Posts Tagged With: preparedness planning

Michelangelo’s Subtraction Solution: Carving Your Masterpiece Preparedness Plan

by Todd Walker

Sometimes preparedness means saying no to 1,000’s of things – and people.


On our journey to preparedness, we’re suppose to add to our skill set, physical preps, and knowledge base. But our magnum opus, our greatest work, comes through subtracting everything that is not prepared for our future.

It occurred to me recently that we prepper-types are not keen on the concept of subtracting stuff. The latest, greatest, and shiniest must-have items don’t always make life easier – or survivable. Take a cue from Michelangelo and start subtracting. Chip away at stuff that doesn’t belong in your plan. Instead of constantly adding, subtract stuff strategically.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

~ Michelangelo

Let’s assume our world as we know it crumbles. All the technology, elevators, ‘reality’ shows, and food trucks stop. No more electrical grid, fiat money-spitting machines, or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream kiosks in the mall. Our fragility catches up to us.

Those who make it through the reset are left to rebuild. But how? Even SmartPrepper’s stuff will eventually expire or be consumed. What then?

We’ll have to become producers. The most necessary stuff first. We all know the importance of water, food, and shelter. Do we have the skills, knowledge, and tools to enable us to produce these?

Oh yea, I’ve got all that stuff saved on my computer. Oops!

Below are three key areas that will greatly benefit from applying the subtraction solution before the reset occurs. Keep in mind that less is more and simple is better.


Open your copy of The Encyclopedia of Country Living. You do have this in your library, right? Bury your face in the pages. Breathe deeply. The scent of a bound book can’t be replaced or duplicated. I love the smell of a good book in the morning!

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

Below The Encyclopedia of Country Living is one of my 3-ring binders of how-to’s and such. Print hard copies of important stuff before the reset.

Now, try this exercise with your eReader, tablet, or smart phone. There’s an obvious in-your-face difference, something lost on moderns and our neo culture.

Time is the best method to determine what preps need to be chiseled away. Modern technology is young. And fragile. And I use it. I have apps that help me identify wild foods, survival techniques, and other need-to-know stuff.

But I’m not counting on electronic gadgetry to be around after the reset. If a thing is resilient, it will rebound from stressful events. If not, like all living or non-living fragile things, they will exit the gene pool or become useless paper weights.

Granted, resourceful folk have ways to charge all their gadgets for blackout events and emergencies. But don’t overlook the wise choice of hard copy, ink on paper, resources. They go long-term. And smell better!


Humans are tool-using animals. Our use of these tools separate us from other animals. Before Michelangelo turned granite blocks into angels, he needed the right tools.

Primitive technologies are time-tested. Something as simple as a wheel or lever fall out of favor in our modern mania. Mystified by flashes of light and cute ring back tones and shiny objects, we’ve traded non-fragile for fragile.

Here’s an article on 6 simple machines every SmartPrepper needs if you’d like a refresher.

Simple machines save labor. More importantly, time has proven them to be both useful and robust. The tools that survive are the ones that have been serving mankind for hundreds, even thousands of years.

I love my power tools. They save time and labor as well. Over the years I’ve tried to whittle away my dependence on these machines. What I’ve learned is that using simple hand tools ain’t so simple. They’re simple, but they take practice.

Hand tools you may want to start adding to your reset tool box include:

Woodworking: Hammers and mallets, chisels and knives, sharpening supplies, saws (rip, crosscut, miter, etc.), brace and bits, augers, rasps, planes, pliers and wrenches, screw drivers, measuring tools (steel carpenter’s square, tapes and rulers, try square, bevel), axes and adzes, drawknives and spokeshaves, levels (4 foot, 2 foot, and torpedo levels), and lots of hardware.

Bits for my brace. $10 at a yard sale!

Bits for my brace. $10 at a yard sale!

Timber harvesting: 2 man and one-man crosscut saws, felling axes, wedges, sledge-hammer, mauls for splitting, log-jack and peavy, and sharpening supplies.

buck saw

My buck saw and a small wash board. Clothes will get dirty using this tool.

Kitchen: Cast iron cookware, hand mills, containers of all kinds, knives, canning equipment and supplies, meat saws, butchering equipment, and hand-cranked meat grinders.

Metal working: Basic blacksmithing tools (forge, anvil, post vise, hammers (again), quench tub, tongs, punches, hacksaw, and files). Note: The ability to shape metal tools seems to have been delegated to China. It’s hard to find well made tools now. When and if you find a quality tool artisan, invest in his/her robust tools. Even better, learn to make your own.

Multi-use tools: Ratchet and socket sets, utility knives, adjustable wrenches, oil cans, allen wrenches, clamps and vises.

There’s many more tools to list, but in the spirit of subtracting, I’ll stop here.

Where to find tools: Flea markets, antique shops, yard and estate sales, swap meets, and farm auctions. If you want to buy new, spend some time online shopping at Lehman’s.


Cutting crappy people out of your masterpiece maybe the most difficult task, but it’s the most important. Dealing with crappy people is like carrying 179 pounds of s****t in a sack on your back. They drain your life of energy and attract flies.

This may come as a shock to some, but there are crappy people who are preppers, too. For the most part, I’ve only encounter a few of this variety. The one’s I’ve been unfortunate enough to meet are scary.

Avoid them like the plague. They will hurt you. Here’s my test to determine if someone is a crappy person and/or prepper. They exhibit the following:

  • It’s all about me attitude. They’re the center of the universe and your brain if you let them in.
  • They’re not F.A.T. – Faithful – Available – Teachable – they’re toxic. And the worst part is they think they are actually helpful and F.A.T.
  • They can be family, friends, coworkers, bosses.
  • If you’re a blogger, they show up as trolls in your comment section. They attach to you like ticks and drain your blood, energy, and creativity. You’ll never change their mind. So don’t try.

Erase them. Especially online, faceless trolls and haters. Resist the temptation to prove your point. If you jump in the fray, you’ve just proven their worth and stroked their ego. Even if you ‘win’ the battle, you’ll come out bloodied. Don’t waste your time.

When you stand back and look at your work of art, the useless shards of rock no longer hide your masterpiece. You’ll only see what belongs.

Add as many thoughts as you’d like in the comments. I promise not to subtract them.

Keep subtracting stuff strategically,



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Categories: Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Are You a Prisoner to Your SHTF Plan?

by Todd Walker

It’s trendy to forecast and prognosticate TEOTWAWKI and other SHTF events.


Image credit

We need to know what’s coming so we can make a plan to survive the event.

Here’s the hitch: they’re rarely right. And even if they are right, will our plan save us?

Every time I hear of a doomsday event coming, Y2K, and more recently, the Mayan calendar expiring, I chuckle and keep doing the stuff.

Prognosticators sit in ivory towers predicting major events and fail to highlight the predictable. Entranced by their babble, we stumble over all the random, overlooked (non-glamorous), predictable bumps on our preparedness journey.


We’re all scared of the big event.

The Crunchy Mama recently commented here that she used to be guided by fear. She wrote…

I LOVE that you are a positive prepper. I lived in fear for many unhappy years. I finally made my way out of the fear with the help of God and some people who were God-sent. I figured out that I could be a prepper and be happy and positive. I put my energy into doing things that I really love but I no longer do them out of fear.

Don’t confuse her positive prepping with a Pollyanna view full of whirled peas, rainbows, and flying unicorns. She’s aware of the fragility of the systems we live under and is taking steps to escape the insanity. And she’s enjoying her journey.

Fearing the collapse of said system was the catalyst for many of us to start our journey to self-sufficiency.

However, the problem begins when fear chokes out rational thought and strangles our vision for the future. At that moment, a fear-based preparedness plan becomes as fragile as the system in collapse mode.

No matter what the pundits tell you, the big events aren’t accurately predictable. Even though you see the waves and hear the ship moaning, you still don’t know when it will splinter and sink.

Don’t count on the captain to save a life raft for you. Build options into your plan. And this is not referencing Capt. William E. Simpson of The Nautical Prepper. I actually think he may have a great SHTF plan.

Back to us land locked folk. Here’s something to think about: What’s Mother Nature going to do next to make your life miserable?

Nature is a brutal school master. Just when you have your plan set in stone, that flood, or hurricane, or drought shreds your paper plan. If you’re not room temperature afterwards, they say it makes you stronger.

And we’re not even considering man-made brutality yet.

I have no idea if our grandiose SHTF plan will succeed or fail. I’m just not that smart. Plus, I’ve never experienced a collapse of everything. I don’t know anyone that has personally experienced TEOTWAWKI in the hyped Hollywood version we all dread.

We make our plans anyway. We want to insure against the big one – the collapse of society/government/the world/TEOTWAWKI, and hope the smaller events take care of themselves.

But they don’t. We may have it bass ackwards.

Maybe, just maybe, we should focus on the smaller, obvious things.

Prisoner of the Plan

So, you put together a plan with an end in mind. Then, those 11 little words of Robert Burns begin to haunt you, inconveniently.

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”

The illusion of knowing where you’re going and how to get there is dangerous. Especially when you believe others know how to get you there and they haven’t been there themselves.

In the story laid out in Patriots, plans don’t always work out. Mr. Rawles made it crystal clear in this novel the importance of redundancy in our plan. Mother Nature and tyrants don’t care about your plan. Unknowns make us fly by the seat of our pants.

It’s the unknown unknowns that compel invention. We find better/improved ways to do the stuff. We find freedom by doing, tweaking, and tinkering.

Being a prisoner to your plan is like paying for a tour guide to show you a historic city. You’re locked into the agenda, predetermined destinations, and sights she thinks are important for you.

Your options to self-explore are severely limited or nonexistent.

Optional Tips on Options

These are some off-the-cuff ways to add options to your SHTF plan.

A.) Procrastinate. Easily the most vilified word in the prepper community. It’s akin to laziness, sloth, and sheeple.

I’m being serious. Procrastination can be useful in some instances. I certainly don’t recommend it for an immediate life and death situation. If some thug breaks my door down, he gets immediate attention. No lollygagging.

On the other hand.

You’re ready to pull the trigger on that piece of remote retreat/farm land. It’s seems perfect. But you drag your feet. Someone swoops in and buys it while your thinking it over. You wife is fuming. Your sleeping on the sofa.

A month later, while licking your wounds in your new sleeping arrangement, she humbly shares information about the property that proves it wasn’t right. Sometimes we benefit by putting off ’til tomorrow what we absolutely think we have to do today.

Beware of the tyranny of the urgent.

B.) Random Acts of Prepping. Randomness teaches us how to be flexible and resilient. It’s the random events that test our ability. Are we able to cope? Do we rebound and stay the same? Or do we get better?

Your options multiply when we embrace randomness. Accidentally, it seems, you stumble upon situations and people who are a better fit than your original master plan.

So, go to that meet up and mingle with random people. You never know…

C.) Your SHTF plan and reality aren’t the same thing. Unless you’ve gone through all out SH’ingTF, how do you know the plan will work? Now is the time for controlled stress-testing to see if the plan (and you) can hold up.

In theory, bugging out on foot to the hills seems like a good idea – if you had to. Humping a 72 hour go back (in practice) is different and more difficult than the preparedness books lead us to believe. Have you tried it?

“Preparedness is the adult response to the knowledge that sometimes, at some level, things go haywire.” [Lifted from the blog For Tomorrow We…]

A recent post over on For Tomorrow We… (72 Hours in Just Five Minutes) outlines a great way to stress your plan. Simple and safe – yet revealing.

D.) Less is more. This is obvious to those of you doing the stuff. In my field full of ‘intellectuals,’ educators with lots of letters in front and behind their names, we can’t seem to grasp this idea. There’s too much thinking and not enough doing. Don’t over think your plan.

Simplify you plan. Brilliance is simple.

E.) Tinker. The best preparedness plan won’t come to you in your LazyBoy recliner. Might as well tinker and find options that will minimize the downside and boost the upside – without life threatening risks.

F.) Trial and error. In real life, not in a sterilized classroom or book, our best lesson is our last mistake.

Dirt Road Girl and I have emergency plans. We’re not obligated to follow what’s outlined. But we can choose that plan if we need to. Don’t marry your plan! Keep playing the field looking for the best options.

If you’re thinking I’m anti-SHTF-planning, you’ve missed my point. What I tried to communicate is…

The best SHTF plan has to be shaken well before opening.

The last thing you want is to be a prisoner of your plan.

Doing the stuff,



Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Preparedness | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

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