Hay fields being turned into Almond orchards – SHTF implications

By | March 16, 2016

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I was just driving back from town when I noticed yet another hay field that is being converted into an almond orchard. Why am I blogging about that on an off grid homestead prepper website? Well because that conversion effects my homesteading and prepper plans.

One month old Almond Orchard with drip irrigation. Trees already leafing out.

One month old Almond Orchard with drip irrigation. Trees already leafing out.

As another post mentioned, I am paying over $1200.00 for a stack of alfalfa hay. The California drought caused some of that price increase since the farmers were allotted less water and water costs were sky high. But even in past years when water wasn’t an issue, it was high fuel costs that was blamed for the spike. Some years it was hay being exported to China and the Middle East. (Do people realize that we are exporting our water and top soil by allowing those resources to leave the country? I better not go there or this will turn into another Rant and Rave category post.)

Back to the loss of hay fields. There is literally hundreds if not a thousand acres between my ranch and town that has been converted from hay to almond orchards in the last year.
The homesteader in me is devastated to lose all that hay close by since it will once again jack up my yearly feed bill for a herd of 14 horses, 13+ goats (one doe is due this month), 2 llamas, and now the meat rabbits that get supplemental hay in the hopes of weaning them off commercial rabbit pellets (over $30 a bag for organic with no GMOs and no corn or soy, ouch!).

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Why is this happening? It is pure economics. My hay grower tells me that he only makes about $2000 per acre profit on his hay fields. He too is converting to Almonds where he claims he can make up to $12K per acre profit. Water is the other issue since the farmer never knows how much natural rain he will get and how much additional irrigation water will need to be purchased. I was surprised to learn that an alfalfa field in this area needs 2-3 times the water per acre as compared to an Almond orchard. How can that be? Well all the new orchards going in are on drip irrigation lines. No more wasteful flood irrigation.

So what am I going to do? Luckily my hay grower has purchased cheap land in Oregon where the water is also cheap and plentiful. He claims that even though the hay will have to be trucked hundreds of miles, that it will be cheaper for me. Of course that is assuming gas prices stay low and I am not holding my breath on that one. Of course I hate the thought of all that pollution going into the atmosphere when it would be so much better to buy locally. It is a sad state of affairs when world renowned California has to start importing agriculture products that have grown locally here for a century. I better stop or this will turn into a rant again.

Okay, the preppers are all being impatient wondering why I put this post in the prepper category. The loss of the hay fields hurts me now in a homesteading and financial aspect, but what does my prepper mind see for the future?
Thousands and thousands of pounds of protein and healthy oil. All within walking or horseback riding distance…hee hee (fyi, that represents my evil laugh). But wait, what am I going to do about hay if the SHTF? Well I will simply cut the pasture fence. I have been trying for years to get the grazing lease on the 140 acres of state land to the south or 360 acres of state land to the north. I think my fences will fall down when the SHTF…hee hee…more evil laughing.

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The point of this post? You should be utilizing your prepper mind everyday to identify nearby resources that you may need in the future. I scope out every tree, bush, and plant/weed in my area. Most are edible or medicinal or a source of firewood or building materials. Prepping doesn’t only mean stocking your pantry and being able to defend yourself, but also opening your eyes to what is around you and educating yourself on how to use those resources. We are blessed to be living at a time where educational info is available at the touch of a finger even when you live off grid with no grid electricity and no phone line. Learn it now before something happens to take that resource away. Print it, download it, and protect that information from disasters such as fire, flood, and EMP/CME (if you don’t know what that is, start Googling). EMP/CME is my #2 fear. What is my #1 fear? NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical).

What are you prepping for? What is your list of fears? Let me know in the comments below.

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Author: WMH Cheryl

I am living off-off grid with horses, goats, chickens, meat rabbits, llamas, dogs and too many Feral cats. Learning things the hard way and hoping my mistakes may help you avoid them while we prep for the future with a goal of being self sufficient.

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