A series of comments following a recent post got me thinking about just how recent things like hand-pumped water and animal power are.
- I am 58 years old
- My father was born in 1914
- His father was born in 1877
- His grandfather was born in 1846
I could go on, but my point is that my father, as a child talking with his grandfather, connects me with a man who served in the Army of the Confederate States of America. Let’s look at the way life worked in just my father’s era.
- He was born on a farm in Alabama and moved to Florida in 1920 in a covered wagon pulled by a team of mules. His father knew that covered wagons worked fine for those who settled the American West, so he simply copied the idea to move his own family farther South.
- He was raised on a farm that had no electricity until the time he returned home from college (late 1930’s).
- The running water the family had was furnished by a windmill. The shower was a water spigot beneath the water tank.
- The family plowed the fields using a mule until they could afford a tractor.
- As was commonly done in the early 20th Century, the family produced much of their own food, and would trade and buy and sell for other items they needed.
As we sit in an air-conditioned room, using a computer giving instant communications to just about anywhere in the world, it is easy to forget just how recent this is. Even though I have not yet reached the age of 60, computers were hardly known by most folks when I was in school. It was the slide rule – not the computer or even the calculator – that represented technology for most people.
What prompted this line of thought was considering how radical a shift it would be to live in a world without electricity. There are several scenarios that could result in the near-total loss of electrical power. These are not some wild science fiction plots, but very real possibilities. Low probability perhaps, but very real and very possible. How would we get from where we are now to where life would be considered “normal” without electricity?
Although the ability to survive under such conditions is not the primary reason for Southern Agrarianism, it is a nice “fringe benefit.” Living close to the land and enjoying the simplicity of older technology provides a bridge between today and an uncertain tomorrow. Southern Agrarianism is more than just a life style of simplicity with roots deep in Southern soil – it also provides a high level of preparedness for uncertain times.