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.
Edward Paul Abbey (January 29, 1927 – March 14, 1989) was an American author and essayist noted for his advocacy of environmental issues, criticism of public land policies, and anarchist political views. His best-known works include the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, which has been cited as an inspiration by environmental groups, and the non-fiction work Desert Solitaire. – From Wikipedia
I never met the man called Edward Abbey, but I once knew people who knew him, and I always felt that I had reached into at least some part of his realm through reading many of his books and published works. In the end, his words have always left me with a grin, and I would guess that is exactly what Ed would have wanted. I can see that sly, rascally smile of his even now, in my mind’s eye.
Those are the kind of friends that I like to have in my life, and I call Edward Abbey “friend”, as much as anyone else I know. A friend can lift a heavy burden in the darkest times, sometimes with words alone.
The unrelenting assaults on environment and human nature are legion, but there is hope. There is always hope. Edward Abbey tried to tell us that.
He always had a way of keeping it real, while reminding us not to sacrifice our human soul before the madness of it all. Be quick, he might say, to immerse yourself in the enveloping salvation of the natural world.
And so I say, take heart. When the problems of the modern world lay heavy on your brow, and the latest insults upon the natural world threatens what’s left of your faltering sanity – think of Ed. With all of our problems and faults, he never gave up on the inexhaustible courage of the human condition, nor the limitless capacity of mother earth to right the ship, and heal.
Perhaps above all though, Abbey would have been the first to defend your right to wander freely upon the wild lands, or to do whatever you wished in your own backyard. He had a thing or two to say about guns, government, and monkey wrenches too, if I’m not mistaken.
Edward Abbey, we miss you so!
“One final paragraph of advice. Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast…a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half for yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the griz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards”.
“When guns are outlawed, only the Government will have guns. The Government – and a few outlaws. If that happens, you can count me among the outlaws.”
Jonathan Troy (1954) (ISBN 1-131-40684-2)
The Brave Cowboy (1956) (ISBN 0-8263-0448-6)
Fire on the Mountain (1962) (ISBN 0-8263-0457-5)
Black Sun (1971) (ISBN 0-88496-167-2)
The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975) (ISBN 0-397-01084-2)
Good News (1980) (ISBN 0-525-11583-8)
The Fool’s Progress (1988) (ISBN 0-8050-0921-3)
Hayduke Lives (1989) (ISBN 0-316-00411-1)
Earth Apples: The Poetry of Edward Abbey (1994) (ISBN 0-312-11265-3)
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (1968) (ISBN 0-8165-1057-1)
Appalachian Wilderness (1970)
Slickrock (1971) (ISBN 0-87156-051-8)
Cactus Country (1973)
The Journey Home (1977) (ISBN 0-525-13753-X)
The Hidden Canyon (1977)
Abbey’s Road (1979) (ISBN 0-525-05006-X)
Desert Images (1979)
Down the River (with Henry Thoreau & Other Friends) (1982) (ISBN 0-525-09524-1)
In Praise of Mountain Lions (1984)
Beyond the Wall (1984) (ISBN 0-03-069299-7)
One Life at a Time, Please (1988) (ISBN 0-8050-0602-8)
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness: Notes from a Secret Journal (1989)
Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey, 1951–1989 (1994) (ISBN 0-316-00415-4)
Cactus Chronicles published by Orion Magazine, Jul–Aug 2006 (no longer active,)
Postcards from Ed (book)|Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast (2006) (ISBN 1-57131-284-6)
Slumgullion Stew: An Edward Abbey Reader (1984)
The Best of Edward Abbey (1984)
The Serpents of Paradise: A Reader (1995)
We generally have several used and collectable Edward Abbey Books in stock.
You can find a current list Michael Patrick McCarty, Bookseller, HERE.
“Hold on to what is good, even if it’s a handful of earth. Hold on to what you believe, even if it’s a tree that stands by itself. Hold on to what you must do, even if it’s a long way from here. Hold on to your life, even if it’s easier to let go. Hold on to my hand, even if someday I’ll be gone away from you”.
— A Pueblo Indian Prayer
As many of you know, a mountain goat can perform some miraculous feats while living their everyday lives in the extreme and mostly vertical world of their home habitats. For them, every step can require unwavering courage in the face of uncertainty and ultimate disaster.
Sometimes…that’s exactly what it feels like to be a seeker of truth, and a prepper…
Somehow, for better or worse, this photo looks much too much like the road I’m on…
A lawyer I am not, but I do not require the skill of a legal sage to determine that the recent Obamacare decision has rocked the Tree of Liberty in this once great, united, United States of America. The so-called “Supreme Court” has delivered a devious blow, and I can feel the treacherous poison of that dastardly deed drill deep in her anchoring roots.
I have long since lost patience with all aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In fact, I’m angry, and I don’t like that. I’m even angrier because I know that I should not have to be angry. The “Act” was unconstitutional when it was rammed down our throats without our approval. It was unconstitutional when it was sent to the Supreme Court for consideration, and it’s still unconstitutional today, no matter what they say. Even I know that.
Obamacare was put into effect with blunt force trauma, like a doctor performing intricate brain surgery with a long-handled shovel. The procedure cracked the skull and killed the patient with the first big swing, as surely as a surgically placed bullet from the gun of a skilled assassin. In this case the assassin wore a black rope, and his gun was a black ink pen held behind a tall bench in the highest court of the land.
We may never know the true motivations of the man who ultimately decided the fate of Obamacare. That may be between him and whatever god and judgements he may suffer. We do know that it is a complete and utter sham, and not even a good one at that. It is a gift from the dark side, delivered in full sunlight by a new world order as old as time itself, with a mission to create chaos out of the natural order of all good things.
Countries, like men, are the products of countless decisions which impact the makeup of the collective body, and soul. The soul can grow angry, which can make the body very sick. It does not wish to muck about the putrid innards of an angry and rageful man. Nor does it wish to live within the confines of a country so tragically damaged, and fatally diseased.
My level of anger is indescribable. A bucket of cold water in the face of it would not blunt it. It burns as hot as the primordial ember of the first man, who left the trees in search of god and human destiny. That first spark has not gone out. Forever on It waits, to burn out the eternal sickness for once, and for all. It was created just for that. It is part of my soul, and of your’s, and it will burn even brighter long after the body is gone.