Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Carrying Capasity - Let's Be Honest
It is my opinion that if you are a prepper or survivalist, as most everyone reading here are, then you should be able to be brutally honest with yourself. I know there are a few who stop by and read and very often get totally pissed off at what I have to say. Well those readers (admitted ones or not) are more than likely going to be even more pissed off at me after this post I have no doubt.
I have always said I am a numbers guy. Doesn't mean my numbers are always correct but you have to start somewhere. Sustainable living is a science but a science with so many variables it might as well be an art form. The canvass that can be used to create your sustainable masterpiece is as varied as any other factor so what works for one may not work for another. This allows so much leaking of fantastical thinking or possibilities into things that whatever fairytale you wish to believe can be reasoned in your own mind to be sustainable. Until it isn't.
Let's start off with a scenario. One of complete collapse for at least a time. One that is well known enough that little background building is needed. Let's use "One Second After". An EMP has struck and everything is dead. No electricity, very few cars or other vehicles. No goods coming in by rail, no trade, you are on your own.
We will add to this mythical scenario a total vacuum. For this study in brutal honesty we are not going to worry about roving bands of cannibals, looting officials for the common good or even sickness and/or injury. No invading foreign armies but also no friendly neighbors or distant relatives showing up with a semi-trailer full of MRE's either.
The first thing I am going to tell you is if you are alone you are not going to make it.
I am sure there are several burly guys out there who are thinking I am plain stupid and they will hunt or fish themselves through whatever comes.
I doubt it. Even giving each of our players a full years worth of stored foodstuffs the areas out there that will have enough game and vegetable forage with no grooming are few and far between. There is no way you are going to be able to have the time to not only hunt and fish plus plant what you need and also harvest it, prepare it, store it etc. It's not going to happen no matter how good a shape you make yourself believe you are in. Go have another beer then look in the mirror and be honest. You will either die of starvation because you spent too much time splitting firewood or freeze to death because you opted to cook instead. You're not going to grab a pizza to go with your 12 pack on the way home this time big guy.
Ladies you can forget about it too. Oh I know many of you will bristle at this one but guess what Hon your independence brought on by fantasy movie heroines like Lora Croft are just that. Fantasies. Those dreams are gonna die the minute FIAT cash ends for most of you. There will be no more of this "I can do it on my own" crap that fails to mention the money you took out of your government pension plan to have all the real hard labor done by a crew made up of men.
Oh I can hear it now. "I can hunt just as good as any man" or "I can work just as hard as any man" well sweetie, one I don't believe it and, two if you truly can then please forget the paragraph that begins with "ladies" and go up one to the paragraph that starts out "I doubt it". That paragraph would then apply to you as well as the delusional men.
Bottom line the bare minimum for sustainable survival is going to be two. Two people. Now I don't care how you want to work things out or which one of you is the better shot or what have you. If you want it to be two women fine but one of ya needs to be the "I doubt it" paragraph and one needs to be the other at any given time.
You can work out the baseball positions on a daily basis on your own.
Now that we have that out of the way let's look at some other very large hurdles we are going to have to cross.
For the two of you to survive you are going to need to produce about 720 pounds of store-able vegetable matter and 360 pounds of meat per year. If game is not plentiful then all bets are off on how much extra hay and grain you will need to keep livestock fed. From chickens to cattle that is going to vary greatly. You also have no salt or other types of preservatives or sweeteners unless you can produce them yourselves.
Now let's look at my numbers I have worked out from a fairly productive agricultural area.
To get the numbers above I would need to plant and take care of or store....
2000 bean plants
Minimum of 5 acres of hayfield with about 5 acres of pasture.
Minimum of 8 sheep (1 Ram and assuming 7 ewes have enough lambs to supply the meat)
Approximately 3000 gallons of water
2 acres of corn mostly to feed the sheep
About 5 cords of firewood
That's a pretty sparse list. You may have fruit trees, perhaps you live in a place that doesn't require firewood, maybe you can graze enough stock to bypass the corn but I would bet there is a trade off in every location. You can add in pumpkins, or squash I really don't care but remember you have to store it so it keeps so you are going to be looking at overall efficiency as well.
I am certainly not suggesting that everyone should quit their jobs and produce what you need now. I am simply pointing out you better run your numbers and realize what you will have to do if the lights go out tonight and stay out for years. I know everybody has stored food and stuff but you better have a plan to sustain the levels you need or you are simply gambling that at some point you will have something to trade or the lights will come back on and your pension will magically reappear. If you cannot actually come up with those production numbers within the first year of a collapse then you better be figuring out how to. Now.
Even if you have to do it in scale to begin with so you know. If you are running around like a maniac with not enough time taking care of your 10 tomato plants and a couple of bush beans think what you are going to have to do that first year after a collapse.
If your situation keeps you in a rented house with a small garden you better scout out an area you can go to and have everything you will need when you get there already purchased and stashed.
I am not trying to rain on anyone's parade or tell Mr. Rents-it he is doomed because he doesn't have 11 acres right now. NO. I am simply telling you like it is (from my perspective) so you know what you have to do and what the minimums are for your carrying capacity.
Don't fall into the delusional trap of how you hope it will be. Ever.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!