I don’t know shit

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.

Comments 162

  • Excellent essay, as usual.

    Clearly, I don’t know shit either. So on the topic of compost, I’ve been trying something this year that I picked up, more or less, from reading Masanobu Fukuoka’s book The One Straw Revolution: I just throw the kitchen scraps directly onto the garden and cover it with mulch. The raccoons and opossums get some of it, but for the most part it stays there. Is anyone else using this method, or am I just throwing away good potential compost?

    As to the rest of your essay, Guy, I couldn’t agree more. But I still need to do so much! Even though I’m making lots of mistakes and will starve if the food supply distribution chain crashes anytime soon, I’m giving it my best. I guess that’s all any of us can do.

  • My grandfather who grew up on a farm, albeit in Indiana, did exactly that, except he didn’t bother himself with covering anything. Eggshells and all else graced the garden where he grew wonderful tomatoes and such as that.

  • Compost needs one of two things: a lot of it, with the correct mix of nitrogen and carbon, left alone in a large pile for 6 months to a year. Size is important, especially in areas where much of the year gets cold.

    The other option is lot of it, but you can get away with a lot less, in the correct ratio, and turned often. If you have small pile, rarely being turned, you won’t get much… and it will probably be stinky.

    On the horse manure, if it is new, it will be considered a nitrogen. If it’s old, heavy and black, it’s more like a carbon.

    If you’ve limited input, consider worms instead. They will eat up anything you give them, self-adjust in population to food input are take virtually no effort to manage on a small scale.

  • First, thanks for the links at the end – I need inspiration, chai and more practice at getting rid of shoulds.


    “I don’t know shit”

    What a relief ! I don’t feel so alone now. Still, I bet you know more than twice as much shit as me.

    “The shit is no longer hitting the fan. The fan is covered in shit. Now the shit is hitting the shit.””

    That is classic – thank you (I think facebook is helping our society faceplant itself, but at least one good thing came of it).

    “Compelled by marital and familial ties, I’m mitigating in place … ”

    What a relief ! I don’t feel so alone now.


    Dr. R. House – we do the same thing – toss it all into the compost pile next to the garden. The chickens get some, but I have not noticed any other critters, or signs thereof, around the pile, so far. But please remember, I do not know shit, so do not take any comfort from my company ; )

  • OT-

    THANK you to the poster who recommended “Rise and Fall.”

    I really recommend reading, “My Name is Number 4” (by Ting-Xing-Ye ??) at the same time, or shortly thereafter.

  • Guy,

    Last I knew none of us has a crystal ball. Or a 2025 Almanac. Where’s Doc Brown when you really need him?

    Having been a farmer a good part of my life I can honestly say I know shit, but it’s overrated. Getting kicked by a cow and experiencing the taste as you pick yourself out of the gutter is one of those memorable moments you don’t forget!

    It occurs to me that you’ve been picking yourself up out of that gutter too, on a regular basis. I suppose we all have. But most of us don’t set ourselves up for a second helping. You continue to inspire, by your words and by your actions, and you are making a difference. I hope you can continue to ignore or excuse those unfortunate individuals who give you shit. Their ignorance is their excuse. Thank you for the essay. Thank you for NBL. And thank you for your friendship. It is an honor.

  • Merde! I was hoping you didn’t mean ‘night soil’….
    Re: composting. Recipe: carbon-based debris, moisture, microbes, and oxygen (although anaerobic bacteria do their thing, too). Because the middle of the pile is converted faster, mixing it every few weeks helps, and add some moisture when needed. In Maine I had three connected bins in which contents of first one was tossed into the next and allowed to ‘ferment’ for a few weeks (depending on season), then tossed into the third. It was black, crumbly, and earthworm heaven. Meanwhile starting all over again in the first with fresh contents (when 1st bin transferred to 2nd bin). Throwing fresh debris on the garden feeds the animals and less the garden.

    I understand the desire to leave the US for elsewhere; I wanted that, too for many years. But I found that elsewhere always has their own problems and drama. I decided to stay in the Old US of A to tough it out and help in anyway I could the inhabitants here that need it the most: the wildlife (another reason I’m leaving academia soon).

    Planning my compost bins and gardens in the desert soon. Right now the scraps are feeding the javelina ;)

  • I’m a lazy composter. I run everything through a ruminant first.

    Guy, you’ve got goats, and you’ve got chickens — why are you composting kitchen waste?

    We “grade” our food waste just like one should grade water or scrap lumber. The goats get first crack at it, the chickens get what the goats won’t eat, and the very few things chickens won’t eat end up in the compost bucket, which sometimes takes weeks to fill.

    Why do you line your beds with hardware cloth? Do you have big problems with burrowing rodents? Not enough snakes and cats? That must be extremely expensive. The last time I priced hardware cloth, I decided to go home and take a nice nap instead.

  • I make compost from two side-by-side bins. Just some stacked up railroad ties is all they’re made of. One gets filled as the other gets emptied. Basically, I don’t worry all that much about what goes in there, except I try to keep the acidic stuff to a minimum… tomatoes, orange peels, that kind of thing Worms don’t like acidic soil.. NO MEAT, unless you have a way to keep out the varmints!

    All kitchen scraps go in; fall leaves; mower clippings all year round (though most of that gets used for mulch); cardboard (avoid treated lumber and paper products). I got a big heavy Ali-Baba-lookin’ blade I use to chop all the big stuff up with. If I get too much dry stuff that isn’t rotting, I will up the amount of kitchen scraps, until the pile heals. Anything Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee goes in immediately!! (Just kidding… My girlfriend would kill me!)

    As long as the mix is right, you shouldn’t have to add too much water. throwing in the occasional handful of all-purpose fertilizer helps speed things along. Just don’t over do it. You want everything ground up as fine as possible. And KEEP TURNING IT! The more you aerate it, the faster it rots. I keep my piles covered with a black plastic, held down with a few rocks, so the piles don’t dry out between turnings.

    If your dirt smells like an out-house, you’re good to go! :-)

    Tip: In the fall, after everything has died off, decide where you’re going to put your really hungry crops, like tomatoes, squash, that sort of thing… And dig a trench right in the middle of the plot. Then throw all of your kitchen scraps in it all winter long; then in the spring, just dig it through. If you have lots of trees you can do the same with your fall leaves. I have one of those Toro leaf vacs that grinds everything up real fine. Granted, it won’t be any use after the fall of civilization. But it works for now. $69 at Sears.

  • Jan, we, too, run nearly everything through goats and chickens first. We still fill a large compost bin in a year, and that’s what I was working with.

    Pocket gophers are the scourge of gardeners in this area. There’s no way cats and snakes can keep up. Hardware cloth is expensive, but it is more reliable, more durable, and less work (in the long run) than traps. And I live with pacifists, so we don’t kill purposely wild animals.

  • Also, and old farmer’s trick to make quick feed is to take an old barrel (preferably painted black) and fill it 1/3 full of horse manure, and the rest of the way with water. Cover it with a lid, and let it steep in the sun for a few weeks. Then, to use it, just put a ladel into your watering can whenever you use it. Your plants will love you for it. Your wife probably will not.

  • Cheapest solution to gophers is a Jack Russel terrier (or so I am told)..

  • My dog is pretty good at ridding our property of mice and gophers, but the damage she does in the process is extensive. She uprooted three feet of potato hills in pursuit of one mouse. Not recommended.

  • Loved this post, Guy, on a number of levels. Not to be nit-picky, but I wonder about your statement, “almost anywhere beyond the borders of the U.S. will prove superior to this country in the months and years ahead.” I would hate to be anywhere in the U.A.E., Dubai in particular, when oil gives out. Most of the “civilized” European countries will be no better off than we are. The crowded citizens of India and China will have no way to feed themselves, and nowhere to escape. How then is the U.S. the worst place to be?

    David, your description of how to compost is exactly what I do. But I hadn’t thought of the manure-water fertilizer idea. Thanks.

  • @wendy,

    Ah well.. Like I said “so I am told”

    All we have is a Shih Tzu, and he’s an absolute wimp. But ever since we started letting him go out back, the groundhogs have kept their distance. Don’t know if that would work for pocket gophers, or not.

    You’re Welcome (about the poop stew). :-)

  • One word to explain why I think the U.S. is worse than just about anywhere else, Wendy: entitlement.

    We believe, to a greater extent than any other culture in history, we’re entitled to anything and everything we want. I agree many places will be in dire straits, but people in most other countries still recognize the value of hard work, including physical labor. That’s beneath most people, especially Caucasians, in this country.

    Every 18-year-old has a crackberry and I-pad, though.

  • What you call ‘entitlement’ I call ‘riding the gravy train’. Who would jump off that wagon, if they didn’t have to, eh? Kids today don’t know what suffering is! They don’t have to feed themselves; clothe themselves; provide their own food! And if you tried to make them, they would simply report you to the Department Of Human Services, because SLAVERY IS CHILD ABUSE!!

    Wanna know why the world is what it is, consider that.

  • I said food twice, so you know where my mind is at…

  • Sir Isaac Newton is reputed to have said that in his quest for knowledge he was like a little child on the seashore occasionally finding a sad-shell. It has also been said that education consists of gaining an awareness of how much one does not know. With the passage of time, it became increasingly evident to me in the medical field, and I suspect that others may have similar experiences in their fields of endeavour. The expert is the one whose comprehension of the enormity of the unknown extends the farthest. 

    Each individual’s dharma (in this sense, appropriate attitude and course of action for one’s lot in life) is based on where one finds oneself. The earthworm’s dharma is to consume the scraps and turn them into compost, the drone pilot’s (when he shows up for work) is to “engage” the “targets”. At the end of the day, if each has been living in accordance with their respective dharmas, neither can harbour any regrets.

    A sense of regret stems from deviations from one’s dharma, such as persisting in a course of action at variance with one’s values. Mea culpa. 

  • I might say that the “expert” is the one who, by his own investigations, came to know just how little he truly understands.

    What are WE, compared to the Universe? A miniscule star in an unremarkable galaxy. There must be a trillion earths. Trillions of trillions. What are the odds that one of them figured out how to overcome “collapse”, and lived to tell about it? And maybe they even got a few million years jump on us. What are the odds? One in a trillion? I’ll take it!

    Dharma conducts us all, but is it necessary? What duty have I to my own existence? Did I choose myself?

  • Hey Guy, I just sat through a dinner with a guy who’s farmed for 40 years and a guy that has read all the books and never farmed, and then me who’s in between. The farmer’s favorite saying is “you can’t teach farming”. You have been at it for 4-5 years now. Sounds like you do know some shit.

    Throw that crappy compost in at the bottom cover it with some rotten hay, and then a little topsoil. Stuff will grow fine. You may get some squash and tomatoes growing where you don’t want them. If you can find some rotten logs, mix them in with the crappy compost. Permies call this “hugel kulture” (whatever) and they are our best growing beds.

    RDH: try not to encourage those two. We’re live trapping as many as we can and moving them. Load up the trap with whatever they are eating and move them 4-5 miles. The dog gets the slow movers. I think you just have to hang in there. “you can’t teach farming” is so true. We are harvesting 100 pounds a week, selling alot of it, but learning how to perserve more and more. We know a farm that has been around for 7 years. Their first farmers market they sold 2 bunches of radishes, and were so happy. Now they supply 65 families with all their produce in season, do 3 farmers markets and their farm is now off the grid. It’s not that complicated you just have to be able to hang in there long enough to figure it out.

  • Great essay.

    Guy, you mentioned a ‘large compost bin’. That may be the problem. Several small ones would probably be more effective and less work.

    ‘almost anywhere beyond the borders of the U.S. will prove superior to this country in the months and years ahead.’ That emotional response to the endless wars, the profligacy and the looting carried out by Wall Street is understandable. However, sociopaths are in control of most western nations. It is a race for the bottom. The US looks to be in first place at the moment until you look at the population density and agricultural potential of other locations, many of which have populations around 10 times the historical carrying capacity of the land.

    We can’t help noticing the US dollar meltdown (and UK pound meltdown): the kiwi dollar is nearly 88 cents US today (it reached a low of 42c a while back): that is not because we are doing especially well but because our hole is not quite as big as yours yet, so we can continue to dig by borrowing at high interest and spending on stuff we don’t need.

    I guess we won’t be getting many American tourists from now on (tourisim being a mainstay of the economy, according to government).

    It’s not easy remaining sane on a planet which is charcterised by officialdom which promotes insanity.

  • Dharma conducts us all, but is it necessary? What duty have I to my own existence? Did I choose myself?~/i>

    Valid points, which contribute to the makeup of your dharma. 

  • This is what the world is saying about America. Is it true or just a stunt? Poised for a meltdown?

    Debt impasse has US poised for meltdown

    By David Usborne in New York

    Sunday, 31 July 2011

    The deadline for raising the US debt ceiling may be Tuesday – when the US Treasury will supposedly have more bills to pay than cash in its coffers – but pressure was on last night to get at least the outlines of a deal done before world markets begin opening for the week later today, starting with Asia.

    Most market analysts in the US continue to believe the bickering politicians on Capitol Hill will come to their senses. “It seems unlikely that Congress would choose financial Armageddon over some type of compromise,” said Joseph Tanious of JP Morgan Asset Management. But there are real fears that further stumbling could cast a deep chill on global markets. That both sides might have a final package in place by tonight that will raise the debt ceiling and cut spending is unlikely. But markets would be calmed if sufficient progress is made.

    Signs of trouble multiplied on Friday, notably with a sell-off of short-term US Treasuries. Thomas Tzitzouris, the head of fixed income research at Strategas Research Partners, said: “It’s not panic, but we are pre-positioning in case something goes wrong over the weekend.”

    The Dow Jones swooned further, slipping 0.8 per cent, ending its worst week in a year. Also at risk is Washington’s sterling credit rating. Moody’s, one of the main rating agencies, said it still expected the US to retain its Triple A status, provided Congress and the White House do a deal.

    Citizens had a glimpse of Uncle Sam’s predicament late last week when officials noted that the US had $73.8bn in cash to hand, which compares with Apple’s reported $75.9bn.

    Behind closed doors, the Treasury is planning what happens if the political mess doesn’t clear and default arrives. That means deciding what gets paid. One group who will receive special priority are the holders of US debt. The government wants to be sure it can cover $29bn in interest to bondholders due on 15 August.

    Some public-sector workers were told to show up for work even if a default means their pay cheques may be halted. Other obligations that the government might not be able to meet could include payments to companies supplying government as well as to veterans and those on benefits.

    All would be part of the nightmare scenario that President Barack Obama and others, including the Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, have been warning of for months.

  • The problem with giving each other advice on gardening topics is that we live in widely dispersed locations. I have gardened in WNY, California, TN, GA, NC and now Alabama. I have had to adjust with each move. I grew tons of Zucchini in WNY. I am lucky to get enough to freeze a quart or two here. The vine borers defeat all the multitudinous cures that proliferate on the web. Tomatoes have a much harder time here, and non-hybrids are difficult as we have so many diseases. I finally after about 10 years found the non-hybrid that is resistant enough to give a good crop – Eva Purple Ball. Not as tasty as some but good enough, reliable and prolific.

    Thus also with compost what works for one may not for another. That said, I like Dr. House will just tuck some refuse under the mulch. All pulled weeds go on top of the mulch. Chicken edible refuse goes to the chickens. We have logs around the area where we put it – thus it stays contained for harvest mixed with chicken manure. But before then I often turn it over so the chickens can eat the worms.

    Chicken manure mixed with the leaves we use for litter, goes in a double bin out in the chicken yard. It is contained with hardware cloth. The chickens get in there and scratch and some comes out which I scoop up and take up to pile in the garden for later use. Having been scratched through the wire it is nice and fine. The stuff that doesn’t get scratched out gets dug out in spring. With two bins everything sits about 1 year before use.

    I admit I never get our humanure to heat up like one is supposed to. But it sits at least 2 years before use. I have two bins. When one is full I dig out the other, which has set about 6 mos to a year and is well on its way to composting. Digging it out turns it. I pile it and let it sit another year. The humanure handbook says that all nasty stuff except roundworm eggs are gone by then. It is rich and beautiful and we have never had a problem with it. The bin full that is setting right now has the loveliest pumpkin growing out of it. The turned out manure pile is full of African Horned Melon vines. (An interesting plant – not the greatest taste and beset with spines on the fruit and irritating hairs on the vine – but supposed to do well with heat and drought https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horned_melon )

    Leaves and more leaves piled on the garden make the whole garden in essence a compost pile.

    The problem with climate change is that even if we have stayed put long enough to know all the adaptations we need for our local climate and soil, we may well be having to adapt from year to year to something different. The future of agriculture looks dim.

  • Kevin Moore:

    “This is what the world is saying about America. Is it true or just a stunt? Poised for a meltdown?”

    The answer is it really is a STUNT.

    Go back to “Salt Lake City activism and necrophlia”,and my posting on 7-30-11 at 10:12am,for the truth.

    Double D

  • Kathy wrote: “The problem with climate change is that even if we have stayed put long enough to know all the adaptations we need for our local climate and soil, we may well be having to adapt from year to year to something different. The future of agriculture looks dim.”

    I read your comment this morning, coincidentally during a break in writing an essay which briefly touches upon humanity’s history of mobility, as in nomadic cultures, and transition to a sedentary culture, which is partly responsible for our civilization’s disconnect with the environment. And all the ills resultant of that.

    Although nomadic peoples and their cultures are discriminated against and disdained, they retain greater resilience in survival than our modern sedentary cultures and civilization. Inherent in a nomadic society and culture are constraints on population growth and the use of resources. Even indigenous semi-nomadic cultures, in which part of their cyclic migration was devoted to growing some food stuffs in one location, retained more resiliency than our modern sedentary culture.

    Can we learn from this? Is it possible to incorporate mobility to some extent that will enhance our resiliency, at the same time embracing the constraints that necessitates?

    I ponder about the shifting habitats that plants and animals are now experiencing. Already many species are adapting to those changes, changing their historical habitat boundaries to match climate changes. The term ‘invasive species’ is now demanding reconsideration and classic conservation theories are challenged. Having been a nomad at heart for most of my life and having many Homes, I ponder how I can adapt a semi-nomadic lifestyle with my future primary home in the northern boundaries of the Chihuahua Desert. Likewise, many residents in my small remote desert community have been traveling to northern climates during the heat of the summers. In fact, this summer probably 50% of them are grouped together on a large plot in Colorado. Like most animals, they follow more favorable conditions for comfort and food, returning to their primary Home in the winter months. Can we do the same? Even growing a portion of our annual food in the north, and taking it with us to our winter homes? A sense of place is not relegated to one location, and to last a lifetime.

    The history of our civilization is full of examples of human movement for various reasons. Whether on foot, horseback, carriage, camel, bicycle, or mechanical transportation. I don’t know if this can be harnessed to save our species. Not at our current level of civilization, which by definition denigrates nomadic cultures and nomadism. Yet, it is by its very nature that migration has ensured the survival of most non-human species. And it is our modern tendency to inhibit and prohibit not only human nomadism, but also the migrations of other species, that spells doom for us all.

    Agriculture can be practiced anywhere, no matter how brief the time, as long as circumstances favor growth and life. As long as it is in balance with the surrounding environment. Perhaps the best teachers of this are the indigenous peoples of each region on the planet, before they too lose their stories and memories of their history and are assimilated into the Machine.

    We have much to unlearn, and to learn anew. For as a modern culture, we have forgotten, and in many cases, ‘killed’ the memories of our ancestors. And suffer the consequences.

  • Guy,

    Just to chime in while taking a break from picking cherries, I would like to add at note to what David Foster said. I have had some of the same problems you have with drying, our summer climate being similar and all. I think David’s idea of covering compost to keep it from drying out may be a good idea. I find that using Jeavons’ idea, that you should give the compost the same watering that you give the garden, works for me. Right now both garden and compost need a lot of water in a dry climate.

    Michael Irving

  • Macrobe, hunter-gatherers and herders certainly used migration to adjust to both seasonal changes and climatic changes. And even agricultural man moved a lot, mostly into the territories of hunter-gatherers and herders or other agriculturalists. There is no where to go anymore. Before we can return to that lifestyle we have to have a huge dieoff of human population.

    Pondering what we can learn in the midst of losing 6/7 or more of the human population to early death seems a bit optimistic. The humans who make it to the other side of collapse will learn how to watch their fellow humans die. What else they will learn I cannot speculate on.

    But since you are interested in migrations you would I think enjoy the documentary Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life – in the past I could find the whole video on the web but it seems to have disappeared. However Netflix carries it. It is described here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grass_(1925_film)

    It is truly one of the most stunning movies I have seen, despite being silent, black and white and grainy. A migration of 50,000 people and several hundred thousand animals across among other things a wide flowing river and over a mountain range. They blow up goat skins to hold on to while herding the animals across the river.

    It reminds me how resilient humans CAN be, and also what an incredible storehouse of knowledge the peoples of the world had before knowledge got stored in books rather than brains and piled up in libraries rather than being part of a cultural heritage.

  • Grass looks excellent kathy. will watch it soon; my wife enjoys these documentaries too. thanks!

  • Kathy, thank you for the thoughtful response and referral to ‘Grass:…”. It is now in my Netflix queue.

    In reference to ‘no where to go anymore’, I agree that a migratory movement and nomadic lifestyle at the level of our current population on a whole is impossible. Yet, I will argue that some pockets of ‘nowhere’ still exist throughout the world. These are mostly places where the geography and/or climate is considered too harsh for the likes of modern people. And in some of these places, nomadic peoples choose to retain their cultural nomadic lifestyle, despite the opportunity to move to more ‘civilized’ towns and cities.

    A recent documentary (Riding Solo to the Top of the World) relates the lives of the Chang pa, a nomadic people living in the Changthang, a high altitude desert in the Himalayas. Gaurav Jani, an independent film maker from India, rides his 350cc Royal Enfield motorcycle alone over 3,000 miles from Mumbai to Ladakh, on the contested border of China, to document and live with the nomadic Chang Pa. Not as dramatic as the people portrayed in Cooper & Schoedsack’s ‘Grass:..,’ but nevertheless a portrayal of the persistence of nomadism in isolated areas in modern times.

    Considering that a motorcycle is my primary form of transportation, I am attracted to this documentary for various reasons. Regardless, the relationship between an ancient way of life and the conflicts of modern civilization are well portrayed in in a heartfelt (and sympathetic) personal style.

  • I clean out the soiled straw in the chicken coop, throw it along with the kitchen scraps on top of the pile and turn it all over. I do this several times a week all year long. Grass clippings get added in the summer, leaves in the fall. Occassionally I throw in some worms. By spring I have a nice big pile of steaming compost. Usually I mix this with garden soil to lighten it up a bit. Seems to work pretty well for me. But then again, my life doesn’t depend on the pH being perfect either, at least not yet.

    “starvation, in a traffic jam” What a great line; thanks Guy!

  • macrobe, its hard to say what parts of the world are still uninhabited, as the harsher the environs the larger area one needs to be able to roam. So an area might only have humans for a short period of time, perhaps not even every year and thus look uninhabited. But as indigenous people have been “captured” into civilization, probably there are areas that could be inhabited that are no longer. A documentary on human roots that someone posted recently showed a tribe in Siberia who lived in the harshest of cold weather with their reindeer. They said that many of their young were not staying. But unless you can hook up with a group that is living there I am afraid the harshness of the environs would take you out before you learned how to live there.

    Louis Sarno joined a tribe of hunter-gatherer pygmies living on the edge of civilization – married into the tribe. He has a book with CD of their music that is so very beautiful in its natural joyfulness (and without an orchestra :) ). Its sort of like capturing the birdsongs of the native homo sapiens. Bayaka: The Extraordinary Music of the Babenzele Pygmies and Sounds of Their Forest Home.

    There is a Baka Homepage that has some more of their music – not quite as well done as the recordings by Sarno but they give you the idea http://www.baka.co.uk/ But they are not remote enough and are being slowly incorporated into civilization which is quite sad. If the end comes soon maybe they can return to the forest and escape the carnage…maybe. Sarno said of them that they became more themselves when they left villages and journeyed into the forest – like they were dropping off pieces of civilization as they returned to their home.

    Netflix doesn’t have Riding Solo yet, but I will keep checking for it. Sounds intriguing. Also they have a web site with a trailer that I will watch later this evening. I wish you happy travels on your motorcycle. When the crash comes we may see motorcycles some time after the cars have been turned into solar food dryers. A note to all, remember to pick a position to park your car when the gasoline stops being available. Positioned right it could be a warm place on a cold sunny day and a food dryer in summer.

  • Sam, macrobe – Grass starts slow, but about 15 minutes in if i remember correctly the pre-journey part with the filmers stops and the journey begins.

  • Grass further note – I just found this – http://www.filestube.com/77DnEC5tOG1ns2zAKFPgP9/grass-a-Nation-s-battle-for-life-1925.html says it has a free download

  • Good points, Kathy, and an example is my choice to live off grid in the desert. Although the small remote town is ‘plugged in’, many of us choose instead to live deep in the desert; ‘unplugged’. Most visitors are horrified and aghast that anyone would want to, choose to live there at all, on or off grid. That’s fine with me. And as what little infrastructure there is collapses, the small town will again return to the desert, just as it has once already.

    Motorcycles are relatively energy efficient, easy and less costly to maintain and repair, used parts are available widespread and easily modified. A fellow rider built his own biodiesel bike with the engine of a small Kubota tractor and junk parts. Our local community of riders gather to do maintenance and mechanical repairs, even fabricating parts if need be. These Tech Days are followed by a buffet grilled and baked on-site with hand cranked ice cream for desert. It is a rather unique community of self-sufficient people.

    After living off the back of a dirt bike for two weeks last fall in the eastern Oregon backcountry, another place that I call Home, I really did not want to return to civilization.

  • @macrobe: Before we could become nomads, we would have to rid ourselves of these obnoxious governments who think they own everything they touch.

  • David, the territorial mentality permeates more than just government. It is a trait of colonialism and imperialism, which prevails all around us from the individual to institutional levels. Texas is a good example of that.

  • This shit stinks all of it. You are the shit, know it because we’re covered in shit. But soon we may be washed clean.


  • I love the Boss, I really do. The Seeger Sessions is one my favorite items of entertainment to arrive in the last decade. My favorite fact however about Mr. Bruce is that he, the patron singer of the modern working man, bought his teenage daughter an 800k dollar horse. And apparently she complained about it. Wasn’t quite up to snuff.

    In terms of learning and knowing, I always liked the quote: Always wear the white belt.

    A martial arts aphorism, it seems. And a good one.

  • I am shit:

    No arguments with your assertion. How is it “coming” with the chickens and the alfalfa roofs?

  • About: “Always wear the white belt. “

    Reminds me of a guy I used to work with. Dumb as an oyster (or so everyone thought). Anything you gave him to do, he would invariably mess it up. So he was usually relegated to pushing a broom. Got the same pay as everyone else though. He built stock cars as a sideline. Most people didn’t know that either. If you went to his place and watched him work, you wouldn’t know it was the same guy.

    Apparently that modus operandi can serve more than one function.

  • http://summitcountyvoice.com/2011/07/30/feds-may-be-muzzling-scientist-over-arctic-research/

    Feds may be muzzling scientist over Arctic research

    Last summer’s Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico clearly showed the conflict between science, energy policy and politics, and the looming battle over drilling in Arctic waters will be no different, as a watchdog group claims that federal scientists are being muzzled and harassed over their efforts to disclose potential impacts of energy development in the fragile Arctic marine environment.

    Dr. Charles Monnet, a senior federal scientist working the Arctic has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated by the Interior Department’s Inspector General. Such inspections are not uncommon,

  • Sam, how goes it with the baby chicks? Yesterday another hen that had hidden her nest showed up with 5 baby chicks. We set 7 hens, which was more than we had planned to do, and two hens hid their nests. We never even noticed them missing from the general flock. Getting old…. We are now at 57 chicks. Oh well. Anyone want some young roosters?

  • American democracy has been sold out if the debt ceiling agreement is implemented. Democracies do not last long, eh?

  • BTW sam/Kathy/Ed/Whomever

    How do you tell a rooster from a hen when they are new-born chicks? (Please don’t tell me to look between the legs….)

  • macrobe

    Does your desert paradise have a non-public water source?

  • David Foster

    Your real enemy is not the government, though it is ONE enemy. Your real enemies are the international bank cartel and the multi-nationals – in that order. The government is but a puppet. The international bank cartel is driving pretty much everything right now.

  • well kathy; i have been out foxed; that & maybe more my own steep learning curve.

    lost ma 2’s two chicks the first day after me tossing the eggs she was on; our dogs. either ma lead the way over fences or she followed the chicks, as they went thru 2 fences to harms way. ma was ok as she was only thru 1 fence.

    then the fox has been back tenaciously, & gotten ma 1 & two of her chicks + couple of other hens. they were ranging outside the penned area. so i have 2 ma-less chicks which i have helped steer a few days, & they are making it.

    i think my big mistake was letting the chickens free range thru the spring everywhere on our 3 ac. our dogs weren’t. this brought the fox in that area hunting & as i kept the chickens more confined 30x 90 pen w/ 6′ fence, but vines, etc. & they just climbed/flew over to get back to the larger range. none of the chickens that have stayed in the penned area have been killed. i have hunted the fox a bit to pepper him/her but no sighting yet. my neighbor just cut the hay which was travel cover. i also had to do some protecting of the chicks from one hen; but the chicks are making it.

    anyway sweet potatoes are looking great; enough rain & very hot & winter squash are coming on.

    you got some ac there. i’m from the general area you live & i know the heat here has been strong, & steady. i also am more reactive to heat as i age. gotta hit the garden, 97 predicted.

  • Guy

    Good essay. I don’t know shit either. I don’t even know which shit I don’t know.

  • Robin Datta, you are full of shit. Let the chicken fly away and the roof collapse.

    The shit load sinks.

    Hype about a routine debt ceiling raise attempts to divert attention away from the deficit and US borrowing of trillions from social security to fund imperial wars.

    Press TV talks to Don De Bar, a journalist in New York in a discussion about this tactic to hide the truth from the American people by taking up media room with a trivial matter. Following is a transcript of the interview.

    Press TV: It seems that more emphasis is put on raising the debt ceiling instead of addressing the massive debt itself. What’s your take on this?

    Don De Bar: That’s exactly right. The question is why is the debt ceiling always increased, increased, increased? If you have a business normally you retire debt as you take it on. And if you have expanded debt it means you are either expanding your capital base or somehow the reach of your enterprise and so you have accordingly increased revenues that are a result of that.

    What’s happened here is in the US since 1980 there have been two severe macro economic trends and it’s almost trivializing it to call it ‘macro’. Number one: a huge boost in military spending that began with Reagan the increase from 1981 to 1985 was almost the same quantity as the aggregate of all weapons that had been built in history before that. And that had to be paid for and still has been trending that way.

    Simultaneously there was a cut in a) corporate income taxes for the largest enterprises in the world started to pay no income taxes – -this was one of the revenue benchmarks for the US economy; and b) the wealthiest individuals that saw the maximum tax rate go from 50% in the 80s down to 28% now. So those are the two tugs that are pulling at the income and expense side where you’re running massive deficits.

    On top of that the economy has essentially been disassembled; the entire manufacturing base of this country is gone and the employment figures and wages have been declining for the last 30 years.

    And to negate the political implications of that, they expanded credit and what they did was metabolize the main asset base of the working and middle class, which is their homes, by having them put those up as collateral so they could borrow money to buy things to keep the thing afloat even though they were making less money than they did the year before and the year before.

    This is all now coming home to roost at the same time that this political game is being played in Washington over this one little …

    The role of faith in credit and US bonds and things is central to the global economy, but it came to be that way because there used to be an American economy with strong fundamentals, which doesn’t exist now anyway so people should be looking past the game in Washington to the fundamentals in the economy here and see that there is even more trouble than is being talked about just over what’s going to happen Monday.

    In regard to the massive deficit created largely in the first place by the Republican Bush government, one thing to keep in mind is that Obama’s solution was to start another war with Libya and he’s starting wars along the eastern coast of Africa; he’s having maneuvers with AfriComm on the western coast of Africa – they broadcast that there is a new day coming to Africa with the US as a policemen there; they’re playing around in Bahrain.

    Obama is not just inheriting or trying to tamp down on what George Bush did — he took the foot ball and he’s running fast as he can and he’s doing things that Bush could never have gotten away with. If the republicans tried to invade Africa you would see the entire Democratic party in the streets of the US; every black democrat of the US would be in the streets and all of the West would be in the streets with them.

    But when Obama attacks Africa, which is where Libya is… and Libya is the nation in Africa that was trying to build an African currency; a United States of Africa; a continental economy; it was building telecom infrastructure and other things — Libya is in Africa and Obama has been invading it. So Obama’s solution to shrink the military has not shrunk the military at all.

    Press TV: We’ve mentioned before about US social programs — Social Security; Medicaid and Medicare. If this is really cut back on, tell me the effect that this would have overall on American society?

    Don De Bar: It will be devastating. Here’s the problem with it even being on the table — what I was describing before about the tax revenues coming in that’s been declining and services like the military, the prison industrial complex, which also expanded geometrically since Reagan — But Social Security is outside of that.

    Since I was 16 years old my paycheck goes into a fund that’s supposed to be there when I retire at age 65. That money plus interest is supposed to be there — it’s a trust fund. If you were a lawyer and you did what the government has done with that money, which has been to put it up as collateral and borrow against it for your daily spending, you would go to prison. But the government has been doing that since Lyndon Johnson.

    It’s one thing to use that as an exotic fiscal device so you can borrow and do things to help you get from here to there when you are having difficulties… but it’s another thing when suddenly you turn around and tell the owners of the trust fund, you’re the one that’s not going to get the money out of this. We’re going to cut your benefit even though it’s your money and we’re going to continue to spend on the military.

    That’s criminal.


  • Victor, you are full of shit.

    Name the enemy, list their names and corporations that they own.

    It is easier to point fingers at the sky.

  • The stinking shit trail.

    US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen

    A US judicial report has revealed that, in an act of embezzlement, a US government contractor in Iraq has overcharged the US Department of Defense for items it sold to the Pentagon.

    In a written statement, US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen said that a review found that the Pentagon contractor, Anham LLC, allowed its subcontractors in Iraq to charge the Pentagon USD 900 for a 7-dollar control switch, the Associated Press reported.

    The overcharging also included requesting USD 3,000 dollars for a 100-dollar circuit breaker, and USD 80 for a piece of plumbing equipment worth USD 1.41.

    Bowen’s inspectors are seeking to review all Anham contracts with the US government in Iraq and Afghanistan, worth a total of about USD 3.9 billion.

    Hassan Judeh, the administration director at Anham’s headquarters in Vienna, declined to comment on Bowen’s remarks.

    In June, US auditors said as much as USD 6.6 billion in Iraqi reconstruction funds may have been stolen in “the largest theft of funds in national history.”

    However, the Pentagon insisted that all of the money remained under the Iraqi government control the entire time.


  • Victor, only a few humans can tell chicks genders by looking at their bottom. They are the small but important group of people called chicken sexers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick_sexing

    We have two ways of telling gender. One is with sex linked crossings. Some color patterns are carried on the sex genes – in the case of chickens it is the roo that has two long sex genes and the female who has one sex gene short. Barring is one color pattern. A roo can be barred, or double barred (they look a bit different if they have barring on both genes) but a hen can only be single barred. If crossed to a non barred roo she will throw barring on every roo and no barring on any hen. Chicks that are barred aren’t barred when they are born, but they have a white spot on the top of their head. Another gene is silver and gold. This is a bit harder to tell if you have mixed up colors like we do, but there are select breeds that they can tell as chicks whether they are silver or gold.

    After that it is a game we play – look at the color and size of the comb, look at how the 2nd and third feathering are coming in, watch to see who is doing rooster chick fighting, notice size differences. Again as mixed as our birds are this is more difficult. Some say “rooster” almost from the start and some say “guess” for a long time. When the roos crow, or try to mate a hen you know for sure – some randy little guys try mate adult hens when they are only half grown.

  • This may end of being a double post:

    Victor: I think Kathy will give you something pretty graphic about sexing the chicks. For our ducks the drakes will get a curly set of tail feathers very early on.

    Kathy: 4 new Khaki’s. Now about 2 weeks old, and another one of the hens just went broody. Kind of a surprise, but do they ever make us smile. Having really good luck drying summer squash. We have rehydrated some just to check and they taste very good. Made our first batch of ketchup which was good, and now we’ll try mustard as the wild mustard has seeds.

  • Let the chicken fly away and the roof collapse.

    Please be advised that my comment and query was not addresses to the responder. My concurrence with the addressee’s self-assertion still stands. 

  • That should read:
    Let the chicken fly away and the roof collapse.

    Please be advised that my comment and query was not addressed to the responder. My concurrence with the addressee’s self-assertion still stands. 

  • OT

    I agree with the Ahmadinejad’s first three paragraphs… but then he goes off the rails.

    So many delusional hair-balls, so few lint collectors…


    Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says world is changing and the existing order in it is nearing its end and is struggling to continue its existence.

    Speaking at a Saturday ceremony in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said western powers knew from 20 years ago that capitalism is at the end of its road.

    “They brought someone like [George W.] Bush and created the 9/11 incident to attack our region [and all this was done] to buy time,” Fars News Agency quoted him as saying.

    Ahmadinejad went on to say that the global powers pursue their goals firstly by rehabilitation of their economy and reinforcing their dominance and secondly by trying to save Israel.

    “Their top priority is to save the Zionist regime [of Israel], because if this regime survives, Western dominance can be restored,” he argued.

    Iran’s president referred to the recent popular movements in the Middle East and North Africa and other parts of the world and attributed such developments to the impacts of 1979 Islamic Revolution.

    “Because of our Revolution, human values and popular demands were revived in nations and the perspective of nations changed and everybody is in pursuit of freedom, national sovereignty, justice and dignity,” Ahmadinejad pointed out.

  • Sam, sad to hear you lost hens and chicks. Foxes were giving us grief – taking mommas and chicks. Then we got an electric netting fence. Pricey but it has stopped foxes and also stray dogs. One time two dogs took out 30 chickens in 1/2 hour. Our neighbor had visitors and they let the dogs out despite our asking them not to. It was storming at the time and we didn’t hear the massacre. We now tell visitors to our neighbors that have dogs that if the dog gets inside the fence we will probably shoot the dog. Not very friendly but….. but most dogs are wimps and one zap on the nose does it. Our fenced area is about 1 acre so most of the time our chickens stay in (its only 4 foot, most could fly out) and if they get out want back (but by then they have forgotten how they got out).

  • oops – apologies to I Am Shit, who already posted the link to Ahmad’s rant.

  • Ed nice to hear about your Khaki chicks. I’ve read that they are very good layers.

    Yep tail feathers can be a clue but with our chickens even that isn’t always certain. Some young pullets will have a bit of a curl for a while. We had one young roo that we thought was a pullet until it crowed, and several hens we thought were roos up until about 3 mos. Seems like the hens we think might be roos turn out to be strong vibrant hens. But mostly by about 6 weeks we have them sorted out.

    Our humidity was 96% when we woke and now is at 73% – make drying foods a bit problematic. Supposed to be 100 degrees in a couple of days. No rain for several weeks. The garden is not happy.

  • We find refuge in Chicken shit to hide our own miseries and agonies.

    We label other brave human beings funny names, the REAL human beings that have the courage to ACTUALLY stand up and fight our own corruption.

    Why do we do this to ourselves, to the future of our children.

    Because we are all full of shit, we are cowards that DO NOT want to face the reality of the deep shit that we all live in.

    We will only continue to eat shit, poop shit and the rest of our lives living in shit.

  • Transport yourself back 100 years in time, Real farmers will gladly tell you WWOOFrs is bullshit.

    What fancy idea for idiots like us but you’ll be lost without this bullshit. For thousand of years, Native Americans lived in sustained farming without the bullshit of Petro fertilizer.

    For thousand of years, they lived peacefully without wars or stealing.

    But where are they now?. We’ll never know because we are full of shit.

    It’s prettier to live in fantasy land and forget the millions of lives that were raped, murdered and slaughtered, the stolen land we Now proudly call our own.

    This is all bullshit, you are all full of shit.

  • Farmer,

    Native Americans had wars too.

    You ask “Where are they now” ???

    They are still all over the place – some sucked up into the industrial waste, some not so much.

    About “real farmers” – are you talking about farmers of 100 years ago as you say in your first sentence? Or are you talking about the Giant Combine jockey and his crew of 10,000 invisible slaves?

  • The Guano Islands Act (48 U.S.C. ch.8 §§ 1411-1419) is federal legislation passed by the U.S. Congress, on August 18, 1856. It enables citizens of the U.S. to take possession of islands containing guano deposits. The islands can be located anywhere, so long as they are not occupied and not within the jurisdiction of other governments. It also empowers the President of the United States to use the military to protect such interests, and establishes the criminal jurisdiction of the United States.


    Farming is never sustainable in the end for it causes civilizations to arise and they suck out the land. (see Jared Diamond, The Worse Mistake in the history of the human race) Doesn’t matter whether it is China, India, Mesopotamia, Peru, Mexico or Chacoan peoples of South West USA. Back 150 years ago bat and bird shit was what kept farming going, thus the Guano Act by the US to try keep the shit for themselves to replenish the minerals being sold off the land to the cities. Those people really knew shit, they shoveled and transported it in boats to the US or Europe.

    Only the advent of big machines to mine fertilizers and natural gas to make nitrogen fertilizer have made it possible to extend the reach of agriculture, which just means that this civilization doesn’t get to last as long.

  • Navid:

    From 60 million to 800,000. I hope the elder is correct in what he says.

  • Guy, I believe you DO know alot about global climate change. Would mind commenting on this confusing story in Forbes?


    Thank you.

  • Spot on Kathy.

    Also note that some regions were deficient in trace elements, and it was only the application of trace elements that made commercial agriculture possible at all.

    The higher rainfall which is likely in many regions as a consequence of climate change will presumably leach out nutrients a little faster than occured in the past.

  • Jb, I passed this on to youtuber greenman3610 who does the informative and entertaining Climate Denial Crock of the Week vids. He referred me to this – full article at the link, clip below

    No, new data does not “blow a gaping hole in global warming alarmism”

    I received a few emails, tweets, and comments on the blog yesterday asking about an Op/Ed article in Forbes magazine that claims that new NASA data will “blow [a] gaping hole in global warming alarmism”.
    Except, as it turns out, not so much. The article is just so much hot air (see what I did there?) and climate scientists say the paper on which it’s based is fundamentally flawed and flat-out wrong.
    It’s clear after reading just a few words that this article is hugely biased. The use of the word “alarmist” and its variants appeared no fewer than 14 times, 16 if you include the picture caption and the headline. The word “alarmist” is pretty clearly slanted against the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that the Earth is warming up, and that humans are the reason*.

    And greenman himself, Peter Sinclair – wrote me this response

    Spencer did not get to be “chief climatologist of the Rush Limbaugh show” for nothing. Important to remember, Spencer is most famous for being consistently, stubbornly and finally,admittedly wrong about satellite temps – his most important area of study.

    This paper accomplishes 2 things – keeps him in the news for another 3 months, and gives the denial machine more dreck to spew. Every 18 months or so, like clockwork there’s another paper thats s’posed to “blow a hole in global warming”, –last one was Lindzen/Choi, before that was Douglas/Knox, each of which got big press, but sank like a stone very quickly. you can expect the same for this one, but might take few weeks.

    I’ve been thinking of doing a Spencer rebuttal, but now I’m more sure of it. Will wait until someone can explain the details of this to me.

    I am eagerly awaiting his next Crock of the Week installment

  • Kathy – thank you for the “Guano Islands Act” info. That is hilarious and incredible – We will go to war over shit and saltpeter!

    I like this part:

    “The act specifically allows the islands to be considered a possession of the U.S., but it also provided that the U.S. was not obliged to retain possession after the guano was exhausted.”

    So we get the resources, someone else can take responsibility for the place afterwards… sounds familiar (has this been taken into consideration by OPEC etc, ya think ???? ; )

  • Ed – thank you more than you can know.

    I probably should have stumbled upon that video myself by now.

    I can;t play the video until later, but now I have something to really look forward too tonight.

    Again, Pōsōh

    (note – I am not native american, just to be clear)

  • Kathy, Thanks very much!

  • ‘So many delusional hair-balls, so few lint collectors…’ -great line, navid! when it comes to world leaders, i think all of them fall into the former category. some more than others, but none of them are speaking the surreal truth of our predicament. perhaps none of them are surreally aware. either that or they’re incredibly evil/insane. enlightened ones are precluded from elite power, or else there’s just too damned few enlightened ones around.

    ‘“Because of our Revolution, human values and popular demands were revived in nations and the perspective of nations changed and everybody is in pursuit of freedom, national sovereignty, justice and dignity,” Ahmadinejad pointed out.’ -from navid’s posted article.

    like virtually all world leaders/heads of state, the ‘a’ man in tehran is full of shit when he tries to boast of promoting ‘human rights’ and ‘justice’. iran under his rule is notoriously harsh dogmatic drug warrish. they execute drug war ‘criminals’ in large numbers, perhaps only exceeded by china in this regard.

    ‘most dogs are wimps’ -kathy

    domesticated animals whether they be dogs or sheople are inclined to be wimps, imo. why be courageous and risk harm/injury/death if your next meal isn’t dependent upon it?

    ‘Why do we do this to ourselves, to the future of our children…
    Because we are all full of shit, we are cowards that DO NOT want to face the reality of the deep shit that we all live in.’ -full of shit

    nice moniker, fellow weirdo. as to the quote, perhaps we are full of shit. otoh, perhaps some of us do face surreality at times, but simply grow discouraged/overwhelmed at the difficulty/madness? we face.

    thanks for sharing that magnificent video, ed.

  • Ed: the video was great, even on a second watching. I do not recollect where the ink was for the first watching – I had the impression that it was from NBL, but it might have been from Metafilter.

    Speaking of seven generations, among the Hindus of Bengal it is customary not to marry anyone with whom one has a common ancestor in seven generations (records are kept).

  • @ the virgin terry
    Are you deluded or just full of shit

    Putin said that we are parasites


    The rest of the world think so too.
    The Asians- S. Korea, China, Japan among others are trading in their own currency.

    The Middle East countries are already shifting to Euro and domestic currency.

  • In 1948 Aldo Leopold wrote: “our bigger-and-better society is now like a hypochondriac, so obsessed with its own economic health as to have lost the capacity to remain healthy. The whole world is so greedy for more bathtubs that it has… lost the stability necessary to build them, or even to turn off the tap. Nothing could be more salutary at this stage than a little healthy contempt for a plethora of material blessings. Perhaps such a shift of values can be achieved by reappraising things unnatural, tame, and confined in terms of things natural, wild, and free.”

    In our time greed is extolled as a virtue. Many too many are invited by the few to do ‘good’ things. Seven billion are told the global political economy was saved today, but not told at what expense: mortgaging the children’s future. Nor were they told at what price: the Earth as a fit place for human habitation? To say that greedmongering is “unhealthy” seems tame to me. There must be stronger words deployed to describe such obscene per capita hyper-consumption and patently unsustainable individual hoarding; such conscious dissipation of Earth’s finite resources and willful degradation of its frangible ecology. Perhaps we can find other words that more adequately describe how the planet we inhabit is being ravaged on our watch. And if we can find the words, who will speak out loudly, clearly and often? A worldwide conspiracy of silence is in effect. Self-proclaimed masters of the universe have already bought and paid off ‘the brightest and best’. The greediest among us are selling off the Earth to the “lowest bidders.” Greed rules the world, I suppose.

  • The latest Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report notes that 0.5% of the global population (about 24.2 million happy bunnies) own about 35.6% of the total wealth (both financial and non-financial assets). The top 8% (about 350 million) own 79.3% of the wealth. The top 31.5% (about 1.4 billion) own about 95.8% of the wealth. The bottom 68.5% own just 4.2% of the wealth.

    So if it is a class war, then which class is the 0.5% gunning for? Certainly not the bottom 68.5% – these are just filling space and eating food to the elite. No, the war is against the 31.0% who own about 60% of the remaining wealth. These are the folks who hold assets worth $10,000 to $1mln – mainly the middle class of developed countries.

    How do they plan to do that?
    In the following order:
    1. Continually reduce taxes for the wealthy over time
    2. Promote austerity spending programs to reduce government spending since taxes are no longer providing enough revenue to pay for services
    3. Force the government to borrow from the elite to finance government operations and the remaining spending programs
    4. Force the taxpayer (the middle class mainly) to shoulder that debt
    5. Reap the benefits of the interest paid by the government on its loans.
    6. Privatise as many government services as possible with the money flowing from the population at large into the coffers of the big corporations providing the services. Privatisation is now necessary because under the austerity programs, government can no longer afford to provide these services.
    7. Force the government to sell off its assets – land, buildings, rights to natural resources in order to pay down the debts owed to the elite (see above)
    8. Use the austerity programs and privatisation schemes to break the backs of the unions, labour laws and public servant contracts, forcing people to work longer hours for less pay and benefits. More money to the elite. Globalise corporate operations to reduce expensive domestic labour costs, increase unemployment, put a further strain on tax revenues, and reduce the costs of domestic labour through an over-crowded labour market.
    9. Through the credit rating agencies (owned by the elite), force credit downgrades of government debt, resulting in higher interest rates on that debt, and thus more money into the coffers of the elite and forcing more austerity upon the government and larger and larger loans.
    10. Repeat 1-9 until virtually all wealth is removed form the taxpayer and the government is used only to present a democratic facade.

    The above 10 steps will end in a huge population reduction across the world as people can no longer be guaranteed access to adequate supplies of fresh water (privatised), land (privatised), shelter (foreclosed on), food (privatised and access restricted to GMO products only – if you can’t pay, you can’t eat – full stop), medical care (privatised), and protection (privatised).

    Work life for most people will degenerate into a life of paying off debts, both their own personal debts and their national debts, and working long hours and more than one job at a time, and will not be able to retire until they can no longer work. Their remaining years will be spent in poverty and likely we will have a return to the days when families live together as a necessity.

    Many will be homeless, without a consistent source of food or medical care. Many will die as social nets disappear.

    Banks and multi-nationals will own most everything worth owning. The rest of the world will live lives of servitude massively loaded down with un-repayable debt.

    The above is the dream and the objectives of the world’s elite.

    They will fail for several reasons.

  • Seems like our friend Dan Treecraft has made a decision to move on by Wednesday. http://www.feistylife.com/deadmantalking/

  • Kathy,

    Thanks for the Plait article.

    Michael Irving

  • Guy,

    I was re-reading your post and I’d only gotten to the second sentence when again you had me laughing out loud.

    “When we amended the soil pile of rocks by adding horse manure and kitchen compost, it became clear I don’t know shit.”

    I have exactly the same soil pile of rocks in my garden and I clearly don’t know shit either.

    I do have a question for you about the mud house. What is the clay content of your mud? We’re blessed (cursed) with silt (sand, gravel, rocks, boulders) but hardly any clay. I was just wondering if your have clay on site or if you had to look for some (where?), or if clay was an important consideration for you. I’ve done some chinking in my house with a silt/grass mix and it seems to work pretty well and has remained in place for several years. But light clay (straw/clay) seems to count on at least 30% clay content for the slip. Any thoughts?

    Michael Irving

  • Michael:

    Re: clay

    You can have some of mine. I have acres and acres of the stuff.

    I had to bury a dog last week–they always manage to get themselves killed when the ground is tougher than a brick. We haven’t had rain in five weeks, and although temps haven’t exceeded 87 degrees F, you’d think my ground was in the middle of a sucked-dry mud flat and hadn’t seen water in a decade. Anything dryland is micro-cracked 1-2 inches wide and 6-8 inches deep. And the ground will stay that way until the rains return and all goes back to four foot of mud. It’s either one or the other.

  • Just in my e-box from Lester Brown –
    “The thin layer of topsoil that covers much of the earth’s land surface is the foundation of civilization. As long as soil erosion on cropland does not exceed new soil formation, all is well. But once it does, it leads to falling soil fertility and eventually to land abandonment. As countries lose their topsoil through overgrazing, overplowing, or deforestation, they eventually lose the capacity to feed themselves. Among those facing this problem are Lesotho, Haiti, Mongolia, and North Korea. ”
    full article at:

  • Full article at : http://beefmagazine.com/cowcalfweekly/0729-drought-accelerates-liquidation/
    ” The expanding extreme drought in the Southern Plains is causing a significant acceleration of cattle liquidation in the region….By pushing beef-cow slaughter close to last year’s record levels, the drought ensures additional herd liquidation that deepens the hole from which the industry must start to rebuild”

    In other words sort of like eating your seed corn. If you liquidate (kill) too many cows that could have given you have given you calfs it will take a number of years to rebuild your herd. But if you can’t water and feed them that is what you have to do.

  • More on drought and cow liquidation at http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2011-07-30-kansas-texas-south-drought_n.htm
    “Some areas of southwest Kansas haven’t received a good rain for more than a year. Large cattle-producing areas like Comanche County had just 1.49 inches at Coldwater from January through June, said Larry Ruthi, with the National Weather Service’s Dodge City office.
    It also has been the driest July through July on record for Dodge City, with about 8 inches of rain falling during the period, Ruthi said.
    And temperatures have reached past 100 degrees more than 30 days in a row for much of southern Kansas, with no significant rain forecast for the near future.”

  • This is a great article guy! : )

    Have you tried worms??
    Not you personally of course, but a wormery may turn out to be a useful addition. I’m sorry if someone else has mentioned this, I havent done more than count how many times people have said “shit” in their comments so far. Its an impressive number let me tell you!

    I would suggest that the UK is not far off America with its sense of entitlement. Sadly they really are the ones who don’t know shit and even more sadly like it that way.

  • All 50 States See Record Highs in July

    By OurAmazingPlanet Staff
    LiveScience.com | LiveScience.com – Mon, Aug 1, 2011

    No state in the union was safe from July’s blistering heat wave, according to data from the U.S. National Climatic Data Center.
    The horrible July heat wave, lasting weeks in some cities, the entire month in others, affected nearly 200 million people in the United States at some point. Preliminary data show that 2,712 high-temperature records were either tied or broken in July, compared with 1,444 last year, according to the NCDC. At least one weather station in all 50 states set or tied a daily high temperature record at some point during July.
    Two weather stations tied for the hottest temperature recorded during July. The Blythe station in Riverside County, Calif., and the Gila Bend station in Maricopa County, Ariz., both hit 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celsius) in July.

    Even Alaska recorded unusually sweaty temperatures. The temperature at the Northway weather station in Southeast Fairbanks County hit a record 97 F (36.1 C) on July 11.
    Newark, N.J., set an all-time high at 108 F (42.2 C) on July 22, breaking the record of 105 F (40.6 C), set in 2001.
    In Washington, D.C., Dulles International Airport saw its hottest July on record this year and recorded its highest July temperature of all time at 105 F (40.6 C), on July 22. That same day, water in the nearby Potomac River was the hottest ever recorded at 96 F (35.4 C) (records go back to only 1988), reported the Capital Weather Gang blog.
    The city of Morehead, Minn., had the dubious distinction as the hottest place on Earth for a day, said meteorologist Heidi Cullen of Climate Central, in an interview on National Public Radio. On July 19, the heat index there — a measure of humidity and temperature that indicates how hot the weather feels — was 134 F (56.7 C). (The National Weather Service later said this reading could be an anomaly due to the local weather station’s location in a very wet field, and not representative of the entire town.)

  • Kathy: After 6 years, I can say to those that are looking to make a change, one of the highest determining factors on your list should be available water. It wasn’t one of ours, and I guess we were just lucky. We knew we had at least two springs on the property when we bought it, but we didn’t appreciate how important that was. This is now the worst drought we have experienced.


    We have a static water level of 24 inches, and our neighbor’s well is 70 ft deep, only cased 10 ft and delivers 20 gallons a minute.

    We are in the abnormally dry area. We have one pond that depends on the runoff from a 4,000 sq. ft. barn roof and it is almost empty. Have always wanted to bring the water from the spring fed ponds at the bottom of the property up to where we can use it. I had read about a system on otherpower.com where he was lifting 45 ft vertically along with 400 feet horizontally with a 12 volt motor. Problem was I couldn’t find a dealer that knew enough about what he was selling to confirm that this was possible. Finally found one in Williams Windmills in NM as recommended by wholesalesolar. The motor will lift 112 feet (it will be a trickle). I finally got it set up today, and at around 28 feet we are getting 2 gallons a minute. In ideal conditions that’s almost 1,000 gallons per day forever free. I know, I will buy backups, but the pump was 98 dollars.

    It was my first direct experience with solar doing something useful, ever. We have our PV system ready to get set up, but to see that sucker start pumping water from that 125 watt panel was really amazing.

    Kathy, I need to go back and re-read Carol Deppe’s book, but she had a solution to drying the squash in high humidity conditions (Oregon). Have to wait until tomorrow.

    For the first time this year, I’m keeping track of how long it takes to get all the wood we need for what will be two stoves, along with an outdoor pit for removing tannins from acorns and running the sap evaporator in spring. Scott Nearing said it took him two weeks to get all of the wood he needed for 3 stoves. Based on the progress so far, I think 24 hours might be enough. Scott used a bow saw, I’m using Stihl.

  • Michael Irving, we are fortunate to have layers (lenses) of clay intermixed with unsorted alluvium and pockets of sand. But when the builder put the finishing layer on the interior walls of the straw-bale house, he tested several mixes and then used a pile of all-mixed-together from onsite.

    Frank Mezek, thanks for the unusual dose of reality from the Wall Street Journal. If they don’t pay attention, they’ll report about passing the world oil peak, too.

  • An excerpt from Peter Schiff’s latest piece at CNBC:

    Both parties are now pretending that the promised cuts in spending outweigh the increase in the debt limit. But the $900 billion in identified cuts are spread over a decade and are skewed toward the end of that period. There are an additional $1.4 trillion in cuts that the plan assumes will be identified by a bi-partisan budget committee. But similarly empowered panels in the past have almost never delivered on their mandates.

    “Besides default or major cuts to domestic spending, inflation provides the only other means for the government to deal with this intractable crisis.”

    More importantly, none of these “cuts” are actually binding. There is plenty of time for future Congresses to reverse what was so laboriously agreed to over the past few weeks. My guess is renewed economic weakness will be used to justify ultimate suspension of the cuts. In addition, most of the spending reductions were already scheduled to take effect before this agreement. So what did we really get?

    The Congressional Budget Office currently projects that $9.5 trillion in new debt will have to be issued over the next 10 years. Even if all of the reductions proposed in the deal were to come to pass, which is highly unlikely, that would still leave $7.1 trillion in new debt accumulation by 2021. Our problems have not been solved by a long shot.

    Essentially, the structure announced today allows both political parties to talk about reform without actually changing anything. To underscore that point, the deal involves less than $25 billion in immediate cuts! This is less than a rounding error in a $3.8 trillion dollar budget. This is politics as usual.

  • Ed, I will be glad on advice on drying stuff in humid weather. That said please note the difference in our humidity from Oregon’s humidity.

    I just did a weather search on NOAA on Portland Oregon – highs for the next four days are 81, 78, 77, 78 with lows in the high 50’s
    ours are 99, 97, 95, 95 with lows in the low 70’s

    Growth of mold is promoted not just by humidity but also heat. Hot air holds more moisture as well so 90% humidity on a 99 degree day is more moisture in the air than 90% humidity on a 81 degree day.

    At any rate our squash is over for this year, I think I got all of 3 quarts in the freezer. The vine squash borers were unusually active this year. When I lived north I could grow squash and zucchini more than I wanted. Now I put more effort into getting a small crop of them than anything I grow. I have googled the web for ideas for years and tried one after another. Heck I’ll admit it, I have even resorted to dusting the stems with Sevin. Even that didn’t work.

    One really has to live in a locality to understand the unique problems of the locality. My actual plan for collapse is to not grow summer squash at all. Too much care, too much water. I will grow our Seminole pumpkin, our field peas, rattlesnake beans and the like, things that don’t take much care and have a strong return for the water and tending.

  • Guy, you said: “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).”

    If we’re standing in the tide and it starts to go out, but I’m closer to shore by seventy five feet, who gets left high and dry first?

    I do. And I’ll do whatever it takes to stay in the water as that sand is HOT!!!

    If you’re in another country, let’s say a “stable” area of Mexico, but whatever country you want we can use that one too, be it China, European, or Central/South American and the United States craps the bed so economic chaos reigns supreme, I’d say that you’re significantly worse off, far sooner than you’d be were you in the United States. While the United States is still in mid crash, that other country you are currently in will already be in really, really bad shape. I like to think of this as economic/societal momentum.

    In most of these other countries, many people already don’t have anything, sure the argument can be made that they don’t have nearly as far to fall, but I’d counter that you’d be adding exponentially more people to that situation where you’ve got a mess of people who haven’t got anything and crime/victimization is already rampant.

    Further, you’d be seen as an outsider or worse as a rich American who is there to take whatever the measure of worth is from someone be they real or imagined. That’s usually when violence starts. You’ve got quite the set up, you’re willing to give up the security and network you’ve got now this late in the game?

    But don’t let me stop you, if you don’t bet, you can’t win, right?

    “Shit” guy: Is the word “shit” your special word of the day? While I tend to agree with some of your descriptions of certain other quite bigoted posters, do you think that being an obnoxious ass is going to get you listened to or ignored? At least you attack everyone equally…

    A quote you remind me of: A ‘critic’ is a man who creates nothing and thereby feels qualified to judge the work of creative men. There is logic in this; he is unbiased – he hates all creative people equally.

  • ed/kathy
    a durable solar dryer that i believe beats the humidity factor.


    the expense is the screen. i have used plastic ronco dryer screens w/ a experimental model of his setup.

    same problem w/ summer squash here kathy. whipped me too! winter squash for me. cushaw[my current hero, very big, & prolific]& butternut works good here… for now. no drying needed. my neighbor puts sevin on the seed btw.

    ed nice solar pump setup. i’m going to check out the pump, etc. you refer to as i have a similar water source problem…at the lowest part of our place. i’ve got a pond dug but it hasn’t sealed yet.

  • Keith Olberman – excellent comment on the recent US debt deal.


    But nowadays asking Americans to take to the streets in anger and protest is akin to asking a cat to bark. It simply won’t happen. Americans have been anaesthetised through public education, entertainment, sports and behavioural psyops to accept whatever has been dished out to them with an element of passive cynicism which is considered by TPTB as an acceptable emotional outlet. They have been isolated, polarised and diffused among many causes and prejudices to the saturation point at which there no longer exists a threat to the REAL problem confronting them – an economy based upon infinite growth – an economic model that benefits only the rich and powerful (for now).

    America will fall quietly whilst its people cannot take time away from their sports, entertainment, TV reality shows and trivia news. They will be too distracted to see a totalitarian government take root. They will not see when people are removed in the middle of the night to special camps, or simply disappear. They will not understand the implications when their social nets are removed. They will not understand when gasoline prices go through the roof. They will not understand as their country’s infrastructure rots beneath their feet. They will not understand when they see food shortages appear.

    When the TV and Internet fail, they will at last get angry.

    But at whom? What is left then?

  • If you’re in another country, let’s say a “stable” area of Mexico, but whatever country you want we can use that one too, be it China, European, or Central/South American and the United States craps the bed so economic chaos reigns supreme, I’d say that you’re significantly worse off, far sooner than you’d be were you in the United States.

    That might be, TG!, but I don’t think so. It could go either way. Certainly the less prosperous nations will suffer first, as they are already beginning to. But most countries have already figured out the the US is on its way out and are deeply involved in ways to mitigate that. The regional economies of Asia, the Middle East, Europe and South America are no longer as dependent upon the US as they once were, having made many adjustments to their markets and growing their economies among themselves. Even the venerable US dollar as a global reserve currency is being worked around as countries agree among themselves on bases of exchange. Only the US seems convinced of its importance in the world of tomorrow. It is still wallowing in its own sense of self-importance and exceptionalism to see what is really happening in other parts of the world.

    Meanwhile, it continues to rely upon the suburban economy even in the midst of a growing energy problem. It continues to allow its infrastructure to rot away. It has no real ambitions to put into place some of the necessary changes that would help it to weather the coming storm, as other countries are doing. As Kunstler has indicated, America’s Achilles heel is her suburban-based infrastructure. So when she falls, she will fall quickly and disastrously – much more quickly than just about any other country.

    And with America’s move towards a true police state, I would not want to live there. The US is on the edge of darkness. Only a slight tip in the right direction will assure its fate. Strangely, its people as a whole cannot sense that. But then, such changes are rarely sensed by the general population until it is way too late.

  • Sam thanks, that solar dryer looks good. I will see if I can get the guy who builds things for us sometimes, to build it. Neither of us is very good at building things. That is why we have called some of the pens we built the Snuffy Smith, and the Daisy Mae. Although we did call the largest one we built the Taj Mahal :)

  • Ditto thanks from me, Sam, re solar dryer. We have a solar dryer, but it is much too small to be useful when the fruit are ripe and ready for processing. Also does anyone else have problems with tiny little flies (vinegar flies I think) that get on the fruit whilst drying. I can’t imagine that you could keep them out with a smaller mesh. Any thoughts?