Once in a Blue Agave Moon: What is missing right now?


Chapter Nine

No matter how good they may be at making what they needed by improvising and adapting, there were a few items that, as raw materials, could not be recycled or rebuilt into what was needed.

Most of the metals that were needed could be reformed into whatever configuration desired from existing items except for copper sheets, tubing and wire.

Although blacksmithing and casting could be accomplished by burning wood, cutting, brazing, and welding required oxygen, acetylene, and helium. There was no way to avoid their dependence upon these gases, and they could not be easily produced or extracted from their environment.

Silver and brass used for brazing and soldering were plentiful enough to be easily obtained by barter, especially since silver was no longer of much worth as a monetary commodity.

Welding rods and wire for MIG welding are very specialized and not easily produced; as such, they were essential commodities that relied upon whatever existing stock was available through barter.

Similarly, fiberglass cloth, polymer resin and its catalyst allowed them to fabricate anything from boats to tubs, vats, and basins as well as to repair or weatherproof whatever was needed.

It was not long before the members of The Colony began to realize that jointly, they were capable of enjoying a certain rustic opulence in their daily lives; all of their necessities and many of their indulgences were easily produced and maintained by the members who were already skilled tradesmen, or at least competent home craftsmen.

Once hot and cold running water, electricity, air conditioning and refrigeration could no longer be taken for granted, it became much more easy to get in touch with a sense of gratitude and satisfaction for the way they carried out their activities of daily living.

Anyone who desired it could bring clean running water into their home. It would be their responsibility to tap its main line and install the connection to their domicile. And in the spirit of an old-fashioned barn raising, there was almost no end to the assistance offered by their neighbors when needed.

Solar heating is so easy to harness that no one did without it. Long periods of overcast skies are not the rule in Florida, but electric backup was also easily accomplished.

A common area, much like a clubhouse in an apartment complex was built for town hall meetings, in which everyone participated, as well as for celebrations and informal meetings. Once you were inside, the carpentry and decorative woodworking as well as the general decor were impeccable and quite luxurious enough that it was easy to forget that the rest of the world was still trying to survive what had nearly become the End of Days.

They even built a pool that utilized the plentiful water from a farm pond they had dug to recycle grey water which was filtered and kept flowing and utilized natural means to stay clean and not dependent upon chlorine for disinfection.

It was not much different from swimming in the pond, but it was much safer because it was easier to control the environment, especially at night, when it was lit by solar-powered lights that charged in the daytime.

Several years before, Elliot and a few of his colleagues began transporting commercial freight containers to their camp for the purpose of modular housing units that were easily linked and sturdy enough to withstand hurricane-force winds (or even bullets).

Several of them were used as work areas for machining, hand loading  ammunition, or laboratory areas, including fermentation and distilling.

Once they were finished inside, including windows with steel shutters, they were remarkably beautiful; there was a certain kind of calm that was evident within because they could shut out almost all external noise, much like a bank vault.

Whenever they could locate additional containerized freight modules, they either appropriated or bartered for them. One of the members was a heavy equipment operator who used a low-boy trailer to move his bulldozer, a back-hoe and a front-end loader to the camp, and when needed, it could be pressed into service to move anything bulky and heavy.

Locating non-renewable supplies or items like the freight containers, the welding gases or the fiberglass supplies involved a certain degree of risk that could not be avoided. The chose not to disclose their location to almost everyone, preferring to do all barter transactions off-premises.

No one could be completely trusted, and all business involved heavily armed back-up that lent a decidedly sinister atmosphere to the transactions, considering the fact that without civil courts and endless lawsuits, and no court of appeals, if you could not protect what you owned you would probably loose it; however the adage “you can steal way more money with a briefcase than you ever can with a gun” no longer applied, and in the absence of attorneys,  all business was considerably more straightforward, honest and direct.

In a surprisingly short period of time, those who were self-reliant enough to survive the initial collapse of the world’s infrastructure adapted to a barter economy. It was decidedly not the most efficient way to do business because it often involved trading something you had or a service you could perform for something you might not necessarily need, but which you could trade to someone else who had what you needed.

In that respect, money was essentially a shorthand way to measure one’s wealth, or to convert it into something you needed, but in the absence of a common form of currency it required a great deal more ingenuity and old-fashioned horse-trading.

In colonial times, whiskey was known as the “currency of the realm.” George Washington owned one of the largest stills in North America at the time.

Elliott and the other members of the Fourteenth Colony were now producing large amounts of ethanol and methanol to not only trade as a fuel source, but his whiskey, rum, vodka and tequila were rapidly gaining a reputation and demand that kept them constantly busy building larger production facilities.

They were smart enough to realize that as long as the demand outstripped their ability to produce, their buying power was maximized to a point where there was no need to do without much of anything that they wanted or needed.

They were rapidly approaching a point where they were considering using a third party to distribute and trade their product for whatever they needed, allowing someone else to take on the risk involved and still make a living for themselves based on the value of their services.

The problem was that unless one of them was up to the task of distributing and bartering their product, they would have to find someone else to do it for them.

Someone who already had developed established trade relations with others who traded items thy did not have.

Someone who could be trusted, or at least controlled and supervised, and no one they knew fit that category at present.

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