"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Be Prepared

Due to all the reading I've been doing on the internet since I started this blog, I've begun a slow, inexorable descent into paranoia and fear about the future (Thanks, fellow bloggers!). Actually, it is by no means just internet information that has me terrified, it's the news in general. I'm not going into deep specifics, but between climate change, peak oil, vanishing pollinators, and the economy, you can pick your poison. There are so many horsemen on the horizon, it looks like the Hunnish army. 

My sister met a lady and her family yesterday who recently moved to this area after doing a months long study about which regions were most likely to hold up best against climate change in the near-to-medium term. While it's nice to know that the place I live in topped their list, it's scary that my own fears are not unique, but that seemingly sane people are basing major life choices on similar considerations. 

I'm nowhere near as pessimistic as these folks are; they see only five more "normal" years before shit really begins to hit the fan. I think we'll have at least twenty - I mean here, in the prosperous and relatively lightly populated northwest of the United States, with it's stable government, abundant water resources, cheap hydroelectric power, and mild climate which gives a wide margin for change before becoming outright hostile. What the next twenty years will bring in, say, Australia or Central America is anybody's guess. 

But in the mid-to-long term, say forty or fifty years from now, I don't think anyone will be insulated from severe upheaval. So other than losing sleep, what can I do? I am obviously not going to amass the kind of fortune that could insulate my grandkids - if there even is any amount of money that could. So what then? I do have not inconsiderable monetary resources, and I think that very likely the most important decision I make over the next few decades will be timing the conversion  of those monetary resources into material resources. And deciding what those material resources should be.

I have a few ideas. Over the next ten years, I want to:

1. Put in a rain catchment system with an underground cistern. 

2. Create some energy creation capability. Not totally off-grid, but enough to run the chest freezer, the furnace fan, the cooktop, and a light or two. 

3. This isn't me, but I really hope Homero gets off his butt and gets the biodiesel processor working well. If he does, then I'd like to switch our heat from propane to biodiesel.

4. More realistically, we need an insert for the fireplace. That wouldn't totally solve the problem of how to heat the house when the power's out, since we'd still need to use the furnace fan to circulate air. Our house is weirdly long and skinny, and the fireplace is at one end. Of course, if the power goes out, we could all sleep in the living room. Wood is getting more expensive, but it shouldn't be a problem for us for some time. We own five wooded acres, and my brother in law works for a tree service company and gets tons of wood all the time. 

5. Make needed home repairs. This covers a lot of ground, since this house is a pile of rotten crap. Most immediately, we need to insulate. The old insulation is probably from the sixties, and it's shot. There's no insulation in the walls at all, nor under the house. There are many rotten spots where cold air comes through. We do have double pane windows, but also we have three big old sliding glass doors which are single pane. Winters are historically mild around here, but you never know. Last winter, we got four feet of snow and temperatures in the teens for weeks on end. The furnace was running full blast all the time just to keep the indoor temperature around sixty. 

6. Buy farming equipment. I don't want to get carried away, we only have five acres. I don't need a full sized tractor. But we need something better than the old Murray riding lawnmower which doesn't work. I need to be able to cut tall grass (brushmower, I guess) and to till. I want a machine with about 24 HP that can pull a decent rototiller. I guess diesel would be best, so it can run on our biodiesel. Or, alternatively, I'd better start training the pony (That's a joke, folks). 

7. Create a stockpile. This house has a truly wonderful amount of storage. It would be easy to put away a year's supply of food. No reason not to. Also, stockpile some medical supplies that keep well, like bandages, alcohol, iodine, etc. How about bug spray and sunscreen?

8. Let's not talk about security. I'm not a freak. 


SoapBoxTech said...

Have you considered a walking tractor? Much less cost and there are various attachments available.

As for the coming troubles, I tend to lean towards the more pessimistic view. I can't help but see some real social upheaval fairly soon, as the economic situation worsens and as resources (especially water) rapidly wane.

This is much of what brings me back to agrarianism and trying to make myself learn preparation as well, but I do ponder security...all the while preaching balance, peace and responsible freedom.

Aimee said...

I don't know what a walking tractor is. I'm going to google it.

Maven said...

For what it's worth, I stayed at a great bed and breakfast a while ago in Lancaster PA, which used solar power for its lighting, water heating, and fan system (they heat the main structure with a big sandstone fireplace and use solar power for the vent system for the heating). Truly a wonderful idea. Have you considered getting a windmill on your farm?