The Harvesting Mentality

This image of two apple trees standing alone in a field is very close to the scene I saw that helped coalesce in my mind the concept of survival harvesting.

I was sitting on my front deck, watching a small red squirrel struggling with an apple it had picked up off my lawn. The apple came from a scraggly looking  loner in the verge of bush separating our property from our neighbours. This apple tree had not been pruned, cared for or sprayed in decades. Yet here it was, still reliably providing fruit each year for at least one grateful fruit lover.

I started thinking of all the abandoned orchards I have seen over the years. And all of the apples that hit the ground every year and then lie there and rot, even with the deer, squirrels and other animals that come to feed on them. Like the tree on the edge of my property, whose apples I had carelessly been pushing aside, into the scrub growing along the fence line.

Why didn’t I do a little pruning on that tree? In fact, why didn’t I pick up a young tree of a different variety,in the fall when nurseries had their sales on and plant it in the front yard. Placing it not to far from the old one would  work to improve pollination and personal apple choices. Then I thought of my Uncle Bill, who had a tree onto which he had grafted 5 or 6 different varieties of apples. Clearly there were possibilities available to me with just a little effort.

My thinking was further stimulated while listening to an episode of “The Survival Podcast” by Jack Spirko in which he talked about supplementing your groceries with active fishing. I live in the water rich environment of the Northumberland Hills, of Northumberland County in Ontario, Canada. I am a ten minute car ride away from rivers and lakes that have a plentiful supply of fish for those willing to take the time to catch them. Thinking of fish as a resource to be harvested as opposed to simply a means of enjoying an outdoor sport was a bit of a mental shift for me. It lead me to write and publish “Survival Fish Harvesting.”

Even as I was writing the book, thoughts of tackling different topics in the same manner were chasing themselves around in my head. We had just been through a very dry summer, and had to truck in water for our garden, as our well level shrank and shrank.What could we do to ensure we didn’t run out in the future?

Doing the book research and adding a section on edible seaweed got me thinking of the collection of edible wild plant index cards I created during my teens. A little careful looking around our two acre lot reaquainted me with numerous varieties of plants familiar to foragers.

There is nothing wrong with collecting knowledge, skills and gear to help ensure your individual survival. It is a potentially useful or even life saving effort. But along with that effort, what if you incorporated the harvesting concept? What if you focused on efficient collection of what you needed to survive, as well as actions to improve the potential harvest, when harvest time comes around? That is the direction I would like to explore with this site and any future books. I invite you to come along and share your thoughts and ideas with me.