So I'm back now to reading a book or so a day… Yesterday I read much of The Contrary Farmer which in its introduction points out a very common misconception. We're always told that large farms are more efficient than small farms… These comparisons usually put a 50 acre farm up against a 1500+ acre farm. However, what they don't compare is farms under three acres in size. These miniature farms are generally an order of magnitude more efficient and can be highly profitable. For example, they cite some friends of theirs that are grossing $250,000+ annually per acre purely off of salad.
I'm also currently reading The Food Revolution, which covers the larger global environmental effect that different diets have. It points out that when we run out of oil, we always have solar, wind, hydrogen, and other sources of power. However, when we run out of water, we're pretty much screwed. They then quote some numbers on how much water is required to produce a pound of food — lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, wheat, etc. all take 25 gallons or less. On the other hand, producing a pound of beef takes about 5000 gallons of water according to the U of California, about 2500 gallons according to the Water Education Foundation and Michigan State U, or, according to the Cattlemen's Beef Association, about 500 gallons. So, no matter who's figures you use, it's a lot of water down the drain…
Anyway, I'm keeping my eyes open for an old pickup truck… I can't imagine that we won't desperately need one very soon. When I was a kid, my parents bought a new 3/4 ton Jeep J-20 truck to use as our farm vehicle. The thing was indestructable, and would literally go through anything when you locked it into the “emergency” 4×4 mode.
I'll rewind a little and tell you who my father was. He was a bodybuilder (he even knew and worked out with Schwarzenegger) and held the Western Canadian wrestling title while in University, until leaving to join the military. So he was a very very big guy. Since most of you know that my younger brother (who some of you have met at a BBQ) is the current world arm wresting champion in the 220-pound category, and competed in last year's Arnold Classic, that should be no surprise.
Anyway, one day before school, my parents got in a big fight about something or other and my mother ran out the door and jumped into the truck. She fired it up and my father ran out after her a few seconds later. When he got to the truck (which I again emphasize is a BIG 3/4 ton truck, not some dinky little pickup), she was already backing out of the driveway. With one arm he reached out, grabbed the steel door of the truck, tore it clean off (using just one arm) and flung it across the yard.
Suffice it to say that my mother still drove away! (And it made quite an impression on my brother and I; it's one of the few childhood events I can remember clearly). Then we missed the school bus, and my father was going to drive us in to school. Half way there I realized I'd forgotten something, but instead of either making me go to school without it, or going back to get it, I just got grabbed by the neck and thrown out of the moving car. I walked the rest of the way to school.
The end result of that was spending the day getting teased by the other students at school for the ligature marks around my neck. “Ha ha, you got beat up by your dad!” They all thought it was very funny. Kids are weird.