Friday, April 8, 2011

What Goes Up ...?

In his book, Last Light, Alex Scarrow describes a scenario in which all of the oil ports worldwide are destroyed within days/hours of each other. Understanding that this means they will be depending on their meager reserves, the British Prime Minister is advised to go on national television and let the people know the situation, which is, essentially, we only have enough oil and enough supplies for about three days.

Not surprisingly, panic ensues, and it's that panicked reaction - not the actual loss of oil worldwide - that causes the societal breakdown Scarrow describes through the rest of the novel.

I read that WalMart's CEO announced there was going to be a price hike, and apparently it's going to be a doozy; word is being leaked that we can expect 10-20% on most things and up to 50% on others. The article (not the one linked) related that these price spikes would occur in May, but maybe sooner. For those who depend on Wal-Mart for their food, and trust that Wal-Mart's CEO knows of what he speaks, how much different will the general atmosphere be over the next few weeks? How frenzied can we expect buyers to be? I wonder how many empty shelves I will see at the grocery store next time I go.

This news won't really change how I shop, because we've been shopping with just this sort of mindset for years. We've been anticipating (and watching) price spikes for a long time and have taken steps to buffer ourselves from the worst of it, but I think, even with all of our preparing, we're not really prepared for what the reality will be like.

I will say that the package I received recently will go a long way toward making me feel more secure: .

But even that had some concern with it. I waited too late to place my order, and they'd already sold out of one of the seed varieties I had ordered. It was definitely one of those "Oh, crap" moments when I realized how very fragile our system is. Maybe it will be okay. I mean, I have another variety of that particular plant for my garden, but what if I didn't? What if I were dependent on that one variety ... and I couldn't get the seeds? How can they run out of seeds anyway? I mean, who would ever suspect that we couldn't just get all of the seeds we want whenever we want them? Who would have ever thought that what was listed in their catalog may no longer be available? That just doesn't happen ... right?

This year has been a real eye-opener for Deus Ex Machina and me. I really hope that we've learned our lesson about being complacent, and the real need to plan ahead and be prepared - even just for every day stuff, like firewood to heat our house and wanting to plant San Marzano tomatoes.


  1. :-) Time to save seeds my dear!
    Tomato seeds are not that hard to save, and if you're talking about an OP or heirloom variety, it's definitely the way to go.
    I've cut my tomato seed purchases down to 1 or less a year from the original practice of buying 3 or 4 (or 7) a year. :-D
    Peas, lettuce and beans are the others that I save without much effort. Ooh, and basil, that always puts on good seed for me.

  2. "Eye Opener" Really? Has anything unusaul happened? LOL

    Thanks, I forgot I needed to go buy my favorite place for non-hybrid seeds this afternoon.

    My seed packages have pictures of fully grown vegtables (or whatever) on their front. But what they really need is to have what it looks like when they are first sprouting so you can tell them apart from the weeds.

  3. I was going to say what Jennie said. Seed saving is actually kinda fun. I'm on my, oh lord, fourth? fifth? generation of pot potatoes? Maybe I'll someday get to move and take that original potato's great-great-great-great-grandspuds with me back home to Alaska!

  4. @Russell - what I meant by "eye-opener" was that it made us realize that even as prepared as we try to be, we're not really as much as we should be. It's not about the world, but about our little corner of it. We ran out of wood in February. We need wood for heat. Our neighbors bailed us out, but what if they hadn't had all that wood they've been asking us to use for the last two years? Our fall back was that we could have found someplace to buy the wood, or worst case, we could have let the oil furnace run, but what if none of those were options? We could go forage wood, which we've also been doing, but that's time consuming and difficult in deep snow. It's been eye-opening, because we realized we needed to plan better.

    @ Jennie and Kaye - We do save seeds, but you're absolutely correct in that we need to do more of it, which is also part of the "eye-opening" experience. Seed saving isn't difficult, but does require planning. Which was my point - we simply can not afford to be complacent, and by *we* I include myself and Deus Ex Machina.

  5. I think, out of all the things I need to get working on, planning is probably the most important. Long-term and even short-term, there's a lot that can go wrong, and I don't plan anywhere near as effectively as I should - even picking up extra food tends to happen when I see a sale, and not because I've planned it out in advance. It's so necessary for preparedness, though - guess I should figure out how to work on that.

  6. I'm so happy my landlord approved of my plans for the garden - I had drawn them out on graph paper so he could visualize what I am planning. I was worried he wouldn't like what I had planned, but he seemed rather pleased instead!

    Incidentally, do you have any ideas on how to naturally get rid of an ant infestation? They seem to be coming up from the crawlspace under the house, because I haven't found a single trail of ants leading to the outer walls! So far I have been killing them with bleach, but my cat is weirdly attracted to bleach and tries to lap it whenever I spray it. It makes her lips swell up so bad it looks like someone gave her a botox injection!

    I need a safe way to kill the ants without hurting my kitties.

  7. Deus Ex Machina says squish them, but I think you would have more luck using peppermint oil ;). Fill a spray bottle with water and 10 to 15 drops of peppermint essential oil (make sure it the essential oil and not the peppermint flavor) and spray it wherever you see a trail.

    I've also used orange oil, which worked really well. Your cat would probably not like either of them, but based on my experiences with dogs and cats, the mint smell really seems to repel them. So, I would try that one first.

  8. I know we aren't nearly ready for any type of disaster/shortage situation. We are really going to work hard in the next few months to get better prepared to take care of ourselves: putting in a woodstove, planting a huge garden, adding many fruit trees to our property, weatherizing our home better, etc. The whole seed thing really blows my mind. There are times in June when they are out of certain seeds but not in early April. Wow.

  9. Awesome - I have mint essential oil, I'll give it a try later today.

    Incidentally, I have an idea about the seed issue...if you really needed a certain type of seed and the seed company didn't have it, you have enough followers here on this blog to create a "seed-swap" group. Could come in handy during hard times.

  10. Over the last few years when we have received our seed order from fedco, C.R. Lawn has remarked over the ever increasing demand for seeds. I noticed it back in 2008, the last time oil prices jumped, new gardens were being started and small gardens, that once only contained a few tomato plants, expanded. It is heartening, in one respect, to see folks taking responsibility for their food security. But it is a reminder of the increase demand on the seed suppliers.

  11. I love patricialynn's idea of the seed swap! It could also be a neat way to try out some interesting new plants that someone else might have seeds for!

    I totally agree with you, Wendy. We also keep remarking that we need to step up our organization and preparedness. We're working on buying a home this year, and so I'm only doing container gardening so that it can be transportable...but I have grown so many things in containers very successfully!

    May we all have a very fruitful growing season this year!