As Preppers we like to use the adage of “one is none and two is one,” and there is a good lesson in those words but if we have two of everything are we really safe from the doom that will befall us when a particular piece of equipment and its spare no longer work or are gone? One of the trends I see in the survival and prepping community is trying to maintain our reliance on technology for our survival. Relying on technology for survival in my opinion is an oxymoron, at least if that technology requires electricity.
There is no doubt that technology has advantages is a grid down world but for how long? The reason we have technological advancements is to make our lives easier. “Easier” usually means it takes less time and/or fewer people. Like in our current society, our reliance on technology in a survival situation brings with it certain risks. In a non-survival situation, the loss of technology can equal nothing more than a big inconvenience but in a long-term grid-down scenario, loss of technology can have very dire consequences. If we embrace the “two is one — and one is none” saying then we need to realize that the quality and sustainability of our “two” needs to be considered. As we prepare for TEOTWAWKI, we should embrace technology but our backups should be old school.
After building two 8’x7’ buildings this summer, there was no doubt that the 20-volt DC cordless drill and saws made the job easier. But let us talk about and fully understand the logistics behind a cordless drill. We have to have a power source to recharge the batteries. Regardless of that source (solar, wind turbine, hydroelectric, or internal combustion engine-powered generator) it will involve a complex system. What happens in TEOTWAWKI when those wonderful but limited batteries no longer take a charge or our system to charge those batteries fails? Sure, we can have numerous backups but they will all have limited life even in storage. So, as we apply our “one is none, two is one” strategy we should modify our thinking. So drill number one is a handy light-weight cordless drill but our back up should be old school and I don’t mean a corded drill but instead a hand drill that is powered by you cranking or turning the handle.
Just like there are many drills today for different tasks (cordless drill, hammer drill, Dremel tool, et cetera) there were different drills for different tasks back before electric tools. Augers, hand drills, braces, gimlets and Yankee drills are all different types of drilling tools for different applications. When we think about the logistics needed to keep these old school drilling tools working, they pale in comparison to those of their modern counterparts. Granted drilling a hole with a brace and bit will take longer and may put sweat on your brow but the only energy source a bit and a brace is dependent upon is the user. The other advantage is most of the bits and braces out there were made in a time when things were made to last, unlike today’s engineered to fail technology.
We used drills as an example but we should use this strategy of one modern, one old school on all the tools and equipment we have to survive TEOTWAWKI. As someone who has purchased old school tools and devices, I can attest to the fact that if cared for and used correctly, the old school tools and devices (really old school “technology”) will outlast today’s tools and technology.
I’m not advocating not having technology as part of our preps but what I am advocating is that we make sure we are adequately prepared to function without it. If you have engrained technology into your security plan and the cameras, monitor, sensors et cetera do not work can you and your group (if you have one) still secure your domain? If the generator doesn’t start do you have other means to provide light and alternate means to replace all the gadgets that the generator provides power to? Can you sustain those alternatives? For their lack of lumens, oil lamps and candles are pretty hardy and if you have well thought out plans with the skills and knowledge to carry them out you can produce the items/stuff to keep them going or in the case of candles to make new ones.
I recently purchased a new tractor. One of my projects is to outfit that tractor with a Power Take Off (PTO) belt drive. This will allow me to use my tractor’s power to run antique or converted farm equipment in a grid-down environment. Back in the day, tractors were also used as power plants for a number of farm implements from buzzsaws to thrashing machines. The good news is there is plenty of this old equipment around still today but to many it is “rusty gold” and can be highly sought after by collectors, but that isn’t always the case.
For years I have used auctions, yard sales, flea markets, estate sales and the like to find low tech, old school prepper tools and equipment. I plan and prepare for long term grid-down scenarios since our grid is old, vulnerable and there are a number of scenarios that can take it down. We recently moved to our bug out location (BOL) full time (I guess that now makes it our homestead) and have been busy with building capabilities to feed ourselves and hopefully others. The tractor we purchased is a very versatile tool but in a grid-down environment it could have a shorter lifespan as fuel, oil, and spare parts disappear and I’m far from a diesel mechanic.
I have been looking and planning for back-ups. Specifically, hand tools like shovels, hoes, cultivators either hand tool style or the older ones with wheels and two wheelbarrow type handles and other tools. I also plan to use oxen to replace the power of the tractor. Recently at an auction I saw a buzz saw arbor set up to run off a belt and power take off (PTO). When it came up for bid the auctioneer even put 4 very nice condition saw blades with it. Then, at another auction I purchased two belts and the PTO adapter that provides power to move the belts. When the diesel and gasoline run out, we can hook it up to an engine that runs off wood gasification. But we have to have a plan and be prepared for this in advance. Do we have the knowledge build and use a gasifier, do we have the tools, supplies and equipment to build the gasifier?
Lessons From The TOC
I joined the Army in 1987 and much of the gear we used was for all intents and purposes, old school. I was issued wool cold weather gear and our large tents were heavy duck canvas. I was assigned at one point to a headquarters platoon so I spent much of my time in the unit’s tactical operations center (TOC). That was old school too, not a computer to be seen. We had a 3-kilowatt generator for use in the TOC. It was heavy, noisy and hard to start and sometimes even harder to keep running. But guess what? We did not use it. Sometimes we didn’t even take the thing with us to the field. The point in bringing this up is that at that point in time our military’s dependence on technology was a lot less than it is today and that lower level of technology also equated to a less complex logistics system. Unlike a military, preppers will have a lot less logistics capability.
One of my pet peeves in the realm of survival and preparedness is not taking logistics into account adequately when we prep. Being a soldier, I learned quickly that what I had in my pockets and rucksack were what I could count on for survival. Being in the most powerful military in the world did have its advantages as we could count on a steady supply of food, water, ammunition, maintenance support, and other reoccurring needs. That was until we got deployed to the sandbox for Desert Shield. We were advised to thoroughly inspect our individual field gear known as TA-50 (or “Deuce gear” for you Devil Dogs) and replace anything that might not stand up to the rigors of a long deployment. We were told that if a piece of our individual equipment became lost or unusable, then we would not be able to get a replacement for some time, if at all.
Keeping Logistics Simple
The other consideration is sometimes you cannot wait for the “system”, sometimes you need it now. For all the power and capabilities of the US military, they make every effort to ensure you have what you need but those capabilities may not be the best available nor do they necessarily provide capabilities to make your job (mission) easier. Those “nice” to have items are on the individual soldier. In other words, the military likes to keep it simple, at least when it comes to logistics. What I see many times in the Prepper community is the opposite. We don’t like to keep it simple but instead develop our own complex system(s) that have many built-in points of failure and require an even more complex logistics system to keep them operational.
Many preppers have elaborate systems in place for TEOTWAWKI but don’t have the logistical depth to keep those system functioning for an extended period of time. Again, having those systems is fine but we need to ensure that we have “Plan B” and a less sophisticated, less logistically needy back-ups in place and ready when “Plan A” no longer works.
So, are you keeping it simple or are you building in points of failure in your post-TEOTWAWKI preps and plans? Are you planning for and prepared to use less technologically advanced, old school tools and devices?