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Farming without oil

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  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 11:03am

    #1
    britinbe

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    Farming without oil

An interesting article from the UK’s Mail on Sunday:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1145431/Now-farm-help-teach-world-live-oil-says-woman-banished-plastic-bags-town.html

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 02:18pm

    #2
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Farming without oil

 

A trip through Amish country during spring planting or fall harvest can be a fascinating tour of farming without oil.  It’s intriguing to see the clever mechanical devices that run on horse power (literally) for plowing, planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops.  The work is hard, but I would not equate it with that of a lavatory attendant, as the author of this article does. 

Speaking with some small experience in farming, I can say that while farm life is not quite as idyllic as many city folks envision, it certainly has its moments.  There’s nothing quite like seeing the sun rise over mist-blanketed fields.  Fresh milk is a revelation to those who have only tasted the lifeless stuff on the store shelves. 

Nothing cultivates confidence and responsibility in children as chores that have real value and impact for their family.  I’ve seen 7 year old children drive farm equipment, and yes, cars, with more skill and caution than most suburban adults.

Of course, farm families are always concerned about the financial viability of their way of life.  But it appears that the greatest dangers to their livelihood are due to tax laws and the expenses associated with dependence on hybrid seed and the associated pesticides.  These phenomena can keep them just one season away from the auction block.

Of course, extended drought is always a concern, but I have witnessed remarkable resourcefullness in farmers under drought conditons.  Because of their habitual preparedness, they are able to hunker down and weather a wide variety of natural calamities. 

Working as a community is a way of life for farmers.  I remember one local farmer who survived being hit by lightning during harvest.  He survived, but needed long and arduous physical therapy to recover his mobility.  The vast majority of his crops were still in the field.  Neighboring farmers took turns donating their time and equipment until his crops were safely in, ensuring that when he recovered his health, he’d have a livelihood to return to.  Nobody thought of themselves as particularly noble in doing this.  It was just their way of life. 

Myself, I would rather have my security dependent on God’s providence, my own wits and hard work, and neighbors like the ones I just described, than on a highly specialized, fragile economic system, with opaque leadership and questionable motives.  But that’s just me.

 

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 03:05pm

    #3
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    Re: Farming without oil

[quote=britinbe]

An interesting article from the UK’s Mail on Sunday:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1145431/Now-farm-help-teach-world-live-oil-says-woman-banished-plastic-bags-town.html

[/quote]

"woman who banished plastic bags from her town"– from article

YAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Smile

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 09:12pm

    #4
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    Re: Farming without oil

 

When the Amish farmer was asked if it wouldn’t be so much easier if he used a tractor to cultivate his land, his answer was short and sweet " because tractors don’t make manure"

Anyone here interested in their food supply and its corruption should read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Its an excellent read about one family’s quest to take control of their lives through their food.

It has real facts about genetically modified food production, fuel consumption / food transportation costs, community based farming and nutrition – and is a great read.

Any of us considering life on a farm or community based survival should read this book. We know we are all in this together.

http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/

 Bruin36

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 09:24pm

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    Re: Farming without oil

[quote=c1oudfire] Myself, I would rather have my security dependent on God’s providence, my own wits and hard work, and neighbors like the ones I just described, than on a highly specialized, fragile economic system, with opaque leadership and questionable motives.  But that’s just me. [/quote]

I totally agree with you on this point! I’d rather be "breaking my back" to put food on my table and keep shelter over my head than to slave away for a wage to BUY the same things. Trusting the system is not my idea of good risk management either.

One of the best things I can see coming out of a peak oil crash is that it will force the Monsato’s and Conagro’s out of business. The widespread, centralized food system will absolutely not work without easy and cheap fuel to transport food grown with petro-chemicals all over the nation and world. It’s estimated that almost half of our oil dependence is on agriculture and related transportation. Small-scale farming is so much more productive (yield per acre) than any of those huge agri-corp farms, and even the big family farms that have been forced to expand to "keep up". It’s much easier to manage a smaller farm without big tractors and other oil-dependent devices… whether that’s with a horse, an ox, a few goats, or just your own manpower. When the centralized food system falls, and there are food shortages all over because of the inability to get the food (not really an inability to produce it so much), I seriously hope that there are enough small, local, family farms to step into the void and keep at least some of the people fed. We won’t be able to rely on GM foods or patented hybrids or fertilizers and pesticides and distribution centers and processing plants (which, BTW, are all owned in the US by 5 major corporations — can you say "cartel"?). People will be forced to once again buy local and eat seasonally from farms that have to grow biodiversely and organically/naturally.

And as for farm work being drudgery… well, I guess some people are born to farmer and others aren’t. If you love your land and you love following the rhythm of nature and seeing the results of your work first hand… well, farming isn’t really that "hard" in the grander scheme of things because you love it. I think people that believe farming is "horribly difficult" are either doing something wrong (ie. going against nature) or just aren’t cut from the right cloth (no sin in that, they just don’t fit on the farm). Sure, you’re dead tired, hot and scratchy after haying all day and mucking stables is not the most pleasant experience… but neither is sitting in another endless meeting, working with and for people you’d rather punch in the eye, or being stuck in rushhour traffic after working 10 hours in an office surrounded by recycled air.

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 09:31pm

    #6
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    Re: Farming without oil

 

Eloquently said, and dead on, PlicketyCat!

  • Fri, Mar 06, 2009 - 09:37pm

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    Re: Farming without oil

[quote=bruin36]

 

When the Amish farmer was asked if it wouldn’t be so much easier if he used a tractor to cultivate his land, his answer was short and sweet " because tractors don’t make manure"

Anyone here interested in their food supply and its corruption should read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Its an excellent read about one family’s quest to take control of their lives through their food.

It has real facts about genetically modified food production, fuel consumption / food transportation costs, community based farming and nutrition – and is a great read.

Any of us considering life on a farm or community based survival should read this book. We know we are all in this together.

http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/

 Bruin36

[/quote]

I love the Amish! It’s so funny that so many people consider them backward when they can obviously do so many things that are considered "impossible" by our experts.  <<shaking my head>>

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an excellent book. I also recommend The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Voluntary Simplicity, The Contrary Farmer, Everything I Want to Do is Illegal, and the Humanure Handbook.

  • Sat, Mar 07, 2009 - 12:16am

    #8
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    Re: Farming without oil

Plickety,

You’re a mine of info and a damn good read!!

Best,

Paul

  • Sat, Mar 07, 2009 - 12:32am

    #9
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    Re: Farming without oil

Thanks Paul – I figure if I’m going to drone on with all my nonsense, the least I can do is be entertaining about it Tongue out

  • Sat, Mar 07, 2009 - 05:17am

    #10
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    Re: Farming without oil

[quote=PlicketyCat]

[quote=c1oudfire] Myself, I would rather have my security dependent on God’s providence, my own wits and hard work, and neighbors like the ones I just described, than on a highly specialized, fragile economic system, with opaque leadership and questionable motives.  But that’s just me. [/quote]

I totally agree with you on this point! I’d rather be "breaking my back" to put food on my table and keep shelter over my head than to slave away for a wage to BUY the same things. Trusting the system is not my idea of good risk management either.  [/quote]

With no disrespect, you might want to find out exactly what this is like.  North Korea has closed off most media from entering their country but from the little gathered, I’d say that people are, literlly, being worked to death.  The work is so hard and the reward is so little.  It’s just something to think about before fantasizing about how much fun it would be to slave away wall day producing organic food.

[quote=PlicketyCat] One of the best things I can see coming out of a peak oil crash is that it will force the Monsato’s and Conagro’s out of business. The widespread, centralized food system will absolutely not work without easy and cheap fuel to transport food grown with petro-chemicals all over the nation and world. It’s estimated that almost half of our oil dependence is on agriculture and related transportation. Small-scale farming is so much more productive (yield per acre) than any of those huge agri-corp farms, and even the big family farms that have been forced to expand to "keep up". It’s much easier to manage a smaller farm without big tractors and other oil-dependent devices… whether that’s with a horse, an ox, a few goats, or just your own manpower. When the centralized food system falls, and there are food shortages all over because of the inability to get the food (not really an inability to produce it so much), I seriously hope that there are enough small, local, family farms to step into the void and keep at least some of the people fed. We won’t be able to rely on GM foods or patented hybrids or fertilizers and pesticides and distribution centers and processing plants (which, BTW, are all owned in the US by 5 major corporations — can you say "cartel"?). People will be forced to once again buy local and eat seasonally from farms that have to grow biodiversely and organically/naturally.

And as for farm work being drudgery… well, I guess some people are born to farmer and others aren’t. If you love your land and you love following the rhythm of nature and seeing the results of your work first hand… well, farming isn’t really that "hard" in the grander scheme of things because you love it. I think people that believe farming is "horribly difficult" are either doing something wrong (ie. going against nature) or just aren’t cut from the right cloth (no sin in that, they just don’t fit on the farm). Sure, you’re dead tired, hot and scratchy after haying all day and mucking stables is not the most pleasant experience… but neither is sitting in another endless meeting, working with and for people you’d rather punch in the eye, or being stuck in rushhour traffic after working 10 hours in an office surrounded by recycled air.

[/quote]

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