I’d like to add a bit to the comments from last week’s post, then indulge my ADD and talk about a couple of other things for a bit. We’ll get back to food preservation shortly…
TheOzarker mentions that everyone (“back in the day”) had three things: a garden, chickens, and a hog. At our newly-begun farmstead, plans are underway for a garden, with chickens to follow soon after. The lady of the house, however, adamantly refuses to have a hog or hogs–they’re “too smart, prone to escape, breed too rapidly, and go feral too quickly.” The Plan(tm) replaces hogs with goats, in probably two or three years. They’re good for both meat and milk–and, if you have the right kind, fiber as well.
Freethnkr1965 plans on doing some smoking, when the motivation strikes. Are the “plans for a smoker” plans to build one, make one, or buy one? Any one of those (or a combination) is good–I currently smoke in my charcoal grill (bought), but have plans to build something a little more permanent. Whichever route you go, try to arrange for the ability to do both cold-smoking and hot-smoking. Cold-smoking, from what I’ve read, leads better to longer-term storage; hot-smoking is better for things you’re going to consume more quickly, like bacon (although bacon can go either way with either variable–hot or cold, shorter- or longer-term preservation). Hot smoking also lends itself well to barbecue–low, slow heat–and if you haven’t smoked a brisket for dinner, you don’t know what you’re missing. Motivation enough?
In other news, I’ve been seeing lots of posts elsewhere in the blogosphere on suitable items for barter and useful skills for trade following the Collapse. I’ll save the skills for a later post–they could cover a series of posts–and address the barter items. I’ll admit that the lists (an example here) are thought-provoking. Barter will very likely be making a comeback during/after Collapse; it’s a concept as old as possessions. I get hung up on these lists in several ways. First, as I’ve explained here before, I’m not much of a believer in a Sudden Collapse. We’re already pretty visibly heading down the path of catabolic collapse as described by Mr. Greer; it’s something of a longer process, although certain “bumps in the road” can be bigger than others. In the scenarios I picture as likely, modern civilization doesn’t suddenly disappear (except, perhaps, briefly on the small scale–think post-Katrina New Orleans). While barter is certainly a fair option to work with even under the best of circumstances, most of the items being listed aren’t as useful in large chunks of the collapse–perhaps as much as the first half or two-thirds.
My second issue is with the items themselves. Many of them take up so much space as to be ridiculous. (Have you stopped to consider the volume occupied by “sanitary supplies such as toilet paper”? A year’s supply of toilet paper, for a family of 4, even if everyone is frugal with it, is sizable–and trying to fit in enough to be able to trade would tax any storage system I’ve seen.)
Thirdly, if you’ve got most of these items stored, what are you bartering for? The obvious answer–you’re supposed to stockpile a few of the items, hoping to trade them for the others–begs the question, “what if nobody else has stocked the other things?” I suppose, though, that trading for food would be an option, especially if you’re busy maintaining your inventory of stored goods. In the longer term, perhaps trading for other trade goods–position yourself as a “general store” of sorts.
One bit of advice that the list linked to above does give that I agree with: no firearms or ammunition. Not that I have a problem with either–they’ve certainly got their uses, including self-defense and hunting–but I wouldn’t be keen on giving someone the means to come and take everything else I’ve got…
As an aside to all of this, I’ve been noticing more and more listings in Craigslist for “item X, in exchange for items Y or Z, or services A, B, or C.” Barter seems already to be making a comeback.
Any thoughts on the matter out there? Would you like to see me come up with my own list? (I will if asked, although it seems to me there are enough lists already out there…) Any good/bad/indifferent experiences with trade and barter of your own?