Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gardens, Water, Energy and Dogs after the Economic Collapse

Dear FerFAL,

I have been reading your blog and listening to interviews with you for the last year.  I appreciate the perspective you have given your philosophy, and why you believe it works.  I also am grateful for the constructive criticism you give about the tenets of the modern survivalism/prepper movement.  I’m reminded of the legendary samurai Yamoaka Tesshu.  He wrote a book called The Sword of No Sword, not as many of his contemporaries did, based on their theories of how martial art should work in a given situation because they trained so well.  Rather, AFTER he survived hundreds of lethal duels, he wrote about what HE had leaned by surviving.  While many here in the U.S.A. have skills that are quite respectable, your voice stands unique as one speaking from your life lessons.  Since what you have lived through is not subject to anyone else’s critique or interpretation, you have an unassailable credibility compared to even the most highly educated experts here.  There simply is no substitute for experience.

My questions are about how well some of our assumptions here would work in your present circumstances, and especially during the most chaotic times you’ve experienced in the past.

1).  How useful is a backyard garden when the rule of law doesn’t provide adequate protection?  Is a large garden something thieves raid constantly?  Would gardening be a safe activity?  Do you know anyone who has one?

2).  How practical is raising small livestock?  Do you know anyone who raises rabbits?  Or chickens?  Or goats?

3).  Do people keep dogs for security?  Does anyone have dogs that keep their backyards safe, or are dogs a target for criminals?

4).  Does anyone you know of capture rainwater to drink?  Is safe drinking water a problem for you (or was it at any point)?

5).  Are solar panels or small wind generators in use anywhere in BA? Would a solar panel just be a bright target for criminals?

Thanks for your input.  Keep up the good work.

Hi Kelly, thanks for the nice words, about your questions,

1)Rule of law, keep hearing that. You bring an important point that I’d like to cover before answering your question. To begin with, rule of law NEVER provides adequate protection. If someone is determined to hurt you, walks to your house when you’re leaving to your job and shoots you a couple times, rule of law will certainly not stop the projectiles in mid air. What somewhat protects people is the generalized “sensation” that there’s a punishment for evil actions. Once that’s removed you see the true miserable self of some elements of the society. We saw guys with SUVs stealing big screen TVs during the rioting during the Argentine economic collapse. During Katrina, even the cops were caught on camera looting. ( see? We’re not that different after all) Why did people do that? Because they felt they could get away with it.
If you’re talking about really bad, post SHTF times, any activity that exposes you brings additional danger. Americans don’t think much of mowing the lawn, its an ordinary activity, even a tradition. Around here people that have certain level of awareness do so keeping an eye on things, knowing they are exposed to criminals. During high crime times, gardening or any other activity that leaves you exposed in such way implies an additional danger. I’m not saying not to do it, just saying that if crime is really bad, that moment is a window of opportunity for criminals and you should at least know that in order to take measures or at least be extra careful. Victory gardens aren’t that popular but people do have a few plants, especially older folks, they used to have small orchards in their back yards.

2) Not very practical, but it depends on the region. If you have the space, time, and most of all, enjoy doing it, by all means go for it. In general its not very profitable in terms of money saved compared to the time you put into it. Most folks will find that its more productive to engage in more profitable activities other than small scale livestock.
The advantage of course is that a) you have livestock in the event of a long term disaster b) It could be a possible home based business which you can expand on. Then again if it were that profitable, I’m sure I would have seen more people doing it here. Same in the states. Doing it for pleasure doesn’t mean you’ve got a profitable business going on, and unfortunately that matters a lot, especially during a financial crisis. In smaller rural towns its of course more common, but I know several people in such places and if they are doing well most of them don’t have the time for livestock and just have an orchard if anything at all.

3) We do see lots of dogs begin sold specifically for security. Rottwheliers are the number one best selling dog for home security around here. It has become extremely popular. Unfortunately many owners just don’t know how to deal with such animals and it often ends up in serious injury or death. The Argentine Dogo which used to have a horrible reputation suddenly gained favor as a guardian dog. I remember being little and hearing about Dogos, it was like the boogyman. Turns out the Dogo Argentino is a terrific hunter and good for home security as well. Like with the Rotty, Dogos are sometimes involved in tragic events because they are bought by stupid people that don’t know what they are getting themselves into and treat these animals like a toy instead of a work animal. Thankfully people here fear the Dogo Argentino more than the Rotties and will usually prefer the Rottwheiler instead of the Dogo.
Based on several incidents that have occurred this last decade with dogs confronting armed attackers, the Dogo Argentino is a better dog for such cases, much less likely to coward away if hit or even shot. It is a hunting dog though, and will stalk and attack without barking. You may want to keep that in mind if you’re counting on the dog as an early alarm system.

4) It´s not something commonly done. I suppose there’s some people that gather rain water but you don’t see that often. What we do have is a problem with tap water. It has to be filtered. In the best case it has too much chlorine and slightly more heavy metals than approved in most 1st world countries. In the worst case tap water is contaminated with heavy metals and arsenic, which requires special filters. Long story short you pay for tap water but its contaminated to some degree and has to be filtered before drinking. This means you need a filtrating system that integrates to the system you use, so as to be used on daily basis. People that visit Buenos Aires notice that after taking a bath their skin itches considerably (If visiting Buenos Aires, bring some body lotion for this) . That’s because of the amount of chlorine they put into it to kill what the inefficient water treatments we have here failed to get rid of.

5)Neither energy system is common but I know of some places where it´s starting to get used more. I have a friend that imports solar panels, also solar heating systems. They do work in most of the country if properly calculated both on dimension and orientation by a specialist.
The risk of getting your solar panels stolen in Buenos Aires is pretty high unless you install them in places that are both out of sight and hard to reach. I think it´s worth looking into and eventually installing, given the ever increasing cost of electric power.
As a general tip for Americans, given current events and inflation, expect energy prices to go up considerably in the not so distant future. A couple solar panels and/or wind generator will soon pay for themselves. Why do it now if you can? The cost of producing these will go up as inflation (and the price of energy) makes them more expensive to manufacture so get into it sooner than later if finances allow.
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1 comment:

Doug From Oz said...

Here in Queensland, the only people allowed to own rabbits are those holding a magicians license. But we can own guinea pigs. I remember reading that these are a popular food in South America, and was wondering if you've had any experience with these? I used to have them when I was a kid, and they needed very little care, just put an open bottomed hutch on the grass for them.