Wednesday, June 1, 2016

All Machines Will Eventually Fail

We’ve all read those prepper novels where the protagonists escape to there well equipped retreats that have everything they need to survive.  They have tractors, garden tillers, chain saws, generators, solar panels, windmills, fuel dumps and lubricants, four-wheel drive vehicles, ham radios, propane tanks, etc., etc., and etc.  They are able to live, and thrive, and help out other poor unfortunates that were not prepared, and when society finally gets back on its feet they are able to re-enter it virtually unscathed.

Well, those are nice works of fiction, but here are some facts.  In the last six months on my farm I have had to replace one car battery, one tractor battery, an ignition switch and a diesel cut off solenoid on a tractor, a chainsaw bar, bearings on a belly mower, the supply line and regulator on a propane tank, a burned out well pump and holding tank, and I still need to replace oil seals on a garden tractor, and roto-tiller.  And that’s just the stuff I can remember. 

The fact is that all machines eventually break down, and the parts to repair them and the power to run them are all dependent on a very fragile manufacturing and delivery system that will not exist after some cataclysmic event disrupts all of that.  You can certainly stockpile some obvious maintenance parts and you can even buy duplicates of some items like chainsaws; but who can afford to have a back-up tractor or a duplicate vehicle that just sits in the garage?  Maybe you, but certainly not poor old country-boy me.

A little ingenuity and a little scavenging may be able to keep things running for a while; but if a crisis lasts long enough, we will all be living on the frontier in the 18th century.  All farming will be done with hand tools unless you are fortunate enough to have a plow and some mules.   All wood work and wood cutting will be done with hand tools. All cooking will be done on wood.  Your house will be heated by wood and lighted by homemade candles.  Water will be drawn from a well with a bucket.  Soap will be homemade.  Shoes and clothing will be made from home tanned leather.  Think “Daniel Boone” and you will be pretty close to what life would be like if society broke down for ten or fifteen years.

So, what I’m trying to say here is that prepping is a multi-layered situation, and one of those layers is “what if it goes on for years?”  It certainly wouldn’t hurt you to start learning some of the daily living skills that were part of 18th century life.  Learn how to cook on a campfire.  Learn how to brain-tan leather and make moccasins and clothes.  Learn how to make candles.  Maybe even take up blacksmithing as a hobby.  There are re-enactment groups all over the United States that promote and teach these skills, and it may be worth your time to check one of them out.

Hopefully you will never have to actually live in the 18th century, but it can be kind of fun to learn how, and it will add another layer of depth to your preparations for a possible calamity in the future.

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