Once you have lived the survivalist life – boots on the ground, so to speak — you come to a bedrock realization that certain things were never made to be used long-term. Unfortunately, many of the tools and devices we’ve become accustomed to using fall into this category. Things like generators, electric well pumps, things that require propane gas, gasoline or diesel fuel are all on the road to becoming your next big disappointment when you actually have lived this way for a while.
In everything aeronautical, every device is completely redundant. That is, there are two of everything. Two fuel pumps, two distributors, two sets of spark plugs, etc., so that in mid-flight, if one fails the second takes over seamlessly. When you live the survivalist lifestyle, it’s like being up in an airplane. If something fails, you have to be prepared to have something to take over the job – that you have primary systems and redundant fall-back systems.
Aside from certain machines’ inherent nature of being unreliable, no matter how much gas, diesel or propane you have stored, you’re bound to run out at some time. So we offer the following suggestions based upon our seven years experience and hard-learned lessons.
“I’m okay – I’ve got a well, I’ve got a generator and I’ve got a heavy duty pump.” Well, of course, the weakest link in this chain is the generator itself, followed by the need for gas. In the last 7 years we’ve owned a dozen generators or more. Admittedly, early on in this life we had a lot of dependence on generators for building houses and such. But that aside, even with meticulous upkeep and maintenance, all generators have a finite amount of hours they will live and when they go, they go hard, that is, usually unrepairable. We’re not saying you shouldn’t use a generator at all, but relying on it solely for getting water out of the ground is looking for disappointment.
What would you give for water if an EMP knocks out your generator, or your electric well pump quits, or you run out of gas, or your generator just stops working? It would make your well a really expensive hole in the ground and not of much use. Even if you could get a bucket down there, how many times could you pull a bucket filled with water (at 11 pounds per gallon) up a few hundred feet with a rope? We found an excellent way to have a redundant (or even sole and reliable) system . It’s called a Flojak deep well hand pump. So simple it’s priceless. Installation only takes a few hours, most of that time spent gluing PVC together. With the PowerJak handle, it’s easy to pump water out of deep well situations and releases you from the reliance on generators if you’re off the grid, or from electricity if you are on the grid. No more dependence on gas, diesel or propane. And you don’t have to give up your electric pump until you really have to, because the Flojak fits into the well alongside your current electric pump, ready to take over when needed.
We met up with an old mountain hermit last weekend, who lives a few miles from us. No roads to get there, we took a nice brisk walk. He told me a couple of years ago that he knew living this life I would lose weight and get washboard abs because being self-reliant usually means chopping your own wood, pumping your own water, toting the wood back to the house and many other countless chores. But the Flojak is so easy with the PowerJak handle, that I may gain some weight back!
Chain saws, like generators, I’ve owned plenty of. Everything from McCullough to Stihl to Husqvarna, and being an old salt and having owned a few boats, most of them would make great anchors. In keeping with the theme or redundancy, all machines that inevitably break down or need non-renewable resources (gas) need a redundancy plan as well. Even if your chainsaw is still working and you still have gas, two-cycle oil, bar oil, a spare bar, a new chain, additional spark plug, etc., etc,, we found that a better way to go is a two-man saw. No stopping every few minutes to tighten the chain, or add oil, or re-fuel. And all we hear as we are cutting is the sound of birds, a gentle breeze through the trees and the rhythmic back and forth of wood being cut by hand. And all we smell is the pleasant aroma of pine or juniper.
There is no shame in using the technology that sometimes brilliant people have created to make daily life just a bit easier. But be prepared for the day when that technology is no longer usable and you still have to live on.
Dan & Sheila are the authors of Surviving Survivalism – How to Avoid Survivalism Culture Shock, and hosts of the podcast, Still Surviving with Dan & Sheila. For questions about space in their Intentional Survivalist Community or other survivalist issues, they can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.