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How to survive the year without a summer

 
pollinator
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Living on the southern end of anything resembling healthy salmon populations, I would bet a cold syear would do mostly good for these fish which need cold water to breed. The water would be my first place to look for food, as warm temperatures are killing off major ocean food sources as it is.
 
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Living on the southern end of anything resembling healthy salmon populations, I would bet a cold syear would do mostly good for these fish which need cold water to breed. The water would be my first place to look for food, as warm temperatures are killing off major ocean food sources as it is.

the salmon were still running and spawning under the glaciers, which is good to think about.  The Earth does not shut down, but it will get thrown out of whack.  Salmon are a great food source, but they have their moments when they are not... like when the ocean currents change or... just because they are a little fickle they decide en mass to not spawn this year, and spent a two year cycle in the ocean.  They can't really be relied on 100%.  99.99 maybe... but not 100 %.  Even the middens of the Northwest Coast  of North America showed salmon deficit layers which held way more deer and marginal fish bones and no salmon.

So the question was what would a permacultural community do if suddenly winter didn't stop for a few years.  Well I would think that around here, most folks would learn to snare and be eating rabbits pretty quick... potato and rabbit stew.  Gathering more nettles and chaga, and birch syrup, and other wild foods et cetera.  

I'd be keeping better care of my tools.  Paying more attention to the directions that the birds fly.  Paying more attention in general.  The permacultural observe, observe, observe motto would go a long way to ensuring survival during this time.  

The local dairy farm which is a 5 minute walk away will be looking to thin it's herd because of the limited hay supply and as such I will go get me a thousand pounds of jerky in exchange for adding to the labor of the processing of their herd, or possibly exchanging veggies or wild food and medicine plants.  I would do the same for some lamb.  

Growing food under cover, following the 4 season garden approach and taking it to the extreme.

The landrace, seed saving, seed swapping, and probably doing a lot more of this with animals too.

I would isolate my heating area until I had a massive backlog of firewood gathered.

I would hold a community meeting to try to formulate a strategy for making sure that we are all fed and housed safely.

I would go up my creek and do a bunch of permaculture, increasing it's potential to hold winter run off, thinking that when the climate yo yo's and shifts to a hot dry period, my creek will still be productive.

Has anybody read Lucifer's Hammer?  It's novel based on the idea of a oceanic meteor strike which produces as Biblical rainstorm, and the resulting crop losses.  A great read.  It's been more than a decade, so I can't remember much of it at this time, but I do recall some judge in central California setting up a community of some sort based around greenhouses.  
 
gardener
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:

Living on the southern end of anything resembling healthy salmon populations, I would bet a cold syear would do mostly good for these fish which need cold water to breed. The water would be my first place to look for food, as warm temperatures are killing off major ocean food sources as it is.

the salmon were still running and spawning under the glaciers, which is good to think about.  The Earth does not shut down, but it will get thrown out of whack.  Salmon are a great food source, but they have their moments when they are not... like when the ocean currents change or... just because they are a little fickle they decide en mass to not spawn this year, and spent a two year cycle in the ocean.  They can't really be relied on 100%.  99.99 maybe... but not 100 %.  Even the middens of the Northwest Coast  of North America showed salmon deficit layers which held way more deer and marginal fish bones and no salmon.

So the question was what would a permacultural community do if suddenly winter didn't stop for a few years.  Well I would think that around here, most folks would learn to snare and be eating rabbits pretty quick... potato and rabbit stew.  Gathering more nettles and chaga, and birch syrup, and other wild foods et cetera.  

I'd be keeping better care of my tools.  Paying more attention to the directions that the birds fly.  Paying more attention in general.  The permacultural observe, observe, observe motto would go a long way to ensuring survival during this time.  

The local dairy farm which is a 5 minute walk away will be looking to thin it's herd because of the limited hay supply and as such I will go get me a thousand pounds of jerky in exchange for adding to the labor of the processing of their herd, or possibly exchanging veggies or wild food and medicine plants.  I would do the same for some lamb.  

Growing food under cover, following the 4 season garden approach and taking it to the extreme.

The landrace, seed saving, seed swapping, and probably doing a lot more of this with animals too.

I would isolate my heating area until I had a massive backlog of firewood gathered.

I would hold a community meeting to try to formulate a strategy for making sure that we are all fed and housed safely.

I would go up my creek and do a bunch of permaculture, increasing it's potential to hold winter run off, thinking that when the climate yo yo's and shifts to a hot dry period, my creek will still be productive.

Has anybody read Lucifer's Hammer?  It's novel based on the idea of a oceanic meteor strike which produces as Biblical rainstorm, and the resulting crop losses.  A great read.  It's been more than a decade, so I can't remember much of it at this time, but I do recall some judge in central California setting up a community of some sort based around greenhouses.  



Luciver's Hammer came out 197y I think. I bought it paperback and it made rounds in my hometown (one person stuck it in his back pocket, I don't know how, and trashed out the cover, too)

It was basically a huge meteor impact, it destroyed the entire infrastructure as it was known, and how some survivors banded together.

Still, the idea of if it went nuclear winter style (the event in the 1300's, there was little sun, very short days, mostly murky, cold, wet, and nothing wanted to grow-there were about three years of that. In 1816 it was again, cold because of sun blockage and the spectacular red sunsets in everyone's paintings, and a cold short growing season.

What can you do to grow around a cold short season if you aren't already in such a zone... or if you have adequate moisture stop (drought. Atlanta Georgia has had a few years here where they almost ran out of water, as in NONE. Some cities in the area did have to bring in water in tanker trucks). Fortunately I have grown in 7 grow zones and from exceedingly short seasons to coldHOTcold and other variables. So diversity in my food forest, ways and knowledge on how to grow around the weather, a diversity in my seeds I plant in case it happens to be this kind of year instead of that kind of year.... and preparing for what if the grid goes down and where is your water? Not prepper but going back to the times of say my grandparents and how did they make it without a lot of what we have now? The individual may be able to survive but I think some of our question is about how will society change if such a thing happens, can we survive that?
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
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"If you don't deal with the birthrate problem, the death rate will catch up to you" (Ehrlich)

Sorry to get dark, but I didn't bring up nuclear winter. It would be a lot easier to imagine all of our scenarios and strategies working with 1billion people snaring, fishing and hording firewood than 7bil. When the salmon didn't run in the NW, the relatively large populations of coastal peoples experienced famine, population contraction and war over resources. Eventually these groups, despite being very diverse linguistically, developed shared cultural mechanisms to prevent these anomalous years being caused by over fishing and habitat destruction (i.e. first salmon ceremonies allowing the 1st 2 weeks of salmon to run by; prohibition of trapping out more than a certain fraction of a river; requiring a person go to a spot at least 10x before being allowed to fish it). The dry years still happened due to low rainfall, landslides, glacial dams breaking etc, but in general the NW natives created selection pressures that favored salmon running earlier and over a wider portion of the year (each species' run was seen separately).

It is amazing to go hiking through the Sierras (thinking of Muir Pass at 10k+ elevation on PCT) where receding glaciers have uncovered ground that hadn't seen sunlight in 10,000 yrs. It is incredibly buggy, and I imagine salmon/trout would be in heaven, happily bringing in nutrients from downhill to eventually become soil that will grow trees and stabilize water temperatures and flows to allow for more salmon.
 
pollinator
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I have held off joining this conversation because it gives me such anxiety.  Here in Kenya we have already seen catastrophic change in weather patterns.  For about half the country, seasonal rains failed.  It was the year without rain... In a country that suffers from constant food insecurity, even when the weather is normal.  In my part of the country we got our rain, but less than expected.  Media coverage was kind of sparse, as everything is eclipsed by election year drama, but a few sad stories drifted through.  Animals starving to death, both domestic and wild.  The government started a buy up program for people to off load their livestock and offered ridiculously low prices, $5 for a goat, $10-15 for a cow.  Food prices across the country have gone up about 150 percent.  There have been increased incidents of violence as people fight over water sources and steal from each other.  People drinking sewage.  Outbreaks of cholera. There are reports of people eating poisonous fruits.  Kids stop going to school because they are too hungry to learn.  The city of Nairobi was put under water rationing.

What does that mean for me? I can grow through a dry season, but I don't think I could get through an entire year.  We have an on site spring that has never run dry, but that doesn't mean it never will.  And what if the weather went the other way and it suddenly got cold and rainy?  What if we got snow and freezing temps?  Luckily, our land is sloped so we aren't likely to flood, but the clay soil will become a mirey mess.  Most of our crops don't like wet feet.  On top if that, our tropical staples are long season - 6 months for sweet potatoes, a year for cassavas, taro and banana... So it would take a really long time to get back on our feet if we had a year that wiped out everything.

I do think we have a district advantage over our neighboring villagers.  We have a diversity of crops, so the probability of something surviving is better.  Taro root, for example, love mud and will even grow in standing water.  I have researched drought resistant indigenous crops and plant quite a few of those.  And, I hale from Vermont, so I have a lot of experience with short, cold seasons, if it came to that. (Although sourcing seeds would be a problem if we were facing any kind of social collapse.). I also have done research on edible weeds and uncommon edibles.  Spiderwort and black jack are hardy weeds that are edible.  The leaves of taro and cassava can be eaten with special processing.  Man cannot live on greens alone.  There is literally nothing left to hunt here, wild game has already been wiped out.  I'm a pretty good shot with a bow, though its been twenty years since I used one.  I can also hunt with s bola, which might be practical.  I am a decent fisherwoman too.  We could probably survive crop failures and food shortages.  

What we probably wouldn't survive is rampaging neighbors.  I feel quite certain that if we had supplies, they would steal, using deadly force without a thought. Human life has very little value, even in good times.  I do believe humanity will fail entirely if things get desperate.

I think the best hope for us would be to build a resilient community.  But at present my neighbors aren't interested in such ideas.
 
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In this sort of scenario livestock that can eat grass or brush would be critical. Goat's, sheep, rabbits, would probably fit this bill. Even if you had to keep them in doors and bring food to them to keep them from being poached or stolen it would probably be doable. Grasses and brush will grow in almost any conditions.
 
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