Thursday, February 11, 2016

Survival Slack

Sloth is one of the seven deadly sins, yet God had to call His people to keep the Sabbath over and over again.  One of the reasons that Judah was exiled to Babylonian captivity was they had failed to keep the Sabbath (Jeremiah 17).  The land itself was supposed to be left fallow every seventh year. 

Like most everyone these days, it seems, preppers and survivalist types are very busy.  They are constantly searching for new gadgets and equipment, new techniques and skills.  Nothing wrong with that.  If, however, we are ever thrown into a true survival situation, the first rule should be to expend as little energy of any kind as possible. 

I like to go walking around and exploring in the woods and hills, but I am well-fed and have the shelves stacked with food.  I make unnecessary trips with motor vehicles for fun.  I cut my grass more often than needed.  I think nothing of wasting excess energy in any task.  Heat, in the form of calories consumed in food, is life. 

We normally do not give this much thought because we have cheap, high-calorie food constantly and conveniently accessible to us at all times.  Imagine, however, that you were forced to forage as a hunter-gatherer or that you had to subsist on what you could grow in your garden?  The harder a person works the more calories he burns.  The colder we are the more calories we burn just sitting, trying to keep alive.  In a survival situation, for a person to continue living and functioning, that expended energy must be replaced.   

The less one expends, the less needs to be replaced.  Snaring, trapping, and fishing use less energy than active hunting and agricultural work.  Maintaining permaculture plants such as fruit trees, vines, and brambles is less energy intensive – most of the time – than growing wheat or oats by hand.  Always consider the caloric return-on-investment. 

Sometimes the investment of a lot of energy in the near term produces a lot of consumable calories in the future.   Potatoes are more calorically dense than tomatoes, but tomatoes offer some nutrients at higher levels than potatoes. Plus tomatoes produce, often more heavily, over a longer period of time.  The excess is easily preserved by canning even without a pressure cooker. 

When I was growing up, we grew most of our own food.  We grew lots of potatoes, quite a bit of corn, tomatoes, beets, turnips, onions, beans, and cucumbers.  Sweet corn, tomatoes, beans, beet pickles and cucumber pickles were all canned and preserved.  Almost all the hillbillies I knew preferred pork to beef, in part, I think, because hogs are more efficient feeders and converters and produce so much essential, highly prized fat.  A hog or two, along with a milk cow or two, a few chickens, and a well-maintained orchard made a well-to-do hillbilly. 

The point is, especially in times and places where food may be more difficult to obtain, take it easy. 
Don’t work harder than necessary. 
Don’t expend more energy than your efforts can produce. 
Focus on obtaining food that is calorie and nutrient dense. 
Fire saves calories.  Fire is your friend. 
Flailing away with an axe will make you warm but burns a lot of taters.
You’ll get plenty of exercise just getting by.
Go to bed when it is dark. 
Learn to float. 
Learn to run limb and jug lines, set snares, and rig traps and gums. 
Squirrel and rabbit hunting are fun.  If that’s your plan, though, you will likely starve long-term.


1 comment:

  1. Good advice. You have been fortunate to have had the experience of growing your own food.

    For us, it's still a concept.

    "We normally do not give this much thought because we have cheap, high-calorie food constantly and conveniently accessible to us at all times."

    Maybe them lazy hillbillies were just being conservatives.

    So much of our "quality of life" is simply scurrying around and producing waste heat and "wealth" is measured as energy consumption. One reason being it is relatively easy to measure compared against the intangibles that also contribute to "quality of life".