The Politicians In D.C. Have Filled Their Bellies With The East Wind

Should a wise man utter vain knowledge and fill his belly with the east wind? (Job 15:2).  Here is how the Contemporary English Version renders the preceding passage:  Job, if you had any sense you would stop spreading all of this hot air.  Eliphaz was supposedly a friend of Job.  All of us know from the Old Testament the tremendous suffering of this man.  His fair weather friend is accusing him of blaming God for his troubles and suggesting that all of Jobs speeches were nothing but hot air out of the reservoir of his belly.  Eliphaz is saying, Job instead of filling your belly with knowledge and common sense you have filled it with so much east wind which was a bad wind in that region.  By falsely accusing God Eliphaz was wrong, he misjudged Job.

However, this section of the Bible could very well be directed toward the politicians in D.C. for they have filled their bellies with the hot air of intellectual liberalism and have supported the liberal news media to the extent that coffee shops, barber shops, college classrooms, and countless other places have become the mouth pieces of the intellectual liberals whose bellies are filled with hot airopposition to the Constitution and Christianity.

Fellow citizens, it is later than most think.  And it makes me sad that a once good party of the working man and of freedomthe Democrat Party has been used by the protruding bellies of hot air.  The Republican Party is no better, for they have allowed these enemies of America to ride rough shod over the greatest nation history has ever known.  It is scary to see the President give billions in recent days to Iran, a nation of dangerous Muslims who would like nothing better than to take us over while senior citizens and abused children suffer from a lack of necessities of life.  Pray that the people in power will stop this run a way train or else our children will be subjected to the tyranny of radical Islam in years to come.

God Bless America!

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The GArdens Are Still Producing

As it is mid-November, it’s not surprising that people say to me, “I guess you are done with your gardening.” My answer does surprise them. “No, the gardens are still producing like crazy and we’ll be delivering vegetables for another six weeks.”

In mid-August, after the spring and summer vegetables peter out, we sow all of our fields in fall crops. Buckwheat is used as a nurse crop for all kinds of brassicas, or cabbage family, plants. After a frost lays down the buckwheat, the gardens are full of food.

Arugula is a spicy green that reminds me of creasy salad. It is used like an herb, in small amounts. We try to send three bushels each week to our 180 member CSA.

The mustard patch looks great, with a bright green color and lots of frilly leaves. Mizuna is a lacey-leafed, mild mustard we grow too. 15 bushels go to town every week.

We send a few hundred turnips in each week, along with plenty of greens. Besides the common purple-top, we grow a white one called Haukeri, a red one called Scarlet Queen, and a yellow turnip, Gold Ball. Rutabega has leaves more like kale, but they are a lot like turnips, and our variety is All-American.

Daikon radishes come in several varieties, too. Besides the long white one, we have a red one, China Rose, and a green one that’s red-fleshed called Watermelon radish. Daikons are a good mix for the cover crop because their roots go deep and help loosen heavy soils.

The flat-leafed Kale will go all winter. The other kales we have are Tuscany, Siberian and Red Russian. Georgia Collards are similar, with larger leafs.

Bokchoys are fun to grow. Joi Choi gets huge, up to five pounds. Mei Qing is a more refrigerator friendly kind that gets to be about a pound. Tat Soi has deep green leaves, as does a variety called Vitamin Green. The Chinese Cabbage we grow are also called Napa, and we have two kinds, Minvet and Rubicon.

Lots of lettuces are still making heads, and mixed with Bloomsdale Spinach makes for an awesome salad. The lettuce won’t last, but we should have spinach all winter and into spring.

The Swiss Chard and Parsley, planted in spring, have come back beautifully after a bit of summer dormancy. Our fall broccoli and kohlrabi did not make, I planted them too late.

Reemay, a floating row cover used for tobacco beds, gets stretched over the rows for 6’ to 8’ of frost protection. We try to hold it down with boards, and the wind tries to blow it off. What doesn’t get covered suffers when the temperatures hit the teens.

The cellar still supplies red and white potatoes. A little garlic is still left, and enough onions for one more delivery. A few bushels of spaghetti squash and acorn squash are dwarfed by a ton or so of butternuts. These will keep all winter and help us do a winter CSA.

Best of all are the sweet potatoes. We eat them almost daily and never get tired of them. With a hundred bushels left, the CSA will have plenty.

For a special surprise, the old Arkansaw Black trees in my new front yard have yielded bushels of delicious apples. A persimmon tree on the ridge offers another even sweeter treat. Yes, it is no surprise that the gardens are still going great, and it looks like we’ll have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

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Soil

As important as soils are, most people and many farmers know little about how they work. This was not always so. Publications on farming from 100 to 150 years ago indicate a widespread understanding of the role of humus, soil structure and fertility, and how plants grow. Recent discoveries in soil microbiology verify these wise traditions of diversified crops and rotations, composting for a stable humus, and the integration of animal husbandry and crop production on all farms. Why is this knowledge so obscured?

When President Eisenhower’s farwell address warned us of the military/industrial complex over fifty years ago, little attention was given to agriculture. Once we realize gunpowder and agriculture chemicals are made from the same ingredients by the same companies, a picture develops. A bit of history helps understanding this connection.

Most of the weapons used by both sides during WWI were made by the same companies. They are made from ammonia, phosphorus and potassium nitrate, the same familiar NPK used for artificial fertilizers. Marketing these products to farmers after WWI proved difficult, because traditional farming wisdom kept soils fertile and they didn’t need extra fertilizers.

The military/industrial/agricultural complex, if I may amend Pres. Ike, started funding ag colleges, which then began a misinformation campaign. Students, often sent to college from self sufficient, diversified family farms, were taught that a farm should either raise livestock or crops, but not both. This separation spelled disaster for our nation’s soil, because healthy humus production relies on animal impact. Land grant colleges still enforce this disconnection today.

As the new generation began following these recommendations, the microorganisms in the soil that are responsible for moving nutrients into plants were killed. For example, nitrogen fertilizer destroys nitrogen fixing bacteria, and the same is true for other microbes and elements. When humus levels drop, plants become susceptible to insects and diseases, and more chemicals are deemed necessary. By the end of WWII, many American farmers were using chemicals.

Ultimately, we have GMD crops sprayed with herbicides, which are either fed to confined animals feeding operations, made into unhealthy pre-packaged grocery items, or given as aid to underdeveloped countries, undermining their local food systems. But let’s not forget that 70% of world food production still comes from small landowners on 5 acres or less, according to the U.N. World Food Organization. Also, 70% of environmental pollution comes from agricultural runoff. Agribusiness doesn’t feed people, it feeds the military/industrial complexes at the expense of our health.

The concentration of vast quantities of wealth has given rise to a banking system holding most people in perpetual debt, an educational system obscuring agricultural wisdom, and the necessity of a large military presence worldwide.

What do we do? We grow gardens and feed ourselves and our neighbors, we boycott big ag products, and we support local farmers who understand soils and treat them with wisdom of traditional agriculture. And we get together at the annual Local Food Summit, held this year at Trevecca Nazerene University on Dec. 7th, where we will learn from different perspectives about healthy local food, and enjoy it in meals prepared by Nashville’s premier restaurants.

More info can be found online at TNlocalfoods.com.

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Rabbit Gender and Religion, Plus Politics

            A teacher brought a rabbit to her first grade class.  It was passed around to all the children and all were impressed.  One boy raised his hand and said, “Is it a boy or a girl?” 

            The teacher replied, “I’m not sure.” 

            A little timid girl raised her hand,

“I know.”

            “How?” questioned her classmate friends.

            “Let’s vote on it,” said the little girl.

            The above is suggested in the Cybersalt Digest and appears in a recent issue of House to House and Heart to Heart.

            The above is highly suggestive.  If the boy won, would that make the rabbit a male?  Maybe the rabbit was a female.  It is amazing how many religions vote on matters instead of consulting the Bible.  I even heard of one congregation of the church of Christ that voted on who to employ as their new preacher, allowing both women and children to cast a vote.  Where is the authority for this?  I know of a denominational group which voted on a man as to whether he had been saved and was worthy to become a part of their religious group.  God only knows who is saved or lost, and man has no business playing God.  When man conforms to the Bible, God saves him no matter how the vote may go.  If we would all go by the Bible, then there would be no need of holding an election.

            Look what a mess we have in this nation because men have not followed the Constitution but have injected their own pre-conceived opinions into the operation of this nation.  We have a Bible, so consult it instead of taking a vote in matters of doctrines and morals.  We have a Constitution, so consult it instead of taking a vote against it. 

            God bless our nation, including all of God’s people.  Have a good week.

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Purcell Log Cabin

I have moved. I apologize for the sporadic columns this summer, but I believe I’ll get back into the swing of things soon. There is certainly a lot to write about.

First of all, I haven’t moved very far, just a few miles downstream. We spent the last year fixing up the old Purcell house on Heady Ridge Road. It has an interesting story.

In 1929 the log cabin that the Purcell family lived in burned down. They were camping out and heard a commotion coming up the driveway. It was a wagon full of doors and windows.

Rufus West had a sawmill across the Long Hungry Creek. He was the wealthiest man around, he ate hog meat everyday. Another team of horses pulled up with a wagon load of neighbors. They said “Where do you want it?”

Unasked, they had come to build this house. As we fixed it up, my carpenter friends kept mumbling “This place was built by farmers.” Steve is convinced that one corner fell off the foundation stone, but no one noticed until they’d already hammered it together. The floors and walls have waves and curves adding to the character.

I had n o plans. No budget and no timeline. Eventually I decided where the kitchen and bathroom would be. as we stripped out the walls and ceiling, I decided to keep cleaning to get rid of all the old dust. Behind the drywall we found beautiful popular siding, so we sanded it and sanded it.

Plumbing, wiring, doors, windows and the list went on. Then came the trim work. I found a good deal on some basswood and sassafras, and it looks fantastic. A new front porch and back deck went on a few weeks ago, and I started moving my stuff here.

There is still a lot to do. We’ll have to build a root cellar and outdoor shed. Parking is an issue, I may have to sacrifice some flat spot that I’d rather plant in. grown up brush needs cutting, trees and shrubs planted, and berries, herbs and coldframes will have to go in, too.

The chilly mornings remind me to put the stove in and cut some firewood. Once I get a fire warming the house it will really feel like home. It’s a beautiful place in a potentially beautiful setting, and I look forward to landscaping the yard.

The old log cabin will house my students, but it is no longer my home. There is a bit of sadness. I love that place and the neighborhood. We’ll keep growing chickens and pigs there, and maybe fence it off for cattle.

So come visit me. It’s the right hand driveway down the hill from the county landfill on Heady Ridge Road. This is my first column written from here, and I hope to write many more.

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The Gossipmonger: His Origin and His Work

When the sperm of ignorance connects with the egg of jealousy a monster is born—A Gossipmonger.  Feeding upon himself, he reaches maximum strength immediately.  Periodically, he goes to his physician (the devil) for a shot of suspicion.  When the pond of suspicion dries up then he begins to suspect himself.

            He is easily detected, for his tongue hangs out the corner of his mouth like a mule pulling a heavy load.  His tongue is so long that he can sit in the living room and lick the skillet on the stove in the kitchen.

            The Gossipmonger picks up bits of information and passes it along as if he had ascertained the validity of the story.  Some people are apparently unaware of the hurt that can be afflicted by a loose tongue.  It is apparent that gossip is often spread originating in a heart of jealousy, with the primary purpose of hurting another.

            On the other hand, I suppose one may have a loose tongue from being kicked in the head by a mule, which reminds me of a story told by J. Harold Stephens, a preacher of some sort in Shelbyville, Tennessee.  He tells the story of one of the less brilliant boys of a rural community who was kicked in the head by a mule.  After a while, he seemed to have recovered.  A neighbor asked the boy’s father if his son had gotten all right.

            “No,” said the father, “he didn’t get all right, but he did get back to like he was.”

            It would be nice if we could all get back to the way we were—treating our neighbors the way that we want to be treated.  That would eliminate gossip.

            From my store house of experience:  I’ve learned that it is next to impossible to trace down the source of gossip, and that it is foolish to try to do so, or even fret about it.  Your friends won’t believe it, and your enemies will add to it and pass it along as if it were truth.  When this world is on fire people will still be gossiping but God Almighty (pardon me ACLU) will still be holding them accountable for their words against their fellow man.

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When Love Turns Cold

            A church sign caught my eye recently.  It got my attention because of the following statements:           

                                    “Dear God:

                                    I’ve got a problem, It’s a “ME” problem.”

            Unfortunately, most of our problems, are “ME” problems, self-afflicted problems!  Homemade problems!

            Most of our “ME” problems stem from allowing our love to turn cold.  “And because iniquity (sin) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).

            What are the symptoms of a dying love?

            One is when an individual’s prayers become mundane, canned, routine, or artificial.  It doesn’t take long for love to turn cold, when one ceases to pray, or pray with the right spirit.  Prayer keeps the heart warm.  Sin turns it cold, and love freezes the spirit to death.

            Two is when worship has lost its luster.  If a ballgame has more excitement than worship, then your love has turned as “cold as kraut.”  You are frozen stiff, spiritually speaking.

            Three is when the preacher’s sermons are too strong.  But it is my understanding that the preacher is to preach the Word.  When the fire goes out in the pulpit, then the people in the pews freeze to death.

            And four, absenteeism will cause love to grow cold. 

            Also, when love grows cold between a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, then trouble lies ahead.  And what follows is often ugly.

            Don’t let your love grow cold for the church, the family, or that person who means everything to you.

            When love grows cold, then it must be revived.

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Stubborn Leaders

The Psalms speak of some in that period of history whose spirit was “stubborn and rebellious” (Psalm 78:8). After eons of time, stubbornness is still with us. Some actual view it as an attribute. I know of two elected officials who recently boasted of their stubbornness. Perhaps they’ve never analyzed the word ‘stubbornness.’ Webster says a stubborn person is “set on having his way; not willing to give in; obstinate; hard to deal with.” This definition doesn’t sound like a stubborn person has the attributes needed to exert real leadership.

When one makes the claim of stubbornness, he is admitting he is kin to a mule. “Be ye not as the … mule” (Psalm 32:9), wrote David. The writer’s point is that the mule is stubborn, and this is an unworthy characteristic for a human being. So when one boasts of being stubborn, he is embracing the mule or donkey as his brother. David advises us not to be like the mule, stubborn. The mule has a nature, which makes it refuse to move. Our Creator doesn’t want to handle us like dumb beasts. We aren’t supposed to have a willful nature.

Furthermore, for one to claim stubbornness is to admit the inability or unwillingness to sit down with another person or a group and reach a decision, or decisions, that will benefit all, not just some mule-headed, jack-legged leader. So you want to be a leader? Then shed your stubbornness.

I heard of a church once, which was hotly debating whether to buy a chandelier for a foyer. A business meeting was called to discuss the matter. A good, old brother, who came in late, stood and said, “I’m agin’st buying a chandelier for three reasons: (1) We ain’t got the money, (2) Nobody in the church can play one, and (3) What we really need is more light for this lobby.”

What one really needs to be an effective leader is more knowledge (light), and less stubbornness.

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The Difficulties of Life

We’ve all heard it said, “Life is not a bed of roses.”  That’s true.  One can do all that is right, and strive to be all that one is supposed to be, and still difficulties will arise.  Some troubles occur because of the choices family members or friends make or have made.  Some troubles come as a result of our own decisions.  Then some occur as the result of living in an imperfect world.  But there are also inward troubles.  Sometimes we are upset, maybe angry, or worried, or depressed, struggling with life.

            We can’t blame God for our difficulties, for he didn’t create them.  However, he does permit us to experience them.  Without them, we would never become strong.  We are not self-sufficient, and we need to learn that.  This is why we need to be close to God at all times.

            The Christian life is not problem-free living.  It is bound up in the strength of God.  To know God and to honor him no matter what the difficulty is should be the Christian goal. 

            Right now, not tomorrow, we have a major difficulty facing all of us:  Will we take back America with all of her liberties and great values, or will we allow Hillary Clinton to be elected President and follow in the steps of Obama, reducing America to a third world country and robbing all of us of the freedom our fathers, grandfathers, yea, grandfathers fought for and died?  Pray to God daily about this problem.  Lift up your voice in sincerity and honesty and defeat the destructive plans of liberals and untrue Americans.  The enemies of the Constitution and true Democracy must not be allowed to destroy our nation.  Be a real American and a real Christian and lift up your voice for the America we once knew.

            God Bless Us!

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Hellbenders

Have you ever seen a hellbender? It is a two foot long salamander that lives in the creeks which flow up to the Barren River. I’ve seen them twice, a bout 25 years ago, in the Long Hungry Creek.

The state biologist and the curator of the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere are looking for signs of hellbenders. We spent Wednesday afternoon wading our creek and the Long Fork Creek, lifting up big rocks and observing aquatic life.

Like plats, animals are classified by genus and species, and then the broader category of a family. Hellbenders are unique, with only 2 other species in their family; a giant Chinese one that gets six feet long, and another one from Japan.

This family of amphibians dates back to the dinosaur age, which very few animals existing now do. They sure look prehistoric, with a big nose and little feet. The Hellbender Society, a group of scientists interested in them, is quite concerned about the dramatic decrease in their populations recently.

The magazine “Tennessee Conservationist” had an article about the decline of hellbenders and questioned weather Glysophosphate was responsible. This is the active ingredient in Round Up, a widely used herbicide. Hellbenders eat crayfish, and poisons concentrate upward in the food chain.

The scientists in the creek with m e confirmed these fears. Monsanto falsified research to put Round Up approved, and it is deadly to the salamanders and frogs in our creeks. They’ve watched amphibians suffer as herbicide usage increases.

A bottle brush crayfish zoomed out from under a rock they lifted. It has hairy antenna and beautiful scarlet markings down the back. They are only found in Tennessee and Kentucky in the Barren River watershed, and this was the first one ever documented in the Long Hungry.

I learned a lot with these guys. They want to come back and canoe the creeks and look for hellbenders again. We would love to hear if anyone has spotted any recently.

Herbicides are very, very dangerous, causing cancer and many other health issues. The widespread use of them is having drastic effects on our environment. Please be extremely cautious with them, and consider alternatives like mowing. Decision to spray all distribution lines without asking land owners permission has grave consequences for public health and is an environmental disaster.

I have a sign at the shop that says “Do Not Spray, Organic Farm.” The state road department sprayed herbicide on either side of the sign.

Hellbenders are the “canary in the coalmine,” or the first sign that things are getting dangerous and we need to change what we’re doing. Don’t believe Monsanto when they claim Round Up or 24D are safe. Herbicides kill plants, animals and you.

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The Need For Peace

In my viewpoint, there are very few awards that are respected as much as the Peace Prize.

            The prize was part of Alfred Nobel’s last will and testament.  I didn’t know until recently that he was the man who invented dynamite in 1866.  In a few years he had a total of 20 factories and laboratories all over the world for the research and development of his invention.  But in later life, he saw how his invention could cause great harm, and was hurt by it.  I am told that when he was on his death bed that he set rules for the Nobel Prizes, the most important of which would be the Peace Prize.

            The best way to spread peace is by spreading God’s message all over the world, the gospel of peace.  Christians have their arguments, but especially some preachers.  Preachers should be peacemakers, and not peace breakers.  Some use tactics that are not rooted in love.  Others are ignorant of the truth and create a disturbance.

            There are those in the community who are far from peace loving souls, who by their crude manners retard the improvement of the community in which they live.  I don’t know about you, but I have no respect for peace breakers who adorn themselves with ignorance while they parade around in their hillbilly wardrobe.

            Don’t forget, too, the White House has been far from peace-loving.

            Pray for America!

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“In God We Trust”

            On this day in 1956 President Dwight Eisenhower approved a law passed by Congress that made “In God We Trust” the national motto of the United States.  In 1966, it was added to all paper money.  Our national currency may be stamped with “In God We Trust,” but our heart is not.  Day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year, we are drifting farther away from God.  This pleases the atheists, the liberals and a host of others whose agenda is to lead the citizens of this country away from God. 

            Godly people are objecting to our government pushing for a common core study for all students in America--an objection that is rooted in godliness.  For the intent of the common core study is to brain-wash the students of our nation by turning them away from the messages of Christianity.  The textbooks which will be eventually adopted will be written as to make abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and pre-marital sex acceptable to educated people.  The Bible as a moral guide will largely disappear from our culture.

            It is not in God we trust today, but in wealth, in power, and in crooked politicians who occupy the seats in Congress. 

            We can trust in God today, or watch our nation fade from history tomorrow.  If you are afraid of Obama and the rest of the change agents today, then I pity you and the children of tomorrow who will suffer at the hands of America’s enemies within.  Pray for our weak leaders, but do more than pray, take a stand for God and this nation.

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Before the Mayflower Landed…

Our forefathers were smart.  In fact they were geniuses, for they carved out of the wilderness a paradise and enacted rules and laws that enabled the newcomers to enjoy a freedom that would increase as America grew and became the symbol of liberty and the land of opportunity.  Before the pilgrims landed, the men on board drew up rules to live by for they knew without rules to govern them their adventure would be a failure.  The rules became known as the Mayflower Compact and became a guiding light to multiplied millions that were soon to land on the shores of North America.

            Unfortunately, these men of wisdom par excellence were in later years succeeded by idiots in D.C. who are attempting to run America with rules rooted in their own misguided philosophies.  There were no liberals, baby murderers, homosexuals, or parasites on the Mayflower.  The ones who were allowed to leave debtor prisons to make their journey to the new land stood head and shoulders above the so-called leaders in our country who have messed us up.  How can the so-called conservatives in D.C., including some of the Republicans who are flirting with the views of Liberal Democrats, stand by and allow the White House Bunch to ignore laws while shredding some laws.  A current illustration of this is an attempt by the White House to have George Zimmerman tried again for something that he has already been exonerated from and by law he cannot be tried again.  There are some so-called leaders in this country who are fanning the fires of violence hoping that the masses of people throughout the land will march for a case that according to the law is already closed. 

            Some may not like it, but those of us who believe in this country and our laws need to “stand our ground.”  Otherwise, we will wake up one morning and our freedom will be gone.

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Harvesting

The potatoes want to be harvested soon, too. The green tops are browning, and after they are dead for two weeks the skins will tough enough to handle without peeling off. Then we’ll plow them up and get them in the cellar.

Summer squash and cucumbers are finally appearing in all their glory, thoroughly enjoying all the moisture. But it can be so muddy that we sink up to our ankles getting them. A mulch would help, but I can’t imagine how to get it spread.

Weeds have engulfed the lettuce, which is about gone anyway. We are pulling weeds in the winter squash and watermelons, and have some Johnson grass to deg out, too. The sweet potato field has six rows hoed, but eight rows are filled with very happy weeds, who are loving the rain which is keeping us out.

Every Monday we harvest celery, swiss chard, parsley, beets and other vegetables, whether it rains or not. The procession of produce marches on through all kinds weather. We don’t complain about rain or the mud between our toes, but remain thankful for the water on the crops.

It is raining on my parade of vegetable harvesting. We got the garlic in quickly this year, and it is curing out well. By turning the talks over and drying them out, they will soon be tied and hung up, and will store through mid-winter.

On the other hand, the onions have me a bit concerned. They like it to be dry and hot during their last month of growth, which made last year perfect onion weather. They are all out of the ground, or I could say “mud,” but have a soft spot where they were underground.

We have them laid out in the barn, on top of hay. In years past I have lost a lot to rot, so we are keeping an eye on them. A truck farmer would simply sell them all now; as they are big and beautiful. But a CSA farmer needs onions to send every week, so we try to store them. Our customers can help, by taking all the onion they can and storing them in their own garage or shed.

Lay them on something like a screen or hang them up by tying a few together with twine, feel the bottoms, and if they are soft, use those first. Onions can be blanched and frozen, or dehydrated.

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RBS High Named Among the “Best High Schools” by US News

Below is an exciting headline and paragraph concerning Red Boiling Springs High School:

            RBSHS named among the best high schools by US News. 

            Red Boiling Springs High School was named this year’s US News best high schools.  The school received a bronze rating.  Of the 350 schools in Tennessee, five were awarded gold medals, 18 earned silver medals, and 66 earned bronze medals.  The stats used are always current—these are from the 2012-2013 school year.  The school is listed as having an Algebra proficiency of 2.5 (47% of the students are proficient).  And an English proficiency of 2.6 (59% of students are proficient).

            This is the second time RBSHS has won the bronze award from US News.  In 2004 RBS High was also the recipient of the above mentioned award.  We salute Don Jones, the Principal of the high school, English teachers Chad Butler and Tammy Marlow, and Math teachers Angela Ballard and Tammy Kirts.  Time and time again studies have proven that the best schools are the small schools.

            We are proud of the educators and students at RBS High and we thank the very great elementary teachers at RBS for their hard work in getting their students ready for the upper grades.  For the 6 ½ years I have been on the School Board, it has been a joy to watch the two schools at RBS move forward academically.  A special thanks to all the teachers and staff at the two schools.

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Does God Care?

“…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (IPeter 5:7).  During the three years of His ministry, Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).  He was moved with compassion by the poverty, disease, and grief that he witnessed.  He wept with those who were hurting.  He worked to help those who were suffering physically and spiritually.  His entire life was proof of the concern of His Father for humanity.

            The pews are filled on Sunday mornings with those who claim to be walking in the steps of Jesus, but something is missing in too many of them—the heart of Jesus.  There is a vast difference in claiming and doing.  Oh, the meeting house where they assemble has the right name on the front but some of the members don’t have the right practice, for unlike God and Christ, care for others is missing.  Thank God for the few congregations which care for its members and people of the community who need compassion.  If God cares, and He does, how can the uncaring church goers, for that’s all they are, call themselves godly?  Show me their godliness and I’ll show you their hypocrisy.

            A lady church member comes home from the hospital after major surgery, unable to cook or do any of the many things she is accustomed of doing, but though there is a congregation in her community only two Christian ladies come to see her.  No minister, no elders, no others of the congregation.  No wonder there is a lack of respect for a congregation that does nothing but come to church.  “Few there be that find it.”

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Busy As Bee's

A slow wet spring delayed garden work for a few weeks, but June found us busy as bees. The weeds are growing like weeds, and the vegetables are right behind them. It’s been a great growing season as long as you ignore the calendar.

Monday deliveries of fresh produce have been lettuce, radish, onion, beet, swiss chard and celery, plus a few herbs like thyme, oregeno and garlic. Soon we’ll send potatoes, squash, beans and cucumbers. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants will follow, along with sweet corn and melons. We are still planting sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Every week is different.

You can get in on the action. The shop in RBS, across from the Head Start, is open on Monday afternoons. Local folks gather there to get fresh vegetables and learn how to eat healthier.

In Nashville we deliver to three locations. One is in Berry Hill, one in East Nashville at Porter Road Butcher, and one at Headquarters Coffee in West Nashville. This all happens on Monday afternoons, too.

 Diligent hoeing takes up a lot of our time. The young plants need assurance that n o weeds will bother them. But more importantly, we hoe to conserve soil moisture. By keeping the soil surface loose, the moisture underneath does not leave. If the soil is tight, capillary action evaporates and dries out the soil, wicking away the previous water the same way a candle wick draws up wax.

Irrigation is not necessary here. We get plenty of rain. By building a live soil humus, winter and spring rains soak in and supply water to the crops during summer. Compost, cover crops and tillage are more efficient than an irrigation system.

I can’t find any potato beetles. The plants must have a high sugar content, because if they didn’t there would be little red Colorado beetle larvae devouring the leaves. Bugs do not have a pancreas, so they cannot digest sugar.

If you want bugs, use commercial fertilizer. The nitrate nitrogen will use up the sugar in the plants so that bugs can eat them. Then you use the poisons on the plants. These a re the recommendations from the fertilizer/pesticide industry which funds the land grand colleges and the USDA extension service.

Old time farmers don’t have extra money from subsidy and crop insurance, so they rely on composted manures. It’s the cheaper way to go.

The summer solstice has come and gone. Our annual celebration went well, preceded by weeks of planting and hoeing. As we enter summer, the soil is loose, the crops look good, and the hoes will continue to stir. We are late on making hay, but the sun is shining.

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Rural Viewpoints Salutes Macon Farmers

If there is a group of people who have contributed more to Macon’s economy in recent years than Macon County farmers and agriculture in general, then I am not aware of it.  We salute them for their hard work and for what they mean to this county.

I have especially been proud of the younger farmers who have worked hard and managed their farming operations with wisdom and for the older farmers who have helped guide them in their efforts. 

Agriculture in general is a major part of Macon’s income and two of the greatest rural banks in Tennessee—Macon Bank and Trust and Citizens Bank have encouraged and financially supported agriculture and made it possible for those who needed it to farm in a bigger way and operate agricultural businesses. 

Most are not aware that there is a young business in East Macon that has grown in recent months by leaps and bounds—Performance Feeds owned and operated by the Tony Ferguson family.  We wish for them the best.  They have approximately 100 employees and serve much of Tennessee, Kentucky, and parts of Georgia and Alabama.

I’m glad I moved back to Macon County after graduating from college.  It is a good place to live.  Incidentally, I worked with the ASC office (USDA) for four years in Lafayette before going to college, and have farmed a little myself (one horse farm).  So I feel close to farming.  Best wishes to our farmers!

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Skunking Tennessee’s Teachers

            My readers may not be familiar with the term being skunked, but I can illustrate it with the pay plan designed for Tennessee’s teachers.  It’s a rip off, not a pay plan.  If this plan stays in force, then young teachers will be skunked—taken advantage of, beat.  Imagine spending four years and eighty thousand dollars to become a teacher, and earn only $30,990 the first year as a teacher.  Then nine years later, the teachers would earn only $37,005.  No increase for getting a Masters Degree or EDS.

            What is so stupid is an attempt to hold teachers to blame for the low scores of students who come from a negative environment—drug infested homes, parents fussing and fighting, the children never helped with homework.  Why not blame the low scores on the Commissioner of Education, who has absolutely no background in education?  When the Day of Judgment comes, students will still be making low grades, at least some, for sin will still be around and sin is usually responsible for students who fail in their educational pursuit.  This is not a cop out.  This is reality.

            Stop holding teachers responsible for something they can’t help—what goes on in the home.

            By the way, the Republicans had better get a handle on their efforts to improve education…it ain’t working.  Some will come home following the next election.  And the only job they will be able to find is a substitute teacher.  Then they can try out their new plans.

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Summer Gardens

The summer garden is still in the seed packages, so let us talk about lettuce. Of the many different kinds, we grow a lot of the Batavian type. These are the summer crisp lettuces which hold up well in hot weather.
A cold frame was prepared in early April. An equal part of soil, compost and sand were thoroughly mixed up and put into a box six inches deep. Handfuls of rock phosphate and kelp were racked in and shallow furrows formed six inches apart.
I pour seed into the palm of my left hand and grab a pinchful with my right thumb and forefinger. By rubbing them, a steady flow of seeds thinly falls into the row. They need to not be piled up thickly, but about an inch apart.
The side of my hand pushes the seed down, and my fingers rake dry soil on top. I don’t water it. There is plenty of moisture in the soil, and by firming the soil and seed together they will swell up and sprout, and they grow faster then vegetables.
Once the lettuce is up, fingers tickle the loose soil in the beds. The sand really helps keep the beds easy to work. In about a month the plants are five to six inches tall and ready to transplant.
A well-composted garden bed is prepared and the plants are dug up. One person drops and another person plants. The left hand pulls the soil open, and the right hand picks the lettuce plant up by the leaves. Once the root is in the hole both hands firm it in and down the row we go. Afterward we give them all a splash of water.
Nevada, Concept, Magenta, and Sierra are the Batavian lettuces lining the beds. We grow the Romaine varieties, Paris Island Cos and Winter Density. Buttercruch and Little Gem are Bibb varieties we also grow, and I like the Iceburg type called Prizehead.
Now all they need is a bit more tickling with that hoe about once a week and watch them grow. Lettuce quickly jumps up and covers the bed. They are set out about a foot apart in rows 18” wide, so as they mature their leaves touch and shade out the weeds.
Lettuce is cut when the heads have formed and then it is dipped in cool water. T his takes away the heat and keeps them from wilting. They are shipped quickly to a cooler cellar and then off to the customers.
The cool weather suits lettuce just fine. Soon it will warm up and we’ll plant everything else. But the ground has to dry up first. Then we’ll talk about something besides lettuce.

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