Monday, June 25, 2012


Self-Sufficent. Prepped. Self-Reliant.

Bull Sh#!.

If you don't have rain, you have nothing.

Middle Tennessee has had no rain to speak of for nearly a month. None is expected in the next 10 days. Every step I take, I hear "crunch!". Thank G-d we bought hay early, and if it were not for our well, the garden would be as dead as fried chicken. Or as dead as our corn "field" (patch), which is very, very dead. Or as dead as our hay fields, which are as dead as Kelsey's Nuts. Did I mention the forecast is for 100 + degree days and we've had no rain?

I cannot imagine enduring this 100 years ago, because we would f***ing starve (besides being baked to death) if we weren't provident enough to carry enough preserved foods for a bad year. What if its 2 bad years?

No water. No food. Pretty simple, really. And I am really grumpy about it.

I have often said that if a 1936 summer showed up in the U.S., we would have REAL trouble. REAL TROUBLE. Its only a matter of time... could be 100 years from now, or it could be this is just week 1...

Corn prices were falling hard. Now they are trading lock limit up.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Peak Vehicle Miles Traveled?

From the U.S. Department of Transportation.

You can skip the copious data and go right to the graph on page 9. If Peak Oil is auto centric, and at least I think it is, then it might well be here for the U.S. It is going to be very hard (read: impossible) to inflate housing, increase consumer demand, and generate jobs in the environment depicted in that graph.

I have been working diligently on the homestead, which has left little time for blogging, with no small success (other than our corn crop, such as it is, which failed this year due to drought conditions). Our gardens are very productive. Our next agenda is tackling the growing of animal feeds. I am trying to move over to all horse/mule power (I bought a team of experienced Draft Horses and an inexperienced and untrained mule. The mule and I are both beginners but the mule is breaking better to all of this than I am... it is not as easy to use a sulky plow as it appears in the youtube videos) for next year.

I will put up some videos shortly of our mule breaking experiences.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What is "Food"?

I have been noodling the American Obesity/Food Stamp nation issue much of late. Then I saw this article.

Much of it was the usual blather - except this:

The committee also grappled with one of the third rails of American politics: farm policy. Price-support programs for wheat, cotton and other commodity crops prohibit participating farmers from planting fruits and vegetables on land enrolled in those programs. Partly as a result, U.S. farms do not produce enough fresh produce for all Americans to eat the recommended amounts, and the IOM panel calls for removing that ban.

Got that? The USDA (Department of Agriculture), the Federal Agency charged with shaping and enforcing Agriculture policy, the Agency that issues guidelines for healthy eating - is the same agency whose policies have led to insufficient supplies of the food stuffs that THAT Agency recommends for THEIR recommended diet. WTF??!!

Which leads me back to the basic question: What is "Food" in America? Is it enough calories, as in a state prison cafeteria, to maintain life? Or something else?

I often see articles like "The 10 Super foods". The list varies, but blue berries, wild salmon, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and other fresh fruits and vegetables seem to always make the list.

Then a looked up what the average family receives in food assistance from the Federal government. There are 115mm households or so in the U.S. 22mm of them receive food assistance - receiving an average of $277 per month? I have a farm and we produce most of our own food and still spend $1200 per month on fresh fruits, vegetables, sea food (although some of that is surely household supplies unrelated to food) for the family. One of the reasons I put in the soft fruit garden was our berry bill has averaged several hundred $$ per month... (and, no, I am not advocating expanding increasing Food Stamp benefits... we have already addicted 1/5 of all households to government food assistance.)

In any event, it seems to me that the average American cannot afford the foods on the list of the 10 super foods. Yes, the average American has enough to eat - actually TOO MUCH to eat - but the foods on the "Super Foods" list is not represented in the average American's diet.


"Food activist" (whatever that is) Michael Pollan blames farm subsidies. Maybe. And maybe people just don't like broccoli as much as they like potato chips soaked in partially hydrogenated corn oil/twinkees/coco puffs.

The fact is that growing blueberries is difficult and expensive compared to growing corn.  If people are not willing to pay for it, well, farmer's won't grow it. Is Pollan suggesting we subsidize broccoli/cabbage farmers? I really don't think that that will influence your average 4-year-old's opinion on broccoli, but hey... you never know.

Let's be even more forthright: I sincerely doubt that the U.S.'s upper middle class and lower wealthy are  eating all that unhealthily. My bet is that the entrenched underclass and the lower working class - the people actually receiving food assistance (see, the government would have you believe that all of those "fatherless" homes have NO adult male present - Baloney. These homes have one/or more adult males present consuming those food calories provided by SNAP/Food Stamps... he's just not the father of the kids in the household - and he is not officially receiving assistance) have abysmal diets.

And we can adjust the diets of these people with farm policy?  NAFC.

The hard fact is that there is very little that can be done for the diet's of the inner city poor and working class from a policy standpoint. Not to worry. People are NOT dumb. Given enough time and incentive they will work it out or perish, and nobody likes that second option.

A bigger question is: Why are 25% of people in my rural county on food assistance? Why no blueberry or asparagus patch instead of a yard that needs to be mowed (and never is)?

The industrial demands of the 20th century that brought the rural population to the cities will needs be undone - and it will get undone, one way or the other. Mechanization, robotization, computerization, off shoring, et all, will continue their onslaught on people with average abilities, gifts, and motivations.  These people are no longer needed on any assembly line because there ARE NO assembly lines anymore (at least not in the G7 nations) - and we need to get over that. China is not stealing "our" jobs, The Machines are.

But who in their right mind would want a "job"? "Jobs" are for poor, "uneducated" (people with humanities degrees that don't actually know how TO DO anything) people that do not own land.

For eons, our ancestors migrated at risk of life and limb for the promise of land and the security it brought. Today our young people think a corporate job/municipal job and a mortgaged condo represent security, and maybe that was true - for a couple of seconds on the evolutionary day scale for mankind. How much longer that is true is very, very much up for debate.

I was visiting with my Amish friend at Brubacher's Tack in Scottsville, KY. We got to talking about things financial, the Japanese earthquake, and GMO seeds from Monsanto (among other topics)... he was interested in my experiences working in New York in the securities business. I looked around at his 120 acres of land with planted crops, mature fruit trees, hand pumped and windmill pumped wells, barns, draft horses, buggies, 30 head of cattle, 50 head of sheep, gardens, green houses, horse powered saw mill and grain mill, his artisan shop where they make leather tack, harness, and saddles, and his 10 children and 30 grandchildren (he's my age give or take) all living within walking distance (none of whom will ever develop a drug or alcohol problem, go to jail, get divorced...) and I said: "this (gesturing to his spread with my hand) is real wealth. Paper money can be gone in an instant."

I wonder if he could sense a touch of envy.