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1816 The year without a summer  RSS feed

 
Ross Raven
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Its april 4. The average snow depth in my region is still at about 4 feet with up to 12 ft drifts. Its been a messed up winter here on the east coast. Last night, after reports that another snow event was on the way, I decided it was time to breach the subject with Mrs C5 about at what point we should consider abandoning our property to relocate. This brutal winter has been making me wax philosophical about 1816 also known as the year without a summer. Here is a shortcut if you have never heard of the event.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer

I figure its a good lesson about rapid and unpredictable climate change. Since we are people that grow stuff, our lives depend on...um...a growing season. 1816 was all about a volcano but global warming is adjusting the Jetstream, the north Atlantic current and the amount of moisture held in the atmosphere. Thou the west has almost been winter free and the south west is heading towards desertification, where we are has been a long term gamble. We have been gambling on that changing weather patterns will bring water here. The possibility will also be that we may receive an ice age if the north Atlantic current stalls.

Ive learned a lot from this winter that I will share for consideration. Our food storage served us well this year. So did our three year supply of wood that is now only one year. Firewood replacement will be one of my many jobs this year in a short amount of time. So will be turning the south facing front of our house into a greenhouse/solar collector to add to our two small green houses.
I should bring up that greenhouse collapses (as well as barn and building collapses) has been a major disaster in our area this year. A friend lost two. My, I told you so, moment isn't feeling very supportive or triumphant. I chose small, storm proof greenhouses to compensate for snow and hurricanes. Even adding a steel roof that wont shatter if weather changes bring us hail instead. So. Animals died from barn collapses. A food distribution warehouse coming down has caused some food shortages. Im glad I got up on the roof to clean the chimney mid winter because I must clean it out again soon to prevent chimney fires. Having a steel roof has really helped to have, both snow slide off it and not stick to it in the first place. Our solar panels are also not mounted on the roof, They are on a frame at ground level so they can be swept off or dug out. The exhaust pipe of our tractor is all we can see of it and there is a truck in our yard that we don't expect to see again till mid summer.
I should also mention that the next phase of this is going to be some epic flooding in low lying regions. Road washouts. bridge collapses. Our dirt road will be constantly watched.
Everyone I know has been going stir crazy. All of by building supplies are buried so there is little I can do until I can actually see the ground again. We will have a very short growing season this year. First it has to melt. Then it needs to drain properly. Then the ground will need plenty of time to heat up before most things will germinate. Much is growing inside at the moment.
Snow removal is millions of dollars into deficit. Potholes have shredded the roads.

So.....what happens if it becomes a permanent change and continues to get worse. A new "year without a summer"...or decade without a summer.

With nothing much else to do, I had time to formulate contingency plans. Resilient backups.

As I said, Last night I had 'the talk' with the Mrs. She replied, "Im not sure what would be the point of moving". I replied "If the land can no longer provide enough food there is no option but to move. I have been working on a back up plan. We will lose most of our wealth if it happens. I will be watching this closely for the next few year". Hopefully we are back to tropical hurricanes again by next winter.

So. Do you have a backup plan if your region becomes inhospitable due to rapid climate change?

That should get some conversation going. Happy Easter (Im suddenly thinking, happy easter island. lol)
 
Zach Muller
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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What region do you live in?

I live in a place that is notorious for wild weather changes. "If you don't like the weather today than stick around until tomorrow"

I have not spent any time planning for moving from weather extremes since by its very nature it would be unpredictable. No species has done what humans have done here on earth so there really is not historic way to gauge what would be a better place to go when strange weather increases. Being on the coast could keep the climate stable, but then there is tidal waves etc. Being landlocked is safe from tidal waves but then there is tornadoes, and lack of water, etc. No place is perfect to begin with, let alone when the cycles of the earth are out of previous balance.

Like for instance you are experiencing very intense winter. My winter was really mild and my spring is off to a great start. A lot of people are concerned about early this or late that, but there are a lot of variations naturally that people might get used to since life on earth is very short compared to the larger climate cycles going on. My motto is from a famous kids book, "Don't panic"

How would we know where to go to avoid something that is unknown?

 
Ross Raven
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Would that be The Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy? LOL. So long and thanks for all the fish.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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My strategy for growing food for changing times is to plant lots of different species every year that function about the same nutritionally. For example, I grow peas, common beans, teparies, favas, garbanzos, runner beans, soybeans, cowpeas, etc... Some are cool weather crops. Some are hot weather crops. Some do better in cloudier weather. I grow genetically diverse types... For example my common beans contain about 100 varieties, but they are grown together as a group. One year a particular family group with thrive. The next year a different one does depending on conditions. Between them, something always excels. By growing a mix of warm weather and cold weather crops I am spreading out the risk of complete crop failure. By growing many different species and different cultivars of each species I am minimizing the risks posed by disease or pests.

But I don't just grow beans... I grow many different types of crops: corn, sunflowers, squash, greens, potatoes, sunroots, turnips, etc. That makes is more likely that something will thrive regardless of the weather. I grow some crops that are highly perishable but quick to produce so they can be produce a fast harvest if needed. I grow some crops that take all season but can be stored for many years. I grow crops that produce year after year whether or not I actually harvest the fruit/nuts or care for the trees. If i was really doing it right I'd include animals.
 
Ross Raven
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April 7th update. More of the same. Still around freezing with new sprinkling of snow each day. I spent yesterday helping a friend with flooding issues at lower elevation. There is nowhere for the water to go. Her husband recently passed so a few burly men showed up to help. Her pig had been standing for quite a while and I had to build it a place out of the water. It was my first experience of being charged by a pig. he doesn't like me much at the moment. How do you explain to an angry pig with tusks and an attitude that you are trying to keep it from dying from hypothermia. It passed out once it had a place to lie down.

Part of the road has washed out, as predicted. I had to stick a tree in the hole so no one drives into it.

Oh ya. Wood pellets in our province ran out by January. That's a heads up for those that rely on pellet stoves.

As I chatted with people, every ones discussions seemed to be about climate change. Most were discussing about whats happening in California and its contrast to whats happening here. They also brought up that the weather currents have stopped oscillating.

Back to the 1816 event. What effects me about that event is that you would never know just how bad it was until it was too late to do anything about it. They kept planting. Then a new frost would kill it all. By the time you got the second winter, without substantial food stores, slow starvation followed.

Im in no rush. I will watch this for a few years. My point is that, the first stage is a simple acknowledgement that something might happen. Without that acknowledgement, no backup plan can be speculated on. By 1817 it was too late.

A back up plan is like the edges of a permaculture food forest, where different strata's create there own resilient weather zones, increasing diversity options.

 
Thomas Partridge
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This is one of the areas where "prepping" and permaculture overlap. By planting an abundance of different fruits and vegetables that are perennial, you create this system where you could have a year like 1816 and still have plants that can sustain you (although not with as much bounty).
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2491
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
469
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Charles Kleff wrote:By planting an abundance of different fruits and vegetables that are perennial, you create this system where you could have a year like 1816 and still have plants that can sustain you (although not with as much bounty).


Or I can have a year in which I am sick during the spring planting season, or my grandma dies and I have to focus on family issues and instead of weeding... The perennials are still going to produce food even if the farmer falls down on the job.
 
Ross Raven
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April 13 update. Let the flooding begin. Strait up to double digits in a few days. The pig, previously mentioned, is strangely a national news story. No shit. The pumps failed and water rose way above my previous build. Fire fighters were called in to rope and rescue the ornery, near drowning pig.

Our snow dropped a few feet but still no tree budding and maybe we will finally see some maple syrup running. Ive talked with some old farmers and they have seen nothing like this winter. Even in the old days.

Here is a picture of our garden as of today. Our tractor is slowly revealing itself
snowpocalypse-garden.JPG
[Thumbnail for snowpocalypse-garden.JPG]
sled-and-tractor.JPG
[Thumbnail for sled-and-tractor.JPG]
 
martin doucet
Posts: 20
Location: New-Brunswick, Canada
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Its been a long winter here in N-B, that's for sure. Oddly enough, I still have the same amount of firewood left over as in previous years. Hopefully this warm spell sticks around for good and we can get to living again.

I have thought about what I would do if winter just decided to stick around for good. I'm thinking I would head for the tropics. This is home and I can't imagine leaving, but if I have to relocate, you can bet I'll never shovel snow again. Ever.
 
Pia Jensen
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could be poles shifting that causes your weather woes up there (I'm in Uruguay)

Space-Weather, Saturn Storms, Mars Water | S0 News April 14, 2015 solar weather news and 5 Truths About Earth's Magnetic Reversal poles are shifting
 
Ross Raven
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Hey, Martin. You guys got it worse than us.

Here is the pig story http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/04/13/pourquoi-pig-rescue-nova-scotia_n_7056132.html
 
martin doucet
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Location: New-Brunswick, Canada
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Ross Raven wrote:Hey, Martin. You guys got it worse than us.



Still better than PEI ROFL. They just kept getting hammered for a couple months there. Some friends of ours had a video of themselves tunneling out the bedroom window to get out and when she panned the camera, all you could see of the neighborhood was rooves.

But I had to go shovel a 5 foot snowbank once so the neighbor could open his door, and I had about 12-13 foot banks all around my house all winter. That must be what saved me on firewood.

That is terrible about Mrs Hunziker, seems she can't catch a break, with her husband, the surgery and now this. I did have to laugh however, when I read that the garage had flooded because the sump pump stopped working, then they show a picture of the garage with water half way up the door. But I've been flooded out once, not fun.
 
Ross Raven
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April 27 update. It was snowing and Don't Fear the Reaper by BOC was playing on the radio as I drove to the library for internet connection. Never a good combination. LOL
Melt has happened but the temperatures have remained cold. Too cold to put our plants in the greenhouse. Maple sugar is pretty much a write off this year.

So. I stumbled onto this to explain what's going on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-bXLPLCyek

While I am here...with dubious connections to the topic at hand...but some relevance...this is a worthwhile read that I would recommend.
Survival lessons from Ukraine. http://www.shtfplan.com/emergency-preparedness/12-survival-lessons-from-ukraine-nothing-provides-as-much-valuable-information-as-real-world-situations_04182015

 
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