Category Archives: Heroes of the Backyard (And All Around Us Too)
A TRIBUTE TO THE BACKYARD WARRIOR – THE TIME FOR BACKYARD VICTORY GARDENS IS NOW
“Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany during World War I and World War II. They were used along with Rationing Stamps and Cards to reduce pressure on the public food supply. Besides indirectly aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. This made victory gardens a part of daily life on the home front…The slogan “grow your own, can your own”, was a slogan that started at the time of the war and referred to families growing and canning their own food in victory gardens.” – Wikipedia
I don’t mean the kind you’re talking about when your friends invite you to go shopping or for a night out and you say, “No, I can’t. I’m poor right now.”
I don’t mean the situation when you’d like to get a nicer car but decide you should just stick to the one you have because you don’t have a few thousand for a down payment.
I don’t mean the scene at the grocery store when you decide to get ground beef instead of steak.
I’m talking about when you have already done the weird mismatched meals from your pantry that are made up of cooked rice, stale crackers, and a can of peaches, and you’ve moved on to wondering what on earth you’re going to feed your kids.
Or when you get an eviction notice for non-payment of rent, a shut-off notice for your utilities, and a repo notice for your car and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about any of those notices because there IS NO MONEY.
If you’ve never been this level of broke, I’m very glad.
I have been this broke. I know that it is soul-destroying when no matter how hard you work, how many part-time jobs you squeeze in, and how much you cut, you simply don’t make enough money to survive in the world today. Being part of the working poor is incredibly frustrating and discouraging…
Challenging economic times call for ever more creative survival strategies. Food costs have exploded across the land, forcing families to squeeze every last penny from their rapidly devaluing dollars. Housing costs are another matter altogether and a home mortgage can be a terrible burden to bear. Just ask anyone who has lost their home through random hardship or the disappearing job. At times it seems a most unsolvable puzzle.
A man named MC (“Radiator Charlie”) Byles of West Virginia had a solution to these type of problems in the early 1940’s. In this case his answer was large and red and proud, and particularly delicious on a slab of steaming homemade bread with salt and mayonnaise.
A homespun gardener and inveterate tinkerer, he wanted to build a better, and bigger tomato. And build it he did. After several years of propagation his tomato plants could produce, mild, meaty, and delicious fruit of immense proportions. People flocked to his door for a look at a 3 pound tomato, and he was happy to accommodate them. Never one to miss an opportunity, he sold his seedling plants for $1 each and paid off his $6,000 home mortgage in a few short years. He named his new creation “the mortgage lifter”, and a backyard gardening legend was born.
That legend lives on today, and for good reason. Imagine paying off your property with the fruits of your backyard labor. Think about what life would be like without a house payment, or a weekly grocery bill large enough to choke a horse. It’s an inspiring and encouraging idea. It gives me hope. It can be done. Marshall Cletis Byles would tell you so, if he could.
I tip my gardening hat to him, and to the unbounded energies of his creativity. I’d say it’s time for many of us to take another look at his game changing idea. Perhaps it’s possible to follow his example and do our very best to lift the grinding weight of the mortgage from our backs. It may be an overly ambitious or unrealistic plan, but like him, I must try.
There are many ways to get there, and perhaps you have already begun or are well on your way. Our version of the “grocery lifter” comes in the form of rabbits and squab. Others beat back their bills with a small flock of geese, which possess the marvelous ability to efficiently convert grass to many pounds of tasty meat. The addition of a few pigs can provide miraculous results for your larder, particularly if you are a fan of pork and pig fat. Pigs, like tomatoes, have often been refered to as mortgage lifters. My neighbor has added a couple of steers to his small pasture and plans to keep one for the freezer and sell the other to cover his costs.
You may have an entirely different idea, but the intention is the same. I think it can be any animal or plant that works for you and fits your particular set of circumstances or comfort level.The important thing is that we all do a little to help ourselves and contribute to a more self-sufficient life. Every bit of food we can produce at home takes power form the corporate controlled food model. It gives us a reason to get up in the morning and keeps us grounded in the small satisfaction of a job well done.
So let’s hear it for the backyard gardener, the keeper of hens, the canner, and the prepper. Give thanks to the independent farmers and agricultural workers everywhere. Let’s revel in the joys of animal husbandry, fish farming, or beekeeping. Put a little bit of the farm and the old-fashioned barnyard back in your everyday life. You won’t regret it.
We can do it. We are doing it. Let’s decentralize, and unplug from the controlling grid. We must put our heads together, and our families and communities will follow. Let’s keep our friends close, and our enemies at bay. It’s the mortgage lifter revolution, because the very definition of mortgage is death and we must throw off the chains of that grim and unforgiving reaper of sorrows.
The spirit of MC Byles, like his seeds and giant heirloom tomatoes, live on. It can be seen in the successes of backyard entrepreneurs across the continents. Sometimes the path to independence and the bounty of a joyful life starts with a simple seed, planted in the welcoming and living earth of a backyard garden.
Long live the mortgage lifters and the backyard heroes, and the unlimited promise of a new day!
———-Do you have a backyard hero? Tell us your story…
“There’s nothin’ in the world that I like better than
Bacon, lettuce and home grown tomatoes Up in the morning and out in the garden Pick you a ripe one, don’t get a hard ‘un Plant ’em in the springtime eat ’em in the summer All winter without ’em’s a culinary bummer I forget all about the sweatin’ and the diggin’ Every time I go out and pick me a big’un
Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes What’d life be without home grown tomatoes There’s only two things that money can’t buy That’s true love and home grown tomatoes
You can go out and eat ’em, that’s for sure But there’s nothin’ a home grown tomato won’t cure You can put ’em in a salad, put ’em in a stew You can make your own, very own tomato juice You can eat ’em with eggs, you can eat ’em with gravy You can eat ’em with beans, pinto or navy Put em on the side, put em on the middle Home grown tomatoes on a hot cake griddle
If I could change this life I lead You could call me Johnny Tomato Seed I know what this country needs It’s home grown tomatoes in every yard you see When I die don’t bury me In a box in a cold dark cemetery Out in the garden would be much better Where I could be pushin’ up home grown tomatoes”
From “Home Grown Tomato”, By Guy Clark, Sugar Hill Records, 1997.
Today, much to my surprise, I saw Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, in my favorite Colorado breakfast spot. I even surprised myself when I took that opportunity to stand up and cross the room to say hello, and shake his hand.
For those that don’t know, Sheriff Clarke has been Sheriff of Milwaukee County since 2002 and is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel. He is a staunch proponent of self-defense and Second Amendment rights, and a champion of law enforcement done the right way. In 2013, Clarke was awarded the Sheriff of the Year Award by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, for “demonstrating true leadership and courage…staying true to his oath, true to his badge, and true to the people he has promised to serve and protect.”
He is a Hero to me, with a capital “H”, and I told him just that. Sheriff Clarke and I had never met before, and probably will not meet again. He had no idea who I was, nor had any reason to know. Not, in the end, that it really matters.
But I know a patriot and an ally when I see one. I have listened closely to the words of Sheriff Clarke whenever I could, and have found his message to ring true. My gut tells me that he is a good man, and real. Our meeting, chance and inconsequential as it was, has only reinforced that belief.
My only real intention, if there was one, was uncomplicated, and unplanned. Perhaps I looked quite foolish, standing there, in a somewhat awkward and deferential position, while the rest of the restaurant crowd looked on.
But I wanted him to know that I, for one, knew who he was, and that I appreciated what he stood for, and what he did, everyday, for me, and for others. As you might imagine, that is usually more difficult than it sounds.
In my opinion, “We The People”, have much more to worry about than the common criminals and predatory intruders of the backyard and home. Those more obvious threats I can handle, for as the saying goes, “I don’t call 911”. In that scenario I fully intend to be the last man standing, and I will call, if and when whatever happens, happens.
What troubles me most is more insidious, and dangerous. I wish that it was not so glaringly obvious that our constitutional rights and personal liberties are being attacked from every imaginable angle. I wish that I did not feel the need to point out that things seem to be escalating, daily. More than likely, you have already figured that out for yourself.
It is people like Sheriff Clarke that also protect us from the other bad things that slither and slather in the night, whether we know it or not. He is part of that largely unseen group of people standing on the front lines, working to preserve our rights to do what we wish to do in our home, and our backyard. They are the last line of defense before we have to take matters in our own hands. He knows, and we know, that we will do that if we need to, though we all pray that it won’t come to that.
Pray that it does not come to that.
I wish that I had done more than stand and say thank you to Sheriff Clarke today. I wish that I had an opportunity to say more than I did. But I did stand, and that is much better than not.
Men, and women, like Sheriff Clarke, need our steadfast support. They need to know that we are paying attention to the things done by an over reaching government without our consent, and that our patience is wearing precariously thin. Our quiet, though measured resolve to preserve the best parts of our way of life should never be mistaken for weakness. No doubt he knows that, much more than most.
We have your back Sir, of that you can be sure.
I am proud that I stood, today. I stood, hesitantly, but…hopefully. Hopeful, that things in the world are not going to go the way I am afraid that they cannot help but go. Hopeful, that people like Sheriff Clarke will continue to stand, for me, and for us, and that others will also rise.
One way or the other, I will be counted. Perhaps today, the simple act of standing, and giving thanks, meant something. Perhaps a heartfelt effort from a common man, however small, was just enough. Just enough to help turn the tide of a country heading in the wrong direction. Just enough to help steel the hearts of heroes like Sheriff Clarke, and others, and the heroes in all of us.