Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

New Era Resolutions


America continues down the path to a new era – an era characterized by 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.

This post is updated from the New Era Resolutions that I publish about every year or so. It needs to be regularly repeated as a reminder that there IS something we can do. We have a choice. We can take positive steps to improve our selves, our families, our churches, our friends, our co-workers, and all those within our circle. Hope is not enough – have a plan.

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. Strive to 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 few decades 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 order and civility are 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 in your financial planning.
  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 has been 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.





  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 grammatical errors scattered throughout this blog. If you find them, please let me know so that I may 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.


  1. Judy

    I just love this list. We left our farm because we a were being poisoned out by ignorant people who use poison to control nature. We are again looking for a place in the rural area of our counties to live and survive once again.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, Judy. I wish you all the best finding a new place in the country.

  2. Lesa

    Thank you for an excellent article. I feel as though I’m swimming against the tide when dealing with the issues of today. Your article (along with fervent prayer) will help me to continue to prepare and to strive to do what is right by God’s Laws. I’m thankful that I am a Christian and a 5th generation Texan with ancestors that came from other states in the South.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you for the kind words, Lesa. One of the reasons that I write The Southern Agrarian is for the replies that are written to the articles. They are reassurance to all of us that we are not alone. There are others – many others – who share the ideals of the Southern Agrarians.

  3. Fugitive Agrarian

    On board with you and yours. The priorities are well ordered too. These are principles we have largely adopted as well.

    Ain’t so sure about point 30 though. The grammar police tend to define propriety as Ms. Emily Post did for manners. I like our morphed southern vernacular myself but y’all do what you will.

    We have added a jersey milk cow to 13. Amazing what we can enjoy with the milk. We get about $15 (at least) a day of value out of her for about a 5th the price. Of course we have a bunch of little ones to supply for, and it’s not as easy as it might seem.

    Thanks for the post and some reminders for New Year resolutions.

    Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to y’all.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      You make a good point about grammar, and I’ve had that on my list of topics to write about. What I had in mind is the adoption of urban street slang. People see it on TV (yet another reason to remove that garbage from our homes!) with celebrities using it, and they want to sound “cool” and “with it”, so they bring those corrupted speech patterns into their own life. That is what we need to avoid.

      Regarding Southern vernacular – it’s important to recognize the difference between Southern vernacular and grammatical ignorance. Language (and vernacular is part of that) is a key part of any culture.

      Several years ago, I read an article about the history of English speech patterns. It was by a speech coach who was helping actors create a British accent. The article pointed out that what we now think of as “upper crust British” speech would be almost unrecognizable two hundred years ago. Speech from that era had far more in common with current day Southern speech than it did with current day British speech. The word “ain’t” would have been a normal part of speech in England a century or two ago. It’s a fascinating topic that I need to get back to.

  4. Alice Scott

    # 6.” Dress more formally than what is customary in today’s society. It demonstrates a respect for others – and for yourself.”
    I take time to look nice anytime I go in public. I have been asked, “Why go to all the time and trouble?” And I was almost beginning to wonder that myself! Thank you for answering that question. It is well worth the time to “demonstrate a respect for others – and for yourself.”

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      The topic of dressing to show respect to others – and ourselves – originated in a discussion about dressing for church. So many modernist “churches” embrace informality to bring the world into their building (I just can’t bring myself to call it a church) that they forget why they are there. One gets dressed in their best out of respect for God. We should want to give Him our best – including the way we dress. That carries over into respect for others around us, and for our own self-respect. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!

  5. Dennis L. Peterson

    Excellent advice.

  6. Ron Cook

    Thanks, Stephen, for taking the time to put this together. I truly enjoyed reading it. The reading of it brought back wonderful memories of a bygone day when my grandparents; born in the 1890s, were at the helm of extended family activities centered around their self-sufficient, 40-acre-farm. If those days are gone, it is no one’s fault but our own. I have already adopted most of the suggestions for living, found in this post, but a few will be added as a result of the enlightenment I’ve gleaned from your well-written words. Saturday morning, we butchered the 3rd, farm-raised hog of this Autumn season, with the help of close friends, who are neighbors. We have butchered two deer since October. We raise a 1/4 acre garden that provides not only for the needs of our family and a few friends but also for the local Farmers’ Market, where we make money to re-invest in our farm. We help our neighbors manage their gardens as well, gladly pitching in, sharing tools, and trading labor. Our freezers and our pantries, and those of our neighbor’s are full to overflowing. We are truly blessed, by God’s providence and unfailing provision.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Ron, you’ve got a lifestyle to be envied! I inherited a 120 acre farm, but it is rented out to my cousins. We live on one acre, where we do our best to live the Southern Agrarian life. Others have even less land to work with, but the important point is that we embrace the lifestyle and that is not dependent upon how much land we have available. One person living alone with a tomato plant growing in a 5-gallon bucket, and a few flowers growing in pots, can be a true Southern Agrarian – while another living on a large farm may have no idea what Southern Agrarianism is, and would reject it if they knew.

      For those who don’t already know, Ron Cook is the developer of the Heavy Hitter strain of Okra. I’ve been experimenting with it for several years, and as the strain continues to be refined over generations, I have no doubt that this will become one of the standards of Okra.

      (Ron – the domain name you included comes back with a 404 error, so you might want to reply with the correct one so that folks will know how to contact you for more info on Heavy Hitter Okra.)

  7. Heather Caparoso

    This is a very excellent list. I would just add, in addition to sewing and mending clothes, learning to make simple dress patterns is also a very useful skill, as sewing patterns have become VERY expensive. Or at least learning how one pattern can be altered to make several different styles and sizes. I have three daughters and a son (who served honorably in the US Army) and now five grandchildren, and when dress and shirt patterns started to get really expensive, I took a course in patternmaking at our local community college.
    Also, if you have a small farm to raise food, consider adding a small flock of sheep to provide meat and wool. Learning to spin and weave is not too difficult, and new equipment is very expensive, but used tools and equipment can be acquired for a fairly reasonable price. And a drop spindle, used for spinning thread and yarn, can be made at home. And to brighten our lives, learning to use natural dyes and mordants is fun! Even the lowly teabag can be used to get a lovely shade of tan on yarn or fabric. I spun wool and dyed it with chamisa, also called rabbitbrush, which grows wild in New Mexico and in many other states, to make a beautiful, bright golden yellow. I gathered it along the roadside. I’m going to knit it into a vest for the grandson who lives with me.
    And I apologize if I sound like some kind of paragon of the fiber arts! I so am not! But I was lucky, my mother sewed all our clothes, there were four of us daughters, and she was an excellent teacher to me. And that reminds me of something else, pass on your skills to your children and grandchildren! I am eternally in my mother’s debt and miss her everyday. She passed last year at the age of 97.
    Yes, I know I have run on quite a bit here, and thank you for indulging me, Mr. McGehee! And all I have left to say is to thank you again for reviving this blog and to wish all here many Christmas blessings! Our Lord and Savior truly lives!

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      My wife does a lot of sewing – she typically comes home from church with at least one dress or something else that needs mending or alterations, and she does some light commercial embroidery work for a small home-based business here in town. She has found some great old patterns at yard sales and through on-line buy/sell/swap forums. Not only are they very inexpensive, they are the kind of modest designs that are hard to find today. We had talked about making patterns since so many of the modern ones are very poorly done and the instructions are confusing and just plain wrong. I used to work as an Industrial Engineer, and my primary job was to provide simple, but detailed instructions (and design tooling) for assembly line workers. It’s a short leap from that to making patterns. I hadn’t considered that there might be classes for pattern-making available. That’s something we will have to look into – thank you!!

      We inherited my mother’s wrap-around blanket (I don’t know what the “real” name for it is) that is from wool produced by a cousin’s sheep, then spun and woven by another cousin. It has become a prized family heirloom.

  8. Doug Helms

    Great article, I’m glad to see you blogging again.
    I have a copy of “I’ll Take My Stand”, I have also rebuilt an old pitcher pump that I let my grandkids use to drink when they are outside with me. I need to grow some gourds to use for them to drink from like when I was a child.
    I retired the first of this month so I will have more time to garden.
    I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas!
    Your friend,
    Doug Helms

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Great to hear from you, Doug! Thanks for checking in. We have a deep water hand pump, and the grandkids enjoy pumping it and getting each other wet (sometimes to the chagrin of the moms!), but it’s a great way to teach them that water doesn’t magically appear from the bathroom sink – it comes from deep in the earth.

      I haven’t had much luck growing gourds, but I really ought to try it again. I’ve done well with Luffa Gourds, so the pitcher gourds ought to do well. Congratulations on your retirement! I’ve considered myself semi-retired for a few years now, but when you have your own business, there is seldom a nice clean break between work and retirement.

      I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!. Keep in touch.

  9. Nancy

    Great post!

  10. Nancy Falster

    We now live on 56 acres and have lived in other rural areas since 1999, but my husband is 73, a combat veteran and we must slow down, so we will look to sell and move closer to our grandkids and on a much smaller place. If we do not raise our own meat, milk, eggs and veggies, we know enough to find folks who do and pay whatever they ask for clean, chemical free home grown food. And we will share what we have learned and keep on teaching about real food.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      We are blessed to have all five of our grandchildren (with #6 due to arrive in February) living within a mile and a half of us. My parents lived about 12 miles from us, so we were able to help them in their last years. I know that must hurt having to move to a smaller place, but being with family is almost always worth the sacrifice. I hope you’ll be able to continue your Southern Grace business after your move – I really like the concept.

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