How to prosper during the coming depression, food

 

As I write this there is the beginning of a food shortage happening in the United States. Many of the thing we are witnessing happened before during the great depression with farmers dumping milk they can not sell and food rotting in the fields. At the moment this only applies to meat and milk, however fruit and vegetables will be next since those seasons have not started and this virus in nowhere near finished with its agenda.

The last time I was at the local supermarket I saw the empty shelves and freezers wondering where my Cornish hens were and the cheap cuts of beef that I know how to turn into a $50 steak. Everything was gone except for some ground turkey that had been pulled out of a deep freeze.

I had to become crafty in finding places that would not be affected by the current shortage and if you have any granola eating, tidied wearing, “I only eat local” friends you may have a good idea where you can score some food in the coming years.

Two places came to mind in my town. The first is a small market where the owner is middle eastern and has local sources for meat that butcher it in the Halal style that Islam requires. This type of meat is not going to be produced by a large corporation and therefore the majority of his meat is also from similar, smaller, outlets. To this day his coolers have been filled with fresh meat and poultry with no problems in supply.

The second place that I started going to is a newly opened market downtown that is smaller and more expensive but there is an advantage to shopping here. One of the owners is a third-generation rancher and has access to beef all year round. The beef is butchered and processed by the owner cutting out any middle men. This place also has connections with local Indian tribes for smoked fish and Amish farmers who supply them with chicken and pork. These are the places I have found so far for my own food but here are some ideas for where you can look for your own food in your area.

Farmers markets are opening and it wouldn’t hurt to make friends with your local farmers who like having regular customers they can depend on for income. Even better than a farmer’s market is joining a CSA and having your share of a farm delivered every week for a majority of the season. The lump some up front might hurt but not needing to buy fresh produce over several months takes a burden off your grocery bill. While other people are struggling to find produce that might not make it to the shelves of the grocery stores your food is set aside and waiting for you because somebody grew it specifically for you. Some CSA farms also offer meat and poultry as well as vegetables, expanding what is available and making the hunt for good quality food easier.

Growing your own food is always an option even if you have limited space. For those of you who own your own house you have a huge advantage over the millions of people who don’t. That nice green lawn that you might be proud of, you can tear that up any time now. The luxury of having a lawn is an idea that needs to go the way of the dodo. In Europe, royalty would flaunt their wealth by having vast, unused fields of green grass showing the public that they had no need to work that land for their food. It was a gross mismanagement of wealth that continued to the united states and unfortunately didn’t die along with the control over the country by the British. Some of their bad habits stayed with us and now it’s time to kick it to the curb.

Victory gardens are springing up again, a tradition from WWII that kept the publics need for food down and meant more resources could go to the war effort. This time around the Victory garden could make sure you have food on the table while items are limited at the stores and harder to find. Several books are available for new gardeners and I will include a list of titles are the end of this article for those people who are interested.

Foraging is a favorite pass time for quarantine victims looking to get outdoors these days. On recent fishing trips it was common to see people walking through the woods with their heads hung low looking for morels. Mushrooms might be one of the few things to look for in the spring but other times of the year there will be berries, various greens, maple syrup, and nuts. I have spent many afternoons in early July collecting raspberries and black berries to freeze at home or turn into wines or jam. There was that time I collected dandelion leaves for salad and every year I make a batch of dandelion wine from the flowers. Foraging is a great way to learn how much food is located in your own yard.

Hunting is the last subject I will discuss in this post. Living in Michigan, hunting is a part of our culture. This was a subject that I was introduced to later in life, heading into the woods for the first time at 33. I have had some success and while I can’t remember how many squirrels, I have taken home, I can tell you that I bagged two turkeys over the years but have yet to drag home a deer. Hunting is a complicated subject and one should check their state laws before marching into the forests to bring home some meat. The cost of starting to hunt can be high for those who do not already own the equipment for it. Firearms, bows and arrows, muzzleloaders, boots, blinds, warm clothes, calls, bait, the list goes on and on. There is an investment of time to consider as well. We have all heard those stories of the guy who walks into the woods, kills a deer in five minutes, loads it into his truck and drives off. Odds are that will not be you. The years I have spent going to the same public land I know where the deer are, how they travel, and where to be. I have sent guys in telling them where fresh tracks are and the kind of deer in area. Later I get a thank you and find out they bagged a deer either that day or the next right where I told them. They had the time to spend waiting, I did not. It can be as simple as that.

Hunting is a long and vast subject in which I will cover in future posts, but for the moment it is a place to consider getting protein when it is difficult to find in the store. The amount of meat you can get from a deer for the cost of a few hours and a $1.50 shotgun shell doesn’t compare to the cost of a T-bone steak.

List of gardening books:

Gardening when it counts by Steve Solomon

Square foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

Crockett’s Victory Garden by James Underwood Crockett

Standard

Back to basics

 

As of today, I am not supposed to go back to work until May 15, maybe. The governor extended the stay at home order and my place of employment still has to make several changes to the building before employees can return to work. Meanwhile, I am still at home, still trying to stay busy, and still being paid. I’m lucky, I know that. With all the people filing for unemployment and crossing their fingers for another Corona Virus check I am still ahead of the game and looking to the future for what will likely transpire in the coming months.

I made a run to the grocery store the other day and found most of the meat unavailable, as I expected with all the processing plants shutting down across the country. I wanted some Cornish hens for easy to bake meals at home and found none. My old bachelor food of choice was no longer in the freezer. I left Aldi with a full cart of food and racked my head for the next day trying to figure out where I could buy meat that would stay in stock.

A small family owned grocery store downtown only carries locally sourced meat and produce. I made an appointment, the only way they do business these days, and went in. Amish chickens were in the freezer, along with elk, wild boar, cured bacon, and several cuts of beef. One of the owners of the store is a third-generation cattle rancher and I was told beef would always be available. The only thing they could not guarantee was pork. The garden is growing, I can still buy food, and the chickens are growing quickly. At the moment life is good.

I keep myself busy these days. Since the lockdown has started, I have built a chicken coop, a new shifter for the compost bin, cleaned out the garage, kept the pantry filled, fixed several small things around the house that have been buggy me, planted a garden, and refurbished a crossbow from the 1960s. I can’t help but wonder if this is how people are supposed to live?

There is a man on YouTube that I started following after this whole thing started. He has a prepping channel and was in the navy for 20 years as a SEAL. He went in to get tested today for Covid 19 after feeling sick and having shortness of breath. He is young, about my age, in better same than me and has been on top of this thing like me since the beginning. In his last couple of videos, he wasn’t looking good and I had to wonder if that was going to be me in the near future.

I need a new project. The chickens are doing their own thing, needing little care except for feeding and a weekly cleaning of their coop. The crossbow is almost finished. The only thing I can do with the garden is wait for it to grow. I’m sure there are a few old projects I can dig out and start working on. With the new space in the garage it would be a lot easier to get things done and have easy access to tools that I didn’t have before.

Cooking is becoming a new favorite pass time. Cookbooks are becoming my new best friend with thousands of recipes to go through and plenty of time to try them out. Having a three-year-old daughter to likes to help makes it an activity that lowers the stress level in the house instead of the usual chaos that comes with cabin fever. I need a new list of things to do. Netflix isn’t cutting it anymore.

If there is one thing that can be said about this virus, the situation it created, is that it gives one time to think about many things. I doubt things will go back to normal. What ever has been unleased on the world will have a lasting impact and I have a feeling many people are considering what they have been doing with their lives and what they would like to do instead. I have three weeks, three more weeks to things to do. Most of the projects I have going on are waiting games now to see how plants will grow and feeding chickens. It’s time to find other things to do.

The late Philip Roth, the under-appreciated writer, once said that the road to hell is paved with unfinished projects. Maybe its time to dig a few of those out and take care of things once and for all.

 

Standard

After the Day for the last time

This book saved my life. Poorly written, and breaking barriers no one wanted to see broken, what started out as a way to kill long lonely nights turned into a gateway to freedom that I needed. Five years ago, I put a book on Amazon before knowing what it was. It was raw, filled with misspelled words, bad grammar, and horrible dialogue and somehow it sold.
At that time in my life I was divorce, living alone, dating life had a bunch of downs and no ups, and debt was pulling me down. I had branched out into various hobbies, things that I had wanted to do early on in life but held back by different things which no longer influenced my life. Included in these hobbies was writing.
One of the first things I did after my wife and I split was going to best buy and picking up a laptop to write on. It sat in a closet for a year before I took it out and started pecking the keys. I had many adventures after my thirtieth birthday. Fishing, hunting, and gardening took up a good portion of my free time. Once hunting season was over and winter was in full throttle I was stuck inside, without a television and the radio my only outside friend. Sitting in my dining room with a bottle of red wine and a pipe filled with captain black gold I started to write a short story. I had lost track of where it was going and so I wrote another. I continued this process until I had three or our stories in front of me and realized I was writing them all in the same world.
The last couple of days have taken me back to that time. Sitting at a dining room table like I do now and listening to classical music from NPR, I go over my first novel and rewrite the work for the last time. I found the original version, the one I uploaded with all of its horrible flaws, before the suggestions, edits, and critics took over. Starting from scratch I’m turning it into what it could have been all along and something that is truly mine again. I have learned some lessons along the way. Don’t look at sales figures. Don’t read the reviews. Don’t let people distract you with other projects that are not your own. Drink less beer. Write drunk. Edit sober… sometimes. So maybe I haven’t learned my lessons on a lot of things or maybe some of those things are myths to begin with. You don’t have to always enjoy what it is that you are doing but it helps.
As I go through these pages and play with the words, slowly transforming this thing into something else entirely, I know that I will still come back to it a few times. Reading an audiobook will point out a few more changes along the way and that is okay. After this year I will no longer come back to this book. My life has changed since that time and I have written several things since then that nobody wants to read or talk about. After the Day has turned into my white whale and it is time to put it down for good.

Standard

A Century of Loss (or All the Dogs will Die!)

With Earth Day come and gone I am reminded at the path our species is taking. I went to the celebration downtown and left disappointed, more so than when I arrived, at what was really a party for middle-aged baby boomers to brag about their high mileage cars and the protest they have been attending over the decades. One doesn’t have to look hard to find that what they accomplished was little, if anything. There was a sense of nostalgia for the 60s as I looked at people with rainbow-colored shirts who had not bathed in days telling people how they were working to save the planet, while driving god knows how many miles to attend a mostly dead event. After a quick round through the park I was done.

Earlier in the week I read a story online about the end of Syrian tobacco and how it would no longer exist once the last of the blends were sold from the online retailers and brick and mortar stores. This may sound like whining to some and in one case i was called a white capitalist pig for bringing it up. “With all the death and destruction that happens over there you are complaining about tobacco?” Sure he had a point but what I was trying to point out is the loss of a species that may never be seen again. Sure, it is tobacco, not food, not a medicine, but still it represents something that is lost from our world. Over the coming years we will start to hear about crops being lost, species of insects and birds that will never been seen again, and lakes that disappear from the landscape. In the coming generations there will be animals and food that our descendents will only be able to read about.

I watched a documentary about a chef who was trying to reconstruct a recipe from a hundred year old cook book. many of the technics had been lost over the years but slowly they were able to piece together the ingredients and make what was close to the original meal. There is one difference between this story and what is happening in the world, the ingredients will be lost forever. I learned on earth day that the sugar maples that i grew up with in my yard and the syrup i savored on my pancakes will no longer grow in my home state of Michigan. Many of the birds I listened to outside my bedroom window will be gone. The insects I watched crawling on the plants in the garden will no longer exist. My daughter might be the last member of my family to experience these things that have been a staple of our life here, the end of an era with unknown repercussions in the future.

Many people were bragging about their electric cars at the Earth Day event, talking about the need to convert our power sources to renewable, their point was to boast about being ahead of the curve on climate change while they charged their cars on electricity produced by coal and natural gas. They didn’t consider the power it took to manufacture the car, the oil that went into the tires, the fuel to transport the materials for the batteries over the oceans so that they could enjoy a vehicle with less guilt associated with it.

While my city discusses how to waste a 30 million dollar gift given to it by donors the only things I have seen done with the money was provide free WIFI in the park and the planned removal of a racist fountain that is crumbling to pieces and should be destroyed since it provides no social or historical merit. There was one obvious use for the money that they could have done, one that would provide financial security for the city and helped the planet a little bit. The city has several large plots of land that were once the factories for paper and automotive manufacturing, contaminated land that they are constantly talking about “cleaning up” but instead sits there unused. Why they didn’t consider putting a solar farm on these lands is beyond me. providing the majority of the city’s power, reducing the tax burden on its citizens and providing jobs for locals, it is a win win all around and yet they are more concerned about a fountain crumbling in the park. Priorities are, needless to say, fucked up when it comes to our political appointees and I have to wonder why these people stay in these positions as long as they have.

With choices like these I hope you come to understand why my vision of the future is bleak at best. Instead of talking about climate change and pushing the agenda that we need to discuss we are preoccupied with where Donald Trump put his dick before the election. The last male white rhino died this year and more species are disappearing from the planet than we can talk about. Maybe if we changed the discussion to a different topic we can make a difference. My suggestion “all the dogs are going to die!” get the dog lovers involved, they tend to care more about their dogs than their own lives or the lives of other humans for that matter. So when talking about climate change start out with “all the dogs are going to die!” If you have a friend who smokes a pipe tell them “all the good blends will go extinct if we don’t solve climate change.” Those guys, myself included are already concerned about some of the big loses we ahve had in our hobby over the past year. Thanks FDA, you don’t know how to regulate opiates but you have become concerned about an ancient hobby that built this country? Again, messed up priorities.

I do my best when it comes to helping with the problem but then policy sometimes contradicts what is best for everyone. My place of employment offers a reimbursement for parking spaces downtown but no incentives for people who walk or ride their bikes. While I live less than a mile away I am told to use my parking money or lose it, weird right? In my garden I grow heirloom plants that may go extinct with the changing climate, saving the seeds each year in the hopes they will keep growing and not die out half way through the season like some of them have.

Today I ordered a can of the Syrian blend that will be no more. Yes, i know that by having it shipped I will have added to my carbon footprint for my own selfish desires. My goal is to sit down, open the can, smell the aroma, taste the flavor, and write the most accurate description i can muster so that those in the future will know what it was like to experience something that no longer exist. Think of it as cataloging a vintage of wine that has come and gone. It’s all I can do, document what this world was like and hope that people care in the future while blaming us for ruining everything.

Standard

Fail now so you won’t later

I have been gardening for several years now. I have played around with urban farming and I have had good years and bad. For those people who think that they can store some seeds away and put them in the ground when they really need to, I have some bad news for you. Gardening, like most things in life worth doing, is something you become better at over time. For a person to try living off of what they grow is almost suicidal that first year. If you don’t trust me look at Walden and see how well Thoreau did that first year.

I have played around with several styles of gardening, Square foot, Bio-intensive, traditional, victory garden, and the list goes on and on. I discovered a mix that worked well for me and the area I live in. This is something that will be different for everyone in their own areas. what works well in one place might not in another. The point I am making is that if a person is planning on gardening later for food then they better start now. It doesn’t take long. start with something small.

With a simple book like Square Foot Gardening a person can play with a four foot by four foot garden bed and learn some basics in a few hours a week. Start small and build up to something bigger.

There isn’t much to starting your first garden and if you are the type of person that doesn’t have the time or comes up with some other excuse this year than maybe you’re not cut out for surviving the apocalypse anyway.

 

Standard

The world is always ending for someone

April 15, 2018 and the world is covered in ice, at least where I live. An ice storm is rolling through and we are stuck in the house for the day after a busy couple of days. My fiance’s father died yesterday and the days leading up to it were busy with a lot of driving, finding babysitters, and losing several hours of sleep. fortunately the last on we are professionals at dealing with. As of today I am two episodes behind on my podcast and this is the first post for a while, I haven’t kept track.

While Sarah was spending her time with her dad, trying to maintain his care, I was busy with several projects. During the day I am the primary care giver for my daughter. While I have her I try to do some productive things while keeping her entertained. On Friday night i returned home from work to hear the news that we, as in the united states, had bombed parts of Syria. This had me worried and a few hours later i received the call that Sarah’s dad had passed away after a long fight with cancer. The next morning, while Sarah stayed in bed catching up on sleep, I took Zoey with me to the store and filled a cart with non-perishables to load into the pantry. This was more for my personal feeling of security than anything. Did i think we were heading for war, hopefully not, but I did worry that things would move into a direction I didn’t want to imagine. For the sake of my family and myself i loaded up the car and carried everything into the basement while Sarah slept. she still has no idea how much i bought or added to our stockpile.

On Friday, I took Zoey with me to my house and dug up a few Iris and Tulip bulbs. Sarah had been looking forward to her yard being cleaned up and I wanted her to have some flowers to look forward to. I planted the Iris and tulips in appropriate spots along with some sunflowers that I hope will fill the space along the fence in the backyard.

While I try to plan for the unexpected Saturday was a rough reminder of how things may not turn out as you expect. Sarah’s dad was a young guy, only 58 when he passed. While I can look at my family’s history and see the long lifespans that preceded me I can’t expect to be that lucky. Religion teaches us to look towards the end times while ignoring the day to day events that are in a sense a personal apocalypse. This will be the second funeral that I will be attending this year. My Grandmother passed away a few weeks ago and she was buried on St. Patrick’s Day, finally giving me a reason to drink on that day. I have been to plenty of funerals during my life. Many were the result of self inflicted ends of one kind or another, some natural causes, either way these should remind us that everyday life is a danger in itself and that the end could always be closer than we expect.

Standard

Tell the Truth or at least don’t lie

This weekend had me going to the store with a list of things that may come in handy in case the world decides to take a huge dump on itself and fling its poo into the ceiling fan. after hearing the news about the chemical attack in the UK and learning that Trump is planning to fire all of the people that talked him out of going to war with Iran, I decided to take a few things into my own hands and filled the trunk of my car with $120 of food. Granted, this is all in the moment and hopefully it will amount to nothing.

The other piece of news that had me concerned was regarding the lack of ice on the north pole on how the “polar vortex” has been out of whack, sending the north east into abnormal icy conditions while places like Alaska and the north pole saw temperatures above freezing. This is what concerns me most about having a child. what exactly do I tell her while she is growing up. “sorry kid, we tried our best but driving pick up trucks and dumping oil into rivers was just how we did things. good luck!” as the month progress and the news continues to flow in the time line for several things that were supposed to happen decades from now are already happening. We will see heat waves. Crops will fail and people will die. So yes, i bought a shit ton of canned goods (and a few hundred bullets) just in case one day the supermarket shelves are bare.

I have heard all kinds of advice on what to teach or tell children growing up in this world. Constantly move, be nomadic in how you live your life and move to where the resources are. Learn a trade to make yourself valuable. Invest in gold and silver in case the dollar collapses. then there is the crazy stuff. dig a bunker. Be prepared to marry your sister. find recipes for cat and dog.

I won’t lie to her. It would be nice to give her the bad news in a way that won’t make life feel pointless. Do I think the human race will go extinct? The way we currently live our lives not giving a shit about the debt that will be paid by future generations, sure. We are facing famines, heat waves, rising oceans, refugee problems, and diseases we have never seen before. Do I think the next generation may have a shot at changing things around? No, but i think they will be the crafty ones that learn how to adapt.

The start of Zoey’s life was tough and knowing that I can’t help but think that she will have a natural callus to tough it though the hard times. I can stock up the basement pantry and make sure that we are able to defend ourselves if needed but the real work comes when i start teaching Zoey how to thrives in the apocalypse.

 

Standard