Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Way Of The Future?

High gas prices drive farmer to switch to mules

2 hours ago

MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — High gas prices have driven a Warren County farmer and his sons to hitch a tractor rake to a pair of mules to gather hay from their fields. T.R. Raymond bought Dolly and Molly at the Dixon mule sale last year. Son Danny Raymond trained them and also modified the tractor rake so the mules could pull it.
T.R. Raymond says the mules are slower than a petroleum-powered tractor, but there are benefits.
"This fuel's so high, you can't afford it," he said. "We can feed these mules cheaper than we can buy fuel. That's the truth."
And Danny Raymond says he just likes using the mules around the farm.
"We've been using them quite a bit," he said.
Brother Robert Raymond added, "It's the way of the future."

(D.R.): Ok,ok, I know I sound like a "Doom-and-gloomer", but there could be something liberating and environmentaly sound about the so-called "Energy Crisis".
James Howard Kunstler calls it "The end of suburbia". Notice how Robert Raymond in the Mule article above says it's "The way of the future".
In his writing, Kunstler states that the farm belt, which has been generally abandoned in recent American history, will again be re-populated with a new "back to the land" movement. A side benifit of this movement in today's times is that the ethnic composition of rural America will become much more diverse, changing voting demographics and other issues.
We now know that energy prices, much like the housing bubble and current grain prices, are a direct result of market manipulation of investment speculators. Unbridled supercapitalism is cannibilizing itself, and fueling "resource wars".
The only thing we really have control over is where we put our money. If I become even more disenchanted with the path our country is on, I can pull my money out of the bank and stash it somewhere. That is the only thing the establishment fears; a run on the banks.
My parents talked about how during World War Two, EVERYTHING was recycled, and many families had "Victory Cardens". If there is a "back-to-the-land" movement, it may change and improve the way we relate to our neighbors and force a more collective bonding among people. Everything would become "Local", and people will remember where their food comes from.
But it's going to take some major re-thinking.
Here's a trailer for Kunstler's documentary - "The End Of Suburbia":

(UPDATE): check out this article that says to get ready for $12-$15 per-gallon gas.


Charles James said...

DR See if you can find the trailer for "A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash". It runs like the one you showed.

It will happen in the next ten years is my projection. I have moved from a 18MPH truck to a new "Smart fortwo" car that gets about 40+ MPH depending on your driving.

Hand2Hand said...

Hey DR,

I know I'm looking for some nice rural land where I can grow some of my own food.

Off-the-grid living has always been a fantasy of mine. I like spending time in the woods, camping and fishing. As a writer, I can do most of my work via computers and phone.

Still, I never expected that I'd be looking at OTG living as a means of survival.

BTW: I don't put my money in banks. All my adult life, I've dealt exclusively with not-for-profit credit unions.

Also, I read Kunstler's book, "The Long Emergency." It's a terrifying read. But, I did hear a great interview with Kunstler on WMNF, a great local, listener supported radio station. He made a great point about his book.

He said he's describing the worst case scenario. Mostly, whatever happens in the 21st century will be somewhere between the worst and best case scenario.

Dojo Rat said...

I have lived in rural areas since I got out of school, some in very remote areas. Now I think I have the perfect mix: an island accessable by ferry that has lots of small organic farms and cattle/sheep ranches. I ran one of the organic farms for four years. Now we are in the cabin-building process, not completely off grid but optional. Fuel oil, such as propane is my only question. I have a feeling it will always be cheaper than gas or diesel because it is a simple byproduct of those fuels. We mostly burn wood for heat, that's lots of work too.
I think if the shit hits the fan on the mainland, we'll probably do ok. Lots of deer to shoot and seafood to catch also. This is a place where if we had to, we could ride horses everywhere.

JoseFreitas said...

You should then invest in some good solar water heating panels, and probably on some some solar cells so you could at least run a DVD player, or a computer or fridge or something like that. It looks like you have a good setup.

Acupuncture Healthcare said...

Sustainability is not a virtue, nor will it ever be one. Adaptability is a virtue. Urban living is far more efficient than rural living.
California was much more polluted when the Indians were in charge 1000 years ago. Slash and burn, slash and burn.

Dojo Rat said...

With all due respect, a "back to the land" movement can indeed happen in urban areas too, and should.
However, the farm belt has been almost completely drained of young skilled people since the end of WW2 and the advancement of mechanized agriculture, heavy on petrochemicals and fuel oil.
The problem is not people returning to the land for small scale garden farms, the problem is suburbia that used up much of the farmland around urban areas.
As for the Indians burning california, sure, they did that everywhere. But it was usually only a couple of times a year. And you are way off-base to say California was more polluted back then because of seasonal burning. Think about contaminated ground water, plastics, storm-drain runoff, herbacides,,,,
When you say urban living is more efficiant than rural living, it indicates you have never lived in a truely rural situation, otherwise you would know.
People that work in the city should live in the city though.
I appreciate your opinions, perhaps I am missing your point?

Scott said...

Hi DR,
I accidentally was signed in with my partner's google account, Acupuncture healthcare. Those were my words.
The latest archeology of pollen fossils shows that pollution was really really bad 1500 years ago in California.
Some suburbs are better than others but I prefer the city. The worst suburbs will collapse on their own.
You can live efficiently in a rural area if you don't use government infrastructure and you don't burn a lot of wood, build roads or get your food from motorized transportation. But that's rare. One truck driving into the city with a huge load of vegitables that get bought at a central location is far more efficient than anything rural, unless you all are walking.
By the way, I love your Island, I think it's great that you live there, and I plan to try and buy you a beer next time I'm up that way.
I just don't believe it's "better."

Also, while I'm certainly speaking for a minority position, I frankly love it when the economy slows down. More people pay attention to practicing martial arts, less overtime, fewer deadlines. It is also a time where people start designing better uses of space, and more efficient tools. And more time with family and friends.

Reeling said...


you don't need any land to grow your own veg and salad plants. I only have a yard but I'm growing stuff in pots. A quick search on google will get you started!

Dojo Rat said...

Hi Scott, Thanks for being more specific.
I know it may be unfair to make comparisons to the past, but they may reflect an element of a healthier and more simplified future.
I hear old farm people that lived through the Great Depression say they were unaffected by the rampant poverty that was seen in the cities. They grew crops, harvested animals and canned food and fruits.
Seattle is foolishly resisting mass transportation. Portland has a large European-style electric train system. The difference between the infrastructure of the two cities is amazing. The city can and should be efficiant. But experts like Kunstler are predicting people will move back and reclaim the great praries, for example. It could really be a good thing. Thanks for your thoughts and ideas,