I thought I would repost my latest article over here at Permies because the person I am interviewing used to post here at Permies occasionally and one of the subjects that came up was, permaculture, of course. She is such a quality holder of knowledge and experience... so I thought I would share....
(Edit- I should also add, over at DGM SRC, people have warned others that I am PG-13... at best and occasionally R- Rated. Be warned, this is not for everybody. I also violate a number of the permies rules of conduct wich is why I have my own blog.... But I hope I get a special dispensation on this post for educational purposes. Its the original post as writen)
C5 Presents- Farmgal, Farmgal, Farmgal
With your host Category5...and guess who? Could it be Farmgal?
I have been getting some press and respect lately. Its been a nice egoboost. I have accomplished most of what I set out to do. Doing a slight adjustment to the prepper world to tweek it into something that is a little more Real, Relational, Relevant... and Rational.
Then I had a mini, introspective, self revelational attitude adjustment. That, "Wow! Do I Ever Suck or what" moment, evaluating just how little I actually know. People might look to me for their survival. In reality, I simply stumble from one problem I'm forced to solve and this leads me to the next problem to solve. Each time, I am dumbfounded at the shear lack of knowledge society has equipped me with to achieve my own survival in a world, presently imploding. I figure most people find themselves in the same place... or will find themselves there the moment they try to enact their own survival.
Then along comes someone, unassuming, on the periphery of the prepper world that can honestly say, "I know stuff". That person should be exalted into the Limelight.
It is my privilege to do that today.
I recently wrote in another article, "Farmgal is a top tier prepper. Some people have Fantasy Football teams. If I had a Fantasy Prepper Team, I'd make Farmgal the Captain of the team. If she showed up at Dark Green Mountain, I would say, "Thanks for coming to my apocalypse. You are in charge now.... ".
So, what does a Top Tier Prepper do? Not alot of running around in camo. She grows food."
She also Forages food, Stores Food, Raises animals as Food, Saves her own seed to grow next years Food, Prepares all this Grown, Foraged, Stored and Raised Food in creative ways.
And she teaches others her expertise about FOOD.
Do you notice a theme here?
C5- Farmgal, Farmgal, Farmgal! Thanks for coming to my apocalypse.
Farmgal- First I would like to say Thank you to C5 for inviting me to do a post or posts. I go by the handle Farmgal on the net and I have adored reading C5 back to when he was called that the very first time.
I have been very interested in the tidbits of background that have been shared on the Green Mountain Blog about both Mr. and Mrs. C5 So for those that know me from my blog, you are going to get more background then you normally do and for those that are new to me, you might get a glimpse of what happened in the past to bring me to the present point.
C5- Welcome Farmgal. Im honored to have you here... and to be my guinea pig for my very first ever attempt at an interview.
As a long time voice in the prepper movement, you have seen every shade of paranoid nut job, extremist and strait up racist. You have also seen great steps forward in people embracing there own resilience, safety and food growing.
What are your thoughts about the state of the Prepper Movement at this point of its evolution?
Farmgal- Wow, I didn't expect that question.. LOL, this could be interesting.
Well, the first thing that I feel is worth noting is that the overall prepper movement has been split into three factions. Survivalist Preppers, Permaculture Preppers and Tinfoil Hat Preppers.
The main reason's for this is all due to Media.. The Survivalist's didn't like the backlash of being called a Survivalist and so many of them turned to the "softer side" and became a prepper. I personally find there are two main types of Survivalist that use the prepper name. A) they want a split from the neo-Nazi White Supremacist angle that is tided to that movement. B) They use it as a humor shield.
That Humor Shield comes directly from Doomsday prepper.. it makes what they do seem lighter, funnier and more garden and fewer guns.
The core of what the prepper movement was trying to make happen shifted very heavily towards homesteader or permaculture. This has led to where we are right now. A major slow down on "official" Prepper boards.
Which is going to bring me to what I personally see as the biggest thing happening in the past few years and it just keeps growing bigger.. The split in the prepper movement between the "male" vs "female" prepper.
I know this is a touchy subject but the divide was always there but its grown so wide in the past years. When I got into the prepper movement, we heard time and again from the prepper women that they didn't feel that they could have a voice on the boards, that they were overwhelmed by the much more vocal males. This lead to the biggest Canadian Prepper Board to create a women only area.. (I want to give a big old THANK YOU and nod to Denob for being willing to do this).
Its been many years since but the reason that this was a issue then, is very much still a issue today. We have a large group of male preppers that are "last man standing" that are " we are going to bug out and live in the bush".. They are the loudest voices.. Ooo Raaa!
Then we have a smaller amount of men who are some of the best prepper's and we are darn lucky to have them.. they are family men, they are working side by side with their partners. They are the ones that are doer's.. they show you how to weld this or build this with solar panels or will talk about 100 subjects that will help to create a better life for their family and those around them.
Then we have the women in the movement.. They are exploding in numbers.. they are a underground grass roots movement.. they are the driving force behind the homestead blogs, the permaculture blogs, they are the driving force behind community gardens, school gardens, Permaculture food forests, chickens being allowed into urban area's, beekeeping on roofs, Canning being taught in local community halls, a booming push at farmers markets and CSA. Its not just local to me (which is huge) its across Canada, and I have connection with thousands and thousands of women doing the same in the states.
Now Mrs C5 is going to read this and tell me, "You ass! I could have been talking to women preppers all this time and you diddnt tell me." Hey, I claim computer incompetence. I only came on grid a few years ago.
I hear ya. Last Man Standing types have severely fucked up prepping, or Last Man On Earth, types ironically referred to as LaMOEs.
If you will indulge me a little Megalomania, you had my back right from the start and have always been one of my biggest backers. Just like The Doomstead Diner, I carefully chose posting on the International Preppers Network. It was a very intentional, strategic gamble. I bypassed the big boards on purpose. I'm clearly no family man. I came crashing into IPN like a drunk bull in a china shop, telling a story of how I had just rode home with a few gallons of Sodium Silicate perilously dangling off the sides of my motorcycle, cruising down the highway and realizing I had just graduated to the next level of prepper. I came in thinking, "Wait till some of these LaMOE fuckers get a load of me. I better be prepared for a fight". You were a board Moderator at IPN who's voluntary job was to Moderate. So, why did you back me considering I was there to intentionally Shit Disturb and piss off the Survivalist Preppers, and the sometimes, even more dangerous, Everything is a conspiracy, Tinfoil Hat Preppers.
Farmgal- A couple reasons.
One, you are always willing to admit when something didn't work.. and you are always willing to try this or that and see if it will or will not work in real life. Its a personal pet peeve of mine when folks will only talk about "the perfect" it all worked so well.. because that is total bullshit in real life.. you can be the best gardener or with a chain saw or rifle.. and you are still going to have crop failure.. have your chainsaw do a kick back at some point and have a misfire..
C5- Yup. Big pet peeve of mine as well. There is lots of "Survival Advice" and even "Pemiculture advice" out their that doesn't pass the real life test. People post their grand ideas and builds but they never seem to come back later and say, "Well that was a big ol waist of my time and money". That is one of the points of the DMG Survival RESEARCH Centre. Honesty is important about failures. Boy, have I ever accumulated some.
Farmgal- Two, You talk about a lot of things I do but never post.. dumpster diving, figuring out how to take some thing common and make it useful again, bringing home others "junk" and more.. I so often nod along when I read your writing.. (not all of it mind you) but a good portion.
Three, you are respectful to the ladies, its not that you don't speak your mind but you are not rude in the same way as other and while I know that some would consider the way you speak about your wife as crude, I figure Mrs. C5 is cool with it, or she seems strong enough that she would tell you.
C5- He, He , He. Yes. I use MrsC5 as the strait man in a lot of my comedy. She is a seething polecat though. She would have tracked some of these guys to their homes (lets just leave it to your imagination). Its actually Mrs Dr.C5.
Farmgal- Four, your funny.. sorry but its just true.. your writing is fun to read.. I like to think that same sense of both adventure and humor blends into who you are in real life. I have found most folks that are willing to try new things, are willing to admit when something didn't work out and are willing to laugh at life or themselves are some of the best kinds of folks
Five, You at times get to pick the fight that I as a mod would choose not to do. My motto was walk soft but carry a big stick.. Most of the time I read the posts and even if I have a strong reply, I ask myself.. walk soft.. or Big STICK time.. if you really look, I give advice, encouragement and information.. I rarely give my own thoughts on subjects.. It makes me as a mod far more Balanced, then I would be if I was just me
So there you.. and if I have to answer this.. so do you! LOL What made you like Farmgal..
C5- "Quid pro quo. Clara". You knew who Permaculture practitioners were (the OTHER preppers). You actually knew who Transition Town were (the OTHER, OTHER preppers). You even knew the SCA (the ones I refer to as the OTHER, OTHER, OTHER preppers). Most Manly Men go limp at that point... or whine about socialists because their manlyness is threatened. AND you obviously know SEED SAVING which is a science in itself. Lets talk about that. Biannual seeds consistently kick my ass and make me question my manly survivalistliness. No seeds? No second harvest. No future.
I picked some serious fights... and then showed my own serious problems that they didnt even know were the problems they would face because they were too single focused and inexperienced to even know what questions to ask... Then Farmgal would magically appear and say, "Its a common problem. Perhaps you might try this. Here is where to go..."
Now, if you have read this far, you are about to get into the Meat of the matter. There is a reason Farmgal knows something worth listening to about food.
I asked a question.... and then she answered honestly and deeply.
Her answer is none of your fucking business. You have heard me say the same about some of my past. She shared it with me because we have known each other for a while and built trust. You, not so much. I expose myself a lot on this sight because we have to be honest about realistic preparedness as opposed to, fantacy, invincible warriors of the wasteland, absolute bullshit. I have been around somewhat. If someones Survivaly Expertlyness starts by the credentials of their rank and regiment and what war they got sent to, their expertlyness immediately goes into the questionable file but I will always let them "earn it" from there. The people I look for are those who have been through shit without a regiment and a nations worth tax dollars for resupply backing them.
The only reason I have anything to teach you is because fucked up shit happened. I fell through the cracks of our society. I got first hand, SHTF experience. Farmgal has had fucked up shit happen. Most likely, more than me. She didn't become a food expert because its nice to be nice and gardening makes happy tie died rainbows. I'll only share one line from her intimately shared response.
"I remember my mother sitting at the table crying because she was so happy that she found a case of kidney beans that she had bought and tucked behind the stairs and she had found them. It meant protein for the table.. That was the year I added in a small snare trap line of my own to look after.."
That was as a pre teen.
She was heavily motivated to know food production, inside and out.
Now, this is why I have chosen to embarrass you, The Reader, and often come off contemptuously. This is what the Tighty Whity Righty that see poverty as some type of moral failing or weakness need to hear. Its your future and the future of your children as resource depletion and economic contraction bites. Coming right up. The Lefty Looseis don't get off the hook either. A bankrupt, overextended government cant fix injustice and subsidized renewable energy to run electric cars. There is nothing renewable about that.
Farmgal knew hunger and fear and homelessness and outcast status... and here she is, A Proven Survivor. Just like me. So, who do you want to get survival advice from. I thought so.
Lets continue the interview
I said to Fgal, I recently had a good friend, doomsday blogger and one of the more influential local proponents of Transition Town implementation, hanging out for one of our dinner parties. He said he would be willing to do a similar interview. During the hang out, someone asked, what was the moment You Knew? What moment? What book? What decision or experience, made you decide to “prepare” or decide the world was going to implode? It is a peak moment in a persons life. You and I started much younger that the gen pop and I know your learning curve was better taught than mine from a young age. What moment convinced you, it aint a hobby, this is why I am doing this.
Farmgal- Its never been a hobby, it never had a title or a movement to me until I was labelled with it as a adult. It just was the way to live.
(C5s interjection. This is not a story from The Great Depression. Fgal is younger than me. I was still comfortably in the burbs at this point)
So I was born in Alberta, Canada to parents that were both raised on the poor side of town, married young and were what was called Back to the Landers in the 70’s and 80’s. What that meant was that I was raised without power, by wood heat, with a outhouse and that it was a huge deal when we got a well instead of hauling water. That we moved a lot to follow work for my dad is a understatement.. I had moved 47 times before the age of 18 following my parents from small farm, bush cabin and in some cases what can only be called shacks.
I was running a small trap line (for helping bring food onto the table) by 8, which is the same age I got my first 22, my mom gardened, we wild harvested and we put up food and we ran limited animals, horse’s were a staple (the horse’s might have come and gone over the years) I had my own little milk goats by the age of nine.
But before that...
My grandfather (mom’a side) bought a farm and my grandmother and their children worked hard on that farm. They were poor but getting by nine children plus two extra (cousins that were brought in an raised because the dad had passed way and the mom split out the older children to their relatives) There was never really enough but the worst was to come. It would turn out that the man they bought from kept the money they paid him and didn’t pay the person he bought the land from.. and in the end they lost it.
Not because they didn’t work it, or pay, themselves but because trust was placed in the wrong person...
First lesson to learn in life.. Never trust a person’s word.. look to their actions. Hard work and honesty does not mean that it can not be taken away from you.
Second Lesson in life.. Never EVER trust that the good times will last! they can be gone in a split second. You can get by without a lot.. but you can not live without food, water or a form of shelter (and in Canada winter.. heat!) The rest is gravy!
Third Lesson in life.. Sometimes you need to do things you don’t want to do and you had better be able to deal with it. The second part of that lesson is that you can have those shakes, those tears as a release.. it allowed.. but when you are done.. you get back up and keep moving forward.
That’s it C5.. the gut of it.. those three things added up to why I am who I am.. Never trust debt, always try and own your own land, always be willing to let go and move on, don’t hold onto anything other then those you love , everything else can be replaced if need be, shelter, water and food are #1 needs.
Feast or Famine.. Feast or Famine.
Every time you prepare, you hedge off that Famine just a little bit more..
Feast or Famine.. Feast or Famine. That is what I want people to take away.
C5- Hey Farmgalfriend. That's all the prepper Cred I will ever need to hear, right there. Not survivalist theory. First hand experience. Lets talk about your Learning Curve. John Michael Greer mentioned that in the future, survivors would get used to finding over grown garden patches and empty garden in a box kits next to the skeletal remains of preppers where the learning curve lasted just that much longer than they did. Tell us about your learning curve.
Farmgal- My parents loved Black Powder Shoots and I have great memories of sitting with my dad melting lead and doing reloading, working in the shop making knives and training for the kids Ax throwing.. you get the idea.
It all changed to a point when I was 12. My dad got a steady job (that took him away from home for about 10 months of the year and they moved us to town.. across the tracks in the trailer court town, I hated it, I spent as much time out in the gravel pit with handmade huts to hide in. Spring, summer, fall and in the winter, I had a special hiding spot in a frozen culvert under a road that I would snow pack in and bring gear with me and heat with a candle.
Then as I hit 14 my parents started worrying about the three B’s, Booze, Bordom an Boy’s so I got shipped off in the summers to a family friends farm. I was back to hooking a line from a running tractor to run the well, and hauling water, having no power. Just a propane stove and a outhouse but I didn’t care. I traded working with four 2 coming 3 year old horse (halter breaking, sacking, ground work and ponying) for a bit of cash and a riding horse for the summer. I learned how to run a team to haul logs from the bush, how to switch out summer wagons to winter sleds and how to cut hay with horse’s. It was always just enough but rarely more. I would disappear into this world during the summer for five more years..
Then collage and city living came while still working hunting camps in the fall for outfitters and taking this and that job in the country. I then meet my hubby and moved to Yellowknife NWT and spent as much time on the land as we could and still keep a job. Making due and only packing in what you point in fact need and of course learning even more about wild forage. O it was a grand time in NWT!
Then we got transferred to Iqaluit, Nunavut Canada. Conditions in many ways was very much 3rd world. Suddenly I was above the tree line, I was on a massive learning curve..
So C5 says show me your sheet metal? Here is the first lesson I learned up there and its stuck with me.. and is reflected in so many ways on my own place and when it comes to the prepper’s talking about being prepped and ready..
Show me your Worm Bins!
Within the first four days of arriving in Iqaluit, I was offered worms by three different folks and had chats on worm raising over coffee.
There is no soil up there.. there is no bush up there.. you can’t compost when 10 months of the year are too cold do so, you have a limited time for fishing and even more limited time for other sea food or caribou hunting.
You can get protein and fat but what you can’t get very easy is greens but you can compost all your extra’s in worm bins, you can get worm castings with is a rich potting mix and you can worm tea to feed seed planting’s.
You can get a very limited amount of soil shipped up in your sealift order but its going to cost you (if you are smart, you will bring up peat moss, its much better bang for your buck as it will expand massively in amount, its just that you have feed it to keep it producing year after year)
Remember that for X amount of months you have 24 sun but the highest temp it ever gets to in summer in the years I lived there was plus 8c..
C5- That is important for some of our readers further south where the soil isnt conducive to growing much or has already been stripped of nutrients, or they can only afford to buy "Junk Land" on rocky hillside. Same for forest homesteaders. Forest soil isn't conducive to gardens . You have to, quite literally "Grow Soil". I recall Chris Martenson saying he wasn't really a gardener. He was a soil farmer.
Farmgal- The second thing that has to be done, was unless you wanted to be held hostage to the local store and their insane prices, you needed to order in by sealift a 12 to 16 month household supply once a year. And because you paid by both space and weight, you had better learn to like and use dried foods, get creative and figure out real fast that you can not eat willy-nilly.. because if you eat all of one food in the first three months you will NOT have it again for another 9 to 12 months!
So here is my Next show me.. Show me your copy of the Food Substitute book.. If you have long term food storage and you don’t have this book.. I am going to give you the eye.. the sideways eye that says, you have never lived it.. you have never worked it.. because if you had you would have done some thinking and found this little gem on your own..
So if its in your books, you get a cookie and a gold star! That’s were we end of Part one.. It made me who I am in many ways.
C5- OK, Farmgal. Give us all a quik tip on how to better improve our survival.
Farmgal- Show me your pumpkins… Everything on a pumpkin plant can be eaten on the top side, the young leaves cook up like tender greens, the bigger leaves can be dried, crushed and used as green powder, the flowers can be eaten, the young fruit can be eaten and those rare few that you are going to let finish will give you the flesh but more important, it will give you the rich fatty seeds.
C5- Nice. I've long time promoted my own joke, "Shit Hits The Fan, Tactical Squashes" to take the piss out of useless tactical guys that seem to think they are survivalists for some silly reason I have never been able to figure out. MrsC5 points out, its not funny if I am the only one laughing at my jokes. These posts are some of my least read but most important articles. No one looks at a squash or pumpkin and thinks, "Oh My God. We are saved".
Give us a bit more on that.
Farmgal- Give you a bit more on that.. well then lets talk about a few things in regards to the food front.. So it will not surprise anyone that I am going to say that you should be growing potato's, I mean come on.. its darn near the perfect food. If you can grow it, it should be a staple and you had better have plans on your homestead on having a way to store a huge amount of them. If its to hot to grow regular potato's then I expect to hear that you are going sweet potatos (and you lucky dogs that get to do that, you are also eating those greens right?).
But lets get back to our spuds.. you are not just growing Yukon gold or any of those other really popular ones that you can get in the store.. right?? You are growing some of the older heritage ones because it means that they are also producing seed balls and like a really good little prepper, you are collecting and learning how to save, start and grow TSP right..
Right, I know you are, because all you need is one bad summer, some freak winter or you need to eat those potato's in storage to save the life of your kids.. you have TSP in your seed storage and you have the ability to start over on year two, three or four???
Show me your True Potato Seed Collection? I want to see at least five kinds, and even better, I want to see the ones that you have breed though to the next generation!
The other thing worth noting is that everyone is so concerned about breeding pure strain of heritage seed and I get it, I do.. I mean I work with programs and I grow pure seed to send back as a seed grower that then sends that seeds across Canada to local gardeners.
However as a prepper.. Landrace breeding should be very high on your list for your own personal garden turn out.. I am in year five working with others in a three hour area on breeding a land race for the butternut squash that thrives in our climate. Some of the things I breed for are not what others do, but we have been successful at not only creating one that matures early for our season, averages 3 to 5 pounds for a average family's needs but holds for up to 18 months with proper storage.
The reason given for the storage was to be able to provide local food a steady winter supply of locally grown produce but flip it for a prepper and bang, we have bred in the trait to hold a extra six months to go from harvest to harvest in zone 5, some thing that was unheard of six years ago!
Get out there and order from every seed house you can find and mix it all up and start working your landrace plantings.. they will be a saving grace in our new extreme climate gardening culture.
C5- Then I will finish with one last question. So. I present you with my soap box. What do you really want to tell the prepper world, that you wouldn't say as a moderator or on your own blog. Lett'er fly. Be a contrarian. Be Alpha Fargal"
Farmgal- I have already answered and been more open in this post in many ways then I have on my own blog over the years, or at least shown another edge or side to myself.
Lett'er fly.. Alright you asked for it but I don't think you will be surprised.. All that stuff you are sinking money into, all those toys, everything you are packing away, buying and planning to live "in a somewhat similar manner" as you or your family or the rest of us who live in 1st world countries..
Its a fool's game.. you really can't take it with you.. and those skills, they are great, train for them, work them.. you can have the best gear, the best training and simple infection can and will take you down.
The truth that I always think and never say out loud.. IF or when SHTF where to happen in a real way.. all this talk, all this will mean nothing.. not really.. break this or get sick with this or freeze to death.. all the Rambo talk.. blah!
As Mr. FG or Dear Hubby says to me. ." talk to me about how to work around climate change or job loss or reduced health, talk to me about energy crisis or peak oil or water wars
Don't bother trying to talk to me about the BIG EVENTS because if those happen.. nothing we are doing will truly prepare us for what would be coming. If it goes down like that.. we be fucked!"
It always makes me sigh and ground my feet again when he reminds me of that cold hard truth..
C5- Thanks Farmgal for taking time out in what I know is your mega busy season of planting. A big shout out to Mr FG as well.
We will try to have Farmgal back as soon as she can fit us back into her schedule for a part two where she will tell us the rest of the story about here farmlife.
I am going to be a presumptuous ass and assign a homework assignment task for Farmgal to take some time formulating.
Farmgal pointed out the lack of bees this spring on here blog. I promptly went out to the flowering service berry trees. Almost no bees. I only counted 9 bees. Holy Apocalyptic Shit Storm Batman. Now, I know what hand pollination is... and have long predicted there will come a time that if you want to eat, we will be forced to hand pollinate. Its an epicly daunting proposition. I have zero experience in it. I might be able to handle hand pollinating squashes.
I hope Farmgal can take some time to think about what hand pollination of what foods would be beneficial to preppers or Adapters and what would just be trying to grasp the wind. Speaking of wind, what wind pollinated plants might be better to focus on. I think we could all use an Adapter specific tutorial from a seed expert. Hopefully Farmgal signs up for the task.... No pressure....
This song has been on my mind alot lately while out in the garden or cutting firewood. I've played it a dozen times this week. It goes out to the rubes that fell for Washington's latest Bait and Switch. "What. No chemical weapons. And we just fired upteen millions of taxpayer dollar missiles. Quick, declare war on Iran before anyone notices... What can possibly go wrong?"
Bonus reads of the week... since we are getting in touch with our inner Amish...
No wonder the Amish rejected TV... and cars. Silly English.
High, high marks go to this one as well as a last minute entry, if you have ever got stuck in a gardens VS food storage VS hunter gatherer foraging argument, instead of all complimenting each other for a complete system of "Resilience"