The Southern Agrarian

Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

Category: Southern Agrarianism (page 1 of 3)

More Than Just Food

There is a temptation to look at a vegetable garden as a home-grown food factory, where efficiency is the driving factor. I suspect that most of us have gone through that phase. We try to squeeze the most production out of every last bit of garden space – if it doesn’t put food on the table, then it’s given the same status as a weed.

We need to change that. We need to remember why we grow things, and why we feel a deep connection with the land and with our people. Southern Agrarianism is very much a cultural matter, and our culture has always placed a high value on beauty. We see it in the art, the architecture, and the music of our European heritage. It is an important part of who we are. To that end, we need to remember that there is an aesthetic, almost spiritual, aspect to raising our own food. I make it a point to try to make my garden areas as visually attractive as I can. I plant flowers (usually Zinnias) among the vegetables, both for cut flowers and to attract pollinators into the garden. The garden fence is covered with both bush roses and climbing roses (Old Blush, a vintage rose that requires virtually no care).

A garden is to enjoy – not just to provide our families with fresh eggs and healthy vegetables. It is there to show our children and grandchildren that food does not originate wrapped in cellophane and Styrofoam packaging. It is a very real part of home schooling – no matter where the formal lessons are held.

A garden doesn’t have to look like something from a magazine cover to be beautiful – no garden looks perfectly groomed at all times. Just remember that it is there to be enjoyed, and beauty makes it enjoyable.


This is a 90-second tour of our little one-acre homestead that I put together this past Friday.

Weeds, Immigration, and Culture

We can learn a lot about life from lessons learned in the garden.

Several years ago, in an effort to improve the quality of the soil in my garden, I bought a truckload of topsoil. It was carefully spread, then tilled and worked into the soil. The original soil and the new topsoil were mixed until they became as one. At first, it was great. The soil was darker and richer looking than the native sandy soil, and the plants that I grew there were bigger and stronger. Then came the weeds.

Hidden in among that rich-looking soil that I brought in to mix with the native soil were weed seeds. Specifically, nutsedge nodules. Here we are, years later, and I am still battling the nutsedge. It spreads its roots deep below the surface, and it stores nutrition in a large nodule deep down in the soil. Just cutting them off at the surface has no lasting effect – the weed springs right back in just a couple of days. Nutsedge must be dug out by the roots, one weed at a time. The nodule must be removed. The root runners must be removed. Everything about the weed must be removed, or it will continue to spread, sap the strength of the plants that are intended to grow there, and eventually they will take over completely.

Removing the weeds and their roots is not a painless process. It disturbs the roots of the garden plants, and it is slow and tedious work. There is no alternative if the garden is to be saved. It must be done.

Culture is a very precious thing, and it must be cared for and defended. A culture – just like agriculture – requires work to maintain. There are no shortcuts. Bringing in, or allowing in, foreign elements into a native culture brings with it serious risks. While on the surface, there may appear to be benefits to mixing cultures, the hidden costs will quickly show up. Like an invasive species in nature that finds no natural enemies, it takes over and the original culture disappears. Forever.

(Originally published on March 25, 2017)

Bright Sunny South

When people think of what music best represents The South, Dixie is almost always the song that comes to mind. They get no argument from me – it is almost the “Southern National Anthem”. With that said, it is Bright Sunny South that best represents The South that I know and love. It is a song that deserves to be better known, so that’s what this post is about.

Bright Sunny South is a hauntingly beautiful ballad of The South. While believed to have its roots in Celtic culture, its origins are uncertain, with some attributing it to a folk song from Nova Scotia. There are several versions of the lyrics, but those shown below are the most widely known. The video features a rendition performed by Bittersweet and Briers.

On a personal note, the first image in the video shows a man on a horse next to a cannon. That man is Lt. Colonel John Pelham – my cousin. He was killed in battle at the age of 24. He was first cousin to my great grandfather, William Pelham McGehee.


(YouTube video by SouthernSympathiser)

From the bright sunny South to the war, I was sent,
E’er the days of my boyhood, I scarcely had spent.
From it’s cool shady forests and deep flowing streams,
Ever fond in my mem’ry, ever sweet in my dreams.

Oh, my dear little sister, I still see her tears.
When I had to leave home in our tender years.
And my sweet gentle mother, so dear to my heart,
It grieved me sincerely when we had to part.

Said my kind-hearted father as he took my hand:
“As you go in defense of our dear native Land,
“Son, be brave but show mercy whenever you can.
“Our hearts will be with you, ’til you return again.”

In my bag there’s a Bible to show me the way,
Through my trials here on earth and to Heaven some day.
I will shoulder my musket and brandish my sword,
In defense of this Land and the word of the Lord.


John Pelham

William Pelham McGehee

 

The Ultimate Career

This being The Southern Agrarian, may lead one to think, “Ah, it must be farming or other agrarian field that is ‘the ultimate career’. Wrong. Producing food – like all other careers – exists only to serve and support the ultimate career. That career is Homemaker, wife, mother, and the endless sub-roles that comprise the honored title of Homemaker. Think about it. Is there any other role in human society that would continue beyond the current generation if not for the role of Homemaker?

Southern culture has always revered women and their role. Always. And Southern women have always taken great and justified pride in their place of honor. The image of the Southern Belle has no corollary. There is no “Northern Belle” or any other iconic image of women in any other culture that can match the cultural image of the Southern lady. There is good reason that Southern women are not found in significant numbers among the screeching radical feminists who strive not to be better women, but inferior men. Southern women are confident in the knowledge that their traditional role of wife, mother, and homemaker is valued, treasured, and revered in our culture.

It is the Homemaker who has the Ultimate Career that all others exist to serve.


The Homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.
– C.S. Lewis


 

(Top photo is of our son, daughter-in-law, and hours-old grandson – April 2012)

Reject the Temporary – Embrace the Timeless

The Black Friday madness is all that anyone needs to see in order to understand a seriously flawed way of thinking. Only hours after celebrating Thanksgiving – a day set aside to thank God for all that we have been blessed with – crowds of people obsessed with buying the latest trinkets from China at a lower price push and shove to grab more “stuff”. Is anything they are buying going to last? Will it be here two years from now? Is there any possibility that it will be handed down to future generations as a treasured heirloom? No, it will end up in a landfill as a testament to consumerism as the highest pursuit, while treating the land as nothing more than a source for raw materials and a dumping ground for last year’s trinkets.

My wife and I enjoy looking through small town antique shops. Occasionally, we will find something to buy, but mostly it is a form of entertainment and a chance to see what generations past have treasured. We have noticed that, over the years, there is more and more high quality furniture and other items available in these shops at very reasonable prices. The shop owners tell us that there is no shortage of items available. Parents die, and their children have no interest in that heavy, solid wood furniture or bone china or old sterling silverware beyond asking, “What’s it worth?”

We hear the same story time after time – today, people would rather buy junk from Ikea or Walmart, knowing that it will last until they get bored with it and want to redecorate or relocate. Dump the old junk, and buy the new junk. The assumption is that there will always be new junk available whenever they need it – an endless supply of new stuff from China, based on an endless supply of raw materials stripped from the land.

Things that are passed down from one generation to the next are not just things – they are tangible connections with our past. That old sideboard in the family farmhouse is not just a worn out cabinet to store things in – it is an item that my ancestors thought highly enough of to take up precious space in a covered wagon when they moved from Alabama to Florida. It is something that each generation is shown as they hear the stories of how our family moved in the days before moving vans and interstate highways.

Don’t short-change those who come after you. Choose things that have lasting value; things that aren’t trendy that will go out of style next year; that won’t fall apart and can’t be repaired. It doesn’t have to be expensive. We have found some very nice solid wood furniture in second hand stores. We have found sets of fine china at the Goodwill store at a price not much more than what you might pay for a good brand of paper plates. Think long term. Think of your descendants. Reject the temporary. Embrace the timeless.

The Trashing of Robert E. Lee

A friend and Southern Gentleman (interesting how those often seem to go together) sent me this link to an article titled The Myth of the Kindly General Lee in The Atlantic magazine and asked me to comment on it. The subtitle of the article is The legend of the Confederate leader’s heroism and decency is based in the fiction of a person who never existed.

I had not seen this article, and frankly, I couldn’t even finish reading it. Was Lee an imperfect man? Of course. Did he make some bad choices along the way? Of course. Have we built his legend beyond the reality? Probably. Such is the fate of all great men. Would they dare to do the same critical study of Lincoln? The purpose of the article is not to discover the truth. Its purpose is the same as those who are, right now, removing Confederate statues. It is about destroying a people. The Southern people. My people.

The article is just another example of the on-going attacks against The South, against the White race, against any one or any thing that does not bow down and worship at the altar of political correctness. Some wonder what led to the rise of the alt-right and why Trump is in the White House. The answer is that they created us. Using myself as an example, I was quite content to simply enjoy my family, tend to my chickens and my garden, and promote the Southern Gentleman and Southern Agrarianism in very much a live and let live manner. It has become plain to me that the Left will not allow me to do that. I am given the same choice that the Muslim gives a Christian – convert or die. There is no room for compromise. No chance to coexist. One side will be the conqueror and one side will be the conquered. I know which side I will be on, and I intend to play a very active role in that. I will not be a mere observer and bystander in what will be seen as one of the great cultural shifts in history.

I will not apologize for my heritage, for my ancestors, for my family, or for who I am. I cannot sit back and watch this happen to the world that my grandchildren will inherit. And I will not.

The Myth of The Self-Made Man

The idea of “White Privilege” holds that Whites have an unearned privilege solely because of their race. I must agree with that, but not for the reasons that Leftists have. The fact is, they have no reasons. They don’t want to think about it. They only want to say that we have privileges based on race that other races do not have. There is a reason for that – a very good reason.

It is all about reputation. Generations of civilized behavior is the reason for White Privilege. A society learns from experience, and that experience tells them that Whites, as a race, are a civilized people who can be trusted to adhere to the norms of a civilized society. That experience also tells a society that some other races are prone to uncivilized behavior. Of course there are individuals who are on the edges of the bell curve both for better and for worse. We’re talking about statistical groups rather than individuals.

The White Privilege that I benefit from is not of my own doing – it is inherited from my ancestors. Likewise, the White Privilege that my descendants will benefit from will not be from their own efforts, but from mine. We stand on the shoulders of giants – those who came before us.

We have a duty to continue living the kind of life that will ensure that our descendants are granted the same White Privilege that we enjoy.

As for other races? There is no reason not to start now. Today. An individual reputation takes many years to develop. A racial reputation takes many generations to develop. It’s not easy and there are no guarantees, but the alternative is to be forever envious of the privileged status of those who have it, and we see what a disaster that is. The choice is yours.

New Era Resolutions

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America continues down the path to a new era – not because of who does or does not occupy the White House, but because about half of American voters now follow the cult of collectivism and egalitarianism while the other half bitterly opposes it. There is no room for compromise, no chance for reasoned debate. Both sides see this as “winner take all”. Both sides see no alternative to total victory or total annihilation. If this were just another political split, it would be a minor issue to be addressed in a future election. It is not. This represents an extreme cultural split on a massive scale. Our task as Southern Agrarians is to move as far away from that dividing line as possible. We must stake out the cultural high ground so that there can be no doubt as to which camp we belong – or neither camp.

To that end, this is a list of tangible things we can do, presented in no particular order.

  1. Be an encouragement and a help to your extended family in a way that will make it easier to decide to have a larger family. If that doesn’t apply directly to your current situation, then spend time helping another worthy family. The break-down of the multi-generation family has resulted in serious consequences for society.
  2. Boldly proclaim the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Leading a soul to eternal salvation is a greater accomplishment than anything else in this life.
  3. Live a virtuous life at home, at work, and in public. Always speak the truth. We are ambassadors of our great Southern culture and must serve as an example of what that culture stands for.
  4. Be part of a church that truly believes The Bible 1 as the literal word of God – and acts on it. There are far too many modernist churches that lower standards and try to become like the rest of the world. If you’re in one of those modernist churches, leave and find a real church that is not focused on entertaining the congregation.
  5. Use the power of the spoken and written word to advance the cause of restoring civility to America.
  6. Dress more formally than what is customary in today’s society. It demonstrates a respect for others – and for yourself.
  7. Pay close attention to manners and etiquette, and make them a part of your daily life.
  8. Pray – not a vain repetition, but pray like you are talking directly with The God who created the entire universe, because that’s exactly what you are doing. He listens to “specks of dust” like us.
  9. Seek out like-minded people, and form strong bonds with them.
  10. Treat others with respect. As conditions worsen, there will be those who proudly provided for their families in the past, but find themselves without work or, if they are fortunate, doing menial work. Your turn may come. While those who willingly live off of money stolen from the productive deserve our open contempt, resist the urge unless pressed.
  11. Follow the Boy Scout slogan of “Do a Good Turn Daily”. Find some way to help someone who would not expect it.
  12. Follow the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared”. When hard times come, you can depend on no one but yourself and your closest friends and family.
  13. Produce some of your own food by gardening or small-scale farming, and raising chickens. Those are valuable skills that cannot be learned by just reading a book. It is also the key to our Southern Agrarian culture.
  14. Understand the foundation of what Southern Agrarianism is by reading I’ll Take My Stand. While Southern Agrarianism is not strictly defined by this book, it is the starting point.
  15. If you are living in an urban area, move to a semi-rural or rural area. The cities are not only increasingly dangerous, they are corrosive to the soul.
  16. Arm yourself and learn and practice to become effective in the defense of yourself and your family. Armed men are free men – disarmed men are slaves.
  17. Turn off the TV, cancel the cable subscription, and disconnect the antenna. TV has done more than anything else to destroy our culture. Don’t allow the filth and propaganda into your home.
  18. Home-school your children and help and support other home-schoolers if you can.
  19. Take control of your future by investing your retirement savings yourself so that the government cannot gain control of it.
  20. Make your home more self-sufficient: put in a well, start a garden, own a sewing machine 2 to make and repair your clothes, install a wood heating stove, increase the insulation in your attic.
  21. Adopt the idea of “Not for Our time, but for All time” when considering choices for your family and your home. Homes that were built centuries ago still stand today while houses slapped together only a decade or so ago are abandoned and demolished. Think long term for your family and your home.
  22. Secure your home. Rampant crime is just one of the results of a decaying society where civility is no longer revered.
  23. Embrace old-school ways of doing things: use paper and pen rather than an electronic device for taking notes (bonus points for using a fountain pen 3); shave with a double-edge safety razor and brush and mug rather than the latest multi-blade gizmo; resist the temptation to automatically upgrade to the latest technology 4.
  24. Resolve to give no credibility to political correctness. When it comes up, question it and force the source to justify what was said or written. Don’t accept it.
  25. Watch your language. Make a conscious effort to avoid any obscene or profane word coming from your lips. Crude language identifies the speaker with the worst elements of any society. That such language is now commonly used by “celebrities” is reason enough to shun it.
  26. Cherish those who are close to you and resolve to repair any relationships that need repairing. Your family, your spouse, your friends – those are more important now than ever, and will become even more so in the future.
  27. Display the Confederate flag – any one of them – on a regular basis. (see the Code of Confederate Flag Etiquette)
  28. Sharing a meal as a family is a time-honored tradition. Make the extra effort to have a more formal, structured dinner.
  29. Resolve to take away the power that the word “racist” has over us; at the same time, remember to treat all men of every race and creed with the respect they deserve as men and as souls that Jesus died for.
  30. Language is an important part of any culture – the English language is the language of our people. Don’t allow yourself to slip into the sloppy language habits that have become a mark of modern popular culture. Writing and speaking well are the marks of a civilized man or woman. Use correct English in your speech and writing. 5
  31. Collect books – not digital text, but real paper and ink books that can be read without batteries. As the popularity of digital text increases, there are bargains to be found in used books. 6
  32. Carry a pocket knife. A generation ago, every Southern male carried a pocket knife – it was almost a rite of passage. Somewhere along the way, the Nanny-state took over, and an incredibly useful tool came to be viewed as a dangerous weapon and a threat to be banned.
  33. Get out of debt as quickly as possible. Make it a top priority.
  34. Reduce or eliminate your income dependence by laying the foundation for your own business. Find something that you truly enjoy doing and that others are willing to pay for, and acquire the tools and the skills to provide that service or product at a profit. 7
  35. The Christmas season has become the emblem of materialism in America and a brief glance at the mayhem of “Black Friday” shopping will confirm that. Turning away from the greed and materialism is a wonderful opportunity for a family lesson in setting priorities. Rejecting materialism now will make life easier later when it is forced on America by a failing economy.
  36. Find something that you can grow or make at home to give away to others. For some, it is home-canned vegetables or preserves or home-made soap; for my wife and I, it is vanilla extract; for our son, it is egg nog in a variety of flavors. Turn back the clock a bit to a day when people didn’t buy everything from the store, but made it themselves. We also give away much of what our garden produces, and the surplus eggs from our chickens and ducks.

This list was inspired by a list posted at The Thinking Housewife blog. What can you add to this list?


This is an updated version of a post that I first wrote in 2012.

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Notes:

  1. Finding a church that insists on using only the King James Version is a big step in the right direction
  2. The old cast iron sewing machines will last for generations. Treadle and hand-crank sewing machines in excellent condition are still readily available – we have several of them in our home.
  3. While a quality fountain pen is not inexpensive, they will last for generations if well cared for. I have my father’s fountain pen that he purchased in the 1950’s. I had it refurbished and it is now as “good as new”.
  4. At the very least, consider using open source software and Linux rather than falling into the Windows/Mac upgrade trap.
  5. There are, no doubt, plenty of errors in grammar scattered throughout this blog. If you find them, please let me know so I can correct them.
  6. A first-class library can be assembled by making regular visits to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army store.
  7. I spent nine months of evenings and weekends developing the software package that has provided a comfortable living for my family since 1995 – it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Weeds, Immigration, and Culture


Several years ago, in an effort to improve the quality of the soil in my garden, I bought a truckload of topsoil. It was carefully spread, then tilled and worked into the soil. The original soil and the new topsoil were mixed until they became as one. At first, it was great. The soil was darker and richer looking than the native sandy soil, and the plants that I grew there were bigger and stronger. Then came the weeds.

Hidden in among that rich-looking soil that I brought in to mix with the native soil were weed seeds. Specifically, nut-grass nodules. Here we are, years later, and I am still battling the nut-grass. It spreads its roots deep below the surface, and it stores nutrition in a large nodule deep down in the soil. Just cutting them off at the surface has no lasting effect – the weed springs right back in just a couple of days. Nut-grass must be dug out by the roots, one weed at a time. The nodule must be removed. The root runners must be removed. Everything about the weed must be removed, or it will continue to spread, sap the strength of the plants that are intended to grow there, and eventually they will take over completely.

Removing the weeds and their roots is not a painless process. It disturbs the roots of the garden plants, and it is slow and tedious work. There is no alternative if the garden is to be saved. It must be done.

Culture is a very precious thing, and it must be cared for and defended. A culture – just like agriculture – requires work to maintain. There are no shortcuts. Bringing in, or allowing in, foreign elements into a native culture brings with it serious risks. While on the surface, there may appear to be benefits to mixing cultures, the hidden costs will quickly show up. Like an invasive species in nature that finds no natural enemies, it takes over and the original culture disappears. Forever.

Our Precarious Agriculture System

A lush crop of corn being grown for silage.

A lush crop of corn being grown for silage.

Last month, our family held its sixty-first annual family reunion. It’s a chance to talk with a number of my cousins who have been farmers in that area all their lives. When I remarked about how lush and beautiful the corn looked, I learned a lot about just how precarious our food supply is. It is almost entirely dependent on vast quantities of fertilizer and diesel fuel to work the land and to irrigate it.

The situation varies, of course, depending on the type of soil found in different parts of the country. The ideal combination of local climate and fertile, well-drained soil is really quite rare. The reason that the world’s farmers are able to feed a huge and rapidly growing population is the enormous input per acre, of fuel, fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides. Much of today’s farmland is not a whole lot more than a growing medium to which water and nutrients are added – similar to hydroponics.

I will also point out here that we haven’t even touched on the complex system of transporting and delivering that food from the farm to your table. That is even more fragile than the agriculture system, with its near-total dependency on a functioning financial system, available credit, just-in-time ordering system, trucking system, and a coordinating system totally dependent upon the Internet.

There are plenty of exceptions, of course, but the fact remains that without the continuous flow of cheap diesel fuel, irrigation water, fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides, the food available to the consumer would be a tiny fraction of what is needed. Proponents of organic farming point to that as the solution; however, there simply isn’t enough organic matter available nor is there a high enough yield for organic farming to even approach the quantity of food needed. (I’m a big fan of organic gardening, but the issue here is one of scale rather than method.)

If you’re looking for a solution to the overall problem, I’m afraid that there is none. Mankind has grown completely dependent on highly mechanized, high-input farming to feed the population. There is simply no getting around that – as a wide scale issue, anyway. On an individual scale, it is a different story. Growing and producing a portion of our own food for our own family is something that we can all do. Very few will be able to produce more than a token amount of their food to begin with, but it is a learning process. When the day comes that our complex food system no longer functions, make sure that you have the skills and the tools to feed your family.

Irrigation, powered by diesel fuel, keeping that corn growing.

Irrigation, powered by diesel fuel, keeping that corn growing.

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