« on: December 01, 2011, 07:03:24 PM »
Oxbowfarm, not much to tell. He had some commentaries online, I thought they were interesting and sent him email with my comments, he wrote a nice note back.
Shortly thereafter, I read his obituary, and made the connection. No idea that he was someone famous until after he passed away. Never read his books until after he was gone.
Bear in mind I'm a city boy; my interest in agriculture was spawned rather suddenly as the result of a chain of events that started when I received a modest windfall during the heydays of the software industry (I'm a geek, in case it's not obvious...tho a bit dated, I'm afraid, and have moved on to other ways of making money...).
I wanted to invest prudently, so I did some reading according to what I already believed, which eventually lead me to something called "Austrian economic theory" (because it originated at the University of Vienna about a hundred some years ago).
Subscribed to a newsletter about natural resource-related investments. This guy, who was emphatically NOT an environmentalist, was telling me that contrary to everything that I heard, we did NOT have 80-some years of oil left, but in fact would hit a crisis much sooner than that, as a result of hitting peak production, and that, furthermore, of the remaining oil NOT all of it would be pumped out, because there would be a day when it cost 1 barrel of oil to pump one barrel of oil.
That would be a very, very, very bad day at work. Game over.
So I got to wondering about the implications and got to thinking...I had a vague sense that agriculture was fuel intensive. I did an internet search.
HOLY COW!!! 10Kcal of fuel to grow ONE Kcal of grain!!!!
10Kcal grain to grow ONE Kcal of meat!!!
Not precise numbers, but good enough working numbers. The point is that the system is unsustainable. WE'RE GOING TO STARVE TO DEATH!!!
I thought about how to invest in agriculture. To make a long story short, it's hard for small players to make money in the commodities markets (I learned that lesson even before MF Global took out a huge fraction of existing small investors' accounts by apparently pledging them as collateral for it's own wrong-way bets on European debt).
So, direct participation was the only thing I could think of. And when I apply myself somewhere, I give it my all.
I want to own the seeds while it is still possible. I have since discovered that there is a dangerous monopoly in seed for staple crops. Yes, you can by lettuce seeds and beet seeds and cucumber seeds and radish seeds...try buying wheat retail, without being licensed. Read the license terms!!!!!!
It's that way for most staple crops. Even somewhat for potatoes, though thankfully there are still lots of potatoes in public domain--and I happen to have it in with the big guy in public domain potatoes anyway. That's how we met. There's a story there too for another time.
I've also discovered I have zero interest in commercial maize/corn anyway. That is one crop where the more valuable seeds are already in the public domain, for reasons some of us have discussed elsewhere. For small production, you don't want corn that has been bred with the assumption that it will be fractionated into starch, protein, corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, etc. You want grains designed to be whole foods the way the Amerindians ate (and some still do) them. The short-term goal being to sufficiently grow them out and get other people growing them and eating them.