Intrinsic Drive®

Manual Transmission with Small Farmer's Journal Founder Lynn R. Miller

April 03, 2024 Phil Wharton - Wharton Health Season 5 Episode 6
Manual Transmission with Small Farmer's Journal Founder Lynn R. Miller
Intrinsic Drive®
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Intrinsic Drive®
Manual Transmission with Small Farmer's Journal Founder Lynn R. Miller
Apr 03, 2024 Season 5 Episode 6
Phil Wharton - Wharton Health

Lynn R. Miller is a painter, farmer, horseman, and writer. Odd jobs ranging from commercial fisherman, logger, sawyer, farmer, workhorse teamster, lecturer, and cattle rancher, supported him through college. Over the past 40 years, Lynn has become a world-renowned authority in the fields of alternative farming and animal powered agriculture. 

In 1976 with the encouragement of his father’s suggestion to “grow a crop of literature”, to assist the fledging small farmer, he founded the Small Farmer’s Journal, an international agrarian quarterly which functions to this day as cornerstone empowering a worldwide readership. For SFJ’s entire 48 year history Lynn has manually stewarded this living alternative preservationist publication, now in it’s 188th edition. 

We learn of Lynn’s early enchantment with painting, and self-described “genetic memory”, leading him to follow a manual transmission life integrating his passions rooted in “shared work”, and restorative land cultivation. 

Mr. Miller is author to over twenty books (poetry, fiction, and nonfiction), including the best-selling, Workhorse Handbook, now in its second edition, and his current release Roots in a Lovely FilthHe has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Ranch and Reata, and Western Horseman.

 Lynn has lectured across North America and keynote speaker for farm conferences, and universities. He was awarded the Steward of Sustainable Agriculture, at the 1999 Eco Farm Conference, The Garfield Award for The Preservation of Rural Technologies, Award for Distinguished Service from the Missouri House of Representatives, and the Utne Reader Award for Environmental Reporting. 

His artworks are in private and public collections across the country. It’s my pleasure, privilege, and honor to welcome my friend Lynn R. Miller to this episode of Intrinsic Drive ® .

Intrinsic Drive ®  is produced by Ellen Strickler and Phil Wharton and Andrew Hollingworth  is sound editor and engineer.

Photo Credit: Kristi Gilman-Miller

Show Notes Transcript

Lynn R. Miller is a painter, farmer, horseman, and writer. Odd jobs ranging from commercial fisherman, logger, sawyer, farmer, workhorse teamster, lecturer, and cattle rancher, supported him through college. Over the past 40 years, Lynn has become a world-renowned authority in the fields of alternative farming and animal powered agriculture. 

In 1976 with the encouragement of his father’s suggestion to “grow a crop of literature”, to assist the fledging small farmer, he founded the Small Farmer’s Journal, an international agrarian quarterly which functions to this day as cornerstone empowering a worldwide readership. For SFJ’s entire 48 year history Lynn has manually stewarded this living alternative preservationist publication, now in it’s 188th edition. 

We learn of Lynn’s early enchantment with painting, and self-described “genetic memory”, leading him to follow a manual transmission life integrating his passions rooted in “shared work”, and restorative land cultivation. 

Mr. Miller is author to over twenty books (poetry, fiction, and nonfiction), including the best-selling, Workhorse Handbook, now in its second edition, and his current release Roots in a Lovely FilthHe has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Ranch and Reata, and Western Horseman.

 Lynn has lectured across North America and keynote speaker for farm conferences, and universities. He was awarded the Steward of Sustainable Agriculture, at the 1999 Eco Farm Conference, The Garfield Award for The Preservation of Rural Technologies, Award for Distinguished Service from the Missouri House of Representatives, and the Utne Reader Award for Environmental Reporting. 

His artworks are in private and public collections across the country. It’s my pleasure, privilege, and honor to welcome my friend Lynn R. Miller to this episode of Intrinsic Drive ® .

Intrinsic Drive ®  is produced by Ellen Strickler and Phil Wharton and Andrew Hollingworth  is sound editor and engineer.

Photo Credit: Kristi Gilman-Miller

Phil Wharton  (00:00:00):

Take me, Lynn, take us to the beginnings of your farming experiences. So from here, when did you go and meet with Ray and understand where you could get your first farm, when you also met with Phil, the banker, and all those things that happened after that?

Lynn Miller  (00:00:26):

That was a few years on down the line when I moved to Oregon to enter the graduate program at the University of Oregon.

Phil Wharton  (00:00:35):

At U of O. Okay.

Lynn Miller  (00:00:38):

Shortly after I moved to Oregon, I rented a five acre cherry farm on the corner of Highway 58 and Jasper Road in Springfield.

Phil Wharton  (00:00:52):

Okay. Yeah. Right there, basically across from Eugene, right? I mean, right.

Lynn Miller  (00:00:56):

Excuse me.

Phil Wharton  (00:00:57):

Bless you.

Lynn Miller  (00:00:58):

Yeah. Very close. And it was out in the country. It had a barn and a chicken house, and a beautiful garden and a red tile house, and it had a barbershop.

Phil Wharton  (00:01:11):

Oh wow.

Lynn Miller  (00:01:13):

Right there, a red tile barbershop. And what I did, listening to the voices in my head or whatever, the urges were inside of me. I'm enrolled in the graduate program. I had immediately gotten a teaching position at an art center when I pulled into Eugene. So I had a job. I was in graduate school. I set up the barn on the cherry farm as a studio, and I set up the barbershop as a pet shop. And for a little bit less than a year, I started to populate the barbershop with cotton top marmosets, tortoises, cockatoos, parrots, puppies of kittens, and whatever else. It was something I was interested in and something that I had a capacity for, but it was like a digression. At the same time. I had laying hens and a couple of milk goats and a very ambitious organic garden and this cherry orchard.

Phil Wharton  (00:02:47):

So there's a lot to take care of there at the beginning.

Lynn Miller  (00:02:50):

And occasionally I got opportunities to do other jobs, and I would shift around. I could always go back to the art center, but the art centers paid based on how many students were enrolled in a particular class. And sometimes it was okay, and sometimes it wasn't enough. So I had a stint as a night watchman at a plywood factory, which was straight out of a Stephen King novel. I managed a broiler operation for Nulaid, eighty, ninety thousand chickens and three.

Phil Wharton  (00:03:36):


Lynn Miller  (00:03:37):

I managed an organic dairy goat farm, lots of different ventures that helped me start to piece together everything. Even the one experiences I didn't care for. The commercial broiler operation reaffirmed my desire to have that farm of my own. And of course, uppermost was a little five acre place I was renting that had the cherry orchard.

Phil Wharton  (00:04:15):

And you didn't have drafts yet? Was this before your draft horses yet?

Lynn Miller  (00:04:21):

Yeah. And so I got involved with a man that was a Cherokee Indian, and he and his family lived not too far away from me there on Jasper Road. And he knew I was attracted to the horse and mule thing, but he was involved in saddle horses and he needed some help. He had helped me a couple of times and he brought an old horse to the cherry farm and I got to ride it around and was enchanted by all of that and starting to get the western bug in that respect, the cowboy type thing. And Jerry and I, I'm just remembering a story you might find interesting.

Phil Wharton  (00:05:25):

Please, go ahead.

Lynn Miller  (00:05:27):

Alright. While I was there, I had that horse and I had very little or no experience with the horses, but it was easy for me to be with animals.

Phil Wharton  (00:05:43):

That makes sense.

Lynn Miller  (00:05:44):

So across the highway there was a horse farm, and one day I got a anxious knock on the door, and somebody came over, was just petrified. They needed help, went over to their place and they had had a horse that had reared up and come down on a steel post into its chest.

Phil Wharton  (00:06:07):

Oh boy.

Lynn Miller  (00:06:09):

And the first order of business. And he was skewered on that and bleeding. And the first order of business was how to get the horse off of that.

Phil Wharton  (00:06:23):

Can't even imagine. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (00:06:24):

Managed to do that. This was, I say, a horse. It was like a twelve, thirteen hand pony, a large pony. And the horse was in shock. And I had already gotten ahold of veterinarian on the phone for this guy, and the veterinarian said, no, I can't come, but you've got to figure out some way to keep that wound from getting infected. And we'd already identified that the wound was straight up into the chest. So he's explaining to me that I have to try to figure this out. And I do not recall Phil how this came to me, but I had bought a bunch of bananas for the monkeys in the pet shop, and I raced home and came back with four or five bananas and would very carefully peel them and push the whole banana up in the cavity.

Phil Wharton  (00:07:36):

Oh my gosh.

Lynn Miller  (00:07:36):

One after the other till it filled it. And then I put a bandaid over that. And I remember the vet calling me when he finally made it there to treat the horse, telling me what a brilliant idea it had been.

Phil Wharton  (00:07:54):

And you just started doing it. It just sort of came to you. It just was what you needed to do in that moment.

Lynn Miller  (00:08:01):

Yeah. I don't know. I mean, I'm trying to think of something that the shape and the size.

Phil Wharton  (00:08:10):

That seemed to fit the.

Lynn Miller  (00:08:11):

I remember that I just bought this bunch of bananas.

Phil Wharton  (00:08:13):

The gash there.

Lynn Miller  (00:08:16):

Like a branch load of bananas. And I thought, well if I could stick a banana up in there, but the peeling would be dirty. And then I thought, if I peel it and push it up in there, should be okay.

Phil Wharton  (00:08:33):

Unbelievable enough time to cauterize the wound, I guess, until the vet was able to show up. And then were you a member of the Draft Horse Association at this time yet? Or not quite yet?

Lynn Miller  (00:08:48):

Not yet.

Phil Wharton  (00:08:49):


Lynn Miller  (00:08:50):

But I learned that the people who were with the draft horses the best and easiest place to rub shoulders with 'em, I learned by accident. I went to the state fair barn there full of mules and draft horses, and I just sat there all the time with watching and asking questions, dumb questions, and I was mesmerized. Just mesmerized. I knew I had to do this. And my first interest was in mules. Anyway, that's where I met these people. After they saw that I was a hanger on, after a couple of years worth of state fairs, they invited me to join the association. Then I started to meet other people. And at that time, I got a opportunity. I got another job offer to manage a 250 acre sheep and cattle operation in Drain a little further away from Eugene. And it belonged to three investors, one of which was a man I made easy friends with. And I had all of this time I'd been absorbing anything that had to do with agriculture and of course, other mystique of, oh he's a painter and he's in graduate school, but trying to learn everything I could learn. And it seemed like at that stage of my life, being able to talk a good talk was more than half of the resume.


And these guys were looking for somebody who would work for next to nothing in exchange for a house. I think it was $400 a month in a house, and I could butcher a lamb and get some beef and whatever else in this place. Had a big orchard on it in a big garden. And it felt like exactly where I wanted to be. And I went there and this place had a hillside covered in Christmas trees and the Christmas trees. It wasn't a commercial operation, although they had been planted, and to some extent, some pruning had been done for them to be Christmas trees. But the one owner, Bruce had come to me and he said, can you think of any way to get those trees cut and take 'em? We want to sell 'em to add to the income for the farm.

Phil Wharton  (00:11:45):

Right, of course. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (00:11:50):

I had already been studying on the idea of the horses. I didn't have a justification for it. And I said to Bruce, I said, if I had a team of horses and a sled, I could get up there and get those trees and bring 'em down off the mountain so that they could be loaded into a trailer or a truck. And he said, well, what do you need to do to be able to get the horses? And I said, well, I happened to know there's an auction in La Grande in a couple of weeks, and there's going to be some Belgian horses there for sale. And he said, well, how do we do this? And the other two guys didn't want to be involved in the horse thing. They thought it was a lame idea. Bruce said, do you want to do this? And I said, oh gosh. He said, I don't even have to ask you if I loaned you $2,000. I know you would pay me back. And he gave me the money.

Phil Wharton  (00:12:55):

That's fantastic.

Lynn Miller  (00:12:57):

And I had made friends with a neighbor who was a realtor who had a horse trailer and said, we talked about this. And he thought I was just adventuresome enough to make it happen. So I had that $2,000 and this man's truck and trailer that he loaned me. And I went up to the auction and I knew the man who was selling the horses, and he knew that I didn't know anything. And he said, I have these two old mares that would be perfect for you. And so I bought him and he threw in an old set of harness and I brought him back on down. And that's what started that. That was the beginning.

Phil Wharton  (00:13:43):

That was the beginning. So you started by logging these evergreens from up on that mountain. Had you met Ray Drongesen yet?

Lynn Miller  (00:13:53):

No, I haven't. It was my first experience. And the man who, and I had problems at the very beginning, which I've written about, and the man who stepped in and helped me was Howard Steel. He had pulling horses in Saginaw, which was not very far away, and he came and helped me get straightened out so I could do what I was doing. Well, that was successful. My experience lambing out the flock and dealing with the cattle and all had all been successful. And this group of three investors bought a bigger place on the coast. Little Creek, a seven, eight hundred acre place behind Lake Siltcoos.

Phil Wharton  (00:14:40):

And yeah, huge place. Huh? Sounds like a huge place on the coast there.

Lynn Miller  (00:14:46):

They wanted me to move to there, and I didn't want to go because I kind of got my roots set. But I went ahead and took the opportunity and moved to Fiddle Creek and took the team of horses with me. I wasn't using them for, the only thing I did with the horses at all were rather lame attempts to try to learn how to mow hay at the time. And then using a wagon or a sled. There were tractor equipment and everything was there. So I was putting up silage and making hay and running that place. And I had neighbors that they made "Sometimes a Great Notion", by Ken Keesey seem like a fairytale. Literally I mean these men were larger than life. And it is a story that I am going to put down. I have to

Phil Wharton  (00:15:58):

Good, good.

Lynn Miller  (00:16:00):

But there was Harley Huff who was a one-armed dairy farmer, had lost his arm in the gears of a drag line.

Phil Wharton  (00:16:14):

Okay yeah.

Lynn Miller  (00:16:16):

And had a hook and one good arm. And I couldn't keep up with him. There was nothing, I mean it didn't stop him from doing anything.

Phil Wharton  (00:16:32):


Lynn Miller  (00:16:32):

He could be had an incredible soft touch when it came to the milking parlor and the cows. I knew what force he had in that hook. There's a long list of these people and the adventures that happened there. I think I may have written about some of them in soft fiction version in a novel I did entitled Talking Man.

Phil Wharton  (00:17:06):

Talking Man. Okay. All those will be in the liner notes for those of you go and get these books. It's fantastic.

Lynn Miller  (00:17:18):

While I'm there and everything is going better than I had expected, and I'm now responsible for operations. It's not mine and it's still not exactly what I wanted, but somebody brought to me a query that there was oh, I need to back up in Drain, before I moved to Fiddle Creek, my employers paid the tuition for me to go to the American Breeder Service artificial insemination school.

Phil Wharton  (00:18:05):

I was going to ask you about that, where that fit.

Lynn Miller  (00:18:07):

That's when I learned all of that for cattle and horses. And so I was breeding the cattle on those two operations artificially. And I was offered a job in on the Clackamas River and Estacada up near Portland, managing a purebred Angus ranch for Daniel Menchu. He had been the executive secretary for Senator Herman Talmadge of Georgia, and then got appointed chairman of the International Trade Commission.

Phil Wharton  (00:18:43):

Trade Commission. I remember you telling me about him.

Lynn Miller  (00:18:46):

And I went to work for him with that operation there. And the scale and force of that had me traveling to buy semen to different calibrating events. And I still don't understand it exactly, but he thought it was valuable to have to fly me a couple of different times to Washington DC, to meet with and rub shoulders with the people he was dealing with there in the nation's capitol. I remember the first time I went there he said yep, you look perfect. Now I have a favor to ask the driver waiting for you outside. Take this box and be careful with it. These are very special. Havana Cubans

Phil Wharton  (00:19:55):

Cigars? Cigars. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (00:19:58):

You're going to be delivering them to my old boss, Herman. You're going to the Senate building and here's your directions and he wants to meet you. He wants to talk to you. And I said, you want to tell me what it's about? And he said, no, no, no. Whatever happens happens. He wants to talk to you. Up to that point, I'd already had enough immersion in my agricultural ventures and my completed my graduate degree that I was troubled by a lot of the commercial agriculture stuff.

Phil Wharton  (00:20:43):

That makes sense, yeah.

Lynn Miller  (00:20:44):

 I Was coming in contact with and learning about. Anyway here I am in Washington DC, private car delivered to the Senate building. I go into Talmadge's office and I'm thunderstruck because in the lobby there is a walking plow full scale that has been cast in bronze, the whole thing.

Phil Wharton  (00:21:09):

Oh my gosh.

Lynn Miller  (00:21:12):

And around the whole lobby are small paintings that they could have been done by Winslow Homer. They were just mega little farm scenes, one after the other all the way around to that room.

Phil Wharton  (00:21:27):


Lynn Miller  (00:21:31):

And as an indication of how important all that was and came to be to me, the woman who got up from her desk to come and introduce herself to me, her name was Aileen Tisdale. She was the secretary for Herman Talmadge, who was the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Phil Wharton  (00:21:57):


Lynn Miller  (00:21:59):

And he said, she brought me into his office and he shook my hand, took the cigars and said how important this was and dah, dah, dah, dah. And I was quoting chapter and verse at the time. I said and I remember that Eileen was taking notes.

Phil Wharton  (00:22:20):


Lynn Miller  (00:22:22):

Elegant, stately woman was taking notes. And I figured something's not right here. They think I'm somebody, but I'm nobody. They're taking notes. And I said, well I don't want to waste your time senator, but the Farm Bill has how unconscionable. And he said well, what do you base that on? And I said I base that on. We're having this political conversation about something that was happening right then.

Phil Wharton  (00:22:59):

That's right.

Lynn Miller  (00:23:00):

And he's turned to her and she said, Aileen, I want you to make sure that you get ahold of Mike McLeod and you tell him that he's going to interrupt his schedule because when we're done here, I want Mr. Miller in his office. And he turned to me and he said, you're going to tell Mike McLeod what you told me.


And I said, who's Mike McLeod? He said he's legal counsel for the Senate Ag Committee.

Phil Wharton  (00:23:31):

No way. Okay.

Lynn Miller  (00:23:34):

Senator. The I am nobody. This doesn't make any sense. I am sorry. I apologize. But I don't have a frame of reference here. This is a little bit staggering. He said, you know your subject, your well spoken, you care about this subject, and I want you to share this with Mike. And I said, okay, I'll do that. And we went on talking about it and he said, now Aileen, and he's pointing to his secretary. She is married to Wayne Tisdale. Yeah.

Phil Wharton  (00:24:17):

Yeah, I was about to ask.

Lynn Miller  (00:24:18):

Married to Wayne Tisdale. I'm sorry, I should know but I don't know who that is. And he said, well, for today, what you should know is he is the president of the Sulfur Institute, which at the time was the most important commercial fertilizer lobbyist in the country. And I didn't know that. I didn't have a frame of reference, but because I had somehow pushed some buttons in my questions and answers, Senator Talmadge wanted to talk to me and he wanted to talk to me again, and again and again. And he wanted me to talk to Aileen, and he wanted me to talk to Wayne. So the network was set up then Now we're talking about 1973, 1974.

Phil Wharton  (00:25:12):

Okay. Right there. Okay. So it's still three years before you start the magazine. This is all amazing background for that coming into that.

Lynn Miller  (00:25:23):

Then what happens is he says, okay, I'm making another appointment for you. Are you doing anything for lunch tomorrow? And I said, I don't know. I'd have to check with Mr. Menchu. He said no, you leave that to me. He said I'm making a lunch date for you. And I said, who with? And he said, we'll take care of that.


So, the next day I'm picked up and Daniel Menchu and I go to sit down in a courtyard somewhere in Washington DC, and he introduces me to Earl Butts, the Secretary of Agriculture. And he said, I've been called away to a meeting, but you two guys butt heads, and he thought that was a great joke.


I'm sitting down with this guy and having a conversation that reinforced a lot of my political feelings about commercial agriculture.

Phil Wharton  (00:26:24):


Lynn Miller  (00:26:29):

That afternoon, he'd also made another appointment for me to go to the USDA experiment station at Beltsville. It was an experimental farm. And when I got there, there was somebody waiting and he had been primed, and he was very happy to see me and answering all my questions and taking me around. And we go into this courtyard and in the middle of the courtyard, there's a raised concrete platform with a chain link fence all the way around it. And across the top and inside of that enclosure is a black Angus bull. He's like a cage in a zoo. And I said, what is this about? He said, well, we're pretty excited about this. He said, we got three and a half pounds a day of gain. And I said, you've got to give me a point of reference here. I don't know what you're talking about. And he said since he was weaned, this bull has had nothing to eat but recycled newsprint.

Phil Wharton  (00:27:49):


Lynn Miller  (00:27:50):

Newsprint, vitamins and minerals and some molasses and so forth, but no hay, no grain newsprint, and three and a half pounds of gain. And I said yeah, I mean it seems a little odd. You've got him in a cage for like a gorilla. He said oh, he's mean as hell.

Phil Wharton  (00:28:15):

I would imagine

Lynn Miller  (00:28:18):


Phil Wharton  (00:28:19):

All the news that's unfit to ingest the New York Times.

Lynn Miller  (00:28:26):

I don't know who's papers they were.

Phil Wharton  (00:28:29):

Got it.

Lynn Miller  (00:28:30):

Anyway those visits to Washington DC and then while there to the Wye Plantation, which was owned by the Lockheed family and was a very large, very prestigious Angus breeding establishment where we got some semen. All of that started to take curious shapes. I remember that the manager of the Wye Plantation offered me a job at a significant raise of pay.

Phil Wharton  (00:29:06):

I would imagine

Lynn Miller  (00:29:07):

To them because he was impressed by the discussions we had had about beef genetics, which was something I had also studied with the AI. He had introduced me to a vice president of the Harvest Store company that does big silos the blue silos, and they had offered me a job. Then I got back to Estacada and the farm and I was called to have a meeting with a Farmer's Union executive. They offered me a job. And in my head I don't know, none of it interested me. And I already thought that I wasn't really where I needed to be for what mattered to me. But I had so many insights. The meeting I had with Mike McLeod was just devastating. I had made all these connections.

Phil Wharton  (00:30:17):

That's right.

Lynn Miller  (00:30:23):

And I remember, I think that was the first time that Daniel Menchu had arranged. He thought it would be good for me to meet Senator Mark Hatfield, the Oregon.

Phil Wharton  (00:30:33):

Oregon Senator.

Lynn Miller  (00:30:34):

Very brief meeting with him that paid some dividends later on years later. But anyway, I went back to the farm in Estacada, and I had made the acquaintance of a realtor, and I think I told you the story about how supplementing the fact that I would never be able to afford a farm on my own. And he had given me an idea. And all of that had resulted in having an opportunity to buy my own seventy seven acre abandoned dairy out of Junction City.


And then had found a way to get just enough money to add a couple more horses and some equipment and take the friendships I'd made through the club with Ray Drongensen and Charlie Jensen, who lived in that area. They gave me advanced mentoring and worked with me, brought their horses, joined me with my horses so that my farming operation there back starting in tail end of '74 was a success. And born of that was all of the stuff I told you, the notoriety that came out of that. But that time that the Washington DC immersion, it was interesting how that was played out against a backdrop of the Americana that was Fiddle Creek with Harley Huff and Hugh Martin and Ed and Bertha Dalman and all of the people in that valley where every day was an adventure. Every day was a challenge. It was just, oh my gosh. I remember they're back on Fiddle Creek. And I balancing this against what I just told you about the Washington DC experiences. I was at Fiddle Creek and it rained a hundred inches a year. And I had to learn that if I was going to get my hay up, I had very little time.

Phil Wharton  (00:33:10):

Such a small window.

Lynn Miller  (00:33:13):

 I had a beautiful crop of hay ready baled, and I had no way to get it in a barn. It was by myself, and there's no way I could get it in time. Hugh Martin who had a dairy farm up the road, he and his wife and his three daughters, he came to me and he said, I could get all that hay up faster than you can imagine. And I said, well, can you help me? What do I do? He said, well, it's going to cost you. I said, what's going to cost? He said, A fifth of Fleischmann's preferred. He was a heavy drinker, but he said, I'll do it. I said, okay, tell you what, we've already learned some lessons in this. You get the Fleischmann's, but not until the hay's in the barn.

Phil Wharton  (00:34:01):


Lynn Miller  (00:34:03):

Fair enough. But it has to be someplace where I can see it. And I said, I'll put it on the dash of my truck and I'm going to lock the truck in the barn.

Phil Wharton  (00:34:12):

What a character.

Lynn Miller  (00:34:14):

What he did, it was that time of year, it's like the football season type end of summer, first part of fall trying to get that hay in. What he did, is he told his daughters, they couldn't go to the dance unless they could find the guys that could put the hay in the barn and they had to do it right away.

Phil Wharton  (00:34:38):

I love it. I love it.

Lynn Miller  (00:34:41):

Beautiful teenage daughters. And he had them come to the farm. I remember them driving up the road. They were standing in the back of one guy's truck, all three of them in bikinis.

Phil Wharton  (00:34:56):

No way

Lynn Miller  (00:34:57):

Behind them is a procession of pickup trucks. All football players.

Phil Wharton  (00:35:02):

The whole football team.

Lynn Miller  (00:35:04):

Not the whole one, but they show up and they go into the field and they start stacking the bales on the trucks.

Phil Wharton  (00:35:13):

Farm strong.

Lynn Miller  (00:35:15):

They were trying to outdo each other. One guy. And these are small bales, but still this one guy had managed to stack this up there like 35, almost 40 bales in the back of the truck. And you know how high that is.

Phil Wharton  (00:35:29):

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I do

Lynn Miller  (00:35:31):

A steep approach coming up out of the field onto the gravel road and I'm, as this guy is going up that approach to his credit he was going slow, but then the truck was also tipping slow, and it just rolled over on its side with the load.

Phil Wharton  (00:35:48):

Oh no.

Lynn Miller  (00:35:49):

And I'm watching and thinking, okay, this is not working very well. It took them a matter of minutes. Everybody bailed out of their trucks. They ran over, they tipped the truck back up on its wheels.

Phil Wharton  (00:36:03):

Are you kidding?

Lynn Miller  (00:36:03):

Moved the truck up onto the road and then hand carried those bales and put 'em back on that truck. They got all of that in, and Hugh Martin got his fifth of Fleischmann's preferred.

Phil Wharton  (00:36:14):

Motivation to get to the dance and to have that Fleischman. Right.

Lynn Miller  (00:36:20):

I'm measuring those kinds of experiences.

Phil Wharton  (00:36:24):

Shared work, shared work.

Lynn Miller  (00:36:27):

Into me, and a conversation with this attorney for the Senate Ag Committee who's telling me that this conversation is a waste of time. You're naive. You'll never understand.

Phil Wharton  (00:36:44):

The scale of big Ag.

Lynn Miller  (00:36:46):

Economics and everything. Here we are feeding the world argument. That was all tethered at that time to the next big thing in agriculture and I'm thinking.

Phil Wharton  (00:37:00):

And to chemicals and fertilizers, which was running the lobby

Lynn Miller  (00:37:04):

Bottle of whiskey on the dash three girls in bikinis, five or six guys with pickup trucks. Okay, we talking about.

Phil Wharton  (00:37:13):

That's right. That's right. That's Americana. That's America.

Lynn Miller  (00:37:18):

Community Agriculture.

Phil Wharton  (00:37:19):

That's right. That's community agriculture. I love it, Lynn. I love it, Lynn. That's amazing. And you had, at that point at that particular farm, you were using drafts in that moment, and just for those that hadn't heard our conversation off air, there was such a zeitgeist of interest because you were close to the road when you first got that first farm that you got with the $13,000 from the banker, because that was the most he could lose. I thought that was amazing. And then since you and Ray were plowing and using this lost art of old agrarian ways from 40 years ago, here you are in the seventies and it just took off like wildfire. You had a documentarian come. People were coming to ask questions, what are you guys doing? I think you walked into a bar or a restaurant and said, what is he trying to prove? I mean, it was a lot. And so then there was a picture that, or maybe it was a video or I think it was a picture that was taken by a photographer that was the backdrop right? of the Eugene?

Lynn Miller  (00:38:37):

Brian Lanker. He's a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer.

Phil Wharton  (00:38:43):

That's right.

Lynn Miller  (00:38:45):

Had come and taken pictures. I believe they ended up in the New York Times, I'm not sure. But he took some rather spectacular pictures of me plowing and working up a field. He was there for, oh gosh, four or five days coming and going.

Phil Wharton  (00:39:02):

And there was a Wall Street Journal article. I think it was the cover of Wall Street Journal

Lynn Miller  (00:39:06):

That came a little bit later.

Phil Wharton  (00:39:07):

That was later. Okay.

Lynn Miller  (00:39:09):

But Brian Lanker's photographs were used in a pictorial in the newspaper. And the local Eugene TV station took one of the photograph, not a photograph, but a short video that he took short video that I was riding on a harrow and my yellow lab was walking behind me and I had believe three, it may have been four horses hooked to the harrow, and there was a mist, and the whole video is from behind. And the TV station had used it as a backdrop for the temperature and the forecast information.

Phil Wharton  (00:39:53):

The forecast and the font, yeah.

Lynn Miller  (00:39:56):

Just the print words on the screen. And that was up for a long time, by a long time, I would say the whole season, because I guess it had been popular. And I don't think I told you that. Then I got a call from WHO in Des Moines Iowa, and they interviewed me for a radio show. And I think the combination of those two things had a third thing happen. When I had a photo crew show up for Reader's Digest, they were doing a book called Back to Basics, and they had decided that they were going to do one chapter in the book on Animal Power. That featured me, so the photographs of me doing work on my farm in that book.

Phil Wharton  (00:40:49):

In that book.

Lynn Miller  (00:40:50):

And that triggered a call from the Wall Street Journal. I didn't know who it was, but somebody called and interviewed me. And that article ended up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The combination of all those things just, we weren't ready for that opportunity. If that happened real time today, you know what? That would happen due to any small business. In our case, we had a PO Box, a single phone we're operating out of a farmhouse. And Junction City was a small town and the post office was not happy.

Phil Wharton  (00:41:35):

And they said stop this, Lynn stop this. Please make this go away. We can't handle this kind of traffic. And so then there was people coming and they were asking questions and you said, Hey, look, I can help you learn about this, but I can't teach you everything in one fell swoop of one moment. And then wasn't that the catalyst for you and your father and your communication and discourse about.

Lynn Miller  (00:42:04):

The idea that he thought you could do a newsletter, sell a newsletter here that you do on the kitchen table and that would help with your farm income. We talked it through and came up with different ideas and back and forth and back and forth for a year and a half, two years. And then he loaned me a little bit of money so we could afford to have that first issue printed. And we put an ad in the old Organic Farming and Gardening Magazine.

Phil Wharton  (00:42:39):

The Rodale publication right?

Lynn Miller  (00:42:42):

Yeah, and we got eight hundred subscribers out of that right off the get-go. And that's what launched it. Now it's forty seven and a half years later.

Phil Wharton  (00:42:51):

That's right forty seven and a half.

Lynn Miller  (00:42:53):

One hundred and eighty four issues. We've sent the magazine now to seventy two countries worldwide.

Phil Wharton  (00:43:02):

Bless you.

Lynn Miller  (00:43:03):

In two and a half years we'll be, half a century old Phil.

Phil Wharton  (00:43:10):

That's really a testimony of the need and that curiosity, but maybe that genetic component that you talk about where people have that inside them

Lynn Miller  (00:43:26):

Genetic memory yeah.

Phil Wharton  (00:43:27):

 That genetic memory that you spoke about a lot that you had, that you still have.

Lynn Miller  (00:43:33):

A lot of people anecdotally will talk about that same sensation that I had early on of seeing the workings, seeing the backdrop, seeing the images of, and the smells of, and all aspects of a small general farm and feeling just overwhelming sense that they've been there. Yes. That they know that. They know that. Why does it feel that way to people who are two or three generations removed?

Phil Wharton  (00:44:09):

That's right.

Lynn Miller  (00:44:23):

I am almost wishing we could rewind this. So it was more about the magazine and what the magazine has been able to do, which is and yes, I'm at the helm. Yes, I'm making decisions and guiding the process and so forth but it it's very, very much like when I was a teenager in Southern California and goofing around with surfing, you're not in charge of anything except balance. That's the only thing you're in charge of when you're doing that. It's very much riding a wave but it's not, we used to think about that perfect big wave. And when I was in Huntington Beach and Corona Del Mar and Newport Beach surfing in those days, the waves were ridiculous. I bet they were.


Little. I mean, they were small waves. And I remember I would have to roll over on my back laying on the board because of my neck and look behind me between my knees to see what was coming. You never know which of those waves are going to amount to anything. You have to second guess based on what they are. But when there was something, there was that moment when you felt like, okay all I really have to do is stay with this. I have to maintain my balance and stay with this. Not for fear, but for the adventure to have completed what it was you set out to do. And that's a sensation that there's been for me with the magazine business and the magazine business is what brought me to out of necessity, the writing process.

Phil Wharton  (00:46:36):

Yeah, because initially you said, look I wasn't any good at it. I wasn't a good writer until you said where you were at the Art institute, and then Diane Sorenson was your English teacher and her boyfriend, she had some health issues. She had to step away. Her boyfriend, Ken Kesey came in and the light bulb came on because he says, look it's about storytelling.

Lynn Miller  (00:46:58):

Exactly. Exactly.

Phil Wharton  (00:46:59):

Hey look, I can tell stories.

Lynn Miller  (00:47:01):

Yes. Yeah, exactly. That's exactly right.

Phil Wharton  (00:47:04):

And I think that was a beautiful thing about you and your father and your conversations, and him always really, really just had such a reverence for what you were doing because he had grown up on this farm in Wisconsin and wanted that all-purpose utility farm again and said, look let's grow some literature here. I think you can do it. And he encouraged and moved you forward. And if we look at the anvil, like a moment or decision that forged you, a defining moment that shaped your destiny, Lynn, what would that be? There's so many moments, but anything come to mind in terms of the magazine?

Lynn Miller  (00:47:49):

I really believe, I'm not trying to make it oversimplify it, but for me, I know I wouldn't be alive. Literally. I would not be alive. But for what happened in that geometry class, I know

Phil Wharton  (00:48:15):

 that's right.

Lynn Miller  (00:48:16):

That doesn't have the drama that you would maybe want, but that was the point at which I knew I had gifts. I knew I was whip smart, whip smart. But it had to be.

Phil Wharton  (00:48:37):

There was a point of contact though. It was a point of really understanding

Lynn Miller  (00:48:42):

What I could do when I could take those talents, if that's the right word. That's not a skillset yet, but take my capacity and convert. Once that happened, it was one thing after the other. And so it's kind of a cliche thing. I admire good teachers immensely. I tried and I didn't try very hard and for very long the teaching end of things when I would getting my graduate degree, I had a minor in special education, and I had volunteered with the Easter Seal Program in Eugene to teach seven and eight year-old kids with learning disabilities. And I had this belief that the creative process shared could give these children a way to see that there are many different tools for communication.

Phil Wharton  (00:50:06):


Lynn Miller  (00:50:08):

Yes. Experience was astounding. I still have a portfolio full of the work they did back then, which would've been 1970. And the administrative process was so deflating and so demeaning, and not to me but to the children that I couldn't stay with it. So if you have a child with gifts, especially a child with gifts that you don't understand, all is that they're gifted, but you don't know how. It's got to be your job as a parent,


To put them with the right mentors. It has to be the right teachers just because then it's, I mean, look at human history. I'm not saying anything. We don't all know I mean.

Phil Wharton  (00:51:32):

And not everybody has the same amount of self-reliance that you were able to have in your life to be able to go out and seek those mentors and let your passions move you in that way and not take the advice of people that said, who gave them permission not to give me permission for these things.

Lynn Miller  (00:51:52):

And I learned early on that when somebody says, you can't do it, that's far, far, far worse than to have somebody who is afraid of your talent make fun of you. The ridicule you can live with do not accept when you are told you can't do something, the ridicule you can live with.

Phil Wharton  (00:52:26):

That's right.

Lynn Miller  (00:52:30):

But then I hear myself say that, and this little voice inside of me says, you don't know anything.

Phil Wharton  (00:52:38):

Well I think you do. There's the standard notions of time that we spoke about I think was really interesting, where coming back to this very moment of being able to be in three different worlds at once and training yourself to not take it for granted that, okay I'm here, I'm plowing. I have connection with the horses, listening for the breathing. I've got the mechanics of that. But at the same time, maybe there's a thought form coming into about a painting and a color that I wanted to use, or then there's several words maybe coming into another, another part of my consciousness about an essay or a piece that's a lead out for an entry into a part of the novel or a narrative. So playing around with those notions of time, because you were able to be self-reliant enough to have that permission to explore. And it's a constant evolution of finding that community that you found with this idea of gearing. Lynn, I think come back to that. Explain to us about the simple gears.

Lynn Miller  (00:53:51):

Yeah, but also to pick up on what you said and add for me time is I have no respect for time none, zero respect for time. If I'm going to sit here and say, okay I've only got X amount of time to get X, Y, and Z done, then I've given time a shape I've given. I've made it my enemy.

Phil Wharton  (00:54:35):


Lynn Miller  (00:54:37):

It doesn't exist. And I'm not speaking in a scientific sense, although maybe an argument could be made in that direction.

Phil Wharton  (00:54:48):

Quantum. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (00:54:50):

But what I'm feeling is that I mentioned to you that I had the experience of seizures when I was 18, and I had eight doctors put me through a neurological workup and give me two years to live, because there's some kind of growth in my brain that they couldn't identify and they couldn't deal with it.

Phil Wharton  (00:55:18):

That's right. And you went out the window, you actually escaped the ward of the hospital. You just went right out the window.

Lynn Miller  (00:55:24):

I did.Yes, I did. And there was something inside of me. I wasn't afraid of it. I did not set a mark on a calendar saying, this isn't all the time you have. What I set out to do was everything. I mean, one of the first things I did when I went back to college after that was to become a commercial fisherman and to be at sea. In all any weather that comes your way in a small rattle trap, rusted, diesel powered trawler with one fat skipper, and there's nobody else in the world. The food you got is what you got there. You're dealing with whatever is there, period that we had no radio.

Phil Wharton  (00:56:28):

That's amazing.

Lynn Miller  (00:56:31):

I had no point of reference at the time I was being paid on shares and it was a lucrative thing to do, and he needed somebody strong and young to pull the rigging, and I was going to learn and I was going to do this thing. And

Phil Wharton  (00:56:45):

No better training than that. No better training.

Lynn Miller  (00:56:48):

Oh gosh. But also there's no way to capture on film or with words or music or anything else what it's like to be in a storm on the high seas when the light is trying to get through clouds that are arguing with each other and it's raining, and the wind is blowing, and you're being slapped in the face by flying fish, and you're watching as schools of tuna go from one wave across the opening into the other, and the lights flickering off of in ways that makes an oil slick seem like dead gummy bears piled up.


There's so much to life that comes from the rides. I've never worried stepping off of the boat and going on to the next thing that hasn't worried me. And again, no respect for time. I haven't worried that I can't get this done in a given period of time. There was a point there for that summer with Vince in his trawler that I could easily imagine doing that six months out of the year for the rest of my life. And I was reminded of Jack London and that this is the kind of stuff I can use with my art At time. I wasn't thinking so much about it as writing, as I was thinking about it in terms of I'm going to find a way to let this come out through the brushes. But it goes back to that point that we've been trying to make about the magazine being a protectorate of and a testament to human scale. The fishing experience was all about human scale.

Phil Wharton  (00:59:32):

That's right.

Lynn Miller  (00:59:33):

That adventure. And there are so many things available to mankind where these urgencies and attractions and rewards are available to us. I mean.

Phil Wharton  (01:00:01):

Yeah. And I love the container you put into it. That made a lot of sense to me when we spoke last week about too many gears, too much happening in the world today. Sort of the example of the large scale. And so many things can go wrong. So many belts, so many straps broken, so much leather, not able to hold. Whereas the simple manual transmission, and that's what you're finding with young people and people like us coming back to the land and saying, look, maybe there's a better way to change from where we are now in this little plot of land and use this manual transmission again. And there's a genetic memory of coming back, a return to that being caretaker of the land. It's not a renewable resource if we don't take care of it now.

Lynn Miller  (01:01:02):

And that analogy of the manual transmission for me extends beyond just a number of gears in a box and a to how we manually transmit. Going back to your own background of competitive running or just running.

Phil Wharton  (01:01:27):


Lynn Miller  (01:01:28):

That is manual transmission.

Phil Wharton  (01:01:29):

That's Right. That's Right.

Lynn Miller  (01:01:33):

 And then also we were talking about, it's one thing to think about scale as what you could put your arms around. It's another also to think about scale and what we can influence or join by touch.

Phil Wharton  (01:01:55):

The tactile.

Lynn Miller  (01:01:57):

By touch when it comes to training the horses. There was something for me early in the process, I would have people, I revered horsemen. I revered marvel at what I was able to do with young horses in terms of training. And I never wanted to say to them what I was thinking, which was I don't get it. It's not a big deal. It's not a big deal. If I touch this horse with the force of a breeze and

Phil Wharton  (01:02:51):

Right.One pound of pressure. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:02:54):

If I'm talking and allow that, I never back up when that horse brings its nose to my mouth that there's a union in that posture.

Phil Wharton  (01:03:12):

The connection.

Lynn Miller  (01:03:13):

That engagement. Then if I also never, ever stare down an animal, it's not that I avoid eye contact, although I've written that I do avoid eye contact. I'm trying to simplify. What I'm saying is that I learned when I was breeding cattle AI, I had to go out in the morning on horseback on a good cutting horse and identify which cow was in heat.


Cow would be coming into heat sometime after it had a calf. It has a calf by its side. It's with the herd. So I went out with a CO2 charged paintball gun, and if there was a cow that was I identified was in standing heat, that in that morning, I would hit it with a paint ball on the shoulder.

Phil Wharton  (01:04:20):

To mark it.

Lynn Miller  (01:04:21):

And then I would go back. And when I came back out later in the afternoon on my horse, Dr. Pepper, his name was, I could see which cows I had marked. If those cows had intact paintball marks on them of a certain color on the shoulder, then I put them at a low priority to bring in because what I knew was that there's a good chance that the bull or another cow did not mount them, although that paintball mark would've been smeared.

Phil Wharton  (01:05:02):

Got it. So there's the tell. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:05:05):

And so if I see a smeared mark, then it was my job on horseback to move that cow back to the corral and put her in a chute and I was by myself. I'd have to get her in the head gate on that chute, and then go with the nitrogen tank and the pipette and everything else go through the process of breeding her. I had to do that every day.

Phil Wharton  (01:05:33):

Every day

Lynn Miller  (01:05:34):

For the breeding season. And one of the things I learned that, and I want to think that my horse taught me this when I would go after a cow to separate her from the herd, the horse was paying really close attention to the cow, really close attention. But when we got where we were against fence or at a point where I needed to separate that cow from the herd, and I've never had anybody else tell me the same thing that they've noticed the same thing. But I noticed that the horse disengaged from the cow no longer paying attention to it this way, looking at it its head was removed and now the horse was all about posture where it needed to be to cut off that cow's path, but it wasn't staring down the cow. So when I would move cattle on foot or move cattle with the horses, I learned not to make that eye contact that says, I'm going to get you sucker.

Phil Wharton  (01:06:57):

Right. Right. It's an energy. Yeah. It shifted.

Lynn Miller  (01:07:02):

I've made of myself a thing that would get in the way. Yeah.

Phil Wharton  (01:07:08):

Natural animal signaling you learned from them.

Lynn Miller  (01:07:11):

Established that there was a path open to them and I was in the way otherwise.

Phil Wharton  (01:07:18):


Lynn Miller  (01:07:19):

And all of that's manual transmission.

Phil Wharton  (01:07:26):

That's right. Yeah. There's no AI bots that can figure that out because they don't know how to watch and take in the experience and the scene like you learned with Tom Gnapp, and the art. And so there's a learning that's happening at that scale when you love something enough to look at the details of life. What about supposenomics that you talk about in the Small Farm Journal? I just love that so much. Can you speak to that for a moment?

Lynn Miller  (01:08:04):

Well, is it fair to read a passage?

Phil Wharton  (01:08:11):

It's fair. I'd love it. I think the audience would too.

Lynn Miller  (01:08:16):

I have to find it though. I think I know where it is. Maybe I do. I don't want to take time away from what you've got going there. But anyway, I've written about it in fiction and in nonfiction, but it's the idea that one of the things that enslaves us to time is contemporary notions of accounting that how often we hear people say, you've got to pick and choose here. You can't do all of this. You can't do these two things. You need to pick and choose what you're doing, and then you need to work at that one thing, and you need to have a very clear goal that you're going to get this truck loaded with this freight and it's going to go to this address and you're going to unload it there.

Phil Wharton  (01:09:24):

The specialization of that.

Lynn Miller  (01:09:26):

And you're going to be paid for that. And somehow your expenses have to be subtracted and you're going to end up with something that is integral to what it is that enslaves us most contemporary people. And that for me, I've always been somebody who sets himself a goal beyond where I'm going

Phil Wharton  (01:10:10):

To transcend that.

Lynn Miller  (01:10:11):

Ray taught me with the plowing, whether it's with the horses or a tractor, you don't look at a mark at the end of the field where you are going to plow to, because when you do that, you will never plow straight. Interesting. What you do is you look at a mark distant and the mark where you want to go to. So what you are aligning is this mark between your eyes where you will finish the furrow and line those two things up with that third mark

Phil Wharton  (01:10:54):

With distance off in the distance.

Lynn Miller  (01:10:58):

And so when we're going on that trajectory, if you do that you will be surprised how straight it is.

Phil Wharton  (01:11:09):

It's like a laser level for plowing.

Lynn Miller  (01:11:13):

Suppose you don't make it to that mark, what you've done is no less straight. And in that I find myself saying, okay I would like it if my business were more successful as a goal. I wish I had a wider readership. None of those things are about what I might gain from that, how I might excuse me. None of those are me measuring a return on my investment, none of them.

Phil Wharton  (01:12:10):

Right. No, that makes sense.

Lynn Miller  (01:12:15):

But I know that that is that far distant goal. And in between that I have never lost sight of the mark in the middle, which is that what we are about is seed saving. Yes, I'm talking about seeds, but I'm also talking about the seeds of ideas.

Phil Wharton  (01:12:48):


Lynn Miller  (01:12:49):

Talking about

Phil Wharton  (01:12:50):

As a greater construct.

Lynn Miller  (01:12:52):

The seed of past cultural successes, the seed of what is possible, the seed of anything, and that I was once accused by a college professor of being somebody who is all about the preservation of relic technologies, and he added as a postscript, why bother.

Phil Wharton  (01:13:19):


Lynn Miller  (01:13:24):

For me, that's accounting in the accounting world for me, I'm saying suppose that Cyrus McCormick in the 1800's invented something. So intrinsically perfect balance and mechanization.

Phil Wharton  (01:14:00):

And those mowers. Right. The number seven, number nine, they're in there. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:14:06):

Cyrus McCormick's knotter for the binder, which is still being to this day on modern bailers.

Phil Wharton  (01:14:14):

The knotter is still being yeah, that's right.

Lynn Miller  (01:14:17):

They haven't been able to perfect that idea. Now, that's not to say they aren't going to come up with something else and they wrap hay and plastic and what have you. That's not to say that we won't find something that is better, whatever better means.

Phil Wharton  (01:14:43):

Yeah. Have you classify that.

Lynn Miller  (01:14:46):

I'm saying suppose there was some old guy who spent his life making sure that all of the engineering and the adventure that went into designing some of these things is still available on the shelf somewhere. If you need to go back to that, you could find it.

Phil Wharton  (01:15:13):

That's been the quest of Small Farm journal, and that's what you've done, and that's what the magazine does. Every issue.

Lynn Miller  (01:15:22):

In Gap Pennsylvania, there is a company called Whitehorse Machine Shop

Phil Wharton  (01:15:27):

Not far from here, hour and a half maybe.

Lynn Miller  (01:15:30):

And they designed a hydraulic accumulator for their four carts so that you had a lever that you could pump and it would build up hydraulic pressure that you could use to lift and implement the design of that. So perfectly balanced and engineered, that NASA uses it for the moon vehicles.

Phil Wharton  (01:16:03):

Really? Yes. There you go. Yeah. That's astounding. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:16:12):

There's a lot of money at stake. And what I mean by that, a lot of money wagered that we are going to give up on this when somebody comes up with the next big thing, which will supplant it entirely and that somebody who comes up with it, but he named Mark or Jeff or whoever is going to take that money, this notion of planned obsolescence.

Phil Wharton  (01:16:51):


Lynn Miller  (01:16:52):

Insidious beyond anything.

Phil Wharton  (01:16:53):

So insidious. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:16:55):

Talk about.

Phil Wharton  (01:16:56):

Yeah. And it's in play. It's in play in spades, of course.

Lynn Miller  (01:17:01):

And I wouldn't mind if we were to find a way to make planned obsolescence a class one felony.

Phil Wharton  (01:17:14):

Here. Here. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:17:18):

What does it say about us as a people that for the sake of profit, we take the generations of development of intricacies, and we don't need that anymore. We don't need print magazines or print books anymore.

Phil Wharton  (01:17:51):

Right? Yeah. That hits home, doesn't it? Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:17:56):

The cloud is going to be there forever. And of course, who could argue with the fact there has to be a return on investment, and who can argue with the fact that the people in control of measuring return on investment are the ones that are going to decide whether or not this technology is going to fit with anything else is going to interface. Whether the software we're using today, I mean, unfortunately we bought into it to some extent, and we use computer software to be able to produce our books and magazines, and we're good at what we do, and we select what we want to use and apply. But already we are faced with the companies saying, if you don't get the newer versions, the newer upgrades, you're going to be left behind because we're not supporting that other stuff. I want to support the old software.

Phil Wharton  (01:19:11):

So we've got to plant these seeds in the ground.

Lynn Miller  (01:19:15):

I want to support the hardware.

Phil Wharton  (01:19:16):

That's right. That's right. So that they.

Lynn Miller  (01:19:19):

Support the manual transmission.

Phil Wharton  (01:19:20):

Yeah. The pests of greed don't ruin the germination of these seed savings that you're talking about, of going back to manual transmission in terms of a construct of life, of living of living that simple life and a better life. And as everything breaks down in an automated world, you can go back to things that really work.

Lynn Miller  (01:19:47):

There's a constancy to constancy.

Phil Wharton  (01:19:49):

That's right.

Lynn Miller  (01:19:49):

And what that is, is that getting back to the animal power thing, when you have to get the work done and the animal power is what you have available to you, so that whether you're in a five day week or whatever you are, but if you go out on Monday and you bring the animals in order to get that day's work done, there are things you have to pay attention to. They become second nature to you. There's a constant constancy to that constancy so that the next day you're going to do this. And those patterns, that consistency becomes your friend. Because when that horse doesn't want to come in, there's got to be a reason. That's right. And you have to pay attention to that.

Phil Wharton  (01:20:44):

Signals yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:20:46):

When the machine that you're using in the field doesn't sound the same. There has to be a reason to that.

Phil Wharton  (01:20:54):

That's right.

Lynn Miller  (01:20:57):

And all of that comes from the proximity of immediacy. I know that sounds redundant, but I mean.

Phil Wharton  (01:21:11):

No, that's right.

Lynn Miller  (01:21:13):


Phil Wharton  (01:21:14):

It's, it's not an outsourced paradigm here. You're right there in the moment, tending to your herd, understanding who comes next, who needs to come in and who doesn't.

Lynn Miller  (01:21:28):

And then when over 50 years I've had more than I can count, the number of times people have come to me and whether they experience it when they're with me or whether they experience it somewhere else, they've had the smallest little short, tangible experience with working animals. Maybe it is just they had the lines in their hand for a minute,


Drove animals for five feet or whatever the case may be, and they are ecstatic and a little bit terrified and just all of that. They can't imagine that this could belong to them as a skillset that they could be on a daily basis in and of this craft. Then I watch those same people over time and the ones who are successful over time, and one of the things that I have had available to me in my position, which has been quite remarkable, is that I get to talk to people ten years later, fifteen years later, twenty years later, I get to talk to their kids, and these are people that have had the constancy of this in their life, and they're saying to me the same thing I'm saying to me, which is, wow, why aren't more people doing this? And that's not coming from somebody who's just doing it for the first time. That's coming from depending on it, and that's coming from somebody that, yes, has had all kinds of difficulties and shortfalls and accidents and problems and whatever else, but still all of that becomes, all of that informs the success of the constancy where you're doing it all of the time.

Phil Wharton  (01:23:42):

And it's grounded in the work and the work as a shared experience too, that there's nothing more rewarding, and it brings us to that discipline and those rituals and that such a beauty in that is it strips down and you said, I've never been bored a day in my life. There's always something new. There's always something breaking down and something has to be addressed.

Lynn Miller  (01:24:08):

Now, going back to your question about my disrespect of time, now I'm an old man and things change and they send patterns are shifting all the time, but depending on the season of the year, right now I'm up between four and five and I'm writing until

Phil Wharton  (01:24:32):

First part of the day.

Lynn Miller  (01:24:34):

Eight or nine. And then because I don't have the physical strength I did when I was a younger man, I'm working as hard as I ever have, but only for about four or five hours before I have to try to conceal from those around me that I'm resting.

Phil Wharton  (01:25:01):

Yes. Yeah. Well, you need to regenerate. You need to recoup your energy.

Lynn Miller  (01:25:08):

I go back to that work and maybe revisit something that has to do with the business end of the magazine or do some writing. And if I'm fortunate, then I have time in the evening in the studio.

Phil Wharton  (01:25:26):

Got it. Yep. For the painting.

Lynn Miller  (01:25:30):

Now that that's not constant, but it's a pretty good pattern so that I'm dividing my time between what I'm calling farming and what I'm calling writing and what I'm calling my artwork, my painting.

Phil Wharton  (01:25:44):


Lynn Miller  (01:25:47):

As you already suggested, like we talked about before, I'm never only doing one thing.

Phil Wharton  (01:25:55):

That's right. That's right.

Lynn Miller  (01:25:56):

Everyone's always there. It's always coming to me. I've learned to appreciate now that I'm flirting with eighty years old, that there are times when I have a very accessible lucidity, and there are other times when I don't. There's times when I can pay attention, and there's times when attention pays me.

Phil Wharton  (01:26:47):

That makes sense.

Lynn Miller  (01:26:51):

Sometimes if we're talking from a safety standpoint, those go hand in glove, but I'm also talking about how I completed a painting of my two stallions, or I thought I did, and now recently I've been back and forth the same light structure, the same timeframe, them moving in and out of the same stances and I'm seeing other things.

Phil Wharton  (01:27:30):

Revisiting a work. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:27:32):

Myself. I'm going to get back to that painting. Then there's a part of my brain that says, no you're not. No, you're not. You're going to do another one. There's nothing wrong with what you did. You just have something else you want to talk about.

Phil Wharton  (01:27:49):


Lynn Miller  (01:27:50):

Do another, oh, no, I'm going back to the other one. No, you're not. And then back and forth. And so I'm saying, okay, I'm going to let this argument play out while I finish writing this editorial.

Phil Wharton  (01:28:03):

Right. Okay. And so you can be in that because of the constructs of time. You can be in those three different places and be in an acceptance with it. Because if, hey look, you say I'm an insomniac in the middle of the night, if I can't sleep, I go into another room and I start writing, and then I fall asleep, and then maybe I wake up and oh, look at what came over. Look at what came into the page.

Lynn Miller  (01:28:29):

Yeah. Yeah. No, I believe this just from my own experiences and the things that have affected it, those people who say, I can't sleep. I can't do anything. I feel sorry for them, genuinely, sorry. And I can't begin to understand what all would go into that. But I know for me, whether it is where I'm involved in a replay of a tragic loss or some financial setback or whatever it may be.

Phil Wharton  (01:29:11):

Going back into memory.

Lynn Miller  (01:29:14):

I can always go back to one of my procedures. Mostly writing is easy, but also drawing and painting are easy for return to because I make it easy. I have things ready at my fingertips, and let whatever that is let it do what it has to do. I'm engaged over here.

Phil Wharton  (01:29:37):


Lynn Miller  (01:29:41):

And I often feel like I've got three different universes that are going on at the same time because.

Phil Wharton  (01:29:54):

I love that explanation you gave me last week of the Lazy Susan, and then different dishes falling off as it spins around and sort of that triad of these different disciplines.

Lynn Miller  (01:30:08):

There were five of us kids and my mom and dad when I was growing up, and my mother had these Lazy Susan situations where they would spin, and she was so enamored of that whole concept that there was one big divided plate in the middle of the table, and then a couple of them won and left that were up like little Christmas trees with two or three trays on them. And it would drive her crazy because we kids figured out that if we spun it, we might send a piece of carrot into my brother's chest and we could have those trays mixing.

Phil Wharton  (01:30:57):

 In orbit. In orbit.

Lynn Miller  (01:31:03):

It was just an experience for me early on that had me also learned to disrespect anything linear.

Phil Wharton  (01:31:12):

Yes. Yeah that makes sense.

Lynn Miller  (01:31:15):

 Because I've been living in my as older people do, I've been living in my past, but I've been also living in futures. You have to come, and I know that sounds like craziness, but it's not really. It is learning to accept that there are no definitions for so much of the sensory world for us, we remember things we didn't experience.

Phil Wharton  (01:31:51):

That's right.

Lynn Miller  (01:31:51):

And I don't need to call it anything. I mean, we talk about genetic memory. That's fine.

Phil Wharton  (01:31:56):

Moniker yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:31:58):

Explain it away. It's just that I don't like hearing myself say, I've been here before, that this is none of this is new to me. Everything is new to me.

Phil Wharton  (01:32:16):

Everything is new. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:32:17):

Everything's new to me.

Phil Wharton  (01:32:21):

That's what keeps it fresh. That's what keeps it fresh for you and Lynn, your journey now, what's most important to you now and what does the road ahead look like and what's next? Is it more of the same, like you said, Hey, look and tied in knots, in that essay that you sent me it just was beautifully put. Look, we're working on mending fences here from the elk coming in, and what's next for you in the magazine?

Lynn Miller  (01:32:58):

What I'm really concerned about Phil, with the magazine, you as a subscriber, and I need to allow myself enough room and time to explain this so it doesn't become its own hazard. I'm fine. I feel like I have the capacity to do this until I can't do it anymore, and I'm doing exactly what I want to do.

Phil Wharton  (01:33:38):


Lynn Miller  (01:33:40):

Everything in my life is exactly what I want to do. That's great. And then now struggling with the argument about, okay I owe it to everything we have built up the community of readers, the archive of all of this material, the accessibility to it, what we've done deserves to live on to continue.

Phil Wharton  (01:34:10):


Lynn Miller  (01:34:11):

It's accumulation continue over time, and I don't want that to end. And that has nothing to do with legacy. It has to do with what is, again, forgive me for using your word intrinsic to what we are about.

Phil Wharton  (01:34:31):

That's right. No that's what it's it for. Yeah. The intrinsic drive of this.

Lynn Miller  (01:34:36):

So we need to protect it somehow. So very loosely, I keep imagining, and I've mentioned this a couple of times in the magazine, that maybe there is some kind of way to do this. I was approached by the University of Oregon, the Department of Archives said they wanted to archive all of my artwork, all of my writings, all my notebooks, all of that stuff, and they want to keep the website for the journal going forever alive. They made that approach to me the day before Covid shut us down, and I have had plenty of time to think about it, but I don't have an answer to them because as David De Lorenzo, the archivist said on the phone, he said we've done Kesey. We've done Ursula. Gwen, we'd like to do your work. I said well that is very flattering, but I am not dead yet.

Phil Wharton  (01:35:44):

And are they the right people to steward this work?

Lynn Miller  (01:35:48):

Well, I don't want it to be put in a museum.

Phil Wharton  (01:35:51):

It's a living entity

Lynn Miller  (01:35:53):

Alive. And what seed saving is that we know if you don't plant them occasionally, then you've allowed them to die on the shelf.

Phil Wharton  (01:36:05):


Lynn Miller  (01:36:06):

And so we have to have people actually doing these things to keep the technology, the methods, the attitude, the approach, all of it alive.

Phil Wharton  (01:36:17):

That's exactly right. Exactly.

Lynn Miller  (01:36:20):

So if I could find a way that the publication could slowly merge with something else that has the kind of.

Phil Wharton  (01:36:37):

The same ethos and sensibilities here that's grounded in the work.

Lynn Miller  (01:36:44):

Yeah, I would imagine perhaps a nonprofit or something wants to keep it going. I don't need to go anywhere. But by the same token, if it turns out that it is to keep this alive at this stage, I need to step away. I'll bet you I could find something to do.

Phil Wharton  (01:37:05):

I bet you can too. At the doctor's office, there's not a stolen moment that's not revered. I said, look, I'm not bored. I've got tons to do here waiting for the doctor's appointment.

Lynn Miller  (01:37:19):

So yes, I'm concerned about the future of the publication, but I'm concerned about its vitality, that the fertility is there, that the chance to regenerate, constantly regenerate is there. I'm concerned about that.

Phil Wharton  (01:37:48):

That the soil is Nordellized right?

Lynn Miller  (01:37:57):

Nordellian Magic.

Phil Wharton  (01:37:57):


Lynn Miller  (01:38:05):

I have seven books in various stages of completion.

Phil Wharton  (01:38:14):

Now. Roots in a Lovely Filth just came out? Correct, because you just sent me

Lynn Miller  (01:38:21):

Brand spanking new yep.

Phil Wharton  (01:38:21):

Yep. And that's coming, and I'm looking forward to reading that too. And so yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:38:26):

Then I recently finished the Harness Book, and the reissue of 10 Acres. Enough, I've got a new book of essays that's done. I'm finishing the layout now. A Cow Some Chickens and a Bag of Seed. I'm working on another book of essays entitled, Farming Needs An Angry Sky. I'm working on another novel, An Ounce of Man. I'm working on a book on grain binders and reapers.

Phil Wharton  (01:38:56):

And reapers.

Lynn Miller  (01:38:57):

It will be followed by a book on threshing machines. I've got underway a compendium on mules. Yeah. I'm just touching on it. I have got a book on my paintings that will be coming out fairly soon. A book of poetry. So all of that. And then as far as the publication is concerned, we have enough content here. If nobody sent us anything at all, we have enough content, I figure for something just short of seven hunderd years.

Phil Wharton  (01:39:37):

Whoa seven hundred years. Wow.

Lynn Miller  (01:39:45):

We can't, yeah. I mean every issue we have to pick and choose, and there are piles. So every issue, there's a pile. We have twice as much as we could publish.

Phil Wharton  (01:39:57):

That's just phenomenal.

Lynn Miller  (01:39:59):

It just keeps growing. Part of it is like what happens when we get an article on a subject, then we start doing some research for possible sidebars or something that would compliment it. So we get that stuff coming up in a pile that's archival that could go in at any time. It's crazy. It's nuts. But it's wonderful.

Phil Wharton  (01:40:26):

It's so wonderful. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:40:29):

There is no end to it. And then we've been fighting an uphill battle because I have not been willing to allow social networking to define us.

Phil Wharton  (01:40:44):

Well, good for you.

Lynn Miller  (01:40:46):

I havent' been involved in it at all. And I don't know how that's going to translate in the very near future, whether we might start doing stuff. My agreeing to do this interview is a big step for me. It's not. I'm enjoying it immensely.

Phil Wharton  (01:41:08):

We appreciate it, Lynn. We hope it's helpful to the magazine and to your movement.

Lynn Miller  (01:41:13):

But you're the one that's making it happen. Your intelligence, intelligence your respect, your skillset are making this interview happen, and whether or not it ever sees the light of day but for me.

Phil Wharton  (01:41:27):

Bless you.

Lynn Miller  (01:41:29):

So much of this ends up being a bizarre give and take. These formats that don't serve.

Phil Wharton  (01:41:43):

It makes sense. It makes sense.

Lynn Miller  (01:41:46):

And I don't need it to be a stage that's set for me to have to prove anything.

Phil Wharton  (01:41:57):

That's right.

Lynn Miller  (01:42:01):

We've got it.

Phil Wharton  (01:42:02):

Yes, you do. Yeah. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:42:05):

We have. Got it. I think it was Emma Thompson, the actress that said recently that she was upset during the strike for writers that they were being referred to as content. I understand the perspective. I understand what she's saying.

Phil Wharton  (01:42:32):

It's a dehumanization. Dehumanizing this. Yeah.

Lynn Miller  (01:42:36):

In my case. And then maybe that's part and parcel of my hesitation about all of this. I'm not content.

Phil Wharton  (01:42:43):

That's right.

Lynn Miller  (01:42:43):

I have an interesting story, but I'm not content.

Phil Wharton  (01:42:48):

That's right. You are not.

Lynn Miller  (01:42:50):

I'm an editor. I contribute. Yes, I write and so forth, but I am a traffic cop in a sense for this process. I'm not content, but we have the content and that needs to be protected.

Phil Wharton  (01:43:10):

Yes, it does.

Lynn Miller  (01:43:11):

I had Wayne Weger from Pioneer Equipment and a number of other Amish folk came in a busload here to visit us a year ago, and it was going through my archives, and Wayne and I have known each other for 40 years. And he said, I don't know how you're going to do it, but you've got to protect this.

Phil Wharton  (01:43:31):

Yes. Yeah, most definitely.

Lynn Miller  (01:43:35):

So that does go back to what you're saying. What's next is trying to figure that part of it out. It may be that what it takes is a whole new solution. I don't know. Cary Fowler and I had been working on together along with Elliot Coleman back in the seventies and eighties, speaking at conferences on alternative agriculture. And he had the seed of an idea way back then. And seed is, I mean, in a multifaceted way. He said, we have to save these seeds for the future. And it was Cary that set up that Scandinavian vault to save seeds for the future.

Phil Wharton  (01:44:19):


Lynn Miller  (01:44:22):

And I think he's won the alternative Nobel Prize for that. But we just need to find a way to do that with what we've got. I've had people suggest that all I need to do is just turn it over to everybody, all on the cloud or whatever. But this is not a proprietary thing. It is a mother hen thing.

Phil Wharton  (01:44:51):

That's right. And it's not fodder for voyeurism. This is about real work about returning to the land and on a scale that may be the only way out of this mess environmentally. And so

Lynn Miller  (01:45:07):

I know so.

Phil Wharton  (01:45:08):

Lynn, if we look back at your life and the life of the magazine and the movement looking in the slipstream, any parting gems of advice or you'd like to leave with us today?

Lynn Miller  (01:45:24):

You were asking me before if I had two words, and I think I had told you that the two words are thrill and enchantment. Yes. And that for me, I mean if I could admonish a young person, I would say that you need to protect those first thrills and enchantments that come to you in whose presence your heart first opens and do what you can to stay with it. Because when they show themselves to you, there's a reason. I believe that.

Phil Wharton  (01:46:09):

That's Right.

Lynn Miller  (01:46:11):

There's a point in your life, formative point in your life, and they're going to come. I don't mean to say there's just going to be two experiences, one thrill, one enchantment. There could be, as maybe this conversation has pointed out, there could be hundreds, thousands of them, but you need to pay attention because they're going to start stacking up in ways that are going to belong together and carry you for your whole life. If I could wish for anybody that's getting started or making a life change, it would be that old cliche, do what you love. In fact, I would say, do the work that loves you back.

Phil Wharton  (01:47:05):

Do the work that loves you back.

Lynn Miller  (01:47:09):

And my work loves me.

Phil Wharton  (01:47:14):

And it really comes through in just your energy, the work on the page, and just the connection to the real. It's a beautiful cannon of the twenty books, and the Small Farmer's Journal that we look forward to. Every issue that we pass on to our neighbors here in South Central PA that we hope to, that resonates across the planet. And Lynn, thank you so much. You are Intrinsic Drive, as you know. And thank you for coming to the show. We so enjoyed having you.

Lynn Miller  (01:47:58):

This has been a delight just, and you and I got to get together and share some books.

Phil Wharton  (01:48:05):

We will. I know we will. Thank you Lynn.

Lynn Miller  (01:48:08):

Yeah, thank you.

Phil Wharton  (01:48:09):

Thanks for being here.

Lynn Miller  (01:48:11):

Thank you.