Friday, October 24, 2008

Cree Nation

I was fooling around with Google maps and sketched in the two key blocks to illustrate my posts on the buffalo Commons and also what I will call the Cree nation.



The Cree nation block is that part of the boreal forest that is likely prospective for the development of an extensive cattail based horticultural protocol. I do not think it will be particularly easy, but I do think it is at least possible. It will be necessary to build out paddies in the extensive wetlands that exist throughout the boreal forest.

The creation of such a system will also promote exploitation of additional resources, the most obvious been the already present wildlife that can be tightly managed to maximize yield. This includes the beaver and moose particularly. Other plant species should also be open to direct exploitation in and around the wetland paddies. And the extensive lake system permits fish husbandry.

Such general husbandry has always needed a viable economic base that was tied directly to a patch of land or swamp that could be owned and managed. Operating cattail paddies does just that and provides the platform to do the rest. Europe surely had it easiest. All that was needed was to burn off a forest patch to grow hay and then capture a wild calf or two. Then you were in business.

The boreal forest is faced with near non existent soils and forests good mostly for pulp. There is no way there to provide a base crop. This is where the extensive wetlands can be tamed and turned into cattail paddies.

It may even be possible to generate floating paddies for the cattails to grow on. Fortunately most of the hard work has already been done by the indigenous beaver. Just taking advantage of his efforts will produce most of the early and easiest gains. The trick is to actually accommodate the beaver while this is been done.

It is not well known, but the husbandry of the beaver is a viable business on its own and needs to be supported. Beside the fur, which is superior, meat and musk can be harvested and marketed. Breeding will produce a larger more productive animal and a range of natural colors including white. Once a herd size is optimized in terms of a given paddy operation, a lot of surplus animals will be produced.

Moose husbandry is just as compelling. The animal is huge and easily collected and managed right after the autumn rut. It is unlikely to interfere much with the cattails, but would have no impact even if they ate cattails exclusively. They do not form large herds.

It is possible to organize a classic agricultural operation with these inputs alone. Adding cattle to the mix allows the harvesting and use of the cattail stalks as fodder.

We can have successful agricultural biome that produces cattle and starch for food and ethanol as well as a large fresh water seasonal fishery, with a range of secondary products derived from managing the local wildlife properly. It just needs a few well funded pioneers to show everyone how to do it and a bit of help from the equipment manufacturers.

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