Friday, January 22, 2016

survival math 2 of 2


Two long cherished survivalist fantasies that do NOT add up correctly are charity and adding members to a group.  To make the math work, they must assume something really stupid like a zombie apocalypse which takes everyone away while leaving their canned goods ( Earth Abides is thought to be a classic Post-Apocalypse novel.  To my way of thinking, it was the original fuzzy thinking illogical logistics plot whence all zombie books sprung ).  Or, if they think themselves clever, the authors ignore such things as denuded soil, decimated livestock or polluted and paved over woods and instead create a fantasy novel where magic provides an enchanted kingdom next door to a suburban prepper fortress, full of wild game and super deluxe calorie filled and fat dense wild plants, where no other humans dare to share in the bounty.  Let’s take an atypical survivalist who is somehow smart enough to stock the crap out of food, but who then turns into a typical schmuck and wants to give some of it to charity or wants to increase the size of his group for whatever reason ( all morally upright reasons such as providing for the community and helping his fellow man, or more nefarious ones such as a power grab ).  Let’s do the math.  Simple, and everyone can relate ( unlike big numbers which lose their significance ).


Stockpiled is twenty man years of food.  Four hundred pounds a year per person of wheat, providing a bare bones 1500 calories a day.  Five years per person, for a four member family.  Eight thousand pounds of wheat at $2k ( we will assume that the storage containers were free ).  A lot of survivalists spend more than that on one firearm with its magazines.  Most Yuppie families spend that much on their cell phone plans for the year.  If not more.  Plainly very do-able.  Eight thousand pounds sounds like a lot.  As does five years of food storage.  But let’s start adding people.  Just adding one parents parental unit is going to cut everyone’s rations to three and a third years each.  The parents are too old, of course, to be part of the protection force and so the fathers brother is included.  Now everyone is down to barely over two and three quarters years worth of food.  And that is just family.  The fathers best friend is an avid gun collector and combat veteran and has a reasonable amount of ammunition ( whereas the food owners didn‘t get enough ).  He adds to your military force so you believe it is advantageous to feed him and his wife and their one child.  Now everyone has just two years of food. 


Unfortunately, the collapse comes at the onset of winter and everyone has just enough to eat to keep fornicating and both breeders see the Spring quite pregnant ( the condoms ran out the first month ).  And with enough food and barely enough medication left, the grandparents don’t die.  There is six thousand pounds of food left come summer and now eleven  eaters ( combination of increased eating during pregnancy and for nursing equals one extra person ).  Five hundred days of food remain.  If one were to plant any wheat, not the worst idea, a significant portion would need to be gambled.  In half a year, everyone would have gone from four more years plus, to only another year.  And all they did was invite family plus a guy and his minimal family to help protect everyone.  Simple math.


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  1. If you have the brains god gave a moron, in the situation you just described, you would be hunting and trapping during the winter and foraging/hunting over the spring and summer.
    If only one hunt succeeds per season (winter, spring, summer) and only one trap per week (39 weeks for the three seasons), you should have pulled in 350 lbs of meat, foraging for wild edibles should net you a couple hundred pounds of vegetation in most areas.
    Of course the big problem is the competition of other people and predators. If you see a rabbit eating the veggies you want you have rabbit + veggies, if you see a predator eating the rabbit you want, you end up with just the predator to eat and if the predator is a person, you probably don't even get that much.
    If you are near other people you have to have everyone in your group self sufficient (or at least largely so) because opportunities to increase your supplies will be rare.
    And in any case you ALWAYS have to be on the look out for more resources.
    A solar heated greenhouse vastly improves your chances, and so does prepping with an eye to possibly increasing your numbers.
    Farming and Livestock work to survive on, but you have to have the SPACE to farm and raise animals, you are not going to find that in any city or most suburbs...

    1. I'm not sure how many realize that with overpopulation and resource depletion and habitat damage, all those happy fictional saves are VERY problematic. Stockpiling is really the only best way assuring calories. Until AFTER die-off. Not during, people.

    2. not to mention an unpolluted water supply

    3. "Stockpiling is really the only best way assuring calories. Until AFTER die-off. Not during, people."
      As you have demonstrated, sharing is the slowest way to die. The people you pretend to be sympathetic to still die, but the useful planning person as well as their possibly-useful progeny are also condemned to die. The person who WORKED AND UNDERCONSUMED TO BUY THE MINIMAL SURVIVAL CALORIES IS CONDEMNED BY THEIR OWN SYMPATHY.

      Lifeboat ethics is too easy: this requires a real sociopath to make sure that the kids live. I'm certain that people who survive are that way because ancestors who also survived transmitted that kind of behavior to them.

      It's like how friendly alcoholism is a survival trait in the dark Northern climates: intoxicated people are easier to get along with and alcohol is packed with useful winter calories. People who survive (slightly buzzed) the winter are able to reproduce. Non-survivors not so much.


    4. PDX, last paragraph is a great point. One I hadn't thought of.

    5. Basically you have to prepare for the people you are going to feed for the duration of the die-off and a little past (until food availability meets or exceeds mouths wanting it). If you also prepare for creating your own incoming food (not just stored) during and after die-off you may have a little extra to give, maybe, but you must NEVER give out more food than you are taking in no matter how big your stores (you can give out stores but only if you are replacing them with fresher foods).
      Anything else is slow painful suicide.

    6. Most people will embrace slow suicide, for no other reason than military advantage. Mirroring civilizations rise and falls. I think the Catholic Church preaching bunny rabbit procreation for two thousand years will also sunconciously prevail.

  2. JJ brings some good info to your eye opening and dismal post. I don't disagree with you at all. Much of the initial burn-off will occur on the coasts and large urbanias, less so in the ruralvilles, but they won't escape entirely given the dependent mindset that permeates. Food acquisition will be a daily effort. Watch the birds and wild animals, they expend considerable effort all day long just feeding their faces. Most modern humans can't deal with such a thing. Some can learn, most won't.
    Priorities after the fact:
    1) Safe guarding one's life 24/7.
    2) Procuring food every day.
    3) Preparing for the next day.
    A stockpile is good but 1 mistake can wipe you out.
    Have multiple irons in the fire all the time.

    1. Multiple irons is great. My only point is that what should be a famine situation back-up is usually the primary supply instead.

  3. The PBS NeusWhore (formerly The McNeil/Leher News Hour) has declined to worrying about feral cats(Friday 22Jan 2016), with a long show about Trap-Neuter-Release when the only affordable long-term solution is TED (trap-euthanize-dispose). It's interesting because people are the same as feral cats except for the time scale of the reproduction. The solutions that actually work against cat populations are the same ones that work against humans: a death-rate that balances habitat carrying capacity with a fantastic ability to over-reproduce. Obviously, cats won't be changed, but can be hunted to feral-extinction while loved pets are preserved. Coincidentally, this is the people-plan, too.

    Endlessly-full feeding bowls that attract possums/skunks/raccoons (even worse than cats!) are not the solution to hungry loose kitties, nor are sterilized clipped-ear cats being allowed loose to kill anything/everything they can find (expensive & ineffective unless the level of female sterilization is over 75%). Curiously, endless free food for people attracts the worst kind of people and concentrates them near sterilization clinics.

    No wonder some people are so sympathetic to the terrible lives of terrible cats. They are just like us.

    1. Of course, the whole issue on cats is ignored in that the whole thing started by irresponsible asswhore owners abandoning them or failing to take care of them. It is like introducing rabbits to the Outback and then having to deal with them forever after.

    2. If you have a pet, it is a life-long responsibility that you need to account for in your will. Turtles and parrots frequently outlive their owners, and 20+ year old (indoor) cats are not unusual. Consider how having a cat or dog affects your ability to move, change jobs, or schedule your time. Consider how smelling like cat-box ammonia affects your career & how other people perceive you. People without pets usually have no problem renting an apt./house, while dog-people and cat-hoarders pay plenty for the worst places to live. Pet other people's nice dogs, or go to the shelter for pet-therapy (dogs love a 20 minute run with treats, then the next dog will do the same, on down the line of cages).

      Owned property first, then pets.


    3. I don't know of a solution though I have thought about it many times. We have 5, everyone of them someone else's throw-a-ways and the last one had new ones inside her we didn't find out about until a few days before her date to be neutered. After the little ones got old enough we spent 3 months of considerable effort finding homes for them. Seems there is no shortage of cats around here - everybody has a bunch of barn cats running around.

      Even my new dog (1-1/2yrs now) is a throw-a-way. She's beautiful, smart as hell, fast, and very physical and aggressive, yet passive when required. Yet someone discarded her like trash.

      Probably 80% of the US population doesn't deserve to be alive and I spend 99% of my time staying away from them.

    4. I hate people who don't do the responsible thing with pets. All my former cats were throw aways. They didn't last long, being in/out, but I think their quality of life is higher. I give money to our local cat rescue lady for food or litter each month. But I also give to St. Jude every month too. I'm not a barbarian.

    5. Have a soft spot in my heart for the furry little guys. We have 3 outside and 2 inside, of the throw away variety. In fact, I'm not sure if we've ever bought a cat?

      The 2 outside silver striped tabbies (Brother and sister thrown away together) are the best damn rodent slayers that we've ever had! The male follows you around just like a dog. They are all locked up at night due to the coyotes.

      I'd like to give to Alley Cats, but unemployment keeps me from being as giving as I'd like. Plan on leaving a portion of my final assets to a no kill charity. Like the kitties better than my fellow man would be the explanation for that.

    6. I must say that you set a standard for us all Jim.
      Perfect ? Of course not but few earn that moniker.
      Share while we can, for tomorrow brings stricter rules ,that will be unforgiving to fools.
      After SHTF, share only what's in the plan.
      Otherwise ya won't be the last man standing, to witness the end to the show.....

  4. James what I think you are saying as far as sharing food with others (that didn't help buy or stock it and were too stupid to plan ahead and were buying consumer junk and not food) is that "No good deed goes unpunished."

    Helping people in distress that didn't plan ahead can easily put you in danger.

    I think we all have helped people in need at some time and regretted it as it cost us more problems then it was worth.

    Being a handyman I get calls all the time to help others. And almost never do they help me and hey expect me to do work for free or almost free. It gets old quick and I made a promise to myself that I would not do it with survival supplies and food. I look at all the BS they have put me through in the past as good training for SHTF times as I'm not so easily taken advantage of today as I was in the past. Blood is thicker then water is BS if it doesn't flow both ways, and in most cases it doesn't flow from others back to us.

    Very few people know about my supplies and I intend to keep it that way.

    Chuck Findlay

    1. Chuck Findlay, I too do odd jobs on the side of my full time employment. Some I do for Material costs. Thats the minimum but Ive done cheaper than that for some female aquaintances. I have a friend that we help each other all the time. No questions asked. Hes a great mechanic and I have done slave labor to help him. No money involved. But most people dont pay you back.

  5. James Corbett does nice historical report
    We are trapped like rats.