Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Read any good books lately?

What have you been reading lately?  I went through a long period during which I was not reading much.  Lately though I’ve been reading quite a bit.  Recently I’ve read, “The Long Emergency” by James Kunstler, “Folks, This Ain’t Normal” by Joel Salatin, and “The Transition Handbook” by Rob Hopkins.

“The Long Emergency” is a great book about Peak Oil and Climate Change and the effects that they may have on our culture and way of life.  A great read.  Extremely well written.  Mostly I am sympathetic to it’s ideas.  Kunstler asserts that the coming crisis caused by the end of cheap oil and the beginning effects of climate change will result in a long emergency as America changes from a global, oil based economy to a much smaller and much more local society.  He argues that transportation, agriculture, food distribution, and many other American institutions will all undergo major changes.  We will no longer be able to run out to the supermarket for tomatoes shipped from Mexico.  We will no longer be able to buy cheap Chinese gadgets at Wal-Mart.  Large scale industrial agriculture, which depends on oil driven machinery, oil based fertilizer and pesticides, and world-wide distribution will grind to a halt.  All of this will result in a radical restructuring of our society on a smaller, more local scale.  Communities will have to grow their own food.  Communities will have to rely on their own resources to produce the products they need.  On the whole, the book is somewhat depressing and frankly rather frightening in its implications.

“The Transition Handbook” is a guide and vision into what smaller, more local, more resilient communities might look like.  In Europe, and to a lesser extent in areas of the U.S., communities are organizing themselves around the principles of cooperation and self-reliance.  The book explores what such a community might look like and how they can be organized before climate change and peak oil force us into create those communities.  It is a hopeful and insightful book.

“Folks, This Ain’t Normal” is a wandering piece of prose written by small scale farmer Joel Salatin.  In it, he discusses everything from child rearing to slaughtering hogs.  His model for raising beef, pork, and poultry on pasture is famous in the small farming community.  His is a model many of us aspire to.  A frugal, agrarian lifestyle is what we are looking for on our farm too.

All three of these books are a challenge to my world view.  They have encouraged me to think outside of the box.  They also help reaffirm that we are doing something really important here on the farm and that we are on the right track.  We love our life here at the farm and believe in what we are doing, but it is always nice to be reminded of that fact.

What have you read lately?  Anything interesting?  Anything challenging?  Anything disturbing?  A little discomfort when reading a book that challenges your world view can be a good thing.

Today was kind of a moody, mopey day.  Tomorrow on “family work day” we are going to try to wrap up the project to bring electricity to the barn.  Wish us luck.


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