Monday, August 16, 2010

Living on a Few Acres

Michael Lewis, in The Big Short, mentions Ben Hockett, who like the two founders of Cornwall Capital, believed "that people, and markets, tended to underestimate the probability of extreme changes."  Unlike them, he was concerned about global warming and other real life disasters, so Ben "bought a small farm in the country north of San Francisco, in a remote place without road access, planted with fruit and vegetables sufficient to feed his family, on the off chance of the end of the world as we know it."  (Page 120)

Now, I like Michael Lewis and think he's mostly right about the subprime mortgage lending debacle, but this picture of buying a farm "planted with fruit and vegetables" is what gets many city slickers into trouble.  Unless the farm comes with hired help who are staying on top of everything, you might find it planted with fruit, but you won't find it planted with vegetables "sufficient to feed [a] family."  It won't get there without a lot of back-breaking exercise, experimentation and persistence.

Not that I know much about it.  Ask me in another ten years.

"Come on now," says Virginia.  "Tell the truth."

The truth is, we've barely started.  We still visit a grocery store almost every week and I'm not so sure I want to eliminate those visits.  I've been looking for chocolate, toilet paper, ice cream salt and new running shorts, and haven't found 'em yet on this little farm. 

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