Our Philosophy

Festina lente
-make haste...slowly

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Long Way to the Land of Milk and Honey

With Donald Trump running amok inside the American political machine, soaking up the admiration of an entire social class that has been discarded like so many pairs of worn-out gym socks in the race to the dream, I want to take a moment to talk about an alternative route to the future.  Fortunately, it has precious little to do with politics.

It's frustrating to watch cycle after cycle of politicians plucking at the heart strings of the electorate, lying to the faces of millions of people who desperately need them to be honest, promising that land of milk and honey that seems to slip faster and farther away every election cycle.  And rightfully so, because it IS slipping farther out of reach every election cycle.  Unless we're talking about a land of actual milk and honey, that is.

What the industrial world needs now more than anything else is a prominent and responsible figure to stand up and tell them what's up: that the modern industrial way of life is going down by the stern and that seats in the life boats are available, but we're running out of time to get you safely aboard.

Now wait a minute here.  Does that mean that everyone should panic and start pushing the boats off before everyone who could be aboard is in fact aboard?  Of course not.  Does it mean that there is some sort of event horizon when it will be too late to put the gin fizz down and actually get on that boat?  Again, no, probably not.  Does it mean that we need to hoard up all the amenities of the industrial age in a lifeboat for ourselves, and wait in the dark with the pistol cocked for the thieving zombie hoards to inevitably barge in, eat our brains, and take our stuff?  Don't be absurd.  But every election cycle, every year actually, that goes by without meaningful change consigns you to a worse position on the life boats than need be.

And someone who matters needs to tell folks that time is of the essence.  There are plenty of players out on the fringes of society who have been pushing people in the right direction for years, but not enough people are reading them.  In fact there are at least as many on the other end of the spectrum, shouting down the people who really are trying to help at the top of their lungs.

To wrap up the Titanic analogy (thank you, Tripp!) there are plenty of things that can be saved, time still even to put a few of your favorite but non-essential belongings in the pocket of your overcoat on the way out.  But the rest of the cargo needs to be seeds, and tools, and small livestock, and books, and forgotten skills.  We need to make friends with the neighbors.  Fruit trees need time to settle in and reach bearing age.  Breeding programs need to be tailored to the new realities of energy descent, not some flashy hyper-efficient and unnatural industrial formulation.  Effective (and organic) crop polycultures need to be worked out over years of trials.  And worked out without the use of modern (and expensive) machines and additives.  And then, after that's done, we will need to invest that much time again, to build resilience in our life-support systems.  As an example, I have a few fruit trees that are now of crop bearing age, but that tend to bloom too early and get hammered by late frost.  Later blooming cultivars are on my list of items to acquire this spring.  But they won't be ready to fruit any time real soon even so.

The way we've done business in the industrial world since the end of WWII only made sense under the specific environmental and market conditions that existed up until recently, but continue to unravel at a hastening pace.  Kudos to us for being so successful under those conditions!  But contraction is a very different animal than expansion.  Whole systems tend to behave in radically different ways under different energetic trajectories.  What we're dealing with here isn't an economic hiccup or a trendy stab at simplification, and we need to stop thinking that.  We need to stop being lied to about that.  What we have before us instead is a long, slow, ragged decline from the giddy heights of the fossil fuel age to some deindustrial version of what would be to us an unrecognizable way of life.

If we want to continue living in a land of milk and honey - and who doesn't - we'll have to build it for ourselves, preferably right now, where we are, with what we have.  If you have a cube truck with 4 tons of cargo ready to roll out when the zombie hoards show up, where will you run that could possibly be better prepared than home?  Will the protective and nurturing community you've been working on be ready to roll out with you when you give the word?  Or will they just think you're a reactionary nut?  Productive organic garden soil is a lot easier to come by when you've spent years developing it just outside your kitchen door.  And you can't dig up a 5 year old peach tree.  At least not in a hurry.

It is heart-breaking to see the very poor twiddling their thumbs day after day, not even a tomato growing in a bucket or an egg bird wandering around, waiting for help to arrive when we know good and well that help will not be forthcoming.  Not from the politicians who don't promise it, nor from the politicians who do.  Politicians only say what they need to say to get elected, and nobody serious about getting elected is going to tell us the truth about the future.

But a smart fella (multi-billionaire, remember?) like Donald Trump is willing to bank his campaign strategy on a forgotten class of blue collar folks who've had their jobs sold to third world sweatshop hellholes or given to illegal immigrants for peanuts in compensation with no legal recourse against being stepped on and underpaid.  That being the case, I'm guessing Trump doesn't believe the official unemployment statistics any more than some of us do.  And Rust Belt cities like Detroit and Pittsburgh are listening.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he will do better in the northeast and midwest states than he did in Iowa.  And he didn't do too badly there...

Milk and honey have always been available to those who go out of their way to secure it.  But if you're thinking that someone will just give it to you, or that it's your birthright as an American, or even that paper money will always be able to buy it for you, the future might end up being a disappointing place for you.

Me, I'm gonna be adding honeybee hives to all three of my projects this spring.  I like honey.  And milk.

Peace, beautiful people.
Tripp out.

19 comments:

  1. I'll leave the beekeeping to those who do not swell up when stung - but I am getting my first dairy goat and her kids later this spring! This goes with my chicken breeding and yet another year attempting to garden. I canned up plenty of flavorful chicken last year - here's hoping I get to can some veggies.

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  2. Nice metaphor. I like your observation about the very poor not even trying to grow their own food. I guess those of us in the simplicity/downshift-ósphere can get all excited about what chook breeds lay best or an old sponge cake recipe (I had great success with one the other day!) and forget that many (most?) people don't even put gardening or DIY on their radar. I mean, they go through their entire day without even thinking about this sort of thing. They are more interested in the latest video game/movie/electronic trinket. If they are very poor they are probably thinking about how to buy some food. But growing it yourself, or working with others who grow it themselves... this does not even register. I know this because I was like this not so long ago. I am not entirely sure what chain of events got me to where I am now, but I am glad I did. Watching my chooks scratch around is so much more satisfying then the latest must-have phone app ever was.

    Did anyone else find Sanders result in Iowa very convenient? 6 coin tosses all going Clintons way....

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  3. Tripp- Coincidences? Maybe, maybe some sort of signal from Gaia that some people picking up subconsciously, and preparing for the coming times? Who knows, but I will be starting my first two hives this spring. Getting two top bar hives and packages from a local beekeeper who has been trying to breed northern acclimated queens. We are adding elements each year, and feel like we are behind the curve regardless.

    You know, they say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, and I think it tells us something about humans filtering and self limited awareness. I've seen the phenomenon several many times. Heck, I've been that student.

    Your prominent leader who needs to give the wakeup call did just that back in 1977. Jimmy Cater, at some point in the future, might be recognized for his prescience and correct assessment of priorities, but back then, the student was not ready. Who the teacher will be now, I have no idea. We live in different times, where the population is losing trust in authority, and it might take a real black swan event to open the student's eyes to the teacher who can speak the truth and finally be heard.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_Equivalent_of_War_speech_(Carter)

    The Donald- Yes, he is tapping in to a discontent, but I fear he is driven by personal ego and power lust, so will not work for the common good. What's new in politics, right?

    Good luck with your hives, as the hive collapse scourge is still rampant. 42% last year!

    Damo- I've read some reliable reports that the coin flip story is incorrect, and plenty of details have been left out of most articles. I don't think there was conspiracy involved ( in this case).

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    1. Akk- is there no edit function here? I can't stand to see spelling errors I missed in my comments.

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  4. Dfr, thanks for the comment! And good luck with your dairy adventure! We had a Jersey cow for a while when we had pasture down south, milked every day (big job!), and loved the fresh raw milk, yogurt, and butter. Cheers.

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  5. Damo, at the risk of us pounding an ugly stereotype further into the ground, I agree. In fact, the neighbor family I modeled my complaint around lives exactly the way you describe. Big flat-screen TV, state-of-the-art video game system, and little else to decorate their rental trailer. First time I was there I asked the guy who the folks with a horse in a framed photo on the wall were, and he wasn't even sure! His wife's grandparents maybe? Jesus.

    Then, when they came to our place the first time, they started talking about how some family they saw on TV lives the way we do, only much more thoroughly of course, listing off all the things they do that we haven't quite gotten to yet. My reply was that all those things were part of our organic process of system buildup, but just haven't come to fruition yet. Silly me, apparently all-or-nothing is the only way! And I can't help but wonder if that's just an excuse for inaction? If we can't afford to have our own place and set up all the fancy integrated living systems, all at once, then we'll just keep playing video games and eating industrial system garbage. I just don't get it...

    Collapse now, where you are, with what you have, as JMG says. Solve problems as you go. Solvitur ambulando.

    Thanks for the comment! Cheers.

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  6. Steve, many thanks for stopping by, and don't worry about typos! Certainly doesn't bother me. I can tell you're a smart cat.

    You're right, I had forgotten about Jimmy Carter, my fellow Georgian prognosticator. We already had our warning from on high...and we roundly ignored it. Fat lot of good that did. For my part, I can at least claim youthful ignorance for 1977, as I was only 4 years old! Still, as soon as it hit me, in January 2009, I started adapting in real and meaningful ways. I just don't get being very poor and NOT doing anything to help yourself. I've been on food stamps before and it's not like living in the fat house. If you eat any decent food at all you're going to be contributing to the monthly grocery bill one way or another. Why not with a veggie garden and egg birds? Doesn't take much to get that started really.

    In full disclosure, I'm definitely not claiming to have done what we've done without handouts along the way, whether government, family or friends, but my point is that doing something durable and procreative with the handouts seems to be entirely escaping some of the poorest among us. Like Damo said, not even registering as an option. If someone helps me out, I don't want them to have to help me out in the same way again later!

    On the honeybee tip, we are of course doing top bar hives too. One hive here at the 'stead; one at my grant-funded school project, affectionately dubbed "Operation Self Reliance;" and one at the joint cider orchard project at my pal's farm. Best of luck in this venture! Keep me posted...

    Cheers, Steve.

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  7. Tripp- I meant to ask if you are doing a "regular" horizontal, or Kenyan style top bar, or a Warre? I'm still reading about all these choices, and wondered what you take is.

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    1. I'm just going with the horizontal TBH design for now, until I find that I need to try something else!

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  8. Hey Tripp,
    Heres the bee hive technology....https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/flow-hive-honey-on-tap-directly-from-your-beehive#/

    Nathan

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  9. Hey Tripp,
    Heres the bee hive technology....https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/flow-hive-honey-on-tap-directly-from-your-beehive#/

    Nathan

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  10. And here is the soil technology I have been following. Nutrient density. Calcium/magnesium balance paired with addition of minerals not present in your native soils. IT WORKS BIG TIME!

    http://aglabs.com/soiltesting.html

    Nathan

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  11. And here is the soil technology I have been following. Nutrient density. Calcium/magnesium balance paired with addition of minerals not present in your native soils. IT WORKS BIG TIME!

    http://aglabs.com/soiltesting.html

    Nathan

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  12. Hey, Nathan, how the heck are you? Yeah, I've been considering a flow hive since I first saw them, but am opting for a top bar for now. May add later. And thanks for the soil testing pointers! Sounds promising.

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  13. Im still killing it :). Im gonna try the flow hive and set it up in my shop with its own bee entrance to take the pressure of winter off the hive and avoid black bears which can suck here in VT. Had a killer apple harvest last year and had 2 cider pressing parties , tons of classic fun.

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  14. oh yeah and I did this earlier this month
    https://goo.gl/photos/iMW2dZ6zVe76TnCT7




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  15. Amazing photos, Nathan! Looks like a pretty incredible adventure! And low-impact, too ;o)

    Love the idea of the beehive in the shop. And I can't wait till our first cider pressing party! Keep killin' it, sir.

    Tripp out.

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  16. Happy St. Patrick's Day! Today we're preparing potatoes for planting, probably tomorrow or this weekend. And I spent the morning picking up a load of free high-quality double-paned window sashes, among other treasures, from friends who are moving to Florida. So a special salute to the Whitehouse family for all the useful goodies!

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  17. Low impact huh....tee hee. Yeah the chopper burned 200 gallons of fuel that day. There were 5 in our group and the chopper services 4 groups at a time. Our company has remediated 3,000 contaminated sites so we get a one time pass on the impact (pure rationalization).
    Should have veggies from our greenhouse in 2 weeks here.

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