by Kevin Hulse
I have read with great interest your articles over the last few years, ever since my wife found your web site. We have fully intended to start our own small farm operation as soon as we could sell our house and move to our intended location which is central Maine. We are presently living in North East Pennsylvania. Your book series is on our "to buy" list as it would be perfect for what we intended to do.
Like you I have watched as our society has declined in every respect over the last few years (on purpose I believe) and am now in the survival mode as I believe many people who follow the political situation also feel.
So when I checked my email this weekend, I'm a truck driver and am only home on weekends, I was surprised and excited to find out that you are of the same mind set. Thank God for small favors.
I have been developing my small personnel garden for the past few years as practice leading up to our hopeful move to a larger farm where we could develop our business, incorporating your techniques.
But alas it does not seem to be happening for us as we planned and we are now stuck here hoping that we can provide what we need for the coming hard times.
My question for you is this, and it's something I hope you can address in a future article, if someone has the space and abilities, besides growing your own food, what would be a good way (crops, marketing, etc.) to make money in a SHTF situation.
Everyone has to eat but not everyone can grow what they need, so this is something I hope you can talk about at some point. Thanks again for your great articles.
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You raise a very good point, Kevin
I think a lot of people (even those who understand we are coming to a major crisis) don't realize that some form of trade and exchange will survive, and we will all need a way to make a livelihood.
I don't know if you are an SF fan, but here's a quote I love from Robert A. Heinlein:
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects".
I think that's the way of our particular future. Jobs may go away, but work will always remain i.e. you may not be able to find a 'job' per se but you can always find work; the challenge is to turn that into a living. A thriving barter network is a good thing too when cash is scarce (or worthless). I (along with a few like-minded friends) am trying to 'bootstrap' this kind of network here in my home town.
One approach would be to upgrade any current skills or interests you might have, into a trade that could provide you income. Your garden of course is the first example, but could also include any of the traditional trades.
Emulating Heinlein, since coming to the farm, I've learned how to rough-in electrical wiring, build a woodshed, erect a greenhouse, butcher a hog, rake and bale hay, replace a well pump, put up a page-wire fence, pressure-can stewing hens, fell trees for firewood, build a web-based business, and install and operate a wood stove efficiently. (And I have pitched one h*e*c*k of a lot of manure ;-) This is in addition to the market gardening and animal husbandry that comprises our actual business.
I'm far from the 'neighbourhood champion' at any of those things, but I could pitch in and contribute e.g. if a neighbour wanted a hand to butcher a hog, I could help out and maybe get a ham or a few chops in exchange.
I think getting to know your neighbours and getting known as the guy (or couple) who will 'pitch in' will be as important as any other skill. It's also a good way to learn some stuff; I learned how to put up my greenhouse by helping a neighbour with his.
You probably have a dozen talents that could help support you in the coming years. You don't need to be the best at any of them, just willing to learn (and pass it on).
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