“What the hell is “cat balancing” and how does this relate to prepping?”
Therein lies our story-line this weekend. We are focused on environmental balance.
That’s because prepping for the “ultimate worst-case” may morph into all about living on the land. To do this, you need the observing, understanding and the subtle manipulation skills to live in balance with Nature. It’s doing much with nothing.
We don’t do that very well. You know, before Columbus, the low-end estimates of Native People in North America ranged from 2.1 to 7 million. And on the high end, try 18-million. And they did it how? Well, cooperative living, wampum instead of the Fed, and by living in concert with (not subjugation of) Ma Nature.
A friend of mine, military fellow who has been assigned all over the world, told me years back when Elaine and I got into the goat-raising business “You’ll be surprised how much a few goats will change the land.”
He was exactly right. You see, when comes to prepping, we don’t think very clearly; we have this huge blind spot leftover from living as technologically-bent=up animals. This is a prescription for failure.
White Anglos – infatuated with machinery, metal, inventionb and software – believe ourselves to be “smarter” than First Peoples. But, does that stand up to inspection? Sure, if you look at one century. But humankind has been around how long? We will burn all oil, strip all fuels, empty and poison the oceans long before a longitudinal study of a thousand years baseline could be completed.
We are locked in “grow or die” mode. Space-faring or toast is the menu. yet there is another way: Learn from First People and demonetize. After all, you can’t eat stock certificates, right?
Consider the following problem:
The world blows up. Might take any number of forms – mass cyber attacks, massive terrorism and a national lock-down or martial law, or perhaps Vlad Putin works a side deal with the NorK’s to lob an EMP-carrying missile up over America while his boyz take Ukraine in reaction to the expansionist European Union’s pressures…
Point is, there you are. You have some stored foods and you have two or three seasons worth of seeds…but so what? Your mindset will kill you.
I’m penciling up a few ideas for a “next book” at the moment. It will search for a “middle ground” to that urban people can migrate to their roots. In doing so, we don’t need to give up knowledge. The balance of First People Ways and Technology could be quite beautiful. We need to change our metrics. Do we measure money or peaceful enjoyment and advancement?
This comes down to just two answers: Animals or Diesel?
The “Prepping Movement” is seriously screwed. I say this because it has not been a lifestyle changer for many. Nor has it been a grounding and seeking of a new path. Instead, it has been a moneetization that has taken hold. We know something is “wrong” and we’re trying to “write checks” to cover that base just as we “rite checks” to buy other kinds of insurance.
But, it doesn’t work that way. Buying a huge collection of U.S. Army Field Manuals, or owning 10,000 rounds of ammo MIGHT be useful. But, if you think of yourself as a “Prepper” you’ve succumbed to the Big Lie unless you have not only read Allan Savory’s book Holistic Management, Third Edition: A Commonsense Revolution to Restore Our Environment, but have also begun even in your local environment to make “first baby step changes” to live in harmony with the Earth.
Oh, sure, we get a kick out of enviroenmental “movements.” But these are (sadly) monetizations. They start off honest and then produce TV ads, hire lobbyists, and highly paid “directors” of this and that. No one has “clean experience.” It’s totally disappointing…so let’s not go down that road.
Let’s talk about making it real and actually using animals instead of diesels.
We used our goat herd (34 of the buggers when we sold the herd) to do some serious “diesel-free land modding.” The next season, we had lots of native Bermuda grass coming up and we could have put several head of cattle on the land.
Goats, however, has their own set of issues. Goatweed tends to thrive and they are a nightmare to keep inside fences. Dick Chinny, our prize Boar buck would leave the property on any pretext; showing off for “his girls.” He was an abusive father to young bucklings, too. Like humans?
Point is, without the goats – who ate everything up to about 5-6 feet off the ground – the grass would never have gotten started and we would have have much “pasture” land for animals. Goats are browsers while cattle are grazers. Citified gentry (i.e. Millennials) have no clue about such techniques. And I’m pretty sure war planners have figured this out. Allan Savory is, to our way of thinking, deserving of a Nobel Prize more so than almost anyone else on Earth. Except the Nobel price is based on money made from blowing things up, of course. Don’t look there for thought leadership.
Let me walk you back 15-years to when Elaine and I moved out here. Remember, Elaine has a wide range of skill sets, as did I, but living on the land wasn’t one of them. E was actually better prepared for it than me by virtue of having lived in the (basics still matter) upland Mormon country of Arizona and been on the rodeo circuit. Me? Just a techno-nerd-journo-yachty with a Porsche in the parking lot…
One of our best resources was the (late) retired SF fellow across the road. From him – and his late wife – we learned things which city folks have no inklings about.
Here’s a for-instance: Do you know under what conditions snakes will be climbing around in bushes in the Outback? Not the kind of thing people appreciate. The fact is, snakes will climb up into brush in search of food (small birds and squirrels) and they will tend to do so on the hotter days.
We have actually seen Copperheads up 10-15 feet in big oaks, too. When its late in the (summer from hell) season, the snakes will climb looking to get off “hot ground.” Which means if you are “trailblazing” (or fencing) anywhere there is a big food source (big field with seeds and therefore field mice) and a cool bit of forest with low-lying trees, you ought to be extremely vigilant around the copse of trees adjacent to the food source.
If you think this is sounding like “George the environmentalist” you’d be spot-on. Over the Christmas period one of my major to-do items is “limbing up” another several acres around the house.
Again, the term may not be familiar to city-dwellers. It’s really nothing more than cutting down anything smaller than you thumb to keep the brush down (unless you have goats). Anything larger will likely be 6-10 feet (or taller) and what you want to do with these is strip off all the small braches up to 10-feet, or better.
Armaments fxor this include a rechareable electric pole saw with a 10-foot extension along with a manual pruning saw for the small stuff.
“Limbing-up” accomplishes a ton of ground-changing. Here’s a short list:
- You will have fewer mosquitoes and other flying pests because these like to live (and suckle) on leaves.
- There will be less danger from forest fire. On the ground fires won’t have a path up into the treees in the fire danger season.
- The yard around the tree line will be cooler. Brush is a kind of low-level wind-break. Limbed-up, the air flows in, and out.
- With less brush, you will have fewer birds – read: Less snake food.]
- The birds that like the higher limbs will still be around, these include hawks and vultures. They like open areas for hunting.
- When I’m out mowing with the bush hog, our “pet” red-tail hawk family is usually sitting up watching because mowing stirs up field mice (not many) but also a ton of geckos..which apparently are quite delicious snakcs for hawks.
- With fewer geckos and mice, there’s less for snakes to eat. Since we began to “push back the wilderness” we have gone from a couple of copperheads a year to none last season.
The “dialing-in” of the local environment is not something that comes directly from a book. It’s a delicate balancing act thart takes a little time and thinking to get right.
Elaine likes birds and this season, we had fewer of the small birds (jays and cardinals) and more of the bigger vistors (including a nice big owl). The challenge for next year is managing how we want the local environment to work.
We have limbed up a good area out from the house. But there’s more to do. A couple of big trees have fallen in the past few years and they are still on the ground. They’ll be moved out from the house area this winter because there’s nothing better for a snake to winter-over in than a decomposing log.
The bird question isn’t too tough: I will probably lean on my neighbor (who has a three-point tiller) to make a single pass around the large field south of the house. This will be planted with sunflowers and a few other wild-flowers. When you have “big land” the seeding requirements are impressive.
A bit of study reveals that big sunflower seeds (#2 size) will seed at about 6-pounds per acre. Smaller sunflower seeds (@5) might be down in the 3-3-1/2 pounds per acre range.
We’re still pondering whether to put them in. Here’s what’s rattling around in my head:
- Fields “edged” in sunflowers (and fence lines) look really nice.
- They also support bees so putting some in by the garden is a good idea.
- They do drop seeds, though, and that may bring in mice…
- And mice would bring in snakes.
- OR – and finally we get to the topic of the weekend – it could support the local wild cat population.
Which is where we will pick up tomorrow.
For today, if you just grasp the notion that “prepping is more a mental process and knowledge-building” than you might have otherwise thought, congratulations! You might have the “what it takes” to survive and thrive or remain alive.
Because if you’re not actively absorbing as much about “lixving on the land” as you can – wasting your time on nonsense like designer cammo and such or food hoarding – you’ll miss the more practical side of prepping.
Like how “limbing up” property pushes your “reach out and touch” range with a rifle to something useful. Prepping is about “owning the battlespace” One thinks about – and plans for – all kinds of snakes. Slithering or walking.
Write when you get rich,