So, here we are in the midst of the world-wide Corona virus pandemic. The news changes by the day. My own school has shut down for the semester, with classes to be delivered "at distance" or "remotely" -- the two phrases being tossed around. Over the years there have been various threads on Permies.com that predicted what to do in the event of a SHTF worldwide event. That day has apparently come. If I may, let me offer a couple of thoughts about what I'm seeing and what I'm predicting.
1. San Francisco is locked-down. Residents have been advised to shelter in place. New York is reportedly considering this as well. My home is in greater Los Angeles county, which is a massive place. [If LA county were to become its own state, it would be the 7th most populous state in the Union -- we've got a lot of people living here]. For the foreseeable future, this is the new normal. So the fear of zombie hoards roaming the streets, lawlessness, and gangs of rampaging hungry people seems less and less unlikely. People are hunkering down. If there are instances of lawlessness, my guess is that they will be swiftly and harshly put down.
2. Related to the first point, transit is easy to control. Once the airports are closed, and the train and bus stations shuttered, what's left? Cars. Easy to set up road-blocks and turn people back. The imagery of hoards of people ransacking the countryside is fantasy. People will go indoors and wait. Already we are seeing 80% less traffic on the roads. Freeway traffic is almost non-existent. People are doing what they're told—sheltering in place.
3. As predicted, if you wait too long, you'll be standing in line, picking through what little remains on store shelves. Those who were prudent and jumped on this weeks ago are sitting at home right now with some sense of security that they won't have to go out and look for more. Will there be food in the weeks to come? Absolutely -- the warehouses are still full and trucks are still rolling down the highways. Cows still need to be milked twice a day. Crops are being seeded and farmers are still farming. But those who had the foresight to squirrel away enough food so that they don't have to go out and stand in the lines are those who will minimize the risk of catching the virus.
My fear isn't that I'll starve. My fear is that I'll be exposed to some idiot in line who sneezes on the back of my neck. Thus, food is the secondary issue here. Security and limiting exposure is what keeping a well-stocked pantry is all about.
4. It's not that easy to suddenly ramp-up a garden. Those of us on this forum have spent years building soil, and creating the kinds of systems that are tremendously productive. We have greenhouses and cold frames, we've got compost piles, chicken tractors, wicking beds, huglemounds, we've saved seed, we've established productive orchards . . . and that poor schmuck who is suddenly thinking "Maybe I could plant a garden" has none of these things. Should said schmuck still plant a garden? Absolutely. But he's not going to see much yield right away. But for all those who read these boards regularly, you've already ordered your seeds, planted them, and have things under cultivation. We've been eating lettuce, radishes and sugar snap peas from the garden for weeks. We've thinned the peach and nectarine trees -- first harvest is only 8 weeks away or so. Mmm . . . apricots. If someone went out today and planted an apricot tree, he'll be waiting 2 years for the first crop.
Aren't you glad you had the foresight to build those raised beds? Now get out there and turn that compost pile! While you're at it, you might want to start another 25 tomatoes, 40 pepper plants, a few more herbs (cilantro, dill, basal) and another hill or 3 of cucumbers. Our carrots are still a month away from harvesting, but I'll be planting a bunch more in the next few days.
Ramping up an existing garden is a whole lot easier than starting from scratch.
5. All of a sudden, people are coming out of the woodwork: "Hey, we'll be over later to help you pick avocados, Marco." No, you won't. We will be generous, but the time to ask for my help was 5 years ago when I would have been happy to help you plant your own avocado tree. The definition of a garden is a cultivated space WITH WALLS. In times like this, you understand why walls are necessary. Again, i don't anticipate zombie hoards roaming down the street in search of a squash, but there is a measure of security knowing that we control who comes and goes. Will our non-permie friends all starve? No. But they also will not be enjoying fresh pesto from the garden, or have abundant access to all the produce that will come from the garden on a daily basis.
6. Fresh eggs daily. The old girls just keep producing. Enjoy life's little luxuries. Three weeks ago, I might have just taken this for granted (along with the fresh squeezed orange juice or the tender greens budding off the moringa trees). Now I see what a blessing it is to have these simple pleasures. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll say a prayer of thanks for the lovely fresh egg omelet (with moringa and chives) and glass of blood-orange orange juice.
Stay safe out there.