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The Year in Which I Grow Our Food Pt. 4

It’s a long article. I’m trying to distract you with cute Corgi pictures.

A Word on Self-Sufficiency

Let’s talk about the big question of the year: “How much do I grow to feed my family for the year?” It gets asked, and then for some reason that question leads to the talk and belief in self-sufficiency, and then “self-sufficiency” becomes a buzz word and gets batted around all over the place, so let me clear the air on that.

Here’s the thing — and sorry — we normal, everyday people with everyday yards CAN’T grow enough to not need food from another source, and you can’t grow everything you need, either. I’m not even sure that people with large acreages can do it. I doubt it. It would take a huge investment and a ginormous skill set.

For us mere mortals, either we don’t have the land for it, we don’t have the skills for it, we’re not in the right area to grow something, or we don’t have the money for it (or all of the above). And some of these things apply to people with large acreages as well.

Let’s just think about it for a minute. Can you grow:

Sugar? Cocoa? Coffee? Tea? Enough of anything to press it for cooking oil? Or enough animals to provide you with lard or butter to use in lieu of cooking oils? Can you grow enough wheat or barley or oats (or all three) to feed your family on TOP of all the other things? Can you grow enough wheat or barley or oats or corn to feed your livestock, if you have it?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Easier said than done: National self-sufficiency in a changed world

Easier said than done: National self-sufficiency in a changed world

In the wake of a rapidly evolving realignment of the world trading system resulting from the economic equivalent of World War III, President Joe Biden last week took the first of what are likely to be many steps toward building greater self-sufficiency for the United States.

Biden called for increasing U.S. production of key minerals used in the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries. He invoked the Defense Production Act which allows the government to support production of certain materials and goods deemed essential for national defense and even to order industry to mine minerals and make machinery including vehicles such as tanks and bombs.

For the Biden administration its first small step toward U.S. self-sufficiency consists of making companies which mine minerals key to electric vehicle batteries such as lithium, nickel, graphite, cobalt and manganese eligible for direct subsidies or purchase commitments to incentivize increased production. The applicable program (called Title III) has about $750 million to spend, not that much to rectify what is a huge deficit.

It’s worth looking at U.S. net imports of each of these minerals to understand just how hard reaching self-sufficiency will be. For starters, let’s examine a table from a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report about U.S. import dependence for key minerals:

USGS Minerals Table
Of the five minerals listed above, the United States is 100 percent dependent on imports for two: graphite and manganese. (It’s worth noting the China, Russia and Ukraine are among the top six producers of graphite and China is the largest producer by far. China and Ukraine are among the top five producers of manganese and again China is by far the biggest producer.)

Complete U.S. dependence on imports implies that there is no current production of these minerals in the United States and that nobody has even been looking for these minerals on U.S. soil…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Do This If You Want to Be Self-Sufficient

Do This If You Want to Be Self-Sufficient

Meet the seed-saving couple living entirely off the land (except for salt)

Kay and Ngaio Te Rito check the Pukekohe Long Keeper onion crop in the main seed garden.

You won’t find anyone in Kotare Village who doesn’t have brown hands. It’s not because they’re out in the sun all day or that they don’t wash their hands thoroughly, but because the human-soil connection is the most important factor in growing organic vegetables and fruit, fodder trees and pasture, seeds and tubers and it’s stained into their skin at a cellular level.

The village is home to the Koanga Institute, founded by organic and permaculture gardening guru Kay Baxter.

Her life for the past 30 years has been dedicated to developing a precious collection of heritage seeds and fruit trees, first in Northland, then on leased land near Wairoa. But just over a year ago Kay, her husband Bob Corker and their team faced the biggest challenge of their lives: eviction.

in the gloom of a quiet bedroom in the main Koanga homestead is a room full of treasures that money cannot buy €“.
in the gloom of a quiet bedroom in the main Koanga homestead is a room full of treasures that money cannot buy €“.

The development company that owned the land was foundering, the first mortgage holder was demanding a sale and everything they’d ever worked for was suddenly facing the auctioneer’s hammer.

“It’s been a really, really big journey holding the seeds for such a long time and the thought of starting again was too much,” says Kay.

Supporters like chef Peta Mathias got behind what would eventually be a successful nationwide campaign to raise the money to purchase the first mortgage on the property, although there’s still more financing required and a campaign to raise that money is now underway (kotarevillage.org.nz).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mexico to Stop Exporting Oil in 2023 in Self-Sufficiency Quest

Mexico to Stop Exporting Oil in 2023 in Self-Sufficiency QuestOctavio Romero, CEO of PEMEX, speaks during an interview. (Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg)

Mexico plans to end crude oil exports in 2023 as part of a strategy by the nationalist government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to reach self-sufficiency in the domestic fuels market.

Petroleos Mexicanos, the Mexican state-owned producer known as Pemex, will reduce crude oil exports to 435,000 barrels a day in 2022 before phasing out sales to clients abroad the following year, CEO Octavio Romero said during a press conference in Mexico City on Dec. 28.

The move is part of a drive by Lopez Obrador to expand Mexico’s domestic production of fuels instead of sending its oil abroad while it imports costly refined products, including gasoline and diesel. Mexico currently buys the bulk of the fuels it consumes from U.S. refineries.

If fulfilled, Pemex’s pledge will mark the withdrawal from the international oil market by one of its most prominent players of the past decades. At its peak in 2004, Pemex exported almost 1.9 million barrels a day to refineries from Japan to India, and was a participant in meetings by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as an observer.

Last month, the Mexican company sold abroad slightly more than 1 million daily barrels, according to Pemex data.

The export reduction will come as Pemex increases its domestic crude processing, which will reach 1.51 million barrels a day in 2022 and 2 million daily barrels in 2023, Romero said. The Mexican driller will plow all of its production into its six refineries, including a facility under construction in the southeastern state of Tabasco and another one being bought near Houston, Texas. This plant is considered part of Mexico’s refining system even if located across the U.S. border.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate adaptation: resilience, self-sufficiency and systems change

Climate Adaptation: Resilience, Self-Sufficiency and Systems Change

This weekend marks the beginning of COP26. After being delayed for nearly a year because of COVID, diplomats, scientists, corporate lobbyists, NGOs, students, demonstrators, corporations, heads of state, and many, many other invited and uninvited guests are already making their way to Glasgow Scotland for what has been projected to be the most consequential U.N. climate change conference since the Paris Agreement was struck in 2015.

Earlier this week, the Arkbound Foundation published a new anthology, “Climate Adaptation: Accounts of Resilience, Self-Sufficiency and Systems Change.” The following is a (significantly reduced) transcript of a discussion I hosted with three of the co-authors, Morgan Phillips, Carol Manetta, and Ashish Kothari. You can listen to the entire conversation on The Response podcast.

Tom Llewellyn: “Climate Adaptation” takes the perspective that socioeconomic collapse is probable. Rather than giving up hope, it seeks to outline ways people and communities can adapt to it. Morgan, can you talk about the challenges that are leading us towards socio-economic collapse and explain what adaptation is and what it currently looks like.

Morgan Phillips: That’s a big question. I’d start off by saying that socioeconomic collapse is obviously a possibility — unless dramatic action is taken. What’s quite certain is that things are going to change, and it’s really kind of up to us whether we change them or whether we’re changed by them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


You’re Not Going to Homestead Through Collapse

No matter how self-sufficient you become

Photo by Roger Darnell on Unsplash

“By collapse, I mean a drastic decrease in human population size and/or political/economic/social complexity over a considerable area, for an extended time.” — Jared Diamond in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005)

People who criticize billionaires for foolishly building underground bunkers believe they can survive the impending doom of climate change by hunkering down on a homestead.

Both groups are attempting to escape the realities of collapse. It’s a race that most humans will likely lose. It’s now a question of whether the species can survive extinction.

On one hand the survivalists (rightfully) poo-poo plans for colonizing Mars as too difficult on a “dead planet” while simultaneously clinging to the belief that for all their beans and bullets, gardens and wells —the hoarded supplies of a prepper will see them through the sixth mass extinction on a dying Earth. It’s the poor-man’s version of an Elysium space station.

The cognitive dissonance must physically hurt.

And let’s admit what no one is saying out loud. The carefully made plans for some sort of Neo-Thoreau lifestyle is more about surviving the collapse of civilization in relative safety and comfort than reducing a carbon footprint — the same attitude that put us in this predicament in the first place.

Here are just a few of the reasons this fantasy won’t work.

Collapse will be everywhere but not all at once.

The central idea of catabolic collapse is that human societies pretty consistently tend to produce more stuff than they can afford to maintain…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

5 Winter Homestead Tips To Help You Prepare

5 Winter Homestead Tips To Help You Prepare

It’s easy to decide to create a homestead, however, the ways in which we go about it can be difficult. But here are a few tips to help you as winter approaches if you want to live on a homestead or improve your self-reliance.

Even though things slow down on the homestead during winter, there is still work that needs to be done! Having some winter chores prepped will keep you ahead of the game so you can stay inside more. Below are some winter chores to keep in mind when tending to a homestead.

It’s easy to decide to create a homestead, however, the ways in which we go about it can be difficult. But here are a few tips to help you as winter approaches if you want to live on a homestead or improve your self-reliance.

1.Have Backup Heat – A wood-burning stove is a great option especially if you live near a wooded area with a lot of dead trees ready to be harvested. Back up heat will come in handy if the power is knocked out and the heat is incredibly soothing. It also offers that added security of being more self-reliant.

2. Store Enough Water for Animals – You will need to take into account all of your animals when storing water. Plan at least a gallon per day per person, and dog.  Cats need less but should be counted too.  Make sure you plan for your ducks, chickens, goats, horses, rabbits, etc. Be sure to plan enough water storage for livestock, cooking and cleanliness, house pets, and your family’s daily consumption. Also, prepare for your worst-case water outage scenario.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Harvest at Chez Cog


It became obvious to Mrs. Cog and I by early February of this year (2020) that the next phase of socioeconomic crumble/chaos was being implemented both here in the USA as well as throughout the world. The rabbit hole just got deeper. Or more accurately, the deeper rabbit hole was just revealed.

Regardless of whether one believes the COVID-19 pandemic is real or not (we fall into that vast gray area in-between, which we are confidently informed by the mainstream media doesn’t actually exist) what is extremely hard to deny is the pandemic is being used politically to further enrich the already obscenely rich while turning the little people screws even tighter.

Case in point….27 million people remain unemployed (with more to follow as we enter the next stage of Great Depression 2.0) while the personal wealth of Jeff Bezos just passed $200 Billion…essentially doubling in less than 7 months.

For those of you who are like me and have a hard time with large numbers (I’m lost after counting 10 fingers and 10 toes) 200 billion is 200,000 times one million dollars. One billion is a thousand million. 200 billion is two hundred thousand million.

Clearly Bezos doesn’t need to sweat the rent or mortgage.

What this all meant to us back in February was we needed to accelerate our plans to install a greenhouse, along with other final touches to our little homestead we call home sweet home. While the capital improvements are never finished, the greenhouse was the last major building block we’d planned for many years.

Like busy beavers trying to beat the rising creek, we have been going non-stop since spring. Not only did I personally build and install the greenhouse on top of the contractor assisted leveled and graveled building pad (I also trenched in water and electric) but we also expanded the tilled portion of our fenced in garden by about 30%. This was all above and beyond the ‘normal’ things that need to be done in order to maintain our semi self sufficient lifestyle.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“We’re All Born Hunters” – Americans Turn To Hunting Game Amid Pandemic Food Shortage Fears

“We’re All Born Hunters” – Americans Turn To Hunting Game Amid Pandemic Food Shortage Fears

The slowdown or even the shuttering of meat processing plants due to coronavirus outbreaks has led to meat shortages and soaring food inflation. Supermarket chain Kroger reported Friday that it has put “purchase limits” on ground beef and fresh pork at some of its stores following growing concerns of food supply chain disruptions. We noted last month that meat shortages could be seen at grocery stores across the US in the first half of May. The pandemic and all its chaos have led some Americans to purchase a hunting rifle and venture into the wilderness to hunt big-game to put food on their tables. 

Reuters interviews several Americans and reviews hunting license data on a state level to determine that a growing number of people are hunting food big-game to feed their families during the pandemic.

David Elliot, an emergency manager at Holy Cross Hospital in Taos, New Mexico, said the pandemic had given him the urge to fill his freezer with free-range, super-lean meat that he will obtain through hunting elk. He recently received his elk license and plans to borrow a horse and rifle, and roam the vast plains in Taos, searching for big-game. 

“I understand some people might be driven by like antlers or some sort of glory. I don’t want to do that,” said Elliot. “I want to make sure it’s a clean, humane shot, as much as possible, and get a bunch of food.”

Game and fish agencies in Minnesota to New Mexico have noticed a surge in either hunting license sales, permit applications, or both in the last several months. 

Indiana reported a 28% jump in turkey license sales in the first week of the season that started on April 22, said Marty Benson, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Natural Resource. 

Extinction Via Rugged Individualism

Extinction Via Rugged Individualism

Black-tailed Prairie Dog, Greycliff, Montana. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

I was recently amused by a train of thought on Twitter excoriating Henry David Thoreau for his experiment in self-sufficient living. True, he was on the land of his wealthy neighbor, his mother did his laundry (and brought him old-timey donuts to eat), but it was rugged, dammit. Okay, it was something akin to a 10 year old living in a tree-house in the backyard with mom sending up sandwiches in one of those nifty rope and bucket contraptions, but this was a white man doing something and writing about it so of course it’s monumental and imbued with all sorts of significance. This to me, is a perfect analogy for America and its early beginnings. Never mind the back-breaking labor provided by the women, the horrendous slave trade and lethal work that made the infrastructure possible–the convenient clearing (genocide) of the already here peoples through illness and murder……. the narrative is that it was magically produced by powdered wig donning men who weren’t just all about a self-serving course correction. This fallacy has permeated the psyche of most Americans, and doesn’t allow for adequate self-reflection or improvement, and I would say is a path to eventual extinction if a new narrative and belief system isn’t adopted.

Nature gives us ample metaphor to realize the interconnectedness of our lives. I can never look at an Aspen grove and not consider the exquisite synergy of the system.  All tethered together in an interlocking root system—what affects one tree, manifests in the whole. The 80,000 year old Pando grove in Utah has managed this interplay.  For perspective, the last Neanderthals in Europe seem to have been around about 40,000 years ago. Working together has its benefits. We’ve managed to do incredible harm in only about 300 years. We could be gone rapidly and take Pando with us at this rate.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Preppers save for a rainy day: Why financial planning is crucial for surviving an economic downturn

Preppers save for a rainy day: Why financial planning is crucial for surviving an economic downturn

Image: Preppers save for a rainy day: Why financial planning is crucial for surviving an economic downturn

(Natural News) As a prepper, one of the first things that you need to learn is the importance of financial preparedness. Don’t wait until an economic collapse before you start settling your debts or saving money. (h/t to TimGamble.com)

The basics of financial preparedness

Personal, business, or government debt is bad. It will stress you out, and it makes you more vulnerable to economic downturns.

To become financially prepared, you must first eliminate consumer debt. This includes credit cards, car loans, payday loans, personal loan, and installment plans.

To clear your debts, you may need to make sacrifices, such as:

  • Putting off major purchases.
  • Avoiding impulse purchases (e.g. luxury items, etc).
  • Bringing your own lunch to school or work.
  • Having a major yard sale to raise some money.
  • Starting a second job.

Making these sacrifices may seem hard, but keep in mind that in the end, the benefits will be more than worth it. (Related: 7 obvious warning signs we are heading for an economic meltdown.)

Second, you need to have emergency savings. Start by holding yard sales or getting a second job. Put the money somewhere safe, such as an insured certificate of deposit(CD). A CD is a type of federally insured savings account with a fixed interest rate and fixed date of withdrawal or maturity date. CDs don’t usually have monthly fees and they are different from traditional savings accounts in several ways. Savings accounts let you deposit and withdraw funds rather freely.

However, with a CD you agree to leave your money in the bank for a set amount of time (know as the “term length”). If you do access the money in a CD, you will need to pay a penalty. Term lengths can range from several days to a decade. The standard range of options for CDs is between three months and five years.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The best ideas to turn your homestead into the ultimate edible landscape

The best ideas to turn your homestead into the ultimate edible landscape

Image: The best ideas to turn your homestead into the ultimate edible landscape

(Natural News) Homesteaders prioritize self-reliance and the cultivation of organic produce, but this doesn’t mean you can’t make your home garden look pretty. If you want to beautify your property, start a practice called edible landscaping. (h/t to RockinWHomestead.com)

What is edible landscaping?

Edible landscaping represents a different take on how to design and interact with yards and urban green spaces. The practice prioritizes the cultivation of food-producing plants and native perennials, and it helps home gardeners create green space and provide healthy, fresh food to their family.

Replacing even just a fraction of traditional lawns with edible landscapes designed around locally appropriate plants offers various benefits.

These benefits require little to no irrigation or fertilizer and can increase food production potential in cities, as well as attract pollinators and improve ecological diversity.

Flowers for your edible landscape

Edible flowers are a common feature of edible landscapes. But flowering plants aren’t just pretty, they also attract pollinators that can help your fruit-bearing plants thrive. (Related: Edible Landscaping Ideas For Small Spaces.)

Popular options include daisies, lilacs, pansies, and sunflowers.

Edible flowers can also be used for food decorating and subtle flavoring.

Herbs for your edible landscape

Herbs are another staple in edible landscapes. You can plant the following herbs in your yard:

  • Basil and thyme – Basil and thyme are beautiful additions to any garden. Both herbs are fairly easy to grow, and you can use them both as nutritious ingredients in different dishes.
  • Chives – Chives bear beautiful flowers that can add to the aesthetic appeal of your garden. This delicious herb is also the perfect addition to baked potatoes and other savory side dishes.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Natural medicines to use after SHTF

Image: Natural medicines to use after SHTF

(Natural News) If ever SHTF, you might not be able to have access to medication that can treat all sorts of ailments and injuries in a survival scenario. Before that even happens, you should start preparing for that scenario by stockpiling and growing your own supply of natural medicines. Here are a few natural remedies that can be incredibly useful after SHTF. (h/t to SurvivalSullivan.com.)


Packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, this healing herb is a common ingredient in natural painkillers. It possesses anti-inflammatory properties and contains a peptide that can help alleviate pain associated with gout and arthritis. It may even help protect you from damage from free radicals. Amaranth is also incredibly useful to diabetics due to its ability to help manage blood sugar levels and reduce insulin levels. Other health benefits of amaranth include boosting your immune system, stimulating bone and muscle repair, and strengthening your bones.


Yarrow is a perennial herb that is useful for the treatment of wounds, cuts, and abrasions. It is also known by its common names of staunchweed and soldier’s woundwort. These names are fitting as you can always count on this reliable herb to staunch wounds that will not stop bleeding. You can crush the plant’s leaves and apply them topically on your open wounds to encourage clotting and lessen the likelihood of infection. The traditional use of this antiseptic herb involves drying it, powdering it, then mixing it with either plantain or comfrey water. It can also be freshly used as a poultice. (Related: 23 Medicinal plants you need to know about when SHTF.)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to build a self-sufficient garden on as little as a quarter of an acre

Image: How to build a self-sufficient garden on as little as a quarter of an acre
(Natural News) Modern conveniences like countless grocery stores and food delivery services make it seem like the average American family has no use for home gardening. But when SHTF, you could starve if you don’t have access to fresh produce growing in your own garden. (h/t to SHTFPlan.com)

Starting a home garden is one of the first steps that you can take to become self-sufficient. Like other aspects of prepping and survival, home gardening requires dedication and hard work yet it is also incredibly rewarding.

With some planning and the use of certain techniques and principles, your home garden can provide vegetables for the whole family. You won’t even need that much land since you can make do with as little as a quarter of an acre. This means even preppers who live in the suburbs can try their hand at home gardening.

Home gardening basics

Before you start sowing seeds, you must figure out how much food you need and can grow. These two things will depend on various factors, like the climate, garden space, the size of your family, and how much food everyone requires. (Related: A simple 5-step guide to starting your own vegetable garden.)

Back in the 1970s, research by John Jeavons and the Ecology Action Organization determined that 4,000 square feet (or 370 square meters) of growing space, with another 4000 square feet for access paths and storage, is enough land area to provide for an individual on a vegetarian diet for one year. This land is enough to cultivate a garden plot that’s about 80 feet x 100 feet (24 meters x 30 meters).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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