How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Be A Producer, Not Just A Packrat

I’ve had a few interesting conversations with my dad lately.

We’ve been talking over some of the things I’ve discussed here before, such as raising our own beef, expanding gardens, expanding orchards, and the like.

We’re both of the opinion that things are unlikely to get better for the long term anytime soon, though they may ‘rebound’ a bit in the dead-cat bounce sense of things.

To that end, we’ve made it a priority to dramatically increase family resilience.

There’s a family aspect to that, but also a community aspect to it.

My lovely wife and I have certainly made significant strides towards our nuclear families resilience and self sufficiency.  We’ve done quite a bit, and there’s always more to do.

My folks and most of my siblings have as well.  So overall, even as an extended family, we’re in pretty good shape.

Yet up until now, most of that has been of the ‘stockpiling’ bent.  There’s been the usual level of production through gardens and chickens, but it’s just this year that we’ve started more intensive production, mainly for protein.

This has been more chickens and a bunch of weaner hogs this year, but next year we’re going to add beef to the mix, maybe a few more hogs, and Dad is even talking about sheep.

Food isn’t the only area we’re looking at adding production to.  Another example is wood.

We’ve got trees coming out of our ears.  Probably 80 acres worth of trees of varying density from ‘cant walk through it’ to ‘light forest’ with all sorts of different tree species.

Add to that the fact that we’re building a house next year, and my sister will be as well, and there will be a great demand for timbers and beams.  Priced those out lately?  They’re pretty expensive.

We figure that if we get ourselves a good solid mill, we can do most of the mill work for beams and timbers in the spring before the building season starts, and be ready to go with a massive amount of savings, though plenty of work.

Add to that the fact that there’s always outbuildings to add on, large or small, and being able to mill our own timber and lumber for that would be huge.

But let’s say TSHTF next summer.  We’ve added beef, we’ve added sheep, and we have milling capacity.  Our self sufficiency and resilience levels have gone WAY up by adding solid production sources and not just depending on storage.

Another benefit of course is that by adding true production capabilities, our cost per unit, whatever that unit is (beef, lumber, eggs, whatever) goes WAY down.  Never zero, but way way down.

You don’t get that benefit with just storage.  Sure, you can shop sales, and buy in bulk, and time the market.  But it’s still way more expensive than your own production.

That doesn’t mean you skip storage.  On the contrary, you probably want to make sure you’ve got plenty of it, store bought or self produced.

But think long and hard about how you can position yourself to be a producer of things you need, not just a consumer.

And when you think about that, think about the basics.  In our case, if we’re producing chicken, eggs, beef, vegetables, and fruits, if we suddenly had to sit on the farm for a year, we could.

Dinners would get kinda boring after a while, but we could do it.

And if we can mill our own lumber, we can build houses or cabins for our other family members, or repair our own structures, even if we’re stuck on the farm for that year.

Again, there are always inputs, and you have to make sure you have those inputs on hand.  Some are renewable, like seeds, but diesel for your tractor or gas for your saw mill isn’t, so you gotta have plenty on hand.

At the end of the day though, you reduce your footprint outside of your ‘domain’ and there’s all sorts of benefits that come with that.


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3 Responses to Be A Producer, Not Just A Packrat

  1. I wish I had the land available for being a big producer.
    Moving out of the city is one of our big to do items.
    Hopefully the economy bounce back will be enough to sell our home and get out while the getting is good. :)

    • You can produce fairly heavily even in the city, depending on your location. You have to focus on smaller protein sources, like rabbits, chickens, and maybe goats or something depending on whether you’re in a suburb or not, and what the city lets you.

      Back where we lived before you moved, you could have chickens, bees, goats, even horses (not that you’d eat said horse…)

      Just be sure to optimize what space you have before are able to leave.

  2. Having a sawmill is a great asset, but working in a sawmill is the hardest thing I ever did! After a few weekends, I had permanent rotator-cuff damage to my right shoulder from throwing slabs away from the mill. I had to quit before I lost my full-time job as a result of my part-time injuries.
    So make sure you are physically capable of the work you plan to do. If you, or your family members crush a hand, break a major bone, tear a tendon or damage your joints (after TEOTWAWKI), there may be no way to fix those types of problems. Being slow and crippled is a very good way to get picked off by “wolves,” and it makes you a burden instead of an asset.
    Also, do your homework about how best to stack, cover and dry your cut beams to “season” them. Most small sawmills dry their lumber for several months before using the cut lumber. Beams will take more time as they are thicker and dry slower.
    One thing I really like more information on is stove pipe installation and maintenance. Buying a good stove isn’t difficult, but knowing the best type of pipe and chimney to install is not so easy. They are also expensive and stocking replacment parts doubles the cost.