Two Pollyanna's Pt. 1greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
POLLYANNAs A and B
In the discussion of Y2K, there are not one type of Pollyanna but two. The first, or Type A Pollyanna is the person who has some awareness of Y2K but believes that it will be "no big deal" or "just a bump in the road". Because "there are so many people working on it, how could they possibly not fix it in time" after all, "how much trouble can it be to fix two little digits?" And arguments such as this are where they take refuge. Any attempt to change their minds is greeted as just "more Gloom-n-Doom talk." These folks have been soundly thrashed and roundly flamed in the various threads here and on other websites. Whether the thrashings and flaming have been either effective or justified is not the point of this thread. The point of this thread is to identify another type of Polyanna, that of Pollyanna Type B (as in Bug-Out). This type of Pollyanna can be identified by their Y2K planning. These are the aware people whose sole Y2K Contingency Plan consists of "If it REALLY hits the fan, my family and I will just go out to the country." The Type B Pollyanna has 2 sub-types, denoted by the subscripts "R" and "W". We will be dealing with the "R" sub-type in this post. The "R" sub-type believes that he or she can, at a moments notice, pack up the family in the car, take an hour or twos ride from their urban home, select (apparently at random) a farm, knock on the door, and indicate that the family is hungry and would like something to eat and shelter for an undecided time, in return for which they would be willing (one hopes) to work. He or she further believes that the farmer in question will take them in, provide food from the pantry, and beds for them and the rest of the family. Lets critically examine the assumptions at work here:
1) the assumed ability to travel 1 - 3 hours and be in a rural, farming area 2) the assumed ability of the farmer to provide for more than himself and family on no notice at all 3) the assumed "plenty" on a modern farm 4) the assumed positive welcome from the farmer 5) the assumed availability of shelter at the farm 6) the assumed availability of work at the farm in which to "pay" for the food and shelter 7) the assumed ability of the "R" sub-type and family members to do useful work for the farmer 8) the assumed ability to not wear out ones welcome before the crisis has passed
The initial assumption is probably the least dangerous one in the list but is never the less an assumption. There is no guarantee that unlimited travel will be allowed if TSHTF (The S**t Hits The Fan), there is no guarantee that the sub-type "R" will recognize TSH(ing)TF in time to evacuate the urban homestead, and there is no guarantee that the sub-type "R" will have the vehicle, fuel, etc. available as needed to effect the evacuation as planned. There is no guarantee that a suitably agricultural area is within the expected driving distance.
We will deal with the second and third assumptions together since they are intertwined so closely. These are the assumed plenty on the modern farm and the assumed ability of the farmer to provide for more than himself and family on little or no notice. It would appear that the sub-type "R" has a picture of the American (and Canadian) farms which was frozen in 1948-1955, and conforms to the "Lassie" farm in which Walter Brennan, June Lockheart and Billy Muny (or a predecessor, or was that a different show? Whatever) live in a small to medium size house, with a barn out back, a garden of undisclosed but gargantuan proportions as it provides for them all, and anyone they wish to help. This view may have been only a small stretch in the 1950s, when the gardens on many farms did provide a large portion of the food needs for the average farm; but is woefully out of touch with the current situation on most modern, 1990s farms. The randomly selected farmer may not be able to assist the sub-type "R" for any of a number of reasons, but most notably that he doesnt have enough for his own family. The average farm family today gets its food the same place you and I do; The A & P, Foodsaver, Krogers, or SuperK. Nowadays, the average farm spouse and or farmer, also works in town, to make enough money to keep the farm in diesel, seed, and dinners. The time and ability to can and preserve enough to last through to the next harvest just isnt there for the average farm family. Not only is the preservation time not there, the average farm family doesnt have the roughly 2.5 A garden required to supply the food for preservation. The image of plenty on a farm is roughly as dated as Poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and a typical virgin bride (though, this last is beginning to turn around). I am sure that some of you are thinking, "What about the produce the farmer raises. Im a customer here in the city. If I move to the farm this just brings me closer to the source, and the farmer closer to his market, doesnt it?" Well, not exactly. The image of the "truck" farm, raising a large number of very different crops is equally dated. I am sure that if you came and knocked on Don Feusss door he would be more than glad to share in what he raises but you will get VERY tired of cabbage VERY quickly. Fred Zsweivel might be happy to help you out but you really dont have a lot of uses for sunflowers and soy beans. The typical farm nowadays raises 1 or maybe 2 main crops and thats about the story. Ed Manion, on the other hand, raises oats, corn, general grasses and maybe a little wheat on his farm, but it all goes, along with the purchased feed to feed his cows for the milk. And do NOT assume that the corn is anything you are used to as he refers to it more often as silage or insilage than as corn. Picking an ear of this apparently abundant resource as you pass through farm country would not be a great idea as the kernels are either non-existent or are roughly the size of dimes with the same consistency and edibility. And if Ed were to offer you his milk you would discover that, at the farm, milk is not really fit for human consumption, as it has not been pasteurized. Granted, you get to skim the cream off yourself, but do you want to risk milk fever or one of several other diseases in raw milk? And, no, the farmer does not typically have the equipment to pasteurize the milk on the premises. And while Ed may have a hundred head of cattle on his farm and be milking 60 or so at any one time (Why the difference? Ask a farmer about "Freshening" a cow), he has no meat cattle except for the one bull he keeps "on staff" as it were, to help pay for the visits from the vet, with his lo-o-o-o-ng, blunt needle, and to do the job himself if hes of a mind. Ed anfd his wife buy their meat the same place we all do, at the Krogers. So much for the "plenty" on a modern farm. If the farmer hasnt been Y2K sensitized and started his own food stocking plan, he too will be in the same boat as the sub-type "R" who knocks on his door. Even if the farmer has put aside more than his family will need for the coming year, the sub-type "R" refugee will only be really welcome under one very narrow scenario (with a couple exceptions well get to a bit later), and that is, if the panic hits in the fall of 1999, particularly in late August, mid-September or early October. This is when the harvest, of whatever crop the farmer has put in will be gotten in (obviously excluding things such as early beans and peas, early corn, etc.). At this time, even the most unskilled hands (or is it backs?) are going to, perhaps, be welcome. There is always room for a hand when the haying season begins! Well, for the most part this is true though there are a LOT of no-touch haying systems in use now. Any other time things may get a bit dicey, particularly if this particular sub-type "R" refugee is the 50 or 60th one the farmer has seen in a few weeks, and the first one after a particularly unruly and impolite person has had to be run off with a shotgun for not understanding the word "no". The fifth assumption, that of room or shelter at the farm for a working boarder is also extremely difficult to support. The typical farm, with one hired hand, has no more space for an additional family than does the typical house in the city, unless one expects to live in the barn, sleeping on hay bales and washing up under the hose in with the cattle, if such are present, or simply downstairs in the barn. This will understandably get a bit old in a real hurry, particularly depending on where the sub-type "R" s wife and daughter are in their cycles. There are really no extra sleeping and or living quarters on a farm today. And if there were, the farmers kids from the city will fill them up very quickly. The sixth and seventh assumptions can probably be restated as the assumed ability of the sub-type "R" to do useful, available work in order to pay for the food and shelter. Buried in here is, unfortunately, an implicit counter assumption, which is that the sub-type "R" will not be carrying the appropriate coin to pay for the food or shelter. The sub-type "R" may assume that gold, or silver will be acceptable to buy a long term place but this will in more probability not be the case. Work will be the coin in which food and shelter will be paid for. The ability to do useful work and the presence of the need for this is not by any means guaranteed. Simply having a useful skill like welding, does not guarantee the ability to pay in this coin, if the farmer doesnt need anything welded today. The typical work will be of the heavy labor type and or of the "mucking out stalls" type. Are you sure that your 15 or 16 year old can handle the shoveling of manure (sh*t by any other name is still sh*t, maybe mixed with some straw, but still s**t)? The eighth assumption may be the most difficult, as the second question out of the farmers wifes mouth (to himn) will be "How long are they staying?" His inability to provide a good enough answer (dont even think that any answer he provides will be good enough. Were dealing with a wife here, and, as I got one a dem, I KNOW!) will mean that it will be an early topic of discussion between the farmer and the sub-type "R". How that discussion will go is anyones guess.
In conclusion, these are the reasons there have been some of us who have been less than encouraging of the "Ill just go out to the country" posters. We were not trying to say that the country folk were going to be "armed and dangerous" or "inhospitable" its just that we have a few problems with the assumptions. Now, while some of you who are currently living on farms and want to take issue with any of MY assumptions are steaming on your way up to the top of the blood pressure charts, let me say that there are some fairly large generalizations in here, but the basic tenor is terribly accurate. My next post, "Two Pollyannas Part II" will deal with the Type B Sub-type "W" or Wilderness Pollyanna
-- Chuck a Night Driver (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 24, 1998
You stated it very well Chuck. How many farms today raise a garden or chickens. Very few I can tell you for sure.
Ed from Kansas
-- Ed Stevens (email@example.com), October 24, 1998.
Chuck, you need to take some valium.
-- Believer (OYe@littlefaith.com), October 24, 1998.
You are so right. I farm for a living in the midwest, and get a big laugh when people mention about coming out to the country to look for food. We have bins full of corn (non-food grade) and soybeans, but that is it. Livestock is practically non-existant. I live in the country and if TSHTF tomorrow, I don't know what I would do for food. Other than the corn and soybeans, it doesn't exist here at present, unless you want to dine on the neighbor's dog.
-- farmer (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 24, 1998.
Then it isn't true that they always offer to let the traveling salesman sleep out back in the barn with their daughter, Daisy Mae?
-- red (email@example.com), October 24, 1998.
Great post Chuck. I get tired of the "city people's" stereotype that all farmers wear bib overalls, and raise chickens, ducks, cows, corn, pigs, horses, etc. Just look in any children's book about the farm and it will paint this picture. This is the 1990s not the 1950s. The song "Old MacDonald" needs to be updated.
-- Louise (~~~~~@~~~~.~~~), October 24, 1998.
That makes a lot of sense. So I think I will skip that plan, (A) and go with plan B. In plan B, I will move in with the generator manufacturer's family. That way we will always have lots of spare electric power. Hee Hee
-- Uncle Deedah (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 24, 1998.
Okay, now I've taken time to think this through. Chuck accurately described how we farm today. However let's consider how farming may change after y2k. We currently farm the same amount of land that 6 different families farmed in the 1930s. If we have to go back to the old way of farming, there may be a need for additional people to work the land. Don't expect us to live in communes though. We are fiercely independent around here. I couldn't stand to live around a bunch of people.
-- Louise (~~~~~@~~~~.~~~), October 24, 1998.
Teh manpower (person power and I mean ALL persons over the age of 5) will be an interesting study. this is something that will require a rollover time and it will not happen overnight.
but you are correct in that the farmers will need more hands, its just that they may mnot be able to support them until the SECOND or THIRD season. OUCH!
-- Chuck a Night Driver (email@example.com), October 25, 1998.
What about the vineyards. I'm not thinking about my thunderbird and ripple but rather grape juice for communion at all the churches. Grapes are natures own natural laxative but the thought of y2k breakdowns is also. I need the wine for my heart and if Medicare dosn't get those checks to my local liquor store.......
-- cabernet sauvignon (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 25, 1998.
I told my wife don't drink too much new years eve, cause I wanna get up early to beat the rush. Who will watch the kids? she says...(she's always thinkin ahead) They have goats and stuff says I.. Have you found a place to stay yet? Not really, but people in the country are always putting other people up...seen it in the movies,remember? What about food? Honey.... think for a minute.. We're going where they make food. We'll even be able to eliminate the middle man. You are something mister.... You know what I'd like to do? How about if we rent some movies like Old Yeller...Walton's mountain..you know,to get in the mood. Don't forget Little house on the prairie... Going to the country where the water taste like wine.. Gonna jump in the river, stay drunk all the time... Canned Heat '68 19,that is
-- Type R (Sortaplannin@polly.anna), October 26, 1998.
Pretty good Chuck. I do know of a few farms back in the hills that still do the whole canning and preserving thing, but very few. And a stranger surely won't be welcome in a time of severe troubles. (I might be, but I have known these folks for about 40 years.) The idea of running to the country is not very smart - it would take years of preparation. I never have understood why people who expect some variation of TSHTF don't start building greenhouses.... a hydroponic greenhouse can produce 10 to 20 times as much as the same acreage under normal farming methods.
-- Paul Davis (email@example.com), October 27, 1998.
Up she goes.
-- Bingo1 (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 09, 1999.