ASHES IN THE STOCKPILE
Heaving a huge sigh of relief, having barely escaped plummeting over into the abyss of a world without enough of my brilliance, wisdom, effervescent wit and caustic sarcasm, not to mention my daring forays into uncontrolled hatred, my loyal minions quickly buried me under a barrage of e-mails ( I receive so little that three e-mails constitutes a barrage, which is okay since my Internet time is so limited ) with article suggestions. If I might be so bold as to guess your thoughts, I would imagine that in your sheer terror you realized you had little choice but to placate me by throwing a bone my way. God!, it’s good to be the one eyed king! As a way of celebrating I’ve decided to combine not one ( have you ever tried to combine one thing? ) but two article suggestions. The first was along the lines of whether gardeners should stockpile food, and the second was when should you break into your stockpile. You might think these are easy questions, but you would only be right if you had a lot of money to throw at the problem. Hell, any problem can be solved with enough money. If I had unlimited riches I could hire a really expensive lawyer to attack wife #2. If that failed I could hire a hit man. And I certainly wouldn’t be living alone in a tin box freezing my butt off a good portion of the year. I think that adequately describes the average persons current difficulties. Before, with a vibrant economy and energy supply, it was easy to solve most of life’s problems ( at least for the middle and upper class- being identified not by dollar earning but by the ability to pass on some form of wealth to the next generation ). When our economy went to a financial bubble you could solve most immediate problems ( although you just shove those problems into the future with added interest ) with liberal amounts of easy credit. Now, there is no more credit, no more economy and a declining amount of energy, society as a whole must relearn how to solve problems the old fashion way. Working their asses off to minimize the problem ( it will soon no longer be possible to eliminate them ).
I think that the Iceland volcano is a very good reminder that a garden can be vulnerable. Farming is the only good way to survive long term ( in populated areas ), but besides the fixed location vulnerability you also have the problem of Mother Nature. Gore Warming, anyone? Or, the Atlantic sea current breaking down for colder weather. Or, drought. Or, the drawdown of an aquifer by the asshats growing golf courses and washing Cadillac’s in the desert. Or early persistent hard freezes. Gardens were supposed to be a way to grow your own produce, not grow all your food, for the non-farmer. You can’t ramp up immediately to self-sufficiency for all your calories. But even if you could, any setback by Mom will see you starving very quickly. Look at it this way. If you are silly enough to own a semi-auto ( instead of selling it at a premium in a private sale and funding all your bolt action arsenal and grain stockpiles with the proceeds ), you need to stock a lot of extra ammo. Say, five to ten thousand rounds verses the one to two thousand needed for a bolt. If you garden, you only need one years supply of stockpiled food ( verses three to five years of beans and grains if you don’t grow anything ). Obviously, it is a lot cheaper to grow than to stockpile. But even a very productive garden with calorie crops ( instead of just vitamin crops ) you still need at a minimum a small stash of grain. It is the extra insurance everyone needs. But that doesn’t mean you need to stockpile MRE’s and freeze-dried or other expensive foods. Just the grain, as the garden, chickens and even perhaps a goat make up the rest. Don’t just garden. And don’t just stockpile ( unless you stockpile a lot of it ).
So, when do you start eating your stockpile? Yes, we are going to collapse swiftly, as it has already started. But it won’t be a “wake up the next morning to the smoldering ruins of a post-apocalyptic paradise” kind of collapse. Well, the odds are it won’t-no guarantees implicate or implied. We will collapse faster than the Pollyanna’s envision and slower than the Cassandra’s think. So, it isn’t like this is going to be cut and dried. You can’t just say, this is definitely the end so it is safe to eat the cupboard food ( again, unless it is an instant die-off from massive nuclear war or Yellowstone or an asteroid ). The obvious problem is that once you eat your end times emergency food, it is gone and there is no replacement of oil derived mass produced irrigated grain trucked thousands of miles to feed you at far below historic price levels. Say you are unemployed, permanently. You aren’t getting enough calories from Food Stamps ( a surplus now, shrinking benefits as more and more sign up and crop failures multiply ). Time to eat your stockpile? No. Family members show up with no resources and since you own your own house and thus have assets neither you nor they are eligible for any welfare, at all. Time to eat your stockpile? No. All welfare dries up but society does not yet collapse. Time yet? No. Spot shortages at the grocery store is not a good enough excuse. No income, no welfare? Still not good enough. Until the ass totally falls out of society you must not break into your food stores. As long as food is theoretically available, even if it is only by the well-off, you shouldn’t touch your food stash. The food stockpile is for “rampaging brigands with no government interference and no trade of any kind” times.
As long as you can sell your wife into white slavery and buy food at the market, even if they are only taking silver or ammunition or gasoline, you should not eat your stockpile food . The reasoning is as such. Once the stockpile is gone, you have two other options. Cannibalism or killing others for their stash. But if you do that after society has collapsed, you will be killed immediately for your efforts. When society is declining but law and order still have the possibility of still existing ( even if it is sporadic and uneven ) than folks won’t be so prone to shoot you. Once there is no law and order, they will kill you at the drop of a hat. No one wants to die by not eating what is available, and few would, but there is a difference in starving and being malnourished. Have some silver for bartering food. Have a few dozen pounds each of white flour and rice to stretch out your diet when food slows to a trickle. I can go about six months with just the overstock of regular grocery items I hoard. Mostly tuna, rice and chili or Spam. It will be under two thousand calories a day, granted. But it will postpone the day until I break out the wheat kernels and whole dry beans ( you might I’m backwards, not including canned meat in my long term stockpile, but I view it as a luxury and not a necessity-it is my regular grocery stockpile which is my first order of panic stash ). My wheat and beans are my buy and store forever stash. Because they won’t rust or spoil. Cans will still be good for decades, but only if they don’t rust. And I swear that cans now rust a lot easier, although it could be my imagination.
And try this one out for size. Limit your calories now. Don’t eat as soon as you are hungry. It will condition you for the immediate future and cut back on impulse purchases. Nothing perfect, but that is what we have to work with.
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