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Senta Signora

Surviving the Winter

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Another option is always to buy and trade for it.... Lord Snow took out a loan to take care of everyone for the winter.

Wouldn't work. Without refrigeration food will rot during the journey. Not to mention you run the risk of food riots since the entire population will be surviving on handouts.

Tbh it doesn't matter how much food they store, unless there are crops (roots, tubers, vegetables) that can grow in the dead of Winter they'd die out, period.

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Hello I´m new; I´ve read a lot of posts, but it´s the first time I reply.

I think that, regardless of whatever happens in the book, most of Westeros´ population is gonna starve to death.

I have read somewhere that most winters last an average of eleven to eighteen months; I checked the calculations, and they looked right. A two years winter is considered a long and terrible one, and a three years one a terrible catastrophe. People probably store, smoke, salt and dry as much food as they can during the warm months, and since, at least in the south, they probably can harvest as much as two to four crops on summer years, it is usually enough to sustain everybody in winter (still then, in the North they let the old and sick die, and some people turn to cannibalism).

If the winter last more than usual, they run out of reserves and famine happens. People close to the sea could probably rely on fishing (river life will probably soon die, just like land boud one), and those living in mining areas (Casterly Rock, White Port, Iron Isles) would probably buy food from overseas (grain can resist transport by sea unspoiled) in exchange for metals. Nobles probably spend all their gold and silver purchasing food.

But this time the winter is gonna last ten years or more, and it seems it has taken them unaware (some people aren´t even storing the fifth of the last crops that seem to be mandatory in the North) plus the war has destroyed much of the reserves, and many men have been mobilized and haven´t been able to help with the last harvest. What is going to happen isn´t just a famine, it´s going to be an Apocalypse, like the Black Plage, the Spanish Flu, Ireland´s Great Famine and both World Wars rolled in one great ball of suck. Even if the war stopped right now, the Wall standed and the Others retreated, most people will die.

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:agree:

If GRRM wants this to be the culminating point of several melinia of history... It's probably going to get bad. I could see this stretching over into Essos, (hopefully, at lease).

I can't wait for more material to be released. :drool:

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What I can´t understand is, why aren´t the people of Westeros more worried about their certain doom? They know what is going to happen to them, they mention again and again that the winter is going to be an exceptionally long one, and they still seem more worried about who receives which castle or title or whatever, instead of making plans to survive.

What´s the point of all this fighting, if in the end the real winner is going to be the one who manages to resists better the winter years?. Everything they gain now is for naught; no matter how much land they conquer before the winter, they aren´t going to reap any real benefit until they can plant again; until then, all those fiefdoms they own are nothing but wastelands full of starving peasants or the skeletons of already dead peasants; the winning strategy would be to wait and keep your troops and finances in the best possible shape while everybody else spends his resources (well, that or to send your army to the lands of your enemies and ravage them while your own don´t suffer, but you would still spend money and lose soldiers doing that).

When Daenerys finally arrives, she may not have to fight at all, just kick the bones of the dead-of-hunger soldiers in her way to the Iron Throne.

It´s surprising there are no more lords procastinating and trying to keep their part in the war to a minimun, like the father of Balon Swann or Petyr Baylish and Lysa Arryn did (well, Petyr is smart).

Maybe they have developed a fatalistic mindset in regard to the seasons, sort of "what will happen will happen whenever we worry about it, so better not to think about it", but I don´t find anything in the books pointing to that kind of fatalism; almost every POV character (and almost every non-POV character that expresses his/her opinion) seem to think that they can achieve their objetives if they are strong and smart enough and play the right cards.

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; the winning strategy would be to wait and keep your troops and finances in the best possible shape while everybody else spends his resources (well, that or to send your army to the lands of your enemies and ravage them while your own don´t suffer, but you would still spend money and lose soldiers doing that).

When Daenerys finally arrives, she may not have to fight at all, just kick the bones of the dead-of-hunger soldiers in her way to the Iron Throne.

It´s surprised there are no more lords procastinating and trying to keep their part in the war to a minimun, like the father of Balon Swann or Petyr Baylish and Lysa Arryn did (well, Petyr is smart).

Well, while the winning strategy would be to sit back and let everyone else squabble, while your kingdom conserves its resources. (especially given the realm is split and banding together cohesively is out of the question, it would be fairly wise not to burn bridges)...It seems as though the kingdoms/despots actually practicing these measures are my least favorite in Westeros.

Take the Vale for example... sure, they've been "recluse" and have stayed out of the fray, (though Littlefinger did instigate this whole affair with the manipulation of Lisa Arryn;) but their actions haven't been out of wisdom. They've acted through fear, paranoia, and shadow plots. The Vale hasn't lent a supporting hand to any of the kingdoms that have allied with them in the past decades, including those by blood/marriage, partly because their intention is to move up in the hierarchy after end-game; the end justifies the means for them...except they are completely ignorant of anything outside the civil war of Westeros...

Others that have "held their hand", so to speak, would be the Dornish. While they may have been able to skirt the majority of the action thus far, that is not to say they aren't being proactive. They've made deals and handshakes and have back-up plan's I'm sure in case their original intentions fall through. But, they also have the privilege of being the last to join the 7 kingdoms, their the farthest south, and the geography and lay of their land is unlike that of the other kingdoms -- hot, dry, arid, sandy; it's easy to say they, of the 7 kingdoms, have the least to fear of winter.

They Frey's are classic. Constantly waiting, only giving so much to each... until the end is in sight and they throw all their chips in with the victor....(after the battle is won). Again, the reader's don't take kindly to turn cloaks, cowards, and the like.

If any of the other kingdoms and such have stayed out of the fray, I doubt it would be due to fear of winter. Most seem to have a naive sense of bravery about the seasons (though still a childish fear of the dark in secret).

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Naive sense of bravery? More like they are covering their ears and singing: "tralaralararala...don´t speak me of the winter, there is no such thing like winter, everything will be all right if we behave as it were the beginning of the summer...lalalalalaaaa!"

The nobility of Westeros look really like a bunch of lemmings gallantly running to their death.

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There are a few things that I see as I read though this thread. The Riverlands are the only area that is truly in danger of starving though the winter. This is the area that has exhausted all of its supplies. The heaviest and most damaging battles of the war of five kings was fought here. These people will all die.

If you look at the summer in the North you will see that they still get snow. It would stand to reason that there would be times of thaw that would allow for a quick planting of winter grains. The Wall has East Watch that would be able to fish and hunt seal and other northern game/seafood. Though they are the most worried about winter. In DoD we see Jon taking stock of the Wall's stocks. All of the Northern means of preserving and keeping food are described here. If everything else fails they can take their stocks and retreat to Winterfell. This place has the best defense for surviving the winter, even above those living on the coast. Winterfell is built over a geothermic area that would allow for growing winter crops even in the winter. This area would be the best area for almost all of the Northern lords to retreat. That is what Wintertown on the outside of Winterfell was built for. Those crops that are put aside for winter are given to Winterfell. Now we have a major problem. Those of you who have read to at least the end of the third book know what that problem is.

Dorne is a desert area. I don't think they have much worry about winter. The nights will get colder, but as their food production is concerned it shouldn't be impacted that much. I think that the Southern areas would be in much better shape for the winter. These areas haven't been touched by fighting (yet). The snow has to reach Oldtown before the Maester's will declare winter.

The Vale is the other place that should be able to hold out for the winter. It has already been described above.

What do you think? Explain some?

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There are a few things that I see as I read though this thread. The Riverlands are the only area that is truly in danger of starving though the winter. This is the area that has exhausted all of its supplies. The heaviest and most damaging battles of the war of five kings was fought here. These people will all die.

If you look at the summer in the North you will see that they still get snow. It would stand to reason that there would be times of thaw that would allow for a quick planting of winter grains. The Wall has East Watch that would be able to fish and hunt seal and other northern game/seafood. Though they are the most worried about winter. In DoD we see Jon taking stock of the Wall's stocks. All of the Northern means of preserving and keeping food are described here. If everything else fails they can take their stocks and retreat to Winterfell. This place has the best defense for surviving the winter, even above those living on the coast. Winterfell is built over a geothermic area that would allow for growing winter crops even in the winter. This area would be the best area for almost all of the Northern lords to retreat. That is what Wintertown on the outside of Winterfell was built for. Those crops that are put aside for winter are given to Winterfell. Now we have a major problem. Those of you who have read to at least the end of the third book know what that problem is.

Dorne is a desert area. I don't think they have much worry about winter. The nights will get colder, but as their food production is concerned it shouldn't be impacted that much. I think that the Southern areas would be in much better shape for the winter. These areas haven't been touched by fighting (yet). The snow has to reach Oldtown before the Maester's will declare winter.

The Vale is the other place that should be able to hold out for the winter. It has already been described above.

What do you think? Explain some?

While they can indeed store food for normal winters, I´m not sure the can store enough food for a ten years one without modern technology. The problem would not be so much to keep the food fresh during winter, but to keep it during summer; in order to have reserves for a ten years winter they would have had to start to store food from the beginning of the summer, and keep it from rotting for ten years of hot temperatures, and it seem beyond any medieval level of technology.

Some people have suggested than sealing grain into clay jars would keep it for a time long enough, if you have the right control over humidity, but the thing is, ten years ago the westerosi didn´t knew the summer would last ten years; they are used to 11-18 months long seasons, and prepare for such, and the food stored long ago has probably already rotten; also, the population probably has increased quite a bit during this ten years: people probably has as many children they can during summer to compensate for the losses of winter.

As for the winter crops, I think they can grow them south of Oldtown and the Sea of Dorne; this is what I wrote for another thread:

"Many of those regions are probably tropical, and unaffected by the winter for the most part.

At least Volantis seems to enjoy a tropical climate, even warmer than Dorne ( Q.M. says so in ADWD, plus they have elephants and grow pepper, which is a tropical crop; even if it were long pepper and not black pepper, it would still require a subtropical climate). They grow olive trees in Slaver´s Bay and have monkeys in Cedar Isle; and both Slaver´s Bay and Volantis are really close to The Lands Of The Long Summer (with a name like that, I don´t think winters are much of a problem by there; maybe the vulcanism of Valyria makes the surrounding lands even warmer than they should).

They grow oranges in Dorne (which is about the same latitude than Lys, and only a bit more to the south than Tyrosh and Myr, and a bit to the north than Volantis), and temperatures below freezing point would kill those, so I think the ground never freezes in Dorne, Lys and Volantis, and probably neither does in the Arbor, part of the Reach,Tyrosh and Myr, which would allow them to grow winter crops like onions, turnips, radish, carrots, garlic, lettuce, spinaches, winter rye, winter wheat, winter oats, broccoli, cabbages, and maybe even apples, peas and beans, all the year round (they would, however, grow really slow, and a snow or freeze in the wrong moment would easily kill them); and potatoes, if they have those (they have corn, so they could have other native american crops).

In the southern coast of Spain the climate is just mediterranean (subtropical), and the country is green for most of the winter, and farmers grow some crops during the coldest months, so they could do the same in many of those places.

Then again, this winter is going to be "special", so maybe the Free Cities are for a nasty surprise."

The North, the Riverlands, the Iron Islands, the Vale, the Westerlands, the Crownlands, the Stormlands and the north of the Reach, however, i think will have snowfall and frost, and will probably unable to grow any food.

I don´t think the summer snows of the North means that there are mini-winters within the summer (neither I believe there are mini-summers within the winter), just that the North is freaking COLD all the year round. GRRM has mentioned "spirit summers" and "false springs", but those seem to be short, rare and random; I don´t think there are seasons within the seasons, just some abnormal weeks within the season. I don´t think they can grow food in the North during those few warmer weeks: the fifteen feet of snow won´t even have time to melt...

Winterfell is on a geothermal area and has glass houses, but I don´t think that is enough to feed millions of people,

plus Winterfell has already been destroyed

If the winter last too long wild animal and river fish will starve too; sea fish may be a lifesaver for people who live close to the sea...

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I don't think Winter will last 10 years, even with things as they are described 65% of the population is still at risk from dying of starvation.

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I don't think Winter will last 10 years, even with things as they are described 65% of the population is still at risk from dying of starvation.

Do you think the winter will last more or less than ten years, then?

Most characters who voice their opinions say that the winter will last as much as the ten years summer.

And yes, I think most people in Westeros will starve; even if some regions are less affected, they will suffer the arrival of millions of desperate refugees with empty stomachs, and in a medieval society it´s very likely it will end with a carnage.

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Do you think the winter will last more or less than ten years, then?

Most characters who voice their opinions say that the winter will last as much as the ten years summer.

And yes, I think most people in Westeros will starve; even if some regions are less affected, they will suffer the arrival of millions of desperate refugees with empty stomachs, and in a medieval society it´s very likely it will end with a carnage.

I don't think we'll even know how long the winter lasts. I think the series will end with winter still happening.

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What I can´t understand is, why aren´t the people of Westeros more worried about their certain doom? They know what is going to happen to them, they mention again and again that the winter is going to be an exceptionally long one, and they still seem more worried about who receives which castle or title or whatever, instead of making plans to survive.

What´s the point of all this fighting, if in the end the real winner is going to be the one who manages to resists better the winter years?. Everything they gain now is for naught; no matter how much land they conquer before the winter, they aren´t going to reap any real benefit until they can plant again; until then, all those fiefdoms they own are nothing but wastelands full of starving peasants or the skeletons of already dead peasants; the winning strategy would be to wait and keep your troops and finances in the best possible shape while everybody else spends his resources (well, that or to send your army to the lands of your enemies and ravage them while your own don´t suffer, but you would still spend money and lose soldiers doing that).

Well, this is right and one of GRMM's themes. Tywin Lannister, the Greyjoys, Renly, the Tyrelles, and to some extent Robb Stark are busy playing their game of thrones without worrying much about anything else. Those at the top of the Westoros social structure will likely survive winter and have spent little time worrying about it. Some are just caught up in events. (And besides winter, they are not worrying too much about anything at the wall). Tywin Lannister decided to turn the riverlands into a wasteland; Alys Karstark explains that her father took so many men south Karhold could not get in most of the harvest. Even thoughtful Doran Martel has worries but mentions nothing about preparing for winter. Maybe its easier in Dorne, as others mention, but we'll see.

The vast majority in westoros, the small folk have no choice in the matter of policy but are reliant on their lords. The places untouched by war should do better but things overall the situation is mostly pretty grim as winter arrives at the end of ADWD. Even back in ACOK and ASOS, King's landing was no longer self sufficient and people were starving until the Tyrelle's showed up and opened the roads.

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Truth to be told, the presence of so many wildlings is very unrealistic: They could survive the winters hunting artic fauna (mammoths, wolly rhinos, reindeer, seals, penguins, walruses, whales, white bears...etc.) and fishing, but not in such great numbers; many of those same animals would starve during winter, with just enough remaing in spring as to rebuild the population, but with so many people hunting them, they should go extinct.

It is also impossible to grow crops as Craster does, when there is snow all year round.

The wildlings as a whole are quite unrealistic; the land beyond the Wall should be unable to support enough wildlings as to be a problem to the Seven Kingdoms.

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Truth to be told, the presence of so many wildlings is very unrealistic: They could survive the winters hunting artic fauna (mammoths, wolly rhinos, reindeer, seals, penguins, walruses, whales, white bears...etc.) and fishing, but not in such great numbers; many of those same animals would starve during winter, with just enough remaing in spring as to rebuild the population, but with so many people hunting them, they should go extinct.

It is also impossible to grow crops as Craster does, when there is snow all year round.

The wildlings as a whole are quite unrealistic; the land beyond the Wall should be unable to support enough wildlings as to be a problem to the Seven Kingdoms.

There were only 30 000 Wildlings in total, a paltry number compared to the 40 million or so people in Westeros. And in Winters the Wildling numbers probably shrink by half or more. So I don't think their numbers as such are unrealistic.

As for the crops - these are obviously crops that are more hardy, or have a different biological structure to real world crops. Easy to build into the story, in order to make the multi year winters work.

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Seaweed, seal brains and various other things I'm too lazy to look up supplement the Inuit diet by providing vitamin C, as these are normally eaten raw or frozen which conserves the vitamin C. And it would not surprise me if blood was a large part of the Wildling/Northern diet. Cattle can be bled multiple times and seal blood is frequently consumed by the Inuit people. Not to metion generalized reciprocity is probably huge among the wildlings, given their society and main sources of food.

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plus it's possible they lived in caves or near some kind of a hot spring or volcanic vent like winterfell and the dreadfort.

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