Episode-1092- Marjory Wildcraft on Cuba’s Experience During Economic Collapse — 27 Comments

  1. I have Mrs Marjory’s dvd. It is worth every penny?
    I am attempting to out as many of her systems into place as possible.

  2. Wow! you just took me down memory lane. I learned all these things in post-war South Korea. I had so much respect for the peoples’ ability to do so much with nothing. The average rice farmer had only an acre or two, with which they produced just about everything they needed because they used every possible product from that land. They used oxen, so much better than the tillers Americans introduced. The oxen had built in gears, and fuel, with no rusting breakable parts, and they lived in a room of the house by the gate.

    The roofs of the houses were made with the straw from the rice, the beds, and pillows were made of the rice husks. Rope was made of the straw, and rice bags were woven of the rope. Shoes were made of the rope. Each house had a persimmon tree, and chickens which were as beautiful as a painting when viewed against a high, clear blue sky. Squash and other veggies were dried on fences, and the rice was willowed on the thrashing floor yard. People were happy, never knowing they were poor until the westerners came along and sold them on tillers, tin roofs, and other things that had to be maintained thus requiring more money, and inconvenience. I considered them advanced in that they had learned to be happy with simplicity.

    Short story: I bought one of the first fords made in Korea. Sometime later I blew a gasket. The mechanic had no replacement parts, so he took a dried squid, put the carburetor on it, make a mark around it, cut it out and slapped it on and that squid gasket lasted the rest of the time I had that car. Simplicity calls for ingenuity. I lived without elec. or water, or canned food. In the butcher shop a carcass hung, beef or pork, and you just said how big a piece you wanted and you got the next whack. We had only rice, potatoes, carrots, onions, tofu, kimchi, wild greens, and bean sprouts to eat for about ten years or more, so I can tell you many ways to cook those.

    Then the west started bringing in western ways, and those skills were lost. That’s so sad to me, but the irony is, that now the west may come to that, and we can learn not only how to survive but to thrive and be happy….if only. Not much that will come my way will disturb my way of living. I will not miss elec. or mechanical things. Eat fresh foods and you’ll not need a refrigerator or freezer. Use simple tools.

    I started buying only hand tools for every job about twenty years ago, because I saw what is coming. If only people would begin to adapt before they need too, it would be a lesser shock. I saw what war did to that country and it’s people, and they were strong. For us, ” Simplify” must be a foreign word, and translates as “more”. Comfort and convenience describe the American way, or so goes my opinion. Thanks, you two, for bringing us this info. I have a lump in my throat for the memories.

  3. I saw a fantastic documentary on youtube regarding the special period in Cuba and it shows how during the early 90’s after the Soviet Union collapse and the US putting stricter sanctions on Cuba the citizens turned all available and bare land into gardens and orchards to prevent famine and over night farmers become some of the riches people in Cuba.

    Used a lot of solar tech for heating water to shower, imported Chinese bikes to travel, farmed small animals on roof tops, created food forest as Jack has mentioned on his show before, Almost everywhere had farmers markets.

    It really is an eye opener and excellent video

    The Power of Community. How Cuba Survived Peak Oil:

    Of course I don’t agree if all point made in the video but did get inspiration from what can be done in a shtf scenario and things to implement in my own preps.

    Thanks Jack and Marjory for an excellent show.

    • That is what we were talking about in the interview, the documentary is in the show notes by the way.

  4. Can we get some more info on the Expo you will be attending in Des Moines in June?


  5. Just finished my solar off grid home and now I need the kind of info you are providing above. Food like shelter, power and water are pretty much vital. Thank you so much for your help. I will be back soon.

  6. Always great to hear from Marjory!

    The two of you have convinced me to think smaller in terms of homestead properties. For three reasons, lower initial cost, lower taxes (why pay taxes on land you’re not even using?) and more efficiency.

    In terms of walking your ‘fence line’ (and the length of a boundary Fedge):
    > 2.5 Acres (about a Hectare or 1000Mx1000M) = 1/4 mile (thats a LOT of Fedge)
    > 10 Acres = 1/2 mile perimeter
    > 40 Acres = 1 mile perimeter

    If I decide I need more, I can always go the Greg Judy route.

  7. Quick Note:
    On there is a bullet point that says:
    Turn Any Soil Into Fertile Black God
    I’m assuming that should be:
    Turn Any Soil Into Fertile Black Gold.

    Figured Marjory Wildcraft might like to know.

  8. Twice in one day.
    She is also going to be on Coast To Coast Am tonight.
    I am sure it won’t be as good Jack’s Interview which am am going to listen to now on the way home.

  9. I gotta admit throughout most of the interview, I had the feeling Marjory was not only sympathetic with the plight of the Cubans she had been amongst, but that there was disconnect with why they were in that plight. Quite a few times, despite labeling the government as socialist, she was speaking almost approvingly of its policies that pushed the people towards an agrarian way of life.

    There’s a big difference between choosing an agrarian lifestyle and being forced into one for subsistence. Yet she spoke favorably about the people being forced to ration that foodstuffs and of the government giving them more rations. She noted how good it was the government provided such great healthcare and education. And there was that disconnect of why they were living in such conditions. If only they could get that tractor, she said, without seeming to understand why they couldn’t have one now.

    Perhaps I’m too edgy and always looking for foxes in sheep’s clothing, and I’ll admit by the end of the interview she did seem to acknowledge the problems inherent in socialism. But I really had the feeling she was much more sympathetic with it — and not just the human condition of those she was amongst — than I’m comfortable with (which is basically zero).

    Am I alone in sensing that? Feel free to call me out if so.


    • I don’t think so I think her goal was to present the facts of what happened with no political opinion.

      I also know that Marjory is a lot like me, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to condemn socialist nation when you live in one. I figure my opinion of OUR OWN government is far lower then most Americans and probably even most of my listeners. Sure Cuba is communist but I consider us Fascist so I am only going to point out so many of the “specs in the eye” of my neighbors to the south.

    • @FoolishCop its a bit simplistic to say that ‘socialism’ is the cause of conditions in Cuba. The Wikipedia article on the country is worth a quick read (particularly the strength of unions before the coup).

      There are a couple of other things I think are worth noting:
      1) Cubans started ‘Walking To Freedom’ as soon as the current government came to power. After a generation, you can imagine who’s left. 😉

      2) Every ‘state’ contains social programs. How else are they going to justify the taxes? Medicare and Medicaid. SNAP. The only difference between Cuba and the US is that while I ‘qualify’ to pay taxes to support those programs, I don’t qualify to receive any ‘benefits’ from them. 🙂

      3) During the cold war small countries were forced to either cozy up to the US or the USSR. The ‘incentive’ was that by signing up the client state got to suckle at the teat of either Uncle Sam or Mother Russia. Cuba chose Russia, and became dependent on that monthly welfare check. When the USSR collapsed, suddenly a lot of countries decided they’d become ‘democratic’ (particularly in Africa). If they had resources, Uncle Sam welcomed them back into the fold. But in Cuba, Castro was still in power.. so no becoming ‘democratic’, no new teat to suck.

      I do find it interesting that she was saying that young people are being encouraged to become entrepreneurial farmers (allowed to sell some of their produce on the open market). I assume they’re taking a play out of China’s playbook.

    • @FoolishCop: You’re not too edgy, and never diminish being a Sentinel or apologize calling it like you see it. No matter what Ms. Wildcraft political leanings are, when somebody states that Cuba is Socialist rather than Communist, or comments about how happy the Cubans are and how there is no unemployment and no real hunger, but “they’re starting to move towards capitalism, and I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing” — how can any history knowing and freedom loving human being not sit up straight when hearing that and think, “whisky tango foxtrot”.

      • Um socialist is communist, socialist is a marketing term used to sell communism.

        • Um, thats my point, Jack. Call it like it is, not the softer term that is used for marketing. Cuba is communist, period. Evil, oppressive, freedom hating, spirit killing, slave creating communist.

  10. Q? Is the DVD set updated, or did they just change the name of the existing package?

  11. I think that learning 13 new skills in a year is very doable.

    Here is how my wife and I have regained productive time during the day.

    We donated our TV 4 years ago and never missed it. We were not what you would call “heavy users”, but you will be amazed at what you can accomplish when you have an extra 1 to 2 more hours a day to learn or do something worth while.

    It’s fun to see people’s reactions when we confess to not owning a TV. They look at us like we have 2 heads!

  12. “Brent in PEI”

    Jack, the gem in the podcast was:

    “You’ve learned to live with people you don’t like”

  13. Great insights from MW. Is there any more chilling words than “the people get ___ in their rations” ?

  14. My homesteading group got established after I shared Marjory’s excellent Alternatives to Dentists video series with the local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter. WAPF chapters are a great way to meet others who want to create a real foods community. (As the late Steve Covey advised, seek to understand, then be understood.) Just last month, we showed clips from the Backyard Food Production DVD and it was a big hit! I recommend those seeking a community to check WAPF out:
    About the size of a homestead, the location and exposure should be taken into account. That is, 3 acres of a North facing hill in New England won’t be as productive as the same flat acreage in the Texas. Also take into account (and become familiar with) tax exemptions for the size of the land and the use requirements.

  15. Jack, when is your appearance in Des Moines? I looked under the “Appearances” tab but it listed. “Confirmed appearances for 2012” and then had your appearance in Nashua this year and that’s about it. I have vacation in June and was hoping to make it out there, depending on the nature of the expo.


  16. I didn’t know we were trying to master 13 skills in a year with 13 skills. Wow I have a lot of work to do this year LOL if I am going to master even one skill. I have trained in the martial arts for 31 years and haven’t mastered a technique let alone mastered the martial arts. One of my goals with 13 skills is to learn the basics of sewing-I have never sewn a button on a shirt and I want to learn at least the basics of repair sewing-that is a skill.

    One of my co-workers and another of my training partners have specialized skills at foraging. My co-worker harvests pounds of Morels every year and my training partner is a graduate of the Tom Brown institute and has a lot of knowledge on foraging. I am not going to master foraging this year…but I am going to gain the skill of foraging this year from these two. Thats what I see as gaining 13 skills goals. It would take years or decades to master any one skill, but you can gain basic skills in areas that you have no experience in quickly, or you can always increase your skills in any areas to some extent. An example I train in mostly striking and weapons based Martial Arts. One month of training in a grappling system could increase my skill as a martial artist.

    • Well no one said master except the guy who made the video. I said from the beginning, “develop or drastically improve 13 skills”.