new video
hot off the press!  
    more about rocket
mass heaters here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

How to survive the year without a summer  RSS feed

 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1305
Location: Denver, CO
22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The year without a summer occurred in 1816 due to a volcanic eruption. We are one volcano away from having a year without a summer in 2017, with massive crop failures, and subsequent economic collapse and social disorder.

How would one survive this in the current world?

More interestingly, how would an ideal world of permies deal with this?
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 746
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Best bet is to have such abundance available that you've been gradually extending your food storage year after year and can supplement those crops that are able to grow.

Hydro-powered grow lights would be an asset we could have available that wasn't available in that time as well.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2500
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
471
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

I plan for odd-weather by planting odd crops. I can't predict the future, but I can plan for events that are similar to the typical patterns of previous growing seasons. For example: The El Niño/La Niña weather patterns bring certain characteristics with them that I can plan for while planting.

For example, I grow many species of pulses: Some that thrive in cold weather. Some that thrive in hot weather. Some that thrive in rainy weather. Some that like it dry. Some quick maturing. Some long season. Between them all, it doesn't really matter what the weather is like in any particular year. Some species will thrive, even if others struggle. My system is inefficient. But it is incredibly redundant and provides tremendous food security, even though I can't predict ahead of time what foods will be available.

I do the same for all of my crops. I plant cold weather crops, and warm weather crops, and hot weather crops. I plant rain loving crops and drought tolerant crops. I plant greens, and seed-crops, and fruits, and nuts, and vegetables, and root crops, and grains, and pulses, and medicinals, and spices. I add more species every year to my garden, and to the nearby wildlands.

So to answer the question directly, about what I would do in a year without a summer, is that I would plant lots of the cooler weather crops, and not as many of the warmer weather crops.

 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6033
Location: Left Coast Canada
750
books chicken tiny house
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love this topic.

Some historians say it only took three years without summer to begin The Little Ice Age.  Whether these summerless years were a trigger or a symptom of the climate change, they certainly caused a lot of upheaval in human life in Europe.  Changes in everything from agriculture, architecture, and social attitudes that we still feel keenly today. 

I often look at how people coped (or failed to cope) with past crises like this and imagine what I could do to make things easier on me, my friends and family when faced with a similar situation.  Here are some of my survival strategies:

  • grow my own food - a variety of different crops that mature in different conditions
  • remember that growing the food is only one-third of the whole picture.  The other two-thirds are cooking and understanding how to approach food, a food philosophy if you will)
  • grow year 'round staple crops (favas and grains over winter, soup and chickpeas in the spring, beans and squash in the summer, &c)
  • share the excess with friends - get out of my introvert shell and cultivate relationships based on sharing and food
  • gather skills like cooking over fire
  • share skills so that if I'm not able to do everything, there is someone in my community that can help
  • eventually have a 2 year backup of staple foods like pulses and grains


  • One of the great things about looking at the past and their challenges is that the cultures that survived did so by undergoing major social change.  They became more careful with their natural resources and those who didn't, parished.  This fills me with great hope for the future.  If things get worse, it becomes obvious that the path to survival is through careful management and preservation of our natural resources. 


     
    Shawn Harper
    Posts: 360
    Location: Portlandia, Oregon
    7
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    When I look at european agriculture I notice a lot of annuals. I would imagine that trees and other crops that are long lived would better survive such a major weather flux. Also landraces like Joseph Lofthouse does are probably a safe way to hedge your bets.

    EDIT: Also mushrooms. These do not require light to grow and if a large amount of plants are dying then you have all the fodder you need for mushroom growth.
     
    kadence blevins
    Posts: 601
    Location: SE Ohio
    32
    books goat hugelkultur rabbit tiny house wofati
    • Likes 2
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I am glad to see this here and look forward to hearing people's thoughts.

    However I also offer up another possibility. The earth seems to always move in seasons and cycles. What if the seasons and their variance from year to year is part of a much bigger cycle that we haven't been around long enough to see the whole thing yet? So here is my nerd-girl but far from being a scientist theory:
    The little ice age began with years without a summer. The lowest of a cooling period. What has been happening since is a gradual warming period. The next logical point of the cycle is the height of a warming period.. And what I think will likely happen at that time is years without a winter.
    A 365 day cycle is something we have seen and learned from for years. What if this cycle happens on a scale of centuries with higher highs and lower lows than the yearly cycle?
    For anyone who is paying attention to the recent years weather patterns we have been getting rather shoddy winter weather with a couple good ones (cold and snow fall appropriate to each area) sprinkled in every couple years.

    I would be very curious to hear peoples thoughts on this as well. There are many places already trying to deal with lack of snowfall or rainfall in the seasons where you usually get it in those areas. I know I worry about it here and worry more that I'm not farther ahead with things as I want to be and will need to be in the event of emergency or long term problems such as summer-less or winter-less years.

    Just found this video that seems to agree somewhat with my theory. (its starts with a movie scene, the science comes though give it a moment)
     
    Larry Pobiak
    Posts: 10
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    WOW!  What a great question!  This make me consider what on the homestead grows the best in the colder parts of the year.

    Would this mean an extended Spring and Fall growing season?  Does anyone know if the lighted hours of the day were just as long?  If so I can only imagine how fast cabbage would grow that were planted in June with those long days.

    Ohhh, it just occurred to me that a cooler climate would probably leave the ground be muddy almost all year!  Bummer.............Does anyone know how that would change the gardening dynamics?

    Seems like fruit trees, esp apples and berries would be important.

    How would we cope with planting and growing in the mud?

     
    Deb Rebel
    garden master
    Posts: 1474
    Location: Zone 6b
    163
    books cat fish food preservation greening the desert solar trees urban woodworking
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    The issue is what breaks down when there isn't any food and what there is is either so highly priced it can't be afforded, even if someone steps in and rations it; or wars start to be fought.

    It is said that over a third of the world's population is on the verge of losing their land and crops due to ocean rise, and changes in the weather pattern. When things get bad enough people tend to flee. Aka relocate. Look at Europe and the Syrian Refugee Crisis there. People mass assaulting the Chunnel to try to get to the UK. Or into Germany. Syria has a population of about 20 million. Think of 2-3 BILLION trying to leave.

    You personally can try to prepare for 3 or so years of feeding yourself. But by the same token, how do you defend what you have.

    It quickly goes down a survivalist-extreme prepper's hole, and I don't want to go there.

    Me personally, I have enough land. I have a pantry. I could eke it for three years if the water stays on. (I am in town and on in-town water and the aquifer is too deep for me to sink a well without a professional rig coming in at many thousands to do so). However, can I keep others from taking what I have?

    It would throw our entire commercial food system out of whack, and without that, people will starve (from growing to processing to transport to stocking the local shelves). When they starve the issues start happening. Sorry to be the gloom-doomer but that three years without a summer would be a much larger picture than just what can you do to grow enough to survive. One year with a few years to recover, the world would probably make it. More than one, it's a whole different story.
     
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden
    pollinator
    Posts: 561
    Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
    65
    bike dog forest garden urban
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Interesting subject. I knew about the 'Little Ice Age'. Learned about it in Art History Why early Dutch/Belgian painters made so many icy landscapes with skaters. But they did not tell about the three years without summer!
    Is it known what caused those years without summer? Was it a volcano eruption? Or any other sudden event? Or did it come slowly (summers getting worse and worse in years before)?
    Was it only in Europe, or also in other parts of the world (how about the Americas?)
    All of these questions (and more) need answers before it's possible to draw any conclusion.

    But the question here is: "what would you do if there was a year (or were years) without summer?" And I have to admit: I am not prepared!
     
    Deb Rebel
    garden master
    Posts: 1474
    Location: Zone 6b
    163
    books cat fish food preservation greening the desert solar trees urban woodworking
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Interesting subject. I knew about the 'Little Ice Age'. Learned about it in Art History Why early Dutch/Belgian painters made so many icy landscapes with skaters. But they did not tell about the three years without summer!
    Is it known what caused those years without summer? Was it a volcano eruption? Or any other sudden event? Or did it come slowly (summers getting worse and worse in years before)?
    Was it only in Europe, or also in other parts of the world (how about the Americas?)
    All of these questions (and more) need answers before it's possible to draw any conclusion.

    But the question here is: "what would you do if there was a year (or were years) without summer?" And I have to admit: I am not prepared!


    It was believed to be a volcanic explosion. It affected Europe's weather patterns for 3-7 years.

    The Year Without A Summer was 1816, and by various descriptions and evidence, it was Tambora that blew up.

    I could dig in for three years with present pantry levels though if there was a major asteroid impact or volcanic explosion I would be immediately ordering a LOT more supplies than I normally would stock, plus plan my gardening differently. I have enough land if I can get enough water.
     
    John Polk
    steward
    Posts: 8019
    Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
    289
    • Likes 3
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Rip out your peppers, tomatoes & melons.
    Make room for peas, beans, and yes, all of those crops that used to bolt on you once the days got longer/hotter.

    Most of the world would be a lot hungrier without the millions of acres of exported surplus wheat and other cereals.
    The US balance of trade would collapse without those grains.
     
    r ranson
    master steward
    Posts: 6033
    Location: Left Coast Canada
    750
    books chicken tiny house
    • Likes 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Interesting subject. I knew about the 'Little Ice Age'. Learned about it in Art History Why early Dutch/Belgian painters made so many icy landscapes with skaters. But they did not tell about the three years without summer!
    Is it known what caused those years without summer? Was it a volcano eruption? Or any other sudden event? Or did it come slowly (summers getting worse and worse in years before)?
    Was it only in Europe, or also in other parts of the world (how about the Americas?)
    All of these questions (and more) need answers before it's possible to draw any conclusion.

    But the question here is: "what would you do if there was a year (or were years) without summer?" And I have to admit: I am not prepared!


    It could be a volcano, but historians aren't so sure about that.  here are some possible cauess for the medieval little ice age.    It was mostly in Europe, Iceland, Greenland, and Atlantic North America, but it did have effects on the rest of the globe (and still does - my credit card bill is a direct effect of the years without summer).

    The book The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300-1850 by Brian Fagan speculated that it was a sudden and drastic change in the North Atlantic current that caused the change.  A few hundred years of splendidly warm and predictable weather caused arctic ice to melt, which put cold water* on top of the ocean, causing the warm gulf stream (which makes Europe so lovely and mild) to submerge, thus triggering the ice age.  It's one theroy; but an interesting one when we think about current climate events (we've had nearly a hundred years of mild and warm weather, the ice is melting, the ocean currents are less predictable than before...)

    Adding to the confusion, there are two periods in history called 'The Little Ice Age', the other one was definitely caused by a volcano circa 1815.


    Why the history lesson?  Because humans have been through all this before.  I read the news, modern books, and even the internet, and people act like climate change is new and we are the first generation to be faced with this kind of challenge.  Sure, the cause is different now, but things don't seem so different to me.  Maybe we can look at the past, see what people did that was good, what they did that was harmful, and then take the best from the past and use it to create a future worth living. 



    *this cold water was fresh water which floats on top of salt water.  Otherwise, the cold water would have sunk.  or so the theory goes.
     
    r ranson
    master steward
    Posts: 6033
    Location: Left Coast Canada
    750
    books chicken tiny house
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    A bit of a devil's advocate here, but I'm not sure if one year without summer is going to have a huge effect on the world these days - at least no the 'developed' world.

    I don't know if they still do this, but the marketing boards here use to keep two to three years supply of staples (corn, grain, &c) so that they can prevent sudden fluctuations in prices.  A lot of processed foods last more than a year. 

    I think the world would end up eating more processed foods.  Maybe 3D printed food will take center stage with a variation on Soylent as the nutritional base.

    I think I would eat more pulses, create raised beds to deal with the excess water we would have here, grow things like chickpeas, chard, and kale that don't mind the hot or cold weather.  Put aside 20% of my garden to grow crops I've never tried before. 
     
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden
    pollinator
    Posts: 561
    Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
    65
    bike dog forest garden urban
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I'll have to do my best to grow more beans (pulses).
     
    Gilbert Fritz
    Posts: 1305
    Location: Denver, CO
    22
    • Likes 2
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    In the 1315 version, there were three years without a summer. The main problem was tons and tons of rain; it just didn't stop. That rotted out the grain crop, and it happened three years running. It was only a bit cooler then usual in those three years. Also, things were so wet that no field work could get done. Complicating things was that as the bad years went on, people ate up their seed grain and their draft animals, and became weaker and sicker, getting killed off by hunger and by epidemics. So when things finally dried out and warmed up in 1318, there was no seed, no power, and a weakened and panicked population. This made recovery difficult, and further complicating things was the fact that this was only the beginning of the ice age, so that the weather was still not as nice as before. It took until 1325 at least to get production back online.

    In 1816, it was just one bad year due to a volcano, but it was bad. New England got frosts every month of the year,  New York city got a blizzard in July. Every European city had bread riots, as most crops failed. That year also had spectacular sunsets from the volcanic particles in the air!
     
    Gilbert Fritz
    Posts: 1305
    Location: Denver, CO
    22
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    My thoughts so far:

    In a year without a summer;

    Grain crops will be a loss. They will freeze, not get planted, or lodge into the mud and get ergot. Root crops may do better.

    Woody perennial plants may actually get damaged worse the annuals. Trees that were always hardy in an area will get frozen back, beehives will collapse leading to no pollination, frosts will kill off blossoms, heavy storms will break plants down. These things have always happened. On the other hand, herbaceous perennials that don't need replanting would be idea.

    Fields and roads will get boggy. Tilled agriculture will be at a disadvantage, as tractors sink in the mud. However, the soil will stay cool, so no-till will be at a disadvantage there.

    Small plots are easier to protect against weird weather.

    Large stores of backup food and seeds are essential.

    The most resilient systems in this sort of time would be pastured livestock; since the temperature would only be a bit lower, the animals would do fine, and the grass would grow beautifully. On the other hand, haymaking will become a nightmare (and that did happen in 1315, which is one of the reason for so many animals getting slaughtered.)
     
    Gilbert Fritz
    Posts: 1305
    Location: Denver, CO
    22
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Light levels must have been lower due to clouds, but day length was the same.
     
    Gilbert Fritz
    Posts: 1305
    Location: Denver, CO
    22
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    R Ranson;

    Wouldn't the total loss of the world's breadbasket crop yields impact the food supply? I'm guessing all the big grain fields would be a total write-off, for mud if no other reason.
     
    Caleb Skinns
    Posts: 75
    Location: Calgary Alberta, Canada
    9
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Disclaimer: there are people reading this forum who are WAY more knowledgable about literally everything I'm talking about in here. This is just my perspective which I'm always willing to admit is wrong if proven so. Also any of these hypotheticals go down the drain the moment you have to flee due to violence, fires, hurricanes, lack of resources, etc. The honest truth about who survives a near extinction level event like that is it all comes down to who is consistently at the right place at the right time.

    I'm glad I read this thread. I never knew there were years without summer in recent years.

    I've never considered that, but it seems with Mt St Hellen's and the volcano in Iceland both happening in my lifetime, it's something I should consider.

    My main strategy would be stockpiling foods with a very long stable shelf life (beans and rice mainly) preferably hitching my bets and doing it in multiple locations spread out geographically.

    Not to be a defeatist, but I don't honestly think my chances of survival are very good. I don't think most of the people who live around me have very good chances either. I live in an apartment in the middle of a large city in a largely populated area. If we're talking about half the population disappearing, we're talking about breakdowns of governments, increase of violence, gangs, mobs, etc.  My main goal would be to get the hell out of dodge until things settle down a bit more. This is where i see farming communities thriving because they tend to work very well together.

    One thing to consider is that oil pumps and logging companies work the most in the winter, so expect a likely increase in production in that case. However, once the food stores start to fail, and that will happen very quickly due to "lean" manufacturing. I could see research and development and production go hard core into hydroponics, petrochemical fertilizers and indoor farming. I would also expect that Monsanto couldn't resist the gleaming opportunity to claim IP ownership of everything that grows, but I honestly think that by that time, so much would have happened in the world that the general population is no longer willing to take orders from a group of rich people who have a lot of juicy resources.

    Wow pessimistic.

    The question though was how would we deal as permies? My number one goal would be to educate as many people about survival skills as possible. I've focused a lot of my life toward learning skills like making cordage, pottery, alcohol, herbal medicinals, western medicine, preserving, weaving, knitting, waterproofing, hiking, hunting, carving, etc. General bushcraft and primitive living things. I'm also doing a lot of research on electrical circuits, programming, lab sciences, etc. I'm trying to learn how to live like a modern primitive and teach my wife everything I know.

    So I have to say education is number one because what good is anything if we don't know how to use it? 98.6 degrees would be a great place to start, but you need to understand how things work on a systemic level. Studying systems thinking is an invaluable starting point. I honestly think some permies have the best shot of anyone alive today. There are so many man powered, animal powered appropriate technologies in use right now, I think permies will be the wizards of the new world.

    Number one and a half would be stockpile food and supplies (nails, screws, saw blades, files, electrical wire, scrap metal, cutlery, plastic metal and glass containers, fabrics of many types, etc) general hoarder stuff. People used to burn down their houses to collect the nails when they moved. That should give some context to how valuable those things will be in a situation like this. 

    Number two would be community building and studying groups which have lived peacefully in primitive times and using their methods of conflict resolution, but generally forming groups whose chosen ethics are based on permaculture principals, while not forgoing whatever means of production or defence are attainable since we are literally talking about not only surviving the winter, but then rebuilding afterward.

    Although community building is third on the list, I think it's the most important, because we can't survive on our own. Mountain men who were better suited for survival than anyone alive today only lived to about 40 at most because their lives were so stressful as well as occupational hazards of no safety standards while alone in the open wilderness for an extended amount of time.
     
    Gilbert Fritz
    Posts: 1305
    Location: Denver, CO
    22
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    As far as Prepping, etc. that is one reason I'd like to talk more about what an ideal permie community would do, not what would happen to the current world.

    Also, I really started this topic because I put up with stuff like this all the time; snows coming in May and September, frosts into June, thundershowers that turn beds and fields into a muddy morass, heavy snows that break down trees.

    In other words, what will you do when you local year without a summer comes? 2015 was the year without a spring in Denver; it kept snowing and raining, fruit crops were a total loss, more then half of the local beehives collapsed and died, I couldn't get onto my field due to puddles until the middle of June, when I got desperate and damaged the soggy clay soil getting tomatoes in. Then the planting depressions filled with water and the plants rotted away. However, once things dried out, all that unusual water made the late plantings grow like mad, and I got a good yield. 2015 was also the year without a winter; February got into the 80s, hot and dry, before the spring mess of snow and rain showed up.
     
    r ranson
    master steward
    Posts: 6033
    Location: Left Coast Canada
    750
    books chicken tiny house
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Gilbert Fritz wrote:R Ranson;

    Wouldn't the total loss of the world's breadbasket crop yields impact the food supply? I'm guessing all the big grain fields would be a total write-off, for mud if no other reason.


    It could.  I think it will in parts of the world that do a lot of cooking.

    However, in parts of the world that eat a lot of processed foods, I'm not sure it's going to have a huge effect.  A lot of countries (used to, and I think they still do) stockpile at least two years supply of grains and other staple crops.  This would lessen the food shock. 

    Processed foods also have a long shelf life, often of a few years.  The great thing about processed foods from this point of view is that they can easily change the main ingredient used to make them.

    I think in the 'west', it would make a good excuse to raise prices, but I don't think people who feast on an industrial diet will feel the shock very quickly. 


    That's just one theory. 
    I know it would have a huge effect on how and what I eat.  Because of that, I like to plant a variety of different crops so that if the weather is unpredictable, I at least get something to eat.
     
    Gilbert Fritz
    Posts: 1305
    Location: Denver, CO
    22
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Not that the prepping "what would you do if it happened right now on a global scale" questions are not good ones! But I expect there are less good answers!
     
    kadence blevins
    Posts: 601
    Location: SE Ohio
    32
    books goat hugelkultur rabbit tiny house wofati
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    For those of us who need/want to brush up the "year without a summer" 1816.. there is some good info on this wiki page. a good bit on the effect in North America.

    and something I didn't know (or didn't remember) is that along with the one volcano eruption that gets talked about there were several other large and notable eruptions that year. likely combining and exaggerating the whole thing.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer
     
    John Davies
    Posts: 2
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I don't want to be too glib about it. But I sure would welcome a bit of hunger in my area so that the bow hunters could poach some deer in our suburban development.

    They're driving all my gardener neighbors crazy.
     
    Caleb Skinns
    Posts: 75
    Location: Calgary Alberta, Canada
    9
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    By the way, theres a new movie out called "into the forest" with Ellen Page, who is recently a fellow permie.

    It is not a feel good movie, it gets super hella dark, so please don't think you're going into a nice permie movie if you watch it. I haven't because I'm pretty sure I know mostly everything that happens on the dark side and I don't really want to learn anything new.

    Anyway, that just popped into my head as I flipped on my apple TV and saw that come up.

    Sorry if this is too off topic. I just thought (post-mass-famine movie) <--> (permies)...not really the same thing, but possibly interesting...\_(ツ)_/¯
    ...sorry.
     
    Roger Willcocks
    Posts: 5
    1
    • Likes 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    We have this, it's a branch of science called:
    paleoclimateology

    kadence blevins wrote:I am glad to see this here and look forward to hearing people's thoughts.

    However I also offer up another possibility. The earth seems to always move in seasons and cycles. What if the seasons and their variance from year to year is part of a much bigger cycle that we haven't been around long enough to see the whole thing yet? So here is my nerd-girl but far from being a scientist theory:
    The little ice age began with years without a summer. The lowest of a cooling period. What has been happening since is a gradual warming period. The next logical point of the cycle is the height of a warming period.. And what I think will likely happen at that time is years without a winter.
    A 365 day cycle is something we have seen and learned from for years. What if this cycle happens on a scale of centuries with higher highs and lower lows than the yearly cycle?
    For anyone who is paying attention to the recent years weather patterns we have been getting rather shoddy winter weather with a couple good ones (cold and snow fall appropriate to each area) sprinkled in every couple years.

    I would be very curious to hear peoples thoughts on this as well. There are many places already trying to deal with lack of snowfall or rainfall in the seasons where you usually get it in those areas. I know I worry about it here and worry more that I'm not farther ahead with things as I want to be and will need to be in the event of emergency or long term problems such as summer-less or winter-less years.

     
    Roger Willcocks
    Posts: 5
    1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    John Polk wrote:Rip out your peppers, tomatoes & melons.
    Make room for peas, beans, and yes, all of those crops that used to bolt on you once the days got longer/hotter.

    Most of the world would be a lot hungrier without the millions of acres of exported surplus wheat and other cereals.
    The US balance of trade would collapse without those grains.


    The LDS (Mormons) consider preparing for this as fairly standard.

    This page has a link to the LDS prepper manual

    It contains information on necessary food quantities, storage, etc.

    The Oak ridge nuclear survival guide also has excellent disaster preparedness information

    Edit
    Quick summary - minimum rations

    Per person, 1 44 gallon drum of grain or soybean for 1 year.
    Allow 1 in 4 drums to be soy for the protein requirement.
    Properly prepared, a drum should last about 5 years before needing replacement.
    A drum can last longer if you exhaust the oxygen from it.
    However, doing so will massively (or totally) reduce the germination rate of the seed, so you are potentially cutting into seed stocks.






     
    Nicole Alderman
    gardener
    Posts: 1444
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    171
    cat duck forest garden hugelkultur
    • Likes 7
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Carol Deppe actually went into this a lot in her book "The Resiliant Gardener." She actually has a whole chapter on it, and her books is pretty much how she prepares for such crazy weather.

    She talked about how about 80% of what Europeans grew before the Little Ice Age, was wheat, oats, barley and rye, and that those that had animals were generally separate from the farmers. Fruit, veggies and meat were a tiny part of their diet, with meat being just for the rich. And, since the climate was pretty stable, population was blooming and people were farming on all the marginal lands and not always leaving fields fallow. Then WABAM! The three years of rain and no summer killed the grain (I gather that grain really hates being wet because they get too heavy and then rot on the ground). The topsoil washed away, which certainly didn't help things. People got sick because their immune systems were shot because they were malnurished. Life pretty much was horrible, and the Black Plague and wars that soon followed didn't help. (pages 33-34 of The Resilient Gardener)

    Anyway, there's the history of what went wrong. Deppe also goes into what people did to survive and cope during the Little Ice Age. (The following points are summarized from pages 35 & 36 of her book. It's a really good book! You should get it! There's a lot more details and info in there about this subject).

    (1) They diversified, growing forage, veggies, fruit (via orchard and food hedges), LOTS of root crops, and grain all on one farm. Root crops were also used for feeding animals.

    (2) They grew lots of pulses, especially for feeding livestock. Things like alfalfa and clover were used, and crops were rotated.

    (3) They added animals and rotated fields between pasture, forage, legumes and food crops. This gave meat and milk and eggs, AND MANURE!

    (4) People did more wildcrafting, fishing, and hunting. They also planted and used fedges (food hedges) that gave wildlife habitat and fruit for people.

    (5) POTATOES! They can grow in colder and wetter weather, and pack a lot of calories and nutrition.

    (6) Most people didn't just farm, they learned other skills that were marketable. That way, if their crops failed, they could trade their skills for their neighbor's food or for food from markets far away that did survive.
    (info from pages 35-36 of The Resilient Gardener)

    Diversity really is the name of the game, it seems, in surviving crazy weather. Learn lots of useful skills. Get some small livestock Grow lots of different fruits and veggies and perennials and annuals. Grow perennials that like conditions that are on the boarderline of yours (trees that survive in your climate but like it wetter, or trees that like it a little colder, etc). That way, if the weather swings one way or another, you might not get fruit on all your trees, but you'll get something. I remember, I think, that the Bullock brothers (http://www.permacultureportal.com) on Orcas Island planted some citrus plants that barely survive, because if if things get warmer, they'll get food out of them. Plant seeds at various depths and various times. I like to put out peas starting in January, even though people say to wait until February. Why? Because the last few years we've had really warm, early springs. So, while some people waited until later to plant, their plants didn't do too well because it was too hot too soon. So, I plant a few peas every week starting early. If I lose a few plants, it's not nearly as great a loss as getting no peas at all.  Micro climates are also your friend. If it's too hot one year, one area won't produce, but another on a shadier or northern facing slope will. So, raised beds and hugels and sunken beds and swales all being used should help with something always growing.

    Here's some info on the Four Crop rotating system used during the Little Ice Age. http://www.saburchill.com/history/chapters/IR/003f.html, where wheat, barley, turnips, and clover were rotated
    . Of course, permaculture generally frowns on monocrops like that, but they do rotate and so pests and diseases are diminished and fertility maintained a bit more. Turning these rotations into polycultures would probably help, as would making the sections smaller, so that there's barley growing next to beans growing next to corn growing next to berries growing next to tomatoes, with happy fedges intersperced. And, then in another year have that land "fallow" with cover crops/forage for animals to eat, depositing their poo there. Mass-production still happens, labor is reduced and diversity is maintained to a degree. 

    Speaking of crazy weather, I've really been reading this article by the National Geographic about all the ramifications we've been experiencing here on the west coast due to the "blob" of warm weather out in the pacific. We've had a lot of very non-northwest weather years recently due to it (very little snow, lots of warmth, etc). So, even if we don't have a year without a summer, there's other crazy weather stuff to prepare for, such as years without winters and springs!
     
    Carol Bambie
    Posts: 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Which of the 2 Little Ice Ages is being referred to in the book?

    So many good ideas here.   The referral to having protected planting areas reminds me of the value of a greenhouse, and possibly expanding it if needed.   Also, the value of a cold cellar.  Also, having sprout-able grains in food storage for the extra sprout nutrition, greens, etc.  Goats seem to find their own fodder better than most animals I can think of.   Their milk and chicken eggs can expand a diet, tho chickens will lay less well, if not poorly without feed,
     
    Tyler Ludens
    pollinator
    Posts: 9740
    Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    180
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I would need to learn how to eat varmints and other critters, who are much more efficient at turning inedible yucky stuff into at least semi-edible nutritious - varmint.  We have lots of varmints and critters here.

    But I've pretty much decided I won't be able to survive any serious hard times, since I seem barely able to survive these good times.

     
    Deb Rebel
    garden master
    Posts: 1474
    Location: Zone 6b
    163
    books cat fish food preservation greening the desert solar trees urban woodworking
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Tyler Ludens wrote:I would need to learn how to eat varmints and other critters, who are much more efficient at turning inedible yucky stuff into at least semi-edible nutritious - varmint.  We have lots of varmints and critters here.

    But I've pretty much decided I won't be able to survive any serious hard times, since I seem barely able to survive these good times.



    It's learning how to find, catch/kill those varmits then process them for the pot. Squirrels, possums, raccoons are all good varmits to collect. Rabbits. Nobody has mentioned on keeping rabbits... they can provide meat and pelts.
     
    Nicole Alderman
    gardener
    Posts: 1444
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    171
    cat duck forest garden hugelkultur
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Carol Bambie wrote:Which of the 2 Little Ice Ages is being referred to in the book?

    So many good ideas here.   The referral to having protected planting areas reminds me of the value of a greenhouse, and possibly expanding it if needed.   Also, the value of a cold cellar.  Also, having sprout-able grains in food storage for the extra sprout nutrition, greens, etc.  Goats seem to find their own fodder better than most animals I can think of.   Their milk and chicken eggs can expand a diet, tho chickens will lay less well, if not poorly without feed,


    Sorry I forgot to mention that! She's writing about the same one mentioned in this thread that started in 1315 ad and lasted until 1870s.
     
    Tyler Ludens
    pollinator
    Posts: 9740
    Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    180
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Squirrel is among the easiest and safest varmint to eat, from my research;  they don't have any weird glands you need to know about, nor any special diseases. 
     
    Deb Rebel
    garden master
    Posts: 1474
    Location: Zone 6b
    163
    books cat fish food preservation greening the desert solar trees urban woodworking
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Tyler Ludens wrote:Squirrel is among the easiest and safest varmint to eat, from my research;  they don't have any weird glands you need to know about, nor any special diseases. 


    Squirrels can have bubonic plague, transmitted by fleas. Lived in a major urban and they had it crop up in the squirrel population.
     
    Tyler Ludens
    pollinator
    Posts: 9740
    Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    180
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Oh damn, so much for my theory!

    Guess I'll just starve to death (that was my plan anyway).

     
    r ranson
    master steward
    Posts: 6033
    Location: Left Coast Canada
    750
    books chicken tiny house
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Tyler Ludens wrote:Squirrel is among the easiest and safest varmint to eat, from my research;  they don't have any weird glands you need to know about, nor any special diseases. 


    So long as you don't eat the brain.
    There's some pretty freaky stuff you can get from squirrel brains.

    I've never butchered a squirrel but with regular mammals, the glands are pretty obvious as they have a different texture and colour to the meat part.  The first time I did it, I was pretty worried about the glands and doing things 'right', but with practice, it becomes much easier. 
     
    Hans Quistorff
    pollinator
    Posts: 774
    Location: Longbranch, WA
    42
    chicken goat rabbit solar tiny house wofati
    • Likes 2
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Because of our long rainy season I have put a large area under cover to keep my berries from molding.  Now that we have had two years without much winter the less productive part has been neglected because I tend to work in there when the weather is bad. Much of my fresh produce is raised in wicking barrels which winter in there so if summer fails they will just stay in there and produce.
    Having a homestead with a variety of soils and micro-climates is helpful. In wet years the sand and gravel slope produces best but the last two years the grass in that area did not get tall and thick enough that I could not mow it with the riding lawn mower at the end of summer. So my staple crops have moved out onto the transition between the ground that drains well and the clay flood plain where the draining water comes up. The ponds out in the flood plain are very dry so I have been harvesting the anaerobically composted soil from the bottom.
    So the permaculture thing to do is be observant, adaptable and make the problem a solution.
     
    Erica Wisner
    gardener
    Posts: 1181
    Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
    199
    books cat dog food preservation hugelkultur
    • Likes 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    R Ranson wrote:
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:...

    Why the history lesson?  Because humans have been through all this before.  I read the news, modern books, and even the internet, and people act like climate change is new and we are the first generation to be faced with this kind of challenge.  Sure, the cause is different now, but things don't seem so different to me.  Maybe we can look at the past, see what people did that was good, what they did that was harmful, and then take the best from the past and use it to create a future worth living. 


    I agree adaptation will be critical.
    However, the climate change we're embarking on is a bit different than anything that has been experienced by a single human generation in the past. 
    My favorite science comic, XKCD, has been producing some good graphics on this topic lately.  Scroll down leisurely from the top for the best impact. 
    http://xkcd.com/1732/

    Because climate destabilization is already affecting food security in some regions, ethically I feel I should consider the big picture as well as the personal one. 
    For example, game plans that involve stockpiling fossil fuels and ammo to defend them, or running grow lights and generators, might be contributing to the problem in the long run.  Ditto filling the freezer, or energy-intensive canning strategies. 
    I'm working on developing lower-energy food preservation where I can - starting my fruit preserves on the wood stove (rocket mass heater), dehydrating rather than canning my tomatoes and pears (very quick and easy in our dry climate), etc. 
    For rescuing crops from unreliable climate, a greenhouse/shade house, solar-concentrator, microclimates, and building great soils (organic matter for water retention and drainage), and diverse varietals, are probably more sustainable
    Tin-foil or berm-style solar concentrators, or Crimean stoves in a hoop house, can be duplicated by many neighbors quickly, whereas grow lights cannot.

    Having a very large home furnace is one tactic for dealing with extreme weather (that worsens the problem globally). 
    Insulating the ceiling better, or keeping a trunk of spare clothes for unusually cold weather, or studying up on survival shelters so you can playfully turn your bed into a blanket-fort in case of a bad cold snap, are tactics that can contribute to crisis survival while reducing impact over time.

    I'm generally more interested in developing local knowledge (like which local weeds and lichens were historic "famine foods"), and locally-replicatable solutions, than in accumulating and defending a cache of high-tech gadgets. 
    I don't want to be a warlord, but I have studied a bit of self-defence tactics.  One of my favorite tactics in general practice is pre-emptive kindness, like joining the fire department and generally being a good neighbor. 
    Another is to get to know my local flora and fauna, so I don't inadvertently clear out a big patch of frost-tolerant, fire-adapted berries to plant something that may never thrive in our harsh, semi-arid, montane environment.

    We may well see years without summer, or without winter.  We're already seeing regional extreme winters, extreme summers, and persistent droughts or repeated flooding in many regions.  Patterns like we had in 2013-2015, where a warm "blob" in the Pacific and a persistent "polar vortex" over New England creates regional droughts and blizzards/deluges simultaneously. 
    These region disasters so far have mostly been compensated somewhat by moving resources from elsewhere, or substituting something else.
    We can ignore the price of honey as long as sugar is still cheap (and it's become common to cut both honey and maple syrup with corn syrup).
    Our global food markets are picking up the slack... for a while.

    I suppose that the worst case is, you might not realize that your regional crisis was part of a global one until long after your local resources have been depleted. 
    If you think you can still buy tomatoes internationally, you might not take steps to salvage frost-killed green tomatoes.
    If you think that you will always be able to purchase good-enough seed, and that imported seed will always be viable in your region, you might not bother to save seed or contribute to local landrace/seed-swap efforts.

    In recent hurricanes and Fukoshima, both toxic chemicals and natural salt water can spoil food-producing areas, sometimes very large ones. 
    A very bad "year of no summer," or of extreme summer storms, could destroy both crops and topsoils through wildfire and flash-flooding in the West, and could destroy arable land through salt poisoning in coastal valleys.
    Soil building in marginal areas, and good landscape design that mitigates both flooding and drought and wildfire, are significant survival advantages that can start to pay dividends within months, and keep getting better for years or centuries.

    Another interesting graphic: Domestic animals far outmass wildlife at this point.  https://m.xkcd.com/1338/
    Don't worry about learning to cook squirrel or venison -- or, at least, look for versatile recipes that also work for cat, dog, locust, rat, goat, horse, and the whole Chinese zodiac. 
    -- Hint: For lean meat, cold-salted sausage or bread and fry: "chicken fried rabbit," fritters, popcorn-style bites/strips. 
    For gamy or tough meats, stews/barbecue/"pulled pork"/carne asada/pressure-canning to soften; consider chili, barbecue, or red-wine stews with spicy sausage to mask gaminess with spices, acid (fruit/vinegar/wine). 
    If you can't quite bring yourself to eat vermin or offal, you can feed it to pets, or use it to supplement feed for pigs/chickens/fish (avoiding cannibalism for any given species if possible). 

    How long could you (or your community) feed your pets and livestock in a lean year?
    If you live near a feed lot or factory farm, what happens if they need to downscale due to corn shortages or rising feed prices? 
    How fast can you process a LOT of factory chickens, pigs, or cattle?  (I hear skinning chickens is easier than plucking them, but you lose some of the valuable fats.)

    If hay crops spoil, under what conditions could you make silage with it?
    (Can you make sileage from wet alfalfa and frost-killed pumpkins, or does it have to be corn?  Can sileage be made successfully in warm/damp weather, or is it only safe to do it in the cool of the fall?)
    Trees can be pollarded or coppiced for tree hay. 

    One thing to stockpile might be salt. It lasts almost forever, and is useful for preserving meat (and hides), making jerky, canning pickles, or as general trade goods.
    Even if I don't always have time to can, I hold onto canning supplies, such as citric acid, jars, rings, and lids, carbuoys for homebrewing, and plenty of spices. 
    Spices go a long way to make spoiled crops into tasty pickles or pies (green tomatoes, peppers, unripe squash, radish pods, beans, edible flowers/buds). 
    Alliums keep pretty well in the ground, and garlic/onion go a LONG way toward making otherwise unpalatable stuff into food.
    I would like to cultivate more root veggies that can self-seed in our climate, like parsnips.
    I would want dill and mustard available in quantity if I needed to shift to a local game-and-pickles heavy diet.

    I already dabble in cultured food, and keep starter cultures like yeast, apple cider vinegar, yogurt, cheese/rennet tablets, etc.
    Enzyme-cooking, sprouting, soaking, and culturing can make nutrients more available, making marginally-digestible foods easier to eat, more worth eating, making scarce food stretch further, and often saving cooking fuel in the process. 
    (Dairy, beans/soy, grains, nuts, many greens and veggies; even marinating meats/seafood to tenderize before cooking.) 
    At the pinnacle of this category are artisan-quality cultured foods, like cured ham/prosciutto/sausage, special cheeses, beer, wine, and home-brewed soft drinks.

    Saving seed, rotating supplies, diverse landraces, learning to recognize edible native and near-native plants, helping them thrive.
    Learning to speak languages that are used in adjacent regions, or in regions that might send refugees/immigrants/raiding parties in large numbers in case of a really bad disaster. 

    All the stuff permies do is helping to build resilience into regional food systems, just by virtue of being different and locally-adapted.

    While international food merchants will probably do their best to keep us all fat and lazy for many years to come, I would not want to count on them having local backstock in an emergency. 
    Our local produce from our rural county gets shipped to warehouses 4-6 hours away near urban centers, then shipped back to the local groceries on demand - farther, in other words, than I would want to walk on an empty stomach during food riots.

    -Erica
     
    r ranson
    master steward
    Posts: 6033
    Location: Left Coast Canada
    750
    books chicken tiny house
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I love this infographic.  Thanks for posting it.

    It hits home that I don't have the language of what I'm trying to say.  Climate change has happened before - years without summers, sudden dips or heights in regional temperature.  That sort of thing.  What we have now is something completely different. Our current climate change is so drastically different that I almost think it shouldn't be called 'climate change'.  'climate change' of the past was drastic and had huge impact on the population (human and other) of the world.  What we have now is 'climate crisis' - a totally different thing.  But even those words are too mild.

    We are entering drier times and will probably wipe ourselves out.  However, we have a choice how we face death.  We can sit back, watch tv, have another beer and let it come.  Or we can do something, stay positive, speak out, seek solutions.  Only no one has had to face such dire climate crisis before, so we don't know what to do.  They have, however, had to face climate change.  We have historical examples of cultures reaching beyond the tipping point, making drastic social change, and regenerating their environment (Edo Japan).  We have examples of what happens when they don't make drastic cultural changes.  I feel it's better to face the current climate crisis on our feet, making changes, doing what we can, taking inspiration from history, whatever we need to do than to wait for it sitting on our backsides on the sofa.

    I feel that these past skills and historical knowledge are our only chance of survival.  A slim chance, but better than none.

    Even the climate change of the past required humans make drastic changes to the way we lived.  Even England in the Middle Ages, lost just about 2/3rds their population in only a few decades triggered by climate change.  AND they made changes to everything from the economy to architecture.  The cultures that didn't make changes in the face of historical climate change died back to their 'village' component parts - but they had the skills to do so, very few humans living in The West today, could hop directly into a village substance setting and survive more than a few weeks.  Most of them don't have the skills anymore.  


    When I look at historical climate change and say, "see, it's happened before" - I'm trying to say we need to stop and pay attention.  Climate change on such a mild scale happened before and wiped out civilizations and species.  The people who survived climate change, changed what they were doing to harm their local environment and adapted.  What we have now is so much worse than the past - I feel the only way to survive is to STOP!  MAKE CHANGES NOW WHILE WE STILL CAN! 

     
    Gilbert Fritz
    Posts: 1305
    Location: Denver, CO
    22
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    The one problem with that infographic is that, as they point out, the dotted line could hide short drastic upswings (or downswings) in temperature. So it is possible that something like the current temperatures could have happened somewhere there so long as they didn't stick around for more then a hundred years or so.

    In other words, the move from the dotted smoothed estimated line to the modern hard measured line is important; they are not necessarily equivalent.

    Still an interesting graphic.

    And we do have to change a lot. The problem is figuring out how. Is redesigning a suburb of Denver a useful response, or will we all be moving to Greenland anyway? I tend to think it won't be as drastic as that, but who knows.
     
    Live a little! The night is young! And we have umbrellas in our drinks! This umbrella has a tiny ad:
    Rocket mass heaters in greenhouses can be tricky - these plans make them easy: Wet Tolerant Rocket Mass Heater in a Greenhouse Plans
    • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
    • New Topic
    Boost this thread!