Blizzard Proof: How traditional farms and local economies are naturally resiliant.

Had our latest blizzard over the weekend, punctuating the every other day snows we’ve been getting here in Minnesota. Two Interstate highways have been shut down for two days now and the back roads look like the above picture, ‘cept some of them still aren’t plowed out. There’s megadairies with thousands of cows down some of those back roads, and they’re so confident of their business plan that they milk 24/7 straight into tanker semis with no milk storage tanks… You can bet lotsa milk is gettin’ dumped. And if the milk tanker trucks can’t make it out the feed trucks that come from the next county or even state can’t make it in, and the manure…

Big Ag and Big Business don’t plan for blizzards and floods and all the other things that can and will go wrong. They design supply chains where in theory parts from all over the world are shipped at maximum speed to arrive at the factory at the same time to be assembled into widgets, which are then shipped at the same maximum speed to warehouses, megastores, and consumers. The whiz kids who plan these lean logistic schemes are so confident in their “Just In Time” creations that keep little inventory in stock… One part being delayed can shut the whole system down.

The traditional farm, a system refined and proven over the centuries before it’s recent near abandonment, doesn’t need next day express deliveries. The farms first function was to feed the farmers, and raising diverse foods and preserving them meant no rush trips to the grocery store were needed. Winter on the farm was a time to rebuild machinery, sew, and catch up on reading. Taking advantage of the available space, parts and food were kept in stock so a supply run to town could wait for clear and dry roads. Heck, the contents of the root cellar and machinery shed of a decent farm rivaled a decent grocery and hardware store’s! Traditional small towns copied this successful model- They carried months rather than days supply in stock because you were going to sell it sooner or later anyway, and may as well take advantage of the price breaks on volume purchases. Thus fresh bread and meat, farm supplies, and repair parts were available even if the roads were impassable.

That’s the way I run my little retiree’s joke of a farm… I haven’t wandered over a quarter mile from the house since friday when I drove the six miles into Tyler to catch up on my reading and gossip at the library. Despite the blizzards, being locals the staff has kept the library and city hall open most every business day, blizzard or not. I spent saturday in the shop getting four wheel drive functional in the old pickup, just might need it. Cleaned and rearranged the shop sunday and put the carbs back on the ‘83 BMW motorcycle today along with new cables. Went out a few times to clear the snow and check for any stranded motorists. What blizzard?DSCF2465

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