June 23, 2019

So Long Blogger.
I've Finally Moved To WordPress!

I've blogged on this Blogger format for 14 years. Blogger was a good place for me for most of those years. But it has become so problematic that I've been forced leave. My new blogging home is now at WordPress. 

Seeing as I had to move to a new blogging format, I've taken the opportunity to create a new blog name. Heavenstretch is now my place on the web. 

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Heavenstretch will be my "last blog and testament." And I really mean it this time!

Please stop on over and see what Heavenstretch is all about...

May 29, 2019

I Can't Even Comment
on My Own Blog!

Everett Littlefield, a frequent commenter on this blog in the past, has e-mailed me a few times expressing discouragement over not being able to post comments. I haven't been able to give him any good advice on the matter.

And now, Blogger is not allowing me to comment on my own blog. 

This morning, I wrote a reply to Nancy May in my previous post, hit the appropriate button to post the comment, and it totally disappeared. That really is discouraging, especially when I spent some time putting my thoughts together.

I have blogged on Blogger since 2015. I have resisted going to another format because I'm comfortable with Blogger. This dog doesn't want to learn new tricks.

But this is the last straw... It looks like I am going to have to face the learning curve and move to another format. I'll probably find out that it's not as hard to learn as I might think it is.

And maybe the new format will alert me when someone posts a comment on one of my posts. Blogger hasn't done that for a long time.

My mail order business is very busy these days. I don't have the time to make a blog switch now. But I'll figure it out later this year. Very few people still read my blog writings anyway.

I do hope to get a few YouTube videos out through the summer months. Here's the link to my YouTube channel: This Agrarian Life.


May 15, 2019

The Beer-Sheba Project
In Senegal

Longtime readers of my blog writings know that I've written several times in the past about the Christian ministry, Foundations For Farming. And more than once, I've posted This YouTube Clip of  Johann van der Ham, from Foundations For Farming,  speaking about the wonders of God's creation in a magnificent sunflower.

Today I want to introduce you to another Christian agricultural ministry in Africa. It's the Beer-Sheba Project.

A local friend (Thank you, Mike) sent me the link to the YouTube movie above. If your looking for some good news in the midst of our troubled world, watch that movie.


For those who don't know Senegal is a former French colony in Western Africa. 94% of the population is Muslim.

It's worth noting here that there are countries in Africa where over 90% of the population is Christian. In fact, the Christian population of Africa at large is "exploding," as explained in This Article. This amazing growth has come about in spite of the terrible persecution and genocide of African Christians in recent history.


Meanwhile, sad to say, Christianity is in decline here in the United States. The Secular juggernaut is steamrolling over every last vestige of Christian influence in our government and culture.  


Persecution of Christians in the West is at the door. Apart from God's grace, we who refuse to compromise in our Biblical beliefs will face a holocaust as the American Republic continues to self destruct. 

I often think of getting out of Marxist New York State. But, at the current rate of national decline, I might need to start thinking about another country. 

Christians in Russia who left before the Marxist takeover in 1919 managed to escape the nightmare that enveloped that country for decades thereafter. 

Marxists and Christians don't mix well. While Christians can tolerate (and even love) Marxists, the Marxists do not tolerate Christians. In the eyes of a Marxist, the only good Christian is a dead one. That's one of the lessons of history. 

My dentist's grandparents (Russian Orthodox Christians) were among those who got out of Russia in time. They came to America. They never had to endure the Gulag Archipelago. 

Where will American Christians go to flee the nightmare ahead? Perhaps Africa. 


One last thing.... if you are not familiar with David Horowitz, check out This Remarkable Video. Part of what makes the video remarkable is that Horowitz is a former Marxist radical. He is now an agnostic Jew, and he is defending Christian America.

May 7, 2019

The Rise And Fall
Of A Homestead Business

Those who have followed my internet writings over the years (since 2005) know that I have a homestead-based mail order business called Planet Whizbang, which started as a side hustle when I worked full time at a NY State prison. 

And you know that Planet Whizbang prospered. So much so that in 2013 I left the security of my government wage slave job to work my Planet Whizbang business full time. It was a dream come true, and it still is. But....

The measure of prosperity that I enjoyed with the Planet Whizbang business for a number of years has declined precipitously since 2013. My business income is now half of what it was six years ago. 

This is not a personal crisis because my wife and I have, in seasons of prosperity, lived well below our means. We live simply and have no debt. 

If you've read my writings for long, you know that I've always been wary of debt, and this wariness is for the exact reason that I'm writing about here... it is unwise to suppose that the future will be like the present.

There is a clear agrarian sentiment in such thinking. Farmers well know that you can not count on a successful crop every year. The aphorism, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch," comes to mind.

I have often considered the parallels between my little mail order business and farming. I have chores to do every morning in the form of orders to fill. The chores must be done, whether I feel like it or not. 

Then there is the matter of planting seeds and harvesting a crop. Every product idea I pursue is a seed planted. A lot of work must be done to develop the idea and bring it completion. Then I wait to see if the idea is productive; if it bears fruit. Delayed gratification is fundamental to the agrarian life.

Some idea "crops" bring a good harvest. Most bring a moderate harvest. Some bring no harvest to speak of, and the labor invested is in vain.

In the final analysis, every farmer, and every small-scale, mail order craftsman-entrepreneur like myself is dependent on God for the increase. That's the way I look at it. 

We do our work diligently and God blesses us to the degree that it pleases Him to do so. There is a direct dependency on God's provision with both endeavors. It is a heavenward dependency that is not at all like the usual modern-world dependency on a wage-slave job with a steady paycheck and benefits.

There is another agrarian precept that comes into play with my home business. It is diversification, and it is best summed up in the adage: "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

Planet Whizbang was built on my Whizbang Chicken Plucker book. With an initial investment of less than $1,000 I published and promoted the now-famous plan book. In time, sales of the book took off, and people started buying parts from me to make their own Whizbang poultry plucker.

There was a time, years ago, when I was shipping out as many as 10 Whizbang "Shebang" plucker parts kits a day. The volume of sales was astounding to me, and to my UPS driver.

But these days I might sell an average of two kits a month. At that rate, I have enough plucker parts now in stock to last more than a decade.

At one time, I was ordering 20,000 rubber poultry plucker fingers at a time, and placing several orders in a year. Last year I had enough fingers in stock that didn't need to order any. Then, last month I placed an order for 10,000, and those will last a long time.

The reason for the drop in sales is the introduction and proliferation of cheap China-made poultry pluckers. You can now buy a nice looking, already-made plucker (on Amazon) for less than the cost of materials to make your own Whizbang plucker. And the US market is now flooded with very cheap, synthetic-rubber plucker fingers. 

The quality of the cheap pluckers is poor, and  synthetic-rubber plucker fingers have neither the longevity, nor the durability of my natural-rubber fingers (not even close), but that doesn't really matter to most people. 

Which brings me back to diversification... If I focused my mail order business only on chicken pluckers (plan books & parts), I would not be able to keep my bills paid these days. Diversification of products has kept my mail-order business alive.

Please understand that this is not a tale of woe. Planet Whizbang still keeps our bills paid, we are still able to bless others financially as God leads us, and we are still able to put some money into savings. But the measure of prosperity God once gave me has declined, and there is a lesson in this for any aspiring entrepreneur.

With lessons in mind, I often think I should someday write a book about what I've learned about small-scale, hands-on, solopreneurship. I may title it: "Confessions of a Whizbang Entrepreneur." Or something like that.

What all of this leads to is the Bible verse at the top of this post. That verse sums up my "ambitions" as an entrepreneur and as a Christian. That verse is profoundly agrarian, and totally Contra mundum. Incidentally, that verse was a big part of why I stopped writing my once-popular The Deliberate Agrarian blog years ago.

That verse also explains, in part, why I haven't posted an essay to this blog for awhile. Quite simply, I've been working with my hands a lot lately. Most of the products I sell require an investment of my time and my handwork to create, and then to mail them off. 

Besides that, I'm starting to focus more time and attention on other income-producing, home-business ideas. It's more of the diversification principle in action.

So, that's the story of the rise and fall of a homestead business. It's not a sad story. It's just a story, and it's an update for those of you who have followed my writings over the years.

With winter over, I am now fully engaged in the work of my home and business (another agrarian similarity). So I'll be blogging here only rarely, if at all, until the pace of life slows down later in the year. 
My thanks to those of you who have recently contacted me to see if I'm okay. Feel free to drop me an e-mail any time: Herrick@PlanetWhizbang.com 

March 24, 2019

Rick's Amazingly Beautiful
Wisconsin Minibed Garden

(click on photos to see larger views)

Rick L. in Wisconsin recently sent me the following e-mails and photos. As you might imagine, I'm so pleased to see this kind of feedback on my gardening system. Thank you, Rick, for allowing me to share your comments and photos here. I find them powerfully inspiring, and I'm sure everyone who comes to this page will too!

Rick's First E-mail...

Hi Herrick,

We have emailed back and forth a few times. Last spring I bought your Mini-Beds on Plastic Reports 1 & 2. I also bought Report #3 last week. I have read all three reports more than once. I want to thank you for the mini-bed gardening system.

I, like you, resisted using plastic in my gardens until four, or five years ago. I started using the Dewitt fabric with holes burned in it for carrots and onions. It worked pretty good. Your Mini-Beds on Plastic Reports made so much sense and reduced weeding that I went whole hog with it.

I have two gardens. My upper garden is near the house. It is about 36’ X 40’ and I grow tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, cabbage, carrots, herbs, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce and peppers in it. This is the garden I converted to a mini-bed garden. I have 67 beds in this garden. My pole bean cattle panel trellis are the only beds that are not standard 30” X 30” beds. See attached picture.

My lower garden is more traditional and is about 30’ X 60’ in size. I grow potatoes, onions, sweet corn, dry beans and garlic. Last summer I planted eight mini-beds of strawberries down there. I converted about one third of this garden to mini-beds for garlic and strawberries. The strawberries did great until the deer got in to them around mid-October. They really munched them down to just the crown and a few sprigs left on each plant. I didn’t know deer liked strawberry plants so much. I don’t know if they will make it through our winter, but I mulched them good, so time will tell.

I have to tell you my wife and I were more than pleased and impressed at how the mini-beds performed. We had a few things fail for one reason, or another, but it wasn’t because of the mini-beds. We had the best peppers we have ever grown last year. I put four pepper plants to a bed. Just recently I have read that you should plant peppers so the plant leaves touch when they are mature. Supposedly it increases the yield. I don’t know if that is true, or not, but last year our peppers produced like crazy. When the frost finally killed them and I pulled the plants, I had some peppers with one inch diameter stems. I’ve never had peppers plants like that before. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the mini-beds.

Our zucchini, cucumbers produced like crazy and lasted two, or three weeks longer than they usually do. Our tomatoes didn’t do the greatest, but we had plenty to eat fresh and canned enough to get us through the winter. Tri-planted carrots did good. Everything pretty much did better, or a lot better than the traditional row planting and mulching that we used to do and there was a lot less weeding work. That is a major plus to me.

We have quack grass here and it seems I’m battling that through out the whole gardening season. Not last year. I didn’t have any quack grass come up in the mini-beds. In the lower garden where I planted strawberries in July, I just had the area covered with plastic and the mini-bed frames pinned down. When I cut the plastic and cracked the soil in the beds, I did find a lot of quack grass rhizomes, but they were dry and appeared dead. They did not grow in the beds.

I could go on, and on, but I’m going to stop here. We are looking forward to a great gardening season with our mini-beds. I’ve attached a few pictures of my mini-bed garden from last year. I have many more pictures, but I think these show it the best.

It was obvious to me that Rick was a serious, long-time gardener. I was curious to know just how long. His reply...

How long have I been growing my own food? Well, the short answer would be, 44 years that my wife and I have been active, avid gardeners. 

My wife and I were married in 1971. I was active duty military at the time. I was discharged in 1975 and we have had a garden every year since. Sometimes not such a great garden, but we always got a fair amount of food out of them. Now our gardens feed us close to year around. When I go grocery shopping it’s mostly for dairy products (milk, yogurt, etc.) and meat. We have chickens, so we have our own eggs.

The other answer would be most of my life. My parents and grandparents had gardens as far back as I can remember. While I wasn’t involved very much with planting, or preserving the harvest when I was a child, they got me involved in weeding as soon as they could. Ha! Ha! So I have been eating home grown vegetables most of my life.

Now I start my own seeds every year. I marvel at the miracle of a tiny seed growing in to a healthy, vigorous plant and producing food for us to eat. I never thought much about that before I started growing my own plants from seed.

I’ve sent a few more photos. Every thing was grown in mini-beds.

Hmmm... that's a real nice Whizbang Garden Tote in that last picture (Click Here for how-to instructions). 

Here's a photo of Rick, at the end of the growing season, with one of those amazing, thick-stem, Minibed-grown pepper plants he mentioned in his first e-mail (it looks more like a small tree trunk!)...

If you are not familiar with my Minibed gardening system, full details are in my 2019 Minibed Gardening Trilogy Report. Click Here to learn more.

March 15, 2019

Good Things Take Time

If you haven't heard by now, I have finally put together a fresh, new Planet Whizbang web site. Here's the link: PlanetWhizbang.com

For many years I have made do with web sites that I created using the Blogger blogging format. They were free, and the format was familiar to me.

Blogger is so familiar to me that I have actually created 46 different sites on Blogger since 2005, only four of which are actual blogs. 

Some of the sites are hidden, some I never fully completed, but several have helped me make a living with my Planet Whizbang Business. 

I have, however, realized for some time that I needed to get a real Planet Whizbang web site. I've put it off because the task seemed so overwhelming.

It turned out that it's wasn't all that overwhelming. Just time consuming. Very time consuming. 

I still have a lot of work ahead of me to get all the products I sell off of Blogger, but the hardest work is done. It's a huge relief to have this new web site established.

I made the new site with Wix. If I can figure it out, anyone can. WIX is da bomb when it comes to making your own web site.

March 14, 2019

Was Jesus An Agrarian?

The following was originally posted at my Deliberate Agrarian blog back in 2009

My sheep HEAR My voice, and I KNOW them, and they FOLLOW Me.
(John 10:27)

In my previous blog, Delmar Ain’t So Stupid, I wrote about the “dominion mandate” given by God in Genesis, and I explained that this was clearly an agrarian mandate to work the land, and care for it responsibly. All of creation shows God’s glory. We glorify Him when we choose to live within the paradigm of the mandate and work the land as co-creators with God. I am persuaded that this is the proper undergirding paradigm for living the Christian life.

For the record, I should make it clear that I do not believe for a second that agrarianism is the primary focus of Christianity. There is much, much more to the Christian life than choosing to live and work within the agrarian framework. But for Christians to ignore this aspect is a serious mistake.

Agrarianism is antithetical to the dominant “worldly” industrial system. Christians are called by God to come out of this system. Yet most modern Christians love the world and are dependent on the industrial providers and want nothing to do with the simplicity and humility and hardship that comes with living their lives and raising their families within the paradigm of the dominion mandate, as it is properly understood.

In response to my previous blog essay a person asked this question:

Was Jesus An Agrarian?

I must say that I have never considered this question before. It got me to thinking. And I have concluded the following...

I would not consider Jesus Christ to have been an agrarian. Likewise, I would not consider Him to be a Christian. Other names for Jesus come to my mind and are appropriate:

My Lord and my God
King of kings
Son of God
Lamb of God
Alpha & Omega
Prince of peace
Chief cornerstone
Horn of Salvation
Light of the world
The one mediator between God and man
Lion of the tribe of Judah

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11)

There are other names for Jesus in the Bible. But, no, I would not call him an “agrarian.”

Having said that, I would like to also point out that I would not call God the Father an agrarian either, even though it was He who planted the first garden:

The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden
(Genesis 2:8)

When Jesus was born, the Bible says that Mary wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger. Most moderns don’t really know what a manger is. I didn’t know until I worked on a farm as a teenager. A manger is an animal feed box, typically found in a barn. He was born in an agrarian setting.

Jesus did not grow up in a city. He grew up within an agrarian culture, working with his hands, and with his father, learning to build with wood. It is probable that this family had animals and grew some of their own food. He was familiar with the cycles of sowing and reaping, with vineyards, and with sheep and shepherds and fishermen. As far as we know, Jesus lived and worked quietly within this paradigm for something like thirty years before he left to begin his ministry. This agrarian culture was a type of incubator that helped prepare Christ for the redeeming work he came to do. Later, when Jesus began his ministry, he taught his disciples using many agrarian parables, simple in the telling, but of deep spiritual significance.

People of that day did not use the word “agrarian” but for Christians living today within an industrialized culture, trying to understand how Christianity should be properly lived, agrarianism is an appropriate word. It is the opposite of apostate Industrialism.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, summed it up nicely:

”Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
(1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)