City Slickers

Photo above: City Slickers III. Wind River area, Wyoming. Son Matt, Brother Dave, Son John Paul, Me J.P.

Small Talk

SMALL TALK: View the story of the air rifle that doubled the size of the United States. Fantastic bit of 2nd Amendment history re: Lewis and Clark.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Victory Gardens and Arrow Shirts

By the time World War II ended in 1945, I was seven years old, so I do remember quite a bit about those times. One of my strongest memories is of our family cultivating a “Victory Garden” along with every one of our neighbors and relatives. A bit of research on my part found that these gardens, instituted as a national movement during the war, accounted for fruit and vegetable production equal to the entire commercial market at the time. Victory Gardens were ostensibly a way to ensure our troops would receive the lion’s share of the commercial growers output, but in reality the main reason was that they provided a way for Americans to feel like they were participating in the war effort. In addition, most every other commodity was rationed; for example, meat, sugar ,milk, butter, and so on. Hard to believe for anyone born after 1945. 

Shortly after the war, I remember that every Sunday we would take a family drive in the country. At the time, I did not realize that pleasure driving had been banned during the war, and that gasoline had been strictly rationed. (As a side note, the coveted “X” ration card with unlimited gasoline purchase was found to have been illegally issued to 200 congressmen--I guess things haven’t changed much after all.) The United States really had all the gasoline it needed, so the true reason for the rationing was to save on distribution costs and minimize the use of rubber in the tires. The Japanese had choked off our rubber supplies, so the military needed all the rubber we could produce with our limited capacity.

So what does this all have to do with investments? First of all, to demonstrate that it was only three generations ago that the United States was coming out of a deep, deep depression and that there was a time, in my lifetime, when there was not an abundance of foodstuffs and consumer goods. We are so used to the lifestyle we have now that it is hard to believe that it was not that long ago that there were shortages of commodities, whether man made or natural. It is only through complacency and ignorance that we deny that it could happen again.

But it can--in a heartbeat. The “big one” could hit California any time. Al-Qaeda could succeed in nuking a major city. A stray asteroid could slam into the Los Angels basin. An economic crisis as bad as the Great Depression could occur. (It nearly did a couple years ago.) Mt Rainier could blow its top and wipe out the Pacific Northwest. The list goes on and on--catastrophes could happen at any moment. Are you prepared? Probably not, and that is where I feel you can make the best investment you will ever make for your family.

You have to invest in your survival. That means instead of dumping money into the stock market, or the gold market, or savings accounts, that you invest some of your hard earned cash in the things that keep you alive, eg., food, water, shelter, and energy. Enough to last you for six months. No, I am not Mormon, although I live in Utah, but I do believe as they that it is prudent to prepare for the worst by ensuring your family can survive even the most dire man made or natural disasters. You cannot eat certificates of deposits, paper money, or even gold. Not so long ago, the main enterprise of mankind was the production of food because that was the very basic essential of life on Earth. If you don’t eat, you die. My little nest egg is worthless unless I can convert it into the essential commodities of life, and in a real crisis, I would not count on paper money having any more value than the ink that was used to print it.

Six month’s worth of food, water, and energy is surprisingly affordable. Basic commodities such as wheat flour, corn meal, rice and beans are cheap and easily stored in bulk. Water, or a way to produce potable water is essential. Energy in the form of charcoal or solar panels is available. I have spent less than $1000 in setting aside enough of the above to feed myself and my family for at least six months, keep us warm in the winter, and ensure a clean drinking supply.  Basic survival stuff, but the best investment I have ever made. May I also suggest you do the same. Its what we do out here in Flyover Country. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

In the past 60 days, soybeans 22%, sugar 51%. In the past 4 months, wheat is up 72%. This year, corn is up 48%. These numbers are the market telling us that the smart money is shifting from dollar investments to commodity investments as fears of devaluation of the dollar mount.  Better stock up--its a long way to Spring and getting your Victory Garden planted.

Lead story in the Wall Street Journal today--Cotton up 100% this year. Better stock up on your Arrow Shirts.



Anonymous said...

JP, you said "Six month’s worth of food, water, and energy is surprisingly affordable.".

I'll second that and gild it. Our long term grocery expenditures have gone DOWN since we initiated our "hunker down" food stash.

We've always taken advantage of sales anyway, reduced pricing on dented cans and cut packaging, etc. Plus,I hate having to go panic shopping to buy the one item that's missing to make supper so I always keep back up supplies.

When we began building up our inventory of non-perishables a couple of years ago, we simply increased our purchases of those same items from a few at a time to buying in case lots. An unintended benefit occurred. We discovered that we had inadvertently begun converting cash into food futures. Since we always buy at reduced prices and since groceries invariably go up in cost over time, the cans, bags and boxes we bought months always cost us less today than if we'd just purchased them today. We just rotate for freshness and replace the items when we use them.

Okay, if you live in the city or in a condo or if using a hammer is beyond your skill level, you can quit reading now.
Most folks think that because they don't live on at least two acres and have a degree in agricultural studies, gardening and raising a few birds is way beyond their capabilities. Hogwash! Check out Youtube with a few well chosen key words and you'll find a wealth of information on everything from raising earthworms and composting your kitchen waste to building a solar heated air collector for under a hundred bucks. (Did you know that Khaki Campbell ducks don't stop laying eggs in winter like chickens do. Or that they won't bother using a coop even in the worst weather so you won't need one? Or that duck eggs don't cause allergic reactions like chicken eggs do to some people (like my brother and his son)?

Not only is it inexpensive to become more self-reliant for your food and energy needs, IT'S FUN! Especially if you involve some kids. Plus, you'll know that your dinner salad won't give you the Green Apple Quick Step because of some jerk South of the border spraying raw sewage on the lettuce. Your breakfast eggs will have been produced by well fed, happy birds unlike the ones tormented every day of their pathetic lives in some filthy, diseased, million bird factory "farm".

Really...what it boils down to is that our generation has been brainwashed into thinking that we are incapable of doing for ourselves, thank you very much, but must rely on "experts" to give us our daily bread. (Speaking of which, JP, your sourdough yeast magic crystals are a true heirloom!)

For the unprepared, hard times have always been and will always be just a couple of days away whether from a bad storm, drought or flooding in some country we rely on for some imported item or a failure of the economy. For the few of us who think about and plan for ain't no big thing unless one of the rooms is on fire.

Got a generator!


Anonymous said...

Well, that makes exactly two of us who are ready for a catastrophe, man made or natural. Which do you think will occur first?

Good comment. Added to the blog.


Anonymous said...

Well, since you "axed"...
as an amateur watcher of natural phenomena, I'm starting to suspect that a mix of catastrophic natural events will overshadow our perverse human propensity to muddle our affairs. I'll mention just a couple:
~The protracted absence of sunspots coupled with the subtle flattening of the increasing temp. trend since the last ice age.
~The unsettling increase in recent volcanic eruptions both actual and highly probable around the "ring of fire" which could produce a nuclear winter resulting in food and energy shortages all over the world.

Given just those two worries, I look with some trepidation at the historically unprecedented presence of a slice of our society which has been acculturated to take instead of make. A large segment of our population couldn't survive absent the coddling of government nannies even if they wanted to. If the welfare "gimmee gimmee" cornucopia goes empty and they get hungry, there will be blood running through the sewers of major cities.
But, then again, I've always walked on the bright side of the street so maybe I'm being too optimistic.

"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded--here and there, now and then--are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.”".
Lazarus Long

Bob Mack said...

"You cannot eat certificates of deposits..."

If Shakespeare never said this, he should have. Great post.