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07/03/2005 Archived Entry: "Foxfire for gulchers"

Guestblogger Silver here

Iím not a typical gulcher. I like the wondrous array of goods and services that our modern economy provides. My studies in economics have taught me to appreciate how the division of labor and the investment of capital are essential to prosperity. I want to see the free market continue to overcome the depredations of the state. I have no desire to see an end to personal computers, medical technology, cell phones, airplanes and automobiles, the internet, and the countless other things that would be lost if freedom lovers had to retreat to small gulches and depend on barter for their livelihoods. Yet as Thunder and many others have pointed out, that is the essence of gulching. If I go to a gulch, it will be a fighting retreat, an admission of defeat, not the fulfillment of a lifelong goal.

That said, I am also a realist.

One way to make sense of the chaos we see all around us today, particularly in the ever-growing list of atrocities by government, is to understand that all empires fall. The American empire is barely 100 years old, yet is already showing signs of instability and ultimate collapse.

If collapse is coming, there may not be much any one person or group, however effective, can do about it. Sometimes I envision a great train wreck. We can see the trains hurtling towards each other, but there is nothing anyone can do to avert the catastrophe. The conditions were set long ago. The only thing to do is to find a comfortable spot at a safe distance and enjoy the spectacle.

I am also an Eagle Scout. Done properly, Eagle is something you are, not something you did as a boy. The Scout motto is ďbe prepared.Ē So I prepare for gulching even if I donít relish the prospect.

An invaluable resource for gulching is the The Foxfire Book Series. This 12-volume set is the outgrowth an effort by Eliot Wigginton and his students. They created the magazine Foxfire in an effort to record and preserve the traditional folk culture of the Southern Appalachians. The magazine has been published since 1966, the Foxfire 12 book was released in 2004.

These books are a series of interviews and essays with Appalachian mountain people. They frequently discuss traditional mountain crafts, from log cabin building and hog dressing to planting by the moon signs. Youíll learn about making a wooden wheel, a still, a coffin. How to find turtles and the use of medicinal plants and herbs. The list goes on and on, and includes many skills that I seldom see mentioned by gulchers, but would certainly be required in any autarkic community.

These are not pure how-to books. While there are helpful diagrams and useful tips, anyone trying to make their first fiddle, catch their first rabbit, trade for a horse, make cheese, or start logging will have a lot to learn. But they are a great start, and belong on the bookshelf of anyone seriously contemplating the gulching lifestyle.

I may yet be forced into a fighting retreat to a gulch. If and when that happens, I will have a set of skills and knowledge that I hope will make me a welcome and valued member of any freedom-loving community. Hint: donít give up on that electric power plant.

Posted by Silver @ 07:40 AM CST

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