I came into this world in the year Hitler invaded Poland.
I was too young to participate directly in that conflict but there are certain things I remember that left an indelible impression.
War was a given condition to my childhood. It was all I knew.
Unknown events were occurring in laboratories across Europe that would soon change the world forever.
Our fate hung on the physicists of the early twentieth century.
The 1927 Solvay Conference
“Probably the most intelligent picture ever taken”
Photo via http://3.bp.blogspot.com
Back to front, left to right:
Back: Auguste Piccard, Émile Henriot, Paul Ehrenfest, Édouard Herzen, Théophile de Donder, Erwin Schrödinger, JE Verschaffelt, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Ralph Fowler, Léon Brillouin.
Middle: Peter Debye, Martin Knudsen, William Lawrence Bragg, Hendrik Anthony Kramers, Paul Dirac, Arthur Compton, Louis de Broglie, Max Born, Niels Bohr.
Front: Irving Langmuir, Max Planck, Marie Curie, Hendrik Lorentz, Albert Einstein, Paul Langevin, Charles-Eugène Guye, CTR Wilson, Owen Richardson.
Also see short film clip:
“Einstein and Bohr undoubtedly were two of the most famous of all 29 conference attendees, but it’s worthwhile to note that 17 out of the total became or already were Nobel Prize winners. Marie Curie was the only woman among the bunch of men, at that point was already distinguished for having won two Nobel Prizes. Her first one was in 1903 in the field of chemistry, and the second in 1911 for physics.” (From TheVintageNews.com/2017/12/05/Solvay-Conference-in-1927)
Twelve years later on August 2, 1939, a scant 27 days before Hitler invaded Poland, three Hungarian physicists sealed our future.
Convinced that Werner Heisenberg and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin had taken up research to build a bomb, Leo Szilard (age 41) and Eugene Wigner (age 37) recruited the younger, 31 year old Edward Teller as a chauffeur to drive the group from Manhattan out to Long Island to seek out the summer residence of Albert Einstein.
The plan was to enlist Einstein to their cause as the only scientist of sufficient reputation and weight that might stand a chance of gaining the attention of President Roosevelt. They were successful in locating Einstein after stopping in his Long Island neighborhood and asking a young girl where the man with the big hair lived.
On that fateful day, Einstein affixed his signature to the letter that would be hand-carried to Roosevelt.
Image from Wikipedia.org
The race was on.
It would be named “The Manhattan Project” because that was where the plan was hatched.
I learned about all this much later after the fact.
I did not need to have direct knowledge of unknown events in order to experience their profound effects as I came of age.
“Finish all the food on your plate Billy Lee. Remember all the starving people who would love to have what you are leaving.”
“Yes ma’am,” I replied dutifully as I poked a fork at the fried yellow crookneck squash from the victory garden lying there supine on my plate in a puddle of congealed margarine, the wartime substitute for butter.
For some reason I had developed a dislike for squash and I delayed eating it in the hope of surreptitiously sliding it onto another person’s plate or down into the napkin on my lap.
I was saved by the gathering roar of high-flying engines that came in through the open windows. “May I be excused, puleeze? The planes are coming!”
Without waiting for an answer, I pushed back my chair and ran out of the kitchen into the back yard, letting the screen door slam behind me, and stood there with my bare feet in the warm dust and my hand shading my eyes.
I looked up and thrilled to wave after wave of B-17s flying north, leaving contrails in the brilliant October sunlight.
“Mom! Come out quick, do you think uncle Bryan is up there?”
The cowboy matinees were much better. A Saturday double-feature at the movie theater would usually include a newsreel of the latest Hollywood Armed Forces propaganda that we ate up along with the popcorn and the serial adventures of Tom Mix and Hopalong Cassidy.
Mom, puleeze let me go. It only costs two cents and nobody can shoot Buster Crabbe in the back because he has eyes in the back of his head. You gotta see it!”
Newspapers and magazines were everywhere. I learned to read early and new worlds opened up. I became an omnivorous reader. If it had print on it I would read it. Sitting on the toilet in the bathroom, I would carefully read the labels on all the bottles at hand. I became something of a prodigy. I more or less skipped the third grade.
Grammar was really boring but I must hand it to our teacher, Miss Ora Starkweather. I swear that was her real name. Even though she was of a rather pinched and prunish disposition, when she discovered my penchant for reading she gave up on trying to pound grammar into my recalcitrant soul. She found that I always passed the tests and I was learning grammar by another method – by reading.
Unlike some of the rowdier kids, she never had to discipline me for antics which typically involved bubble gum – blowing a big bubble and busting it into the hair of the girl sitting in front of you – guaranteed to have Miss Starkweather grab you by the ear and haul you over to stand in the corner for a spell.
Some of those elementary teachers could be mean and their reputations preceded them to keep their students in line. My ear had been grabbed in the second grade and that was enough for me to not want any more of it.
Dumb kids were not passed to the next grade. They were sent to summer school or repeated the grade next year.
I spent a year in the back of the room reading whatever interested me and I was passed on up to the fourth grade. Soon I was reading almanacs and encyclopedias cover to cover.
By the ninth grade I had read all the books in the junior high school library – several thousand uncensored, politically incorrect books of all kinds. You will be surprised to learn the range of books that were in an ordinary, podunk, undistinguished junior high library of that era.
Perhaps my favorite, which one might expect, was The Bears of Blue River – boys adventure stories on the frontier read innumerable times.
And then, believe it or not for junior high, Mein Kampf by Adolph Hitler, a thick boring read into what motivated the Nazis.
Nietzsche was a challenge to a fifteen year old mind. Man and Superman and Thus Spake Zarathustra had interesting titles but were really convoluted for casual reading. I puzzled over concepts that were a maze I had not yet developed the necessary reference points to navigate.
Then I discovered a thin volume hiding on a shelf I had previously overlooked. It had less of an overt philosophical bent but it’s impact propelled me into a deep introspection that would last for decades and ultimately lead to the genesis of The Atomic Trekker.
Photo from Reuters
Hiroshima by war correspondent John Hersey was an unforgettable book. Published in 1946 in The New Yorker, it was a sensation that led many of the scientists that developed the bomb to reconsider their actions. Einstein said that if he had foreknowledge of what would happen at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he would not have signed the fateful letter to Roosevelt.
The entire August 31, 1946 issue of The New Yorker was devoted to Hersey’s story.
Read it here: NewYorker.com/Magazine/1946/08/31/Hiroshima
Within two months Alfred A. Knopf printed the article as a book. It has sold over three million copies and has never been out of print. More information: Wikipedia.org/Wiki/Hiroshima
Teller, after he became known as “The father of the H-Bomb,” an appellation he did not care for, eventually made the argument that if the United States had not developed the bomb first, Stalin would have gotten there instead. To even more hideous effect, Stalin would have had a weapon to enslave the world with the blessings of communism.
The nuclear genii has long been out of the box and that train has long left the station of 1939. But in commemoration of the 74th anniversary of that occasion of August 6, 1945 I am reminded of another story in another time and in another place that might help in bringing closure.
Embracing the Leper
You will note that one of the main characters of Hersey’s article was a German Roman Catholic priest, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, who survived Hiroshima 1,400 yards from ground zero.
38 year old Kleinsorge was weak from wartime rationing and had a "thin face, with a prominent Adam's apple, a hollow chest, dangling hands, big feet..."
A great leap of irony takes us back to the 12th century and Giovanni di Bernardone, born in Assisi, Duchy of Spoleto, Holy Roman Empire. In a novel on Bernardone’s life, Nikos Kazantzakis writes of an incident that can instruct us.
If memory serves after a long passage of years, the main character is undergoing a long period of fasting, prayer and mortification while living alone in a remote mountain cave. He has received inner guidance that to make further spiritual progress, he must get rid of his worst fear. He knew what that fear was – lepers. At that time lepers were truly hideous and pitiful, shunned and driven away from society to roam about the countryside looking for sustenance.
One morning he awoke and from the mouth of his cave he saw a leper making his way methodically up the trail to the cave. Overcoming a revulsive panic to flee at the leper’s approach, he realized that his test had arrived and forced himself to reverse course and run down the path to embrace the leper and kiss him full on the mouth – at which time the leper transformed into the living Christ.
We now know that cave dweller as Saint Francis of Assisi. He overcame his worst fear – an example of a technique explained more fully in The Atomic Trekker: How I Avoided 9 Fatal Mistakes and Learned to Live Happily in a Radioactive World.
Normalcy Bias and the Psychology of Disaster
I go on in the book to use the example of G. Gordon Liddy who had a pathological fear of rats as a young boy. He eventually freed himself from that fear by embracing it in his own backyard.
He trapped, roasted and ate a rat thus exorcising his worst fear.
So here again on this anniversary we are fortunate indeed to have the opportunity to embrace one of the worst fears of our collective humanity and be free of it – free from the paralysis of fear and free to act while there is yet time to ameliorate our atomic legacy.
Hiroshima Mon Amie – Hiroshima My Friend
Requiescat In Pace
August 6, 2019
Mountains of Montana
Image Credit: Getty
Over a thousand miles away, the 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquakes rang church bells in Boston as the Mississippi River ran backwards.
There was no place to run and no place to hide.
Some fault lines are well known. Others are more obscure but nonetheless ubiquitous. We live on the crust of a living planet that is in constant motion. Somewhere at any given time there is a whole lot of shaking going on. It’s only when it happens to us or somewhere close by do we pay attention.
If you think you are secure in flyover country, you had better keep reading. From California to Montana, down the continental divide to Texas, across to West Virginia, and up to New England, craton boundaries are being activated by cavitation and the transfer of energy from the Pacific Fire Ring.
By and large earthquakes follow tectonic plate and craton boundaries, which are breaks that extend through the earth's crust and uppermost mantle.
Think of a large, crispy cookie. If you pick it up and put enough stress on it with your hands, it will usually break into a number of pieces.
Stress on the cratons is relieved by perforations, from drilling and fracking operations and from volcanic activity, which provide channels through the crust into the underlying magma. The U.S. is virtually covered with evidence of volcanic activity both recent and ancient. In the western U.S. this evidence is plainly seen with satellite technology. In the eastern sections of the country, the increased precipitation and subsequent increased erosion of the surface geology coupled with the increased cover of vegetation tends to obscure the volcanic features that are nonetheless indigenous to the terrain.
Bear in mind that volcanic and geothermal activity and earthquakes traditionally go hand in glove. The countless number of holes drilled into the crust for hydrocarbon and geothermal extraction and other purposes is changing the natural earthquake profile. Normally stable areas are becoming active.
The good news is that there are very specific actions you can take to greatly reduce your vulnerability to these seemingly unpredictable events.
What would you think if I told you that contrary to the official USGS government doctrine, earthquakes can be forecast to a remarkable extent?
On February 9, 1971 at 6:00 AM I was still away in dreamland, lulled asleep by the constant murmur of the Pacific surf. My house in Manhattan Beach rested at the top of a large sand dune in a warren of small houses that had sprung up in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Airline people flocked to the area because of the beach culture and the convenient proximity to LAX.
I thought that Ruthli, my lovely Pan Am stewardess was shaking the bed telling me to wake up, wake up!
I opened my eyes and saw the Japanese Lantern that hung over the bed swaying back and forth. I knew what was happening immediately. In a flash we were out of bed and standing in the street with a gathering band of neighbors as the sandy earth continued to roll in waves beneath our feet making it difficult to maintain our balance. I had never felt so helpless.
There was nowhere to go. There was no place to hide from the 6.5 San Fernando temblor that dropped freeway spans, destroyed older buildings and caused the high rises along the Santa Monica Freeway to sway precipitously.
“The near total failure of the Lower Van Norman Dam caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of down stream residents…” (Wikipedia)
As you will see from the following video, L.A. was a far different place almost half a century ago – much more social cohesion then when disaster struck.
That event, described in more detail in The Atomic Trekker: How I Avoided 9 Fatal Mistakes and Learned to Live Happily in a Radioactive World launched me on a quest that led to my escape from the military-industrial complex and a new life on higher ground, building blast and radiation shelters.
I discovered that a properly designed blast shelter was also a good earthquake shelter. My new Montana location was still in an active quake zone but I did not have to worry about tsunamis.
With that introduction of my bona-fides to address these issues and in consideration of the 6.4 and 7.1 events occurring in California on July 4 and 5 respectively and with more on the way, please consider a few recommendations that could save your life.
1. Install a motion sensitive automatic Earthquake Gas Shut-off Valve if your dwelling uses natural gas or propane. Earthquakes are notorious for rupturing utility lines. Many houses explode and burn from gas leaks as a secondary but no less deadly effect.
Earthquake Gas Shut-off Valve
Get one now. They are cheap and very cost-effective for the protection they provide. Do your due diligence and select the best valve to suit your needs and DIY or find a good plumber you trust and take his advice. Here are some helpful links (click to open in a new tab):
I have a blog acquaintance who lived through the 7.9 Alaska quake centered off Kodiak Island in 2018 with his family. The wood houses in his neighborhood largely survived with minor damage but tragically, most of the neighboring homes burned to the ground. The referenced blogger happened to be a chemical engineer and had the foresight to install a simple automatic earthquake shut-off valve on his gas meter. His house survived unscathed while the neighborhood was destroyed.
The lesson here is to make sure your friends and neighbors also install these devices.
At the very least get a dedicated wrench and attach it to the main shut-off valve located outside the house so that if all else fails you can manually turn off the gas.
2. Prepare to manually turn off the electrical power. Find the main electrical service entrance to the structure. Usually, you can lift the lid of the box enclosure and flip the main breakers. If a tool is needed to open the box, get one now and secure it to the box or to a conduit coming out of the box so that is easily seen when under duress. Here is a helpful link (click to open in a new tab):
3. Prepare to cut off the water. You don’t need a house flood from broken pipes. If needed, secure the appropriate tool to the cut off valve. Here is a helpful link (click to open in a new tab):
4. Have a 3 day bug-out backpack provisioned and ready to go pre-positioned where you can conveniently grab it and head out the door after you survive the initial quake effects.
5. Have a larger pack and a 14 day supply of food and other essential supplies pre-positioned in your vehicle. Keep the vehicle well-fueled and topped off. I always have two NATO 20 liter fuel cans stored in the vehicle. The only fuel cans I recommend are made by WAVIAN. Click here to visit their website.
From the WAVIAN website, "Wavian Fuel Cans are made in the very same factory that has been producing Steel Jerry Cans for NATO countries since WWI. Originally located in Germany, the cans' manufacturing facility had to move to Latvia during the second world war. They've been made there ever since. These are the original, genuine NATO Jerry Cans.”
Beware of cheap Chinese imitations. They can get you killed. Occasionally, genuine used NATO cans come into the U.S. market and these can be quite good also if carefully inspected to make sure the rubber seals are still intact.
Items 1-4 are prudent measures to maintain at all times and are not specific only to earthquakes. Since you don’t know precisely when a quake will strike, practice the following measures that are based on actual case studies and not conjecture.
6. Stay where you are when caught by a strong quake. Your greatest danger is from flying debris. If inside. Duck and cover, protecting your head and vitals. Crawl under a table or desk and hold on to it. If no table or suitable overhead cover is close by, crawl to an interior wall and ball up with hands over the back of the head.
Sounds like the grizzly attack "play dead" tactic and the nuclear attack "duck and cover" protective measure doesn’t it?
Stay away from external walls and doorways despite what you see touted on the internet by self-proclaimed experts.
If caught outside, stay outside. Duck and cover away from buildings and vehicles to present the smallest target for flying debris. If in a vehicle, stay in a vehicle. If outside do not take cover beside or under a vehicle.
Review this website for the empirical evidence behind the actions recommended in number 6 above which may be contrary to what you have been taught. Click here.
As with all the ordinary traumas and dramas of life you may have to adjust and calibrate for your particular circumstance so stay awake and flexible. Your mileage may vary.
If conditions are severe enough to knock you around, it might be the better part of wisdom to shelter in place with what you have. Roads may be impassable due to fallen debris and power lines. It might be better to stick around and protect your property from looters.
Ideally, if you have read The Atomic Trekker and have a copy of A Failure of Civility, it is time to turn out your Neighborhood Protection Team and activate the Neighborhood Protection Plan.
If you are fortunate enough to have followed the advice of The Atomic Trekker and have constructed your private blast and fallout shelter, you are all set. Even if your house was totally demolished, your shelter will have survived intact with its stored supplies.
As for myself, when I went through the 1971 San Fernando quake, my beach house survived intact but a series of darker events started to roil around in my psyche.
We humans are remarkably adaptable creatures. My wood house made with full-dimension rough-cut floor joists from back in the day survived the quake with no damage. Before buying the house I had crawled around underneath the floor looking for termites which are legion to the area and discovered the sturdy construction underneath the somewhat beach-worn exterior.
The aftershocks went on for a year or more. They were magnified by the sandy ground. After a while you get used to them. The house shakes a bit and things rattle around but you go on about your business putting on that new sundeck over the garage. There were hundreds if not thousands of aftershocks.
On The Beach
(quote from The Atomic Trekker)
After dropping out of the corporate rat race I lived on the beach for five years as I got my life
sorted out. I traveled all over the world, always returning to my little house overlooking the ocean where I was lulled to sleep with the roar of the pacific surf. I got to know the many moods of the sea – the tranquil and the tragic – as I stared ever westward into a sunset of endless summer.
The turn of the seasons were barely perceptible from the shore but the ocean responded to
seasonal events on the far side of the world.
In winter, great typhoons in the southern oceans generated enormous wave sets that traveled
thousands of miles to pound the California coast. In that regard, nothing much had changed
since 1840 when Richard Henry Dana wrote about it in Two Years Before The Mast.
On one bright and sunny New Year’s Day the ocean was filled with boats as the afternoon sea
breeze freshened the balmy 65 degree atmosphere in the Los Angeles basin. I watched from my sun deck as more and more boats of every description paraded back and forth along the coast. There was a heavy surf running and the parade stayed well off the beach and well off the breakers. But there were always fools.
Lured in by a seeming calm in the wave sets, a 60 foot motor launch with hatches open and full of people was caught on the beam by an outside breaker. The craft flipped over and was
relentlessly pounded to pieces in the 16 foot surf.
17 people including children drowned in their life jackets at the foot of my street in Manhattan
Beach. My respect for the sea reached a new level as I struggled to digest the meaning of the tragedy.
When the earth started to shake, I started to have a recurrent dream…
I was standing on the beach looking out to sea as a tsunami approached. It grew closer, reaching enormous proportions, 100 feet high and totally black. There was no place to go, no escape and no place to hide. I always awoke in terror.
That dream propelled me to the mountains far away from the sea. I would never again be able to sleep easy at sea level.
Tragedies live on in the subconscious mind and have a life of their own that can come back and bite you in unexpected ways when you least expect it.
One of the essential tasks of the Atomic Trekker is to expunge and purge the subconscious mind to get rid of those propensities for self sabotage. Success is not baked into the mission. The trek could end in ignominious failure.
I had to get rid of the inner demons first because there would be plenty of external enemies ahead before I learned to forecast earthquakes.
Don’t worry. I haven't lost my marbles. You can learn to forecast earthquakes too.
If you do not know Dutchsinse, please let me introduce him now – the gentleman who is turning the geophysical establishment on it’s head because he is doing what they said cannot be done. Dutchsinse has a successful track record of forecasting earthquakes based on the empirical record of actual events, not theory. He and his colleagues are forging a new scientific paradigm.
Rather than me trying to explain it to you, the best way to grasp the methodology is for him to present it in his own words.
Anyone with a smattering of high school science will understand how to forecast your own earthquakes.
Pay attention to the wording of that last sentence. I said “forecast”, not predict. An earthquake forecast is much like a weather forecast and not a “prediction”. Once you cross that Rubicon into the realm of statistical prediction, the hucksters come out of the woodwork and you had better check the most sensitive nerve of the body located back in the vicinity of your rear pocket where your wallet is located because somebody is trying to sell you a smelly load of B.S.
On hearing the word “prediction”, I am certain that Herr Doktor Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb would severely frown before rising to his feet shouting “nonsense” to call you out for confusing percentages of certainty with Black Swans. He then might challenge you to read Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder so you don’t have to worry so much about specific events such as earthquakes. You can develop “rules of thumb” to deal with contingents and get on with life.
With that said, listen up and enjoy Dutchsince. Pay particular attention to the standing wave experiments at UCLA that he refers to.
Dutchsinse has discovered that government agencies lie when it suits their political purposes. USGS routinely changes and selectively omits scientific real-time data feeds when the evidence begins to run counter to official policy. I discovered the same thing with government real-time radiation data feeds from monitoring stations across the U.S.
That’s why I strongly recommend that individuals learn to do their own monitoring, establish their own independent monitoring networks and take responsibility for themselves. In The Atomic Trekker I thoroughly explain how to do this.
Now, with all the mention of “new paradigms” in science, don’t expect the entrenched establishment to rollover to a new point of view in any time span less than two or three generations.
The reason why came out in a little physics discussion – some back and forth friendly repartee with my daughter during a visit. I wrote about it in a piece entitled:
The Mephisto Waltz & The Planter's Paradox
April 8, 2017
By the way, in regard to the last piece we did on Gabe Brown and the paradigm shift to healthy production agriculture, do you think Big Ag can ever be changed to where they stop poisoning people?”
The closing recommendations I commend to you for becoming Quake Proof are:
7. Hit the antifragile trail where singular events such as quakes and nukes are stressors that only make you stronger provided you are not entirely wiped out. On the trail you will discover “rules of thumb” that will enable you to deal with the stressors. Use the references previously cited for instruction.
8. Limit your screen time on all the various digital devices that steal your attention and suck your soul into a miasma of unreality. Remember, the real world of nature is an an analog world.
9. The final litany: Stay away from crowds (Hat tip to Ol Remus). Come out of the cities; You don’t have enough ammo.
10 July 2019
Mountains of Montana
New Ordnance is a grizzled veteran of the early decades of the cold war. After a career in the semi-conductor industry at the heart of the military – industrial complex, he escaped the Matrix and landed in the Rocky Mountains where he was an early adopter of photovoltaics for terrestrial applications and subsequently lived for over thirty years in an off-grid homestead. At the height of the cold war he founded a firm that designed and constructed blast and radiation shelters for private clients.
In an effort to preserve the arts of civilization, New Ordnance writes on topics that encourage individual, family and community initiative in a time of cultural devolution. He is the author of The Atomic Trekker: How I Avoided 9 Fatal Mistakes and Learned to Live Happily in a Radioactive World.
Protection From Silent Killers That Stalk the Nation’s Food Supply
Two recent events raise the specter of radioactive contamination once again as silent killers stalk the nation’s food supply.
Just because it might take a little longer to kill you does not make it less deadly.
Just because you cannot apprehend it with your five senses does not make it less deadly.
Whether GMO contamination, glyphosate contamination or radioactive fallout contamination, you can protect yourself if you have right information and you take the right action. Information alone is worthless without appropriate action.
The good news is that there are practical steps you can take to alleviate these conditions. Rather than reacting to specific threats as they may arise in your life, it is far better to adopt a way of life that inoculates you from mortal unseen threats and allows you to profit and grow stronger in the process. Nicholas Taleb coined the term “antifragility” to describe this phenomenon. I delve into this concept at length and describe many practical applications in my book The Atomic Trekker. (Click here to learn more)
Radioactivity does not sleep. It’s there 24/7 radiating silently away. From Fukushima to the old hydrogen bomb test sites in the South Pacific to an obscure middle school in Ohio the atomic legacy strikes in unsuspected ways in diverse locations.
Now, the old Enewetak Test Site in the South Pacific is in the news again. Despite the grotesque concrete dome, it appears that radioactive material is seeping through the porous coral soil. (Click here for news article source)
Who would have thought?
"UN chief warns nuclear waste could be leaking into the Pacific" Cracks in a 40-year-old nuclear 'coffin' are raising concern. (Click here for news article)
“WHOI geochemist Ken Buesseler carries a hand-held Geiger counter as he prepares to ascend...”
Deja vu all over again. That old test site just keeps giving and giving. I wrote about it in my April 2017 article on why I don’t eat sweet corn anymore. (Click here to read "Atomic Harvest" by New Ordnance)
No thanks! I don’t think I will be climbing that dome to sniff out any leaks. My predilection is to go in the opposite direction. Here in the US we have plenty of radioactive seeps and leaks of our own – from Hanford in Washington State leaking into the Columbia river, Oak Ridge contamination in the TVA lakes, the lost radioactive dumps on the Pajarito Caldera surrounding Los Alamos, Rocky Flats north of Denver, Pantex near Amarillo, the Savannah River Site in South Carolina and other places you never heard of. The list goes on and on. Sooner or later they all seep and leak.
Governments always lie in these matters because it is in their best interest to do so.
If you wait for the government to tell you about it, it’s too late.
Zahn’s Corner Middle School in Ohio closed due to radioactive contamination. (Click here for the news article)
According to the school district, enriched uranium and neptunium-237, two highly carcinogenic radioactive chemicals, were detected inside the building and at a DOE air monitor next to the school.
The Department of Energy's Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which is located about two miles from the Zahn's Corner Middle School in Piketon, Ohio, may be the source of the contamination that closed the school.
(U.S. Department of Energy)
“Between 2010 to 2014, the cancer incidence rate in the county was almost 488 per 100,000, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The rate is 10 percent higher than the national average.” (NBC News)
Unfortunately, the news was too late for the children of Zahn's Corner Middle School. Big Brother did not take care of them.
Depending on government to take care of you is the fatal mistake that all other fatal mistakes are based on.
Far better to take personal responsibility for your food supply and the basic necessities of life going forward. The priorities never change – air, shelter, water, food, medical care and defense. Cover the basics and come what may and you are free to pursue the antifragile life to build family, tribe and community.
It may seem too complex. That’s one reason I wrote the book – to show that it’s not the end of the world if your crops are contaminated by fallout. Some plants are easily decontaminated and others are not. You are better off growing Painted Mountain Corn beans and squash rather than broccoli, cauliflower and wheat. Some plants absorb certain radioactive isotopes more readily than others. There are no magic bullets but you might discover why I plan on growing lots of Lemon Balm for my herb chest.
As you can see from the picture at the beginning of the article, the portable take-away garden that I started planting a little over a month ago is yielding an abundant crop of super greens. (Click here to read the original how-to post)
I now have 12 bins with detached covers that can be easily transported to another location given enough time. In extremis, I would have higher priority items to transport in a sudden bug-out situation.
Of course, the antifragile strategy is to live at your bug-out location already. The chances of getting out of Dodge when the flag goes up are grid-locked slim.
It’s been raining steadily the past few days with a cold cloudy wind blowing in from the east, pushing scud banks through the gaps in the mountains with more snow on the high peaks – perfect hypothermia weather but it makes that famous Montana grass grow. That same ol’ springtime buffalo grass that lured those long horn cattle drivers from Texas to Montana, chronicled by Larry McMurtry in Lonesome Dove and portrayed with a quintessential performance by Robert Duvall.
Stay safe my brothers and sisters and never loose that joie de vivre.
May 20, 2019
Somewhere in the mountains of Montana
Yeah, I know you’re stuck TDY in a city or suburb and it’s planting time.
What are you going to do?
The early spring snow squalls come and go and it’s past time to “get out of Dodge.”
There are wars and rumors of war – even civil war and you are stuck for a while.
Here is a cheap, down and dirty trick you might want to take a look at.
It also offers crop protection from errant clouds of radioactive fallout that might come your way and from the over-spray of zealous poison purveyors, with Roundup or their favorite flavor of glyphosate, out to attack any dandelion that dares to poke it’s yellow head above that unblemished expanse of green lawn.
I picked up five used translucent plastic storage bins at a local thrift shop for a buck apiece and drilled numbers of 1/4 inch holes in the bottoms to facilitate water drainage. I discovered that the plastic will crack when drilled unless backed up with a piece of wood or whatever. Cracks did not concern me as long as the structural integrity of the bottom was not compromised.
I then shoveled in about about 2 inches of free road gravel that I scavenged to cover the holes. I got a big bag of organic top soil and 2 smaller bags of composted sheep manure on sale at a local hardware store for about $12 – enough for 8 inches on top of the gravel when mixed together in each bin with some left over. Yes, there were some small wood chips but it wasn’t too bad.
The bins came with no covers so I got out my worm drive SKIL Saw made in the US and purchased for $99.00 in 1984. It was still running strong and I managed to rip 2 white wood 2” X 4” X 8’’s without losing any fingers.
I then built rectangular cover frames, using 1 #16 box nail and 1 torx screw at each corner. The frames were sized to fit loose so they did not have to be exactly square which made construction simple when assembled on a flat surface such as the sidewalk or living room floor.
The frames were covered with cheap translucent 6 mil plastic film, about $6 for a small roll. I rolled out some plastic on the living room carpet and placed a frame on the plastic. Without measuring anything, I took a pair of scissors and cut a rectangle of plastic about 4 inches outside the frame.
With an old Arrow T-50 hand stapler normally used to staple up targets, I tacked the plastic onto the frame keeping the film reasonably tight and centered. The excess 4 inches of plastic on each side was folded over about 3 times on itself and stapled to the frame with 1 staple about every 2 inches.
The plastic was fairly secure with just staples through the folded edges. Excess plastic was quickly trimmed off with the scissors. If it had been in a high wind area, I would have nailed wood battens over the staples but in this case the staples alone should suffice.
Now for a little thermal mass and heat storage, I rustled up some empty 1 liter plastic drink bottles and a couple of old 1 gallon anti-freeze containers – the ones that have a narrow profile. Rummaging through the paint locker, I found a partially full can of flat black spray paint and another partial can of dark brown camo.
Stretching on a pair of those blue nitrile gloves, I held a bottle in one hand and sprayed with the other over the dead grass of the lawn that had recently emerged from two feet of snow. Making quick work of it, I placed the bottles on the ground under the lip of the porch to dry - not too concerned with the old leaves and winter’s detritus messing up the paint job – good enough for this kind of work.
The containers were filled with tap water and snugged into the soil at the rear of each bin with the front of the bin facing true south. Each rectangular bin was oriented with the longer sides on an east/west axis so that the front would see the sun as it circumscribed an arc through the southern sky. For this application, rough “rules of thumb” are good enough for a simple, direct-gain solar grow box. No need to labor over heat transfer calculations, I know from long experience that this will work fantastically to serve our purpose. I am sure that you see this intuitively and will have ideas for other improvements to suit your own needs and climatic conditions.
The lids are sized so that the frames are totally outside the lips of the bins with the plastic film resting on the lips forming a perfect seal to limit the night-time infiltration of cold air that might freeze the young plants that would otherwise thrive in these typical Montana, early-spring conditions.
The lids are easily secured to the bins with bungee cords that are attached
to loops of rope that run under the bins. During the day, the lids can either be completely removed or positioned to partially cover the bins as conditions warrant. At night, the lids are fastened back down. The lids are easily removed for watering with a sprinkling can as required.
Yes, one can make technical improvements to these rudimentary grow boxes but are they worth it? I figure what I have here will add 3 to 4 weeks on each side of the growing season. That’s like skipping down one or two climate regions to the south. The UV radiation at these higher elevations will disintegrate the cheap plastic film in one season but so what. I have minimum investment and ubiquitous plastic is easy to replace in this case.
The light transmission through the translucent bins may be only 80% and for the single layer covers maybe 85% if I had to guess. But guess what? The plants love it because of the diffusion characteristics of the plastic which refracts the light more evenly throughout the container. Besides, in above freezing daytime weather, the lids will be off and the plants will receive direct sunlight.
The downside until non-freezing summer temperatures arrive, is that twice a day, just like milking animals, you have to attend to adjusting the lids so you don’t fry the plants in the day or freeze them at night.
During the day, the water bottles will absorb heat from the sun, even on cloudy days. At night, the bottles will radiate the heat back to the plants.
Theoretically, black is the best heat absorption and emission color but in practice a deep green or dark brown will suffice. Water is a good heat storage medium because of it’s excellent heat capacity per unit volume and weight characteristics in a cheap and commonly available material. Metal water containers would have better heat exchange characteristics over plastic bottles but you can’t beat the cost and ubiquity of throw-away drink containers. Then, we could get into the volume of the containers vs their light exposed surface areas etc. etc. on and on with considerations that are complete overkill for our little project here. But you get the point about some of the simple but subtle principles of passive solar design that can be used to design structures and buildings of any size.
I do have plans for more sophisticated solar grow boxes that will extend into deep winter but they are heavier and more bulky with insulated sides and better, more permanent double glazing that is angled to catch the sun that is much lower on the winter horizon.
(Image: My small spectator)
Here, we have a simple strategy to grow many densely packed salad greens of early maturity that will be selectively clipped while young at 2 to 3 inches height in a manner that will allow most of the plants to keep growing with minimum thinning for a period of time into the summer – kinda like mowing the lawn we hope. We are not interested in letting the plants reach full maturity – not enough room in the boxes for that. We are after early nutrient density.
To that end, I have added some choice soil amendments to assure that the plants are highly mineralized rather than reaching for optimum percentages of NPK. This is the same strategy that we employed in the development of our Alpine Varietal of Painted Mountain Corn seed (click here to learn more) which was a resounding nutritional success.
Here are the secret details:
1st Soil Amendment
The first soil amendment is AZOMITE, a naturally occurring mineral-rich composite which relies on the “The Law of the Minimum.”
AZOMITE® is a natural product in Utah mined from an ancient volcanic eruption into a seabed and is distinct from any other mineral deposit in the world.
I submit that “The Law of the Minimum” also applies to humans and animals as I discuss in my soon to be released new book, The Atomic Trekker. The details are spelled out in the sections on the "New Agricultural Paradigm Poised to Replace Big Ag" and the nutritional program that became a way of life for the resurrection of my own health and continuing longevity. (Click here and scroll down for more)
2nd Soil Amendment
GLACIAL ROCK DUST
GAIA GREEN Glacial Rock Dust is mined from a glacial moraine in Canada, and is the result of thousands of years of piedmont glacial action. As the glaciers traveled from north to south during the last ice age, they picked up rocks containing a range of minerals and trace elements. As the glacier receded at the end of the ice age, it left behind deposits of glacial moraine. These deposits are mined, dried, and screened to be used as a natural soil amendment.
Of course, you may live in an area where the soil is already heavily glaciated – the result of glaciers from the last ice age that covered northern portions of the US and the western mountains. (Click here to learn more)
I sprinkled small quantities of the finely powdered AZOMITE and Glacial Rock Dust into the soil as I was mixing it up in each container.
The water bottles were placed in the back of the containers before the beds were planted so as to not disturb the planted seed bed. The beds were leveled and smoothed with a flat wood slat and shallow north/south rows were pressed out with the slat creating little trenches about an inch apart. The tiny seed was sown by hand in each trench. A planting map of each container was drawn up on a sheet of paper to show at a glance what was planted where. Rather than attempting to move the dirt back over the trenches to the correct planting depth, a cup of soil had been retained to sprinkle over the seed to get the correct planting depth for each type of seed.
Before the seed was covered with soil I added another powerful ingredient.
3rd Soil Amendment - The Secret Ingredient
BIOZOME is a very interesting product containing micro-organisms from the biological Domain Archaea, ancient life-forms astonishingly discovered only in the 1970’s. Archaea are so totally different from bacteria, plants and animals as to require a new category of biological classification. Archaea are found widely distributed in the natural world including the extreme environments of hot springs, salt lakes and volcanic fumaroles.
Certain Archaea have the ability to literally eat rocks and allow the bound minerals to be easily assimilated by plants. Cellulose is quickly digested into compost and agricultural hydrocarbon pesticide residues in soil are digested rendering them harmless to life. Archaea are also deployed in oil spills to metabolize the petroleum into non-toxic metabolites that are useful to plants.
BIOZOME is a soil amendment containing the kind of Archaea that are particularly friendly to plants, quickly breaking down soil nutrients into forms that are easily absorbed – processes that otherwise might require a number of years. In this BIOZOME product the Archaea are mixed with a very fine Bentonite powder which is a benign, naturally-occurring clay that is used in many applications, from cosmetics to sealing well casings and pond linings.
I have a small stash of the original BIOZOME acquired from a guy in Texas who made the stuff back in the day before a corporation consolidated all the production rights and ran him out of business. A professor, now deceased, at the University of Texas in Austin, developed this particular Archaea product. The person I bought the BIOZOME from had a connection to the professor and was an agricultural evangelist for the product. Now that person has been cut out of the picture and you can no longer buy the original uncut BIOZOME. You can however purchase a commercial product that contains BIOZOME in a mixture of other organic soil amendments. The new product is Called Jobe’s Biozome and you can find out where to purchase it by clicking here.
It appears to be widely distributed and I am sure you can find a source in your area.
Now, back to our soil amendment and the application of it.
While the planted seeds are lying in their bed before being covered with soil, I sprinkle a small line of BIOZOME down each row directly on top of the seeds. It’s very light in color and easy to see. It’s best to do this in little to no wind because it’s a fine dust and easily blows away. There are a lot of different ways to apply it but this is how I did it here. The seeds are then covered with the specified depth of soil and I pat down the entire bed with my hands to compact the soil so the seeds don’t float away when watered, which is the next step for the application of:
4th Soil Amendment
Liquid Seaweed is a product derived from Ascophylum nodosum Seaweed – brown in color, the most common seaweed found in the Atlantic Ocean. It contains micro-elements found in seawater: Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc…etc. – virtually the atomic chart of the natural elements plus vegetal hormones, amino acids and sugars which stimulate healthy and quick crop growth and resistance to pests.
Good stuff. I like it.
I followed the directions for seed germination and mixed 2 tablespoons per gallon of water in the hand sprinkler - then carefully sprinkled the seed beds and wet them down. I put the lids on the bins and that was that.
I had planted:
4 varieties of Arugula
6 varieties of Lettuce
2 varieties of Chard
Tatsoi Asian Greens
All varieties were traditional open pollinated – no hybrids.
Now I am ready. When my TDY here is finished, the bins go in the truck and I am off to location A where supplies and amenities are pre-positioned on the edge of a wilderness and the primary threats are bears, wolves and mountain lion.
If the hammer drops before my time is up at this location, my Portable TDY Garden of Nutrient-Dense Super Greens still goes with me unless it’s gridlock and I have to abandon the truck to hit the treeline with my Glock and backpack ready to escape and evade across that snowy mountain range in the distance in an adventure ripped right out of the pages of The Atomic Trekker.
Stay safe my brothers and sisters and forget not the joie de vivre with the Easter-Tide upon us all.
Mountains of Montana
Palm Sunday, 2019
Costco Drops Roundup Weedkiller After $80 Million Awarded In Second Cancer Case.
Home Depot & Lowe’s May Soon Follow.
How Farmers and Ranchers Trapped in the Big Ag Paradigm Can Get Out Now
Save Your Bacon and Avoid Financial Debacle
As if floods are not enough - get out now and stop trying to swim against the tide of history which has turned against you.
The handwriting is on the wall.
It’s not entirely your fault but you are responsible for your actions. For generations you were indoctrinated and sold the “green revolution” KoolAid – sticky sweet going down but bitter in the belly.
You are the “salt of the earth” in America’s heartland and exponent of our traditional values but you let yourself be hijacked and captured by the old siren song.
That wholesome way of life has been co-opted by chemical cartels and genetic manipulators intent on controlling the earth’s populations by controlling their food supply.
Government regulatory agencies and university agriculture departments have long been captured by these corporate interests. They have a hammerlock on you and the information you are allowed to receive.
You are mesmerized and kept in line by the incessant propaganda riding into country and western music and culture while Big Tech plots your demise through Artificial Intelligence and robotics.
It all comes down to human endeavor vs inhuman replication – life vs pseudo-life – the creations of the natural world vs the mis-creations of the artificial world.
It’s not too late though.
You can still get on the right side.
It’s not a matter of scale. You can scale up or down.
It’s not a matter of production agriculture vs small farms and gardens.
It is a matter of production of pseudo-food commodities vs production of real food.
You can still be a producer.
You still have a chance.
But it’s decision time long past.
We have heard this before.
Choose now who you will serve.
I am sure you will see which side mammon is on.
As I point out in The Atomic Trekker, Gabe Brown has the answer – the truly new paradigm. Click here to learn more.
Growers of Painted Mountain Corn in the United States and Beyond:
200 million Americans now at risk of catastrophic flooding.
1 million calves lost in Nebraska.
(Photo from DroneBase via AP)
“Nearly two-thirds of the country is at risk of flooding through May, the NOAA said Thursday. About half of those states face the potential for major or moderate flooding, situations that could affect nearly 200 million Americans this season."
"The extensive flooding we've seen in the past two weeks will continue through May and become more dire and may be exacerbated in the coming weeks as the water flows downstream," said Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center.
"This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season."
You might ask the rhetorical question, “how does the flooding in the mid-west affect me?"
If you are in the low lands of the river bottoms and flood plains or below a dam that ruptured, you know the answer to that question because you are directly experiencing the effects now or could be soon.
If you are on higher ground and your lives are more or less proceeding in their normal trajectory you may think that it could never happen to you. Such events of God and nature fall into the realm of “force majeure” beyond your control, so why disrupt your busy schedule?
"force majeure" describes those uncontrollable events (such as war, labor stoppages, or extreme weather) that are not the fault of any party and that make it difficult or impossible to carry out normal business. A company may insert a force majeure clause into a contract to absolve itself from liability in the event it cannot fulfill the terms of a contract (or if attempting to do so will result in loss or damage of goods) for reasons beyond its control.
Beware of “normalcy bias,” the fatal conceit that leads to self-sabotage with terminal consequences.
You will be affected regardless of your physical location.
You may avoid the direct effects but the indirect and “knock on” effects can be just as deadly.
Rules of Thumb as Your Guide to Black Swans and Other Disasters
Rules of thumb can help you avoid or mitigate natural and man-made disasters whether from floods or radioactive fallout.
Western civilization with all it’s inter-dependencies and accouterments that we take for granted is a complex system growing ever more complex with advances in digital technology. One could argue that the rate of complexity is accelerating. One could beg the question and ask to what end? Is that end a digital paradise or digital oblivion? Or is it more simply, that complexity increases because it can until it can not.
With sufficient feed-back loops the system may self-correct and continue at a lower level of complexity or the system may collapse into it’s primordial constituents.
You may want to check out Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond to discover how a Viking colony flourished for almost 500 years in ice-covered Greenland and then suddenly disappeared.
I tire easily with the abstractions and windy expositions of academics but sometimes you need to listen closer to winnow the wheat from the chaff. You might find out that your lives are governed by the theories of dead economists.
The floods are destroying the means of production for a significant portion of the nation’s food supply along with the means of transportation for the food supply via roads, rails and river barges.
Granted that almost all the corn is GMO and fed to livestock, exported or distilled into ethanol under federal mandate. All the soybeans are GMO and either exported or crushed into oil which is sold and traded around the world and meal which is fed to livestock. Wheat is exported or consumed in myriad wheat products.
This is the Big Ag paradigm and so called “green revolution” dating from the 1960’s that has fed the world albeit one can argue that it is a poisonous paradigm considering the chemicals that are necessary to keep it going and their deleterious effects on health and the natural environment.
Take economics at it’s rudiments. Consider the simple concept of supply and demand applied to food in big cities. Drill down further with this econometric model and apply it to EBT card recipients.
A pretty good assumption for big city EBT recipients is that the demand for burgers, fries and shakes will stay the same or increase over a given period of time. If the supply of food that market segment is accustomed to suddenly decreases or if the price for those staples suddenly increases, what is a reasonable resultant for that equation? Notice I said “reasonable” because there is hardly any precision at all in applying mathematics to human propensities despite the protestations of the faculties of the so-called Social Sciences.
Instead, we use “rules of thumb” that are accurate enough for real world applications.
Demand > Affordable Supply = Riots + Burning Cities
Who will question our rule of thumb food equation for EBT recipients in big cities?
Maybe or maybe not.
In my book The Atomic Trekker I get into a detailed discussion of how “rules of thumb” can guide your quest for antifragility which is a state beyond mere resiliency or robustness. Everyone should study Taleb’s work to understand the unseen forces at play that have major impacts on your world and determine whether you succeed or fail in life.You will be affected regardless of your physical location.
This is an excerpt from the Prologue of The Atomic Trekker:
Take another look at our previous supply and demand equation, a rule of thumb with time-honored and proven origins.
In our case of big city dwelling EBT recipients, the Demand for burgers, fries and shakes is greater than the available (affordable) Supply, equating to Riots plus Burning Cities.
Demand > Affordable Supply = Riots + Burning Cities
Hence, we see a derivation for practical corollaries that are becoming quite familiar as tactical guidance going forward.
Come out of the cities.
Stay away from crowds.
I submit that our economic actions today are still guided by the “invisible hand” of Adam Smith from where he has been resting quietly in Canongate, Edinburgh since 1790 after penning The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and The Wealth of Nations (1776).
The astute reader will note that 1776 was a banner year which saw the publication of three seminal treatises that inform the destiny of a people that would be free – a rare condition in the history of mankind.
1. The Declaration of Independence authored by the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.
2. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith.
3. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon.
In what may be known as "The Great Floods of 2019" here are some practical tools that will help you to find out what is going on underneath the pronouncements of government agencies that tell you what a great job they are doing while obscuring the facts.
Track river gages, floods and water conditions for your state: https://water.usgs.gov/floods/
I was going to put up the link to the NOAA Spring hydrological forecast but it’s inaccurate in my opinion. I would say laughable except for the Nebraska farmers and ranchers who got wiped out when NOAA predicted only moderate flooding is not a laughing matter. I can tell you that there is no love lost between farm and ranch communities and the Army Corp of Engineers either.
Don’t depend on Big Brother Agencies.
Develop your own flood networks for on-the-ground reporting of conditions in your state and AO (Area of Operations). It can be as simple as this report from myself which I will post on my fledgling blog. Feel free to comment – add your own local reports and we will see where it goes as a real time experiment. In the interest of Operational Security, comments will be screened to maintain anonymity. Alternatively, you can send reports to ChiefYak@TheAtomicTrekker.com and they will be edited for anonymity and posted.
Custer’s Last Stand – Flooded Deja Vu
Yep, they closed Interstate 90 at Hardin, Montana right there on the Little Bighorn near Custer’s Last Stand. The Interstate was shut down for 50 miles all the way to the Wyoming line. Normally the Little Bighorn is not much to look at – so little water you hardly notice it.
Goes to show ya what an ice jam and the Spring runoff from just the surrounding low lands will do in a wet year. Meanwhile the snowpack in the Beartooths and the Bighorns keeps building. No telling when that will let loose. Could be a couple of more months yet.
Could be about the time ole Custer met his final denouement on June 25 in 1876 – a lesson in fatal hubris almost 100 years to the week after the signing of the Declaration of Independence – which leads us to a recitation of eternal verities to guide you on your way.
At times the wheels of karma grind exceedingly slow but rest assured that they grind exceedingly fine.
Mountains of Montana
March 29, 2019
by New Ordnance
The data does not lie and climate scientists agree that we are in a period of minimum sunspot activity which corresponds with lower earth temperatures. These cycles have been thoroughly identified through the historical record. We are entering a natural cycle of global cooling and very likely a “Grand” cycle which is driven by the coincidence of a number of large long-term cycles that have resulted in mini-ice ages in the ancient and near past.
The Rocky Mountains and a good part of the northern US were covered by glaciers not so long ago as measured in geologic epochs.
Remember the old wood-cuts of Londoners ice skating on the Thames back in Dickens's time?
I grew up with anecdotal tales of mule-skinners driving wagons across frozen lower tributaries of the Mississippi River in certain years back in the 19th century.
Not wanting to get too friendly with cloned and resurrected woolly mammoths all over again, I think it would be prudent to focus on practical matters this spring.
Looking out the window I see 18 inches of snow on the ground which is highly unusual to say the least. The last two years, the snow at these lower elevations has gone out in the third week of February. Night-time temperatures are still in the single digits.
If there is an extended power outage most folks in the yuppified cities will probably die of hypothermia and exposure before they die of starvation – even up here in Montana. The survivors could be faced with eating their storage food through a number of growing seasons while they scramble to keep their houses warm. Even if they heat their ranch houses with wood, most people don’t live up in the timber (that burns up every summer). They make excursions into the mountains to cut and bring the firewood down.
Under these conditions energy efficiency is all important.
Far better to have a passive solar house that uses the latent heat stored in the earth as a great diurnal heat source and heat sink to change the temperature profile of the earth surrounding the house.
Far better to have a simple Montana pit garden that uses these passive principles to double your growing season and produce all the vegetables that you could ever want under adverse growing conditions including epic wind, hail and low temperatures. Automatic drip irrigation from your underground off-grid water cistern is a natural compliment.
Far better to have the Alpine Varietal of Painted Mountain Corn (click here to learn more) in your regular garden. Painted Mountain was already cold-hardy before we developed the Alpine Varietal. It grows at elevations with short growing seasons where no other grain will grow, even barley. It became our high-protein, staple grain that could be hand grown and harvested without dependence on machinery.
In retrospect, I can say that our Montana homestead was built utilizing anti-fragile principles.
I could leave the house unattended in the middle of the winter with no heat source other than the sun and earth. The water system inside would never freeze, even at thirty to forty below.
What we are talking about here is true sustainability that relies on subtle, usually unrecognized principles and low-tech natural systems.
Look at the word sustainable in it’s original definition – not the globalist propaganda cliché with it’s attendant sociopolitical baggage.
Sustainable… being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.
– Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition.
I have been there before and know how to thrive under those conditions and you can too.
To become truly antifragile, rely on Gabe Brown’s system of sustainable food production going forward under these or any other conditions. That means you will use the correct livestock in your new agricultural paradigm that relies on the natural symbiotic relationships between plant and animals that evolved for eons on this planet.
Going forward into The Grand Solar Minimum I will rely on three animals.
Saanens are a milk breed from Switzerland that are extremely cold hardy in my experience. When the children were young we had two Saanens that yielded copious quantities of excellent milk as long as their minimal requirements were met. They are a large breed yet gentle, to the point where children can tend them, and not ornery and stubborn as other goats can be. The goats had their own small shed that was well ventilated and a small yard surrounded by four to five foot high snow fence. They were quite happy in their own domain as long as they were milked twice a day and good food and water was provided. They never jumped the fence. Of course if the gate was left open they would go out and forage like all goats, eating the bark off the newly planted Siberian Elms.
Saanen milk is very rich and mild, not having the “goaty” taste that most people associate with other breeds. Of course that can change if the goats free-range out into the sagebrush. Free range feed can be exploited and controlled to a certain extent by staking them out in good grass with a long rope. They can wear bells or not, depending on your operational security requirements.
One winter the temperature was routinely plunging to thirty-five degrees F. below zero at night. With good alfalfa hay, the Saanens produced a lot of body heat. On going out to the breezy goat shed for the morning milking, we would find the animals all in a pile. The two goats were at the bottom, bedded happily in the fresh straw renewed every day. Several cats that normally lived in the woodpile would be in the heap seeking the warmth of the heat-producing goats. The bantam chickens that someone had given us were scattered on and around the heap. Inevitably, several “bantys” would be frozen solid. They were small and not well adapted to the cold – a tragic but necessary object lesson for the children on the way of the natural world.
The animals would welcome the first rays of the sun through the large south facing window that illuminated the interior of their winter home as the milking got underway. The cats and the children were underfoot, greedily awaiting a squirt of warm milk in their direction.
Going forward, I am determined to try Tibetan Yaks as the necessary animal component of the new/old agricultural paradigm as elucidated and demonstrated by Gabe Brown and others in the no-till, mob-grazing natural production operation that easily scales up or down. (Click here to learn more.)
Yaks are reputedly easy to handle with a mild disposition but I will follow my own rule of thumb and never turn my back on large beasts in close proximity, particularly bulls. Some of you ranchers out there can school me on this. I need advice here. From what I have read Yaks are twice as efficient in converting feed to weight as ordinary cattle. Put another way, they can put on an equivalent amount of weight with 50% less feed, the epitome of a guiding principle that maximizes Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI).
Scottish Highlands Cattle
I have observed this breed here in Montana and they seem to maximize the cold-hardy requirement but are not popular with the current ranching production model because they take longer to bring to market.
I see more Black Angus here than anything else. Ranchers like Black Angus for their hardiness and short feed to weight production characteristics that are necessary to maintain their annual bottom line to finance all the machinery, chemicals and irrigation equipment required for the current farm-ranch paradigm. This terribly flawed model could well prove to be quite ephemeral as we get deeper into the Grand Solar Minimum.
Use these suggestions freely to build your own self-reliant life for tribe and family. In a fractured and frozen society, foster interdependence at the local level in your own communities and eliminate dependence on centralized command and control from afar.
The Atomic Trekker
You can learn these lessons and many more from my successes and mistakes of a similar nature that I wrote about in The Atomic Trekker (click here to order) which is now ready for publication.
With The Atomic Trekker you will discover how to build a blast and radiation home shelter that also functions as an excellent Grand Solar Minimum Shelter.
From my experience, a properly designed shelter will sustain you through those cold nights with no heat sources required other than healthy bodies and the latent heat stored in the earth.
Until then, stay warm my brothers and sisters. Come out of the cities and avoid crowds. (Hat Tip to Old Remus)