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Post Apocalyptic Energy Sources - a sideways step

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

In a couple of other threads much has been discussed about how certain energy sources become unreliable over time, and how others are too expensive to be commercially viable operations at their current level of technology. Since those discussion are getting well into the fine details of why this source or that source will or won't work, I decided to take a sideways step here for a moment and discuss another point about energy sources in a post apocalyptic world or environment.

For the purposes of discussion I intend to totally ignore aspects like corpses littering the landscape, major weather patterns or changes, and attacking enemies, but focus on aspects of the energy sources in the culture arising from the ruins.

1. The term commercially viable is no longer relevant, no one is going to be buying anything. But they will barter for what they see as something that works and they can use, or they'll attack to take it away from who has it.

2. Most technical gear will cease to function over time, especially if it wears out or needs maintenance that the current users don't know how to do or can't do.

3. Anything that can be done in a lab will be done in the working environment if it is physically possible to do so and someone has an interest in making it do it because they have a perceived need for it.

4. Technical gear and devices are of no use at all unless you have someone on hand who knows how to use it and whatever it needs to make it work properly for the purpose you want to use it for.

5. Anything that can't be immediately used or seen as usable in the near future will be cannibalized or re-purposed the moment someone can see a use for it or part of it.

When you take these points into account, a lot of the technical discussions of fine points of energy sources kind of work themselves out of relevancy in a very short time.

What is interesting is how many of the post apocalyptic stories that have a lot of today's civilization's artifact left lying around do not take all these matters into account. Some take a a few of them into account, but I've not yet found one that takes it all into account unless they have everything destroyed and nothing left at all.

typo edit

docholladay
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


commercially viable


In order for this classification it has to be not only profitable but also have to be repeatedly purchased. Whether its a product or a service.

Many things will not be profitable, but will still work reliably with minimal training or knowledge. The manufacture of gunpowder is just one example. It only takes a few basic ingredients actually and could possibly be done in any home. Of course the risk factors are extremely high as well.

edited to add: In a PA setting or similar, the only requirement will be that it works and hopefully will continue to work with minimal risk and training.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@docholladay

edited to add: In a PA setting or similar, the only requirement will be that it works and hopefully will continue to work with minimal risk and training.

I'd suggest that be "...acceptable risk and training".
There are some things where risk can only be minimised so far. But the circumstances people find themselves in can change what was considered an unacceptable level of risk to an acceptable one.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Grant

There are some things where risk can only be minimised so far. But the circumstances people find themselves in can change what was considered an unacceptable level of risk to an acceptable one.


True. I would also add that one major factor would be to use whatever tech is still working to prepare for when it will no longer work. Using tractors for example to prepare potential fields for growing crops that could later be maintained with horse drawn plows and equipment would be one example. Use it to prepare for when it stops working. Windmill generators might be poor power sources today, but its better than nothing at all (temporary probably unless someone can maintain the generators). Use what is available now to prepare for when its no longer available. Ongoing learning and training process would almost be mandatory for long term survival.

Ernest Bywater

@docholladay

True. I would also add that one major factor would be to use whatever tech is still working to prepare for when it will no longer work.


Exactly what should be done. Instead of trying to corner the market of petrochemical fuels, use what you have to help construct something to use when they run out or destabilize on you. That's the sort of change in direction I mean should be happening those stories.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

Exactly what should be done. Instead of trying to corner the market of petrochemical fuels, use what you have to help construct something to use when they run out or destabilize on you. That's the sort of change in direction I mean should be happening those stories.


Its okay to try and save as much Knowledge as possible for future generations either through books or other media. Computer equipment could be supplied enough energy to operate either with solar or windmill generators for example. Of course that process has to be considered a long range plan not a short range one. And with a PA setting or equivalent that would fit. Short range survival has to take top priority, but long range goals are important as well.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

1. The term commercially viable is no longer relevant, no one is going to be buying anything.


Things still need to be profitable in that you get more value out of them than the effort/materials you put into them.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son
Updated:

@docholladay


Windmill generators might be poor power sources today, but its better than nothing at all (temporary probably unless someone can maintain the generators).


Wind power is seriously uneconomical at grid scale. However, the smaller (home/farm) wind turbines can be very economical for those who don't have grid power available.

Not everything scales linearly. Wind and Solar power are top examples in the energy field of tech that is decent in small scale but can't scale to grid levels economically.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Dominions Son

@docholladay

Using tractors for example to prepare potential fields for growing crops that could later be maintained with horse drawn plows and equipment would be one example.


Somewhat pointless if you don't have horses and either the right kind of plows available or the knowledge/means to make one.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Things still need to be profitable in that you get more value out of them than the effort/materials you put into them.


Not really. If you don't want something to do what it's doing you aren't going to put in any effort or materials, and if you want something to do what it's doing you'll put in whatever effort and materials are needed to get the result you want. Since, in a Post Apoc Situation, you won't be making things to sell there is no commercial viability aspect to be concerned about. It comes down to do what you have to for what you need or forget it because you don't need it.

Replies:   Not_a_ID  Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son


Somewhat pointless if you don't have horses and either the right kind of plows available or the knowledge/means to make one.


You don't always need to plough fields to plant crops, but you do often need to plough fields to get rocks and other garbage out of them as well as get them broken up for the first time. So there will be times doc's advice is good. It will depend on what you're doing with the field. Even if it's only building a cellar.

richardshagrin

Use human energy. Return to slavery. Maybe not a sideways step, more like a backward step, but one likely to be used once society collapses. Persons with weapons and other resources, even if its only sharp objects and the willingness to use them can collect slaves from people not as well equipped or willing to enslave others. Lots of farm tasks can be done by human labor with limited hand tools. Shovels, scythes, maybe a wheelbarrow to carry rocks or harvested crops. Of course keeping slaves down may be a challenge, but whoever is on top will see the rationale for slavery, as long as they aren't one.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


if you want something to do what it's doing you'll put in whatever effort and materials are needed to get the result you want. Since, in a Post Apoc Situation, you won't be making things to sell there is no commercial viability aspect to be concerned about. It comes down to do what you have to for what you need or forget it because you don't need it.


....until you determine that the effort required to keep ______ performing as desired is far more than you can reasonably justify putting in the effort to maintain.

Commercial viability and economic utility are different things, albeit closely linked. Just because commercial concerns cease to be a thing, doesn't mean the underlying economic considerations are invalid. Economics is a bit more diverse that, as it applies to a population of 1 just as readily as it does a population of billions.

If you decide something isn't worth spending hours/days/weeks to get working, then it won't continue working. Particularly early on in a PA scenario, many if not most people are going to be making bad calls in regards to the perceived utility of many things(in particular care and maintenance) as few people grasp the full breadth and depth of what they're actually using and dependent upon for their daily life. Even the ones that think they do probably don't.

It will take awhile to figure those things out. Then it is a question of how badly they screwed themselves in the interim.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@richardshagrin


Use human energy. Return to slavery. Maybe not a sideways step, more like a backward step, but one likely to be used once society collapses.


Human power for crop handling is horribly inefficient, if it falls back far enough that you lack even beasts of burden. You are going to be doing well to scratch out more than a meager subsistence level lifestyle, requiring hundreds of people to suffer at that level in order for more than a handful to live "comfortably" at whatever standard of living is possible. Because the energy/effort in vs energy/food out return is going to be very poor.

Replies:   richardshagrin
Not_a_ID

@Ernest Bywater

3. Anything that can be done in a lab will be done in the working environment if it is physically possible to do so and someone has an interest in making it do it because they have a perceived need for it.

4. Technical gear and devices are of no use at all unless you have someone on hand who knows how to use it and whatever it needs to make it work properly for the purpose you want to use it for.


These two loop back on each other. If it can be done in a lab, it can only be done in a working environment if the technical knowledge of how to do so exists.

This also ignores that the lab technicians and scientists exist in something of bubble in many fields. They're given their materials to work with in order to carry out their projects, but may know little to nothing about about how those materials achieved those input specifications prior to entering the lab. (Less of an issue for a biochemist, but someone working in high tech materials...)

Sure, they may have a better than decent chance of reverse engineering the processes involved if needed, but there is a whole other layer of stuff going on there.

richardshagrin

@Not_a_ID

The economics of "plantation" agriculture are not a popular study as it is not politically correct. George and Martha Washington, and Thomas Jefferson seem to have lived well. There were some problems paying for imported luxuries from England, but food does not seem to have been a problem. Of course they had horses and "modern" (for the eighteenth century) technology. Even the slaves were fairly well fed. If they starved, they could not perform well. I doubt modern folk would want either the masters or the slaves diet, but it seems to have keep them alive and with a surplus to sell. Or in Post Ap. terms to invest in adding acreage and obtaining more slaves. I doubt a market economy would be available to sell anything to.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son


Wind power is seriously uneconomical at grid scale. However, the smaller (home/farm) wind turbines can be very economical for those who don't have grid power available.

Not everything scales linearly. Wind and Solar power are top examples in the energy field of tech that is decent in small scale but can't scale to grid levels economically.


Agreed, but also where we disagree. ;) They work great on micro scales, as grid balancing is a non-factor, and can help offset a lot of things. But then you have things like Queensland Australia where Solar was so widely adopted in some communities, that when paired with requirements for the power company to allow power backfeeding into the grid, that some towns nearly became power exporters.... Which in turn wrecked considerable havoc for the people balancing the electric load on the grid and needing to take baseline power plants offline at certain times of day. (Part of why power storage is now the big thing in Australia currently, as the regulatory environment adjusts to those issues and since they've already thrown down for all that @home solar, they're going to get their use out of it)

A whole lot of people doing micro can end up with macro results. They're not solutions by themselves, but they help. Although how much we want to disrupt natural marketplace behavior in the interim is another matter, and not relevant to a PA discussion as there is no market to distort.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@Not_a_ID

performing as desired is far more than you can reasonably justify putting in the effort to maintain.


If that's the case, you don't really want it, do you?

If it's too much trouble and not worth the effort you won't do it because you don't want it.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Not really. If you don't want something to do what it's doing you aren't going to put in any effort or materials, and if you want something to do what it's doing you'll put in whatever effort and materials are needed to get the result you want.


Sorry, but no matter how much you want something, in a PA situation, if you put more energy/materials/effort into something than you get out of it in terms of energy/food calories then doing it negatively impacts your survival prospects.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Not_a_ID


Which in turn wrecked considerable havoc for the people balancing the electric load on the grid and needing to take baseline power plants offline at certain times of day.


Yes, because at the grid level power in has to perfectly balance power out on a second by second basis or things can literally start to explode.

Wind and Solar are both not only intermittent in whether they are generating power or not, but power output can vary significantly on very short time scales. This combined with relatively low energy densities is why they will never be viable at grid scales. No conceivable improvements in technology will change that.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son


Sorry, but no matter how much you want something, in a PA situation, if you put more energy/materials/effort into something than you get out of it in terms of energy/food calories then doing it negatively impacts your survival prospects.


That need to get an equal or better energy return doesn't apply to everything. There are some thing that you will need to do, despite being a resources drain, simply because failure to do them will mean total elimination. So while there is no actual resource return, there is a suitable benefit.

For example, you want to dam off the end of your valley so the river in the next one doesn't flood you out in the spring melt flood. Expending all the time and effort to build the damn doesn't give you any return in resources you expend, but you want it so you don't get killed next spring.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


There are some thing that you will need to do, despite being a resources drain, simply because failure to do them will mean total elimination. So while there is no actual resource return, there is a suitable benefit.


That's a value return, in other words, a profit.


For example, you want to dam off the end of your valley so the river in the next one doesn't flood you out in the spring melt flood. Expending all the time and effort to build the damn doesn't give you any return in resources you expend, but you want it so you don't get killed next spring.


Perhaps, but the cost in resources/effort has to be better than other available options. Simply moving to higher ground is likely to be less effort and has other potential benefits. High ground is easier to defend, whether against other people or dangerous animals.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Somewhat pointless if you don't have horses and either the right kind of plows available or the knowledge/means to make one.

Ha-ha. How many metalsmiths do you run across on a daily basis?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Not_a_ID

@richardshagrin

The economics of "plantation" agriculture are not a popular study as it is not politically correct. George and Martha Washington, and Thomas Jefferson seem to have lived well. There were some problems paying for imported luxuries from England, but food does not seem to have been a problem. Of course they had horses and "modern" (for the eighteenth century) technology. Even the slaves were fairly well fed. If they starved, they could not perform well. I doubt modern folk would want either the masters or the slaves diet, but it seems to have keep them alive and with a surplus to sell. Or in Post Ap. terms to invest in adding acreage and obtaining more slaves. I doubt a market economy would be available to sell anything to.


But they had plows, a fair degree of mechanization even then(and even more so in the 19th century), and made ready use of beasts of burden. Most (successful) plantations would use animal power over slave power whenever practical(probably with slaves overseeing some, but not all of the animals, don't want to arm the slave or give them a means of escape after all) as the beast could do more work for less effort put into it.

The economics of food for the slave plantation is probably as varied as the number of plantations. I imagine some were nearly self-sufficient for regular and some not-so daily needs, while others specialized and needed regular resupply to meet many of their daily needs.

Either method has it merits and failings, one being almost entirely beholden to the markets but able to profit nicely from them. While the other would be more stable, but not as profitable in the good years. With it being more able to handle bad years well. (Albeit, the self-sufficient method would be illegal under current laws, even without the slaves, from my understanding of laws/precedents in the U.S.)

But getting back to a PA perspective. If you don't even have the beasts of burden, then you're having to match the capabilities of that beast with manpower. Manpower you have to feed with human edibles, rather than the human inedibles most beasts of burden obtain much of their diet from. Which in turn means you're going to be putting much more in, for comparable amounts out.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

Wind and Solar are both not only intermittent in whether they are generating power or not, but power output can vary significantly on very short time scales. This combined with relatively low energy densities is why they will never be viable at grid scales. No conceivable improvements in technology will change that.


Going well outside of PA for this.

This is where things like Smart Grid and it's associated appliances, big brother aspects aside, come into play. Particularly if you've also worked out a viable power storage option. (I know, a big if there, as it stands currently. At least at regional grid scales.)

You can use power storage to help even out the spikes both the highs and lows. Smart grid aware devices "phone home" in advance to notify when they're about to turn on or turn off. In some cases, "home" even phones them to ask them to turn off, or to say it's ok to turn on, so on and so forth depending on the device in question and a number of other things. I could see something like Tesla's Powerbank getting plugged into question smart grid and being used to help manage local(neighborhood) spikes/dips in the power grid if the homeowner agrees.

There have already been suggestions and efforts to likewise pursue a comparable thing for the hybrid and electric vehicles while tied into "charging stations" where the vehicle owner could set criteria that if met, their vehicle will instead start feeding power into the grid rather than taking it out.

Going back to smart grid associated techs, that includes communicating the rate they're paying for the power they're using(or giving). Which opens doors for the ability to charge the car at night when electric rates are low, and then have that cheaper electricity fed back into the grid later with the car owner pocketing the difference(the ultimate in "buy low, sell high"). Alternatively, if at home and not intending to go anywhere, charge the car at night, and run the house off some of the cars stored power when rates are high and cut the grid managers out entirely while you do so. But most people would want a battery good for hundreds of thousands of charge/discharge cycles before they're likely to be game for something like that.

There is the possibility for all kinds of weird synergies to start happening now between different technologies as devices become able to talk to each other. The privacy aspects of it all is rather disconcerting, and will be interesting to see where that ultimately leads.

Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Dominions Son

Somewhat pointless if you don't have horses and either the right kind of plows available or the knowledge/means to make one.


I don't know about that. I don't necessarily need to revert back to single horse pulled plow when I can hook up a team of oxen or draft horses to a dumb set of disc plows that used to be pulled behind farmer Bob's John Deer tractor. Plow a field 3 feet at a time with one horse. Or plow a field 30 feet at a time with 6 draft horses? I know which one I'm going for.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

For example, you want to dam off the end of your valley so the river in the next one doesn't flood you out in the spring melt flood. Expending all the time and effort to build the damn doesn't give you any return in resources you expend, but you want it so you don't get killed next spring.


Perhaps, but the cost in resources/effort has to be better than other available options. Simply moving to higher ground is likely to be less effort and has other potential benefits. High ground is easier to defend, whether against other people or dangerous animals.


Going to agree with Dominion here, there would have to be a very compelling reason for me to remain based in a known(to me) flood plain in a PA setting. I avoid living in flood plains in general anyhow, regardless of what the Corps of Engineers tells me. That isn't to say I wouldn't live near one, particularly if I don't need to be worried about any upstream nasties, as historically speaking, it was the getting regularly flooded part of things that makes flood plains so fertile(well, that and ready access to water). So in that respect, aside from an upstream nasty concern, I'd probably want the area to flood.

Unless there is something there that I want use of which I am unable to move that somehow is worth keeping intact, and so difficult to move that building a dam on a river or stream(that didn't previously exist? Why?) Makes more sense than just building a berm around it for protection during flood season.

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

I don't know about that. I don't necessarily need to revert back to single horse pulled plow when I can hook up a team of oxen or draft horses to a dumb set of disc plows that used to be pulled behind farmer Bob's John Deer tractor. Plow a field 3 feet at a time with one horse. Or plow a field 30 feet at a time with 6 draft horses? I know which one I'm going for.


1. I would take considerable amount of modification to make a disc plow designed to be pulled by a tractor usable with a team of horses.
2. If you think a disc plow designed to be pulled by a tractor with an ice engine output of in the range of 80 - 400 horse power can be used effectively being pulled by just 6 draft horses, you are delusional.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Ha-ha. How many metalsmiths do you run across on a daily basis?


None, that's my point.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Not_a_ID


But getting back to a PA perspective. If you don't even have the beasts of burden, then you're having to match the capabilities of that beast with manpower. Manpower you have to feed with human edibles, rather than the human inedibles most beasts of burden obtain much of their diet from. Which in turn means you're going to be putting much more in, for comparable amounts out.

The other complication, is what the initial apocalyptic event did to agriculture? Was there fallout on plant and animal life? Most PA stories avoid this topic, but there's every reason to believe that an event that wipes out 99% of all human life will also affect a significant segment of other life as well (i.e. no roving dog packs).

In my PA series, the meteor storm which started the story increased the amount of dust and debris in the upper atmosphere, diluting the amount of sunlight and dramatically lowering temperatures, making growing crops impractical for large segments of the world. My lead character even began researching growing fungi in caves, assuming most other plant live wouldn't survive for long (and couldn't be protected from cold and other issues).

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Most PA stories avoid this topic, but there's every reason to believe that an event that wipes out 99% of all human life will also affect a significant segment of other life as well (i.e. no roving dog packs).


There are at least a few exceptions to this. A virus that wipes out a large percentage of humans might affect some other mammals, but it extremely unlikely to affect other types of animals and almost certain to have no affect on plants.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

A virus that wipes out a large percentage of humans might affect some other mammals, but it extremely unlikely to affect other types of animals and almost certain to have no affect on plants.

True, but wiping out a major food source for certain species (think mosquitoes) often have unplanned repercussions, which tend to have cascading effects (one species collapses, which causes another to fall, which causes ...). Also, once one species is infected, any species which feeds on another is at an increased likelihood of contracting a variant of it (since they're exposed to the initial virus). If mosquitoes feed on infected humans, then those same mosquitoes might spread the same infection to other animals, some not directly related to humans.

Most stories only focus on one-to-one relationships (i.e. virus X wipes out species Y, but then it stops there). They don't follow it up by considering what happens beyond that point, or what complications might arise from that initial change.

Again, PA stories are typically focused on what happens to individuals without governments to control them, so they've got no reason to consider these issues, but that doesn't mean they don't occur to readers, who see these types of effects happening around them on a daily basis.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

If mosquitoes feed on infected humans, then those same mosquitoes might spread the same infection to other animals, some not directly related to humans.


Yes, but viruses tend towards being specific, at least to order. Viruses that affect mammals generally don't affect reptiles. And there are many viruses that are even more specific, they won't jump species even with outside help.

And even among viruses that can jump species, there are many that are relatively innocuous in one species (i.e. effect level on the order of the common cold) and fatal to other species.

A virus that kills humans and only humans is not particularly far fetched.

Beyond the level of parasites, there aren't any species that are dependent on humans as a food source in the sense that they eat humans as a primary food source.

There are more than enough other mammals that even mosquitoes wouldn't go extinct as a result of humans being wiped out.

Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

1. I would take considerable amount of modification to make a disc plow designed to be pulled by a tractor usable with a team of horses.


I think someone with the rights incentives, and the know-how to do some basic welding could figure it out. It's just working out the transfer of horsepower/torque from the team of horses/draft animals to what is essentially a drag that travels through the ground. VS how it interfaced with the tractor.

2. If you think a disc plow designed to be pulled by a tractor with an ice engine output of in the range of 80 - 400 horse power can be used effectively being pulled by just 6 draft horses, you are delusional.


Yeah, yeah 1 horsepower is supposed to be equivalent to the pulling power of 1 draft horse. Of course, the 400 horsepower engine is also using a lot of its horsepower to move the engine and the vehicle attached to it, rather than the implements. The Horse is using all of its "horsepower" to actually move what its attached to.

Also just because it is normally pulled by a tractor with that kind of power doesn't mean it actually needs that much power to work. A fair bit of that is going to depend on the type of soil you're using it on. If its really soft ground you're not going to need much. If it's almost hardpack with a lot of clay, you're going to need a LOT of power to move through it.

I will admit I pulled the number out of my nether regions, but it still stands, you can potentially adapt a lot of farm implements that were towed behind tractors and still use them in a PA setting, you just need to adapt for animals to be the means of propulsion rather than a tractor.

Another fun thing about many of those "drags" they use for preparing fields is some of them(in particular the older ones) are 2 man lift and come in sections a few feet across, so even if you can't pull the full assembly, using small sections of it is very possible. So you still don't need to necessarily find a blacksmith to build you a horse pulled plough, you just downsize something that already exists.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Not_a_ID


I will admit I pulled the number out of my nether regions, but it still stands, you can potentially adapt a lot of farm implements that were towed behind tractors and still use them in a PA setting, you just need to adapt for animals to be the means of propulsion rather than a tractor.


You claimed 6 horses doing 10 times the width of one horse with a traditional horse drawn plow. If you had said 10, I would probably have let it slide as a reasonable swag*. Thinking you can do 10 times the work with 6 times the number of horses is delusional even if you start with a plow specifically engineered from scratch to be pulled by a team of horses.

You are correct, many could be adapted given the proper tools and knowledge. However, you underestimate the knowledge needed. Who ever is doing the modifications would have to have at least a basic understanding of how traditional team hitches function. A poorly engineered hitch would not only reduce the animal's ability to pull the implement, but could actually injure the animals.

*SWAG = stupid wild ass guess.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  Not_a_ID
BlinkReader
Updated:

All this is nice, revert to horse and oxen - but does anyone of you know how to raise them, how to learn work with them, where to get equipment necessary to work with them (leather, iron tools, plows, etc...)

I had to work with oxen as very young one, and it's very hard work for someone who know what he is doing...

Dominions Son

@BlinkReader

All this is nice, revert to horse and oxen - but does anyone of you know how to raise them, how to learn work with them, where to get equipment necessary to work with them (leather, iron tools, plows, etc...)


In case of apocalypse, make sure you know where the nearest Amish and / or Mennonite community is. They will have the knowledge you seek. :)

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

A blacksmith and/or a large animal veterinarian might also be helpful in how to handle horses, if Amish, etc. are not available. It probably would be good to have both, someone needs to fit horseshoes and treat illnesses or at least preside when mares give birth.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Not_a_ID

don't need to necessarily find a blacksmith to build you a horse pulled plough, you just downsize something that already exists.


anybody who has basic woodworking skills can build a basic plough.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aratro_in_legno.JPG

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AncientPlough.jpg

or sue a foot plough

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cas_chrom_sch%C3%A9ma.svg

man of the earliest ploughs were pulled by people not animals.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

You claimed 6 horses doing 10 times the width of one horse


set 6 horses up with a whipple tree and harness chains would require a space between horses, such that they would take up the space of 10 ten horses - which is what I think the above means.

docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

Major point is humanity's adaptability factors. As a species we have adapted to all the major climates and areas in the world. The main point of the survival process is to allow time for that adaptation to occur. There is no way for me to estimate how long that process will take. As it will depend on too many variables. Not everyone will have the same abilities or be willing to work together towards the future. Many just as in the stories will become predators, destroying instead of building.

Who knows what they might come up with over a period of time. It could be better or worse than we think it will be.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


set 6 horses up with a whipple tree and harness chains would require a space between horses, such that they would take up the space of 10 ten horses - which is what I think the above means.


1. Why on earth would you set them up like that instead of two columns of 3 they way a wagon team would be set up?

2. Even if they require 10 times the space of a single horse, they still couldn't pull 10 times the load, so while the team might end up 30 feet wide, they still couldn't plow a 30 foot width in one pass, which was the original claim.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

1. Why on earth would you set them up like that instead of two columns of 3 they way a wagon team would be set up?


First, I've no damned idea why they set them up abreast and not columnar, but plough teams have always been set up abreast using whipple trees, I suspect it's to do with the way they apply the pull.

Second, I never said anything about how much extra work they did, and the part I quoted spoke of space not work.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Second, I never said anything about how much extra work they did, and the part I quoted spoke of space not work.


It spoke of the width being plowed in one pass (roughly equivalent the the amount of work being done) not the width of the team.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

It spoke of the width being plowed in one pass (roughly equivalent the the amount of work being done) not the width of the team.


That's not how it came across, sorry. Below is a link to the device I was talking about for draught animals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whippletree_%28mechanism%29

It also appear you can set them up in rows too, but the front row seems to need a sort of rod to connect to the main bar at the back.

docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

True the tractors can plow and prepare more ground in a day than a horse drawn plow or implement. But we also have to consider the fact that survivors would probably be treating equipment with extreme care because of the fact of its being non-replaceable.

For livestock for example you have to have pastures hopefully with the right mixtures of grass. This takes a huge amount of area. Now the preparation and distribution of seed for the pastures can be done faster by tractors. Its this type preparation that will be critical for a pa setting. Livestock should be available in almost any region. Gather them from farms and/or ranches where the owners have died before they escape and turn wild. Chickens and such can also be obtained. I am not saying any of it will be easy. But in long term survival its critical. Gather while there is still equipment usable to help. All of it is labor intensive even with using the equipment while it lasts, but better than waiting and doing it later.

Nothing will really be easy but some steps done early will definitely improve the long term odds of survival.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


That's not how it came across, sorry. Below is a link to the device I was talking about for draught animals.


Huh?

Here is the original statement to which I was replying:


Or plow a field 30 feet at a time with 6 draft horses?


How do you get a 30 foot wide team rather than a 30 foot wide plow out of that?

ETA:

Given a 6 horse team attached by a whippletree to a single standard horse draw plow blade, the team may be 30 feet wide, but they still only plow a 3 foot wide strip ground at one time.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

That's not how it came across, sorry. Below is a link to the device I was talking about for draught animals.


I'd already looked it up. My question was not about how it was done, but about why?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son


Huh?

Here is the original statement to which I was replying:


I didn't see that quote. I was responding to a post by you on the 8th with the first line of:

You claimed 6 horses doing 10 times the width of one horse with a traditional horse drawn plow.

and the quote you had in it didn't mention the numbers 6 or 10. Thus I took the sentence I replied to at surface value - and it doesn't mention the amount of work, just the space taken up.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

I'd already looked it up. My question was not about how it was done, but about why?


As i said, I don't know why, but can only guess it was to ensure all the animals pulled the towed item and not another animal. In field work most draught animals are harnessed using chains or ropes of some sort that run backwards to the whippletree. With coaches there's a long wooden spar that runs out from the coach which the animals are harnessed to - in both cases the device is used to hook each animal as an individual power source direct to the item being towed.

Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

Thinking you can do 10 times the work with 6 times the number of horses is delusional even if you start with a plow specifically engineered from scratch to be pulled by a team of horses.


Not necessarily, if you're using a more efficient method for doing the plowing, you can end up doing more with less. Maybe it's simply switching from one type of iron to another type of steel, or if you have the time and ability, some other alloy that does the same work, but with less mechanical effort.

The exact ratio seen may not match but you could still see a change. Would be an interesting engineering challenge for someone to undertake, but ultimately pointless,unless the apocalypse did come calling.

To think that using all the knowledge we have in various things that we couldn't do better than a horse drawn plow from 1860 at this point is perhaps a little overly pessimistic. But even going the pessimistic route, and it takes more beasts of burden to plow an equivalent amount of area using an adapted modern era farm implement(intended for tractors) when compared to the single horse plow from the mid 19th century, and checking wiki, looks like the drag barrow and disk harrow largely replaced the traditional plough even for the horse teams by the end of the 19th century in the U.S.

From a manpower perspective it may still be a net win. You reduce the man hours involved by a significant fraction, but in trade you increased the number of "beast hours" by some indeterminate amount.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Not_a_ID

But the Amish are using multi-furrow plows, and a citation needed entry in wiki claims:

Amish farmers tend to use a team of about seven horses or mules when spring ploughing and as Amish farmers often help each other plough, teams are sometimes changed at noon. Using this method about 10 acres (4.0 ha) can be ploughed per day in light soils and about 2 acres (0.81 ha) in heavy soils.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

Not necessarily, if you're using a more efficient method for doing the plowing, you can end up doing more with less.


There is no reason to believe that modern disc plows are more efficient in terms of the raw force required as they are designed to be pulled by tractors with power to spare.

To think that using all the knowledge we have in various things that we couldn't do better than a horse drawn plow from 1860 at this point is perhaps a little overly pessimistic.


I don't think that. But I rather doubt that someone with little to no knowledge of how either modern mechanized plows or traditional horse drawn plows work would be capable of doing so. In a PA situation, you don't have the internet to look things up. In a PA situation, knowledge that isn't in your head or in available from either others in your group or books you have on hand might as well not exist at all.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

But the Amish are using multi-furrow plows, and a citation needed entry in wiki claims:


Yes, but those are still not even half as wide as modern mechanized plows.

Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

There is no reason to believe that modern disc plows are more efficient in terms of the raw force required as they are designed to be pulled by tractors with power to spare.


The use of alloys and composite materials(which are being used in modern disc harrows) create interesting dichotomies in this case. It can result in a lighter(easier to move), stronger, and possibly longer lasting mechanism being dragged along the (sub)surface. The problem being, the lighter it becomes, the less prone it becomes to sinking into ground which is a somewhat desirable outcome in this use case.

Which puts things in the realm of quickly diminishing returns, so I'll back off a fair bit on the initial claim, given the Amish example I cited earlier. Of course, the Amish aren't using modern materials in their ploughs, so there may still be gains to be had there when it comes to productivity with animals. But as we're going with PA, it is agreeable that such an outcome(someone being more efficient at using animals to prepare fields than the Amish are) is highly unlikely.

docholladay
Updated:

The important facts are that survival under these conditions is a long term problem.

If the survivors only look for what they need today, the resources will run out and nothing will be available for their future needs.

I think it will go in stages:

1: Needed NOW

2: Needed tomorrow

3: Needed next week, etc.
4: Needed by future generations.

Each stage will have its own set of requirements. The nice part is that the steps can be combined in solving them as a whole.

Those who only look at the now solutions will lose in the long run.

Those who can look at all three stages will probably win. Its not guaranteed however but the odds are in their favor..

And like now what will work in one environment will not always work in another.

edited to add one major step.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@BlinkReader

All this is nice, revert to horse and oxen - but does anyone of you know how to raise them, how to learn work with them, where to get equipment necessary to work with them (leather, iron tools, plows, etc...)

I would assume that it's much easier to access documents detailing how to raise and care for oxen than it is to learn metalwork and retrofitting existing farm equipment to work with animals. At least that was the premise in my stories. Since my group of survivors had access to electricity, they'd search any universities they came across, grabbing any server farms to search them for needed information, preserving them for the future, even though the vast majority of the country had no electricity. Once they had that information, they could disburse it through other means.

Of course, knowing theoretically how to do something is a far cry from actually doing it, but it's a step in the right direction, and while they'll flounder initially, like most things, the people will get better over time. If they don't, they'll all starve!

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

A blacksmith and/or a large animal veterinarian might also be helpful in how to handle horses, if Amish, etc. are not available. It probably would be good to have both, someone needs to fit horseshoes and treat illnesses or at least preside when mares give birth.

In my stories, both PA and alien-invasion ones, the veterinarians and veterinarian clinics were much more highly valued than doctors and human medicines were. Physicians' knowledge is limited to a single species, while vets not only deal with more, they're much better at improvising. What's more, in the rush to grab illicit drugs, few pharmacies would remain, while vet's offices would--I'm assuming--be largely ignored.

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

Who knows what they might come up with over a period of time. It could be better or worse than we think it will be.

As with the fall of any great civilization, many areas of knowledge are never recovered, and the same thing would happen here. That's why recovering and preserving as much as you could would be essential, not just to everyone's survival, but for the society to continue to grow 50 - 200 years in the future.

Losing knowledge and resources in a PA situation is unavoidable, but not having access to resources because no one had access (or the interest in it), changes the equation entirely.

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

True the tractors can plow and prepare more ground in a day than a horse drawn plow or implement. But we also have to consider the fact that survivors would probably be treating equipment with extreme care because of the fact of its being non-replaceable.

The other thing we're missing, is assuming a 98% death rate, each farm would have much smaller food requirements. There would no longer be a need to farm 400 acres is 5 would do, and thus it's easier scaling back, even if you have to start from scratch with hand build wood technologies.

Hell, many areas could survive with a single oxen or even a pair of draft horses, given enough nearby people to help out. And a return to the community support model would assist there.

When I went to school, many schools in the south would close during periods in planting and harvest seasons, and a large amount of the students worked picking cotton (something I refused, simply because I got paid more working at the local gas station).

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Hell, many areas could survive with a single oxen or even a pair of draft horses


1. Oxen is plural, the singular would be ox.

2. An ox or a pair of draft horses is useless if you don't have the right kind of plow. Converting a mechanized plow to horse/ox drawn would not be a simple operation.

ETA:

How many people these days even know what an ox is?

Replies:   richardshagrin
docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

picking cotton


I did that when I lived with my grandparents until I finished 1st grade. That darn bag I drug behind me was larger than I was. I have also gardened with as little as a shovel and a hoe in the way of equipment. Its surprising how much can be grown in a limited area. One method I loved was called the square foot gardening technique. Lot of production with a limited space requirement. For an example just watch the "Victory Garden" or the equivalent gardening shows their beds are usually about 4 foot wide.

Look on any seed package for any vegetable for example and you will find two different measurements. One is the spacing between plants (same seed/plant) and the other is the row space requirement. Important distance is the one for the distance between plants. Even weeds require a certain amount of space to grow properly. I used that method for a few years when I had a landlord that allowed it. Funny how much could be grown in as little as 4x4 square space with very little weeding.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

Its surprising how much can be grown in a limited area. One method I loved was called the square foot gardening technique. Lot of production with a limited space requirement.

I included that in my PA stories as well. Since it featured a world-wide cold spell due to dust blotting out the sun, my group encouraged everyone to seek refuge behind reinforced windows (double or triple pane), while growing small, indoor window box gardens (where the temperature is easier to maintain), so every house/apartment could add to the existing food supply.

If you've got a massively reduced population, small scale farming operations become more economically viable, especially if everyone specializes and establishes trade between different groups. What one group can't feasible produce, another group can.

richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

Oxen are castrated bulls. One ox is a castrated bull. Male Cattle. The testacies removed are Rocky Mountain Oysters. I know because I live in
C attle. Where the government treats us like cattle. Oh, they haven't gotten around to changing the spelling from Sea attle, but they will get around to it.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

Oxen are castrated bulls. One ox is a castrated bull. Male Cattle.


Close but not quite. Oxen are castrated bulls that are raised/trained as draft animals. If it were being raised for meat, it would be called a steer.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

You wouldn't give me a bum steer, would you?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

You wouldn't give me a bum steer, would you?


No, for you it would have to be a pun steer.

Not_a_ID

@docholladay

I think it will go in stages:

1: Needed NOW

2: Needed tomorrow

3: Needed next week, etc.
4: Needed by future generations.

Each stage will have its own set of requirements. The nice part is that the steps can be combined in solving them as a whole.


But the risk also is that by the time you've stabilized the "right now" needs, the other things you needed to accomplish the more long-term objectives have already been lost, destroyed, or otherwise significantly compromised. As already mentioned, when a civilization collapses, there almost always are things which become lost in the process and are never recovered, or end up taking centuries to be rediscovered.

Another issue particularly relevant to our current age is we do have a significant raw material, specifically regarding energy sources, issue should we regress. The raw materials that remain are becoming increasing difficult to get to(due to how markets work, naturally the easy stuff is grabbed first), to the point that we're having trouble obtaining some of these things with all the technology and specialized knowledge we have.

Someone being forced to do the same from a 18th or 19th century technical capability is going to have problems getting things back to our current level.

Of course, some this is contingent on some other factors, if you have an out of control global warming scenario and coastal areas become submerged, they're even more screwed. However, if they have a major ice age epoch unleashed upon them, particularly if it matches the ice ago of 10,000+ years ago, then they have options available to them that we still have trouble with.

It's a lot easier to harvest a natural resource when you can just walk up to it, versus trying to get at it while it's under 50+ feet of water. Which isn't to mention all the wrecks that they'd possibly be able to get some degree of salvage from that we possibly haven't even found yet.

docholladay

@Not_a_ID

But the risk also is that by the time you've stabilized the "right now" needs, the other things you needed to accomplish the more long-term objectives have already been lost, destroyed, or otherwise significantly compromised.


True, but what part say's the steps cannot be combined. The priority of needs is the same to start with, but there is no rule that says the process can not be combined into one basic procedure. I notice how most of the PA stories only list the first few weeks or months at the best. But I also notice how after the first couple of days or so all the MC's start taking steps for long term survival. Funny part is due to the time period of the stories just a little bit can be shown or told as the case might be.

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

The raw materials that remain are becoming increasing difficult to get to(due to how markets work, naturally the easy stuff is grabbed first), to the point that we're having trouble obtaining some of these things with all the technology and specialized knowledge we have.


Actually, this is not particularly true. Technology for extraction is keeping pace.

If it were the case that the difficulty was increasing faster than extraction tech was improving, prices of those resources would rise drastically and that just isn't happening.

Granted, many of those resources we are currently extracting would be next to impossible to reach with 18th/19th century techniques/technology.

Replies:   Grant
docholladay

Like in any survival situation panic is the true enemy of survival. Even all those stupid survival shows on TV show that survival requires a survivor to think not just to act.

Grant

@Dominions Son

If it were the case that the difficulty was increasing faster than extraction tech was improving, prices of those resources would rise drastically and that just isn't happening.

The reason the price of those resources isn't rising, even though the costs of developing & producing new product are rising is because the current supply is more than enough to meet demand, hence the prices have been dropping.

The falling cost of oil, and the increasing costs of production are the main reasons why many proposed developments haven't proceeded, and much of the exploration work has been put on indefinite hold.

Dominions Son

@Grant

The reason the price of those resources isn't rising, even though the costs of developing & producing new product are rising is because the current supply is more than enough to meet demand, hence the prices have been dropping.


Sorry, if the cost per amount of resource was rising, producers would want higher prices. If there wasn't enough demand to support a price higher than the cost of extracting the resource, the producers would shut down production until demand rises. Producers will not produce at a loss for any extended period of time.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Grant


The falling cost of oil, and the increasing costs of production are the main reasons why many proposed developments haven't proceeded, and much of the exploration work has been put on indefinite hold.


Edited:

Costs of exploration/bringing new fields into production are not the same as production costs. These are fixed costs, at best indirectly related to the amount of oil produced. Yes, when prices are low, producers will not invest in increasing production capacity.

This applies as much to manufacturers of finished goods as it does to resource extraction. When demand is low and prices are falling, manufacturers will not spend money building new factories. However, the cost of building new factories has little or nothing to do with the cost of producing finished goods.

However, if the price of oil fell below production cots for existing wells, they would shut the wells down and stop producing all together.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Dominions Son

However, if the price of oil fell below production cots for existing wells, they would shut the wells down and stop producing all together.

You would think so. Same for the iron ore industry.
However that is what quite a few companies have been doing for over 12 months now, pumping out ore & oil at below cost. The plan, which is now starting to take effect, was to force higher cost producers out of the market completely so they could then set the price once again.
Many of the smaller producers have been put out of business, and as a result prices have recovered slightly.
Where many of the smaller large players were losing money like there was no tomorrow they're now back in profit- barely.

What they didn't count on was the World economy pretty much coming to almost a standstill, so the demand that was once there isn't there any more. And it looks like demand could continue to soften for the next 6-18 months which could easily see some of those that barely came through the "maintain market share at any cost" and just keeping their heads above water succumbing just like the previous higher cost producers they spent all that money on to put out of business.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Grant

However that is what quite a few companies have been doing for over 12 months now, pumping out ore & oil at below cost.


I'm not going to believe a claim like that without a huge amount of evidence to back it up. It sounds like a conspiracy theory.

Replies:   Grant
Grant
Updated:

@Dominions Son


I'm not going to believe a claim like that without a huge amount of evidence to back it up. It sounds like a conspiracy theory.


Iron ore-

The numbers

http://edge.alluremedia.com.au/uploads/businessinsider/2015/04/IRON-ORE-AUSTRALIA-BREAKEVEN-UBS.jpg

The story

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/heres-the-breakeven-cost-for-every-iron-ore-miner-in-australia-2015-4

Oil-

"In the case of the Saudis, Riyadh depends on oil sales for more than 70 per cent of government revenue, but last year it reportedly chomped through $US100 billion of its financial reserves - which now stand at $US630 billion ($876 billion).

...

In the wake of unveiling the country's biggest ever budget deficit (Saudi Arabia), the IMF this week warned the kingdom that in the absence of severe austerity measures, low oil prices could ruin it within five years - a dire forecast that was based on a generous oil price of $US50 ($70) per barrel, well above Friday's $US34".


The story

http://www.smh.com.au/world/oilproducing-nations-struggling-for-market-power-as-prices-drop-20160205-gmmf6o.html

EDIT- the break even cost for oil varies depending on who's doing the numbers, it generally appears to be around the $40-$50US mark for the majority of producers. OPEC producers are around the $20-$35US mark; the problem they have is that while they have extremely low production costs, they have been relying on the high price of oil to keep their countries functioning (see story linked to above).

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Grant

Sorry falls far short of proving your claim.

On iron, you only have the costs side of the picture, and only for Australia.

the break even cost for oil varies depending on who's doing the numbers, it generally appears to be around the $40-$50US mark for the majority of producers. OPEC producers are around the $20-$35US mark


You expect me to accept a bare assertion of this?

Replies:   Grant
Grant
Updated:

@Dominions Son

Sorry falls far short of proving your claim.

On iron, you only have the costs side of the picture, and only for Australia.


*shrug*

You believe what you want to believe and choose to accept or ignore information based on those beliefs.

That's your choice to make, as it is for everyone else. Everyone finds things that don't support their beliefs difficult to accept, at best.

the break even cost for oil varies depending on who's doing the numbers, it generally appears to be around the $40-$50US mark for the majority of producers. OPEC producers are around the $20-$35US mark



You expect me to accept a bare assertion of this?


You expect me to provide references for everything you will just choose to ignore, discount, dismiss as irrelevant or just not accept?

There are plenty of other things I could do with my afternoon, and I'm sure you're capable of checking things out yourself if you were really interested.

sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

The other thing we're missing, is assuming a 98% death rate, each farm would have much smaller food requirements. There would no longer be a need to farm 400 acres is 5 would do, and thus it's easier scaling back, even if you have to start from scratch with hand build wood technologies

The original definition of an acre was the amount of land a man could dig in a day. One of our magazines had a diagram of how to feed a family from a garden 25 feet square.
I think both of those are very optimistic but with a lot of care I have no doubt a family could live off an acre of land and with only 2% of the population left land would be readily available. Fertilizers would be a problem eventually but with the huge unused areas compost would be easy to make in huge quantities.
The problems would be a) animals of all description but would you really need oxen if you were farming such a small area? b) to feed animals you need large acreages to grow hay, oats etc. but oxen would not be economic when used to till for wheat, oats, barley, maybe rice for human consumption. c)cattle for milk and the same animals for food would need those crops but only the minimum needed per community remember that they can graze the unused land

many areas could survive with a single oxen or even a pair of draft horses, given enough nearby people to help out. And a return to the community support model would assist there.

Precisely

As for tools, surely they are freely available from the backs of barns, museums etc.? I have just sold six old horse drawn type tools for haymaking and my neighbours have plenty more.

Replies:   Dominions Son
graybyrd

In my youth my family lived without running water (we hand-pumped water from a well); lived without electricity (we used candles and kerosene lamps, and retired early); we cut, hauled, and heated with wood; we had no power tools (we cut wood with a cross-cut saw and axes); we had no indoor plumbing (we used an outhouse; today we would use an outdoor composting toilet); we washed clothes by hand with a tub and washboard); we hung clothes on lines outdoors to dry, winter and summer; we heated water on the kitchen wood range; we kept a kitchen garden; we kept rabbits; we kept chickens; we kept goats. We swapped labor with the neighbors, we traded with them, and we all helped each other during sickness and emergencies.

Our only real problem was the government's insistence on cash for taxes and fees. Our produce and labor was discounted as nothing by government men. The country doctor would make arrangements for payment. A smoked ham or canned goods were sometimes traded for his visits.

This is true. We lived it. Good hand tools, properly used and cared for, last a lifetime. Of all the tools, the most valuable is a good file, a good whetstone, and a sharp pocket knife. A neighborhood blacksmith is as valuable as a doctor.

Chickens, rabbits, and goats are easily tended and reproduce prolifically. Given free range, chickens and goats are largely self-sustaining. Children can cut forage and feed rabbits in their hutches. They can search out the broody hens with their clutch of eggs, and bring them to shelter for safe-keeping until they hatch their chicks.

Examine the Amish lifestyle for beginning clues. Early American homestead life was very close to total self-subsistence, but community cooperation was essential.

Most conjecture is pure bullshit, largely by folks who've not had the opportunity to experience a simple life.

Concerning large animals: they are a pure luxury. They require shelter, large quantities of fodder, careful tending, and are too often idle while continuing to consume great quantities of feed. They are not self-sustaining. My son-in-law, a fourth generation Idaho cattle rancher with 1,000 acres in a high-mountain river valley, commented one day that a cow has three goals in life: to eat, shit, and die.

Dreams of a draft horse become a nightmare if you don't have a good harness. Can you make one? Do you know how to harness a horse? Can you properly saddle a horse? Shoe it?

And so on... every PA story I've read is pretty much a waste of words. "First find a supermarket, then kick in the door ... "

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

As for tools, surely they are freely available from the backs of barns, museums etc.? I have just sold six old horse drawn type tools for haymaking and my neighbours have plenty more.


Perhaps, but how many of those antiques sitting around in barns are actually in working condition?

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@Dominions Son

Perhaps, but how many of those antiques sitting around in barns are actually in working condition?

Depends. One of my hay turners could only be used for spares and the seat was missing on a hay cutter. Of course a bit of WD40, some oil and a stone to sharpen the cutter blades were necessary (though my neighbour's rubbish pile was full of old cutter blades which would fit). Under those conditions you da*n well make things work

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