Clicking on any of the pictures will open them at full size in the browser window, which means you will have to use the 'back' button to return to the main pages, whereas clicking to the left or right of any picture will open them in a new window, if you fancy a closer look at any of the piccies we've posted! We've included a Google Earth satelite picture of our plots and this years planting plan at the bottom of the page, next to each other. If you choose the Earth view on the satelite image you can rotate the image until it is lined up with the planting plan, then use the arrows in the plan to scroll from Plot 2 to Plot 1.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Random 'Energy Descent / Post Peak Oil' Living thoughts and plot progress!

Well, with only tomorrow left of our hols, we've made some progress on the plots, but with the wet, cold and windy weather of the past week, we've not quite done as much as we'd like, however, plenty of research / reading / reskilling has been taking place as I contemplate the possible realities of life after Peak Oil and living in a world which is sufferring Energy Descent!

(For those who arent yet aware of the possibile problems that could be facing us all in the next few years, take a look at some of the links in the Low Imact Living section (on the right of the screen), or take a look at these links for a bit of basic info.......  Doom and Gloom Viewpoint?  Post peak living primer.  Post peak living info.  Peak Oil info - Wikipedia

 So, what does it all mean? Basically we've reached (or will soon reach) the point where the amount of Oil we can produce has peaked, although there is still lots of oil in the ground it is going to become more difficult and expensive to extract it (as most of the easy to extract reserves have already been used), yet demand for oil is still rising. This will result in prices getting higher and higher, and a shortfall of the production of oil in relation to its demand, which will push prices even higher.

Our industrialised society relies exclusively on oil to work, we need the fertilizers (which are produced from oil) to grow our food, we need the petrol and diesel to travel to our places of work and for the supermarkets to distribute the food throughout the Uk (typically most Uk Supermarkets have food reserves for only a day or two's supply, if they cant resupply, then they will have empty shelves!), if prices rise for oil, so will everything else, until it reaches a point that we cant afford it and cant travel any longer, we cant afford the prices of basic foods and society is then in danger of falling apart (there have already been food riots in many countries)

You may think that emerging technologies will come online in a manner to reduce our dependance on oil and allow life to continue as it has for the past 40 years or so, but in order to be effective, they need to be coming online NOW, new power stations can take 5 to 20 years to come online (and although they would provide electricity, they wouldnt provide enough in order for us all to have an economically affordable personal transport system) and there are other factors that may prevent them ever becoming the solution to the problem of a world with less / overly expensive oil! (There are problems with the availability of the minerals that are required in order to produce viable electric cars, there isnt enough to allow us to relace all the petrol and diesel cars in the world with electric versions, and how quickly would we be able to produce them anyway?)

There are things we can do, ranging from going totally 'off grid' for all your energy / water / fuel supplies (which needs approx 3 to 5 acres of land per family / commmunity unit) through to less drastic measures such as those advocated by the Transition Town movements. ( ), ( ), who are looking locally at reskilling, building an infrastructure that looks at food and fuel supplies in a world where 10 miles is about as far as you could travel in a day and various other aspects of living in an Energy Descent world.

This is a subject that interests me, not only in relation to how society would fare (would it survive or collapse?), but also in relation to what skills we would need to live in a world where we had to produce the majority of our food, goods, services and fuel locally! Assuming you are able to find a way to provide your home with fresh water (rainwater harvesting and filtration system perhaps?), heating and cooking fuel (woodburning stove with back burenr to rpovide hot water and central heating) and grow enough food to feed yourselves with, then there are a myriad of other things that you need to consider!

Even if you just take a few minutes to look around your kitchen, how many of the things that we use daily could you provide for yourself? Salt? Sugar? Vinegar? Cooking Oil? Tea? Coffee? Milk?

We may know where many of these things come from (such as Salt from mines or from evaporating sea water), but would you be able to source them locally, or even make something that you could trade with others for?

What about those things you need to preserve your crops to allow you to eat them in the winter and spring? Do you know how to make vinegar, how to smoke food, can your surplus crops, how to salt meat (or even where to get the salt from?)

What about something as simple as yeast (for making bread and fermenting excess crops into alcohol - Peak Oil may mean energy descent, but it doesnt mean we need to do without everything thats fun, lol), would you know how to capture wild yeast and cultivate it to bake your own bread?

What about vegetable oil? We're too far north here for olive trees, and a lot of the things we cook need oil, where would you get it from? How about rendering down pig fat for making your own Lard? Or extracting useful vegetable oil from seeds? What about clothing?

Anyhows, if Ive got you thinking, then thats what this post is about, if we start finding out as much as we can now, then when the energy descent begins we should be able to do more for ourselves and pass that knowledge on to others who dont know as much!

A lot of this thinking was prompted by a visit to the Trafford Eco House blog site, a normal family home thats looking at doing what they can to reduce their reliance on oil and fossil fuels, some great ideas (such as their aquaponics system, raising fish in a polytunnel, fish waste feeds bacteria who convert it into plant foods, who then filter the water for the fish, definitely worth a look!)

Another site worth a look, is this one, 3 acres of wasteland in America produces 450000kilos of food and 10000 fish a year, perhaps a way for local communities to feed themselves?

Anyhows, we got to the plot today, planted out the thinnings of Lavender from the seedlings we planted in pots (next to the polytunnel last year) around the edges of the plum tree bed, I pruned the grapevine and we started to bring some fresh bark chips up to the plot to relay the paths, hopefully we should (weather permitting) be able to get the rest of the paths barked up tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!


Andy Davies said...

This is quite an interesting blog for people interested in Aquaponics

He's a guy in Malaysia(?) growing tilapia and veg, post very regularly too.

Mrs Dobby said...

Thanks for the link Andy, Im getting more interested in this type of system, just not sure I have the room at home, and not sure whether I'd be allowed to put a polytunnel with a system in it on the plot (and whether I could afford to do so anytime soon), but I am seriously thinking of trying something in the near future!

Andy Davies said...

Space is always a challenge!

I have wondered about the barrel type aquaponics but wonder whether the fish really have enough room.

Anyway I've got to get a greenhouse before I can play (oh and there's three new raised beds to be built!


Mrs Dobby said...

Lol, have you tried Freecycle and Friday ads? We've had free greenhouses from them both, deffo worth a go! I'd love another greenhouse, but hubby says 3 (and a plastic tent type polytunnel and 2 coldframe thingys) is enough, spoilsport! lol!

JBMDriver said...

I have suffered thru dreams about this very thing happening in our lifetime!! I have been making plans and learning new skills to prepare for this awful thing to happen and My family will be able to get thru this without losing our minds and/or lives because of it! Thanks for bringing it to the forefront of our minds in time for us to do something to be safe!!