Our Philosophy

Festina lente
-make haste...slowly

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Speaking of Idiots

Check out this douche. Oh wait, that's me 5 years ago before I grew a soul. My wife says that I killed that 4' Eastern Diamondback rattler out of mercy, since it had been run over repeatedly on our dirt road by some hostile Homo sapiens passing by. But I think I was still just retarded enough at that point to think that this was OK. These guys are beautiful. And rare. And they indicate a healthy ecosystem, one they play a starring role in.

I ate that snake out of pure guilt. Floured it, fried it, and ate it, one 4" chunk at a time. That smarmy look on my face was all show. I was really reeling inside for not trying harder to save that magnificent creature. A little bloody patch on its side, and OFF WITH ITS HEAD! Why not, I have kittens to protect! Of all the absurdities, killing an old diamondback to protect a couple of resource-guzzling kittens. I should've fed them to this lord of the sandhills just as tribute. What a beautiful snake! Or was.

Well, joy of joys, this particular usurpation visited me again this weekend. We were up north looking at some family mountain property, and on our way out the neighbor we had just met decided he needed to pop a couple of 9mm rounds into a "copperhead" laying on the wooden bridge that is the only way out by car. He managed to wound the poor thing, knocking a little bit of its face off, but couldn't quite manage to put it out of its misery in a timely manner.

Here I intervened. I parked the car and walked up to our champion copperhead to see what condition his condition was in. A robust 24" inch snake writhed in pain before me - not a copperhead, not even a cottonmouth - down there by the creek; water moccasins don't live that far north. What we had here was cutural breakdown. This great big, smart, hairy fella had blown a couple of splinters out of the bridge, but despite his far superior technology, was coming up short against this mighty Northern water snake. Non-poisonous of course, just catching some morning sun in a bright spot of the forest's gloom before slithering off to catch a crawdad for lunch.

You'd think that every snake out there can fly, and has jaws big enough to swallow a linebacker. Which couldn't be farther from the truth. I don't want to over-emphasize how important snakes are to their ecosystems, but killing them willy-nilly is both ignorant AND stupid, and eventually leads to local food web collapses. Just what we need at this junction in history is for Nature to further withdraw her support for our cause. Imagine if we didn't have black kingsnakes out there, munching on their usual diet of rattlers, copperheads, and water moccasins!

Blam! rings the artillery fired around the world at our own rear ends.

I put that poor water snake out of its misery with my soil probe. One swift shot to separate its head from its body. It felt even more disgusting this time than the last, but this guy left me no choice. Some way to begin a friendship.

We have to stop killing everything we meet. Intentionally, collaterally, ignorantly, it won't matter why when our life support system collapses around us. Educate yourselves in the direction of cooperating with nature, as fast as you can. Plant food, make your garden comfortable for wild animals, but mostly just take some heat off of the industrial food chain so farmland can be left fallow, and wild food webs have a chance to recover. Energy descent will guarantee this result in the long run, but will it be fast enough to help us through the mess we've made?

I don't really want to say which way I think it will go. But I very much understand why people believe in god.


  1. If you haven't read them already, I must highly recommend a couple of what I think of as very-timely books:
    "Holy Shit" by Gene Logsdon (yes, that's really the title!)
    and "The Humanure Handbook" by Joseph Jenkins.

    And Logsdon's articles are always a treat too:

  2. I have a co-worker who kills for fun. He hunts.


    He has 3 pregnant rattlesnakes in his shed. He called the DNR and was told that they had to stay there because of some homing instinct, or something.

    So he is guarding these 3 rattlesnakes until they deliver!

    How cool is that?

    I don't know if you were reading Kunstlers blog the time I referred to this guy. He was the one who said that he and his brother's plan for the coming societal breakdown was to stockpile ammo, not food, because then they could take all the food they need!


    He won't kill brown recluse spiders, either.

  3. great post -and i concur.i recently had the good fortune to rescue a big black snake that got tangled in the bird netting i used to protect my tomato plants. cut him lose, put him out in the wood lot and back he slithered into the barn. i love him especially since he trusts me now. yay. You know, whenever i see a smashed turtle in the road, im like are you F'ing kidding me?!? how hard is it to miss that target.

    I think i got banned off Kunstler somehow. i never wrote anything bad except how ironic it is when haters decry hate by hating the haters. LOL but when i sign in, it wont take me even though i have reset my password many times. oh well.

    where was the property you looked at? i just got a flyer on a liquidation sale about 60 miles east in NC from your grandad. if you want the link, lemme know.

  4. bout tine for a more recent header image, dontcha think? you in jawja now.

  5. Sarah, I'm a huge proponent of composting toilets, although we haven't installed one IN the house yet since we don't know if we are staying here in middle Georgia or selling out and heading for the mountains. I use one in the shed, and plan to use the finished compost only around woody perennials in an attempt to retain some family visitors! We'll move into that arena full-time as soon as we are settled, here or there.

    The Humanure Handbook is available in e-format for anyone interested. Just Google it. Or preferably, Blackle it!

  6. Wage, that's an incredible story about guarding the pregnant rattlers. Very bold, and very responsible. Send baby pics?

    As for your other comment, I can't imagine taking that tack. Planning on taking what you need to survive at gunpoint instead of preparing in a more appropriate way makes me think very limited lifespan! Do they really think no one else will be armed?? And even if it works, what happens when they kill all the producers (either actively or via starvation)? D-U-M.

    Surely we can do a lot better than that.

  7. Ande! Nice job on the snake rescue! I personally like having them around.

    The land is my grandmother's 14 acres, and it's just west of Amicalola Falls. You can hike up to the falls on National Forest trails. And then on to Maine if you so choose. How cool is that?

    Not sure what's going down with it yet, but we may be setting up there pretty soon! Do you know if there is a decent farmers' market in Ellijay or Dahlonega? And yes, we're interested in the land sale you mentioned.

    Good to hear from you.

  8. Hey Tripp,
    Sounds like all is well. Eat what we kill huh?
    We are gonna make some VT wine and press some apples this weekend. My wife Jill made a boatload of cultured veggies from the garden last weekend in crocks made here in VT by some folks with a wood fired handmade kiln that live off the grid (uber-green),kind of a Kim Chi with no spice. We had a hot summer here you guys must have really had one??


  9. Hey Nathan! I sure do wish I had a cider press. Definitely on my wish-list. Of course, so are about a dozen apple varieties.

    We're on our way toward off-grid life I hope! My grandparents' land, with its creeks, would really help that along, if it's offered. Guaranteed water source and most likely a micro-hydro system.

    You had a hot summer too?!

  10. Hot enough we got hundreds of pounds of tomatoes. Freezer is full to the top with berries and lots of taters in the cellar. We just bought a crusher and press. None are USA made anymore, all from China. Got nice heavy ones of cast iron and stainless, works great. Made 2 gallons of wine and 6 gallons of hard cider this weekend. Gonna have a big press party now we have it figured out make some cider and another batch of hard cider too.
    We are not gonna go off grid (we have friends and neighbors up here that do but I am not a fan of batteries) do plan to go grid tie next summer and produce as much electricity as we consume annually.

  11. Wine and cider sound awesome! I'd help you out if I could get there, but Vermont? God lahd, that's a long way from here.

    No, I have no intention of usurping the energy required to install solar or wind, and the requisite batteries. We're planning a very small hydro turbine in the creek, and some more behavioral modification. The absence of need for A/C will help a bunch, as you are familiar with I'm sure! People lived in middle Georgia without it before, but man, I don't want to if I don't have to. Not to mention that the local climate is a bit warmer now than in the past.

    We put 6 chickens in the freezer this weekend, with 6 more to go, and are finishing up ~75 lbs of pears this evening - pear butter, pear sauce, pear chutney...got 1/2 a pig put away earlier this summer, but sadly no tomatoes this season. Nobody here had any. Too damn hot. Now that the weather's cooling off some I've got tons setting on the bushes, but I doubt we'll get any preserved.

    Dang it.

  12. When we were gardening in Jackson County GA we planted the tomatoes next to the trees so they got shade from lunch on. We left some of the taller weeds in the main garden to shade the produce and covered the ground with straw to reflect the heat.
    You can build;d your whole hydro set up from used car parts and plumbing supplies but would need an inverter to get off of 12 volt DC. There are also a lot of complete kits available. I can email you links if you do not already have the set up figured out. Hydro is the best because it runs at night when you most want the juice. We would love to have your family visit anytime, August would be your best heat escape as we get to about 80 on the hottest days and 55 to 60 at night. We will be down in GA in the next year also as I still have family in Altanta.
    Jill and I and one of our friends did an 8 day paddle trip from island to island in Maine in August (we have been working on the Maine Island trail for the past ten years). When Jill puts it up on facebook we will invite you