Saturday, April 23, 2011


It's near impossible to be involved in the homesteading or local food culture and not be aware of the topic of Peak Oil. It's something I never really talk about on this blog, as Cold Antler Farm isn't a post-oil survivalist website. However, the more I read about energy issues the happier I am to have chickens, gardens, and a wood stove....

I am very interested in what you think. Do you think Peak Oil is fact or fiction? Is it something you and your family base any decisions on? Do you think the majority of the homesteading community came into small-farming because of the worry about peak oil, food supply, and energy? Or do you think the current trends in DIY food are more about what's on the cover of Martha Stewart Living? A lot of questions but I am curious what all of you think.


Blogger small farm girl said...

My thought on Peak Oil is...Could it happen? Yes! Will it happen? I don't know. Will I be ready if it dose? Absolutely!

April 23, 2011 at 6:35 PM  
Blogger MollyKnits said...

I believe we are in the process of peak oil at this moment. The demand for oil is increasing exponentially, as the third world develops. Whether we want to face facts or not, oil will run out sooner or latter. Peak oil has a lot to do with my desire to live more locally and sustainably. I have a ways to go, but I will have my farm soon.

In addition, I have a powerful desire to live more simply. I really want activities and things in my life that matter. I don't want to be a mindless consumer drone buying cheap plastic crap made in China because it is there. I think there is something powerfully anti-human in our culture.

April 23, 2011 at 6:44 PM  
Blogger Aila said...

I think peak oil is a reality, but I don't think it's going to be the doomsday scenario that lots of the "peak oil crowd" believe is coming. I think things will just gradually start getting more expensive.

I do think about self-sufficiency quite a bit, and wish that I had more skills along those lines. I'm taking baby steps though, (and barring a nuclear holocaust or WWIII in the next 10 years) I think I'll be significantly more self-reliant and sufficient by the time peak oil becomes a more pressing issue.

Peak oil or not, my big goal is to regain some of the craftsman skills that modern generations have lost to the factory system. I figure, if I can do just that much and peak oil does turn into the disaster people have been predicting, then I'll be a little more ready. Those are my 2 cents. (^:

April 23, 2011 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

We are awash in oil. Will our government let oil companies tap into it? Apparently not. My main focus is to eat healthy food, and the best way to do that is to raise it myself. It tastes better, is fresh and more nutritious, and that's how I was raised. This is my first year for chickens, and I'm enjoying my ten birds. Still several weeks away from that first egg, but I'm looking forward to that.

April 23, 2011 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

I think some people get confused between peak oil and running out of oil. Peak oil is based on Hubbert's curve merely states that at some point (Hubbert predicted 1974) the amount of oil left in the ground will be less than what has been extracted to date and that the last drop of oil will never be extracted but that the cost to get the oil remaining in the ground will increase as the harder reach oil is all that is left.

The importance that oil played in society in 1900 will be comparable to the importance that oil will play in society in 2100.

People state that we have X number of years supply of fossil fuel at current consumption. But if consumption increase by 30% then the "X" must be reduced by 30%.

I highly recommend a book called the Long Descent.

April 23, 2011 at 7:35 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

I grow my own veggies, meat chickens, rabbits and turkeys because I want to know that my meat animals had a good life and weren't injected or fed hormones or antibiotics.
Whether we are at Peak Oil and on the verge of oil collapse isn't the point for me. I burn wood to avoid depending on oil for comfort. I also conserve energy when I can. Unfortunately, my boarding kennel is set up for oil and I'm not sure how to fix the problem. Since that is my source of income, that may be where I get dinged.

April 23, 2011 at 7:47 PM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 23, 2011 at 8:00 PM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

It's a fact. Oil is a finite resource. It seems from the indicators that we have peaked already. It also seems highly likely that, not only will the economy NOT every "recover" to the previous levels of overshoot, but will instead continue to decline. Peak oil will ensure that because every time demand goes up, so will price, exerting a damper on economic growth.

However, I also think that's a good thing. We have gone so far past a sustainable lifestyle that the evidence all around us in terms of devastation of the environment is absolutely horrific. The sooner the economy collapses and people learn to live more frugally, the better.

April 23, 2011 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I rely on oil too. Not only for the truck and my getting-around, but for heat for the house and water. Over the years, as I am able, I would like to move towards less need of it, mostly because I think it will become too expensive to afford. So I have two woodstoves, and plans to move to solar hot water and get a combo wood/oil stove for the basement. One simple change a year, as I can afford it.

Do you mean The Long Emergency, CJ?

April 23, 2011 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

Also, there's a lot of absolute nonsense going around that suggests the US "has all we need" if only we could "drill, baby, drill".

Nothing could be further from the truth. At current levels of use, I think the available untapped oil in the US would last a couple-three years at most. US consumers use 21 million barrels a DAY.

April 23, 2011 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

I think we're at or probably just past peak oil. I believe it's real, but as Aila said, the dire predictions of an imminent "crash" or TEOTWAWKI are overblown. It's important to understand that peak oil means we've gone through half the world's supply and most of the high-quality, easy-to-access oil to boot. From here on, the oil that's extracted is harder to get to, lower quality (needs more refining)and under greater demand as China and India come online. So the price of oil rises and all the other stuff - especially food - rises as well. When it gets too expensive, it will force change in the way we live (finally!). That will stretch the remaining supply - but still it will be a bumpy ride. I concentrate on local food, growing my own, and permaculture as best I can in part because of peak oil but also due to climate change and other environmental concerns, food safety, etc. Personally, I think we may see $6 gas sometime this year. But Europe has lived with higher gas prices than that for years. The thing that scares me the most is that here in the US we have the most corporate-controlled, dysfunctional government money can buy. We really need adults in Washington to deal with the parts of this that only government can handle, but I'm not at all hopeful of that anytime soon. Sigh.

April 23, 2011 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

Wish I could have chickens but I know no one who could chicken sit when I have to leave town. And I'd love to have a wood stove but I wouldn't want it down cellar, and if it's upstairs - because heat rises, I'd be afraid the pipes downstairs would freeze in the winter. Kind of a dilemma.

April 23, 2011 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

RW: I totally agree with you.

Kathy P: there are wood stoves that replace your current oil furnace when you are there to stoke it with wood, and when you are gone, it returns to oil as a backup. So you could keep your house as-is but get wood heat when you can use it. Costs about 3k though.

You don't have neighbors that would feed your chickens? I live alone, but have friends and neighbors who watch my animals when I am gone. They also make automatic feeders, doors, and waterer...not that you should do any of this stuff, just saying there are options if you wanted to look into them.

April 23, 2011 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Teresa H. @ Oak Tree Farm said...

I take the issues of finite natural resources, climate change and America funding/operating itself through increased, uncontrolled debt, pretty seriously. Our economic model is based on the need for sustained, exponential growth, and that growth is fueled by cheap & abundant finite natural resources (oil isn't the only resource on the decline - natural gas and coal are, as well). These factors have the potential to create a confluence of events that can become a perfect storm. What will ACTUALLY happen and HOW no one can predict absolutely. But, we do have many historical models of what happened to burgeoning populations that overshot their resources, and we can make some educated guesses of what "might" happen based on models and trends. These are very complex issues I am describing in simple terms here(because many people don't know about or understand the laws and limits of thermodynamics, though CJ addressed aspects of that in his post, dealing with the problems of Energy Return on Energy Input). Unfortunately, there are many unsustainable beliefs about what is possible. But the information anyone would need is definitely out there. This has been an area of interest of ours for almost 30 years, and we've spent a lot of time educating ourselves about these issues - primarily from sources of hard science, statistics and lengthy studies - pretty dry material, but worth the effort. It is not the ONLY reason my husband and I bought our farm, but it definitely influenced our decision-making process. This is a pretty hot-bed topic, Jenna, and I suspect it will generate a very robust exchange. I'm interested to see the responses.

April 23, 2011 at 8:42 PM  
Blogger Chai Chai said...

If the politicians ever allowed industry to begin to harvest the natural resources that this wonderful country has been blessed with energy would be cheap and highly available.

Google the Bakken Oil fields located in Montana. Huge deposits of oil and oil shale. Fracking will make this economical to extract. Fracking has already unleashed huge deposits of natural gas.

The U.S. has enormous deposits of coal, Alaska and the Ocean shores have vast quantities of oil just waiting to be drilled. The energy crisis is a political creation pure and simple.

Geologist are now postulating that fossil fuels are created via chemical reactions taking place in the mantle of the earths core and filtering up, hence old spent fields being slowly replenished. To me it makes more sense than 'mile' deep deposits of ancient plants or dinosaurs.

April 23, 2011 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

The Long Descent

April 23, 2011 at 9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fact: Finite by its definition means there is a limit. Oil=finite resource. I am a believer; you could even put me in the more "out there" category who believes we are at or very near the peak. It's why I want to live the way you do.

April 23, 2011 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Teresa H. @ Oak Tree Farm said...

Jenna~ There is a book, "The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the end of the Industrial Age" by John Michael Greer not to be confused with "The Long Emergency" by Kunstler, but I don't know which one CJ meant for sure, either.

April 23, 2011 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Teresa H. @ Oak Tree Farm said...

Thanks, CJ - Haven't read that one yet!

April 23, 2011 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger Chai Chai said...

The US easily has the resources to convert to a Natural Gas economy, including for vehicular traffic.

Parts of the US (Nebraska, Colorado) already have infrastructure to support commercial and private vehicles with adapted filling stations.


Fossil fuels are poorly named.

April 23, 2011 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

This is my second go round at what was the back to the earth movement in the 1980s. Then I was into grinding my own wheat, raising chickens and rabbits and a garden with fruit trees, but life got in the way and those dreams got set aside.

So now I face the “new” Homestead movement with great excitement. I have been raising the chickens and rabbits and have the garden going in a suburban area but now will be selling to move to a very rural area across country and try to figure out a way to make it work.

I do feel an urgency to get settled and be self sufficient. I am very concerned about the oil situation and the economy and the big corporate lack of concern about the planet. It’s all about the all mighty buck rather than doing what is right. And that goes for the politicians as well.

I think that the more self sufficient you become the less you are concerned with all of the crap going on in the world.

April 23, 2011 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

While peak oil is something that's hard to fathom when you've grown up in a consumerist society, I think it is something always on the back of homesteader's minds. I look at everything now with an eye on if it can be recycled, needs to be recycled, should be converted to glass or's sad that more folks aren't in that mindset, because the more people that aren't, the faster the concept of peak oil becomes a reality. Only by continuing to spread our ideas do we have a chance of retarding the waste.

April 23, 2011 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger Chai Chai said...

One thing the survivors of the depression mostly have (had) in common was a cynical eye towards recycling. In the Great Depression recycling would have been considered a luxury, something only the rich could afford. During the Great Depression all items were repurposed. Burlap bags became patches for clothing. Empty bottles became new storage containers. Worn out shoes were repaired and worn again. Hay bale twine - reused. Table scraps fed pigs or chickens, even became compost. Paper? Fire starter. Very little was thrown away.

April 23, 2011 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger bethany said...

Really? Is this a representative sample? Anyone else want to chime in from the other side?

I think Peak Oil is about as likely a doomsday scenario as Y2K. That said, I fully embrace that prices for energy, food, etc should reflect their true cost, and I think we're seeing bits of that slowly emerging.

I'm a homesteader because I find joy and meaning in my lifestyle choices, not because I'm motivated by fear.

April 23, 2011 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Chai Chai said...

Links that debunk Peak Oil. These were two of the first five found on a basic Google search.

This one is biased but so is peak oil theory.

April 23, 2011 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Peak oil...

Martha Stewart...

I don't think either of these things motivate me. I believe in being a "good steward" of of all our resources but it is a learning process to learn the way it was before. I resist materialism and the feeling that someone "else" is controlling what I "think" I need.

I want to live debt free (as possible) and I regret that no one taught me this way of life before college. That motivates me.

I want to eat "real" food and be healthy. That motivates me.

I want my child to grow up knowing that eggs come from chickens and meat from animals. Not from the grocery store. I want sunshine and green grass as a heritage. That motivates me

The cost of living has already made life difficult. Whatever the reason. We afford one car. We afford minimal groceries. We afford a simple life style. Who knows when the bottom will fall out...

But fear doesn't motivate me. I believe any disaster is a possibility but I have faith in God, hope, friends, family, and moving towards a "homesteading" lifestyle I don't worry about Peak Oil or the latest trend.

April 23, 2011 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger Cat said...

Martha Stewart...haha!

While I take Peak Oil seriously to some extent, the driving force behind our family's efforts to simplify and become more self-sufficient is the joy that comes when eating something we grew (or using something we made).

April 23, 2011 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

My family first came to New York state around 1650, oil and electricity weren't used until Nicoli Tesla discovered alternating current in the 1800's. My family came to Arkansas just before the civil war, long before oil and electricity were available much less common.

We will survive without oil and electricity. We will go back to the way humans lived on this Earth for millions of years.

Listen to T. Boone Pickens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

April 23, 2011 at 11:04 PM  
Blogger Lorlee said...

Chai Chai -- I hope you would look closely at fracking. It has doubled the air pollution in Fort Worth and uses massive amounts of water.

Also oil shale has a low EROEI. There is a site which you might want to look at. Lots of geologists and oil guys who really know what is happening. Very balanced.

April 23, 2011 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger Sue Sullivan said...

I began suburban homesteading out of a compulsion I couldn't name in late 07. By the fall of 08, while trying to understand the economic headlines I was reading, I came across peak oil and peak debt as concepts and investigated them deeply.
I try to stay grounded in the fascination and deep satisfaction that becoming more self-sufficient brings, because that keeps me emotionally healthier, but those two concepts loom large in the background for me. I'm pretty sure we're at or near peak oil and within a year or three of peak debt and a currency crisis, though with any luck the system will have more resiliency in it than PO writers would have. I hope we have as gentle a descent to a smaller, more sustainable standard of living as possible.

April 23, 2011 at 11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I strongly suspect that Peak Oil is coming, if we're not there already - there's only so much oil, and since what we've taken is the easiest to get at, what's left is also going to be harder to access.

My views on the whole topic are pretty much this: we can do nothing, and if there's a peak-related decline or other issues, we're likely to be in trouble. But if we do something to prepare and bad things happen, then we're ready. If they don't, though, there's really not much lost. So being aware and working on ways to prepare make sense to me.

That said, a lot of what I do (or am trying to do) is because I think it's just the right thing to do and it works for me. I get something out of it in terms of being prepared, but it also goes way beyond that - for me, it feels important (necessary, even) to be moving towards a more sustainable life.

April 23, 2011 at 11:54 PM  
Blogger ZJACK said...

Peak oil is a myth. Forget all other forms of oil and look at shale oil. There are about 3 trillion (thats trillion like the deficit) known barrels of recoverable shale oil in the world. There are over one trillion barrels of recoverable shale oil in the United States. One trillion barrels will last the U.S. over 125 years if we do not use one drop from any other source of oil. Look it up in WIKIPEDIA. There are more important things to worry about than running out oil.

April 23, 2011 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger Dahlia ChanTang said...

Fact... And even if it isn't, we should be moving towards more sustainable and less polluting ways. Whichever ways things are going, we are drowning in oil and petrol by-products, and it cannot possibly be a good thing. Everything is made of plastic and disposable nowadays. It wasn't so long ago that we all actually thought it matter of fact that things should last.

April 24, 2011 at 12:24 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I hope folks aren't thinking from this post that CAF is about peak oil! I didn't even know much about it (it was just a buzzword) until this year. But I've made friends with people who wrote on it at length, there's a transition club (as in transitioning from oil to new resources) in Manchester and Greenwich with active meetings... it is on peoples minds here and I was curious if others are talking about it too.

Chai Chai, Have you seen the documentary "Collapse" it's on Netflix streaming, and that guy goes through everything you listed piece-by-piece. Very intriguing movie.

Cold Antler is about good food, personal goals, dreams, farming for the love of it, and a better quality of life (for me as I see it) - I don't plan on talking about this stuff often but it has made such a splash around here I wanted to know what you guys thought.

April 24, 2011 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

I don't know if we are at or beyond Peak Oil and I'm not sure I need to.
What I do know is agribusiness uses enormous amounts of oil in fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to produce crops. To pay for this, prices for "food" will increase greatly and actually beyond the means of a lot of people. Hungry people are desperate people and I think we will see an increase in violent crimes driven by hunger. In other words, those of us who have toiled to produce our own food will be preyed upon by those who haven't. In the Great Depression there was a moral compass that most people followed. There is a huge population of people 30 years and younger who do not have a moral compass.
Another thing that concerns me is how many of us can produce our animals food? I don't have enough cleared land to grow crops needed to feed my chickens and rabbits.

April 24, 2011 at 7:07 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I see that someone on your comments blog is writing about how wonderful natural gas is and how it's going to save us all.
I live in an area where fracking is going on I see the destruction of our state forests and farmland. Each fracking pad is at least five acres. Every tree is removed and the soil is removed for a gravel bed. It will take hundreds of years for anything to grow on these pads - even after they are "reclaimed." Our county's roadways are seriously damaged due to heavy truck traffic. World class trout fishing waterways have been polluted by either fracking fluid or drilling fluid. I'm seeing this firsthand. It's not a rumor or inflated truth by liberals/democrats/etc. There is NOTHING natural about natural gas.

April 24, 2011 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger ThiftedBliss said...

I believe that Peak Oil is happening right now. We will not run out of oil in our lifetime but oil will become more expensive as it becomes harder to extract. i am learning to grow my own food so I can have some food security as well as food not grown with GM seeds. I also am working on being more prepared for a time when perhaps either I or my husband may lose our jobs and will need to know how to live on much less.

Here is a link to an online course that explains a lot about our economy and where it might be headed. It is a course that is best done a day at a time so you have time to absorb and research.

April 24, 2011 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Westfarm Goat Mom said...

I most definitely believe in Peak Oil - and believe the world has already peaked in production. Without being too political here, I think our main reason for being involved in the Middle East has to do with oil supply more than anything.
Much of what I do around our farmstead has this in mind. Trying to become more self-sufficient all the time.

April 24, 2011 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Teresa H. @ Oak Tree Farm said...

Someone mentioned that they don't farm based on fear. May I point out that, simply because some people believe that problems may result from finite natural resources doesn't automatically mean they are motivated by fear. Some people have altruistic and positive problem-solving motivations and believe that by learning how to farm, they have something to offer, in the way of help if times get lean (food, lesser-known skills, etc.) My husband and I farm for almost all of the reasons that get listed on this blog (the sheer joy of/love for it, sustainability, personal desire/reward, concerns over industrial agricultural methods, knowing where our food comes from and what is -- or is NOT -- on it or in it, environmental reasons, etc. - we are not one-dimensional in our approach). One of the reasons I love this site is exactly because we have the common ground of love and respect for what we all do (or hope to do someday). I have always felt this is a very supportive community, and while I respect differing opinions, I also felt the need to clarify the point on motivations.

April 24, 2011 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Dreaming of Jeanie said...

Peak oil...and maybe watching Red Dawn too many times.

April 24, 2011 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Oh Jenna~ since you brought it up, I can't resist. :)

I stumbled upon this lifestyle because I ran across "Your Money or Your Life" at a point in my life where I discovered that work wasn't meant to be this soul-less devouring thing. I turned to that book because the business world seems to be to push exponential growth, which doesn't feel sustainable or realistic to me in the slightest.
I'm a crafty, creative sort, so then I stumbled on your book, Made from Scratch, and your blog. And I became intrigued by your suggestions and inspired by your story. Then I suddenly lost my grandmother, and I began to explore my food heritage and adopt some of the principles she lived her life by, namely creative reuse and sharing community resources.

My whole world is made of up scraps from other people: memories, lessons, recipes, hand-me-downs. There have been moments in my life where if I hadn't had the knowledge of how to make my own blankets or grow my own food, my family might not be like it is today. It may not even exist at all. I am keenly aware of how interconnected my life is with the world around me and very appreciative of all of it.

Many of us that follow your blog also live in rural areas, and since I've moved to one myself, I've become even more aware of just how dependent we are on electricity and gasoline to live our lives. I do believe peak oil is real, but am not one of the doomsday folks, because I believe, as someone else already said, that fear is a terrible motivator. I try to learn these things about sustainability to have a back-up plan if the power goes out, if we run out of oil or money, or, even if I just get bored and need a project.

As far as I can see it, there is no losing end of continuous learning or living gently on the earth, and I get to keep some of my family heritage alive in the process. As a mom, I was to equip my daughter to be able to eat (and know where food comes from) without the help of politicians or corporations or factory farms from five states over.

I love the intimacy of homesteading. It's my culture and these are my people. :)

April 24, 2011 at 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really doesn't matter much to me the state of the planet's resources. I have no control over anything but my own actions. I choose to live simply and curtail my consumption because I desire to be a good steward of that which I have been given and because there are others who need desperately and do not have.

April 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

I've started to get rid of most of the plastics that I used to use in my kitchen. Want to know how scary plastics are? Read One Hundred Year Lie...very scary. We have way too much and paring down is hard but if we use less then peak oil (if it hasnt happened yet) will be delayed. Maybe going back to the old ways is for the best anyway. Next up for me is weaving my own cloth.

April 24, 2011 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Chai Chai - I too live in an area where fracking is widespread and it is certainly no panacea. I have acres of toxic drilling mud (waste product) spread next door to me, right up against my property line. Since we're in a low spot, every time it rains, that will leach and run off right into my stock tank (also our backup water source). It causes contaminated wells, health problems, environmental problems and accidents. Even if we had plenty of natural gas (which is debatable), our country doesn't have the funds to undertake such a massive infrastructure project. If you don't believe me, consider all the existing infrastructure we have that isn't being repaired because states and municipalities are out of money.

Jenna, to answer your question - we do believe in peak oil and while it wasn't our first or only motivator, it does play heavily into many of the decisions we make. I think many people think of peak oil as higher prices and resource scarcity (which it certainly is) or just a return to a pre-electricity way of life, but it's important to remember that there are larger ramifications. As energy sources become less viable, countries that still have it will cling to it and countries that don't will go to new lengths to get it. Look forward to more resource wars and geopolitical upheaval. Let's also not forget global water scarcity and the increasing modernization of countries like China and India. These things will have profound effects on the overall world energy situation.

I suggest viewing the "Crash Course" at for a very thorough explanation, and The Automatic Earth for an in-depth look at the global finance issues relating to these problems ( Everything is interconnected - finance, credit, resource depletion, climate change, all of it.

April 24, 2011 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

Someone mentioned exponential growth which reminds me of the concept/book The 29th Day. If a pond's lily pad population doubles every day and it will take 30 days to be completely covered - at what point will the pond be 50% covered? The answer is of course the 29th day.

April 24, 2011 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Teresa H. @ Oak Tree Farm said...

To Tara~

Thanks for your posting. Good site recommendations - we also resource Martenson & The Crash Course Video & Automatic Earth - Nicole Foss "Stoneleigh" was in our area, more recently, giving a speech. The Oil Drum and Post-Peak Living, James Howard Kunstler, Michael Ruppert (he has a lot of good info, though I see him, maybe mistakenly, as more of a Conspiracy Theorist & don't necessarily agree w/all of that) & Dimitri Orlov (who understands the dynamics of societal/economic collapse from his actual experience with Russia)-- these are a few others, in the forefront, who weigh-in on this ongoing dialogue -- and they don't all see eye-to-eye on everything. I don't operate in a vacuum, and I do regularly access sites and people w/opposing viewpoints or de-bunking themes to maintain the intellectual rigor of point-counter-point arguments. Even with that, my conclusions have remained the same, and I do agree with you about the far-reaching consequences of this very complex, inter-related set of global concerns. As many people have pointed out in this blog, there are many forces in life that are outside of our control. But, I do believe, that not unlike carrying insurance or the practical planning for retirement or making choices for your future or your children's opportunities, this is just one more form of planning and it harms no one and remains a positive contribution to the farming/homesteading movement. So, if we are wrong, there is no harm done, and if we are right, we are a little better prepared for what might come. :o)

April 24, 2011 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

@Teresa - how could I have forgotten Orlov?!

April 24, 2011 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Teresa H. @ Oak Tree Farm said...

@ Tara
I know you didn't "forget" Orlov - I'm sure he's feeling the love~ :o)

April 24, 2011 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Teresa H. @ Oak Tree Farm said...

To CJ - And, everything still looks fairly under control on Day 29, but what a shock Day 30 brings! This reminds me of the analogy in Kunstler's book about water in the stadium expanding exponentially, and if you are handcuffed in the top bleachers, how much time do you have to free yourself before the water is over your head. So, I go outside, and feel happy and grateful about our livestock, and what we will be planting this year, as well as our ongoing, rewarding endeavors on the farm. Whatever your motives may be for choosing this life, I wish everyone great joy and satisfaction from your farming & homesteading endeavors! Like Heather, I feel like you are my community, my kind of people! (P.S. Hi, Heather!)

April 24, 2011 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger Jeff_in_Pawlet said...

There has been talk of peak oil for 150 years. Make people think it's scarce and they'll pay more.

Here's a link to a free book:

I worry more about radioactive milk found in Montpelier and 9 more months of fall out to come!

April 24, 2011 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger JeanineH said...

Whether peak oil is happening or not is not important to my decision to be more self sufficient.

I've got my garden, I'm learning to can... why should I buy peaches imported from China when I can get them from a nearby producer and can them myself, it's a lot of effort but that effort plays a big part in how much I enjoy cracking open the peaches in the middle of the winter when they're just not available.

I'm learning how to do the growing, canning, grinding etc while I don't "have" to so I have some wiggle room. Your recent morning without power yet having farm fresh eggs, fresh ground coffee brewed on your wood-stove... your plan A works as a plan B, I don't mind the extra time / effort for manual devices. I'm not interested in the rat race for the sake of the rat race, I don't need the latest and greatest device just because there was an upgrade. $500 for a "smart" phone sounds pretty stupid to me, a $50 phone serves the same purpose for communicating if needed, and I much prefer the landline anyway, if I don't want to be reached the phone can go off the hook or unplugged.

I like being more in touch with my food, I have a realistic appreciation of it. I've got so many city friends that don't even have a freezer besides what's in the top of their fridge. In event of a disruption for some reason of the transportation routes they'd very soon be doing without food as they only have a 3 day supply of most stuff, I find my freezer full of food and canned goods to be reassuring against those possibilities. I buy when stuff is on sale so I don't have to buy at full price just because I need it for tonights planned dinner.

April 24, 2011 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger KellyV (Kelly the Fifth) said...

I think this was a good place for this discussion. I didn't realize how passionate my husband was about what is happening in Montana and Texas (fracking - never had heard of it but my husband sure had) and the terrible results of this Haliburton-based technique. So this was an interesting discussion for us around the breakfast table and how we, as a family in a huge urban area, can continue to lessen our impact on the planet. Thanks Jenna!

April 24, 2011 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

The thing to remember about peak oil is that whether or not you 'believe' in it, the earth's oil reserves are finite, and expanding economies in other parts of the world (China, India) are taking larger and larger portions of the output, so current speculation aside, oil prices are going to rise.

What compounds the issue is that our current monetary policy coupled with our national debt will drive down the value of the dollar, perhaps even collapse it, and then hyperinflation will set in. Your money just won't buy as much. And as my mother once told me about finding things during WWII, some things were just not available at any price. Doing whatever you can to help mitigate reliance on outside inputs will put you in a position to weather the rough times that are certainly ahead.

Anyone interested should take a look at the videos for The Crash Course on which were illuminating, so say the least. You will learn a LOT.

That said, I find that I am happiest when I am outdoors, grubbing in the soil. For me, homesteading is a happy combination of enjoying what the earth has to give me, and preparing for a leaner future. There's also a huge learning curve, and I like learning. And finally, I may never give my husband the gardening bug that I have, but he brews really good beer!

April 24, 2011 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

We live in a closed system (albeit a big one) with finite resources. Oil WILL run out eventually. Whether it runs out during my lifetime (of my children's or my grandchildren's) I'm not sure. If it does, will it be the oil-pocalyse or another Y2K (all hype and no apocalypse) I'm not sure.

We became interested in homesteading and self sufficiency simply because it appealed to us. We have become more and more convinced though that our society's current lifestyle, propped up on cheap, unsustainable energy is due for a reality check. And this has started to affect our future plans. We plan on getting a homestead either way, but with global warming we plan to keep it not much farther south than the Mason-Dixon. And producing our own solar and wind energy appeals to our self sufficiency sensibilities but it also will cushion us against an energy crisis which makes it that much more appealing. Building our own home with timberframe and cob is both light on the wallet and the planet. So it goes.

April 24, 2011 at 7:12 PM  
Blogger Emma said...

We moved to our large block of fertile land with good water security because we believe that things are going to get a lot tougher within our life times. But apart from the twin global crisis of peak oil and climate change driving us, we also really like this way of living.

April 24, 2011 at 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very naive to think that we could live the way people lived during the Great Depression. Stop and think how many more people there are to use the limited supply of wood, cotton, wool, and food that we would be able to produce on our individual homesteads even with very good organic farming practices.

April 24, 2011 at 9:10 PM  
Blogger SMV said...

Look at history. We have never ran out of a non-renewable. Renewable resources are another matter. Reliance on renewable resources caused frequent shortages, starvation and limited growth.

Highly recommend reading the work by Julian Simons. We have entered a world where humans and their creativity are the ultimate resource.

Do not worry about peak oil, though you might want to plan for higher energy costs.


April 24, 2011 at 10:21 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...


April 24, 2011 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

I love that people are really interested in having an intelligent coversation about these issues. I think my thoughts on this issue align with a quote I heard a couple days ago in my Permaculture class. "The world is going to continue to be abundant, how and whether or not we are willing to make the changes necessary to see that abundance is up to us as individuals." The fact is there are alot of doomsdays, each one more pressing than the last, but unless the world is sucked into a rogue black hole ect.
(Scenario proposed by physics) the world will continue to be. What we need to decide is if we are going to work with nature and the world or try to work against it. :) On a whole I think becoming a farmer is def. working with it.

April 24, 2011 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

I love that people are really interested in having an intelligent coversation about these issues. I think my thoughts on this issue align with a quote I heard a couple days ago in my Permaculture class. "The world is going to continue to be abundant, how and whether or not we are willing to make the changes necessary to see that abundance is up to us as individuals." The fact is there are alot of doomsdays, each one more pressing than the last, but unless the world is sucked into a rogue black hole ect.
(Scenario proposed by physics) the world will continue to be. What we need to decide is if we are going to work with nature and the world or try to work against it. :) I think becoming a farmer is all about working with nature!

April 24, 2011 at 11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fact. I think the world has already passed peak production and we are now in the 'bumpy plateau'

I don't think it's a bad thing necessarily. I mean really, do people honestly think if they are outrageous enough they'll get their own reality show??? And who is dumb enough to sit and watch those anyway??? (the bbc historical ones excepted) Jersey Girls anyone....??

April 24, 2011 at 11:47 PM  
Blogger KiwiGirl said...

If we aren't at the"Peak", I'd say we're right around the corner from it. We live in a petrochemical-centred world now (I'm thinking plastics and fertilisers here) - there will have to be some major seismic shifts in how we live in a post Peak world. No more mindless plastic stuff....that wouldn't be a bad move. There's also going to have to be some more big calls about the hard-to-get-to oil, which is really the only kind left. We currently have deep water seismic surveying off our East Coast down here in NZ. Many people here are understandably worried about deep water drilling, given the BP calamity - and that includes me.

April 25, 2011 at 5:33 AM  
Blogger chesapeake said...

What oil comes down to for me is this:

Oil comes from a part of the world that suffers from instability.

We are too dependent on a foreign resource (ps-drilling domestically is so not an option).

Those in power can jack up the price of gasoline without any explanation, and it can cripple our wallets.

Peak or not, there is no good reason to be so dependent. It doesn't take a doomsday scenario to figure that out. Plus, I just really want some chickens. :-)

April 25, 2011 at 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My lifestyle changes started with our girl Martha, but as I started writing for a local healthy/green living magazine called Radish, I started learning more about simple living, renewable energy, homesteading, etc in the course of my research on various stories. That lead me to Mother Earth News, which lead me to your blog & your books. Then all the stories started coming out about the plastics and such in our food, and every time you turned around some food was being recalled for safety issues. So my path is rather wind-ey, but there's something to be said for meandering.

April 25, 2011 at 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to take issue with the way you phrased one question:

Do you think Peak Oil is fact or fiction?

This is like asking if the sky is blue. Oil is a limited resource, it takes millions of years to form below the earth's crust. At the rate we are using it up it WILL RUN OUT.

I suspect the question you mean to ask is "will we have a peak oil societal collapse?" which is still up for discussion, and will depend on the inventiveness and ability of humans to adapt. The picture looks pretty bleak, but we're a very inventive species.

April 25, 2011 at 9:37 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Hmmm... I fear that the idea of catastrophe after we run out of oil just doesn't inspire people to change. Loving the feeling of independence might. I think people move toward their perception of the good life, so creating a love of land and space is the best bet to reduce oil dependence. By coincidence I heard something about peak COFFEE on NPR today. Maybe THAT will inspire some change. Can you imagine people riding their bikes to limit CO2 emissions so that coffee beans can still grow happily?!? That might be just the thing.

April 25, 2011 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger 2houndnight said...

Peak oil has something to do with my urge to be more self sufficient, although there are many other reasons that contribute also.
I don't know if it will come to pass or not, but improving my ability to sustain myself means that whatever happens, it will have less impact on me and my family than it may on others....
Having less dependence on others allows for a certain freedom of mind that I appreciate.

April 25, 2011 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Donna Lovesthe Farm said...

I agree that we are in the process of peak oil now. As far as the outcome, I am guessing that it will be a combination of both good and bad, the people that resist change will suffer, and the people that adapt will thrive. Man has put himself in this position and Man will have to dig himself out.

April 25, 2011 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I heard the segment about Peak Coffee on NPR too. I began thinking about how I could use less and perhaps stockpile it. They theory is that climate change is impacting the production of Arabica coffee. I wonder if exhorbitant coffee prices will wake up the radical right to climate change.

April 25, 2011 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just to clarify CJ's first comment, Hubbart stated early 70's as US peak oil...and was right as far as maximum extraction is/was concerned- we have flat-lined domestic production since then while increasing consumption. Based on his predictions global peak should happen, well, about now-ish. As to Chai-Chai's comments all I can say is, good luck. Hope to see you Friday Jenna.

April 25, 2011 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger The Village Queen said...

Peak oil is just the tip of the iceberg of many interconnected issues. Sure living on the land is great, but there isn’t enough land for everyone in the cities to move to a 20 acre farm of their own. And frankly it’s a lucky few who can afford it, lots of the people who move did so after having high power/money careers that gave them the recourses to do so. And once you get there you better have an internet or non-location based income source: ie Jenna, you can’t make a living to pay for trucks and furnaces and plumbing off the income of a small batch of sheep and chickens. The whole price structure of everything is way off. Value and worth and the dollar exchange is so out of balance its ridiculous. The farmers should be millionaires and style icons a minimum wage job. If we need more veg land, the cows would need to go. And that would be another war. And isn’t there a peak food land scenario too? The statistics on loss of productive farm land to development in the last 25 years is staggering. More people, less land, no money for producing that food= starvation eventually.
All we can do is limit our own use of petroleum products, and hope that wind and solar gets cheap and accessible to all. But its not going to change until we run out of oil or water because the little single people really don’t make much difference, and the big companies and governments are self serving entities that have a completely different mindset opposite of taking care of the earth and having enough for everyone. Too many stressors are working to eventually collapse the whole thing, population etc. Just look at the mindset of China, Russia and India, no population control, no pollution control, not much in environmental protections, they are pretty big tipping points right there. The oil running out may not be the factor that brings doomsday, but it will show up eventually, hopefully I’ll be gone by then but in the mean time all I can do is reduce where possible, support small farms when I can and not buy crap from overseas. You can drive yourself into a frenzy of worry and fear focusing on these issues. So I am aware but don’t dwell on it as I cant fix it.

April 25, 2011 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

My family makes fun of me regularly for trying to be more self-sufficient. (Oh, Sara's too GOOD for eggs from the grocery store, etc. etc.) My typical response is something like, "Yeah? Well, you'll be glad when civilization collapses and we still have plenty to eat!" I say it jokingly, but it really is something that I worry about. Having said that, I agree with others who have said that we can't be motivated by fear or distrust of the government or anger at the stupidity of humanity at large. What we do has to be motivated by love, if it's to do any good at all.

April 25, 2011 at 5:24 PM  
Blogger - said...

@chaichai - fracking? seriously? thank god i live where i do:

April 25, 2011 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Most of those who post here are not old enough to know what life is like without energy, much less cheap energy. You relie on someone else to tell you about "peak oil" and how life will be.

Think about a life where everything is the product of your labor. Fuel, food, fluids, buildings and there is no energy and certainly no cheap energy. You walk virtually everywhere you go.

Find someone, anyone born before WWII and get them to tell you how they sheared sheep before the advent of electricity.

April 26, 2011 at 1:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently read "Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller". Having finally realized our dream of buying some land and starting a homestead, all I could say when I read that book was...

Bring It On.

As others said, we've lost so much of the humanity in our culture. I'm looking forward to a day where skills and self-reliancy work together with community and local activism to create societies that are connected by more than just a love of shopping.

April 26, 2011 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

Chai Chai: The current best guess is that hydrocarbons of abiogenic origin aren't economically important.

Fossil deposits are a much better predictor of the location of extractable hydrocarbon fuels, than connections to the mantle.

There are hydrocarbons produced by geological processes, but they seem to be about 0.02% of the world's supply, according to Wikipedia.

May 27, 2011 at 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's throw a little gas on the fire.... If we all cared enough about the evironment...we...could...limit our selves to having 2 or less children. OMG did I just say that? Yes folks do the math, if everyone did this-- 2 or less, some chose none, the world population goes down, down, down. The need for resorces goes down, down, down. Beth in Ky.

May 17, 2012 at 9:09 PM  

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