Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 4:29 PM
Subject: What's out there?
It has occurred to me that the first thing I should have done after moving to rural southern Kansas was to make an inventory of what resources exist in my region before deciding what is necessary on my son's land. Fuel is not a problem, we have enough wood. But, within a 5-mile radius (reasonable walking or biking or horseback riding distance), who has an orchard? How many families can it provide for? What sort of cropland is there? Wheat is a basic necessity. How many folks might the grain production support? What's the water situation (surface? groundwater?) and how reliable is it, for how long, and what quality? Is there a potential for sewage contamination? In even a small town, what are the energy needs and where will it come from?
Is there pasture for raising meat animals? Need we pay attention to the ecological footprints of meat? Beef has a big one -- back before the oil crisis when I did a calculation on the per-capita American beef footprint, it came out to be 70% of our total food footprint? I know that chickens and pigs have relatively small food footprints. Is there any opportunity for fish farming to provide some variety in protein. If things really get tough, do we have access to salt? What might we have in surplus that could be used for trading? Who has the seed supply, and if commercial fertilizer becomes unavailable, how productive will the food-land be? Do we have accessible alternatives for fertilizer?
In the human inventory, what sort of medically trained folk? Any good mechanics? In the long run, how are we fixed for teachers and librarians? In the shorter run, if goods get hard to come by, are there skilled dressmakers and shoe repairers? What are the minimal human and other resources for a sustainable rural community in the absence of energy from affordable petroleum?
There are a lot of things we take for granted in urban and suburban living that may not be easily available in a rural setting. The lifestyle we have become addicted to may be a thing of the past. Rural America can't totally avoid the consequences of the oil crunch.
Nine weeks have gone by, we're already into July!! I need to get going on a priority list of things that need doing or finding so that I can make it through the coming winter. And that's just the short run!!