Tooting My Own Horn (Briefly).
At the beginning of 2020, I predicted (and gave concrete plans on how to mitigate) the current gas and energy price rise. In early March of 2020, I predicted that about one million Americans would die from COVID-19 (and gave concrete plans on what to do). I also predicted that cities would be shut down and jobs curtailed. In the summer of 2020, I predicted the growing and current inflationary explosion (and gave concrete plans on what to do).
The only reason I point that out is to say that when I write an article, it is based on deep research that goes back years. When I write an article, it’s because it is time to take action. Plus, I want to give concrete examples and plans on what a homesteader might be able to do. It doesn’t mean I’m always right, but generally, what I write is not opinion as much as conclusions based on research and reality.
With that in mind, let’s talk about planning for climate change and see what the future holds for your homestead.
Someone might own a house for 7 to 15 years. Most of us buy a homestead for life, and hopefully for the lives of our children and grandchildren. At least that’s why I established my homestead. I call it a 100-year homestead. That means that I plan and prepare for what the next 100 years might hold.
For this article, the next 20 years might be all that we need to digest.
Climate change is a politically charged topic. I don’t care about politics. I do care about the weather. I do care about rainfall. I do care about forest fires. I do care about energy availability. I do care about food production. I do care about safety. I do care about economics.
With that in mind let’s not call it “climate change”. Let’s call it “climate and cultural change”. Climate and cultural change encompass what might happen to temperatures and rainfall and pollution, as well as what will happen with laws and changing corporate investments and societal attitudes. This article will address all of this and more concerning your current or future homestead.
I can only use my own homestead as an example in this article, but I hope that you can see the patterns in how I researched and projected in order to make the best decisions for both the next decade and the next generation.
Weather Patterns are Changing
It doesn’t matter if you want to call it man-made or solar cycles or just “weird,” weather patterns are changing. Those changes will affect your homestead in either positive or negative ways. The western US is suffering from what some call “the worst drought in 1,200 years.” I, personally, think the West spent the last 100 years benefiting from the wettest 100 years since the end of the last ice age.
There is evidence that what is happening in the West is just a reversion to the mean, not a temporary drought. If that is the case then the situation will only worsen over the coming decades. The book The West Without Water (2015) traces the water cycle of the western U.S. for the past 20,000 years. It’s not a book about “Climate Change” based on CO2 levels in the atmosphere. It’s a book about the climate history of the west. 1,000-year-long “droughts” are normal for California and the West.
The Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard are getting wetter. This is due to changing temperature patterns in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. At the same time, the High Plains of the United States are depending more and more on pumping groundwater from the Ogallala Aquifer. This underground “sea” runs from West Texas to Nebraska. The shallow parts of this aquifer are already showing signs of running dry. You see this in West Texas, Oklahoma, and Northeast Kansas right now. The deepest portion of this sea lies in Nebraska. This is where the water will last the longest if you have a deep enough well.
The Canadian Prairie (a major wheat-growing region) is experiencing disturbing rainfall changes as well. The Ogallala Aquifer does not extend up into Canada, so rainfall is very important to agriculture in that region.
Rainfall On The Homestead
On a homestead, we hope to grow food as either plants or animals. This food could be milk, eggs, meat, grains, fruits, vegetables, or herbs. Everything grows using sun and water. What does the future hold for water on your homestead? It’s a good idea to look into it and plan accordingly.
My homestead is in East Texas. We currently get about 44 inches of rain per year. That rainfall is why I purchased my homestead where I did. I could have purchased my homestead anywhere in Texas. I looked as far south as San Antonio, as far north as the Oklahoma and Arkansas borders, and as far east as the Louisiana border. I picked a place where there is plenty of annual rainfall.
As the Gulf of Mexico, warms it will create more moisture. For my homestead, more rain will fall due to gulf moisture. However, due to rising temperatures in central and West Texas, we also have the possibility of worse summer droughts.
How will changing weather patterns affect your homestead? If you haven’t purchased your homestead yet, then what weather patterns do you need to accomplish your goals as a homesteader?
What concrete steps am I taking now (and over the next 5 years) to mitigate the changes that will come over the next 20 years? First I am turning a shallow creek on my homestead into a linear pond. Since I’m in a valley, the water table is only a couple of feet under the surface. If I dig the creek out to 6-8 feet deep then it will gather underground water even when the surface water isn’t flowing. This will create a “linear pond” that is 200 feet long and 20 feet wide. I can use this to irrigate crops in all but the worst drought times. The cost to do this is just renting a backhoe for a week.
I am also planting more and more food-bearing trees and shrubs. Even in the worst drought of 2011, the forest and trees survived while the annual plants all died. Trees use deep roots to naturally irrigate themselves from deep underground. They also store tons of water inside themselves. This creates a natural buffer against drought while still taking advantage of times of high rainfall. I have already started establishing a Food Forest model for part of my homestead.
I need to protect my ground against flood-based erosion. That means keeping it planted year-round with cover crops, like winter peas. This also captures and stores nitrogen for the summer crops.
Finally, I need to keep my property from becoming overgrown with dead vegetation in case of forest fires. I need to keep my living structures in areas without close vegetation, so that, if there is a fire, it doesn’t burn down my house. And, if possible, I need to install a sprinkler system on my roof. If I put high-pressure sprinklers on each corner of my house that can either use municipal water or water pumped from the creek (or storage tanks) then I can protect my home from catching on fire even while the forest near it burns.
These changes take time. I can implement them over the next 5 years. Other changes take longer. For instance, I want our homestead to be completely energy-independent CAPABLE by 2035. That means making our own electricity and fuel for small engines. It also means having highly efficient hand tools for growing and working the homestead. This will take 20 years to both implement and learn how to use properly in growing grains. For instance, we need to learn how to grow large crops of sunflowers for sunflower oil to power equipment. That takes 10 years to learn, at least.
Laws that Affect the Homestead
Whether or not you believe that man-made CO2 is a danger to humanity’s future doesn’t matter, because governments DO! California has made it illegal to purchase a gas-powered engine under 50 cc. That means no new gas-powered lawnmowers or tillers or chainsaws or, or, or. They all have to be electric. I can’t till two acres with an electric tiller. These laws will be extended to no internal combustion engines of any kind in California.
These laws will grow in geography and scope. As more and more emissions laws come to pass, more and more industries will be affected. Taxes and restrictions will spread. Texas may never pass a law outlawing the purchase of internal combustion engines, but the federal government might pass a law against the importation of them. Or it might apply a 2,000% tariff to any device that creates CO2 emissions.
If you think that can’t happen, go back to the year 2001 and ask the residents of California if they think gas-powered lawnmowers will ever be outlawed.
Laws that affect fuel production and distribution will affect the homestead. For instance, because I have an agricultural exemption, I can purchase diesel fuel that has a high sulfur content. This saves me 10% on my diesel fuel costs. Others cannot buy it because they aren’t “agricultural”. One day, you may need an agricultural or trucking exemption to purchase any diesel at all. It’s best to already have such an exemption; it’s just an application to fill out. In the future, the requirements might rise. Being “grandfathered in” might be the difference between keeping your tractor running or not.
This is what I mean when I say “Future Proofing.” It’s easy to see what direction the U.S. is going regarding energy use, energy laws, fees, taxes, and tariffs. The goals have already been stated: “Carbon Neutral,” “Carbon Free,” and “Elimination of Fossil Fuels.” Those who will make it happen live in the suburbs with a lawn service; or they live in the city with no lawn at all. The major agricultural producers will be exempt. Will they even think about homesteaders? To them, we are just people with overly large lawns.
I have solar panels. My family owns two Toyota Prius and a Hybrid Corolla. I was an early adopter of having a “low carbon footprint.” I say that to say the following: I have deeply researched global resource reserves, and the idea that the world will switch over to solar-based battery power is a fantasy (in my opinion). The fantasy will look feasible during the early adoption phase, but once the first generation of batteries has to be replaced the resource limitations will start to become clear.
My goal is not only to protect our homestead from the realities of climate change, but also the fantasies of climate change solutions. Unfortunately, we are going to burn every drop of fossil fuel we can get our hands on… And we are going to mine every ounce of lithium and cobalt and nickel and copper that we can scrape out of the ground to build an “alternative energy future.” Eventually, based on my research, we will run out of both. The laws that change between now and then to create that “alternative future” are also a threat to my homestead.
The most efficient use of alternative energy is to have everyone live in a box in the city with public transportation and centralized resources. Homesteads are not part of that future from a general aspect of planning for climate change. Giant, corporate-owned farms feeding giant, high-density cities—that’s the most efficient use of resources.
Migration and the Homestead
The greatest disruptions in human history have been caused by environmentally-driven mass migrations. Almost all advanced civilizations collapsed in the late Bronze Age due to environmentally-driven mass migrations. In about 50 years, nearly every advanced Mediterranean Civilization was destroyed. Egypt survived, as did the Middle Assyrian Empire. Everyone else was overrun by “The Sea Peoples” and their civilizations were destroyed. (Look it up.) It happened between 1200 and 1150 BC. The Sea People were environmentally displaced hoards.
This is just the most dramatic of climate-driven mass migrations that destroyed or changed civilizations. England was invaded by a mass migration of Europeans (caused by climate changes) between 1400 and 870 BC. It created what England became.
Some mass migrations are useful, such as the Potato Famine bringing immigrants to America at the time America needed new people. Will we need millions of more new people in the coming decades?
The next mass climate-driven migration will be from Central Mexico and Central America. The environmental future of those regions is set in stone. Drought, crop failures, overpopulation, and death. These people will move North en masse… millions of them. If your children faced starvation, no law or border or wall would stop you from saving their lives. This is the driving force of environmental migration.
The great news is that all of our southern neighbors share much of the same culture that we do. They are not trying to conquer us for religious reasons. Europe, on the other hand, will face an entirely different future when it comes to mass migration.
How will this affect my homestead? I live in Texas. I can see a lot of disruption both militarily and culturally.
There will also be a lot of INTERNAL migration. “Go West, Young Man” will become “Go East and South to Retire, Old Couple.” “Go to Texas for a Job.” “Get out of Florida before you Drown.” Et cetera. There is a reason Bill and Melinda Gates purchased over 70,000 acres in Louisiana. There is a reason billionaires are buying giant tracts of farmland over the deepest part of the Ogallala aquifer in Nebraska.
The Homestead Dream
We, as homesteaders, have a dream. We want to cut out a little piece of heaven that can support us and our children through times of plenty and times of trouble.
Look at the following map of future rainfall. Remember that we live on sun-power and water. That’s what grows everything that we need. Remember that we live in a changing political and legal environment. Remember that the U.S. is not an island. Then plan the future of your homestead accordingly.
Why is my homestead in East Texas? It’s going to stay wet, but we are far enough inland to avoid the worst effects of hurricanes. We are far enough east to avoid 95% of tornadoes. The greatest threat we will face from nature is forest fires. My homestead is in Texas because it is one of the most independent states from an energy standpoint. We have oil and natural gas, but we are also the largest adopter of solar and wind power. From a political and legal standpoint, Texas will oppose change that curtails freedom and overly burdensome climate change regulations. Texas also has no state income tax.
The one thing we will not be isolated from is mass migration. However, in preparing for climate change, I have a plan on using human power to grow food instead of oil and gas. So having new neighbors who know how to work outside might be a benefit, not a curse. What am I doing now for that future to be possible? I’m buying high-quality hand tools for farming. These are tools that you will never see at Home Depot. Buying the right tools now (when they are cheap) and before we get into more conflict with China is “money in the bank” as far as I am concerned.
Nobody can say for certain what the future holds. We can say for certain, however, that the future will not be a mirror of the past. Resources, culture, climate, and politics do change over each generation. I look at what is most important to this young generation and I predict that their elected officials will make that important in the laws. I look at what scientists say about the climate and I predict what my weather might look like 20-40 years in the future. I consider my homestead to be a 100-year investment for my children and grandchildren. Why? Because it’s FUN! I got my homestead to have fun. Planning for climate change and for the future of my homestead is just as fun to me as growing some tomatoes.