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Old 02-23-2010, 09:40 PM
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Default Summary of Food in SAMAD [Thunder Empire]

I wrote the following in response to a question by Kalos. Having written it, I thought others might enjoy seeing a summary of the ag work I've done for Thunder Empire over the years.

In the Southeastern Arizona Military Administrative District (SAMAD), food comes from a handful of sources. The single largest source of food is intensive garden-style agriculture that would be familiar to many of Chinese of the past few centuries. This intensive gardening is practiced all over SAMAD, though principally near the pre-existing housing stock and functioning wells. The next largest source of food is pre-Exchange irrigated fields that have been converted to grow necessities, such as leafy greens. These fields and their accompanying irrigation infrastructure are located in a handful of places in SAMAD: the northern part of Sulphur Springs Valley, the San Pedro Valley near Interstate 10, the Santa Cruz Valley, and a small area in Patagonia. There is some rain-fed agriculture that exploits the arroyo terrain along the left bank of the San Pedro (and a few other locations) to capture runoff. Small amounts of beef and milk are available from surviving ranches in the area. Hunting and trapping provide a dietary supplement that includes deer, javelina, mountain lion, snake, and varmints of various sorts.

As of 2001, food production occupies about a third of the labor in SAMAD, though obviously there is considerable seasonal variation. (At times, half of the labor in SAMAD is working in the gardens and fields) Though this figure is high by pre-war standards, it’s pretty good by post-Exchange America standards. Considering that southeastern Arizona entered 1995 with very limited agricultural productivity, the fact that more than 400,000 Americans survive in Cochise, Pima, and Santa Cruz Counties is a major accomplishment.

The subsistence agriculture practiced by so many in SAMAD is a product of pre-war research, preparation, and stockpiling. Without going into the details, once the war starts in China both Tucson and Fort Huachuca get serious about Victory Gardens. In 1996, the Pentagon decides to use Fort Huachuca as a poster child for contingency planning because the post commander, Major General Charles Thomason, has made commendable progress in local contingency planning. Support from the Pentagon’s Department of Contingency Planning (DCP) brings a wealth of print resources, plus funding for trial runs of intensive gardening, hydrological surveying and planning, renewable energy, and other materials. Additional funding for expansion comes through other channels as Fort Huachuca ramps up for its part in training the masses of soldiers who will be needed to win WW3. MG Thomason and his staff organize and direct all of these efforts towards ensuring that Fort Huachuca will be a sustainable base of operations in the event of a nuclear exchange.

Intensive gardening agriculture is not a new practice, but it is very labor intensive. You can keep yourself and one or two other people fairly well-fed, but clearly this doesn’t leave sufficient surplus to run a pre-Exchange type of society. However, intensive gardening will keep large numbers of people alive when you have limited water and no fossil fuels, as is the case in SAMAD.

The gardening practiced in SAMAD basically involves turning the soil to a depth of two feet every season, applying compost, watering by hand, and planting crops in very dense beds (instead of rows). Turning the soil aerates the soil afresh for each new crop. Obviously, you don’t grow perennials or biennials this way. The loose soil provides a superior growth medium. The tightly packed plants provide a “green mulch” that shields the soil from direct sun, thus significantly reducing evaporation from the soil—a needed practice in Arizona. The standard bed is about 5’x20’, allowing the average person to reach into the center of the bed from the perimeter. Obviously, the dimensions of the bed can be changed to suit the owner. The density and dimensions of the bed enables the gardener to maximize growing area while minimizing the area of soil compaction where the gardener ambulates. Watering by hand enables the gardener to maximize water utilization by watering under the level of the leaves. In a four-hour day, the average person can tend enough beds to feed one adult.

While there are many intensive gardening practices to choose from, SAMAD has gone with a style that emerged from a study done in the Bay Area in the 1980’s. For better or for worse, this was the most successful practice in 1996 and 1997. This is what was available in 1998 when literally hundreds of thousands of survivors had to be turned into farmers/gardeners.

There are several advantages to the intensive gardening practiced in SAMAD. Yields per acre are phenomenal compared to other non-fertilized irrigated crops. Provided compost is applied and the proper mix of crops is grown to ensure good levels of nitrogen and other nutrients, almost any soil can be made very productive indeed. In a few years, almost any soil can be made rich with organic matter. Water use per bushel of crop produced is also quite low compared to commercial irrigated crops. Yields are typically better than yields for rain-fed crops because the delivery of water is nearly ideal.

The real drawback to this method is the labor involved. There’s no getting around the fact that one person needs to spend four hours a day tending a series of these beds to feed himself. Drip irrigation can help a lot, but there isn’t going to be drip irrigation in SAMAD after the Exchange. Best management practices can trim a few minutes here and a few minutes there off the daily labor, but there’s no helping the fact that one gardener is about at his limit supporting three adults with his daily labor. Add in the need for other labor to keep daily life going, and realistically each person can support two to two-and-a-half people. I’ll talk more about economizing other labor another time.

In SAMAD, the wells are under tight control. Water is very carefully rationed. Gardeners have to get their water from an issue point, which means travel to and from their gardens with their containers. Bicycles pulling carts with 55-gallon drums mounted on them are ubiquitous in SAMAD by 2001.1 Travel to and from the issue point, plus time in line, is a serious addition to the day’s labor.

None of this would have worked except that Fort Huachuca ate the food intended for Metro Phoenix. During the months leading up to the nuclear attacks on the US, the DCP undertook a massive effort to stockpile selected installations with weapons, ammunition, supplies, and food. Naturally enough, Huachuca was selected as a depot for enough food to feed the urban populations of Sierra Vista, Tucson, and Phoenix for four months. The construction effort was immense. In the event, much of the food was never delivered to Phoenix. SAMAD had a year’s worth of food, even if the agricultural efforts failed completely. This was fortunate, because even with the preparations and a certain sense of urgency, the first season’s efforts were not very encouraging. SAMAD really just scraped by in late 1998 and early 1999. After that, though, things began to look up (by Twilight: 2000 standards).

By March 2001, then, about one person in four is engaged in intensive gardening. Their efforts feed somewhat more than half of the population. Their lives revolve around watering and weeding, punctuated by turning the soil, planting, and harvesting. It’s a hard existence, but most are aware of just how hard things are everywhere else. The first rumblings of discontent are being heard, though.

Converted commercial agriculture feeds the next slice of the population. In SAMAD, these fields are converted center pivot fields. These fields were deemed to be sufficiently productive and efficient to be worthy of the investment of electricity needed to turn the pivots and pump the ground water. These fields require some human labor, but not nearly as much as gardening. Refugees from Phoenix and Mexican refugees do most of this work. They live in camps near the fields. Conditions aren’t great, but by early 2001, one-room rammed earth dwellings accomodate a significant slice of this population. Pre-fab structures supplied to Huachuca in 1997 for other purposes house most of the rest.

The run-off catchment fields are seasonal. These fields consist of small plots called micro-catchment basins dug at the bottom of slopes to capture runoff. The runoff soaks into the earth directly under the basin, thus providing a micro-oasis. Farmers use this technique for subsistence agriculture in many semi-arid parts of Africa. Yields aren’t great, but they are perfectly acceptable for sustaining life. Labor input is low, once the basins are dug. In southern Arizona, rain falls during two or three winter months and from mid-July to early September. A pool of laborers conduct this kind of farming when rain allows it, and they do other work at other times of the year. Certain areas in SAMAD are well-suited for this kind of farming.

Ranching has a long tradition in southern Arizona. The cattle are carefully husbanded. For the general populace, milk is uncommon. Beef is rare. Nevertheless, ranch products add a valuable slice to the SAMAD nutritional and caloric pie.

By 2001, hunting is not bringing in good results. The place has simply been hunted out. The loss of snakes is leading to a surge in the rodent population, and so hunting is shifting to rat catching.

Another useful addition to the SAMAD diet comes from mesquite beans. Mesquite beans are legumes, and they are available to be gathered once per year. By 2001, mesquite trees have been planted in many locations as an investment in the future.

Taken together, the SAMAD diet is pretty good by Twilight: 2000 standards. The principal grain is corn, heavily supplemented by potatoes. Common beans are the principle pulse, supplemented by peas. Fruits and vegetables include a variety of squashes (principally butternut and pumpkin), tomatoes, spinach, collard greens, onions, chard, and a variety of peppers. Some root vegetables are grown. Also, there is some garlic and chives. Melons aren’t common, but they are available. A few other specialty items are grown; it’s possible to get a bit of tobacco, though it’s worth more than gasoline by weight. By early 2001, it’s possible to get mesquite bean beer and corn whiskey; again, these are luxury items.

Oats are rare and are used principally as feed for the working equines. Wheat is also rare, although a few of the center-pivot fields grow it. There is no rice. There is no barley, nor is there millet. There is no sorghum.

There are no apples, oranges, or grapefruits. There are no berries of any kind. There are no bananas. There are no peaches, pears, or nectarines. There has been talk of going down to Yuma to obtain seeds and cuttings, but no action has been taken on this as of early 2001.

There is almost no chicken, although a relative handful of birds are kept in a few locations in SAMAD. There is no turkey. There is no pork, except javelina. There is no mutton. There is no fish. Game fowl are available, but they are rare indeed.

Some of the items listed above are available in trade from other parts of Arizona. Needless to say, they are not commonly consumed in SAMAD.

1. All these bicycles had to come from someplace. Tens of thousands were recovered from Phoenix. Fort Huachuca established trade relations with gangs/warlords in Metro Phoenix to obtain all of these bicycles. As a consequence, Huachuca did business that basically supported the reign of Phoenix’s gangs and warlords. Much death and suffering thus can be laid at the feet of Charles Thomason, from a certain point of view.


Last edited by Webstral; 02-23-2010 at 09:45 PM. Reason: "reign," not "rain"
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Old 02-23-2010, 10:28 PM
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Great work Web!! Love the detail there.

That "square foot farming" idea was something I was tossing around in NYC. Labor intensive but removes the dependency on machinery to keep production levels up. Even children can be involved in the process. Doesnt even matter where you do it if soil is available.

Nicely done!
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Old 02-23-2010, 11:22 PM
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They SAY you can get the same amount of food in only 20% of the space...note sure thats true but going off of previously posted numbers you can feed 15 people per acre instead of 3. Thats a crazy increase.
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Old 02-24-2010, 05:34 AM
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Bicycles pulling carts with 55-gallon drums mounted on them are ubiquitous in SAMAD by 2001.
A three wheeled Bicycle could also be used, they tend to be able to carry more weight. They are common in eastern Europe and most developing countries. Here are some examples:

Also use the right type of cart will also increase the load. This Cart is capable of carrying 197 Gallons:

The 197 Gallons may not be exact, my math tends to sucks.
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Last edited by Canadian Army; 02-24-2010 at 05:54 AM.
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:37 AM
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Thumbs up Once again...

You deliver high calibre top notch work...

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Old 02-24-2010, 11:23 AM
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Thanks, General!

CA, thanks for posting the photos. I'm leaning more towards the last image because there will be tens of thousands of bicycles already in use throughout southern Arizona. If the cart and bike are separate line items, then the bicycle can be used without the cart. This isn't to say that the trike won't catch on. Perhaps new bicycles will be trikes, while carts will be manufactured to be fitted to existing bicycles.

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Old 02-24-2010, 02:10 PM
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Since I had no idea where the heck Fort Hoochie Koochie was, I had to google earth it...
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Old 02-24-2010, 02:21 PM
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Figured I would throw in the relative location to the closest 10 canon strikes, 10 canon units and 10 closest renewable/nuclear plants to Fort Huachuca

370.8 km W of El Paso, TX, 250 Kt
692.8 km ExSE of March AFB, CA, 1000 Kt
776.1 km ExSE of Wilmington, CA, 1250 Kt
779.5 km ExSE of Carson, CA, 750 Kt
784.8 km ExSE of Torrance, CA, 500 Kt
794.1 km ExSE of El Segundo, CA, 1750 Kt
942.6 km SW of Cheyenne Mountain, CO, 3000 Kt
949.1 km WxSW of Borger, TX, 500 Kt
998.7 km W of Dyess AFB, TX, 500 Kt
1008.3 km ExSE of Vandenborg AFB, CA, 1000 Kt

105.7 km SE of Mexican - Brigada Colima
254.1 km WxSW of Mexican - Tercio Torreon
477.5 km ExSE of Mexican - Brigada Hermosillo
584.1 km E of Mexican - Brigada La Paz
637.3 km E of Mexican - Brigada Nogales
657.7 km NW of Mexican - Brigada Durango
695.1 km W of Mexican - 2o Regito Infanteria Torreon
716.8 km ExSE of Mexican - 1a Brigada
756.1 km W of Mexican - Regito Infanteria Activo Hidalgo del Parral
834.1 km WxSW of Mexican - Brigada Chihuahua
945.5 km SW of US - 100th Infantry Division

plants (kWT is yearly average - maximum will probably be higher)
61.8 km SE of Irving Plt - Hydro - 1561 kWT
81.2 km SE of South Con - Hydro - 214 kWT
83.0 km SE of IRVINGTON - Land Fill Gas - 4411 kWT
241.5 km SxSE of Roosevelt - Hydro - 6969 kWT
249.9 km ExSE of Childs Plt - Hydro- 2685 kWT
306.0 km SE of Palo Verde - # of reactors: 3 - 1243/1335/1247 MWT
348.2 km WxSW of Elephant Bt - Hydro - 12711 kWT
417.7 km SxSE of Crosscut - Hydro - 691 kWT
436.9 km ExSE of Pilot Knob - Hydro - 2582 kWT
461.2 km SE of Parker Dam - Hydro - 64664 kWT
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Old 02-24-2010, 05:45 PM
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With satellite maps, you can see where much of the action during the initial stages of the fighting occurs. Brigada Nogales was right on post during the height of the fighting. It was a close call for Fort Huachuca.

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Old 02-24-2010, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Webstral View Post
Perhaps new bicycles will be trikes, while carts will be manufactured to be fitted to existing bicycles.
That makes sense.

Oh, I agree with GP. Top work as always Web.
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Old 02-24-2010, 11:55 PM
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Awesmely comprehensive and well thought out thread!

Though I have a thought about the chicken shortage in SAMAD...
What brought you to the conclusion that there wouldn't be many of them? Although they require water, it's fairly minimal and chickens would be content to live on greywater. They're foragers by nature- there would be no shortage of pests, bugs and worms for them to eat as pesticides would be nonexistent or not in widespread use. In fact, pest control and natural fertilization are two services that chickens provide easily. Eggs are a great food source and are an alternative to beans. They're fairly hardy birds. In a free range environment there would be no need for antibiotics to prevent sickness. Their only vulnerability is to predators and theft. You certainly wouldn't have trouble getting them to breed-afterall, chickens are rampant in 2nd and 3rd world nations like Mexico and parts of Africa.
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