Preserving Old Varieties

My local paper, the Darlington New & Press, features a number of editorial writers typical of the kind that get gigs writing human interest pieces for tiny small town papers:  local pastors writing brief devotionals; a guy griping about the things we all gripe about; an astronomer.  They all write in a similar, mildly folksy manner, which I’m sure appeals to the more advanced age of the paper’s readership.

One of their writers, Tom Poland, wrote a fascinating piece last week about rare heirloom vegetables, “Long-lost treasures and heirloom seeds.”  The piece tracks down the Bradford Watermelon, a watermelon variety thought to be extinct, but which survived on the land Nat Bradford inherited from his family.  The watermelon variety dwindled in popularity in spite of its sweet, superior flavor because the rind was too thin to survive bulk shipping.

After years of research into arcane newspaper clippings and agricultural history, Bradford discovered that the melons growing on his ancestral farm are, indeed, the legendary Bradford Watermelons.

To quote Poland quoting Bradford:

In Nat’s words, “The greatest watermelon to have come from the great age of watermelon breeding fell out of cultivation. Lost to the world, the melon lived on in the Bradford family farm fields. The last seeds on the planet of this wonderful melon were in a couple of mason jars.”

What a remarkable legacy—and a fortuitous one.  Heirloom varieties of many plants are enjoying increased interest lately as part of the current homesteading movement, as these varieties are often tastier than their supermarket, genetically-modified alternatives.

I suspect, too, that there is a certain joy in knowing that by planting these forgotten seeds, you are directly contributing to the survival of a variety.  There is a link to the past, and the agricultural experiments of our forebears.

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Allodial Rights

I’ve made reference before to the concept of “allodial rights” or “allodial land rights,” the idea that a person’s land is his, completely and absolutely.  The land is not a grant subject to the authority of any king or magistrate, or subordinated into smaller plots under one governing authority; rather, the land belongs fully to the landowner.

When writing my piece Saturday about the Dukes and their struggle with the Town Council in Society Hill, South Carolina, I found a piece at The Center for Social Leadership on the topic of allodial rights.  The piece argues that allodial land rights—which are the norm in the United States—differ from those of the feudal system.  In a feudal system, the lord or king of a land controls all of the land, and leases or grants that land to subsidiaries with certain fees or obligations to the lord in exchange for the use of the land.

Under an allodial system, however, every landowner owns his land free and clear (or has the potential to do so), and is not subject to any higher authority in the use, maintenance, and disbursement of that land.  He is, essentially, the king of his parcel.

Of course, that’s never completely true.  The use of the land is subject to the restrictions of local ordinances.  Some towns enforce certain minimum standards of upkeep, and issue fines for particularly dilapidated and dangerous structures on private property.  Local governments assess property taxes; if those taxes go unpaid long enough, the government can and will strip you of your land.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Homesteading in the City

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Recently I’ve taken subscriptions to Backwoods Home Magazine and its sister publication, Self-Reliance.  Both magazines are treasure troves of information on how to be, well, self-reliant.  Backwoods Home focuses more on handy projects around the homestead and garden, sprinkled with articles containing recipes for canning veggies and baking homemade bread.  Self-Reliance seems to cover many of the same topics, just maybe with fewer recipes.

A major emphasis of both publications is establishing and maintaining a functioning homestead that is as self-supporting and sustainable as possible.  The authors often acknowledge that such an ideal may be impossible to realize in its truest, Platonic form, but point out that it is still an ideal worth striving toward.  Besides that grand ideal, though, the publications are very practical—how does one go about doing all of the tasks and completing all of the myriad projects that maintaining an independent homestead requires?

The goal of near-self-sufficiency is maximal liberty—if you can grow your own food and raise your own livestock, who cares if your employer mandates The Vaccine for work?  You can just live off your land, at least until you can find a job that doesn’t force you to inject yourself with an experimental drug.  That requires a great deal of hard work and focus, but the reward is freedom from the whims of the workplace and the world.  We all know corporations and even smaller employers are growing more woke by the day; in the case of big corporations, following the popular “morality” of the day to keep up appearances is more important than the well-being of their employees.

As someone who would like to raise a few crops and maybe some chickens on my little half-acre, a local story here in Darlington County, South Carolina, caught my attention.  A couple in Society Hill, the Dukes, has around thirty-one animals on their forty-four-acre property, which sits within the town limits of Society Hill.  Their livestock includes “chickens, goats, cows, horses, hens, a duck and a rooster.”

The Town Council for Society Hill passed an ordinance limiting livestock to six chickens and two “equines”—horses, mules, donkeys, etc.—on property within town limits.  The Dukes were apparently in violation of an older ordinance from the 1970s that limited livestock numbers on property within town limits.  I’m not sure what those limits were, but it seems Society Hill’s Town Council believed it needed to update the ordinance.

There are multiple issues here, which are reflected in the Council’s 3-2 split on the ordinance.  The Dukes claim that the current Mayor of Society Hill, Tommy Bradshaw, is targeting them because Dwayne Duke seeks to challenge Bradshaw for mayor.  The Dukes also claim that their animals are used for emotional support therapy for trouble kids.

Neighbors, however, fear that the Dukes plan to turn their home into a petting zoo of some kind, and there have apparently been repeated complaints about the livestock (no one wants a rooster waking them up at the literal crack of dawn).  Even before the new ordinance was passed, the Dukes were already in violation of the older ordinance, which was nearly fifty years old (a reminder to town governments to update their ordinances periodically, lest they be forgotten from lack of use).

So, who is right?  Should the Dukes give up their livestock—and their chance at homesteading freedom?—so their neighbors can get some peace?  Or should they be allowed to keep the animals they raise?

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Tuesday Morning Television Series Review: Sasquatch (2021)

Thanks to Audre Myers at Nebraska Energy Observer and the documentary Missing 411, I’ve become interested in Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Yeti, etc., etc.—cryptid humanoid megafauna of various stripes.  I’m not sure if they exist, but I’m open to the possibility.  Indeed, I want to believe they are out there, wandering in the deepest forests of North America, living their secretive, hairy lives.

So I was quite interested to watch the Hulu series Sasquatch, a three-part true-crime documentary about an alleged Bigfoot attack in Northern California in 1993.  The attack left three Mexican migrants dead on a pot farm, with their murders unsolved to this day.  Indeed, it seems (from the documentary) that the murders were never actually reported to the authorities.

Let me say up front:  while the documentary was quite good, it was incredibly disappointing:  an egregious example of bait-and-switch.

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Egged Off

An unfortunately perennial story that always gets traction here on the Right goes something like this:  precocious youngsters, hoping to engage in some earnest enterprise, start selling lemonade or the like from a roadside stand.  The kids are doing well and making good money (for kids), until an overzealous local health board official sends in the cops to bust up the lemonade stand.  Like Treasury Department revenuers smashing up a yokel’s still, these local officials destroy children’s dreams—and sometimes slap them with a fine.

It’s a story that guarantees outrage, and highlights the clueless, stringent rule-following of bureaucracies.  Yes, yes—technically you’re not supposed to sell lemonade and hot dogs without some kind of license, and the health department is supposed make sure your establishment is clean.  But these are kids, selling stuff on the side of the road.  Why bother?  Let them have fun and make a little money.

The latest such story involves two young ladies selling eggs in their town in Texas.  The Lone Star State has been reeling since the major winter storm hit a month or so back, and food supplies have been disrupted.  Having some backyard eggs for sale surely helped out some locals.

Unbeknownst to the girls—but beknownst to some overweening Karen, no doubt—a local ordinance prohibits the selling of eggs, though it permits the raising of chickens on one’s property.  That’s asinine.  Why can’t people sell eggs in a small town in Texas?

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