Food Insurance by Greyman

Publisher’s Note: Greyman and I have known each other for years and he has some words of wisdom to impart. A few thoughts from my perspective. Gardening of any food is hard, just tough work. If this is something you are considering, you need to start tomorrow morning. My wife is a master gardener and we have had food gardens as large as 2500 square feet in the inland west from the Idaho cold to the arid desert of southeastern Arizona. Every climate zone has its own eccentricities and tailoring farming that needs to take place. In one instance, we put 16 tons of sand in the soil to increase porosity in the desert soil. Your mileage may vary in your location.

There should be a network of master gardeners in your area who will talk for hours on how to do this if you ask. But gardens take years to mature and your first few years will full of legions of mistakes from “volunteer” genetic cantamelons because of proximity planting to acidic soil conditions to learning how to tame tomato plants (20 foot cattle panels bent into an arch solve the problem nicely).

The Internet ‘verse is a huge wealth of information for gardening in your local area. The amount of learning is intimidating for the novice gardener but the satisfaction of delivering your own food is worth it. By the way, there is nothing cheap about gardening.

Learn to can. -BB

As the stock market burns today an oft-predicted day of reckoning seems to be at hand. Perhaps you are ready for this type of catastrophe or perhaps it is taking you completely by surprise. If the present economy does collapse, which it very well can, it will likely set off a chain reaction of events that will lead into a Greater Depression.

Having studied the first Great Depression I have found the most common hardship experienced by that era was that of hunger. Because of this I am proposing a form of “Food Insurance” that may help you weather the coming storms.

There will be a window of opportunity for those that are not prepared and I have a suggestion as to where that opportunity might lie…farming. During the first great depression there was a group of people scarcely affected by the cataclysmic events circling the globe. The rural subsistence farmer had a hard life and during the depression it just continued to be hard. Rural subsistence farmers do well during economic hard times assuming they carry little debt and the bank doesn’t take over their land. They tend to have food in abundance, which is the most important commodity.

If you have the idea to be a subsistence farmer as a hedge against the end of the dollar as we know it there are a few things to keep in mind.

It doesn’t take much land. If you are willing to grow mainly plants and small animals, a family of five can be supported on an acre of land. This is assuming the land has a source of water available. In arid regions more land may be necessary in order to catch the water in man-made earthen features called swales.

Hand tools are more useful than power tools when it comes to small-scale farming: shovels, rakes, saws, axes etc.

Hopefully your land has some dirt on it. It is pretty hard to grow a garden through rocks.

Don’t worry about tilling the soil. Many farmers are practicing “no till” farming with great success. Plants roots are used to break up the soil and make nutrients more available. Worms do an amazing job of keeping soil from being compacted.

Try and pay cash for your subsistence land and never borrow against it.

If you don’t understand gardening and farming try and get help. The learning curve is steep and you will have some failures. If you want to be into food production in a hurry then don’t be shy about asking for assistance.

If your “homestead” will be far from where you work consider getting a “sharecropper.” A sharecropper is someone who works your land for a part of the increase. Free rent for a camper and all of the food they can eat is appealing to certain people. Meanwhile the soil is being developed and will be ready when needed.

Don’t get discouraged if the economy doesn’t collapse right when you thought it would. Do you get discouraged when you don’t cash in on your car insurance policy? How about life insurance, do you want to get your money out of that anytime soon? This is just a form of “hunger insurance.”

Learn form the Permaculture movement. This “natural farming” movement has become mainstream in the past three decades. It is a method of working the land where the least amount of energy is used to get the most amount of food. Type “Permaculture” into YouTube and spend a few weeks learning. Then go out and do what you have learned.

Relax, nothing lasts forever. If you have enough to eat and some kind of roof overhead you’ll be fine.

4 thoughts on “Food Insurance by Greyman”

  1. You don’t mention hail, 60 MPH winds, grasshoppers or any of the 101 other disasters poised to smack gardeners (and farmers, ranchers and so forth). I’ve been gardening for more than 60 years. Sometimes I win, and very often – more or less – I lose and have little or nothing to show for a year’s work.

    That’s why people have been trading things, even over very long distance, since the dawn of history. Nobody can be truly “self sufficient.” The key is to trade as free people, without anyone telling us how to go about it or what to use as a medium of exchange.

  2. Pingback: Food Insurance | From the Trenches World Report

  3. I love blog posts like this one.

    Its good stuff. Its life, and life well lived.

    Life on your terms.

    Determined by yourself.

    Ive found for myself it is a holistic thing as how I have to practice self sufficiency. No debt, no bills, a couple of good solid used pickup trucks, some wind and solar power.

    We are down to $350 a month in bills, and none are the kind where if we couldn’t pay them would it be a burden or we would loose anything we own. House and property was purchased after selling everything but personal prized and practical belongings. The funds that remained where very modest. We couldn’t buy anything much unless we where 30-50 miles at least from “civilization”. But cash in hand talks. Even 30 grand opens lots of possibilities. And everything is yours.

    It is a basic life where the best things in life are the simple things. Nothing is like growing or bartering for wholesome home raised vittles. A home raised pig, home butchered, a few deer, fish we catch, wild berries and our cultivated fruits, nothing like it.

    But what is best in all of it, it doesn’t take much to get started, and you increase and or modify things as you go. Its always a learning curve. But thats ok because it brings you closer to the source of your sustenance.
    Home brewed beer, wine, elixirs made from the land and woods, herbs and spices you grow, trade for honey, eggs, beef, things that others can raise or grow where we don’t have the resources, time, or where it is counter productive, this is where you think smart, and trade or buy for those things. And it keeps it local.

    The Permaculture system of growing food is a splendid much less labor intensive system, combined with some other tricks and techniques, it becomes economically feasible, not in terms of money, but in terms of direct time and labor.

    I have a metal fab/weld shop. It is basic, but practical, I’m adding in blacksmithing, and foundry work as things progress. This resource is great, I can fabricate and repair, improve or modify many items tools and devices. I do things like weld repair, reproduce a broken or lost part, modify something for another application, and always prefer to trade or barter for my services. That brings you closer to your area of operations and life.

    Just today I weld repaired cracks in aluminum truck rims for a farming neighbor on his diesel pickup. Its his main piece of equipment aside from his tractor. He can’t afford new rims, he raises beef, eggs, sheep, goats, and a few cash crops. I get paid in eggs, or a pickup bed of fresh corn. What could be better than that? We ferment a few ears, can up the rest, eat a couple raw. It living large. Its rich beyond any fiat can get you.

    Last year I weld repaired his stock trailer. Got a piglet out of the deal.

    helped him round up a couple of piglets last spring at another farm, guy there raises free range meat chickens, he teaches at a local farm college, he has students learn how to butcher and wrap up the chicken meat. Left over from this operation are the bird carcasses. They are loaded with meat, skin, and organs, as he only bothers with the tenders, breasts, and leg/thigh portions. I asked what he did with the remaining chicken parts, he said he composts them, but he is overwhelmed with too much. Offered to buy some if he would sell them, and he said you can have all you want for the taking. WooHoo! Its not the free part that matters, its connections to something better and larger than just yourself. Aside from that, my wife takes the chicken carcass’s and puts them in a 5 gal stainless pot, some wild garlic and onions from the woods, salt pepper, and reduces the entire chicken on very very low heat over 3-4 days. Nothing left but the larger bones. Makes this chicken stock to die for. Awesome winter food, use it instead of water in rice, or a stew, or cook other veggies in or as stock for canning potatoes and such. You get all the nutrients, cartilage etc in those chickens in a broth.

    We bring this fellow jam and wine or some home made bacon, and he is delighted somebody used what was thrown away.

    See how things connect, the land, people, culture, resources?

    Its an adventure really, like life.

    Its only overwhelming if you make it so.

    Again, holistic holistic holistic.

    Some things while they are still obtainable, are good to buy from the outside world. Sugar, salt, for curing, pickling, fermenting, making wine, making vinegar, canning supplies, exotic spices, TP, some soaps, fuel for vehicles, ammo, raw fabrication materials like tube, pipe, hose, some fittings, welding rod, vehicle parts, first aid supplies, books, etc, you can never fill that list, but we try and stock pile and have spares and extras for future use or barter.

    The list of all this above never grows smaller, but what you are always learning is how to make it just a little easier, a little more self sustaining, you learn to not paint yourself in a corner, that there is always a way, always alternatives, always a way to improve your lot and increase your rewards and limit your failures.

    You find too, your not alone. Lot of folks are taking a similar path in one way or another.

    Thats sustainable networking you can live by.

    Its about quality of life and thriving, instead of surviving. Most of humanity has existed without industrial food and goods since the dawn of time. Was it all good? Doubt it. But was there good things, you bet. Just look at the art and philosophy, science, agriculture and goods created over 5000 years or better.
    I have a lot to learn.

    You got to get started, and getting started, its the only way you get there.

    The more of us who do, the sooner we all thrive.

    And that’s liberty really.

    Liberty for me, liberty for you.

    It’s where abolition leads to.

  4. Bill,

    Once I can steal my time back from the Legion I am going to develop design and analysis tools to make the implementation of permaculture easier, and provide personalized farmer’s almanac notifications for management.

    The site currently has a plant database with a search tool. I’m learning new stuff that I will begin adding in the spring.

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