There Is No Self-sustainability Without Redundancy

It’s easy to be minimalist next to a loaded shopping mall

Marjan Krebelj


Two weeks ago, a rat broke into our storage room. It must have been there for a couple of days because later on, I found its feces everywhere. I called the local vet for instructions, and she told me to discard everything that had biting marks on it, or couldn’t be disinfected on the outside. It took me two days to sort it out and buy new supplies. I’ve lost about 10 kg of flour, some cereals, legumes, and a bit of fruit. The 20 kg wheat I have is still in question. I’ll probably buy new and sell this to a chicken farm.

Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

The next week the door of the freezer stayed open during the night. I have no idea how that happened, but I suspect the locking mechanism doesn’t work as it should have. Another batch of food went into the compost.

The contact grill I use for bread broke down. I need to replace the temperature fuse, but for now I just have to go without it.

Then the stick hand blender. Fuck.

Finally, an hour ago, I just broke my jar of sourdough starter. There is no way to salvage anything from the mess of slurry and broken glass that is lying on the floor. The risk of capturing micro-shards that would end up in bread is just too significant. It takes about 5 days to cultivate a new one (and my wheat is probably infected from rats, so damn it), which means no bread, I guess?

So for the last two weeks, I often thought nature must plot a conspiracy against me. :) “The devil shits in one pile,” is an old proverb. Things go wrong in the series.

Luckily this isn’t such a blow. Since 2015 I have been making dehydrated backups of every thriving sourdough culture I produced. I took out one from 2016, then fed and rehydrated it, and now I wait to see if it wakes up from a long sleep. For everything else, there’s a mall a few blocks away.

Observing these little misfortunes is illuminating a much greater issue regarding self-sustainability. There is no way to survive without backups and a great deal of redundancy. Things go wrong all the time, nature is a vicious battle for food and resources, and there are physical laws of gravity and thermodynamics at play. Stuff decays.



Marjan Krebelj

Once an architect, now a freelance photographer/filmmaker with passion for words.