Being a Prepper and Producer

by Todd Walker

If you had the four basic materials – graphite, cedar, metal, and rubber, could you produce a wooden pencil?

You may be wondering why we’re even talking about a simple writing utensil. They’re not on most List of Lists to help you survive mutant biker zombie attacks. I’ve read that we need guns, lots of ammo, and mall ninja weapons to repel the un-dead. Even blunt objects work in a pinch!

This question isn’t just mental gymnastics. The reality is that no one person can produce a single wooden pencil. The production process is too complicated. If you want to learn more on what goes into producing one pencil, read Leonard Reed’s essay “I, Pencil.” You’ll never take pencils for granted.

If you can’t produce a simple pencil, do you have any hope of producing sustainable stuff like food, water, and fuel? The good news is, yes!

Here’s more good news – you don’t have to produce everything. In fact, you may be better situated by being dependent on others for some of your stuff. This may not sound like SmartPrepper advice, so I’ll explain.

Complete self-sufficiency is rarely going to happen. Think for a moment about the complexity and interconnectedness of our goods and services that we depend on and consume. I make my own DiY deodorant, grow some of our food, collect rain water, and pride myself in being able to produce some stuff we need around our place. I trade time and skill as a teacher for stuff (money) which I exchange with other producers to fill in the gaps for things I don’t or can’t produce, yet. We haven’t ‘arrived’ yet, but every new item I learn to produce is one step closer to freedom.

Take a look at self-sufficiency pins on Pinterest, or #PrepperTalk on Twitter, or other popular preparedness/homesteading blogs to see if you measure up. We tend to fall into the dangerous trap of comparison. Or we get motivated to apply knowledge and start doing the stuff.

Whether events unfold as we fear or not, there will always be the need to trade with other producers. Positioning yourself to be a producer, at whatever scale, will only add value to your future preparations.

Here are just a few of the many benefits of becoming a producer.

  • Value. Producers are people who add value to others. A product or service that adds quality of life to others will always be in high demand and barter-able.
  • Frugal. If you produce your own food or energy, you have a great appreciation for the stuff you’re producing. You understand the hard work, skill, and time that goes into your gadget or groceries. Producers are less likely to take their product for granted. Producers are stewards and are reluctant to squander resources.
  • Independence. Producing stuff, if only for personal use, reduces your dependence on the system that is rigged against you.
  • Interdependence. This is the flip side of producing stuff. No matter how self-sufficient we become, we’ll still need stuff others produce. You’d think this would be a negative. It’s not. If everyone was completely self-sufficient, where would you find a demand for you product. It’s all tied into the complex web of producing and consuming.
  • Wealth. This is a tricky word. The definition changes depending on the circumstance we find ourselves in. After a collapse, fiat dollars in a bank won’t build much wealth for you. When hyperinflation kicks in and you need a wheelbarrow of greenbacks to buy bread, you’re not a wealthy individual. Wealth in this situation means skills, tangibles, and attitude.

“I don’t want to be a product of my environment; I want my environment to be a product of me.” —  William Monahan

The road to preparedness and self-sufficiency is paved with obstacles. Some are speed bumps. Others seem like mountains. Having the ability to produce the food, water, and energy makes you more antifragile. Antifragile systems improve with random roadblocks. They don’t curl up in a corner and cry.

Fuel or energy is needed to do all the pushing, pulling, and lifting to leverage your time. Once the balloon goes up, there will still be modern heavy equipment and vehicles sitting around for resourceful, SmartPreppers use. Instead of an eight ton piece of yard art, producers will be able to fire up these bad boys and do work.

Prepping or Producing?

To prep or produce. Both are necessary. Storing stuff is smart. But how long will that your stored fuel last? And how much is enough? It will eventually go bad or be consumed. I have gas stored for emergencies, but not long-term use.

Here are some sustainable ideas on how to feed the machines to get work done. Before any environmentalists write nasty comments about creating greenhouse gases, go out with your spade and till an acre, no, just a half-acre garden spot by hand and get back to me. Nothing runs like a deere.

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Produce it Yourself energy. To build a generator, you’ll need wire, motion, and magnets. The amount of electricity produced depends the size of these items. Here’s a simple science experiment you can try with the kids to get you in the flow.

Water is a way to provide the force needed to create motion. Hydro power is a viable alternative for those with water available. And you don’t need a large river on your property to get the power flowing.

Producing stuff should be an essential part of your preparedness strategy. That stored stuff won’t last forever.

What’s your plan for producing stuff?

Doing the stuff,


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Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, DIY Preparedness, Frugal Preps, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Being a Prepper and Producer

  1. A few years ago while reading Wendell Berry, I had a paradigm shift. It was like the ground became unstable beneath my feet. As I looked around my house filled with industrial items made by unknown hands in unknown places, I realized I was a “consumer” not a “producer”.

    There is a way out. Learn how to be happy with less and fix what your have. Evict “the Jones” from your psyche. Find and buy from your local artisan producers. Become an artisan producer yourself. If you don’t have the skills start building the skills. Find those “waste materials” in your local area and transform them into something wonderful. Build your markets from nothing:


    • The more we make for our home, the more confident we feel about 1. our skills, and 2. our peace. Simplifying is the first step to ‘evicting the Jones.’

      BTW, having a hard time putting down Antifragile. 🙂


      • Le Loup

        Some years after surviving cyclone Tracey in Darwin, we moved to New England NSW. We purchased a very old wood framed cottage, no conveniences in house. I pulled it apart, transported it piece by piece to a property we had bought, & rebuilt it again. We lived an 18th century lifestyle in that cottage for 20 years.
        Surviving a life threatening event like cyclone Tracey changed our lives & the way we think, though we never were really consumers & lovers of THINGS.
        Now we have a new house just below the old cottage. We are totally off the grid still but have conveniences & water on tap in the house now.
        Regards, Keith.


      • Turning lemons into…
        What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger…
        Keith, thanks for giving us a little background into your life. You, sir, are doing the stuff on a level that makes me a bit envious.

        Are you glad you took the road less travelled after all these years?



      • Le Loup

        “Are you glad you took the road less travelled after all these years?”.
        Oh yes Todd, definitely 🙂


      • Absolutely amazed by your journey, Keith!


  2. Le Loup

    I made a pencil by hammering out a .60 caliber muzzle-loader round ball & wrapped it in leather.
    Regards, Keith.


    • Nice. Disqualified due to lack of wood or rubber 😉 Great idea, Keith.

      Really like your Woodsrunner’s Diary! Excellent skills to have.


  3. I would replace the word “dependence ” with “Interdependence”. I think that is closer to your true meaning.


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