Prepping: The “Holistic Systems” Approach

Fall is a great time to review your personal prepping – and to add additional depth to your preparedness skills.

One of the most important thinking-tools is developing a holistic approach.

The easiest way to explain this is to begin with my Seven Major Systems of life.

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Energy
  • Communications
  • Transportation
  • Environment
  • Finance

Each of these should be reviewed for wholeness and suitability on a quarterly basis.

What’s Wholeness?

You know what “Rolls down hill,” right?  Well, you can’t make much in the way of changes to your House before you begin colliding with “other systems.”

Changing the house:

  • Can increase of decrease food storage
  • Can increase or decrease energy usage and cost
  • Might impact your communications set-ups
  • Can add or delete transportation storage (think garage)
  • Can alter your personal environment (add a bathroom?)
  • And can impact your finances because ain’t much free

Much of what to think about – done on a quarterly basis – involves the grand sport of “optimizing your life.”   “What-If’ing.” It’s almost like a whole new level of prepping.  Elaine and I go through it all the time.

Right now, for example, we’re just at the “front-end” of the leaves falling season.  Since we have tons of trees (28 acres worth, plus or minus a sapling) the leaves are a monster issue.

Generally, we have been blowing things off with 100-foot extension cords and electric blowers and a big mulch pile that next year will be mostly moved by tractor up into the garden.  However, we also have a nice Husqvarna back-pack type leaf blower.  And it runs on two-cycle fuel.

If you’re thinking “in systems” it ought to be clear that by trying to manage or tame the wilds, we are creating work.  And some of that work is energy (two-cycle fuel) and some of it is financial.

For example, I’ve got to order a new carb (or rebuild kit) for the backpack blower which isn’t starting.  (That ripples into cleaning off the big bench in the shop so I can tear-down the leaf blower, and that means prioritizing a cabinet-making project…See how all this stuff becomes “holistic?”  A single stone in the pond and the Universe ripples around here…)

The type of thinking does a lot of good in that it lets us consciously decide every quarter how we’re going to optimize life.

Thinking-Through Seasonal Risks

People in North Carolina, I assure you, will be a lot more prepared for hurricanes in the future.  When something like Florence shows up, it changes how people behave – and spend – for as much as a decade.  When the cultural experience goes, so does the adapting skillset.

Since this is hurricane season, the “holistic checklist” for an unexpected storm is a useful exercise if you reside coast-wise.

Here in East Texas, 200 miles inland, we tend to think less about hurricanes and more about cold weather damage at this time of year.

Looking ahead, “cold weather risk” is our greatest exposure.  We consider a protracted cold spell coupled with a good storm.  The first would make pipes want to freeze and the second could leave us stranded until we get out the chainsaw and tractor.  When it’s cold, staying in bed sounds pretty good…

Let’s run through this (as an example).

Step 1:  Identify the risk.  (In the example, it’s cold weather or major storm)

Step 2:  Identify the remediation steps.  (In other words, what can we do now that will eliminate or minimize our inconvenience in the future?)

Steps 3-X“:  Implement, implement, implement!  Checklist and Do!

Cold House:  In the extreme cold example, the biggest risk would be frozen water pipes.  Since our back-up propane house heater bit the dust at the end of last heating season, it was time last week to get off the butt and pick out a new one and get it put in.  We already have a full 500 gallon propane tank.

The second step is to pull out (and test) the catalytic heater for the shop and gym (guest room) and try different locations to see what puts out the most heat for the lowest propane burn.  A cool morning science project with that non-contact (laser) thermometer I wrote up for you a while back.  Toss in a full 20-pound propane cylinder, and the adapters checked-out….and that one is solved.

Transportation:  I just ordered a new barrel pump for diesel this past week, too.  Nothing will clear a road faster of fallen trees than a maniac on a Kubota tractor armed with a Rapco Industries carbide-tipped chain saw.  Full tank of diesel and a jug each of bar oil and 2-cycle fuel.  Hell...Bring it!

Finances:  None of this level of prepping is free.

Since we don’t use the house heating on propane in anything but emergency conditions, a simple 30,000 BTU heater with adapters was $150.  The catalytic heater for the shop/gym is in good shape from previous years..

The point is?  When you go solving one problem, there’s almost always another (upstream) of your first problem to be considered.  Solve the key upstream issues and the downstream get resolved…

Food Cooking as Another Example

We have several options for cooking, including a nice stainless steel camp stove and oven.  The Camp Chef Camping Outdoor Oven with 2 Burner Camping Stove. They range in price from $169 on sale to $223 regular priced.

I’m enough of a “foodie” that if the crap hits the fan, I want to have the full belly (and a jug of hot coffee) to go out on.  As a result, the BBQ (which is more-or-less disposable at five years, or so) has a pizza stone and a cast iron griddle…so that’s cooking station #2 for when TSHTF.  Both require propane, so we have a 40-gallon tank that’s a real ball-buster to herc up the steps….And assorted 20’s.

Point is, solving food gets us to energy and that gets us to resupply of fuel in the future.

Worst Case Thinking?

I keep a bunch of used55-gallon oil barrels around the property.  Often a half-dozen, or more.  We pick ’em up used for about $10-bucks an empty with top in like-new condition. Corrosion-X barrels are best for reasons I hope you can figure out.

Out in the shop we keep a barrel stove kit (or three) on hand.  A week, or so back, Amazon had the US Stove BSK1000 Cast Iron Barrel Stove Kit on sale for $32-bucks.  Why, you can’t beat that with a stick.  A tube of stove caulking (yes, there is such a thing) to keep the air and leaks controlled.

Thing about barrel stoves:  We don’t plan to ever live to the end of the world (EoTW), but if we do, having solar power enough to run a plasma cutter a bit plus some barrels and a barrel stove kit along with 5 or 10-gallons of 2-cycle fuel…well, now we have everything (right down to the seed kits and stored rototiller fuel to do something approaching a ground- up restart.

It wouldn’t be fun but is the End of the World ever?

Wouldn’t be fun, and we’d be working ourselves to death, but with a few guns, a few gallons, and a bit of stored grub, we have a ton of options.

Prepping to Make in the After…

It’s like welding and metalwork.  Could I be satisfied with a Lincoln MIG welder and a bottle of argon shielding gas?  Normal times?  Sure…BUT….

What if the power is off for a long time?  Or, if the project is at a neighbor’s house (and we watch each-other’s backs)?  That’s when nothing beats a Victor oxyacetylene welding and burning rig.  You following?

Two or three barrel stoves?  Well, one can keep the shop toasty.  Building a quick enclosed lean-too on the house and opening a couple of windows will keep the chill off the house…. and… well, that’s the point of this morning’s discussion.  “What’cha gonna do?” class…

Prepping ought not to be “100 pounds of rice and 50 pounds of beans.”

It should really be like setting up a long-term chess game.

Since we are all about storing a little energy, there’s a 100 CC gas bike conversion kit off eBay in the prep stuff. Reminds me to put solid tires on the mountain bikes…see how this ripples around?

If times got horrible and I had to go to town for something, a backpack on a 20 MPH bike that gets 80 MPG makes a lot more sense than walking.  Since a powered-dirt bike is not as terrain-limited as a car, getting around roadblocks or whatever is possible (though likely foolish.)

Thing is to envision a bad-to-worst case (Florence for example) and imagine an attempted government coup in the middle of it, and then…well, let the mind wander.  EMP event over the Middle East?  Why not?  Stir in and blend well.

Now, tell me how you survive.  One disaster is OK, but several?  That’s when it gets challenging and deep thinking in advance works in your favor.  Gives you something to think about on the weight machine or on the treadmill.

You need to work prepping holistically and like a chess game.  Which “moves” give you the biggest bang for the buck?  Don’t think so much about money; think about resilience and hedging against losses while maintaining your autonomy and freedom.

Then go do those.

Read up on how people end up in refugee camps.  Often?  They need what the “authorities” have to offer.  The point of serious prepping is to never be victim and that means buying a good stock of Autonomy while you can.

When the world runs out of mood altering meds, life could be awful, so plan now accordingly.

Write when you get rich,


6 thoughts on “Prepping: The “Holistic Systems” Approach”

  1. this is what went out in x-mas cards last year .. great item for the break away bag.hang them on the side with a carabiner clip

    in an end of the world scenario there will be can’s available the first couple of years and a small rocket stove is awesome..
    The post about Card board the other day ended up in a few discussions around here about the things that can be made out of cardboard in a SHTF scenario. I decided since they really didn’t grasp just how good cardboard is that it would be better to teach the kids how to makes some things with it.
    not wanting to go down and grab a bunch of bulky banana boxes my thought was to get the 4 by 4 sheet covers and corner covers from some pallets..
    the cabinet shop I worked at 28 years ago use to have truck loads of pallets daily.. so I called shipping explained that i had some kids that I was going to show just what can be made out of cardboard and if they had some top sheets in the compactor pile.. the head material handler department head said sure we have plenty down here come get what you want.. so down I go..
    what surprised me is there was the stack of fresh off the pile pieces ( not the scrap bunk covers) and some of the workers working hard at getting them loaded in the old buggy one saying I sure don’t know who you know around here but they took us off of a hot job to get this ready for you.. I was stunned nobody ever was pulled from a hot job.. then out comes the CEO and the plant manager and they take me for a walk around the plant.. showing me how they have expanded through the years etc..(and I noticed one of the expansions was they implemented an idea I had posted about pod manufacturing years ago which I was surprised since at the time they thought it would take to many people away from the product line).. then as I was getting ready to leave the ceo stopped and asked me if I was ready to quit messing around and come back to work for them.. that was probably one of the nicest off hand compliments..It really shocked me especially after 28 years.. I never expected anything like that.. I love Hickory to..while we were walking noticed some small chunks in the garbage and grabbed a couple of the small chunks of scrap for pen’s to be made.. instead they said put that back and went over to the bin and grabbed some of the choice material they have and shoved it in the old buggy way more than I will ever use another nice off hand compliment the small scrap chunks would have been more than nice ..

    • George, you just gotta have another East Texas meetup; I have to meet LOOHB. AND, many others on here!!!

  2. My biggest concern when TSHTF is other dimensions. We know that BIGFOOT appears from another dimension to kidnap & abduct humans & then leaves this dimension & that person is never seen or heard from again. When the world is in chaos, BIGFOOT could return in numbers to go hunting. In todays world we go searching for BIGFOOT; When TSHTF will we go to being hunted by BIGFOOT.

  3. Are leaves really that “dangerous”? Hell, let ’em lay there and rot. If you ain’t in a gated HOA subdivision who cares? Years of rotted leaves means happy, productive soil.

    Secondly, is an “adapter” simply another way of saying “gas hose fitting”?

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