Thursday, December 17, 2009


I am currently reading a new book by Eliot Coleman called,

The Winter Harvest Handbook
Year-Round Vegetable Production
Using Deep-Organic Techniques
and Unheated Greenhouses

For years Coleman's writings have been an inspiration to us. This latest book is a real nice addition to our library. I find that it is complimentary to his book
Four Season Harvest. Being filled with the latest updated information it paints a more vivid picture of his year-round vegetable producing techniques. Plus there are quite a number of full color photographs illustrating it beautifully, which also help bring his previous writings more to light.

We've been aiming for a long time to emulate much of how Eliot Coleman grows vegetables. Though it has only been in the past couple years that we have put more of it to practice. We are a long way off but, we are getting closer. To me his techniques are the way to go especially in harsh northern climates. I have yet to find a better way.

Growing up so far removed from this kind of life we poured over all kinds of publications before we even moved here trying to learn as much as we could about how to live off the land. For growing vegetables we turn to Eliot Coleman. For keeping animals we have found
Joel Salatin to offer the most common sense approach. Though I had heard of him for quite a long time it has only been the past several years that we have really gotten aquainted with his methods.
Salatins influence on agrarian culture seems to be quite extensive, as we found we were already practicing a number of the things he does simply from seeing how other people were already imitating him.

For over-all general information on homesteading we turn to
Countryside Magazine.
Ever since my cousin Bob gave me a couple of his older issues both me and Kelli were hooked. We were still in IL at the time and we both found that "homesteading" is what we wanted to do. I never wanted to be a farmer per se. Countryside magazine re-coined the term homesteading. They re-defined it. Before becoming a reader of Countryside I always pictured 'homesteading' more like how they did it in the "old days", where settlers got free land from the government.
But, this new definition really struck a cord with me and Kelli. As defined by Countryside magazine that was exactly what I'd been wanting to do all my life. And Kelli was right on board. It was a God thing I reckon, the fact that I didn't even have to persuade my wife. She was sold right from the start.

Before my cousin gave me my first issue of Countryside, I had dabbled a little with Mother Earth magazine. Although it dealt with many of the topics I was interested in I didn't like the title and it seemed to cater more to the "yuppie" urbanite wanna be homesteader crowd. I considered myself more of a natural born country boy even though I was born in a city. Country life was in my blood. I did grow up on my great-grand parents original 5 acre homestead. By the time I came along it had been divided up into 4 parcels each going to my three great-uncles and my grandma. The oldest uncle got 2 acres. And the rest of the kids got 1 acre. We lived with my Grandma on her acre. But, I still had run of the whole place. In time the city encroached on us and soon we were surrounded by 24 hr. none stop traffic. When I was about 10 years old a horse pasture right next to us was sold and a huge apartment complex went in. Those buildings towered over our back yard. It was horrible and I wanted to leave from that moment on.

After more than 11 years of living here we still subscribe to Countryside magazine. 9 years ago we even named our garbage business after it. We read it from cover to cover every time. and we certainly don't throw it away when were done. We have every issue we've ever bought. That is unless we gave one away to a friend or something.

Before we built our log cabin I had done tons of reading about how to build log structures. Since we fell in love with the early American style log houses Charles McRaven was the authority we settled on for building with logs. He also has he the best books I've ever seen on how to build with stone. We have three of his books in our library. BUILDING & RESTORING the HEWN LOG HOUSE, BUILDING with STONE, and THE STONE PRIMER .
Even though we didn't build our log cabin with hewn logs or use dovetail corners we relied heavily on McRavens writings.
In more recent times of discovering the 'blogosphere' and it's host of agrarian writers has been another source of great inspiration. Northern Farmer was one blog that especially had me right from the beginning. We enjoyed reading about the day to day happenings at this rural Minnesota farm. And of the gritty down to earth style that Tom Scepaniak brought to his blog with his no apologies views on matters of faith, religion and just about any other topic you can think of. Though it was sad to see that he retired his Northern Farmer blog, I think his newest one Christian Farm and Ranchman is even better. We still get to read about the day to day farm life but, matters of faith have gone off the charts as far as I'm concerned. I for one have been moved greatly from a spiritual perspective by much of what Tom is writing these days.

Then there are the writings of Herrick Kimball over at The Deliberate Agrarian blog. In my opinion Herrick is flat out the best 'How To' writer on the planet! He's just a good writer period. But, I especially enjoy his instructional writings. I have purchased several of his books which will always have a place in our home.
Another blog that stood out for me was the one by Walter Jeffries titled Sugar Mountain Farm .
Walter seems like a very interesting fellow. His blog is full of creative and often humorous anecdotes. He also has alot of day to day type accounts of happenings at his farm. For me just hearing or reading about how people do things is a great learning tool. I often derive more information that way than whole books devoted to one subject. Experience is a great teacher.
Also Walter has another blog and very well could be his most important, which is The National Animal Identification System is one of the worst totalitarian idea's that have come along in this country perhaps ever. I am passionately against NAIS so I give Walter alot of credit in keeping this one going. I have seen his blog site referenced to all over the place, in both electronic communications and in print. Go Walter!
The first "christian agrarian" blog I ever saw was Homesteader Life. I was very excited when I found this one. Here was the first time on the Internet that I saw my two main passions put together in one package. Well, actually it wasn't the first time. I found Homesteader Life from a website called Christian Homesteaders Association . Scott Terry the author of Homesteader Life had made a comment at that site. That's how I found him. But, Christian Homesteaders Association website didn't have much activity. Scott Terry's blog was regularly updated. And from there he had links to numerous of other blogs. And each of those blogs had links. Soon I found a whole world of Christian farmer/homesteader/agrarian people. I couldn't believe it. So many in fact, that it just about boggles the imagination. A person can't possibly keep up with it all.
That's why I started my own blog a few years ago. I wanted to get in on the conversations. I felt like I had come home. But, after awhile it was easy to spend WAY too much time checking it all out and conversing with everyone. I had to back off on it and not spend so much time. I think a person could sit at this thing all day long if they aren't careful.
There are many blogs I haven't mentioned and I feel that I have developed a number of good friendships through all of this. And the information and stories are just endless. From time to time I cruise around and check out alot of the blogs and catch up with where alot of them are at. I don't comment much anymore but, I'm still out here "lurking" as Walter Jeffries puts it. I find all the stories and information on the many blogs very inspiring. A great wealth of information is out there in cyber space.
But, the greatest source of inspiration, hands down, comes from the bible. We simply couldn't get by without that! The Holy Scriptures are the greatest "How To" manual to ever be. And it has alot of 'agrarian' references to boot. It answers the questions just about everyone has at some point or another in their lives of "how did I get here and who am I". The bible tells us how we got here. It tells who and what we are. And it tells us where we are going. It teaches us how to find God. It tells us how to get along in this sin cursed world. And above all it shows us how to love. How to love God and how to love each other. The bible says that "God is love" Love is exactly what this world needs. It desperately needs love, it desperately needs God.
Until Next Time


Blogger Hank Coran said...

Wow. I've just gotten into this world myself (only been about 2 months), and you just described how I've felt since the start what led me up to this point in the past few years. I've come home too. I'm gonna check out the new links you talked about. I learned one new tip recently from an engine repair professor about watering plants. I'm gonna try it out myself before I pass it on. I'll post it if it passes my test. Again, thanks for saying what I've been thinking. :)

God bless you and your family,

11:22 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Hello Hank,

Thanks for the comment. Welcome to our blog!

Starting where a person is at is the best place to begin.

Before we moved to the country we gardened and raised rabbits in a shed. The rabbits weren't quite 'legal' but, they didn't bother anyone and we learned alot in the process.

We have relatives in the city who even have a few chickens. Those too are against the rules but, no one seems to mind them. Of course they don't have roosters.

Now, I'm not advocating breaking the rules I'm just pointing out how a person can learn to do things even in an urban setting.

I'm glad if what I wrote struck a cord with you. It's nice to communicate with people of like mind.

Take care and God bless,

10:03 AM  
Blogger Hank Coran said...

Yeah, my mom and grandma are living in the suburbs right now, and we are planning on moving in a few months, so we don't want to start anything big just yet. Plus the land here is horrible and its so rocky its not worth trying to improve it. We looking at different places but we've think we've got it narrowed down to WV and western NC. We're looking at places with at least 1 acre, so we can have a garden. We can't wait! I may try growing yams in a pot while we're still here though. Well, need to get some cleaning done. Merry Christmas!

1:25 PM  
Blogger RL said...

And Merry Christmas to you Hank!
Well, a belated one anyway. This is the day after Christmas.

WV and NC are beautiful parts of the country. We once considered going to NC before we came to WI.

5:24 PM  

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