Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sustainability - It's For the Children

K brought up a subject over on his blog today that I feel bears mentioning, or more specifically bears mentioning again.

There are preppers and then there are Sustainers. It's one thing to store a year, two, three or more worth of dried and canned goods in a pantry and call yourself a prepper but true Sustainability is a generational concept.

As I embarked on the homesteading/prepping lifestyle I realized pretty quickly that we as a society were not just on the edge of a collapse of some kind, we were on the edge of a knowledge cliff that if we don't find a way down off of could prove more devastating than any civilization collapse one could envision.

Why? You might ask.

Well it's pretty simple. This Time it's different.....

While many historians and doomers like to point out the similarities between the collapse of the Western world today and those civilizations which have come before, very few seem interested in pointing out the differences. Generally speaking this is understandable because looking at it as a whole most differences are minor window dressing but there is one big one. Cheap abundant energy.

Whether you are a peak oil person or not is really not important. What's important about the cheap energy scenario is that it has changed our way of life for generations now. Almost to the point that how things were done before cheap energy was available has been forgotten.

And that Ladies and Gentlemen would be the greatest loss we could suffer.

A collapse can be survived but if as a society we totally forget how to live without cheap energy it could set us so far back we might as well go extinct.

No other collapse that I can document ever included the loss of such surplus energy. Ever.

This is why I began shifting my focus from simple prepping to sustaining. It isn't enough to store items and talk about it. No matter how much you store if the knowledge of how to grow it or make it is lost you are still dooming either yourself or your children to doing without at some point.

Even if you survive the zombie hordes, government looting, lean times or what have you at some point you or your children are going to look up from an empty pail and say "Now what?".

This isn't a new idea. It finds it's origins in our very Christian ideology.

Give a man a fish.... you know the rest.

In most cases our children,  mine, yours and your neighbor's, don't care. That's to be expected but we are in the final few years of time for those of us who do care to be able to gather and study these lost skills before they are gone forever. Being able to pass on these skills when our children do care will be the greatest gift we can give them.

The knowledge to save our children isn't found in the adventures of some guy with a camera eating snow and raw salmon. It's buried in the everyday mundane life of the subsistence farmer in Iowa who managed to produce enough surplus to help this Nation grow.

I cannot stress that time is against us. I find myself often tracking down some very old people just to find out how something was done before government subsidies and cheap fuel. Most of the ones I talk to these days can only relate what they saw as even they were too young to actually pitch in. Once these last few first person observers are gone we will have to reinvent the wheel in many cases.

In the end you have to ask yourself what you are prepping for. To live out your life on beans and canned tomatoes or to give your offspring a fighting chance at building a better world.

I choose the last myself.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. Well said. Let's pray that others will recognize this world for what it is and may become.

    1. Uncle Al - Of course. I always think of that line from a movie about leaving a thing better than you found it.

  2. Yes, what you say is true, I have been trying to figure out how things were done, you should hear people laugh at my two man saws and draft horse, both are useless and a waste of time. Along the same lines as the lost knowledge of the passing generation is the amount of knowledge that we have that will be lost when the internet goes down. The government will take it down to prevent people from communication as that is bad in a collapse situation. Think of all the data on computers or that need one to access it should the internet and power grid go down. It might be wise to make a notebook of things that we normally just google. I have a pretty good library of 19th century how to do things books but it would be good to have some medical and other such subjects on hand for the community. Don't count on libraries as the masses burn those first.

    1. Sf - Oh I know. People still laugh at my hand pump and rain water system for my garden. They shake their heads when they see me trying to find small tractor implements and stare at me when I research how to convert the gas engine over to methane.

      Ya know I see many people around who claim self sufficiency but few who seem to really know what it is and all that it entails.

    2. this is why I am taking lessons in blacksmithing! the stuff you can make with a simple forge and a hammer and hunk of steel is amazing!

    3. denis - I agree. Setting up a forge is something I should be doing as well. I actually have an old wood stove ear marked to be turned into a forge. I did a bot of weapon and other forging years ago and it is a hyper useful skill to have.

  3. Thanks for so eloquently putting what a lot of the preparedness community is thinking. The very long term.

    I may not see my great grandchildren, due to my age, but I'd like to be known by my tribe for having the foresight to look beyond my years.

    1. K - That is an awesome sentiment. I have often done something and thought "Ya know maybe my grandchildren will appreciate this _____"

      Really I prep for them anyway. It isn't enough that I have beans to last a years. I want to know the legacy continues.

  4. holy moly, PP, you have done some really excellent posts in the past but i think this might just be your best ever! a lot of people don't even think about how things were done in the old days and old ways. as you know, my biggest fear of SHTF is loss of knowledge and loss of books which is why i transported 75 boxes of encyclopaedia sets 1,000 miles across the country - people thought i was nuts! some of these encyclopaedias date to the late 1800's right up to 1970 and yes - we read them! both jam and i are learning and practicing new skills and whenever we see something on the internet that could be useful in the future (how to hitch a horse to a wagon or something) we print it and put it in our binders. we don't have any children but that doesn't mean that we don't want to be able to help everyone else's children if it ever comes down to that. again - great post.

    i know that i ususally call you a wiener, but i just have to let you know how impressed i am over the past few years with what you have been doing on the smallhold and the various things that you are trying to learn.

    your friend,

    1. kymber - I think there are those who have children and then there are those who have everyone's children if you get my point. Both types are useful and caring. I guess there are some who hate all children but I try and not waste time on them :)

      Yes the retention of knowledge, especially int he printed form is a very high calling in my estimation. You show insight-fulness in keeping those books I would say.

      I am a wiener :) I go out of my way to be obnoxious sometimes but I am an equal opportunity wiener. At least if I find someone intelligent and useful you know it is because of their mind and not simply their gender make up and my pandering.

      Hope you had a good weekend.

  5. They say video killed the radio star, but technologically killed a simpler way of life. Kindle and Nook, killed the books. If we ever lose the net, folks won't know what to do.

    1. Rob - I will know. I keep hard copies of all my how to or research stuff. Nook is only for entertainment for me.

  6. And not only the skills and tools of old to be a sustainer, but you'll also need no hybrid seeds....Heirloom type that breed true year after year.

    THis year, many of my seeds are 5 years old. I gotta invest in new ones.

    1. B - Yeppers. I only use heirlooms or OP's around here. Eventually I want to find the right one for each type and just use them year after year to protect myself from any cross pollination.


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