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Friday, February 29, 2008

FAR Future, Episode 24: Interlude

With this post, I’ll be going dim again for a while. Work followed me home this weekend. I should have the next episode up on schedule, which means “some time late next week.”

Sunday, May 5, 2013

It has been pretty quiet lately at FAR Manor. I wouldn’t say the calm before the storm — I hope not, anyway — but who knows these days?

The chicken houses are winding down; after they haul this bunch away (11 days, and yes I’m counting), that’s The End. We’ll use the litter for the pastures as needed; we won’t tear the houses down right away (although I have a couple of crowbars just itching to get at it) but we’ll be selling the equipment in the market bulletin… if there are any takers. Chicken ranching just isn’t what it used to be, if it ever was; the fuel required for a factory operation is killing the industry (and good riddance). Poultry companies are actually making more money selling birds to backyard operations now. A thousand homes with backyard flocks produce as much chicken as a single chicken house, give or take, and they can also provide eggs. The margins are better for the companies, they don’t have to worry about fuel subsidies, and a loose dog means more business.

The in-laws have been taking it easy for a while; Mrs. Fetched has been managing the day-to-day operations of the farm for — well, since before I started blogging, and that’s been a while. Her mom has been helping some of the county subdivisions with their community gardens; she did organic gardening before there was any other kind, so she just had to reach a little farther back in her storehouse of memories. (Did I ever mention that she helped dig a well by hand when she was a teenager? ’Tis true.) A lot of her generation, the ones left, are finding themselves quite popular these days — they remember what it’s like to live without electricity, running water, and all the other stuff we’ve taken for granted all our own lives. Even the folks with Alzheimer’s seem to do OK; researchers found out a long time ago that recreating the environment of their prime years helps them cope, and that’s pretty easy to do these days. Some of them think it’s the 1930s, and (minus Jim Crow) it could well be.

Anyway, as poultry farming has decentralized back into backyard operations, beef is becoming a luxury item. Prices are way up — some people are saying it’s going to get to the point where selling two or three cows a year could pay all the farm-related expenses (diesel fuel, taxes, feed) before too much longer. We’ve contracted to sell whatever peppers and herbs (mostly oregano) we grow to local outfits these days. Good thing… sales have dropped off at work quite a bit, what with households “consolidating,” so I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be gainfully employed. If I can survive as a gentleman farmer, especially after taking the mortgage moratorium, I don’t have a problem with that. Some of the old-timers have gone back to making moonshine, especially since it’s not as illegal as it used to be. Now I know why the Indians called it “firewater.” Whoosh.

Daughter Dearest will be done teaching classes in a couple weeks, just a few days after the chickens are gone, in fact. We’ve already opened up her old room for her, so she’ll be all set. I’m looking forward to having her around again… but I think I mentioned that.

Can you believe it’s almost summer already? We’ll be going back to rolling blackouts any day now. :-P They’ve been running PSAs almost non-stop on radio and TV, encouraging people to minimize A/C usage as the weather warms up. Those voltage sensors the power company passes out are an interesting experiment: when they get plugged in, they set a random voltage to watch for and cut off the A/C for an hour when the incoming voltage goes below that — it might be enough to stop the blackouts, or at least reduce their duration. Mrs. Fetched and I have been talking about moving our bed onto the screen porch, where we can take advantage of cooler air through the night. If we’re really careful how we use what the solar panels give us (the windmill is mostly useless from May to September), we can run the ceiling fan on low all night. I’ll probably put it on a timer, though, to cut off after a couple of hours. The vented skylight in DD’s room should help her quite a bit, as long as we leave windows and the doors to the upstairs open.

So things have been quiet for a little while. But if The Prophet is right, not for long: “The day is soon coming, Jerusalem, when your enemies of old will gather together and say, ‘We have thrown off the yoke of our king; now let us oppress the people of the city, as we did before. For we have not forgotten the old times, nor our enmity toward the people of Jerusalem.’ And when the Lord closes the heavens once again, and the land will be parched, there will be wars and rumors of wars, until He takes pity on the people and opens the heavens anew.”

Oh great. More drought.



  1. Hiya FAR.

    As usual you make it sound so real. I was thinking of how it will be with the way modern houses are built and the less use of electricity. Houses back in the 1800's were built a certain way to max out on natural cooling. I think people in modern houses will be doing a lot of suffering without electricity.

    I saw you had to bring some work home. Remember to slack when possible.

  2. Hey Far! Excellent, as always! Gee, that isn't a rainbow in the back yard when the chickens leave? ha! Been thinking about getting chickens myself, so maybe this industry won't last, but what about those 8 million New Yorkers? Won't they want some Kentucky Fried?

    Mortgage moratorium? What in the hell is that? Hope you're right about that, or a lot of people might be on the move, oh, oh, I don't like where I'm going with that!

    I'll be back..

    Thanks yooper

  3. Ok Far, I'm back. Mortgage moratorium? It wasn't long ago I read that 1/3 of all "homeowners" own their property outright. It's also my understanding, that banks will sell homes and get what they can to pay off their debts. That is how the system works. Buyers agree to this concept (if they understand it), when they sign on the dotted line.

    The Great Depression, was a real estate bubble that collapsed...This is something that not many people realize, oh, except those that went through it. That is their main message.

    Yup, people will be moving in with others alright. In homes that are already paid for or where mortgages payments are still being met.

    Thanks, yooper

  4. Far, I've actually been thinking about family consolidation for some time. I believe that it will be coming in a big way. Real estate prices may be dropping but credit is harder to get. And ordinary incomes will never yield the kind of 2 cars and a home result that it did years ago.

    Fiction is meeting reality, Far. Nice job.

  5. Hey folks!

    FM, I have also considered house design and have some thoughts about it. You can't retrofit high ceilings in a newer house, nor turn the house to use prevailing winds to air out the place — but convection (hot air rises) can be used so the hot air creates the circulation needed to cool the house easily enough.

    Yooper, it may be that our chickens are gone sooner (and I won't complain) — but NYC and other large urban areas had plenty of backyard gardens and chickens "back in the day." The big drawback for some people will be that they'll have to "dress" the chicken themselves… but IMO, it's a more honest way to eat meat anyway. :-)

    I think the banks will find it in their own best interest (ahem) to support a moratorium — or even implement it themselves. The choices are to let defaulting lendees live in "their own house" in hopes that they can start paying again someday, or lose the entire property to squatters or looters (and be on the hook for property taxes etc).

    Boran, consolidation is coming for sure. When energy seemed unlimited, nobody had to care about anyone else and everyone could be an island of sorts. As per-capita energy availability drops, people will find they really do need each other…


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