I was in the garden last week, digging a new bed with the aid of the two WWOOFrs, Mike and Karen. We excavated to the usual depth — that is, until exhaustion stopped us — then installed a hardware-cloth “basket” before refilling the bed. When we amended the
soil pile of rocks by adding horse manure and kitchen compost, it became clear I don’t know shit.
Or, more specifically, compost. The kitchen compost in the composting container was little decomposed after more than a year. The 10% or so in the middle was beautiful, but the rest was too dry. I’ve been at this a few years now, and it seems I should know more than I do about practical matters. Such as how to make compost with a mixture of kitchen scraps, chicken manure, and horse manure. How to mix it. How to store it. How to turn it into dark, nutrient-rich, crumbly compost until the neighbors ooh and ah.
On the other hand, I just made a deal with one of the neighbors. We’ll trade our inadvertent roosters — a side-effect of incubating eggs to produce “replacement” laying hens — for horse manure. Formerly, we didn’t get shit for our roosters. Now, it seems, we will get shit for our roosters. Clearly, our skills at bartering are improving, even if we don’t know compost.
While I’m on that particular topic, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this line, which I observed on an unknown contact’s Facebook wall: “The shit is no longer hitting the fan. The fan is covered in shit. Now the shit is hitting the shit.”
There are many other unknowns, too, about our future. Although American Empire has been declining for more than a decade, we cannot yet confirm the accuracy of dozens of pundits predicting completion of the ongoing decline within 17 months (and by the time we can confirm the predictions, there’ll be nobody to brag to). My own take, consistent with the old cliché: Better safe than sorry. I doubt it’s wise to abandon the empire and start growing a garden the day before economic collapse visits you. And, while I’m trotting out adages, the time to dig a well is not when you’re thirsty.
Another thought came to my ears, courtesy of Mike’s brain and mouth, as we were digging that garden bed: What a salesman! We spent the first couple million years of the human experience as happy campers, living close to the land and avoiding human-population overshoot. Then one heckuva merchant sold us civilization. Instead of spending most of our personal time playing and otherwise doing many things, suddenly we were spending essentially all our time doing one thing. Is there any question the transition from hunter-gatherers to farming was the worst idea ever? And yet, here we are. And we make a bad decision worse, here in the land of Big Ag, when we turn the lion’s share of our corn into ethanol. As I’ve pointed out several times before, we are willingly choosing our means of death: starvation, in a traffic jam.
This bizarre set of choices, and the strong sense of entitlement underlying them, point to the United States as the last place I want to be standing within the next few years (and now, for that matter). Here in the United States of Advertising, we’re “all in” on a set of living arrangements based on environmental disaster and headed for economic disaster. We base our entire industrial economy on oil and the wars that provide it. Although I’ve often expressed my personal preference for a country characterized by agrarian anarchy largely devoid of fossil fuels, such as Belize, almost anywhere beyond the borders of the U.S. will prove superior to this country in the months and years ahead.
Compelled by marital and familial ties, I’m mitigating in place for environmental disaster, including climate change, as well as completion of the ongoing collapse of the industrial economy. As it turns out, the lessons we learn should prove valuable to the few other people interested in making other arrangements: If we can make it work here, in the harshest of desert environs, you should be able to transition just about anywhere. Perhaps you’ll join me in avoiding the life of “should” by living a life true to yourself. In so doing, you’ll avoid the first regret of the near-dead, living a life others expect.
Even if I don’t know shit — and the mountain of evidence grows daily — at least my death comes regret-free. Maybe it’s merely another case of blissful ignorance. Apparently, I wouldn’t know.
This essay is permalinked at End of Empire News.