First let me start off this post by assuring you that I am not a gun-toting, backwoods-living, hard core survivalist, and I probably never will be. I'm not built that way. But I do believe in reading signs and taking action- if I didn't, I wouldn't be living in Oregon, and I wouldn't have the garden that I do. And I probably wouldn't know all you wonderful people. And I'm not a conspiracy theorist, although I might sound like one. Really. I'm not.
Stumbling around on Amazon the other night, I ran across a book called 'The Crash Course' by Chris Martenson, PhD, which was published just last month. It had eleven reviews, all of which were five-star. Dr. Martenson describes how our economic future is on a very quick collision course with peak oil, which is necessary for expansion and growth, and which is not going to be there. One of the reviews mentioned that you can take a quick view of the book by watching the videos on his website, which he posts there for free because he thinks that it's important for as many people to be aware of what's coming as possible. So I did, and I really hope that you will too, regardless of where you are. What he has to show you is pretty scary, and he doesn't even talk about global warming. That wrinkle is not part of the discussion. What is part of the discussion is what's coming, and what you can do to prepare for it, and guess what? Building community, not running off into the woods, is part of it as well.
I've been working these last several years trying to get ready for something. I keep thinking something bad is going to happen. I don't know what, but it's going to be big and it's going to be bad. I thought maybe the recession was it, but I don't think so because I still have that feeling that the big bad thing is still out there. After watching his videos, I have a more concrete idea of what it's going to be. Martenson thinks the next twenty years are going to be very different from the last twenty years, and he says that it's going to start in the twenty-teens. Well, that's only a couple of years away, right? He starts off by explaining how our monetary system will be part of the cause. He does a really good job of explaining complex economic ideas, theories, and policies, and making them completely understandable. So much so that I spent part of yesterday moving some investments around in my IRA. I may do some more. If you have some time, please watch his videos. There is no trickery here. In fact, he explains some of the trickery our government uses to keep us all in the dark. Do you realize that economists have been able to get away with telling us that the recession is over because they don't use the price of gas and groceries in their calculations? That prices in the consumer price index (CPI) are subject to arbitrary valuations placed on things by the practice of hedonics, which basically measures the value of something by our enjoyment of it? Really eye-opening stuff.
Today I managed to get our grain mill ordered. I've been wanting one for a very long time, and I think that if Steve wasn't planning on using it for cracking malted barley for his brewing, I'd still be trying to make an argument for it, but he relented. I did some research awhile ago and settled on the mill made by Country Living. I like it because aside from being well-rated, it has a grooved flywheel that you can use to attach the belt for the mill to a stationary bicycle or electric motor, if you like. It has steel grinding plates, instead of stone, so they'll last well. The best part is that it's fully adjustable and can go from cracking corn (chicken feed, anyone?) to milling cake flour. It's not cheap though. I got mine at the Canning Pantry dot com because the price was pretty much in line with what I saw elsewhere, maybe fifty cents cheaper, and the shipping was free. The biggest reason I bought it from them was that their prices on everything else I might need for it (spare grinding plates, emergency repair kit, etc.) were way cheaper than everywhere else, including at Country Living Grain Mills.
On the way home from some running around this afternoon, we also stopped to get some bulk wheat at Bob's Red Mill Store, which is in Milwaukie. We bought two twenty-five pound bags of organic white wheat- one hard, one soft. The next stop was the local grocery store where I picked up eight five-gallon food grade buckets and their lids from the bakery for free. I'm not planning on long term storage here because I'm going to start grinding our flour. When I need more, I'll go back to Bob's. In the meantime, I'm going to try to learn how to grow wheat. That's why I've had a copy of Gene Logsdon's (author of The Contrary Farmer) 'Small Scale Grain Raising' for awhile now. Speaking of Gene Logsdon: on his blog this morning he wrote about something he thought important and something the media isn't covering. The price of corn is skyrocketing- it's at seven dollars a bushel right now. The consensus among corn farmers is that it's going to ethanol producers, which may be the case, but it's a seriously dumb use for corn. Corn is a heavy feeder, and takes a lot of petroleum-based fertilizer and diesel to bring to market. Ethanol is a net proposition at best. I think what's going on is that the oil speculators are whacking out the prices because of the unrest in the middle east. We don't get oil from Libya (that's more Italy's problem) but that doesn't stop speculators from doing silly things, for which everybody else is going to pay at the grocery store and the pump.
This afternoon when I talked to my hog farmer (I found a pasture farmer!), I asked her what the price of grain is doing to her operation and she said that it was making things a little more difficult but she was more curious how I knew about the price of grain going up. She was surprised that someone who is not a farmer would be informed that way. She may be pasturing cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, chickens and turkeys, but she still has to feed some grain. They are turning some of their pasture over to raising their own organic grain because it's the organic grain that is really going up. You'd think that with the price of oil rising, it would make organic farming come more in line price-wise. At least make it look more attractive than conventional farming, anyway.
At any rate, I'm glad that I'm getting my half-hog, ten chickens, and a turkey at this year's prices. And that I have fifty pounds of wheat in the house, and a grain mill on the way.
We may not be able to afford them next year.