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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

non linear 2 of 3


NON LINEAR 2
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Note: I went ahead and compiled/published the collection of the Malthusian Survivalist Newsletter.  I thought I'd wait until I finished the second part of the last issues article but I think it might turn into a booklet so I just published as is.  The last issue, #7, which I never published, is included in the collection.  The usual 7k words.  If you buy the collection it is only a buck, so even if you read the first six you aren't out any extra money.  Here is the link:
CLICK HERE
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Now let’s cover the cost of grain.  Not everybody is a farmer.  Plenty of folks live in the city.  Even if the areas major city is merely the capital city and full of politicians and mandarins  and the rest of the country is farmers ( which of course it won’t be.  There are Trade Towns, Garrison Towns, Port Towns, etc. ), there is still enough of the population dependent on outside grain brought in that the price of grain is always a constant source of political disruption in times of want.  People don’t revolt unless they are hungry ( politicians revolting and fooling the population to back them do happen, and quite a bit.  Spontaneous popular revolts happen when hunger appears.  No persuasion is required ), and if you don’t feed the people the people will dispose you.  As another virile well coiffured  Jim said, “they have the guns but we have the numbers” ( one gets the feeling that the middle class students of the 60’s protested because they smoked too much pot and were in danger of getting kicked out of school and hence drafted, not because they cared all that much that their ghetto and trailer park brothers were getting killed in ‘Nam.  But they were spoiled otherwise and were not going to revolt.  The Black ghettos revolt was Black politicians using the criminal element to stage a revolt that was all about bribing the Feds ).

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Let’s say a European farmer had fifty acres under cultivation ( this is for illustrative purposes.  I have no idea how big or small the average farm was ) and gets ten bushels an acre in yield ( again, just a math exercise-no idea of the average yield ).  That year the farm produced 500 bushels.  Said farmer needs 175 bushels for fodder and next years seed, with 75 going to feed the family.  This is assuming a mostly grain diet, up to 75% of daily calories, with non-mechanized farming.  Out of the total 500 bushels of grain, 250 bushels are left to be sold at market.  That is a normal year.  If bad weather comes along, and if there are three things you can count on in life it is death, taxes and bad weather, reducing the crop by 30%, you don’t just see prices go up a third because a third of the crop fails.  Oh no.  The yield of the farm went from 500 bushels to just 350.  The farmers needs remained the same 250 bushels, which leaves just 100 bushels for the market.  A crop failure of 30% means a 60% fall in the market grain supply.  If the bad weather reduced the crop yield 50%, there would be a 100% drop in the available grain sold at market.  Hence, a 30% crop failure doubled grain prices and a 50% failure quadrupled the price of grain.  And remember, this isn’t a modern farm with mechanized harvesting, artificial fertilizer and irrigation.  This was Solar Agriculture.  Which we will see again very soon unless we either get the secret of room fusion from space aliens or abiotic oil becomes real instead of theory ( okay, sorry, I meant Viable Flow Rate Abiotic Oil because even if that is a reality rather than a theory, you still need a quick enough recharge rate ).  Solar Ag means no room for error.  Multiple harvest failures means 30-70% population decline.  Anyway, sorry, let’s stay focused on the non-linear aspect of the numbers.  That’s the important point.  Tomorrow, the non linear nature of caloric needs.

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19 comments:

  1. LOL yeah if Abiotic Oil is real that means it will be available about the time we recover from Anthropogenic Global Warming a dozen millennia from now....

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    1. Don't exaggerate. It would only take a HALF dozen millennia.

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  2. Chris Martenson has stated that the Arab Spring was caused in part by high food prices and that when food hit the 40% in a families budget that it can cause enough stress for a riot. (I couldn't find the exact link on his site.)

    Up in my BOL area, there are a lot of Amish and 50 acres is about what one man can handle farming with horses. My Amish use tractors though. You see them driving them pulling wagons full of kids etc.

    I was told by a wheat expert, I know you were using ten bushels as a guide for way back, but today a farmer seeds using 2 bushels per acre (Bushel of Wheat is about 60 pounds.) and yields 80-90 bushels. 400 pounds of wheat is 6.66 bushels.

    Thought I would throw that out there for anyone who may want to try their hand at it and see what yield they can come up with for survival purposes.

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    1. I have my doubts tractors will last long, for a variety of reasons.

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    2. There are tractors from the 1940's and 1950's still working fine. As far as having fuel I think if it did hit the fan and fuel shortages happen tractors will be a priority as food will be the most important thing to produce so tractors will be given a priority for fuel. I could see neighbors pooling fuel to have a tractor do work for them.

      I plan on getting one in about a year when I move out a bit farther from the city. I live in a good suburb now, but I want to move out 25 or 30 miles and once there a tractor will be a priority.


      You can buy a 6n,8n,9n type Ford tractor for $1200 that still runs.And trust me,the things ALWAYS run…..can burn the junkiest of fuel, and make a great farm / utility vehicles on the homestead. With a live PTO, you can cut timber,generate power, grind feed etc etc etc.

      Look on Craig's List for one. I live in Toledo and they are always for sale.


      Chuck Findlay

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  3. I have a question you may be able to answer...

    I had a friend ask me if I still believed in peak oil given the current glut of oil on the market.

    I said that peak oil is still in effect but I believe that lower consumer demand and geo-political reasons were the cause of the current excess.

    So the question is, do you have the numbers for the current global output? Is oil production up this year?

    Idaho Homesteader

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    1. Global production is up lately. Not sure as to this year on year. 82 million barrels a day. However, that is a lot of Fake Fuel, Canadian tar sands which isn't even oil but is counted as such, and others. If you take the yield of conventional oil in BTU delivered, ten years ago when it was all conventional and the globe pumped 75 mbpd, then computed your BTU from all of today's fuels, today's BTU delivered is about 70 mbpd. So the reported numbers are inflated ( it is like saying we mine more coal today. True, but it is lower BTU coal so in effect we are getting less ). Oil demand decline is due to economic contraction. As I said long ago, low gas prices don't matter if you don't have a job to buy any. Same with oil, on a global scale. Welcome to the next economic implosion.

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    2. Fake Fuel? I don't see it as fake if I buy it, put it in the auto fuel tank and the auto runs just like it always does.

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    3. A global economy built, run, AND overpopulated with light sweet shallow crude, it does care about fake fuel.

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  4. Well, your figures are off, but for illustrative purposes they work well enough. I knew an 'better than organic' farmer who used all the latest permaculture crop boosting techniques on his 10 acre farm for the 2 acres he used for grain he would use 5-10% of his harvested grain for next years crop, lost about 5% to pests, and apparently consumed (usually as bread and beer) most of the rest - and still needed to buy about twice that amount of grain for his two person household consumption. So figure it will take 6 acres of grain during a good year and good practices to feed two people, and be able to plant for the next year. If the farmer has another 14 acres planted, that 14 acres can go to market or taxes. If the price is to low to make market profitable enough the farmer can silo the grain until prices rise - but will risk loosing more of it to pests. If, of course, there are bad conditions the market price will rise, but the farmer will have less grain available to sell unless he had stored enough from previous good years, so he probably wont pull in any more money in poor years than in bumper crop years, unless his farm is out of step with all the other local farms... Markets however go through brokers- the farmers almost never sell directly to the city consumers, they are too busy on the farm, those brokers used to store grain themselves giving a lot of padding in the price of grain keeping prices higher during bumper crops, and lower during poor crops. The US government used to be just such a broker- but then decided to just pay farmers not to plant if their forecasts were for too much grain being produced, (and in many cases just because). There is a lot of marginally arable land not in use right now for this very reason. Famine wont hit because there isn't places to grow grain, but because there isn't enough labor (in the form of petroleum fuel) and other resources like seed, available to plant the marginal areas, or petroleum to ship the resources into farming areas and food out to where needed.
    That's why I choose to live in an area like I did. I can go buy a couple tons of lentils or grain for a couple hundred dollars direct from the farmers during harvest, and get a cow or pig (entire) for about as much.
    As an FYI my family has discovered an entire pig last us 3-4 months with our requirement of meat 2x a day (medical conditions). This means we need to buy 4 pigs a year. A butchered pig (@200+/-lbs. live weight) fills about 1/4 a large upright freezer. We also go through 25lbs of beans and 25lbs grain in about 2 months - while eating lots of fresh veggies as the bulk of our meals. If we couldn't get/grow the veggies we could easily triple the usage of grains and beans which is what I am basing my preps on.
    There are so many hunters around here that I am certain that there will be no large game left come grid down, and meat supplements for my family will be only what livestock we can keep and small animals we can trap (rabbit stew, here we come).

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    1. Are you sure there are soil banks anymore? I thought that was phased out about 20 years ago?

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    2. I'm pretty sure the programs are still in place, but they are only paying the same rates per acre as they did decades ago, so farmers have decided to stop participating because it was much more profitable to use the land for planting crops.

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    3. It is called CPS now, I don't know what it stands for, and oddly farmers can still get hay or other animal forage from some percent of some forms of CPS- apparently it is a contract with the .gov that pays the farmers not to use a % of their plantable soil, when I looked into it for my own land, to join it you have to prove having had the land under cultivation for a number of years first, but once under CPS you can leave it there getting both a payment from the .gov AND some tax breaks because you aren't farming as much (go figure, right?)

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    4. John - I know for a fact that the farmers do look at projected income per acre, which is why they put their marginal lands into CPS and keep the best lands in production, switching them around now and again if it makes sense to do that sort of long term crop rotation, but few of the dry-land farmers around here have not put very much more acres into production, the farmers would rather have the reliable .gov check than the variable chancy in put of the market. They have done a little with a few of the farmers I talked to, but not much. Perhaps it is different in different areas though. I bet the US dept of agriculture could provide actual figures.

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    5. Whenever a program doesn't make sense to the little guy, you can be sure the Big Boys profit from it handsomely.

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  5. If your objective is to grow the best crop for your own consumption, you have to build up the best dirt. That comes from time (sun/water) and animals (pigs) processing the dirt through themselves with their feed.
    Pork:yum!
    Even if you don't have a Diesel tractor, a few hundred gallons of dyed ag fuel would be a fine thing to have in a secured tank. Search: "fuel polishing". Diesel tractor is the best ag labor-reducer!
    I wouldn't consider dot-gov subsidy as part of any business plan.

    pdxr13

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    1. The widespread use of tractors globally by WWII allowed far more food to be grown, but they also had an industrial economy behind them. It will be interesting to see how they do in the future without one.

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  6. The point about tractors being used more by WWII time is correct. Like I said in another post I downloaded and watched the BBC shows Edwardian Farm, WWII Farm and Victorian Farm. These shows show the progress of farming through the last 150-years. An interesting thing, at least in England (suffering shortages of fuel, food and being bombed) they reverted back to using horses a bit as they needed to produce so much food and the tractors were just not as common as needed, and fuel was rationed. And if someone was caught with military fuel it would get you time in jail. Military fuel was died red. But there was a work-around, filter the fuel through a loaf of bread and the red would be filtered out. The black-market always finds a way to deliver.

    England imported 70% (or so) of it's food pre-WWII, and the German submarines sunk a lot of the food so they needed to step up domestic food production to make up for the shortages.

    By the way the English food rationing continued till the early 1960"s. There is a lesson there for all of us if we do suffer a shortage of the fuel delivery system.

    Sad thing is that if we had politicians that had peoples best interest above plundering these things would never be a problem.

    Chuck Findlay

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    1. ANY politician having ANY concern for his peoples interest is one of the better American myths we had all better abandon along with the tooth fairy and santa claus. They are just filing clerks for the shake down.

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