Spring is (finally) here in full bloom. Climate change is already noticeable throughout the world, this location is no exception. March rained non-stop it seemed, cycling between hail stones, snow, and warm days, but with April things began to look like spring.
If you’ve been watching the news, you’ll know that gas prices in some places is $4.30 a gallon, a new ‘record’, soon to be broken again and again. And again. The sad fact is that we are never going to have today’s prices – on anything. The cost of simply staying alive, let alone enjoying any of the extravagant modern pleasures (like driving) is getting harder and harder.
We all saw this coming, which was why in part, I explored the ecovillage concept, and went ahead and built a garden, chicken house and rabbitry. Today, I finally ‘populated’ my little corner of the world with some chickens in the new chicken house / yard and picked up some cute little bunnies.
It’s a strange feeling to suddenly be a ‘farmer’, I’ve been gearing up for this for some months. Today was the culmination of a lot of planning and work. I’ve already got my first egg to show for it. The chickens were about a year old and are laying hens, I opted to skip on a rooster for now. They moved right in like they owned the place, and checked everything out. I had everything ready, except for feeders, waterer’s and a roost, but all these were added in short order.
The chicken pen is co-located next to the fenced in garden, so I cut an gate in the fencing dividing the two and let the chickens into the garden area. They already discovered this gate which doubles their available yard. During certain times of the year, I can let the chickens roam the garden and help keep the bugs down.
The rabbits are New Zealand cross mixes (uncertain), but I’m not too worried about exact breeds or pedigrees. As cute as they are, they’ll be dinner soon enough. I picked up two does and a buck. They’re pretty young right now, but they’ll grow. I’ve also got a line on two bred does, which will be my first rabbit litters and will suddenly explode the rabbit population around here. I’ve got eight cages ready, so that will suddenly put me into the rabbit ‘business’.
I’ve already had offers from people to buy rabbits from me. I expect more and more people to turn to small farming / homesteading as prices continue to force people to stay home more and spend less and less. It’s going to become more and more important to people to live in zoning areas that allow for this. It goes without saying that a lot of zoning laws need to be changed, but until the bureaucrats catch up with the reality of peak oil, getting located in an area that allows you to raise the garden and animals you will need is going to be important.
I chose rabbits in particular because they are so easy to raise, and they have an almost perfect fertilizer for the garden. The only thing missing is a fish pond. Aquaculture is a ‘plan’ for future expansion on the homestead, which will be a fish pond located inside the greenhouse (still not built) in a semi-closed self sustaining system. The only outside inputs that will be required in fish food and a little bit of water to account for plant respiration and evaporation. I just happen to know the individual who invented this technology and it’s something we’ve discussed on numerous occasions. I’ve picked up the glass panels, submersible pumps and even a 350 gallon tank for this future project. I hit a garage sales and buy this stuff for pennies on the dollar, or in some cases like the greenhouse glass, it’s actually free. I also got a free folding glass french door.
Now is the time to be accumulating the tools and supplies you’re going to need to become self sufficient and sustainable, this stuff too will rise in price as people finally realize it’s real value in the face of ridiculous oil prices. Right now, that general awareness still hasn’t gotten through to people, and you can still get some really good deals. I only paid $75 for the 350 gallon water tank, nothing for the greenhouse tempered glass and only $20 for the fencing I used to fence in the entire garden and chicken yard. The rabbit cages were built from scratch and the roll of hardware cloth cost $100, but I’ve got over $500 in rabbit cages built from it.
The point of course, isn’t what I paid, but what you can get if you shop around for not very much money. The general awareness of prices heading north hasn’t yet reached the garage sale / used markets for tools and supplies for the homestead. A lot of the junk accumulated in people homes is basically worthless on the used market and can’t be sold for a fraction of what it cost new. There’s little point in actually get rid of this stuff, since keeping it is actually cheaper then exchanging or replacing it for something else. Televisions and electronics will be around for a long time and in fact, could increase in demand due to people staying home more. But the real valuable stuff is going to be things you can do for yourself, at home, as people feel the pinch more and more.
People will be forced to do more and more for themselves, which is something the current generations alive today aren’t used to. There will be a lot of ‘upsets’, as a crash course in personal survival and self-reliance are forced upon these people. Frankly, I find it enjoyable and a much preferred way of living, but I have other incentives then just saving money. As blog readers know, I reject the modern paradigm of living entirely, finding it slavish, degrading and destructive. Learning to do for oneself is certainly got to be a better way to live then wasting away in a cubicle for a faceless entity that cares nothing for you as an individual or for the world in which you and I live in. No thanks, I’d rather sleep under a tree then go back to that world.
I lived that life for decades, which I do consider valuable experience, but it showed me exactly what I don’t want, and what is wrong with modern living today and what was wrong with my own life. We are removed from the source of the land that gives us our life, the nourishment of the plants, animals and even the mineral resources that make our way of life even possible. We’re insulated, protected, coddled and covered up, in plastic, steel, glass and synthetic materials, padded and plumped up with ‘soft lives’ of relative ease and comfort. We spend long hours at stupid and mindless jobs making money for morons while we waste away in dead-end careers and watch the world fall apart around us. We’re contributing to the problems of global warming, ecocide and species extinction by clinging to the modern paradigms of living.
But it can’t, won’t last forever. In fact, it way only last a few more years, less then a decade as we pump the last of the oil into our automobiles, and then it’s going to come all crashing down. A lot of people don’t think that modern man would exploit the resources that sustain us down to the last drop or tree, but I disagree, and so would history. Jared Diamond’s book, “Collapse”, reveals that mankind has done exactly that many times before, destroying the very fabrics of their civilizations and falling into total collapse, cannibalism and ecological suicide. The example of totally denuded Easter Island landscape is perhaps the most noticable in recent history, but the very resource demands on Easter Island are exactly the same problems faced by the United States, and no determined effort to stop the ‘advancement’ (destructive behavior) of civilization is being made.
What is needed is to abandon civilization entirely and reject this destructive, resource intensive, exploitive way of living and return to sustainable practices. There is literally no other choice, but it still appears that this simple truth is failing to be widely embraced. And if it is not widely embraced, then global ecocide will be the result. Total resource collapse will happen as billions of people scramble for dwindling resources to survive. We can survive without oil, but we cannot survive without soil, air, clean water, and a habitable environment for plants and animals alike.
Waiting for government leaders to provide leadership for a new paradigm of sustainable living is pure folly. They don’t get it and have zero incentive to destroy their power base and funding. Whatever can be done will be done on a much smaller scale then national. What I’m doing here, on my own homestead, is a step in the right direction. It’s by no means complete or comprehensive, but it is on the path towards sustainability. My goal is to stop driving to the store for some of the consumable products I do buy, eggs and meat. The garden will produce vegetables and if I can get the greenhouse and aquaculture system built, I’ll be way down the road towards sustainability.
This is grass-roots personal activism, doing something for yourself that was ‘traditionally’ done by someone else. It won’t change the world by itself, and it won’t make a whit of difference in the greater scheme of things, but it will bring me personal satisfaction and important experience in what will soon be of the utmost necessity. Living closer to the land will become the new paradigm of living, as transportation slows and stops, and imported goods and foodstuffs becomes even more ridiculous in price.
What we will be able to afford in the future won’t resemble what we can still (barely) afford today. And what we do today will either create a path of sustainability for tomorrow, or it won’t. And if we choose the latter, then we deserve exactly what we will (or won’t) get, because we are quite simply, without excuse. We know what is happening to our planet, our world and our way of life, and what is causing all of this destruction and pollution. It’s us. If we willingly continue to exist like there is no tomorrow – there won’t be any tomorrows, for any of us.