Pondering The Whole Wicked Brew..

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On Checking In Generally..

I spent a lot of time writing a book about my early-life story last year, with specific attention to the whole basket of epiphanies that led me to this spot in the country, where I ponder things like being too old to play Patrick Henry and what we can do to kill fire blight on the pear trees.  People tell me the 289 page book is a fast read and that they want to hear more of the story.  (Sometimes that means your book “stops” instead of “ends,” but, as my older brother Denny advises on the entertainment front, ‘better to leave the stage with an audience wanting more, not less.’)  In case I haven’t already given you a link at least three times in this paragraph, you can get your copy here.

One former Montana state legislator had this to say about it..

Finished your book a couple days ago. I am grateful Kari passed it along to me. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. It has inspired me to get to your farm in the near future… I hold your parents in high regard Jim, though I never met them. You honored them with your book!

It was good discipline for me to write one thousand words a day, but I’ve taken a bit of a vacation since then, and I thought I would check in with all of you, just to see if we’re all looking at the same horizon..

A Sad Employee

One of our staff texted me the other day, confessing: “..I don’t understand life right now, Jim.  I just really don’t. I’m really starting to think I got bad juju or something..”

Someone else, very close to me, tried to identify her own malaise by reporting she wakes up from dreams with a “vague feeling of doom.”

The truth is — for us and for many of you — this era of Covid public policy hysteria, cancel culture, woke-shaming, and climate-Gretas anxious to save the planet by freezing grandma, well, it can feel something like sipping coffee in a lonely January cantina — trying to remember what the place looked like in June.

In our case, the Commie virus alone nearly killed us — and still may.  The obligations we took on to stay in business are enormous.  Field trips are substantially rising and dinner theater is booming, but reaching the volume we enjoyed previous to the plandemic will take time, and we still find ourselves scratching hard to pay the big bills.  It’s the kind of worry that leaves you looking at the ceiling with your eyes wide open at 3:45 in the morning.

Yes, as some of our detractors point out, the federal government helped out, but as I am quick to counter:  “They owed us that by way of damages.”  What do you think would happen to me if I engineered a killer virus and then a bogus remedy that left teenage athletes falling over on the field?  (I’m guessing fines, jail, and a noose–at the minimum.) A lot of things will be sorted out at the Great White Throne, but, until then, we live in a world where government remains unaccountable and the elites expect you to trust a cure proposed by the very doctor who poisoned your well.

One item I didn’t include in my book: it explains the way the world “feels” these days. The story involves a stunning beauty, who, for some strange reason, dated me in my early twenties. The trouble was: she liked all the other boys too, along with some older sugar daddies. I had the feeling, confirmed more than a few times, she was cheating on me, but she was the most confident liar I’ve ever met.  This created two worlds — the real world of deceit I saw before me and the other world she created by just speaking it into existence.

I get that same feeling watching public health officials, and many politicians, these days.  A world of smiling, confident liars can leave you feeling dizzy.  If you have ever watched the Joe Biden montage of outrageous lies and plagiarism, it can be a little unnerving.  We all engage in deception to some degree, but to make up your own heroic biography, complete with false degrees, bogus honors, and borrowed rhetoric?  It reminds me of an old religious figure who claimed to have been a former professional baseball player.  The lie went completely uncontested for decades, and he milked it something fierce.  Why does that sort of deceit make decent people dizzy?  Why do many of us feel impending doom?  Think about it: the sort of people who can lie, utterly without remorse or fear, are capable of what else?  If the truth is inconvenient to them, maybe you are too?  If your spouse is secretly seeing someone else, and denying it, how safe is your home, or your bank account, or  your life?

When governments feel entitled to lie to you — for the greater good — so as to protect public confidence or reduce “vaccine hesitancy,” what else are they capable of doing?  History tells us, of course, but we always forget.  My sense is that if you aren’t a little dizzy these days, if you don’t sense danger on the horizon, you might have Stockholm syndrome.

Santa Barbara

Mary’s older brother recently lost his wife, (to natural causes, I add, given the preceding discussion), and when his birthday approached, feeling lonely, he was anxious to show off his little sister’s Greek cooking for his friends.  She didn’t disappoint: pastitsio, dolmades, flat breads, and festive red and pale green hills of greek salad.  Pete is friends with the father of a mega celebrity singer who married an elf (you figure it out).  The guy loves Mary’s chicken pot pies and braised beef pies, and he orders them in big quantities ahead of a Santa Barbara visit.

He thinks Mary’s pies and his name might be worth investing in.  We discussed scaling up our operation, and it left me thinking that a good small thing has no guarantee it will stay a good thing if made on a grand scale.  Fresh-made-that-day is difficult to put in a freezer box at Vons.  It can be done, but it’s a whole new skill set.

If I didn’t have to make a living I would rent a cottage in Santa Barbara.  (There must be something available for less than $8,000 a month, right?)  The place is so full of characters I think I could write three novels in a year.  Mary and I passed a group of dancers in a park near the beach boardwalk.  They all had head phones on and they were doing some sort of interpretive dance.  I avoided eye contact.  Watching someone dance feels too personal to me, for some reason; it’s like inspecting someone else’s grocery cart in the store.  Mary claims they must have all been listening to different music, because the rhythm was all askew.  Picture that: forty people each dancing to their own tune, for an audience hearing no music at all.  I did see one sort of dishy blonde in her thirties, doing something sort of jazzy, in a kind of Chorus Line vein– and the words ‘she’s proud of herself’ pulsed across my reverie, but then I scolded myself for being such a snot.  Proud of herself? I asked.  Or angry?  Or just determined?

“Why aren’t they asking us to dance?” I asked Mary.

Clearly, there was some sort of evangelizing going on here, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  The next morning, on the same route, I think I determined their broader tribe and mission, via their t-shirts:  Dance For Humanity.

Who am I to judge?  I think the world can be changed by living history.  Muskets for Humanity?

Valentines and Happy Warriors

I tried getting “at” this the other day in my email, but I think I was slightly off target.  I was getting ready to make a Valentines pitch to all of you, and for some reason my mind went back to those days in second grade when the cute little dark haired girl across the room walks up to you and gives you a valentine with a candy in the envelope.  For me that would have been 1968–the year “Oliver” was awarded best motion picture.

Just at the outset, can you even imagine a Charles Dickens inspired story winning an Oscar these days, and a musical at that?  I was balancing different blessings on the Valentines plate — how blessed I am to have Mary, (how she has stood by me in good and bad weather), how miraculous it is to really hear the words, “I’d do anything for you dear, anything” from even a friend, but from a lover?  Can you imagine anyone loving you that much?  I also felt, mixed up in that, a thankfulness for the Divine, a Father in Heaven who made male and female, who wrote the original boy-meets-girl play, and how utterly beautiful that story really is, how basic that is.  As a little boy, I had mad crushes on teenage girls in church, and just pondering the little lonely orphan, Oliver, taken aback by Nancy’s smile, well — compared to this week’s Grammys — it all felt so impossibly innocent and optimistic.  I wept for a lost world.

I mean, can you even imagine dancing through a Victorian London market, belting out “consider yourself at home” — a song with an actual melody and a redemptive lyric?  Talk about dancing for humanity.  (Alright, so Oliver was being recruited into a pick-pocket ring, but you know what I mean.) At least boys were boys, girls were girls, and the orphan eventually finds his family — and the family isn’t some weird pod of gender-confused misfits.  Try this:  Ponder an America tearfully moved by Fiddler on the Roof’s Sunrise, Sunset, verses an America being asked to celebrate Madonna with goat-horn hair, as she pays homage to Sam Smith’s Unholy — red devil hat and all. It’s enough to make you feel dizzy.  It reeks of doom on the horizon.

But as the day wore on, I fell back on a comfort I’ve articulated before, a concept I think should define both the farm and the emerging tidal wave of Christian American culture we need to encourage: the happy, joyful, celebrating warrior.  Melodies that cheer you.  Drama that ennobles you.  Comedy that doesn’t scar you.  Brave men.  Beautiful women.  Blissfully heteronormative.  Unapologetically traditional.  Anti-woke. America Celebrating — without the 1619 nonsense.  More on that below..

Welcome back home, friends.  Leave the weirdos elsewhere, or call them, tearfully, to repentance.

Our Battle

On the legal front, we are now back at the district court.  Someday the Supreme Court will probably scale back qualified immunity for civil servants who hate the First Amendment, but our case will not make that history.  As it stands, the Ninth Circuit has affirmed that we have a strong prima facie case of First Amendment Retaliation.  Local politicians and their civil service allies can’t terminate you for political expression anymore than they could fire you for being an atheist.

We want to make them pay very dearly for trying to destroy the First Amendment, but it’s expensive.  The farm, our supporters, and several legal firms have contributed nearly a million dollars to the effort, and that means, when we prevail, we want Claremont and other districts to face a multi-million dollar penalty for indulging cancel culture fanatics.

We desperately need financial help on this front.  If enough of you give, if enough of you share this story, we can continue.  (The sound of you whipping out that credit card, by the thousands, gives the opposition pause.) If we keep on raising money, we have a chance to set an example for every America-hating fanatic in positions of petty power.


Remember When Disney Cared About American History?

A little background.  I happen to believe 18th century Americans fought, very nobly, to secure what they called at the time “English rights.”  In the years leading up to the American Revolution, many crown servants, both here and in the old country, treated Americans abominably. Lord Rawdon, during the era of the fighting itself, jested, in a letter home, that American women didn’t submit, as they should, to rape.  Really.

History is chock full of injustice, of every sort — human sacrifice, ritual torture, oppressive monopolies, chattel slavery, you name it.  But, imagine, for a moment the absurdity of my approaching an English woman on vacation in the states with a verbal assault:  “your ancestors killed mine at Bunker Hill!  Give me some reparations!”  Disney’s re-booted “Proud Family” seems to be American-hating history told by thoroughgoing brats.

Critical Race Theory is the sort of academic discipline you follow if you can’t master chemistry, or history, or classics, or philosophy.  It blames great grandchildren for crimes they never committed and rewards their contemporary “oppressors” for injustices they never suffered.

We can — and we must! — study history’s mistakes, but we can — and we must! — study history’s great victories as well.  Looking at 18th century America through the lens of  reductionist lament (“America was built on slavery!”) is something like telling your dad’s story by focusing only on his faults.

(Wait, I need a better example.  Some of you live to hate dad.)

You know what I mean.  At Riley’s Farm, we promise to look at the entire record, without playing divide and conquer among the perpetually aggrieved.


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This post was written by Jim Riley


  • Pamela Sailor says:

    I’m a California escapee who recently moved to Fairview, Texas; the reasons are too long to list. It’s a little slice of heaven and I invite you sometime to come for a visit. My family and I love your farm and I love your emails more. Thank you for voicing your thoughts; it’s fun to be in your head.
    Blessings to you and your family,
    Pamela Sailor

  • Laurel Ho says:

    Always great to hear from you. Have shared message about your / our fight.

  • Melissa says:

    Amen, I love this. As we see our country leaving its Christian roots I’m reminded of our hope is truly only found in him. Lord give us what we need right now to not compromise to this world. Help us be warriors for you Jesus and keeping up the good fight. As it gets dark you help us shine brighter for you and bolder for you Jesus. I also ask Lord that you provide the means for Mr. Riley to pay all the bills and have extra. Your Word says You feed the birds of the air and love us even more and will provide. Please bless his land and all who work for him that they are protected at all times. Thank you Lord for your plans are good. In Jesus name amen

  • Beverly Crowe says:

    Now I understand why you asked for “I’d Do Anything “ to be added to our set list for Valentines dinners. And will do with pleasure!
    Your remarks are so well stated. Thank you for communicating.

  • Rosie Horvath says:

    Lovely email! Emil and I still pray for you and yours daily and are glad to hear your are fighting the good fight. Bless you.

  • Amen. Excellent post. Well written.

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