Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

OT: anything goes!

Moderator: Edi

User avatar
Broomstick
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 27087
Joined: 2004-01-02 07:04pm
Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
Contact:

Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Broomstick » 2017-05-15 11:43am

You are equipping a colony expedition to a new planet. Assume rather Earth-like conditions, including the full range of Earth conditions in roughly the same proportions because I say so. You do not have FTL so the colony cannot expect resupply in anything less than a generation or two at the earliest, so you better take what you need. Assume you'll get where your going safely, along with everything you're bringing with you.

You can take only a limited number of useful plants and animals (because I say so).

You can take 25 and ONLY 25 useful plants. That's it. Those have to supply all your plant-based needs. Which 25 do you take?

You can take 5 and ONLY 5 useful animals. That's it. They have to supply all your animal-based needs. Which 5 do you take?
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

User avatar
Zaune
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6814
Joined: 2010-06-21 11:05am
Location: In Transit
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Zaune » 2017-05-15 12:15pm

Plants:
Potatoes, wheat and rice are a shoe-in, obviously; they're too useful not to take. Tea, coffee and cocoa because they're vital for morale. Apples because they can grow in damn near any climate, tomatoes and orange and lemon trees because they're an integral part of the quisine of half the world. Sugar beets or cane, whichever grows better at the initial landing zone, plus hops and grapes so we can cater for all tastes when it comes to booze. Maybe some dwarf saltwort because it's good for making biodiesel but still technically edible. For the remainder, I'd just let the prospective colonists vote for their favourites.

Animals:
Goats for their hardiness, wool and milk. Cattle for meat, milk and ability to pull carts or ploughs. (I presume the colony's bringing some sort of motorised transport and the means to maintain it, but it wouldn't hurt to have a backup.) Chickens for eggs, meat and garden pest elimination. Dogs and cats for obvious reasons.
There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.
-- (Terry Pratchett, Small Gods)


Replace "ginger" with "n*gger," and suddenly it become a lot less funny, doesn't it?
-- fgalkin


Like my writing? Tip me on Patreon

I Have A Blog

User avatar
Khaat
Jedi Knight
Posts: 947
Joined: 2008-11-04 11:42am

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Khaat » 2017-05-15 12:24pm

Sadly, I ran right to the internet and found a list of 10 useful (wild) plants that cover basic foodstuffs, utilities, and "herbal remedies." I was somewhat surprised to see that three of them were trees: cedar, dogwood, and walnut. (The others: cattails, yarrow, mullein, rose, nettles, comfrey, horsetail.) Why? Well, without resupply, medicine is going to take a nosedive, so use the old ways. And it leaves *heh* 15 plants for the large brash food/sustenance ideas, which can probably be rounded out in around 10 (plantains, yams, sorghum, sweet potato, soybeans, casava, potatoes, rice, wheat, corn), and leave a few (5) slots open for odd-balls, like, I dunno, dandelions (good source of vitamin C, and aggressive as all get-out, may help keep native species at bay.)

Animals would be something similar, small and utility: bees, beetles (worms?), rats (fish would be tricky), chickens, dogs.

I guess the question then becomes "what do the native species think of these (tasty? poisonous?) snacks we brought?" Then, "How domesticate-able are the native species?" (You did say "earthlike condition", though you didn't say when.)
Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says.
Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule #3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule #4: Be outraged.
Rule #5: Don’t make compromises.

User avatar
Broomstick
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 27087
Joined: 2004-01-02 07:04pm
Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Broomstick » 2017-05-15 12:33pm

Sorry, Zaune, YOU have to make all the choices. :P :lol:

Khaat, good point about medicine.

Don't worry about native plants and/or wildlife - they may or may not be compatible with humans/Earth life, the point is that you might have to entirely rely on what you bring, you don't know if you can utilize the native stuff (although presumably it could be fuel or building materials as that doesn't require biochemical compatibility).

I'll show off my list in a bit, I want to see what others come up with.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

User avatar
Zaune
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6814
Joined: 2010-06-21 11:05am
Location: In Transit
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Zaune » 2017-05-15 12:51pm

Hah. Figures...

But of course the trouble with that is, once you've got all the bases covered for nutrition, any remaining slots are a matter of personal preference: Does it matter from a purely logistical perspective if we rely on olives or rapeseed for our source of cooking oil, for example, or whether we cultivate cherries or key limes for dessert purposes?
There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.
-- (Terry Pratchett, Small Gods)


Replace "ginger" with "n*gger," and suddenly it become a lot less funny, doesn't it?
-- fgalkin


Like my writing? Tip me on Patreon

I Have A Blog

User avatar
Broomstick
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 27087
Joined: 2004-01-02 07:04pm
Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Broomstick » 2017-05-15 01:24pm

Yes, because some plants can serve multiple purposes. Bamboo (which I see no one has mentioned yet) can be eaten, used as construction material, turned into storage containers, and used to make textiles like paper and fabric. Olive trees not only provide olives which can be eaten themselves as well as made into oil, but it can also provide timber when it's bearing years are over (which, admittedly, takes a long time). Cotton provides fiber for textiles and paper AND oil.

Cherries vs, limes? Well, I think limes have more vitamin C. On the other had, you might be able to make an argument in favor of cherries, such as being more tolerant of temperate climates and having a greater range in which to grow. Both provide fruit and wood.

Chickens are useful because they provide eggs, meat, and feathers (which have great insulting properties and can be made into writing implements as well as other useful things). Rabbits quickly convert feed to meat, provide useful hides, and can be made into glue. Both chickens and rabbits require a LOT less space than full sized cows. On the other hand, cattle can provide milk, meat, muscle power, leather, and so on. Sheep provide meat, milk, AND wool.

There is not one right answer - but there are groupings that are arguably "wrong", and some that are better than others.

You can bring fish, assume that keeping them alive won't be tremendous issue as either they will be able to live in natural ponds and/or you'll be able to construct suitable aquaculture facilities.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

User avatar
Zixinus
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6663
Joined: 2007-06-19 12:48pm
Location: In Seth the Blitzspear
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Zixinus » 2017-05-15 01:32pm

Are you limited to the TYPES of plants or actual quantity?

Should supporting bacteria and other micro-life also count up? What about plants that help control soil in switching agriculture, as to not deplete the soil? Then again, the alien soil is a big wildcard here and it might be possible that no plant you brought along will survive in it. So hydroponics should be considered too?

I'd definitely add bamboo (I wanted to write this JUST BEFORE you posted Broomsitck). It grows quickly and is very, very versatile. Plus cotton and maybe hemp for additional textiles and other possible uses like making rope.

Also, if there is no FTL wouldn't you be setting up a space habitat first then on the planet? Or is this a direct-to-planet thing?
Credo!
Chat with me on Skype if you want to talk about writing, ideas or if you want a test-reader! PM for address.

User avatar
Bedlam
Jedi Master
Posts: 1365
Joined: 2006-09-23 11:12am
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Bedlam » 2017-05-15 01:46pm

Wouldn't something like algae be the most efficient way of producing food?

If we're taking animals we have to take the plant's they'll eat so even if the human crew don't fancy algae it can probably be used as an animal foodstock.

User avatar
Zaune
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6814
Joined: 2010-06-21 11:05am
Location: In Transit
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Zaune » 2017-05-15 02:21pm

Converting it to useable animal fodder is more complex than something like silage, though. You'd probably want to favour the low-tech solutions when your nearest approved parts and service provider was several light-years distant.
There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.
-- (Terry Pratchett, Small Gods)


Replace "ginger" with "n*gger," and suddenly it become a lot less funny, doesn't it?
-- fgalkin


Like my writing? Tip me on Patreon

I Have A Blog

User avatar
Civil War Man
NERRRRRDS!!!
Posts: 3782
Joined: 2005-01-28 03:54am

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Civil War Man » 2017-05-15 02:22pm

Khaat is so far the only one who mentioned one of the animals that I would consider absolutely critical. Unless you don't mind forcing the colonists to pollinate all of the plants by hand, you are probably going to need bees.

User avatar
Jub
Sith Marauder
Posts: 3970
Joined: 2012-08-06 07:58pm
Location: British Columbia, Canada

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Jub » 2017-05-15 02:40pm

We should likely take some average old grass along. It grows quickly, lets some of our animals graze, and could help prepare the soil outside for our other crops.

User avatar
Elheru Aran
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 12914
Joined: 2004-03-04 01:15am
Location: Georgia

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-05-15 05:07pm

Maize/corn is definitely an option, though enriching it or including another plant(s) that offset the vitamin deficiency would be important. It still has quite a bit of use in cooking and animal feed, though.

A third vote for bamboo here.

I'd go for cherry over lime; most citrus trees are kinda unimpressive in my experience as far as wood goes.
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

User avatar
Bedlam
Jedi Master
Posts: 1365
Joined: 2006-09-23 11:12am
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Bedlam » 2017-05-15 05:27pm

For animals how about dogs? It might be a bit of a pain to keep a carnivore around but they've got thousands of year working with humans as guards, pack animals, companions and to control other animals.

User avatar
Broomstick
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 27087
Joined: 2004-01-02 07:04pm
Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Broomstick » 2017-05-16 01:58am

Zixinus wrote:Are you limited to the TYPES of plants or actual quantity?
Types.
Should supporting bacteria and other micro-life also count up?
For purposes of this exercise they can be ignored.
What about plants that help control soil in switching agriculture, as to not deplete the soil? Then again, the alien soil is a big wildcard here and it might be possible that no plant you brought along will survive in it. So hydroponics should be considered too?
All considerations.
Also, if there is no FTL wouldn't you be setting up a space habitat first then on the planet? Or is this a direct-to-planet thing?
Most likely you'd use a generation ship that has some sort of internal life support system that also grows food - which might, in fact, be the bottleneck here. Not so much what will survive on the planet, but what will survive the trip.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

User avatar
Zixinus
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6663
Joined: 2007-06-19 12:48pm
Location: In Seth the Blitzspear
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Zixinus » 2017-05-16 04:34am

A minor suggestion: crickets for protein, or other insectrs. They are very space-efficient and feed-efficient (although a mostly-vegan diet would likely be normal and preferable).
Credo!
Chat with me on Skype if you want to talk about writing, ideas or if you want a test-reader! PM for address.

Patroklos
Sith Devotee
Posts: 2525
Joined: 2009-04-14 11:00am

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Patroklos » 2017-05-16 09:28am

Some additions:

Barley, Sorghum, Soy Bean, and Alfalfa, and some sort of Hay. None of these are sexy but you will have full bellies and a lot of fodder between them. As someone already mentioned appropriate pollinators are critical here so we need to bring Earth bees in case no local species fits the bill. I would throw in some hardy root vegetables that are mostly plant and forget like beets and turnips. Something to note about wheat and rice is that they are VERY labor intensive, so while I think we should bring them with us they may not be all that valuable initially. It depends on how many colonists we start out with and how many of them can be dedicated to food production.

Flax. Linen is a versatile material. In addition to cotton, hemp and bamboo we have a large range of material needs covered. Flax also gives you linseed oil which is useful in a variety of industrial applications.

I think the animals are covered. You need a good mix between service, meat/protein producing, and hide/other material producing animals. Between cows, sheep, chickens, pigs and dogs I think we are covered. Bees though, so I would probably trade sheep for bees given we have all the multiple plant based wool substitutes and other meet producing animals.
A minor suggestion: crickets for protein, or other insectrs. They are very space-efficient and feed-efficient (although a mostly-vegan diet would likely be normal and preferable).
They are a one trick pony, though. Bees give you pollination, wax and honey. Cows hide, meat, labor and milk. Chickens eggs and meat. I suppose you could make a case for replacing pigs with crickets as they are both protein only choices. Or dogs, as they are service (you could eat them, its won't be efficient though). Dogs provide a more unique benefit not shared by most of the other choices though, and colonists without bacon will probably kill themselves.

User avatar
Broomstick
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 27087
Joined: 2004-01-02 07:04pm
Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Broomstick » 2017-05-16 11:55am

Here's my first draft of my list, note that with the plants some serve double-duty:

PLANTS

Medicinal
1. Opium poppy (for pain relief - also, as a bonus, edible seeds)
2. Foxglove (heart medication, diuretic)
3. Willow (aspirin for pain, arthritis, inflammation, fever reduction. Also provides wood and wicker.)
4. Ephedra (asthma/allergy, decongestant, stimulant)
5. Deadly nightshade (anti-nausea, anti-motion sickness)
6. Aloe (burn treatment, laxative)

Fiber, wood, oil, animal feed
(Willow, already listed)
(Apple, listed later)
(lemon, listed later)
7. Cotton (cloth, paper, oil, limited animal feed)
8. Hay (animal feed, weaving/insulation)
9. Cedar (wood, oil)
10. Bamboo (“timber”, fiber for cloth and paper, food)

Food – grains
11. Rice
12. Wheat
13. Oats

Food – fruits
14. Apples (fruit, wood)
15. Lemons (fruit, wood, oil)

Food – vegetables
16. Potato
17. Tomato
18. Soybean
19. Lentils
20. Onions
21. Carrots
22. Turnips (roots and greens)
23. Summer squash (something like zucchini)
24. Cabbage
25. Capcaisin pepper

Animals
1. Dogs (companions, guards, work animals, animal power)
2. Horses (companion, transportation, work animal, meat, hides)
3. Chickens (meat, eggs, feathers)
4. Goats (meat, milk, hides, light draft)
5. Bees (pollination, honey)

One thing to keep in mind is that this is a severely limited list, far more limited than any Earth culture has utilized since probably forever. That means there will be utilization not normally seen in our world. For example, you can spin and weave dog and goat hair, horses are not a major source of meat but they might well be one such a world, along with dog meat. There would probably be a lot of weaving/wicker type use of not only willow but also things like hay and straw (used to be more common in the past). Everything is going to have to serve double or triple (or more) duty.

As I said, there are a lot of "correct" answers - you could substitute almost any citrus for lemons, for example. You could swap goats with sheep and get wool, lose rice and add another vegetable, and so on. The list of vegetables is quite limited, though, and there are no spices/herbs outside of the medicinal ones, half of which you probably don't want to actually eat because they're outright toxic.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

User avatar
Zixinus
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6663
Joined: 2007-06-19 12:48pm
Location: In Seth the Blitzspear
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Zixinus » 2017-05-16 01:28pm

A big question is just how technologically advanced is the colony going to be? Because that really affects priorities of what is needed or not. Is the colony limited to pre-industrial food? Because sugar from sugarcane requires lower tech than from sugarbeets (I think, I'm not 100% on this). Same for mills.

So what tech-level is the colony?
Credo!
Chat with me on Skype if you want to talk about writing, ideas or if you want a test-reader! PM for address.

Patroklos
Sith Devotee
Posts: 2525
Joined: 2009-04-14 11:00am

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Patroklos » 2017-05-16 03:12pm

There are more steps in between sugar beet and sugar than sugarcane and sugar but it essentially amounts to boiling it and reducing the liquid to a solution that can be precipitated. Sugar beets did not make an appearance until the 18th century, but that wasn't because of technological limitations to performing the processing. The cultivars of beets were just not created until that time. Our colonists wouldn't have to reinvent this wheel.

I say go with sugar beets over cane for two reasons. 1.) while sugar beets have environmental condition requirements they are far more suited to where I would expect our colonists to settle (temperate areas). Sugar cane requires tropical climates. 2.) Sugar cane is RIDICULOUSLY labor intensive to grow and harvest and its brutal work. There is a reason slaves were used to usher it into a global commodity.

Broomstick:

I am curious as to why you picked goats over sheep. Sheep provide all the products of a goat plus wool.

I assume you made a conscious decision between cows and horses. I see the trade off made but since cows can provide oxen for work and travel I still think the better pick is the cow. The extra meat and another dairy source far more prolific than goats or sheep tip the scale for me.

houser2112
Padawan Learner
Posts: 464
Joined: 2006-04-07 07:21am
Location: Charlotte, NC

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by houser2112 » 2017-05-16 04:08pm

Patroklos wrote:I assume you made a conscious decision between cows and horses. I see the trade off made but since cows can provide oxen for work and travel I still think the better pick is the cow. The extra meat and another dairy source far more prolific than goats or sheep tip the scale for me.
I won't presume to answer for Broomstick, but in my mind, cows aren't in the same class as horses for transportation purposes. Oxen can pull a load, and maybe carry a load on its back (can they carry a rider? I'm not sure), but they lack the speed of horses. For a group of settlers landing in a completely new world, the value of horses for scouting/exploration purposes would not be achievable with bovines.

User avatar
Zixinus
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6663
Joined: 2007-06-19 12:48pm
Location: In Seth the Blitzspear
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Zixinus » 2017-05-16 04:19pm

houser2112 wrote:
Patroklos wrote:I assume you made a conscious decision between cows and horses. I see the trade off made but since cows can provide oxen for work and travel I still think the better pick is the cow. The extra meat and another dairy source far more prolific than goats or sheep tip the scale for me.
I won't presume to answer for Broomstick, but in my mind, cows aren't in the same class as horses for transportation purposes. Oxen can pull a load, and maybe carry a load on its back (can they carry a rider? I'm not sure), but they lack the speed of horses. For a group of settlers landing in a completely new world, the value of horses for scouting/exploration purposes would not be achievable with bovines.
This assumes that the colony needs low-tech solutions for transportation (I'm guessing that's what Broomstick is doing but I'm not sure. The thing is, if you still have motorized vehicles and the infrastructure to support them you don't need horses or the cows for plowing.

This is why I am asking what tech level is involved. Someone with pre-industrial tech is going to need a different set of lists than someone with industrial, modern or better tech. We are focusing on the agriculture while we have no idea what the society, industry, type of colony, number of people or even targeted environment is.
Credo!
Chat with me on Skype if you want to talk about writing, ideas or if you want a test-reader! PM for address.

User avatar
Broomstick
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 27087
Joined: 2004-01-02 07:04pm
Location: Industrial armpit of the US Midwest
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Broomstick » 2017-05-16 05:13pm

Zixinus wrote:A big question is just how technologically advanced is the colony going to be? Because that really affects priorities of what is needed or not...[snip]...So what tech-level is the colony?
Well, obviously, initially it's going to be very high tech what with space travel and all, but the tech level will plunge rapidly once they arrive due to a simple lack of infrastructure. Presumably, they could have a significant store of things like medicine and spices, perhaps even limited manufacturing and chemical production, but there will be no re-supply for a long time, if ever. Things will be pre-industrial in many ways although high tech artifacts will probably be available for some generations, hopefully long enough for the colony to build up sufficient industry and tech to start replacing them.
Patroklos wrote:There are more steps in between sugar beet and sugar than sugarcane and sugar but it essentially amounts to boiling it and reducing the liquid to a solution that can be precipitated.
Why are you arguing sugar cane vs. sugar beets when, if you take bees, you not only get pollinators you also get honey?

Regardless, I'd pick the beets over the cane for the reasons Patrokos gives: temperate growth and less labor intensive. Also, I think the leftovers from beet sugar production can be used for animal feed fairly easily, with little or no additional processing.
Patroklos wrote:I am curious as to why you picked goats over sheep. Sheep provide all the products of a goat plus wool.
Goats can act as lightweight draft animals, pulling carts and small loads and I don't think sheep can do that. Goats are more intelligent and trainable (which is not the same thing as cooperative). Goats eat a wide range of foods, they're sort of famous for it, in fact.
Patroklos wrote:I assume you made a conscious decision between cows and horses. I see the trade off made but since cows can provide oxen for work and travel I still think the better pick is the cow. The extra meat and another dairy source far more prolific than goats or sheep tip the scale for me.
houser2112 wrote:I won't presume to answer for Broomstick, but in my mind, cows aren't in the same class as horses for transportation purposes. Oxen can pull a load, and maybe carry a load on its back (can they carry a rider? I'm not sure), but they lack the speed of horses. For a group of settlers landing in a completely new world, the value of horses for scouting/exploration purposes would not be achievable with bovines.
Yes, you can use cows for riding and transportation

In a sense, it's a toss-up as they can be used for many of the same purposes - plowing, drawing carts, riding, food... But horses have, by and large, been bred for characteristics favorable to transportation even in cultures that eat them whereas cattle have tended to be bred for meat and milk more than transport.

It's a detail that slips many peoples' notice, but Anne MacCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series lacked horses (at least in the initial books, they might have crept into the later ones). The colonists had bred a sub-species of cattle for speed and riding in addition to maintaining stocks for meat and milk so utilizing cattle for such purposes is not a new idea at all.
Zixinus wrote:This assumes that the colony needs low-tech solutions for transportation (I'm guessing that's what Broomstick is doing but I'm not sure. The thing is, if you still have motorized vehicles and the infrastructure to support them you don't need horses or the cows for plowing.

This is why I am asking what tech level is involved. Someone with pre-industrial tech is going to need a different set of lists than someone with industrial, modern or better tech. We are focusing on the agriculture while we have no idea what the society, industry, type of colony, number of people or even targeted environment is.
Again, while they will arrive with better-than-our-tech, the problem is resupply. Our highly technical civilization is dependent on a vast infrastructure, from mines to detailed mapping of resources to established industrial facilities. The colonists might have maps of resources, but they won't have the rest of it when they arrive at their new home.

Low-tech transport like horses, riding cows, goat-carts, and dog-sleds have the advantages that 1) they run on the same "fuel", broadly speaking, as people do, fuel that is grown rather than mined and refined and 2) they "engines" are self-reproducing, you don't have to build them they'll replicate on their own if you let them. The colony might retain a very limited fleet of mechanical vehicles but how much fuel are they going to bring with them? How do they get more when it runs out? Would it make more sense to bring the tools needed to make basic tools rather than elaborate mechanical devices? Does it make more sense to retain what is needed to make a metal plow you can hitch to horse or oxen rather than bring in a big mechanical agricultural combine that will need spare parts and repairs?

Even today, there are times and places we still use horses for transport as a practical solution rather than for fun - rugged wilderness terrain, for example, and a new planet will be entirely "rugged wilderness". Horses don't need roads and where you're going there aren't any roads (yet - I'm sure there will be in time).

Consider, again, medicine - there might be a major, centralized clinic of sorts that has a generator (probably will run on some sort of bio-fuel, alcohol or methane perhaps) with lights, power, and limited manufacturing, refrigeration, and sterilization capability, perhaps x-rays or other medical imaging, but most of the medicine in this place is going to be rough-and-ready field medicine for at least a generation or two. Hence, growing some medicinal plants for manufacturing into pharmaceuticals. They might also bring drugs with them, but storage and preservation becomes an issue, not to mention the needed knowledge base and facilities to make complex medications via chemistry. Most medicine is going to be pre-19th Century as far as pharmaceuticals, although they'll have a grasp of germ theory, sterile technique, and anatomy our ancestors were lacking which will improve outcomes over actual past history.

You might also consider, in regards to plants, which ones are most mutable. The cabbage family, for example, ranges from cabbage (of course) to broccoli to cauliflower to kale. In fact, kale, collard greens, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kohrabi, and broccolli are all the same species, just different cultivars of the same thing: Brassica oleracea. Start with the progenitor of that and you can at least potentially re-create all of the above, or come up with new variations. (And yes, I would accept "Brassica oleracea wild/progenitor type" as a valid species to bring along) The same concept can be applied to many other agricultural species, not just plants but also animals. Dogs, for example, are quite mutable as a species and you might want to bring mixed breeds for maximum available traits for later breeding rather than start with very specialized animals.

I'm presuming that, at least initially, the colonists will be eating a lot less meat than modern Western societies. There won't be a lot of animals, in fact, their populations will need strict control so as not to outstrip the food supply, and most food will be plant based while agriculture ramps up.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

User avatar
General Zod
Never Shuts Up
Posts: 29205
Joined: 2003-11-18 03:08pm
Location: The Clearance Rack
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by General Zod » 2017-05-16 09:40pm

Just a nitpick. But capsaicin is an extract from peppers, not an actual pepper.
"It's you Americans. There's something about nipples you hate. If this were Germany, we'd be romping around naked on the stage here."

Image

ImageImage

User avatar
General Zod
Never Shuts Up
Posts: 29205
Joined: 2003-11-18 03:08pm
Location: The Clearance Rack
Contact:

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by General Zod » 2017-05-16 09:43pm

Also cotton is horrible for fabrics if you have to deal with extreme weather conditions. If you're bringing along goats you've got wool and you can skip the cotton.
"It's you Americans. There's something about nipples you hate. If this were Germany, we'd be romping around naked on the stage here."

Image

ImageImage

User avatar
Darth Nostril
Jedi Knight
Posts: 973
Joined: 2008-04-25 02:46pm
Location: Get off my lawn

Re: Thought Exercise: Alien Planet Colinization

Post by Darth Nostril » 2017-05-16 10:41pm

Broomstick wrote: It's a detail that slips many peoples' notice, but Anne MacCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series lacked horses (at least in the initial books, they might have crept into the later ones). The colonists had bred a sub-species of cattle for speed and riding in addition to maintaining stocks for meat and milk so utilizing cattle for such purposes is not a new idea at all.
In the early books she uses quite generic descriptions of various animals as it was mainly a fantasy series at that point, later in the series it becomes clear that the runnerbeasts are descendants of the horses that the original colonists brought with them as frozen sperm & ova. They seem to be used mostly used as beasts of burden & for transportation of messages/documentation between the Holds. Only the Lord Holders and richest holders appear to be able to afford them for personal transport, and only at Holds Keroon & Ruatha are they bred for racing. Bear in mind the species was all but annihilated during first Threadfall, it would have taken a long time to re-establish breeding lines from the remnants.

In fact I'd suggest Dragonsdawn as recommended reading for anyone in this thread, it starts with the three great colony ships approaching a blue green world called Pern after a fifteen year long one way trip, with any help at least twenty years away, assuming anyone responded immediately to a distress drone launched back home. (I'm assuming some sort of 'slow' FTL in the series seeing as the huge colony ships took fifteen years but the thinking among the 'command staff' of the colony is that the earliest response would be 20 years, presumably smaller ships can FTL faster than larger ones.)

It clearly shows high tech gear being carefully rationed because there is no infrastructure to replace it, admittedly it was always intended as an agrarian colony but they did intend to maintain a certain level of tech to make life easier for themselves.
So I stare wistfully at the Lightning for a couple of minutes. Two missiles, sharply raked razor-thin wings, a huge, pregnant belly full of fuel, and the two screamingly powerful engines that once rammed it from a cold start to a thousand miles per hour in under a minute. Life would be so much easier if our adverseries could be dealt with by supersonic death on wings - but alas, Human resources aren't so easily defeated.

Imperial Battleship, halt the flow of time!

My weird shit NSFW

Post Reply