A war in the South-East would be a dangerous thing with regards to the security of our hay supplies. With every private household in this great nation owning at least four horses and the larger part of our extensive transport system heavily reliant on good old horsepower you may begin to perceive the extent to which we rely upon imported hay. Those vast, moist temperate regions of the South-East, though sparsely populated, are ideally suited to the intensive production and export of hay.
Although technologically this area is basically primitive and the social system of the indigenous population in many places akin to feudal, the technical assistance of our experts and advisors has contributed to significantly enhanced production. This is evidenced by the vastly increased baleage shipped to the world’s developed nations and it’s a common sight to witness veritable flotillas of barn-boats stationed impatiently at the harbour-mouths of the hay - producing regions, awaiting their turn at the loading terminal.
It is partly to secure the continued supply of this basic commodity that political and military intelligence is so covertly focussed in the region and the activities of the hay-producing nations foreign allegiances so closely monitored.
Our politicians cannot openly admit to it but without doubt we have intervened in the internal politics of the South-Eastern nations at times, when it has appeared strategically expedient. It has long been imperative (increasingly so since the inception of the horse-age) to safeguard the fodder that fuels the development of the mobile North!
This heavy reliance has, as I’ve hinted, not been without its price, in terms of political and military machinations. Nor has our infatuation with horses and their preferred victuals been free from concern and criticism from within our own geographic boundaries as environmental lobby groups and the scientists whose ecological diagnosis they echo point to the impact of the millions of bales of hay lost from barn-boats at sea each year! Remember the “Silage Valdez”? Do you recall the fate of sea life stifled under the wet wad of sea-born horse tucker? Such tragedies occur too frequently.
Does your memory resupply images of the incident near the end of the Irate Youwaiti War when retreating vindictive Iratei troops ignited the vast stockpiles of Youwaiti hay? The sky-obliterating smoke plumes threatened to blanket much of the region, robbing it of sunlight and warmth, jeopardizing the livelihood of the inhabitants and (perhaps more importantly to us) the future hay production of the area!
Specialist teams of firefighters, skilled in such procedures and headed by famous Green Adair, risked suffocation and incineration during their protracted exertions to quell the smouldering mountains constituting the ‘Mother of all hay fires’.
Fortunately that conflict is at last temporarily neutralized and the Youwaiti hay production infrastructure reconstituted. The harvesting and the hay conveyors are active again, and the storage facilities revamped and provided with elaborate security and surveillance equipment.
But these upheavals illustrate the vulnerability of our wholesale utilization of both hay and the horses it feeds. Our societies have evolved in a manner made possible only by such cheap renewable fuels and in the process have made us all the more dependent upon such supplies as food, resources and manufactured items which become more and more specialized and beyond the ready emulation of housewife, gardener, home handyman or farmer. More and more goods at more and more stages of production, refinement and distribution require more and more horses and their all important wagons, on the road system.
This inevitably requires increasing amounts of hay, which is bad enough (with all the increased acreage under hay production and the precarious barn-boats and their cargo) but there are repercussions subsequent to the hay’s arrival and fodder-gobbling distribution within the nations using it. A whole competitive marketing system (the horse-tucker brand names are legion) vie for the ‘elephant’s’ share of the hay market. Extravagant claims are frequently made in advertisements asserting individual hay-brands’ superiority over their lower calorie competitors. The various hay stations offer inducements to customers and the phenomenon of the all-night hay station is a well established tradition already, as is the sale of specialist hay blends with enhanced calorie and vitamin contents for high- performance horses and other hay accepting animals.
But few enamoured horse users can have failed to notice of the horse’s most common by-products, or its offensive odour! A whole, lower strata of society is relegated to the cleaning of the nation’s road-ways and vast alpine ranges of discarded horse manure decay desolately beyond the city confines, recognizable only as sweltering heaps on the horizon (except when the wind blows from the wrong diarrhoea, I mean direction.)
People have toyed with the notion of re-exporting it back to the land of its origin, for use as a fertilizer, but unless the hay growers were prepared to pay for its collection back to the ports and reloading into suitable vessels (a cost equal to the original hay’s value) the proposal would never have a hay bale’s chance in hell!.
So currently the monumental mounds of manure encroach towards the cities and you can imagine where the lowest cost housing is to be found. The door to door flyspray salesman does a roaring trade in these locations. This too has had its impact on the planet because for decades these aerosol cans relied on chloroflurocarbons as propellants. The CFC’s, as they are known, are finding their way skywards into the earth’s upper atmosphere where they tear apart the ozone molecules demolishing our ultra violet shield.
The millions of horses and their, virtual ,continents of anearobic excrement are also enemies of the ozone releasing, as they do, prodigious volumes of methane into the air.
I’m hoping that some brave person, someone of credibility and prestige, will stand up and declare that “We have to stop this madness. Our fascination with horses and the mobility they provide us with is ruining the planet!”
The enemies of such an argument are powerful and diverse.
The various South-Eastern countries upon whom we so heavily and almost solely rely for our desiccated energy bales are now organized to act with quite a degree of collective unanimity and as OHEC (the organization of hay exporting countries) they act as a cartel, attempting to fix prices and encourage further consumption. Some of these nations are putting their hay earnings into the purchase of armaments to further their own strategic ambitions and frequently it is munition factories the developed northern lands who profit from these purchases.
The numerous hay retailing companies are often rumoured to be implicated in the manifold instances where inventors, attempting to perfect mechanical devices that could (some believe) supersede the horse, have suffered orchestrated intimidation, ridicule and obstruction.
I recently attended a rather ‘wacky’ evening, a collection of oddball inventors and their gullible supporters, who were intent on collectively rediscovering the design and constructing a mechanical device they called the infernal combustion engine. Their claim was that this device has already been built and proven to work but its original inventor was given a very difficult time by shadowy forces who successfully portrayed him to the public as crank and charloton. The broken inventor died morose and penniless, leaving only sketchy details of his machine’s componentry. Now, here were a group of committed individuals convinced that they could work together and reinvent this contraption and in so doing reduce man’s impact on the planet. This mechanical construction would circumvent so many of the horses destructive influences, its fuel (something they called gasoline) was much less bulky, existed in some raw form below ground (thereby releasing valuable arable land for human food production) and could be pumped around the country in pipes (obviating the need for further horse distribution).
Fewer horses and their by-products would mean greatly reduced methane production…etc.
This infernal combustion thing did sound pretty good … so long as it’s not just some sort of fantasy.
So far, as far I can understand it, the best line of research to counter the deleterious effects of our horse culture seems to be being conducted at a university in Canada where a group of geneticists are currently involved in a horse-breeding programme designed to produce the ideal horse, one which consumes less feed and produces no methane.
Only time will tell if this avenue of thought is the most appropriate. It’s certainly a conundrum. There is no denying (though some still attempt to) that hay, and the horses who consume it (and of course ultimately the humans who rely on this whole system) are an obstacle to their own survival.
We are so reliant on and dedicated to the acceleration of economic growth and all the goodies it provides that none of us are prepared to really step inside and say “bugger this! I’m opting for the simple life!”
I suspect the horse will be with us for a long time yet. Knee deep in horse shit we will still be pursuing the “good” life!