn is concrete (it would be the ceiling of the potato cellar). I'm pretty sure this is right because I recall there was a rectangular concrete hatch in the floor. Maybe more than one. I think they were there to unload harvested potatoes through.

Anyway, there is a little bit of a secret in that barn. One of the concrete hatch covers has my grandfather's name in it: P.O. Philbrick. The letters were written in wet concrete by Uncle Clyde, and there is also a profile drawing on the hatch (made in wet concrete) of my grandfather's head. Uncle Clyde was an artist and I was always amazed as a kid by the excellent likeness of my grandfather.

If I ever make it back to Fort Fairfield I would like to stop and see if that little secret is still in the barn.


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You can see a film clip showing the beautiful farm country of Northern Maine (including my grandparent's farm) from an aircraft in This YouTube Movie. It also shows some Amish boys plowing fields with horse teams. 


My grandparent's house looks pretty much the same on the outside
(photo by Paul Philbrick, December 2013